One of the things Johnson is looking forward to is being able to take advantage of the players that were redshirts last season or are incoming freshmen. “We have a class of redshirts that we’re really excited about.”
On offense, quarterback Synjyn Days, B Back Charles Perkins, and Catlin Alford and Morgan Bailey on the offensive line are some of the redshirts that could contribute this season. Johnson is also looking forward to seeing true freshmen Trey Braun and Shaq Mason.
Daniel Drummond leads a group of new players available on the defensive side of the ball. Drummond will be one of the starting inside linebackers. Jeremiah Attaochu got some reps last season but returns as a starter at linebacker. “We’re excited about Jeremiah Attaochu.” Jemea Thomas also returns to the secondary after redshirting last season. “We’ll be more athletic on defense than we’ve been in years, with those young guys.”
Leadership has been an issue in past years and this year Johnson is optimistic about what he sees from the 2011 team. “I think our guys have really worked hard and held each other accountable.” Johnson sees the team having a number of leaders including Roddy Jones and Logan Walls. Both represented the school at the Kickoff. “I think the team is hungry to play and get back to where we were two years ago.”
Another positive going into the 2011 season will be the availability of the indoor practice facility. The team will be using the facility in a variety of ways. “It will help us in recruiting and it will help us with the weather that you see in Georgia in late summer and early fall.”
One of the question marks going into the season will be the B Back position. Preston Lyons came out of the spring as the starter. Johnson feels that Charles Perkins has a chance to be really good. David Sims has moved there and Richard Watson has experience at the position. Depth will not be an issue at the B Back position. “If one guy is playing well, it might not be by committee but if not, it might be.”
A topic that centers on the Tech offense is the passing game. “I think our guys have worked extremely hard in the off-season on it and what we need to be is more efficient.” Look for the team to throw more if this happens.
Much of that will fall on the shoulders of quarterback Tevin Washington. Washington gained some experience, at the end of the 2010 season, playing for the injured Joshua Nesbitt. “It’s invaluable for him to have that game experience.”
Johnson expects Washington’s confidence level to be higher and for him to play more self-assured. “I think he has a really good understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish on offense and he’s going to be as good as the players around him.”
The offensive line that will be blocking for Washington had some key injuries in the spring. “I’m actually excited about our offensive line.” In spite of the line being young, Johnson feels he has some linemen that can do what he wants to do. “The key will be keeping them healthy and getting them out there.” Getting them out there together to work on their timing will be a key in Johnson’s opinion.
On defense, the Jackets enter their second season under Coach Groh and the 3-4. “I was really encouraged this spring with how they played.” With a more athletic group, Johnson expects to see improvement on the defensive side of the ball.
The combination of team leadership, an athletic and more experienced defense, a promising young offensive line, and the infusion of new blood into the team has Paul Johnson confident as they approach pre-season camp for the 2011 season.