2012 Georgia Tech Preview - Offense
Georgia Tech RB Orwin Smith
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: The Yellow Jackets will once again employ the triple-option that's become the trademark of Paul Johnson's teams on the Flats. However, while Tech has consistently ranked among the nation's most prolific ground games, its execution and pop have been lacking of late. Johnson hopes to change the trend with the return of most of his 2011 offense, and a few tweaks that could include some shotgun and pistol formations. The program is encouraged by the core of the running game, QB Tevin Washington, the dynamic one-two punch of A-back Orwin Smith and B-back David Sims and all but one starter up front. RG Omoregie Uzzi, in particular, is an outstanding blocker, with a good shot to be named All-ACC for a third straight year. Oddly enough, though, the run-first attack would greatly benefit from a few more big connections downfield to a streaking receiver who gets behind the secondary. Reversing last season's results, one touchdown pass in the final eight games, got a whole lot tougher with the early departure of star WR Stephen Hill, placing the onus on Washington and unproven receivers Jeff Greene, Chris Jackson and Darren Waller to exploit defenses that stack the box to stop the run.
Star of the offense: Senior RG Omoregie Uzzi
Passing: Tevin Washington
74-150, 1,652 yds, 11 TDs, 8 INTs
Rushing: Tevin Washington
242 carries, 986 yds, 14 TDs
Receiving: Orwin Smith
13 catches, 306 yds, 1 TD
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore RT Morgan Bailey
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Jeff Greene
Best pro prospect: Uzzi
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Uzzi, 2) Senior RB Orwin Smith, 3) Junior RB David Sims
Strength of the offense: The ground game, big plays in the passing game, time of possession, experience up front, third-down conversions, red-zone conversions
Weakness of the offense: Passing efficiency, wide receivers, fumbles
The Yellow Jackets have a returning starting quarterback, but aren't quite doing backflips about the situation behind center. Senior Tevin Washington had his moments in his debut as the pilot, yet also
left a lot to be desired. On the one hand, the 6-0,
205-pounder was as good as advertised as a runner,
carrying the ball 242 times for a team-high 986
yards and 14 touchdowns. However, after a fast
start, he failed to catch defenses off guard with
his passing. 74-of-150 for 1,652 yards, 11
touchdowns and eight picks as one of the nation's
most efficient throwers was impressive, however, the
production started to slow a bit, throwing for just
one touchdown and seven interceptions over the last
eight games. Even so, he's a wizard running the option and he knows exactly what he's doing.
A couple of underclassmen are itching to unseat Washington. Sophomore Synjyn Days is the best runner of the contenders. At 6-1 and 212 pounds, he can be a punishing ballcarrier, deftly making the right reads as the triggerman of the option. However, he remains raw as a passer, and only went 8-of-12 for 198 yards in limited opportunities in 2011.
Redshirt freshman Vad Lee, on the other hand, will be the Jackets' best passer coming off the bench. Oh, the 6-1, 206-pounder is also a dual-threat, but has shown a little more polish with his throwing motion and ability to locate the open man.
Watch Out For … some use of shotgun and pistol formations. Yup, Georgia Tech is looking to add a few wrinkles that leverage the abilities of all three quarterbacks, while also keeping defenses guessing. Neither look is going to become a staple anytime soon, but if used judiciary could be a dangerous add-on for 2012.
Strength: Legs. If you want to be the Yellow Jackets quarterback these days, you better be able to make things happen on the ground. That won't be a problem for Washington or his understudies, a trio of really good athletes who can make people miss in the open field, or who can bolt past defenders and into the secondary.
Weakness: Consistency in the passing game. Today's Tech isn't expecting the second-coming of Joe Hamilton, but a few more long-ball connections sure would be nice. When the Yellow Jackets are really clicking, they're able to take advantage of a slew of opponents in the box by going up top. Washington made too few connections in the second half of 2012.
Outlook: Georgia Tech is a year older at the position, and has the requisite athletes to run the option. However, something was missing from the offense in 2011, an element of consistency and reliability paralleled the program's slide after the middle of October. If Washington is unable to plug the gaps in his game, Days or Lee is liable to bump him to the sidelines.
