Nathan Staub, a North Carolina linebacker and Buford High grad, is not just another Georgia product returning home to play Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Staub is the grandson of Tech football royalty.
On Saturday, he’ll take the same field once dominated by Larry Morris, a starring member of Tech’s 1952 shared national championship team, a member of the college football Hall of Fame as a center-linebacker and MVP of the 1963 NFL Championship game.
Staub, a second-stringer who also plays special teams, said it will be a surreal experience. Staub didn’t get to know his grandfather well, as he was succumbing to dementia during Staub’s youth and died in December at the age of 79.
“But definitely, his legacy through my mom and through her brothers has definitely impacted me,” Staub said.
Staub said that when his uncle Shan Morris starred for Auburn, he once tried to get the crowd going by waving his arms.
“My grandfather, after the game, he said, ‘Leave that to the cheerleaders. Your job is to play football,’” Staub said. “That kind of advice has been definitely handed down to me.”
Staub, whose father, Eddie, played baseball at Auburn, grew up an Auburn fan, with Tech No. 2. He didn’t receive a scholarship offer from Tech in part because he didn’t attend the Yellow Jackets’ camp before his senior year. He said he holds no animosity against Tech.
Plenty of family will be at the game. Staub hopes they root for the Tar Heels, even his grandmother, Kay Morris.
Said Staub, “She loves Carolina blue.”
Third-down battle: One significant factor in Saturday’s game figures to be third-down conversion rate. North Carolina will want to impose its up-tempo pace on the game, while Tech’s grinding offense will try to do likewise. The team that stays on the field longer — in part by converting third downs — will gain a considerable edge.
“It doesn’t matter how fast you go, if you’re not making first downs, you’re not going to be out there,” coach Paul Johnson said. “Now, when they get that thing humming and they’re getting in rhythm and they’re making first downs, they can wear you out. Anybody can when they’re going that fast, just like our offense can wear you out when we’re converting third downs and we’re holding the ball for eight minutes.”
Injury report: Starting A-back Deon Hill will miss Saturday’s game with an illness. Johnson said Tuesday at his news conference that Hill would play, but was told otherwise afterward. Hill likely will be replaced in the starting lineup by B.J. Bostic, also his replacement last week.
The tough-luck saga of offensive tackle Morgan Bailey continues. Johnson said he is out for Saturday with an injury. Bailey, who has been beset with various injuries throughout his career, was a projected starter, but suffered a sports hernia that required surgery before the preseason. He was cleared to play against Duke, but then didn’t practice Tuesday or Wednesday.
Nose tackle Shawn Green will be available. Green practiced for the first time this week after undergoing shoulder surgery during spring practice.
Johnson said there was no update on safety Isaiah Johnson, returning from an ACL tear.
Etc.: Johnson said he thought that wide receivers Micheal Summers and Corey Dennis will start for the third game in a row. The two starters are chosen by wide receivers coach Buzz Preston. … Johnson on the week’s practice: “It’s been OK. I wouldn’t call it great.” … With the Jackets playing next week on Thursday against Virginia Tech, Johnson said he’ll start the practice week Sunday. Typically, the team has Sundays off and starts Monday.
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