2011 Georgia Tech Preview – Offense
Georgia Tech OG Omoregie Uzzi
Georgia Tech OG Omoregie Uzzi
Posted May 24, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Offense

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Preview 2011 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: Georgia Tech led the nation in rushing a year ago, averaging 323 yards a game and 5.6 yards a carry out of the spread option. Ho-hum. Judging Paul Johnson's ground-oriented attack on rushing yards alone is overly simplistic. The fact is that the Yellow Jackets became less efficient in 2010, stalling in the red zone and putting the ball on the ground too much. Fixing their problems won't be easy in a year that two backfield heroes, QB Josh Nesbitt and 1,000-yard B-back Anthony Allen, graduated. Johnson will put his version of the triple-option in the hands of former role players, such as QB Tevin Washington, assuming he holds off Synjyn Davis, and the running trio of Orwin Smith, Roddy Jones, and Preston Lyons. Of greater importance, Tech is trying to retool the offensive line … again. Omoregie Uzzi is a pillar at right guard, but he's surrounded by a couple of unproven blockers. If the Jackets are going to recapture the rhythm it had in 2009, they'll need the line to make life a little simpler for that revamped backfield.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Tevin Washington
25-61, 417 yds, 2 TDs, 3 INTs
Rushing: Orwin Smith
53 carries, 516 yds, 4 TDs
Receiving: Stephen Hill
15 catches, 291 yds, 3 TDs

Star of the offense: Junior RG Omoregie Uzzi
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Tevin Washington
Unsung star on the rise: Junior A-back Orwin Smith
Best pro prospect: Junior WR Stephen Hill
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Uzzi, 2) Smith, 3) Hill
Strength of the offense: The ground game, big plays in the passing game, time of possession
Weakness of the offense: Turnover on the offensive line, red zone conversions, fumbles, efficiency in the passing game


State of the Unit: The Yellow Jackets got a head start on replacing Josh Nesbitt, who missed the final four games of his career with a broken arm. Although he'll be missed, it's important to point out that he wasn't even recruited by the current staff or pegged to operate an option system. All of the young quarterbacks waiting in the wings were, which is why the program is confident it will move forward with success at the most important position on the roster.

At least for the time being, the job belongs to 6-0, 205-pound junior Tevin Washington , the emergency replacement last fall. He's no sure-thing, though, even after rushing for 514 yards and four touchdowns on 116 carries. While no one doubts his athletic ability, he needs to improve as a passer, going just 25-of-61 for 417 yards, two touchdowns, and three picks. He also struggled with his throws in the spring game, further opening the door for the young Tech quarterbacks.

Coming on hard is 6-1, 205-pound redshirt freshman Synjyn Days . While still raw in the passing game, he's an explosive athlete, with good moves in the open field and an innate ability to read defenses when running the option. He's within striking distance heading into summer. True freshman Vad Lee arrives in the summer with lofty expectations, but a long way to go before entertaining thoughts of breaking into the top two.

Watch Out For … Washington's knee. He injured it in the Independence Bowl, held off on surgery, and played through some pain during the spring. He finally got it scoped at the end of April and expects to be healthy for summer drills, but any setback could further fuel Days' ascent.
Strength: Legs. If you want to be the Georgia Tech quarterback, you better be able to make things happen on the ground. That won't be a problem for Washington or Days, two tremendous athletes who can make people miss in the open field or bolt past defenders and into the secondary.
Weakness: Experience. You could fill in the passing game as well, but that lack of reps on the roster is going to be a problem. Thank goodness Washington was forced into action last fall or else the Yellow Jackets would be destitute in the area. This is an offense that requires its quarterbacks to get plenty of snaps before things truly sink in, yet after Washington, no one has played at this level.
Outlook: There's going to be a transition period under center no matter who gets the ball from Paul Johnson. Nesbitt was a playmaker and a veteran who had the nuances of this system down pat. Washington can make plays with his feet, but it remains to be seen whether his arm will earn the respect of defenses. Days is not going away, a precocious rookie capable of winning this job in August.
Unit Rating: 7

Running Backs

State of the Unit: Georgia Tech has had a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the last five seasons. Now that's not to suggest that the Yellow Jackets won't miss current Baltimore Raven Anthony Allen, but this offense is built to produce productive runners. And after four years of Paul Johnson and his staff, the program has been able to build up its overall depth and talent in the backfield.

