April 16, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
Saturday looked to be one of those days for Synjyn Days. To give credit where due, he never gave in to what had to be a frustrating practice/scrimmage.
Yet while opportunities did not exactly abound, neither did the aspiring Georgia Tech quarterback often seize them on occasions when they were there.
Days is getting a lot more work this spring than last summer and fall, when he red-shirted. There have been signs, elst head coach Paul Johnson would not say something like, “he’s talented,” as PJ did after Saturday mornings’ action.
But after a scrimmage in which Days fumbled a few times, threw some wonky passes, and slipped several times in part because the grass in Bobby Dodd Stadium was moist and his pace was occasionally too supersonic, Johnson first said in response to a question about Days: “He struggled with the ball.”
And therein lays reference to a very, very high priority.
As he competes with Tevin Washington to be Tech’s starting quarterback (anyone who thinks Vad Lee is going to come in here this summer and get up to speed in this offense in time to start the season is nuts), there never seems to be an unhappy Days. He’s a smiler.
The young man is realistic, though. He didn’t use slick turf as an excuse for his feet going out from under him a couple times when he dropped back to pass, and a couple other times when he went to make a cut. Saturday morning wasn’t what he wanted, what coach Paul Johnson wanted. No way around it.
“You have to adapt to different conditions, and . . . I didn’t do that,” Days said. “I try to keep a smile on my face even if I throw an interception or something, try to have a positive attitude.”
Speaking of positives, senior A-back Roddy Jones had a solid day, flashing a mid-season kind of form. Outside linebacker Steven Sylvester was on it Saturday as well, and Johnson tipped a proverbial cap in the direction of B-backs Charles Perkins and Preston Lyons.
The first string offensive line was better than a week ago, something acknowledged by even the grand poobah/skeptic.
In wrapping up a brief overview, the passing game continues to struggle. Those same blockers who were more effective in the run game Saturday were not better in pass protection. Wide receiver Stephen Hill dropped perhaps the only pretty downfield pass, along the left sideline.
But overall, Washington did not impersonate a precision passer. Nor did Days, who worked mostly behind the not-so-stainless shield of the backup line.
“There’s not a lot of time (behind the No. 2 line), but we have a lot of young guys up there,” Days said. “We’re trying to teach them what to do. I’m not going to be upset with them. I’m going to encourage them the way they encourage me.”
This is big-boy football, and if No. 10 makes the mistake of expecting his coaches to offer non-stop positive reinforcement, Days will be in bigger trouble.
Here’s some of what quarterbacks coach Brian Bohannon said: “He’s got to take care of the ball. We drove, he got a little tired, and things started going in the opposite direction. He’s got to improve. He’s got to do better than that.”
Ball security, a big problem for the Jackets in the second half of last season, is both a mental and physical thing, Days said.
So is the game at large. Ya gotta get ready for the next one. Perhaps Synjyn Days will learn more from a day where he struggled than from a day of smooth sailing.
“You start to see tendencies that pop out when you have bad days,” he said. “I guess I can say today was one of those days for me because I didn’t do as well as I hoped, but I’m going to keep striving.”