Georgia Tech began full-pads practice Tuesday, an initiation for the incoming freshmen and the beginning of the real work of the preseason for the returnees. Apparently, it is also a bit of a letdown for the quarterbacks.
As was the case in spring practice, coach Paul Johnson will have quarterbacks wear yellow jerseys in practice, indicative of their non-contact status.
“He’s not going for (allowing quarterbacks to be tackled),” returning starter TaQuon Marshall said with a touch of glumness. “I already tried it.”
When Tech had its first day in shells Sunday – helmets and shoulder pads – the quarterbacks had the same white practice jerseys as the rest of the offense. On Monday, when Marshall and the other quarterbacks arrived at the locker room for another shells practice, they were dismayed to find the yellow jerseys awaiting them.
“So I said, ‘Hey, coach, we’re trying to get into whites for full pads,’ ” Marshall said. “He said, ‘No, talk to (quarterbacks and B-backs coach Craig Candeto).’ I talked to coach Candeto, he’s like, Yeah, you know, it’s the boss man. Got to talk to him. I said, ‘He told me to come talk to you.’”
In the past, Johnson has allowed his quarterbacks be tackled to get used to the hitting they’ll encounter in games. Keeping quarterbacks in non-contact jerseys, a widespread practice, is meant to reduce the likelihood of injury.
While spared the pounding, Marshall wants to engage on equal terms with the Tech defense – the competition between offense and defense is good-spirited but serious – and also to sharpen up for the season. Defensive players play the option differently knowing that they only have to tag him for a play to be blown dead, Marshall said.
“It’s kind of tough being in the yellow, trying to go full speed, get the actual look, because the guys on defense, they know I’m in the yellow, too, so they know nine times out of 10 – hey, he’s not really going to run it here too hard, he’s going to pitch it,” Marshall said. “So they kind of can finesse it. But we’re going to get through it.”
Nevertheless, Marshall and others were eager to begin full-pads practice Tuesday afternoon, the fifth practice of preseason.
“Definitely a lot of talking between offense and defense,” A-back Clinton Lynch said. “We’re going to see who’s really about that talk.”
Coaches get a better read on what the freshmen can do once the pads come on. The speed of play picks up, as players are allowed to fully engage in blocking in tackling.
“A lot of guys are real good shorts players and they’re not so good when the pads go on,” he said. “And some guys don’t look very good in shorts, but when the pads go on and they actually get to play football, they do pretty good. You’ve just got to get them some reps and let ’em play and evaluate them.”
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