Observations from Georgia Tech’s third preseason practice

For Georgia Tech’s third practice of the preseason, Yellow Jackets players took the field for the first time in shoulder pads and helmets as they follow the NCAA’s acclimatization guidelines. The hitting went up a notch – defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker had to dial back a player during a special-teams drill – as the preseason begins to approach the rigors of full-pads practices.

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Observations from the portion of the practice open to media:

1. One of the plays of the practice was turned in by receiver Malik Rutherford during a one-on-one passing drill. Rutherford ran an out-and-up double move that drew approving oohs from teammates, getting him open for a deep ball down the sideline.

Through much of the drill, wide receivers were getting the better of the defensive backs, often running routes that enabled them to get behind them on deep balls. But on the repetition right after Rutherford’s catch, cornerback Eric Reed (a transfer from Auburn) made one of the defense’s better plays, staying close to receiver E.J. Jenkins and breaking up the pass.

2. Offensive-line coach Brent Key trained linemen in a half-line drill, having the center along with the guard and tackle on one side of the line take snaps against other offensive linemen standing in as defensive linemen and linebackers to develop the timing of double-team blocks against the defensive line.

After guard Pierce Quick executed a double-team block and then moved up to the linebacker level, Key corrected his footwork and positioning, telling him that he needed to be square with the line of scrimmage.

“That running back’s got to see the back of your number,” Key said.

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3. Monday’s practice was the third in a row held in the evening, starting around 7 p.m. It was noticeably cooler than it had been earlier in the day and presumably appreciated by players. It is, however, the last practice of the preseason scheduled for the evening. After taking Tuesday off, players will return to practice Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. The remainder of the practices in the preseason are scheduled for the same time.