The front-runner at B-back, the feature runner in this offense, is 6-0, 211-pound senior Preston Lyons, who exited spring atop the depth chart. A former transfer from Colgate, of all places, he's a tough and physical runner between the tackles. He's had a tough time earning carries since arriving in Atlanta, getting 14 touches for 60 yards a year ago. Closing in on Lyons at the position is 6-0, 207-pound redshirt freshman Charles Perkins . He gets to top gear quickly and has a little more explosiveness than the other contenders for the job.

There is no shortage of possible options for the staff at the two slot positions known as A-back. The busiest Yellow Jackets are expected to be 5-9, 202-pound senior Roddy Jones and 6-0, 202-pound junior Orwin Smith . Both are gamebreakers that come in different packages. Jones has the quickness of a jackrabbit, darting in and out of tight spaces and making defenders miss. As healthy as he's been in years, he figures to blow past last season's 353 yards and four touchdowns on 52 carries. Smith is a big-play guy, lacking Jones' speed, but running with excellent vision and hitting the hole quickly. He needed just 53 carries to rush for 516 yards and four touchdowns, while catching a dozen passes for 195 yards. Smith will be backed up by 5-10, 174-pound senior Embry Peeples, who ran for 287 yards and a touchdown on 46 carries. One of the team's many elusive runners, he should get more touches this year. One of the young up-and-comers is 5-11, 170-pound B.J. Bostic , the likely successor to Jones. Speedy and able to change direction in an instant, he averaged almost 10 yards on his 13 carries.

Watch Out For … Smith to make the most of his expanded role. After living in the shadows of Allen and Jonathan Dwyer the last couple of years, he's about to showcase his talent on a grander scale. A big back, he gets into space quickly and will be a dangerous weapon in the passing game as well.
Strength: The A-backs. Tech has a lot of depth at the position, headed by the playmaking ability of Smith and Jones. The pair has tremendous upside potential as runners and receivers, and a long line of experienced backs forming behind it.
Weakness: B-back. If there's an issue, this could be it on the Flats. Georgia Tech likes its B-backs to be durable, seasoned, and capable of breaking off long runs every so often. There's genuine concern whether or not that applies to a former Colgate Raider and a redshirt freshman yet to take his first snap.
Outlook: Tech is going to get its yards on the ground. It always does. However, there's a little more uncertainty in the backfield than in recent years. No one besides the quarterbacks carried the ball more than 53 times a year ago, and the B-backs are hardly sure-things. The aggregate numbers will be fine, but a sixth straight year with a 1,000-yard rusher will be tested by more of a committee approach than in the past.
Unit Rating: 8


State of the Unit: The Yellow Jackets will be bringing back a pair of regulars to a position that's more important to the running game than the passing attack. Tech receivers rarely catch more than a ball or two a game, spending most of their time blocking downfield for the running backs and quarterback. Now, that's not to suggest that they can't catch defenses napping on long balls, much the way Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas did in the past.

Any chance of emulating Johnson and Thomas will come from 6-5, 200-pound junior Stephen Hill . A terrific all-around athlete, with the size to soar above defensive backs, he's going have a chance to catch more passes in the pros when he's done in Atlanta. Good for about 20 yards a reception during the first half of his career, he caught a team-high 15 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns in his first starting assignment.

Joining Hill in the starting lineup is 6-0, 206-pound senior Tyler Melton. A veteran of 22 starts during his career, he's used more like a blocking tight end, getting downfield and creating more space for the runners. An infrequent target for the passers, he caught a career-best six passes for 99 yards and a touchdown in 2010. Behind Hill is 6-0, 198-pound junior Daniel McKayhan , who possesses the athleticism to be an effective receiver. He caught just two passes for 29 yards, but will increase his number if he can get on the field more often.

