Juanyeh Thomas stars for defense in Georgia Tech scrimmage

October 9, 2020 Atlanta - Georgia Tech's defensive back Juanyeh Thomas (1) reacts after Georgia Tech's running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling (not pictured) recovered a fumble during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Friday, October 9, 2020. Georgia Tech's won 46-27 over the Louisville. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Caption
October 9, 2020 Atlanta - Georgia Tech's defensive back Juanyeh Thomas (1) reacts after Georgia Tech's running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling (not pictured) recovered a fumble during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Georgia Tech's Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Friday, October 9, 2020. Georgia Tech's won 46-27 over the Louisville. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Among several players highlighted by coach Geoff Collins, Georgia Tech safety Juanyeh Thomas was a star of the Yellow Jackets’ scrimmage Saturday, the second of the preseason.

The scrimmage, which closed the team’s preseason camp, also was a rehearsal for its standard pregame procedure, including the Friday night team meal and the stay at the team hotel.

“Juanyeh Thomas had a day,” Collins said Tuesday. “Just from how he approached the entire weekend, how he approached game day, treated it like a game in every single component, and then he went out and was just flying around the field, making plays, getting guys lined up.”

Among his contributions were two interceptions, as many as he recorded in the past two seasons. The Tech defense came away with seven takeaways in the scrimmage, which Collins said lasted somewhere between 120 and 140 plays. It followed the declaration of defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker that the defense’s goal is to lead the FBS in takeaways this season.

“Andrew Thacker and our defensive staff have done a great job,” Collins said. “And I know that’s in our DNA, but everything they’ve been preaching (to create takeaways) for two years, you see it almost every single day in practice.”

As is always the case in a scrimmage, one side’s success is the other side’s shortcoming. Collins said that three of the turnovers were on drops or tipped balls as opposed to ill-advised throws. As much as creating takeaways has been a priority for the defense, limiting turnovers has been an objective for the offense. The Jackets tied for the second most turnovers in FBS last year.

“So, catch the ball, possess the ball, play good situational football,” Collins said.

One of the turnovers was linebacker Quez Jackson’s diving interception of a deflected pass. Jackson had the most tackles in the scrimmage, Collins said.

“I thought Quez Jackson played some really good football,” Collins said.

Another highlight that Collins noted was that there were four penalties called over the course of the scrimmage. Limiting penalties has been another focus of the preseason after the Jackets were flagged 8.9 times per game last season, tied for 121st in FBS.

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