We here at the blog try to innovate when we can and plug up holes in our coverage as much as possible. Looking back, one of the biggest faults I think is not taking a close enough look at the Hokies’ opponent each week until right before the game.
So in an effort to remedy that, I’ll be doing a post earlier in the week about what’s going on with the team Virginia Tech will be playing. This will be a trial-and-error process until I can nail down a format. But we’ll give it a try. (And during a regular week, I think this might be a Monday thing.)
This is not meant to be a full scouting report on the Hokies’ opponent, just trying to catch up with some of the latest information. Ken Sugiura of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is a wonderful source of information on Georgia Tech. Check out his work here and his blog here. You can follow the paper’s Yellow Jackets Twitter feed here.
So what’s going on at Georgia Tech?
** A couple guys won’t be playing on defense. Georgia Tech suspended two starters on its defense for the opener for varying reasons.
Linebacker Daniel Drummond is serving a 1½-game suspension after pleading guilty in the offseason to boating under the influence. He played in 11 games last year, starting six, and finished with 44 tackles. Also, cornerback Louis Young will also miss the opener after selling two tickets he was allotted to last year’s Georgia game, an NCAA no-no. He made 52 tackles last year and had an interception.
With Young out, that’s six starters from last year’s defense that won’t be around for the opener. Four graduated and inside linebacker Julian Burnett, the team’s leading tackler the last two years, will miss this season and might have to end his football career prematurely because of a neck injury.
Jabari Hunt-Days will take Drummond’s place, the Jackets’ first redshirt freshman on defense to start a season opener since 2008. At corner, Georgia Tech can absorb the loss of Young a little better. Rod Sweeting and Jamea Thomas are expected to be the starting corners. Sweeting started last year as a junior. Thomas was a safety last year. Jamal Golden, a sophomore, will be the third option there.
** Backup quarterback Synjyn Days sounds like he’ll have a role somewhere. Jackets coach Paul Johnson has been coy about what he’s going to do with Tevin Washington‘s backup, but he told the AJC that he’d “be surprised if he didn’t play in the game somewhere.”
Days reportedly spent some of the preseason practicing at A-back (the tailback/slot receiver hybrid that lines up on the edge of the line in Johnson’s option offense). He’s also worked at punt return and kickoff return.
Whatever the situation, that’s one more thing for Virginia Tech to think about, especially if he’s capable of pulling up and throwing a pass on any given play.
** Calvin Johnson is not walking through that doo-ah. Or Stephen Hill for that matter. The Yellow Jackets lost their top two receivers from last year, including Hill, who had 820 yards (which might as well have been twice that in this offense) and five touchdowns last year before being a second-round draft pick by the New York Jets.
Jeff Greene, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound sophomore, and Jeremy Moore, a 6-3, 183-pound junior, are expected to be the starting receivers. Greene has not yet caught a college pass. Moore got limited action last year after missing 2010 with a torn ACL.
Barnes has been a backup each of the last three seasons but is expected to start this year. He has 47 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and one sack in his career. The question is whether he has enough stamina to stay in the game and be effective. Coaches think he’s up to the challenge. Groh complimented his “want-to.”
He should be a challenge to move for Virginia Tech’s guards and centers.
** On the injury front, there are a couple things to watch. Right tackle Morgan Bailey, the only new starter on the line, has been in a walking boot after suffering a foot injury. He’s been beat up all camp, suffering a concussion in the first week before the latest injury. If he can’t go, the Jackets would likely move left tackle Ray Beno to the right side and elevate backup Bryan Chamberlain to the starting left tackle spot. Backup right tackle Tyler Kidney could also play.
Safety Fred Holton has an undisclosed injury that has kept him off the practice field some, but reports are saying that he’ll play in the game.
B-back David Sims has been slowed for some of the preseason after undergoing a surgery to repair a stress fracture in his shin this summer. It doesn’t sound like he’s quite 100 percent, but he’s getting closer. Sims was the team’s second leading rusher behind Washington last year with 698 yards and seven touchdowns.
** This isn’t a serious note, but it’s worth mentioning. Who does Georgia Tech have working as a scout team quarterback for Virginia Tech? That’d be Justin Thomas, a true freshman quarterback who is mimicking the Hokies’ Logan Thomas.
Logan Thomas is 6-foot-6, 260 pounds; Justin Thomas is 5-11, 169 pounds. So there’s not much resemblance.