October 5, 2009

Jackets plan defensive changes

The Georgia Tech football held a light practice on Monday afternoon mainly going over the mistakes from the Mississippi State game and running through some special teams' drills. Head Coach Paul Johnson is focusing on the Florida State game this week and the importance of winning to keep their ACC Championship dreams alive.

"All the games are important and we get back into the league and clearly it is an important game. I do not know that anyone is going to win our division with two losses. With two losses, you might have a chance, but it would come down to some tiebreakers. I don't think if you lose more than two games you will have a chance to win our division or the ACC."

Defensively, Coach Johnson and the rest of the coaching staff were not pleased with the performance Saturday and Johnson suggested some changes could take place in the secondary this week.

"We are going to take a look and move some guys around back there," Johnson said. "We will see and know more about it after practice tomorrow."

Starting free safety Cooper Taylor remains out with an undisclosed injury and fellow safety Dominique Reese has been battling a bad shoulder since the Miami game and has not played either. Legally, Coach Johnson is not allowed to comment on Taylor's injury.

"Cooper is still out for this week and he is still struggling quite a bit," Johnson said. "We will continue to evaluate his injury. They had to fix some things and he had some surgery. The injury is fine now, but he is healing from where they had to go in."

Coach Johnson says he wants to see his defensive players take responsibility for their play and correct their mental errors.

"There was a lot that I was not happy with," Johnson said. "They were not being accountable or responsible. You have to play your responsibilities. There are a lot of things we have to do better."

The kick coverage was another area of concern because of poor execution from the kicking and coverage ends. The Jackets are 108th in kick return country in the nation.

"There are going to be a lot of changes, but I cannot go into them now," Johnson said of the kickoff coverage. "We will have some different personnel out there."

Kicking job still open

The ongoing battle between Scott Blair and Chris Tanner could drag into another game time decision this week. Tanner was responsible for field goals and extra points last week, while Blair handled the kickoffs. Johnson voiced his displeasure with Blair's kickoffs after practice Monday.

"Scott will be the kicker for kickoffs, we don't have another kicker for that," Johnson said.

Tanner says the competition remains open this week.

"I am not sure where things stand and we are always competing day in and day out. It is up to the coaches to decide who to put in," Tanner said.

Tanner got a chance to kick several extra points on Saturday, but he did not get a chance to kick any field goals.

"It was a lot of fun on Saturday and we kept scoring so I got a chance to go out there and kick," Tanner said. "My high school had cowbells too, so I was used to that. I would love to get a chance to kick a field goal and there were a couple of times we thought we were going to go out there on Saturday and we ended up converting on third down, so we did not get a chance, but hopefully I will get one soon."

Thomas shines in run-oriented offense

Jackets' wide receiver Demaryius Thomas continues to be one of the best in the nation. He is 15th in yards per game nationally and leads the ACC in that category. Thomas is also 10th in total receiving yards and leads the ACC in that category.

"I think he is a good player and I think he would be good not matter what he does," Johnson said. "I think he would catch a lot of balls in another offense, but I do not think he would average as much in yards per catch. He is a good player."

Johnson says Thomas' blocking may be the best on the team.

"At times he is a dominant blocker, probably most of the time," Johnson said of Thomas. "Saturday night on a couple of those touchdowns down in the red zone on the toss, he KO's the defensive end and cracks back. He is a big physical guy and a good blocker."

Night moves

Coach Johnson voiced his displeasure at playing two more night games in the next two weeks including this week's game against Florida State.

"We play at a different time every week," Johnson said. "It is what it is. It is not so bad when it is at home, but what kills you is being on the road."

Johnson also briefly addressed some of the internal strife at Florida State involving people asking head coach Bobby Bowden to step down.

"History will go down to say that he has accomplished an awful lot for Florida State and done a lot of good things for them," Johnson said. "Bobby is a good man and I don't know a whole lot about what is going on down there, but a man like him that has been an icon and a good guy for the profession you wish nothing, but the best. You would like to see it work out for him."

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