September 23, 2009

Jackets making some adjustments for UNC

Injuries and inconsistency are forcing some changes in the Georgia Tech defense heading into their ACC showdown with North Carolina on Saturday. The Jackets could have a new starting free safety a position that has been somewhat troublesome so far this season. The Georgia Tech football team held an abbreviated practice on Wednesday and impressed their head coach with their energy level.

"It wasn't bad today and we flew around we were not out there long and we had some good enthusiasm and a little more energy, so that was a positive," Head coach Paul Johnson said of Wednesday's practice. "I think the extra day is going to help us a bunch because we were pretty tired and beat up after playing that stretch of games that quick.

Sophomore cornerback Rashaad Reid moved to safety this week after spending all of fall camp at either corner or the wolf position. Starting free safety Cooper Taylor has not practiced all week with an undisclosed injury and the backup free safety Dominique Reese has not been able to take contact this week due to a shoulder injury.

"It is going well and I am adjusting to safety it is not that different," Reid said. "As it looks right now I am going to start on Saturday at free safety. I feel pretty good about it and I embrace any chance I have to get on the field."

Reid says there are some similarities to the wolf position, but the position is a lot different because you are further away from the line of scrimmage than either corner or the wolf.

"There are some similar coverages, but it is not the same," he said. "The biggest difference between safety and corner is being deeper and the way you see things. At safety you have to see everything that is going on."

Saturday will be the first time Reid ever played safety in an organized football game.

"I never played safety in high school or anywhere else before," he said. "I am excited and ready to take on the challenge. I am always looking for another challenge and this is a great challenge to go forward with."

After giving up a number of big plays in the Miami and Clemson games, Reid says it really comes down to fundamentals and keeping the opposition in front of you.

"We have to keep our eyes in the right spot and line up in the right spot," he said.

Having Morgan Burnett in the backfield with him is reassuring for Reid because Burnett has a great feel for the role both safeties play on any defensive call.

"If there is something I don't know, Morgan will know it because he knows everything," Reid said. "I just look to him and he helps me out. It is fun being back there with him."

The other major change is the reduced role of the wolf defensive coordinator Dave Wommack has planned this week. Julian Burnett is expected to start at the third linebacker in a 4-3 alignment instead of the 4-2-5 the Jackets have favored all season.

"It is a good feeling moving up the rotation and it comes from working hard," Burnett said. "Maybe I will start, but we won't know that until game time. I have already been in the rotation some, but I would like to see more playing time and hopefully they will give it to me."
Burnett says the biggest challenge is just understanding what the opposing offense is going to do in a given situation.

"We have a lot of great athletes and it has something to do with being in the right spot and knowing what you are doing. The coaches have been working with me really hard on that," Burnett said. "I have been catching on, so that is putting me in the right position to get on the field. I mainly need to work on recognizing formations. It is always good to know what they are going to run at you in a certain situation. If I can key down on that, I will be a step ahead of the game."

Burnett says there is not a huge difference in playing the outside linebacker role in Yellow Jackets defensive scheme compared to the middle linebacker spot he has seen the majority of his time at this season.

"It is not too different other than a couple of coverages," Burnett said. "It is almost the same position. You have to be physical at both positions, so it is not much of a move at all in a sense and for the most part it is the same."

Sellers a full go

Senior offensive tackle Brad Sellers has healed quickly and less than a week after having surgery on his broken wrist, the veteran expects to start against North Carolina.

"I broke a bone in my wrist and I should be able to play," Sellers said. "I had surgery on it last Friday. I went full speed yesterday in practice and full speed today."

Sellers says the injury has caused to make some minor adjustments in his stance, but it does not hinder his blocking ability.

"I have switched hands some in my stances, but I am just being more careful with it in practice," he said. "I don't remember how I broke it, but it was in the Clemson game. It is a little sore, but it is getting better everyday. I will hopefully start on Saturday."

Overall, Sellers feels the offensive line has benefitted from some extra time off.

"The time to rest and heal our bodies has been good and hopefully it will pay off on Saturday," he said. "We need to eliminate our mental errors and just play hard Saturday."

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