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T-DAY: Gold downs White, 21-7, in annual Georgia Tech spring game

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ATLANTA -- Those Georgia Tech football fans in attendance Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium can either take a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full view of the annual T-Day scrimmage.

On the one hand, the battles to find successors for departed starters Josh Nesbitt at quarterback and Anthony Allen at B-Back ended with as many questions as answers.

On the other hand, a much-maligned Yellow Jackets defense that struggled in its first season in a 3-4 set last year had a solid day as the Gold team, made up primarily of the first-team defense and second-team offense, defeated the White team 21-7.

Overall, head coach Paul Johnson looked at the Yellow Jackets' performance in Saturday's scrimmage in pretty much the same way as the rest of spring practice.

"I think spring was productive," Johnson said. "I think we got some things accomplished. We've got a long way to go. I think you have to take it in perspective. Any time you take play a spring game, a lot of guys are going to play, and you see a lot of different people. You have to kind of break out who's actually going to play in the fall and who's not going to play.

"While we've got a lot to work on, I'm encouraged that we've got a base to move forward with in fall camp."

Still, many of the same questions facing the Jackets during the spring will carry over to the fall.

Among them is the question of who will start at quarterback and at B-Back, where Johnson is having to find someone to step in for Nesbitt and Allen, respectively.

As to the former question, the common thought was that redshirt junior Tevin Washington, who stepped in for an injured Nesbitt the final four games last season, was ahead of freshman Synjyn Days.

Johnson said that general assessment still stands, even though Days clearly had a better day Saturday.

The redshirt freshman from Powder Springs ran for 112 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, and finished 2-for-7 passing for 46 yards and a score, while Washington had just nine yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and competed 10 of 26 passes for 134 yards and three interceptions.

"You don't evaluate on one day. We evaluate on the whole body of work through spring practice," Johnson said. "It probably wasn't (Washington's) best day ... but I think he's gotten better this spring. He's certainly played better than he did (Saturday). Like I said, we try to judge it on the whole body of work and not just one day.

"We're going to play the guy that gives us the best chance to win. We had those two guys go through the spring. We've got two freshmen coming in the fall. We'll give them a chance to see what they can do, too. And then we'll make a decision who gives us the best chance to win the games."

The same can be said of the B-Back race. Last season's back-up Preston Lyons is battling three other candidates, including Collins Hill grad Charles Perkins.

"We've got pretty good depth at that position," Johnson said. "I feel good about all four of those guys, honestly. David Sims has made a lot of progress in the spring there. ... Charles Perkins, I think, is going to be a really good player."

Lyons (11 carries, 50 yards) and redshirt junior Richard Watson (6-48, TD) had the best numbers, though Perkins also made an impact, running for 11 yards on seven carries and hauling in a 20-yard pass reception.

But Perkins said his biggest focus was on other areas of his game.

"I know what I can do with the ball," Perkins said. "It's the whole blocking scheme, reading the defense and knowing what my offensive line is doing. That's the main thing I had to get down."

The biggest stars may have been both teams' defenses, especially the Gold team, which forced five turnovers from the White team and two sacks from Quayshawn Nealy, who had a game high 7 1/2 tackles.

They made life miserable early for Washington, who was sacked and fumbled on each of the White team's first two possessions.

The first fumble came on a pitch play after the first sack, and was recovered by the Gold team on the White 41-yard line.

Days then marched the White offense the distance in seven plays over the next 3:18, and connected on a short crossing pattern to B.J. Bostic, who took it the rest of the way for an 11-yard touchdown pass to put the Gold up 7-0.

The second sack on Washington came on the next White series after a vicious hit by Peters, who knocked the ball loose before being recovered by B.J. Machen on the White 15.

"I think I had a moment out there where I probably got a little rattled a couple of plays," Washington said. "But overall, I tried to keep myself poised and under control. ... You've got to go out and compete every day. ... You can easily fall down the depth chart in one practice or one game. So, you've got to go out and compete every day."

Richard Watson bolted up the middle into the end zone on the next snap and the Gold team had a 14-0 lead.

But late in the second quarter, Washington and the White team finally broke through.

The 6-foot, 205-pound redshirt junior from Wetumpka, Ala., connected on passes to Orwin Smith and Embry Peeples as part of a six-play, 60-yard drive.

Washington then capped the drive by taking an option keeper around the right end for a 15-yard score, pulling the White team to within 14-7.

Days then accounted for the final score on a 1-yard touchdown run to cap a strong day for him.

"It felt great," Days said. "It's just a blessing I was able to do so many things. Sometimes, I didn't know how I could get out of (trouble), but somehow, I broke loose."