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.

Tim Byerly #18 QB

Q: How's practice going so far?

A: It's been a good few days. We've been in shells and helmets for most of the time. It's been pretty productive so far. We should get a good look on Monday when everyone puts the pads on.

Q: How are you and Justin splitting snaps right now?

A: Justin is with the 1's. I'm with the 2's. Occasionally I'll go over with the 1's and Matthew Jordan will work with the 2's.

Q: What's it like working behind a healthy O-Line?

A: Oh man, it is awesome. We have a ton of depth there. Shaq and Trey Braun are really taking control and making sure the new guys know what they're doing. That helps Justin and I a lot. We feel way more comfortable going up to the line. We don't have to check a play to a better position outside since we're more balanced. It helps us a lot.

Q: Paul Johnson has compared you to Josh Nesbitt. How does that make you feel?

A: Josh did a great job and he was very successful in this offense. To be compared to him is a great compliment.

Q: Have you watched any of his tape?

A: Oh yea, we watch it all the time. I even look back at bios online, including Coach Johnson's from his days at Navy. Josh is a fun player to watch.

Q: We're all familiar with Zach Laskey as he's been in the program quite a while. How are the rest of the B-Backs looking so far?

A: Matt Connors - he knows what he's doing every play and is a real physical guy. Donovan Wilson - he's one of the hardest workers on the team. Then C.J. Leggett, the new kid, he did a lot in High School. He's probably ahead of the learning curve right now. He is very willing to learn and he's up to speed on the physical side of things. If we can get him up to speed with the playbook then I wouldn't be surprised to see him play.

Byerly fields media's questions

Q: What are you personal goals this year?

A: I would like to play, of course. Overall I hope to develop some kind of leadership role. And ultimately, I just want to win.

Q: Like Josh Nesbitt you have a reputation for playing well in the trash as Paul Johnson alluded to in his press conference 30 minutes ago. As you're moving around in there who is the guy you least want to see coming the other direction right at you on our team?

A: Adam Gotsis is not one to mess around with. Jabari is not fun to mess around with. Quayshawn as well. I would prefer they not be there, but if they're there, they're there.

Q: How are things going with the WR group so far?

A: We've probably been more on the same page than we have been at any point this year. Darren Waller, DeAndre, and Michael Summers - those are our big 3 that we're looking to this year in terms of making big plays. They are big guys. Justin and I have worked with them a lot this summer running routes. Those are going to be our big-time players. We're going to need that as that balances our playbook. If you can throw it out wide 3-4 times a game they're going to be looked at to make a play.

Q: Are there any new players that are standing out?

A: C.J. is standing out. Qua Searcy is looking pretty solid as a receiver. He's a little small but he's got great hands and runs good routes. C.J. will be the big-time guy there. He's here to work and he comes out with his game-face every single day. Zach and Matt have done a great job coaching up C.J. to be game-ready.

Q: The D-Line lost a lot to graduation and during the offseason. How are they looking so far?

A: We'll get a better look at that Monday when we go to full pads. It's an opportunity for some guys to step up. With a leader like Adam [Gotsis] on defense, he'll make sure those guys are ready. It doesn't matter who we have - guys will be ready to step up.