Unit Rating: 8
For the first time in six seasons, Georgia Tech failed to produce a 1,000-yard rusher. Now, the team still finished No. 2 nationally on the ground, but having the quarterback lead the attack was less than an ideal situation. The good news is that all three of last year's top three rushers return. The front-runner at B-back, the feature runner in this offense, is 6-0, 218-pound junior David Sims, a former quarterback adjusting nicely to a new role. In the most extensive action of his career, the bruiser responded by rushing for 698 yards and seven scores on 135 carries. He's still learning the position, especially his blocking assignments, and hopes that his time in the film room and on the practice field will pay dividends in the fall.
Pushing Sims for reps is 6-0, 219-pound sophomore Charles Perkins. He has the kind of size-speed combo at B-back that the staff is after, especially since the position didn't produce in 2011 the way it has in recent years. After getting just 28 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown, his role is about to increase markedly.
The top choice at A-back, one of two slot positions, is 6-0, 202-pound senior Orwin Smith. The very definition of a homerun hitter, he exploded for more than 10 yards a carry and over 23 yards a reception in his most extensive action as a Yellow Jacket. Yeah, his touches were limited to about a half-dozen a game, but he maximized those opportunities by scoring every six times he touched the ball. Head coach Paul Johnson would like to get his big-play back a little more involved this fall, even if he remains a complement instead of a feature in the triple-option. Smith had a penchant for seizing the momentum early in games, turning 22 first-quarter carries into 364 yards and six touchdowns in 2011. For all his speed and acceleration, he is no jitterbug, possessing the necessary size to pick up yards after contact.
It is yet to be determined who'll join Smith at A-back. The staff has three primary options in a backfield that likes to spread the wealth. The contenders are 5-11, 171-pound sophomore B.J. Bostic, 5-8, 172-pound sophomore Tony Zenon and 5-7, 187-pound junior Robert Godhigh. Bostic is eager to get back in action after missing all of last season with an injury. As a true freshman in 2010, he flashed excellent quickness in racing for 127 yards on only 13 carries. No one on the roster stops and starts faster than Zenon, who is a nightmare in the open field for defenders. He rushed for 86 yards on 15 carries, adding three catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. Godhigh is a former walk-on, who'll do whatever it takes—in the weight room or on the field—to earn snaps. He only carried the ball twice for 18 yards in six games, but is closing in on an expanded role in 2012.
Watch Out For … Perkins to cut into Sims' playing time. The incumbent is a solid and evolving player, but the Yellow Jackets are looking for more production out of their B-backs. Perkins has the burst at nearly 220 pounds that the others around him lack. It would be no surprise at all if he goes from 28 carries in 2011 to nearly 100 in 2012.
Strength: Playmakers. It all begins with Smith, who averaged a video game-like 10.1 yards a carry last fall. The staff is eager to unleash Bostic, Zenon and Godhigh, a trio of small and quick backs who will get to the edge quickly and into the secondary even faster.
Weakness: Big plays from B-back. This is the one area where Georgia Tech is looking for a little more pop in 2012. Sims certainly played well in his first full season as a running back, but the coaches want to see an extra gear through the hole from both the junior and his backup, Perkins.
Outlook: While the Yellow Jackets will again rank among the nation's most potent ground games, more is still expected from the A-backs and B-backs. The holdovers are eager to provide it once the season begins. Sims and Smith are a nice place to start building a foundation. If the complements, such as Perkins, Zenon and Bostic, can inject just a little more electricity to the unit, Tech's yards per carry is liable to go from 5.7 in 2011 to over six this year. The rating is based on expected production as much as talent.
Unit Rating: 8.5
The New York Jets are thrilled to be the new home of WR Stephen Hill. Georgia Tech, however, was sad to see him go. The Jackets must now replace their star on the outside and his partner in the lineup, Tyler Melton. The heir apparent on the deep ball could be 6-4, 200-pound sophomore Jeff Greene. He played in 12 games as a true freshman, but did not record a catch. However, he's built in a similar mode as recent long-ball hitters on the Flats, and has the gait and straight-line speed to stretch the defense. He's being counted on to pick up a lot of the slack in just his second season on campus.
In the spring, 6-1, 205-pound senior Chris Jackson got most of the first-team reps along with Greene. The former transfer from Alabama has yet to catch a pass at this level, but has impressed the coaches with his toughness, physicality and ability to spring teammates with a downfield block. With one season of eligibility remaining, he has a lot to prove in his second stop at a major FBS program.
If nothing else, it'll be tough to ignore the size of sophomore Darren Waller, the 6-5, 220-pounder with the size 17 shoe. He has unexpected agility and athleticism for such a big man, conjuring up images of predecessors in Atlanta, like Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas and Hill. It's too early to get riled up about a player with no career receptions, but the program is justifiably excited about his ceiling.
