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2013 Georgia Tech Preview – Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 30, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Offense


Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Preview 2013 - Offense

- 2013 Georgia Tech Preview | 2013 Georgia Tech Offense
- 2013 Georgia Tech Defense | 2013 Georgia Tech Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Changes are taking place on the Georgia Tech offense in 2013. No, the Yellow Jackets will not be shifting away from the triple-option that’s been the staple since Paul Johnson came aboard more than five years ago. However, Tech will be running it with a new man at the pivot, likely up-and-coming sophomore Vad Lee. Lee played some a year ago, and showed flashes, but he’s now poised to pilot the attack from the opener forward. He’s got as much potential as any of Johnson’ former pupils, and has been groomed the last two years for this moment. Behind the quarterback will be an eclectic mix of B-backs and A-backs that are long on diversity, yet short on star power. Powerful David Sims is the best of the lot, and the one most likely to lead the team in rushing. The ground game should be well-supported form a veteran line that returns four starters. But, the homerun-hitting passing game could suffer a power outage if a capable receiver doesn’t step up. The role was supposed to belong to Jeff Greene, but he’s since transferred to Ohio State.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Vad Lee
27-56, 596 yds, 4 TDs, 3 INTs
Rushing: Zach Laskey
133 carries, 697 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Robert Godhigh
15 catches, 227 yds, 4 TDs

Star of the offense: Senior RB David Sims
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior WR Darren Waller
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore QB Vad Lee
Best pro prospect: Sims
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Sims, 2) Senior LG Will Jackson, 3) Senior C Jay Finch
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, youth behind center, wide receivers, fumbles

Quarterbacks

Last season, Georgia Tech juggled its quarterbacks. This fall, it hopes to primarily ride the skills of one man, sophomore Vad Lee, who pushed incumbent Tevin Washington throughout the 2012 campaign. He wound up earning valuable reps, completing 27-of-56 for 596 yards, four touchdowns and three picks to go along with 544 yards and nine scores on the ground. Powerfully built at 6-1 and 213 pounds, Lee can take a pounding as the point man of the triple-option offense, yet will also exploit over pursuing defenses that don’t respect his strong arm. The program and the staff believe they have their best situation developing behind center in years, a young leader oozing poise in the huddle.

Lee may wind up being the best quarterback that Paul Johnson has had on the Flats, but that doesn’t mean the coach doesn’t want to get young Justin Thomas on the field as well. While just 5-11 and 169 pounds, the redshirt freshman lightning quick and ideally athletic to run the option. He has also impressed the team with his arm and accuracy as a thrower.

Watch Out For … Thomas to be used strategically as a runner in certain situations. The rookie is far too dangerous outside the pocket to not be utilized on occasion as a runner. He has great vision, a must in this attack, and usually won’t be caught once he explodes into daylight.
Strength: Great legs. If you want to be under center for the Yellow Jackets these days, you better be able to make things happen on the ground. That will not be a problem for Lee, who ranked 15th in ACC rushing as a backup, or Thomas, a Tavon Austin-like jackrabbit with the ball in his hands.
Weakness: Consistency in the passing game. While it’s not the focal point of the Georgia Tech offense, never underestimate the importance of the passing game in Atlanta. The Jackets use it sparingly, but when they do, it’s capable of crippling opposing defenses with long balls. Obviously, the quarterbacks are young and more advanced as runners than passers at this stage.
Outlook: Georgia Tech has only had two starting quarterbacks under Johnson, Josh Nesbitt and Washington. Lee appears uniquely qualified to become the best dual-threat to play for the coach, blending his sizable physical tools with the desired intangibles. He’s a budding star of the ACC, while Thomas is likely to unleash a highlight-reel play of his own every couple of games.
Unit Rating: 7

Running Backs

Competition will be the buzzword from a backfield that always features a deep rotation of backs. The frontrunner at B-back, Georgia Tech’s feature role, is 6-0, 222-pound senior David Sims, a quarterback when he first arrived in Atlanta. He’s started 17 games over the last two seasons, rushing for 612 yards and four scores on 135 carries in 2012. However, the rugged inside runner has yet to deliver a breakout season that’s fitting of his potential. This could be the year for Sims, especially if he can avoid the nagging nicks and bruises that have plagued him.

Providing quality insurance for Sims at B-back will be 6-1, 208-pound Zach Laskey. The junior is a steady, hard-nosed performer who did not fumble the ball a season ago. He started six games in 2012, rushing 133 times for 697 yards and a touchdown. He also caught six balls for 122 yards and two more scores. Laskey is a great fit for a team that favors the use of multiple backs.

