Tech coach Paul John­son feels good about spring progress

The Covington News - - SPORTS & LIVING - GABRIEL STOVALL gsto­vall@cov­news.com

AT­LANTA — The Ge­or­gia Tech Yel­low Jack­ets — fu­ture homes of New­ton High stand­outs Jaquan Hen­der­son and Josh Tukes — played their an­nual Gold vs. White spring foot­ball game to ap­prox­i­mately 8,000 fans in His­toric Bobby Dodd Sta­dium on Fri­day night.

The Gold team came out on top, 2116, winning in come-from-be­hind fash­ion when fifth-year se­nior Brady Swill­ing brought in a pass and rum­bled 61 yards for the de­cid­ing score with 1:32 left in the fourth quar­ter. And although Ge­or­gia Tech head coach Paul John­son clearly wasn’t about to take the spring game re­sults too se­ri­ously, John­son def­i­nitely didn’t mind ex­press­ing his plea­sure in what he saw, par­tic­u­larly from his younger and more un­proven play­ers.

“It was kind of a fun game for us,” John­son said. “What you saw was a cul­mi­na­tion of spring prac­tice and the work those guys did. Our guys flew around and had some fun.”

It came at the ex­pense of a few in­juries, how­ever, as sev­eral of Tech’s top re­ceivers went down early on, even as po­ten­tial 2017 start­ing quar­ter­back Matthew Jor­dan was held out as he re­cov­ers from a foot in­jury.

“We had more peo­ple dinged up in that spring game than we did in all of spring ball,” John­son said. “We were down our first four wide re­ceivers in the first quar­ter. Hope­fully those things weren’t too se­ri­ous.

With Jor­dan down, all eyes were on the younger, untested sig­nal call­ers such as red­shirt fresh­man Lu­cas John­son, ju­nior TaQuon Mar­shall and red­shirt fresh­man Jay Jones. It was Chase Marten­son who found Swill­ing on the game win­ner to­ward the end of the fourth quar­ter, but the afore­men­tioned three got a good bulk of the ac­tion.

Each showed prom­ise — for in­stance, John­son wasted no time show­ing his skill, as the 6-foot-3, 200 pounder found the end zone on a 70-yard touch­down run on his sec­ond play from scrim­mage. It gave the Gold team a 7-3 lead at the 8:42 mark in the first quar­ter.

John­son showed good touch on sev­eral balls through the night — even the passes that fell in­com­plete. But per­haps his pret­ti­est ball of the night was a 23 yard scor­ing strike to Xavier Gant late in the fourth quar­ter that gave the Gold team a 16-14 ad­van­tage.

Jones and Mar­shall showed spurts of ex­cel­lence as well. Jones, who’d been some­what of a fa­vorite dur­ing the spring, showed his burst when he took an op­tion keeper to the same side­line as John­son’s 70 yard score, and darted down the field for a 58 yard gain. But on the very next play, Jones fum­bled the ball, turn­ing it over to

It was kind of a fun game for us. What you saw was a cul­mi­na­tion of spring prac­tice and the work those guys did. Our guys flew around and had some fun.” — Paul John­son, Ge­or­gia Tech head coach

the Gold team, and draw­ing a lit­tle ire from his head coach.

“I don’t think (the quar­ter­backs) played as well (Fri­day night) as they did most of the spring,” John­son said. “Es­pe­cially when you talk about the play ac­tion game and ball se­cu­rity. Jay (Jones) had that thing all over the place. He had the fumble there. I mean, he’s gonna make some­thing hap­pen one way or the other. I just wish he had done a bet­ter job ex­e­cut­ing ball se­cu­rity.”

John­son was also high on tail­backs B-Backs Kir-vonte Benson and Quaide Weimer­skirch. Benson scored on a five yard touch­down run and fin­ished with 61 yards, while Weimer­skirch rain hard, even hur­dling a de­fender on what par­tic­u­lar run.

“It was kind of a dif­fer­ent game for us as far as run­ning the ball with our backs,” John­son said. “But I think both Quaide and KirVante did some good things. If I had to pick a No. 2 B-back right night, those two would prob­a­bly be 2-A and 2-B.”

But John­son said he would ad­vice Weimer­skirch to keep his feet on the ground.

“That’s the sec­ond time this spring he’s jumped a guy,” John­son said. “He’s gonna get him­self killed. I wouldn’t ad­vice that he keep do­ing that if I were him.”

John­son also praised for be­ing “a gamer,” and said he liked the way his de­fense flew around, par­tic­u­larly line­backer Brant Mitchell. Lance Austin, Tyler Cook­sey and Tyler Mer­ri­weather were also lauded for their per­for­mances. But John­son re­in­forced the fact that the game did very lit­tle to as­suage his con­cerns for what still needs to be im­proved.

“I think over­all, we just had a good spring prac­tice,” he said. “I don’t get too hung up on the (spring) game though. All and all, I think we def­i­nitely got bet­ter as a team. But we’ve still got a whole lot of things we

It was kind of a dif­fer­ent game for us as far as run­ning the ball with our backs. But I think both Quaide and KirVante did some good things. If I had to pick a No. 2 B-back right night, those two would prob­a­bly be 2-A and 2-B.”

— Paul John­son, Ge­or­gia Tech head coach

An­thony Banks | The Cov­ing­ton News

Team White run­ning back Kir­Vonte Benson nar­rowly es­capes be­ing tack­led on his way to scor­ing a touch­down.

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