Georgia Tech sophomore and former Deerfield-Winsdor star Tony Zenon runs through a tackle by safety Fred Holton in Friday’s scrimmage.
ATLANTA — Evaluating Friday’s finale to Georgia Tech’s spring football practice depends on one’s perspective.
There was plenty for everyone in attendance at the “Friday Night at the Flats” event at Bobby Dodd Stadium — including the crowd of 18,125 — to be pleased, and not so pleased, with in the scrimmage, won by the White team made up primarily of the first-team offense and second-team defense, 31-7.
“I think we had a productive spring,” Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said. “(Friday) night was a little bit hard to tell. We wanted to stay fairly vanilla and not do a whole lot, and we really couldn’t do a whole lot with the offensive line (banged up). We were down to 10 guys.”
Johnson continued: “I saw some positives. There were positives on both sides. Overall this spring, I think some guys made progress.”
Both of Tech’s Gwinnett grads on scholarship — redshirt sophomore B-back Charles Perkins of Collins Hill with the Gold team and redshirt sophomore nose tackle Shawn Green of Grayson — could be considered among those who made progress.
Perkins’ numbers were somewhat pedestrian with nine yards on seven carries, which was skewed somewhat by one 6-yard loss on an errant pitch from quarterback Vad Lee.
Meanwhile, Green led the White team with five tackles. And with many eyes on quarterbacks Tevin Washington, Synjyn Days and Lee, there was plenty to behold — again, in both the positive and negative.
Days had the best rushing day while splitting time with each team, running for a combined 85 yards on 17 carries, including scoring the Gold team’s only touchdown on a 4-yard run with 7:51 remaining.
But he also fumbled the ball twice, one of which was scooped up by Corey Dennis and returned 36 yards for a touchdown 58 seconds into the third quarter for the first touchdown on the game.
“I think overall as a team, in spring practice, we all got better,” said Days, a redshirt sophomore who completed just 5 of 15 passes on the evening.
“Individually, I think I got better with holding onto the ball, (though) I kind of let the ball go (Friday). But as a whole, offensively and defensive, I think we stepped up a lot.”
Lee, a redshirt freshman, had by far the best passing numbers on the day, completing 9 of 16 passes for 145 yards, including hitting on 4 of 5 attempts in the second half with a pair of 12-yard touchdown strikes, one to receiver Chris Jackson and another to former Deerfield star and John Reynolds Player of the Year Tony Zenon, though he struggled at times with the option portion of the offense.
And incumbent starter Washington may have had the most consistent grasp of the offense, including leading the White team on a 12-play, 80-yard march that he finished off with a 2-yard dive early in the third quarter.
But he also took some hits while working behind the piecemeal line, including being sacked twice each by Quayshawn Nealy and Jeremiah Attaochu in the first half.
“They’re all three different,” Johnson said of the quarterbacks. “(Washington) is probably more experienced and knows how to do things better. He was handcuffed a little bit by the group playing in front. (Days) is a really good runner who excels more in the option game. And (Lee) is the better passer and needs to work on the option game to be a complete player. But I think they all three bring something to the table.
“Really, it’s going to be who can improve the most between now and when we play. If we had to play right now, they (all) bring different things.”
Jacket fans got to see some different things on both sides of the ball throughout the evening.
On the offensive side, David Sims had a solid night at B-back, running for 46 yards on 6 carries, while A-backs Zenon (3 rec., 51 yards, TD) and B.J. Bostic (3-31) each showed prowess catching passes out of the backfield.
“The main thing we worked on as A-backs together is, we want to catch any ball pretty much between 10 and 15 yards,” said Zenon, who added a run for 8 yards. “Throughout the season, we’re going to have those quick passes. So, we want to make sure we’re efficient with the ball.”
Defensively, the was the work of Attaochu and Nealy rushing off the edges and linemen like Green, Izaan Cross and T.J. Barnes clogging up the running game at the line, especially in the first half.
“Shawn’s ready to play,” said Cross. “And it helps having T.J. in the middle because he’s a massive being. But yeah, we definitely want to limit (opposing) offenses to as (little) rushing yards as possible. And up the middle, we got creased a lot (last season). So hopefully, we’ll stop that issue.”