Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson likes what he sees from offensive line

Normally coach Paul Johnson will watch tape with the quarterbacks in their meeting room on Monday. This week he joined the offensive linemen in their meeting and came away with some positive things.

“I thought they made some improvement,” he said. “It will be one of the bigger challenges this week because they’re going against bigger and stronger guys. They did some positive things. Like everybody, they weren’t perfect and there was a lot of room for improvement. As long as they continue to get better. …”

The Yellow Jackets ran for 364 yards and moved the ball at will against Mercer in the 35-10 win. Georgia Tech had two drives end with fumbles and only needed to punt once, a decision predicated on a big loss that ensued from a fumble on a pitch.

“I think we did a better job,” center Freddie Burden said. “Of course, there’s always room for improvement.”

Burden said the linemen were coming off the ball faster and being more physical, a fact that Johnson harped on a week earlier.

True freshman Parker Braun was able to play for the first time and will be a part of the rotation. Johnson said Andrew Marshall, who got his first start, “fought in there and did some good things.”

Burden said he was impressed by Braun’s first snap. “I was surprised the first play he came down on the nose guard pretty good and hit him. I was like, man, this guy is ready to go. I’m excited to see him move forward.”

The only question was about right tackle Trey Klock, who left the game in the first half with an ankle injury. Johnson said he expected Klock to be available on Saturday.

More from B-backs

Johnson said he expected more production out of B-backs Marcus Marshall and Dedrick Mills. Marshall started Saturday when Mills was serving a one-game suspension and rushed 10 times for 51 yards.

“I’m still not happy with what we’re getting out of that position,” Johnson said. “We should have had some bigger plays than we had.”

Johnson said the starter will be determined this week in practice and that Marshall and Mills begin the week even.

Captains selected

The team voted for its permanent captains and selected quarterback Justin Thomas as the offensive captain, tackle Pat Gamble as the defensive captain and kicker Harrison Butker as the overall captain.

“Tremendous honor to be selected by your teammates,” Johnson said. “That’s the first time I can remember since I’ve been coaching that a kicker was elected captain by the players on the team. That says a lot about Harrison and his character.”

Astronaut calls

Astronaut Shane Kimbrough, a Georgia Tech graduate, called into Paul Johnson’s radio show on Monday night. Kimbrough was going through final preparations in Russia for a five-month trip to the space station that launches Sept. 23. Kimbrough said he had some special Yellow Jackets goodies he was taking with him.

When Kimbrough mentioned he was in quarantine prior to the flight, radio host Andy Demetra joked with Johnson about putting his players in quarantine before a game. Johnson quipped he wouldn’t mind quarantining “a couple of guys who fumbled on Saturday.”