Georgia Tech coach sees need for improvement

ATLANTA — Coach Paul Johnson watched Georgia Tech endure some growing pains Saturday.

Not that he was surprised as the Yellow Jackets wore pads and hit each other for the first time this spring, but Johnson saw plenty of areas for improvement in a live practice at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

“The ball was on the ground a zillion times,” Johnson said. “When you play a lot of guys, that’s going to happen. Some poor decisions. There’s enough to fix on every side to be concerned. The first part of practice, the offense won. The second part, the defense won.”

After Georgia Tech ended last season by losing five of its last seven games, Johnson doesn’t want his players to wait too long to correct their mistakes.

Quarterback-center exchanges were the biggest problem for the offense during the three-hour practice. Big plays hurt the defense.

Spring practice might seem monotonous to fans and media, but starting center Jay Finch knows that bad habits in practice can take root in games if a team isn’t careful.

Finch, a rising junior, remembers when Georgia Tech piled up 512 yards in 92 plays against Georgia two seasons ago, but three fumbles led to touchdowns in a loss to the hated Bulldogs. The Yellow Jackets ended 2010 with 20 lost fumbles – tied for most in the nation.

“We still have the rest of camp to fix everything and all summer, but when fall rolls around, we’re not going to get a second chance against, say, Clemson on the goal line or whatever,” Finch said.

Three centers are working this spring with five to six quarterbacks, a group led by incumbent starter Tevin Washington, second-teamer Synjyn Days and redshirt freshman Vad Lee.

“There’s a lot to adjust to sometimes in terms of cadence and where he each guy wants the ball snapped,” Finch said. “Some want it close in, some want it close up. For some guys who’ve never practiced that much, it’s a big adjustment when you’re live (hitting in pads) for the first time in spring. That’s just the reality.”

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