Defensive Front Makes Progress

ATLANTA (April 7) – Georgia Tech’s defense has looked strong all spring, and Saturday’s practice was no different as the Yellow Jackets conducted some controlled scrimmage sessions at Rose Bowl Field.

“We tried to get a lot of situation work done today, third down, red zone, things like that, and defensively I thought they did some good things today,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary, whose squad concludes spring drills with one final workout Monday. “But the offense had its moments, too.”

Tech returns nine starters from last year’s defensive unit, which ranked 20th in the nation in points allowed. The front seven has been particularly active this spring, led by all-conference defensive ends Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.) and Nick Rogers (East Point, Ga.) and linebacker Recardo Wimbush (Blakely, Ga.),

“Upfront defensively they got after it pretty good in the rush scheme,” said O’Leary. “We have more people inside than we’ve had in the past who can get off blocks and run and help us win. That’s an area where I thought we’ve been hurt in past years.”

Tech’s top returnee at defensive tackle, senior and three-year starter Merrix Watson (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.), is sitting out the spring after off-season knee surgery, giving plenty of repetitions to some developing young players, including junior Gary Johnson (LaGrange, Ga.), sophomore Reggie Koon (Miramar, Fla.) and redshirt freshman Albert Malone (Frisco City, Ala.). Junior transfer Casey Loesch (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and junior Fred Wright (Lehigh Acres, Fla.), who played defensive end last fall, are also in the mix.

“You’re never good enough,” said O’Leary of his defense. “You’re always looking to get better; that’s part of coaching. I’ve always said you’re only as good as you are two-deep, and I think we better in the two-deep than we have been in the past. But we still need to improve a lot.”

On offense, redshirt freshman tailback Jimmy Dixon (Arlington, Texas) had another good showing.

“Dixon keeps impressing me as far as hitting some lanes,” said O’Leary. “The quarterbacks weren’t as sharp as I would have liked them today. They have a lot on their minds because the defense is giving them a lot of situations and a lot of problems. That’s what I wanted done because I wanted to see how the quarterbacks handled it.

“Overall, it was a good day. We scrimmaged some, but we also did some installation, so we got a lot done.”

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