September 3, 2009

Jackets conclude Jax State prep

The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets completed their final day of practice Thursday afternoon before they open the 2009 season with Jacksonville State on Saturday afternoon. The practice was a light walk through lasting around an hour and head coach Paul Johnson says the team is healthy heading into the game.

Outside of wide receiver Tyler Melton (MCL sprain) and quarterback Jaybo Shaw, most of the Jackets are healthy heading into Saturday's game. B-back Richard Watson may be the only other contributor that is unavailable do to an ankle sprain.

"Richard is questionable," Johnson said.

Lucas Cox would fill in for Watson as the third B-back behind starter Jonathan Dwyer and the number two B-back, Preston Lyons.

A-back Roddy Jones is available for action, but Coach Johnson says it will be a game time decision to use Jones or not.

"Roddy can play, but I do not know if I will play him," he said. "He is good and he will dress and be there if we need him."

Wide Receiver Zach Fisher also has a clean bill of health heading into the game. If Jones does not play, he will be the only projected starter out for Saturday's game.

"Everybody is good and we are the same as we were yesterday," Johnson said.

First test for new DL

Saturday will be an important game for junior defensive end Derrick Morgan. Morgan is the lone returning starter on the defensive line after Vance Walker, Darryl Richard and Michael Johnson left to join the NFL. A good showing from the new look line will help Morgan avoid being the center of attention for opposing offensive lines heading into the Clemson and Miami games.

Morgan says there is a lot of talent and some experience on the line that should ease that transition, but there is also a lot of inexperience there as well.

"A lot of the younger guys are looking to me because I am the only returning starter, but we have guys like Robert Hall and Ben Anderson that have played before, so the younger guys are also looking to them to help because they have game experience," Morgan said. "It is hard to replace three guys like that from last year's team and whatever they can do to help me out is greatly appreciated."

Throughout fall camp, Morgan has been impressed with the defensive line and the level of improvement he has seen.

"We had confidence in our defensive line going into the spring and summer and we feel better about it now seeing that we have guys capable of making plays," he said.

One of the most impressive players Morgan has seen on the team this year is Hall's backup Izaan Cross.

"I call him Cross because I do not know how to pronounce his first name," Morgan joked. "He has been showing us a lot of good things in the early practices and he has a lot of potential. He has a good burst off the edge and a lot of moves freshmen usually do not have."

True freshman Emmanuel Dieke has also impressed Morgan, though Dieke will probably redshirt this season barring injuries to the other veteran defensive ends.

"Too Tall is a bandit end behind me and he has a high motor and is always hustling to the ball," Morgan. "He is always trying to make plays, but we are working with him on getting better at everything, but he has gotten better from spring to summer."

Morgan says the other two true freshmen Chris Crenshaw and Euclid Cummings are learning their positions and coming along in practice as well.

"Everybody is coming along and learning their plays and the schemes," Morgan said. "They are getting acclimated to the system."

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