August 25, 2009

Jackets have more options at B-back

Heading into the 2009 football season the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are focused on developing greater depth at a variety of positions including B-back. Last year the Jackets leaned on starter Jonathan Dwyer very heavily and head coach Paul Johnson says the quality depth at that position will allow other players to contribute this season.

One of the biggest surprises in fall camp has been Preston Lyons. Lyons worked his way up from the third team B-back position and he appears to have locked up the backup position behind Dwyer.

"He has really had a good camp," Quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said of Lyons. "He has a natural feel for finding the crease between the tackles. He is stronger than he appears in the lower body, so he can break tackles. Lyons has done as good job as any of them blocking, which is the thing I am most proud of. He has really busted his tail to become a good blocker. He is the one I think that has had the best camp, flying around and making plays. We feel like he can go in there and he can make a difference and not just go in the game and take reps. We want him to make a difference and that was something we lacked last year and we do have more depth this year."

Coach Johnson says there are a number of players who can rotate at the B-back position this year, so Dwyer is not overloaded or exhausted during games.

"We have several players who can play in there," Johnson said. "Preston can play, Lucas Cox can play in there, Anthony Allen can play in there and Richard Watson. There are several guys who can play in there unlike last year. Hopefully Jon can get a break or two"

Bohannon echoed Johnson's statements and says Dwyer and Lyons will be the top options this season.

"We will rotate Watson and Lucas Cox depending on things. Lucas is playing a little A-back and would be a backup B-back if we needed it, but the top two are Jon and Preston for sure," Bohannon said.

Looking for quarterback depth

With backup quarterback, Jaybo Shaw sidelined for the first part of the season, developing depth will be a major issue over the next few weeks. Redshirt freshman Tevin Washington takes over in Shaw's absence.

"It is going okay, obviously Tevin is the second quarterback right now behind Josh Nesbitt at number one and we are trying to get those guys ready to play and then we are spotting some guys at that third spot for an emergency situation," Bohannon said.

David Sims was slotted as the third string quarterback, but the coaching staff is giving wide receiver Quentin Sims some snaps at quarterback so they do not have to burn David Sims redshirt year for a series or two if both Nesbitt and Washington go down.

"Quentin ran our offense in high school and he does a good job of it," Bohannon said. "He has a natural feel for running the option and he does some good things. He has been in the offense, but he has not been under center for a while. I think it is coach's philosophy that we are not going to play somebody like David if, for one thing they are not ready or two to put him in for just a play or two. We do not want to put him in a situation where he does not get his best four years. That is where we are right now and we are taking it day-by-day and we will see what happens."

David Sims who was at one point the fifth-string quarterback has improved over the last few weeks according to Bohannon.

"David is progressing and he is learning and showing improvement," he said. "He still has a lot of work to do, but he getting better and making improvements so that is encouraging."

The ankle injury to freshman Jordan Luallen also affected Quentin Sims move over to quarterback temporarily. Luallen was supposed to be back this week, but he is still in a walking boot and the coaching staff is not sure, when he will return.

"We are going to reevaluate him and hopefully it will be sooner than later," Bohannon said. "Right now he is down and hopefully we can get him back soon."

Freshmen defenders

Coach Johnson took a moment to mention a couple of defensive true freshmen, Jemea Thomas and Julian Burnett who have impressed him in fall camp.

"I think they are both going to be good players and I think Julian is a really physical kid," Johnson said. "He is built low to the ground and plays through blocks well and I have been really impressed. Jemea is a little bit of the same. He is a hard hitter and he runs well. I think they both have a lot of great football in front of them."


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