April 20, 2013
By Matt Winkeljohn
With football’s spring practice season in the books, here’s a quick look back at Friday’s spring game and a few odds and ends.
* The secondary appears to be the deepest part of the squad with senior starters Jemea Thomas, Louis Young and Isaiah Johnson back. Junior safety Jamal Golden, who saw quite a bit of action last season, and sophomore Chris Milton, who also played later in 2012, return as well.
Sophomore D.J. White and redshirt freshman Lynn Griffin had solid springs, and Fred Holton may factor if he kicks the injury bug. Redshirt freshman Holland Frost, a walk-on safety, led all tacklers with eight stops Friday.
“With the new defense, we’re just trying to get in the groove with things and then we can be more aggressive,” said Thomas, who had an interception Friday. “Jamal’s come a long way. He’s more physical now.
“We used to have a problem with him hitting, him and Chris. But they’ve come a long way, and they’re getting into it. D.J. is doing well; he’s got excellent footwork. He’s just on it. He’s going to be a great player; him and Lynn Griffin.”
* There will be a lot of new faces on the defensive line, where on Friday it was hard to miss sophomore end Jimmie Kitchens (five tackles) and sophomore tackle Adam Gotsis (three).
“I know one guy that stands out is Adam Gotsis; he’s just tall and athletic,” said quarterback Vad Lee. “He can really come to the quarterback. I was joking with him earlier because he started playing football late, and he doesn’t take it easy on the quarterback. Most guys will kind of let up. He’ll take you to the ground every time.”
* The competition to replace Orwin Smith at A-back includes a lot of young men. Deon Hill caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Lee and rushed once for 18 yards. Synjyn Days led all receivers with three receptions for 33 yards and rushed four times for 33 yards. Redshirt freshman Dennis Andrews carried three times for 37 yards. Robbie Godhigh had three carries for 21 yards.
“Dennis does some really good things with the ball in his hands,” said coach Paul Johnson. “He’s got to be a better blocker. I’d like for one of those guys to jump out and become a go-to guy. Right now, Robbie’s the most experienced.”
* The offensive line is going to have to be a lot better by game time. Injuries to and surgeries on several players, including starting center Jay Finch, Freddie Burden, Will Jackson and Bryan Chamberlain among others up front stretched the Jackets thin this spring. There were four muffed center-QB exchanges Friday.
There were only three sacks total, but that was partly a function of Lee and Justin Thomas making a few remarkable scrambles. There were four
“Once we get our O-line healthy, I feel like we can do a better job protecting,” Lee said.
“I think they did a lot better than in the [earlier] scrimmages. I’m excited and encouraged going into the fall.”
* Assistant coaches were calling the offensive plays rather than Johnson. Lee was quite content when his White squad went no-huddle.
“I was pretty much out there doing my thing. I kind of liked that,” he said. “It was just something we decided to do. I really enjoyed that. I’m just working hard, trying to be the No. 1 guy. Last year I tried to work as if I was the No. 1 guy. I’m just going to continue to work hard.”