#STINGDAILY: Tired Test

Aug. 7, 2012

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

As a dying breed, two-a-day football practices have been given no voice in the matter, and if you could squeeze the truth out of some Georgia Tech players after they go through a pair of fully-padded sessions today most — if not all of them — would probably say that they’re alright with that.

Coaches might answer differently.

Fatigue may not, in fact, make cowards of us all. But it gives coaches some serious ideas about things.

Crunch time equals fatigue time in sport. There are occasions where the least tired athlete may not be at as much of a disadvantage as the athlete who most is affected by his or her fatigue psychologically or mentally. Fourth quarter, tight game, physical fatigue is physical fatigue but in whom does it lead to mental burnout or a sagging of spirit? Who can’t think straight when they’re tired? Who can?

There has been a lot of talk around the Jackets about enthusiasm and results from the offseason program of new strength and conditioning coach John Sisk. The fact that the Hokies are first up on the schedule has surely helped. What happens, though, when everybody’s dog tired?

Quarterback Tevin Washington’s probably not going to wear out.

“I feel like being a competitor, when you’re with other guys who are competitors and you set a goal or a mark . . . and you don’t reach that goal, it’s like I’m back to the drawing board and I’ve got to get to that goal,” he said. “You’ve got to do everything you can to reach your goals.”

Some Yellow Jackets have said in times like those the team will experience today, linebacker Julian Burnett was one of the players who would try to pull up his teammates by the figurative boot straps. He’s not playing this year because of a neck injury suffered in the Sun Bowl; he seems unlikely to ever play.

So there is a search on to find others like him. Preferably multiples.

There already are more of some kinds of stress being placed upon the Jackets as they ready themselves for another season. Opening the season at Virginia Tech is a lot different than opening with Jacksonville State, South Carolina State or Western Carolina.

Plus, after playing Presbyterian five days after the Monday night opener, Tech will have back-to-back ACC games at home against Virginia and Miami.

Perhaps the first month of the season will not make or break it, but . . . it’ll be big. It’ll probably require some stress management.

“We may be the only team in America with three division games in the month of September,” said head coach Paul Johnson. “While it is a challenge, it gives you a lot to work toward.”

Actually, it worked out quite well the last time the Jackets had three ACC games in September.

In 2009, Georgia Tech beat Clemson, lost at Miami, and beat North Carolina on the way to a 7-1 conference record, a win in the ACC Championship Game, and a berth in the Orange Bowl opposite Iowa.

“Is it an important game in Blacksburg? Historically, it has been,” Johnson said. “Is it the end-all, be-all to the season? I would doubt it. . . . You’re not going to win anything in that first game. What you can do is put yourself in a much better position if you win.”

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