The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets hit the playing field under gloomy conditions Friday night in Bobby Dodd Stadium for their annual spring scrimmage. Under cloudy skies and chilly 49 degree temperatures, head coach Paul Johnson surveyed his squad on the field and a few surprises were possibly thrown his way.
For the first time, we were treated to a showing of how projected starting quarterback Vad Lee could run the offense on a full-time basis. That showing, was not exactly what the folks of Georgia Tech wanted to see.
While rushing for an expected 62 yards on nine carries, the sophomore struggled mightily through the air for his White squad. While passing certainly isn’t the primary focus in Johnson’s triple-option offense, Lee went a lackluster 4-for-13 through the air for just 43 yards. Again, while a power run game is what makes this offense tick, those passing numbers certainly won’t guarantee a return trip to the ACC Championship Game for the Ramblin’ Wreck.
There were times where Lee just didn’t look comfortable commanding the offense, and that could become a red flag down the road. His counterparts, Justin Thomas and Tim Byerly, didn’t put up any eyebrow-raising numbers neither, although leading the Gold team to a 22-10 victory over the Lee-led White team.
While clearly the quarterback play didn’t open up many eyes, the defense–led by first-year coordinator Ted Roof–did.
The Georgia Tech defense seemed to be physical, fast, and focused. Basically, they were everything that Tech defenses from the past few seasons were not.
Defensive pressure made life a living nightmare for the offensive squads all night.
The White team, led by Lee, managed just 191 total yards on the evening. With pass-rushing being an obvious weak link of the defense last season, the first-team defense had their first-string quarterback under constant duress. The leader of the defense, senior OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, paved the way for his unit, recording six total tackles on the evening. Walk-on safety Holland Frost led all defensive players with eight total tackles for the White team.
Gold team linebacker Quayshawn Nealy provided the highlight moment of the night for the defense, returning a Vad Lee fumble 34 yards for a touchdown.
Again, this defense showed a lot of the traits that they have seemingly been missing the past few years. There was no question that Roof was going to make an impression, as he has everywhere else he has been. It just wasn’t expected to be this visible, this quickly.
When Johnson was asked about the impression his defense had made, he responded, “I think our defenders enjoy being a little more aggressive.”
And, aggressive they certainly were.