Watch Out For … Moore to gradually become the most dangerous weapon of this group. Although it's going to take time before he's able to unnerve opposing defensive backs on a week-in, week-out basis, his length and penchant for creating mismatches on smaller cornerbacks will not be lost on QB Tevin Washington.
Strength: Blocking. Still at the embryonic stage of their careers as wide receivers, these Yellow Jackets are better blockers than they are pure pass catchers. In this system, they receivers recognize that their greatest value comes from getting downfield and getting a hat on someone. All are big and physical, which is a plus when trying to make tough catches in traffic.
Weakness: Experience. This might be the greenest corps of receivers in America. So green, in fact that no one on the roster had a catch last season. The most seasoned member of the unit, Jackson, doesn't have a reception in his four years since leaving high school.
Outlook: The graduation of Hill leaves an enormous hole in a unit that's going to miss his presence and big-play ability on the outside. While it appears that Greene and Waller, in particular, have the raw ability and stature to gradually begin picking up the slack, it won't happen immediately. If Georgia Tech loses the surprise factor in the passing game, the offense becomes just a little less potent overall.
Unit Rating: 6
After patching up the O-line in 2011, Georgia Tech hopes to reap the rewards in 2012. Four starters are back up front, led by senior RG Omoregie Uzzi. The headliner of the Yellow Jackets offensive line is a third-year starter, two-time All-ACC selection and All-American candidate. A 6-3, 300-pounder, he's an underrated cog of the prolific running game in Atlanta, creating huge breaks of daylight for Tech's quarterback, B-back and A-backs. He has the raw power and upper body strength needed to muscle his man out of the play, but like most blockers in a triple-option, Uzzi is at his best when he's on the move. His balance and footwork make him a natural to destroy opponents when pulling and trapping on running plays.
Back for a third year as the starting left guard is 6-3, 285-pound junior Will Jackson. An athletic tactician, he plays with sound fundamentals and a real nasty streak. He was recruited out of Knoxville, Tenn. explicitly to function in this offense, and has not disappointed through his first couple of seasons of action.
Sophomore Shaq Masonwill spend the season preparing to be the successor to Uzzi. As a rookie, the 6-1, 295-pounder played in 11 games, and started the Sun Bowl. The season will serve as a valuable apprenticeship before he completely dispatches of the training wheels, and teams up with Jackson in 2013.
Manning the middle for a second straight year will be 6-3, 283-pound junior C Jay Finch. The versatile blocker has started 15 games over the last two seasons, three at guard and 12 at center. He's one of the feistiest of the Tech blockers, strong at the point of attack, and always willing to scrap until the play is whistled dead.
Junior Ray Beno is back to resume his role as the team's left tackle. While he lacks ideal size for the position at 6-2 and 290 pounds, he held his own as a starter in all but one game. Not one to be locked into a specific position, he affords the staff the flexibility to use him at just about any position up front.
The job at right tackle will come down to the more experienced Tyler Kidney, a junior, and injury-prone sophomore Morgan Bailey. A former walk-on who was awarded a scholarship at the end of 2011, the 6-2, 262-pound Kidney earned six valuable starts a year ago. Bailey has a much higher ceiling, especially as a pile-driving run blocker, but has rarely been healthy. Since arriving, the 6-4, 298-pounder has been hindered by a torn labrum, a pulled hamstring and a concussion this past spring.
Watch Out For … Bailey to overtake the more seasoned Kidney at right tackle. He clearly has more talent than the competition, and probably has as much upside as any of the tackles on the roster. He simply needs to stay healthy long enough to showcase the skills that made him such a coveted recruit two years ago.
Strength: Agility. While Tech isn't sending blockers to the pros on an annual basis, it has found a formula for cobbling together athletic, intelligent front walls that get out of the blocks quickly and open holes for the ground game. Uzzi aside, it won't be a sexy, star-studded ensemble, but the assistant coaches will make sure that it's effective and well-coached.
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, Georgia Tech is prone to getting moved off the ball and knocked backwards at times.
Outlook: While this is not a great offensive line, it'll work for the Yellow Jackets, especially with so many veterans back in the trenches. Collectively, they'll be quick, well-coached and intimately familiar with the system and assignments. Uzzi is the sure-thing and Bailey is the wild card, a player capable of blooming into one of the anchors of the future.
Unit Rating: 7.5
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