Jacket's Deep Secondary Taking Shape

At the end of last season, Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson decided to bring in a new defensive coordinator. With that change, came an entirely new defensive staff, with the exception of Coach Charles Kelly. The change also gave Coach Kelly the additional duties of coaching the entire secondary and the responsibility of coordinating the special teams.

Coach Kelly will have some nice options with the experience returning on the special teams but he's trying not to get too excited about that. "I try not to get excited about anything and just stay focused on the process of getting us better and making us a better football team," said Kelly. "I do think we have some guys that have some speed and athleticism and we have to see if we can convert that to doing it on Saturdays."

For the first time in recent memory the Jackets signed a scholarship kicker. Justin Moore will be attempting to push senior kicker Scott Blair this season. "He's done a good job so far working and you never know how that is going to affect Scott," said Kelly. "I've always felt that competition makes people better."

Despite the loss of Morgan Burnett the secondary returns some players with game experience and the position has a lot of good depth. Deciding who will start is not in the forefront now for Coach Kelly. "We're focusing on learning the defense that Coach Groh is installing and practicing as hard as we can and focusing on our assignments," said Kelly. "That's all we're worried about right now."

The staff is not in a position now to say who will and who won't be playing. "We're in a thorough evaluation right now all the way through practices so it's too early to say this guy can do this or this guy can do that." Coach Johnson will be involved in those personnel decisions. "He's got a better view sometimes and we're involved technique and scheme and he can stand back and give you an objective viewpoint."

One of the changes that were made in the spring was switching Jarrard Tarrant to safety and Dominique Reese to cornerback. "We saw some things that both of them do well with Jarrard playing the ball well in the deep field and Dominique gives you a little more of a physical presence at corner with some of the things we're doing."

One of the backs they'll be keeping an eye on, as he enters his second year, is Rod Sweeting. "He's really been competing and he needs to be a more consistent player but there's no doubt that he's got some athleticism."

Mario Edwards returns as one of the senior members of the secondary. "I'm excited and I've come a long way from Virginia Tech to Georgia Tech to switching positions and finally this season I feel everything is in the right place and I can go out there and play". Edwards sees some good competition in the secondary. "This is by far the deepest secondary we've had and competition makes you better and I like it."

Edwards feels the move to one secondary coach will be a positive one for the Jackets. "Last year the safeties had their own meetings and the corners had their own meetings but now we're one unit and we know what each other is supposed to be doing on each play so there is no confusion out there."

Edwards is also excited about what he's seen from the freshman secondary players. "I can see the secondary getting better over the years and over the next four years the secondary will be the deepest Georgia Tech has had in a long time," said Mario. "All of them from Jemea Thomas to Ryan Ayers, Isaiah Johnson, and Louis Young can play and can play all four positions."

It is too early to get a good read on the freshman secondary players but Coach Kelly is seeing some good things from them. "Right now I can tell you they've given good effort and they're what we thought they were athletically," said Kelly. "They're digesting a lot of stuff right now so we'll see how they handle that."

Unlike last season, Coach Kelly will now be responsible for both the corners and the safeties in the secondary. "It's not that much different and for most of my career I've coached all of them, said Kelly. "If a coach hires you to do that job you do it as hard as you can and coach expects me to get them technically ready for what he wants to do."

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