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Uniquely Qualified

Oct. 17, 2011

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Daniel Drummond is uniquely qualified to comment on frame of mind because the redshirt sophomore inside linebacker is the only Georgia Tech football player to list Snoopy as his favorite cartoon character, the only player to list Maxim as the magazine cover that he’d most like to be on, and the only player to list Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane as the most famous person he’s met.

Hey, it’s time for a little levity here. The world is not coming to an end, nor even spinning a different direction than it was before the Yellow Jackets’ bummer of a game Saturday at Virginia.

Rather than try to over-critique Tech’s situation, we’ll let Drummond dial up the Jackets’ psyche.

He was at that game, but didn’t play. He came close, and warmed up, but missed his second straight contest with a leg injury. Drummond hopes to be able to play Saturday at Miami.

From his vantage point as a sideline spectator at Virginia and from having been in the locker room, in meeting rooms, in practice, and around his teammates . . . he has formed some of the same impressions as head coach Paul Johnson and you.

Most importantly, the Jackets in recent weeks were trending consistently toward diminishing returns, not in the punt and kickoff games, but everywhere. The weight of their situation, ranked No. 12 in the nation before playing the Cavaliers, may have pressed down upon them.

“We do try to focus on every game, but I guess it kind of got to our heads,” he said. “We were 6-0, and . . . everybody knew we weren’t playing as good as we should have in the last couple games. Coach Johnson said we were playing with fire, and we got burned.”

Johnson has commented about Tech’s relative lethargy in recent weeks in practice and games alike.

Virginia, like Maryland a week earlier, N.C. State two weeks earlier and North Carolina before that, had more rushing success than Tech can comfortably tolerate. That’s Drummond’s deal. The 6-foot-3, 248-pounder began transitioning from B-back to inside linebacker in the spring, and while stand-in Quayshawn Nealy has shown improvements, he’s preferred in passing situations.

Drummond’s heft (he’s not slow, either), is preferred against (rather than in) the ground game.

“I definitely felt like I could have helped,” he said. “[Linebacker] has turned out to be a more natural position for me because of my body type. I definitely do miss offense. There’s nothing better than taking a handoff and getting through the defense and seeing nothing but green grass in front of you, but it’s not my natural position.

“I’m probably a little too tall, a little too big, so linebacker is where I need to be; it’s where I can help the team the most.”

Drummond is shockingly big for a linebacker. Did the Virginia game shock the Jackets?

“Absolutely,” he said. “I think this loss will just make us more hungry and ready for Miami. I feel like practice will be more focused as will our preparation and film time . . . everything. It’s obvious that anybody can beat anybody else on a given Saturday. I think we know we’re going to have to have our A game against every team here out. I hate that we lost, but I guess it was a wake-up call.”

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