ATLANTA, GA - Despite ominous forecasts this morning's weather turned into the complete opposite of the spring game. The temperature was in the 70's and the skies were dry, a welcome change for coaches, players, and fans. Unsurprisingly all parties enjoyed a more crisp result in all three phases of the game along with a few big plays sprinkled in.
Highlighting today's action was a big effort from Tim Byerly. He and Justin Thomas split snaps with the first unit during the day's first drive that ended with a ~45 yard Harrison Butker field goal. The drive opened with two consecutive passes, the second of which was a back shoulder throw from Thomas to DeAndre Smelter that resulted in a 10+ yard gain for a first down.
Throughout the day Byerly looked sharp, highlighted by him ripping off a 50+ yard scamper for a touchdown midway through the scrimmage. Under Byerly's direction the option looked as fluid as it ever has this early in fall camp. Also seeing action at QB were Matthew Jordan, Brady Swilling, Chase Martenson, and current A-Back Synjyn Days.
Jordan pushed through normal freshman QB mistakes and showed flashes. He followed several overthrows to receivers with a deep completion down the right sideline to Darren Waller that simply confirmed his long talked about potential. When option plays broke down he showed off his athleticism. It's clear Matthew is coming along but will need more time and repetitions to see significant playing time.
It appeared the defense spent much of the day in the 4-3 as opposed to the expected 4-2-5, a sign that the defense will be dynamic depending on who they line up against. The main benefactor of this was linebacker P.J. Davis who saw time with the first team defense as the third LB. Showing up big throughout the day was safety Dominique Noble who had at least three big hits that got the team and crowd excited.
A few other random notes:
- Synjyn Days lined up at A-Back, B-Back, and QB. The snap at QB was one play inside the 5-yard line as we've seen from him in the past. It'll be interesting to see whether he continues to get snaps at B-Back with the first team given the depth situation at running back (A and B). He looked good during his limited time at B-Back, which included a swing pass and run for 15 yards out of the backfield.
- A-Back Tony Zenon continued a strong fall camp with a couple nice runs and a diving 20-yard catch
- Tackle Bryan Chamberlain appeared to mostly line up at LT as opposed to RT where he played last year
- DE Jabari Hunt-Days was not a passive observer. He was loud and encouraging from the sidelines and was completely into the game. While playing mostly with the scout team, near the end of the scrimmage he played 1 series at DT with the first team defense.
- DE Kenderius Whitehead showed why coaches expect big things out of him next year with a touchdown saving tackle in the red zone
- On the scout team you'd be hard-pressed to find a guy who had a better day than RS SO A-Back Isiah Willis (#29). He made an athletic catch on a pass that took him out of stride, had several nice runs, and showed good burst. Physically he looks the part and could easily be a contributor in the near future.
Overall there was no dominant unit, a good sign when you're playing against yourselves. With three weeks left until the season opener let's hope the team continues to make strides and arrives at Bobby Dodd on August 30 completely healthy.