September 21, 2009

Jackets changing defensive look

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets made a change of plans Monday due to flooding in the Atlanta area. The people in charge of the Georgia Dome were kind enough to host the Jackets for practice on Monday evening. The team went through their typical full pads Tuesday practice on Monday. Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack announced several possible lineup changes this week due to injuries and certain matchups.

"The nickel and husky position we will play Jerrard Tarrant there some and let the other corners hold down their spots. Rashaad Reid will play safety for us until we get some guys healthy and back. I am not really sure at this point who we will have back."

Wommack says there will be more of a 4-3 flavor to the defense this week instead of the 4-2-5 scheme they have been favoring.

"We will also have more of a three linebacker scheme this week," he said. "We got more of a three linebacker scheme so we can cover all the bases, but yet keep it simple."

Julian Burnett will move into the rotation along with starters Brad Jefferson and Sedric Griffin as the Jackets attempt to get their best three playmakers on the field at the same time. Anthony Barnes who would normally be the strongside linebacker will back up Burnett this week.

"AT is working with the second unit because Steven Sylvester is hurt," Wommack said. "The three linebackers that would start today are Brad, Sedric and Julian Burnett on the other side. We are trying to get the best eleven on the field and the young guys are still making too many mistakes, but they are going to have to get reps and experience. We are trying to get the best guys on the field and we have some guys nicked up."

Safety Dominique Reese is still nursing a shoulder injury and was practicing in a non-contact jersey on Monday. Cooper Taylor is still in a red jersey and not practicing with an undisclosed injury.

"We probably won't start in the 4-2-5, but we will use Rod Sweeting as one of the corners and we would use Mario Butler as the other corner," Wommack said.

North Carolina presents a variety of challenges for the Georgia Tech defense according to Wommack.

"They are so talented and their wide receivers are starting to develop for them especially Erik Highsmith," he said. "They are a physical football team and their offensive line does a great job of combo blocking off. They have two real physical backs with one being more of a speed guy. Their quarterback is also starting to settle in after that first game. We will have to pick it up this week and put it all together."

Dwyer returns to the lineup

After missing Sunday's practice with a shoulder stinger, Jonathan Dwyer returned to the practice field Monday in the Georgia Dome.

"The shoulder is good and I was able to practice today and I was able to pretty much participate in the whole practice. I am trying to do better and help get myself and my team ready for Saturday," he said.

Dwyer says his struggles are a function of the whole offense not playing together as a unit.

"We just have to go back to the basics of knowing what is going on and playing full speed with everyone in unison," Dwyer said. "It is all about playing hard and being on the same page. The big plays will come for me and I just have to be patient. Hopefully the big play happens and everyone can feed off me and I will feed off everyone else too."

During the Miami game, Dwyer says the staff did not allow him to return to the game following the stinger in his shoulder even though he wanted to return to the lineup.

"It hurt seeing my team fighting out there and they were trying to make big plays and I could not do anything about it because I was hurt on the sideline," he said. "It was tough and I wish I was out there playing with them. I sat out yesterday so I could be healthy for the whole game this week."

Normal practice

Coach Johnson categorized Monday's practice as a normal Tuesday practice.

"It was a normal practice and we got some things done," Johnson said. "We appreciate being able to use the Dome and that helped us out immensely. We had a typical Tuesday practice today and we need to get better and we have three days more to work on it."

Looking back at fall camp and the season so far Johnson sees why the team has struggled in the last two games and how difficult the road ahead is for the team.

"I think it is hard to win," Johnson said. "If you take winning for granted then you will be disappointed because there is a lot of hard work that goes into it. Our guys have worked and I think that the last game was a much mental as physical. We played two good teams and I was telling someone today that we have a schedule for hell. We go back-to-back with Clemson and Miami, which are two of the more physical teams. Then we have North Carolina another team like that coming in. Then we go to Mississippi State then Florida State and then host Virginia Tech. That is a brutal stretch for anybody. We played the first three in 12 days. We are beat up physically and it is hard to get up for those types of games."

Coach Johnson expects his players to respond for the North Carolina game with the extra rest and the chip on their shoulders from the Miami game and last year's loss to North Carolina.

"I think they will respond and they will come back. We had a good practice today and we might be playing the best team we have played," Johnson said. "I think our offense is better and we played a couple of really good defenses. I do not know if anyone caught the Boston College-Clemson game. How many first downs did Boston College make four? They have 50 yards of total offense. We had 418 yards of total offense and there is something wrong with us? We can be so much better than we are. I know we are better than we were at this point last year."

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