Watch Out For … Hill to earn a spot on the All-ACC team. No, he won't lead the league in catches, but as long as he averages around 20 yards a reception and gets behind defenses, he'll grab the attention of voters. Now that he has a year in the system as a starter, he could be ready to get on the tarmac.
Strength: Blocking. No disrespect to Hill's ability to catch the ball, which is solid, but the Georgia Tech receivers know that their main goal is to get a hat on someone. It's a physical collection of players, which also comes in handy when there's a battle for the ball in the air.
Weakness: Options after Hill. Hill has the size and the hands to be a dynamite player in a more traditional offense. However, after him, the quarterbacks won't have any reliable targets when they drop back to pass. On lack of use alone, the Yellow Jacket receivers can be a rusty and inconsistent bunch in the passing game.
Outlook: Obviously, not a heck of a lot is expected from the Tech receivers; at least not the kind of stuff that shows up in boxscores. Hill, however, is an exception. Even in an option offense, he has a chance to be special, a unique weapon who can get behind the defense and deliver one or two back-breaking plays a game.
Unit Rating: 6

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: The Yellow Jackets lose three starters from a patchwork offensive line that exceeded expectations a year ago. While the program isn't sending blockers to the pros on an annual basis, it's found a formula for cobbling together athletic, intelligent front walls that get out of the blocks quickly and open holes for the ground game. It won't be a sexy, star-studded collection of talent, but assistants Mike Sewak and Todd Spencer will make sure that it's effective and well-coached.

The lone decorated player of the group is 6-3, 300-pound junior Omoregie Uzzi , an anchor at right guard and returning All-ACC second teamer. A powerful run blocker, he's one of the key components of the Jackets' success on the ground, showing good punch and the feet to make blocks at the second level. Only at the mid-point of his Tech career, he has a chance to gain national recognition before exhausting his eligibility.

Over at left guard will be 6-3, 285-pound sophomore Will Jackson , who started nine games in 2010. An athletic lineman, he plays with excellent fundamentals and a nasty streak. Rounding out the interior will be 6-3, 283-pound sophomore Jay Finch , a returning letterman who started three games at guard a year ago. Replacing Sean Bedford, he has huge shoes to fill, but possesses the head and the competitiveness to make this move look shrewd over time. If Finch flinches, 6-3, 291-pound junior Nick McRae will be waiting to fill the void. Strong in his base and physical at the point of contact, he's shown the versatility to play any position on the interior.

At tackle, the Yellow Jackets have a disparate situation of youth and one of the most seasoned members. On the left side, 6-5, 287-pound junior Phil Smith has started a dozen career games, including eight last fall. He's a quality athlete, sliding effectively and using his long arms to keep his man out of the backfield. To the right of center, however, 6-2, 262-pound sophomore Tyler Kidney is still a project. Clearly undersized, the former walk-on is also inexperienced, coming off the bench for six games in his first season. He'll be pushed by 6-2, 290-pound sophomore Ray Beno , who also saw spot duty in 2010 and has a better combination of size and strength.

Watch Out For … the development of 6-5, 300-pound rookie Trey Braun . Already on campus and impressing the coaching staff, he's moved up to the second team behind Uzzi at right guard. A monster in a sea of undersized Tech blockers, he's physically ready to contribute right now and poised to be a cornerstone in the future.
Strength: Agility. By design, the Georgia Tech Jacket offensive linemen move extremely well and are conditioned to be playing at top speed in the second half. Well-schooled on what it takes to be a successful blocker in this system, they have excellent get-off at the snap and can often be seen making blocks 10-15 yards downfield.
Weakness: Brute strength. Okay, so the Yellow Jacket staff isn't looking for a bunch of space-eaters, but they'd come in handy versus certain physical opponents. At an average of about 280 pounds form left to right, Tech is prone to getting moved off the ball and knocked backwards at times.
Outlook: Yes, the line is a concern, but maybe more for others than for Georgia Tech. While center and right tackle, in particular, are question marks, this Yellow Jacket staff has already proven it can take one man's trash and transform it into a treasure. Like a Texas Tech quarterback, when the system is working, it has a tendency to gloss over some of the specific weaknesses. Tech has rebuilding to do, but you might not know it when the final numbers are digested at the end of December.
Unit Rating: 7

- 2011 Georgia Tech Preview | 2011 Georgia Tech Offense
- 2011 Georgia Tech Defense | 2011 Georgia Tech Depth Chart
- Georgia Tech Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006