Weekly Grub-fest Helps O-Line Get On Same Page

Oct. 10, 2010

Next game: Saturday vs. Middle Tennessee State, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN3.com)

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Teammates say Jay Finch doesn’t always know where he is, but the redshirt freshman reserve center-turned starting left guard and the rest of Georgia Tech’s offensive linemen knew where they were going in Saturday’s 33-21 win over Virginia.

Their bearings have not always been so keen. The needle on that compass was bent most of the first five games.

Finch started Saturday at left guard, where Will Jackson was injured last week and Nick McRae struggled. These are three pieces of a unit that’s been sorely in need of one theme rather than five.

Time for some food. Keep reading; you’ll see.

Previously Sean Bedford’s backup, Finch was on his game Saturday even if he wasn’t up to speed on the offensive line’s most recent dinner out.

Every Thursday the Tech O-liners pull chow together away from campus. Finch was excited after the Virginia game (in multiple ways) to explain that the group had been to places like the Brazilian steak house Fogo de Chao, and a killa burger house (and biker pub) in Five Points by the name of Vortex.

That didn’t just happen. Finch didn’t just say, “Hey, let me tell you about where we eat.”

Here, a parachutist drops into this story and adds background to clear fog.

There was an oddly detached interviewer present for questions from others to Finch like, “How did you feel making your first start?” and “How did it feel playing guard instead of center?” and “Did you take pride in Anthony Allen rushing for 195 yards?” and “Were you glad than Anthony finally scored?”

The concepts of these questions bored the interviewer terribly. He was irritated, actually, ashamed to have once been considered one of them, one of the mainstream sports media.

Antsy but patient enough to wait for a chance to interrogate with intelligence and design (it was a loose plan, but not rote), the rebellious interviewer waited until the riff-raff drifted away in their searches for answers to more mindless questions.

Then, he started probing for depth, figuring that there had to be something more interesting about Bedford, Finch, Omoregie Uzzi, Nick Claytor, Phil Smith, Austin Barrick, McRae and the other galoots who toil as “O-linemen.”

These fellas didn’t just start blocking their butts off out of the blue. Tech rushed for 477 yards against Virginia – its most ever in an ACC game, this after back-to-back weeks rushing for fewer than 250 yards for the first time since the man known as PJ on message boards was hired prior to the 2008 season.

There had to be background on the conglomerate about whom Bedford said, “As poorly as we’d played, and as maligned as we were, this was a game we had to have.”

After some babble that would likely strike you as less interesting than what you’ve read up to now, the great interrogator arrived at details of Tech offensive linemen eating dinner out every Thursday.

A snafu quickly popped up, like fishing line tangled in submerged structure. See something here in this up-down stuff? Confusion has reigned for a while now.

Pressed on where the O-line ate this week, Finch was flat stumped even though he’d offered the tip about their hog fest in the first place.

So Finch hollers across the room and asks Bedford, who is surrounded by other reporters. The savvy senior center says, “We ate at Fellini’s.”

Next question for Finch: which Fellini’s?

Silence. A goofy smile. Panic unlike anything the lad showed in Bobby Dodd Stadium Saturday.

End of interview.

Quizzed directly later, Bedford said, “The one on Howell Mill Rd. [Finch] doesn’t know what’s going on, but make sure you don’t say that about the way he played; he played great. And by the way, I am in no way endorsing Fellini’s.”

Finch’s retort moments earlier (to a question asked by an interrogator who planned to ask Bedford about details): “I just ride in the car.”

At least they’re all in the same car, or two.

Earlier in the week, co-offensive line coach Mike Sewak said, “God . . . doesn’t tell us how much heart we can pour into the game or how much mental toughness we can develop. That becomes individual character, and I think when you find that you’ll find that development comes along.”

Apparently, the O-line toughened up as Allen rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

Sewak said earlier in the week that, “my guys play for the last two paragraphs in the story. You only come talk to us if there’s a problem.”

Not true.

When a team rushes for nearly half a thousand, the guys up front get a whole story – even if they’re not sure where they are sometimes.

“I think we did a much better job of opening up holes and controlling the line,” Bedford said. “When we do that, we win and that’s just the bottom line.”

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