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Back To The Basics

Jan. 31, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn

Sting Daily

Deep in the offseason, if there really is such a thing where college football is concerned, and with signing day one day off, recruiting is not all that has been on the mind of head coach Paul Johnson and his staff.

The Yellow Jackets are still smarting after finishing last season 6-7.

Players are trying to create greater accountability among themselves, trying to foster better relationships and more confidence – chemistry if you will. And Johnson and the coaches have reviewed the past season, and while Tech is not going to become a passing team, he is committed to seeing the Jackets become better at passing.

“We’ve got to be able to execute it better, coach it better, be more consistent in throwing, catching and blocking,” Johnson said. “Everybody talks about balance. You don’t have to be balanced. We have to be efficient. Completing 40 percent is not efficient. We have to find ways to help that.”

When spring practice begins, sophomore Tevin Washington will be the No. 1 quarterback, but he has not been handed the job past that point even though he finished the past season in that job after Joshua Nesbitt broke his leg at Virginia Tech.

David Sims will move from quarterback to B-back, Johnson said, and redshirt freshman Synjyn Days and two incoming freshmen will compete with Washington for the job.

“Oh yeah, no question, I think that will a battle,” Johnson said. “In my mind, [all positions] are all open.”

With an eye toward creating more depth, and competition, and improving pass protection, Johnson said defensive linemen J.C. Lanier and Anthony Williams – both redshirt freshmen – are being moved to offensive line.

For other reasons, B-back Jon Drummond is being moved to linebacker.

Beyond all the X’s and O’s, senior wide receiver Tyler Melton said players are trying to improve chemistry that was sketchy last season.

“We have to get back to square one, working hard every day and just being humble,” he said. “It started early with our team meetings. We want everyone to feel like they’re part of a group, and part of something bigger than themselves.”

Linebacker Steven Sylvester said the Jackets are in offseason workouts holding themselves accountable to each other more so than last season. And they’re not kidding themselves about what to expect.

“I think we were kind of riding the coattails [last season] of what we did before,” he said. “We walked in expecting a lot, like [opponents] were just going to lay down their helmets.”

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