Defense shines at Tech's scrimmage

Georgia Tech had a rusty performance in its first lengthy full-pads scrimmage of the spring Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

"It was pretty ragged," coach Paul Johnson said. "I thought the defense did some good things, that was encouraging."

The offensive line had issues throughout: They were flagged for several false-start penalties and had difficulty picking up blitzes. The first-team line was able to generate a push up the middle for the B-backs, but pitch plays outside and pass protection generally broke down. The line is trying to break in new tackles on the left and the right.

"Those guys struggled a little bit up there, to be kind," Johnson said.

They did hold off the young, aggressive defense long enough for quarterback Synjyn Days to find A-back Tony Zenon for a touchdown in the day's only score. On the play, Days said he read the cornerback, who stayed up to cover a hitch route. Zenon put a move on Louis Young and ran uncovered across the middle of the field on a corner route, where Days hit him with a well-timed pass.

"Synjyn did some good things. He was running for his life a lot," Johnson said.

Days, who is competing with Tevin Washington, said he felt more comfortable Saturday than he has in previous practices.

Noteworthy defense

Three players on defense had noteworthy performances: cornerback Jemea Thomas, inside linebacker Daniel Drummond and outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu.

Thomas dropped an interception on an underthrown pass from Days, but made up for it later with an interception along the sideline. The second interception, on a pass from Days, was the result of a good read and break to the ball. Thomas and cornerbacks Young and Rod Sweeting were very physical, pressing their receivers.

Thomas, who redshirted last season after playing as a true freshman, also put the hit of the day on A-back Deon Hill as he came around the right edge of the offensive line after receiving a pitch. Thomas said that aggressiveness is one of the things that will help him earn more playing time.

"We've just got to get Jemea out there on the field," Johnson said. "He'll get himself out there if he keeps working and stays healthy."

Johnson also singled out Drummond, who is making the transition from B-back to inside linebacker. He ran with the first-team alongside Julian Burnett.

"He's a kid to whom football is really important," defensive coordinator Al Groh said of Drummond. "He's really bought in. He's in the office all the time asking questions early. He's like any good student, he doesn't leave the classroom with any questions unanswered."

Attaochu, who had three sacks in limited playing time last season as a freshman, had another one Saturday. He said he's working to improve his focus throughout the game instead of relaxing after good plays are made.

In the backfield

David Sims and Preston Lyons stood out in the crowded competition at B-back. Lyons had a fumble, one of several by the offense, but also had some of the longer runs. Sims, who is learning B-back after playing quarterback the past two seasons, had a nice cutback after he got through the line of scrimmage on one run. He spun out of a tackle from a linebacker and gained extra yards on another play.

"It's great having David at B-back," Days said. "He helped me a lot with the quarterback reads. We already have a connection. I'm not sure what type of connection it is, but it's a connection."