Dec. 17, 2014
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
Mike Sewak took time to ruminate the other day, and it was clear that Georgia Tech’s offensive line coach is pleased with this season and looking forward to next.
The Yellow Jackets (10-3) are preparing to play Mississippi State (10-2) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31, and a less time-compressed practice process for the past few days – school’s out – has afforded opportunity to think ahead, a little.
Freshman offensive lineman Gary Brown was named the offensive scout team player of the year recently (senior defensive lineman Jabari Hunt-Days, who is working to regain academic eligibility, was tabbed defensive scout team POY), and Brown has impressed Sewak up front. He’s not alone among non-starters.
There will be one obvious hole to fill in 2015.
Right guard Shaq Mason has graded out the highest among O-linemen in every game, and was named first team All-America by USA Today, second team AA by Sports Illustrated and third team AA by the Associated Press.
The senior from Columbia, Tenn., is the only starting O-lineman slated to leave The Flats after the Jackets play the Bulldogs.
And Sewak is not guaranteeing any of them will start.
Shamire Devine (6-7, 363) has improved while spelling Braun, and as long as he stays on track, Devine is a good bet to start at a guard spot as a third-year sophomore in 2015.
“Shamire did a nice job on his pulls, and his logs, his pass protection. He needs to continue to work on his footwork, continue to work on his pad level,” Sewak said. “We’re going to work every day on his weight loss program. He’s demonstrated in games that he can get over there and give the quarterback a lane.
“On a trap, when he goes over there, there are some people who know he came through.”
Sewak won’t be surprised if Brown, a 6-foot-3, 288-pounder, and true freshman Andrew Marshall (6-4, 270) press for substantial playing time next fall. Marshall has played in 10 games behind Burden – the 2012 offensive scout team player of the year. His technique has been ahead of his strength.
“Gary is a hard-nosed, tough kid who continues to work hard. A couple times this fall I brought him up for a day or two . . . and I was really impressed with his footwork,” Sewak said. “A year of redshirting has really helped him. Not every single day is somebody having a good day. Gary’s never had a bad day.
“Freddie’s been here three off-seasons, and Marshall hasn’t been here one.”
There is more good news.
After battling injuries early, Joe (6-3, 313) came on to play 12 of 13 games, starting the last six. Griffin started the first seven games at right tackle before an injury kept him out of the Pitt game. Griffin has been subbing since, and saw generous playing time in the ACC Championship Game at left tackle.
“Chris did a good a job switching from the right to the left to give Bryan a break. That gives us some depth,” Sewak said. “Errin has had a good fall. I’d say he’s a guy who has been a surprise.”
Others may emerge in the spring. That would be fine with the offensive line coach.
“I’m looking forward to having that kind of depth with that kind of athletes,” Sewak said. “If you have a bad day, you might find yourself running with the 2s.”
Now, back to Orange Bowl preparations.