Sports

Georgia Tech's Howard leaves practice early

ATLANTA — Senior offensive lineman Cord Howard (Central-Phenix City) left Saturday’s scrimmage early with an undisclosed injury.

A Georgia Tech sports information representative said he noticed Howard leave the practice with a hurt hand.

Howard started the scrimmage at right guard, and played through at least two series.

If he’s forced to miss practice time next week, it’ll be the second time this spring he has been injured.

He sat out last Monday’s workout with an apparent shoulder injury.

Fumbles fixed

On the field, Tech coach Paul Johnson typically keeps his emotions well-hidden.

Saturday morning at Bobby Dodd Stadium, however, one of them slipped his cover — excitement.

“It was like always; there’s some good and some bad. But I’m just glad the offense took care of the ball,” Johnson said. “There were some guys who caught your eye.”

Fumbles were a major issue for the Yellow Jackets during their first scrimmage last Saturday, when botched snaps and poor pitches resulted in the ball hitting the turf six times. A number of those bungled plays came from the same collection of players: backup quarterback Jaybo Shaw and a pair of young backup centers.

On Saturday, the Yellow Jackets scattered four fumbles among their quarterbacks and running backs, and Shaw wasn’t one of them.

“Jaybo did some good things for us,” Johnson said. “He took his team down and led them into the end zone pretty much every time they were out there.”

Appearing on two drives, Shaw led the Yellow Jackets to two scores. One was a short touchdown run near the goal line by redshirt freshman B-back Richard Watson, and the other was by Shaw.

In all, the Yellow Jackets’ offense scored seven touchdowns.

While Shaw thrived at quarterback, Georgia Tech’s play at A-back also impressed Johnson.

Starting at the position in place of usual starter Lucas Cox, sophomore Marcus Wright was a key contributor on a number series, even breaking a 20-yard run off an option pitch to his left. During the carry, the 5-foot-8 back broke a tackle before maintaining his balance for another 10 yards and an eventual takedown.

“Marcus has had a good spring,” Johnson said. “He’s a physical guy. There’s been a lot of improvement there.”

Cox, who played second-string A-back, and appeared at B-back with the third-team offense also garnered Johnson’s praise for the way he ran at the end of the scrimmage.

On Georgia Tech’s final scrimmage, Cox unofficially rushed for 40 yards on five carries. One of those was a 15-yard scamper during which he plowed through linebacker Kyle Jackson.

Burnett gets it done

A group of offensive players weren’t the only ones drawing Johnson’s praise Saturday. One defensive back did, as well.

Morgan Burnett, the team’s leader last season in tackles and interceptions, had a strong scrimmage, racking up a slew of tackles. During one stretch of series, he tipped a pass before recording a set of consecutive tackles.

“Morgan Burnett played really well. I don’t think he missed a tackle in the whole scrimmage,” Johnson said. “He’s becoming a really good tackler.”

Barnes gets extra work to work off extra weight

T.J. Barnes, Georgia Tech’s redshirt freshman defensive tackle who tips the scales at more than 350 pounds, saw a lot of action Saturday, playing in multiple series.

He appeared in at least four of Georgia Tech’s 10 drives during the scrimmage, and was a factor in several plays. Disrupting blocking schemes, the 6-foot-7 lineman found himself in the backfield often.

Giving Barnes more work than most other defensive linemen Saturday, Johnson is hoping to work the player’s weight down to the point that he can comfortably maneuver with his size for long stretches at a time.

“At some positions there aren’t a lot of guys,” Johnson said. “So we need to get him a lot of reps because he needs to drop his weight so he can play a little harder for us.”

Henry strong on drive

Jim Henry got into Georgia Tech’s quarterback rotation Saturday, leading the Yellow Jackets during one drive. On Georgia Tech’s ninth drive, the backup marched his unit 80 yards downfield for a touchdown. Going against the third-team defense, Henry helmed the Yellow Jackets offense on a five-play drive that ended with a short yardage touchdown run by backup running back Preston Lyons.

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