Oct. 28, 2010
By Matt Winkeljohn
Phil Smith is on the verge of going home to Tampa Bay for the first time since late July, chowing on home cooking, fishing a bunch, visiting buddies and perhaps hitting the beach.
The Yellow Jackets are looking forward to a little R & R this weekend, as they don’t play a game until Thursday night at Virginia Tech, and that’s not the only thing different about Georgia Tech’s approach this week. Even though the Jackets lost 27-13 last Saturday at Clemson, head coach Paul Johnson and the Jackets have spent more time than usual looking back at positive developments.
The schedule allows it, and the Jackets need it.
“[Co-offensive line] Coach (Mike) Sewak showed us plays that we’re going to be running in this game that we ran last year, not just against Virginia Tech, and he says, `This is how you do it. This is why we do it,’ and `that’s a great job doing it and if you can emulate that, we’ll be fine,” said Smith, a sophomore tackle who has a flight home tonight and a return trip very early Monday.
“You don’t want to always focus on the negative. You want to look at what you’ve done right and accentuate that.”
In a normal week, Tech barrels full-speed ahead in preparation. This week, there has been a little reflection.
The Jackets have struggled at times on both lines of scrimmage this season while going 5-3, and 3-2 in the ACC.
Yet the fact they still can win the Coastal Division title (if they win their three remaining ACC games, and either North Carolina, Miami or Virginia can beat Virginia Tech) is incentive enough.
“We’ve been doing this for a long, long time, and we’ll continue to do it,” Johnson said of his offense. “We’ve just got to get better at it.”
On defense, the Jackets and their staff have not being doing what they’re doing for a long time, at least not relative to the offense, where much of the staff has been intact for a year.
In the first season in defensive coordinator Al Groh’s 3-4 scheme, Tech has at times pared the game plan to make it easier for players to play faster.
Defenders, too, are taking a slightly different approach this week.
“[The bye] kind of gives us a chance to go back a couple games and reflect on what we did right, see what we did wrong and try to correct it,” said outside linebacker Steven Sylvester. “It’s kind of a rebuilding week if you will. When you’re going straight into another game you don’t have time to go back and look [at the positive]; it’s definitely a repair process.
“This week is good for us. We played hard. We didn’t get everything right, but the effort was there. When you can go back and look and see that not everything was wrong, it’s a confidence booster.”
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