Coach Mike Sewak's linemen went through a tough summer conditioning program and he's pleased with the results. "I thought they did a good job," said Coach Sewak. "Everybody made it through the conditioning test on the offensive line except for two freshmen walk-ons." This was the best the line has done since Coach Sewak has been at Georgia Tech. "They know what was expected of them so they paid the price over the summer and worked hard."
Replacing the three offensive linemen no longer with the team is one of the things the coaches are addressing in the preseason. "You have to replace Brad and you have to replace Cord and you also have to get Joe." Brad Sellers made the most of his chance when Nick Claytor was injured and replaced him last season. "Now that we have three starters coming back at tackle, it should be beneficial to us." Phil Smith, Claytor, and Austin Barrick are now back to being healthy.
The competition for the two guard starting jobs will involve a combination of youth and experience. "Uzzi was a great backup for us last year and he played a bunch for Joe last year." While they'll have some players with experience, the real test will be how they do from week to week. "I think they know what's expected of them and I think they'll be up for the challenge."
The offensive line will also add two highly recruited freshman. Their place in the scheme of things has not been decided yet. "They both seem to be very anxious and they're both into their play book getting up to speed on their assignments." Both players look like they've done their work in the weight room prior to arriving at Tech. "They look pretty good don't they. "
The plan going into the season is to use a rotation along the line. "I think we'll use a bunch of players at every position and I think Jay Finch had a good off-season and I think Sean (Bedford) knows he has someone pushing him." The center position will also be a utility spot for Zach Krish.
Jay Finch is coming off a redshirt freshman season and is now preparing to play a new position. The redshirt year helped Jay prepare for his first year on the field. "That year gave me the time I need to mature physically as well as mentally, learn the game, and put on the weight that the coaches want."
Finch first learned about the move to center last spring. "Before that I'd been playing a little bit of tackle and a little bit of guard so why not try center and see if I can snap." The adjustment was not a major one for Finch. "In high school I played every position on the offensive line so it was easy to pick up but I just needed to get the technique down that they wanted because I have a tendency to cross my feet a little bit."
Having Sean Bedford to work with has helped Finch learn the position. "Sean's been a great mentor and a hard worker and if I have any questions he knows the offense forward and backwards."
Finch doesn't feel that learning the center position is any harder than learning the other positions on the line. "I don't think it's any harder to learn but there's more to account for because there is so much to call plus you have to snap the ball, remember the count, the exchange, and it's harder to go out and engage someone when you have one hand between your legs."
Saturday will now be a day that Jay is looking forward to now that he knows he'll have a chance to play. "The coach told me to keep up the good work and if he sees what he wants I'll get some reps."
Finch and his teammates Will Jackson and Raymond Beno were billed as the first line class that fits the style of offense run by Georgia Tech. "In this offense you have to be big as well as athletic and fast."
While Coach Sewak will have to replace last years starting class, he likes the mix of youth and experience he sees in the middle of the line. He'll have a group of players that will bring good competition and he knows they're all hungry.