September 13, 2009

Jackets working on improving offense

On Sunday afternoon, the Georgia Tech football practiced in full pads preparing for their upcoming Thursday night showdown with Miami on the road. Head Coach Paul Johnson sees a lot of areas where he wants improvement and the Jackets are working on ways to work specific matchups to their advantage.

Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan has been on fire this season with five sacks in two games, but he will face tough competition on Thursday from the Hurricanes talented offensive tackle Jason Fox. Coach Johnson and defensive line coach Giff Smith are working on some scheming to make sure Morgan is not exclusively matched up with Miami's best lineman on every play.

"It will be a good matchup, Derrick is a great player as is Jason Fox," Johnson said. "It ought to be worth the price of admission. We need to find some ways to get Derrick lined up away from Jason. We don't want him on Jason Fox all the time."

One of the biggest ways the Jackets can take pressure off Morgan is creating pressure on at the opposite edge position so teams do not chip with tight ends or backs on every play like Clemson did in the second half of last Thursday's game. The triple and double teams in the second half held Morgan sack-less.

"The other position is going to be huge as we get further into the season," Johnson said of the other end position. "We got to find a way to create pressure with other people. I thought Anthony Egbuniwe showed some signs on Thursday night. He did some good things at times coming off the other edge. Hopefully he will grow and continue to get better."

Egbuniwe played more snaps on the second half of Thursday night's game than starter Robert Hall. Coach Smith has been rotating the three ends at the two positions and Coach Johnson expects those rotations to continue.

"They are both going to play because you get beat down. They cannot play every play and Derrick can't play every play and I am certain Robert can't," he said.

The coaching staff has been exploring possible nickel pass rushers including backup linemen Osahon Tongo and Albert Rocker and there is a possibility Anthony Barnes or another linebacker could line up at end as the season progresses.

"We have looked at several people and worked with several guys," Johnson said.

Improving the offense

Quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon was not pleased with the execution of the offense on Thursday and he is looking for consistent long drives rather than one big play.

"We hit a big play, found a way to get some points without our offense and then we sputtered around on offense," Bohannon said. "I do not think we converted a third down in the first half. We had trouble converting third downs and being efficient at what we do."

While starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt's numbers were not impressive Thursday night, Bohannon says looking back on the evening only one of the two interceptions was a poor decision by Nesbitt.

"The first pick Nesbitt threw, the guy made a great play on it and you would like to get it in there with the safety a little further away from the ball," he said. "The second one he threw, he just waited too long. You cannot sit back there and wait that long, if it is not there he needs to eat it and run. The two big throws to Anthony Allen and Demaryius Thomas were huge."

Nesbitt completed three of his 14 attempts for 83 yards with two interceptions and Bohannon expects better production next Thursday from the offense.

"It was not what we like to have, but he made some plays when it counted and we found a way to win, so that is a positive," Bohannon said. "We have to do a better job of executing and having all 11 on the same page so when things are done correctly you hit some plays. Right now, we are a feast or famine. We hit the big one or are three and out. That is not what we want to be and we need to keep working on it."

Bohannon says B-back Jonathan Dwyer's struggles to get going offensively were a function of the offense not executing with precision. Dwyer was held to 66 yards on 18 carries.

"There were times they were taking Jon on the option and there were times when they did not and we could not get everything going upfront to get the crease," Bohannon said. "There were a few times he had the crease, but he tripped. Everything was not fitting up like it should and we have to do a better job."

Special Teams delivering

One of the biggest weaknesses on the 2008 Georgia Tech football team special teams has been one of their biggest strengths this season. Punt returner Jerrard Tarrant already has returned punts for touchdowns in both games this season.

"Special teams has been very big and have not been great in the other areas, but we have been okay," Johnson said. "Jerrard has made a huge difference and it is just like anything, when you have talented people back there it makes the schemes look better."


Jaybo Shaw is healing quickly from his broken collarbone and he was in full pads in a gold non-contact jersey on Sunday. Coach Johnson says he should be ready for the North Carolina game.

"We are expecting him back for North Carolina," Johnson said of Shaw. "He is working non-contact, but he is working."

Wide receiver Tyler Melton is also on a timetable to return around the North Carolina game from his sprained MCL. He was in a red jersey during Sunday's practice.

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