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Johnson Shines in Tech's Final Scrimmage

April 16, 2005

ATLANTA–Junior quarterback Reggie Ball passed for 181 yards and accounted for four touchdowns and sophomore Calvin Johnson caught six passes for 121 yards and one score to highlight Georgia Tech’s final scrimmage Saturday morning at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, the conclusion of spring drills for the Yellow Jackets.

Ball completed 16 of 29 passes with two interceptions. He connected with Johnson for a 10-yard scoring pass, with sophomore Pat Clark for a 14-yard touchdown pass and with junior tight end Mike Matthews for a 24-yard touchdown. Ball also scored on a one-yard run.

Tech’s two-year starter, Ball maintained his position as the number one signal caller after a challenge from redshirt freshman Taylor Bennett.

“I think he’s taken a step toward maturing in the quarterback position, and that means leadership,” said Gailey of Ball. “I think he’s taken another step in that area. But, to be a great leader, you have to play well. You can’t be a great leader and not be a good player.

“There’s a definite one and two, no question. I see him throwing to the right people. Sometimes he gets a little bit behind the receiver, like the interception he threw (to Joe Gaston). It was a little bit behind Calvin, but it was the right decision.

“I think our quarterbacks, Reggie especially, had a solid spring,” continued Gailey. “We turned it over a little bit too much, but we’re getting better. Taylor Bennett got better. We’ve got some work to do, but we got better in some areas.”

Bennett completed six of 13 passes for 32 yards, and another redshirt freshman, Kyle Manley, connected with walk-on Tyler Davis on a 13-yard touchdown pass.

Johnson, the 6-4, 225-pounder from Tyrone, Ga., continues to impress and amaze.

“I think we’ve come to expect everything that Calvin does,” said Gailey. “He’s obviously a great player who can go out and make some big plays, and he tends to do that every time he’s on the field.”

With the Tech offense working more on the passing game, redshirt freshman Loyall Gause was the leading rusher with 61 yards on 10 carries. Sophomore Rashaun Grant added a one-yard touchdown run.

Still, Gailey was pleased with Tech’s rebuilt offensive line, which has been a focus.

“This is the best the offensive line has played all spring,” Gailey said. “That was encouraging to me. I like that we ended on a positive note.”

Tech’s defense has looked strong all spring, and Saturday the unit came up with several big plays, including interceptions by safeties Chris Reis and Joe Gaston and cornerback Jamal Lewis.

With a veteran defense that returns nine starters, the Tech coaches have been evaluating young players who can improve the Jackets’ depth, and Gailey noted the play of Gaston, the backup to Reis at strong safety, and linebacker Gary Guyton, playing behind KaMichael Hall at outside linebacker.

“I thought Gary Guyton made some good strides in spring practice,” said Gailey. “In the secondary, that’s the best Joe Gaston has played since he’s been here.”

Tech opens the season Sept. 3 at national runner-up Auburn.

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