All pre and post game activities may have been cancelled, but under cloudy skies, Tech concluded spring practice with the annual gold versus white spring game. The gold team, which consisted of the second string offense and the first string defense, defeated the white team 22-10, which was made up of the first string offense and the second string defense.
“I thought we had a really productive spring. The best thing about the game tonight is that I don’t think we had anybody get seriously hurt, we had someone roll an ankle, but other than that, I don’t think anything went down. It’s just kind of just a celebration at the end of spring to let them bounce around and play a little bit,” said Coach Johnson.
It didn’t take long for Vad Lee, who played with the first string offense, to show why many Tech fans are excited about him. On a third and 15 on the first drive of the game, Lee dropped back to pass, escaped pressure, and scrambled for a 34- yard gain. The drive would eventually end when Lee was stopped on a quarterback keeper on fourth down. On the white team’s second possession of the game, Lee threw a perfect ball to the endzone that should have been caught for a touchdown, but was dropped by junior Darren Waller. Lee ended 4-13 through the air for 34 yards, but rushed for 62 yards on nine carries.
“I’m just going to work hard. There’s a lot of stuff that I can improve on. I’m just going to go this summer, go with the receivers and just get better,” said Lee after the game.
Redshirt freshman, Justin Thomas, who is competing for the starting quarterback job with Lee, showed off his elusiveness as he was constantly under pressure, but found ways to escape the defense. Thomas finished 3-7 through the air for 35 yards and an interception. The interception was a pass that hit A-back Synjyn Days in the hands, but he was unable to hold on to it.
On Thomas, “He’s got a chance to be a good quarterback. I’ve said all along he’s not one-dimensional. He’s not just a guy that can run the ball, he can throw it too. I think you saw that both of those guys tonight have some elusiveness and some ability to make things happen that you really need to happen,” said Johnson.
Unfortunately for the offense, ball security continued to be a problem. Thomas had three fumbles to go along with his interception, and Lee also had a fumble and an interception.
Even after the spring game, there is still no clear-cut leader to replace Orwin Smith at A-back. It is assumed Robbie Godhigh will be one of the starters, but there is plenty of competition for the other spot. Dennis Andrews, who has been impressive all spring, averaged 12.3 yards per carry and had one reception for 17 yards. Deon Hill had one carry for 18 yards and also caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Vad Lee.
“I’d like for one of those guys to jump out and be kind of a go to guy, and right now Robbie is the most experienced. You’ve got Synjyn who can do some things; Dennis, Deon, B.J. Bostic, and then Tony Zenon will be back in the fall too. So there’s some guys there,” said Johnson
In two earlier scrimmages this spring, Tech had been experimenting a lot with different formations, including the pistol and the diamond. Tonight, Tech ran all of their offensive plays from their standard under center formation in the first half, and ran very few from the diamond in the second half.
The defense was much more aggressive under new coordinator Ted Roof than they and been last season under former defensive coordinator Al Groh. The defensive line was constantly getting in the backfield and disrupting the offense. This could be an improvement from the defensive line, but it could also be partially due to the fact that Tech is missing three starters on the offensive line.
Linebacker Quayshawn Nealy had the biggest play of the game for the defense when he returned a Vad Lee fumbler 34 yards for a touchdown. Senior cornerback Jemea Thomas also forced a turnover when he intercepted Vad Lee.
“Coming in with the new defensive coordinator, we’re just trying to get into the groove of things, learn it all, the we can be aggressive. We’re basically just trying to get everything down pat, then go after it,” said cornerback Jamea Thomas.
Players will only be allowed to meet with coaches on a very limited basis before fall practice begins, but will work out and watch film on their own during the offseason.
Tech’s first game will be on August 31 when they host Elon at Bobby Dodd Stadium.