There’ll be plenty of backs competing for snaps at the two starting A-back spots. The leading returning rusher from the position is senior Robert Godhigh, who went for 429 yards and four scores on just 54 carries, while catching 15 balls for 227 yards and a team-high four touchdown catches. The 5-7, 188-pounder keeps surprising, going from former walk-on to big-play threat and underrated blocker on the perimeter.

Favored to join Godhigh in the lineup at A-back is 5-11, 170-pound junior B.J. Bostic, whose quickness and nose for the sticks have made him popular among the coaches. He’s been used economically up to this point, carrying the ball 34 times for 212 yards, and catching seven passes for 139 yards last fall.

There’s no shortage of Yellow Jackets nipping at the stingers of Godhigh and Bostic. The contenders include three juniors, 6-0, 207-pound Deon Hill, 6-2, 215-pound Synjyn Days and 5-8, 173-pound Tony Zenon, and redshirt freshman Dennis Andrews. Days, like Sims, is a converted quarterback who rushed for 142 yards and a score on 23 carries last season. Few Tech skill players can change directions faster than Zenon, an open-field whiz who went for a career-high 193 yards and a score on 31 carries, while catching seven balls for 195 yards.

Watch Out For … true freshman Travis Custis to further increase Georgia Tech’s depth in the backfield. The four-star B-back chose the Yellow Jackets over the likes of Clemson, Miami and Michigan State, so he clearly had options. He has a nice bounce in his step and is tough to bring down, the qualities this program seeks in a future feature back.
Strength: Balance of talent. As is often the plan at this program, Georgia Tech is going to be multi-dimensional out of the backfield. The Yellow Jackets have the thump of Sims and Laskey to go along with the long ball potential of the A-backs, primarily Godhigh, Bostic and Zenon.
Weakness: Star power. No returning back rushed for more than 700 yards last season, and it remains to be seen if anyone will do so this fall. Sims is the closest thing to a true feature back, but he’s not Jonathan Dwyer, the kind of B-back who’s going to rumble for 100 yards three out of every four games. The Yellow Jackets lack that playmaker who keeps opposing coaches up all night thinking of ways to stop him.
Outlook: Georgia Tech will again rank among the nation’s most prolific ground games, employing a committee of well-coached and diverse backs to fuel the attack. Sims has the highest ceiling, and is the most likely to give the program its first 1,000-yard rusher since Anthony Allen did it in 2010. Laskey will again be unheralded, yet productive, while the cadre of A-backs jockey for touches.
Unit Rating: 7.5

Receivers

It’s getting harder and harder for Georgia Tech to keep wide receivers around. The team’s best outside playmaker, Jeff Greene, is no longer with the program, and is now walking on at Ohio State. The Jackets are left with no returning receiver who caught more than 10 balls in 2012. A lot will be expected from junior Darren Waller, the 6-5, 228-pounder with the size 17 cleats. The 10-game starter in 2012 caught eight balls for 162 yards, while blocking like a tight end, but still needs to improve his hands and his feel for the position.

Taking the lead at the other wide receiver position is 6-2, 203-pound junior Corey Dennis. He’s a versatile all-around athlete, arriving as a defensive back, moving to wide receiver and contributing on special teams. Last season was spent improving his blocking skills and gaining a better understanding of the offense.

Dennis is going to be pushed—hard—by redshirt freshman Travin Henry. At 6-3 and 210 pounds, he fits the mold for today’s Yellow Jacket wide receiver. He’s big and strong, with the gait to get behind the secondary. Tech receivers mostly run intermediate and deep routes to discourage defenses from pressing up, and Henry is at his best when he can coast through the secondary.

Watch Out For … this to be a make-or-break year for Waller. He sure looks to be the second-coming of Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas or Stephen Hill, but only prior to the film going on. He’s yet to bloom into a fluid and instinctive pass-catcher, and the clock has started to tick.
Strength: Downfield blocking. Still at the emergent stage of their careers as pass-catching wide receivers, these Yellow Jackets are far better blockers than they are pure receivers. In the triple-option system, the receivers are taught that their greatest value comes from getting downfield and getting a lid on a defender. All are big and physical, which is a plus when trying to make tough catches in traffic.
Weakness: Experience. With the losses of Greene and Jeremy Moore, Tech might be home to one of the least experienced corps of receivers in the FBS. Waller’s eight receptions are all that the returners accounted for, which is going to present problems when the quarterbacks attempt to catch defenses napping over the top.
Outlook: The lack of proven playmakers at wide receiver is a bigger issue than many would expect. The Yellow Jackets have feasted in recent years on opposing defenses that stack the box to stop the option. If that element of the offense is missing, it’s going to really hurt in 2013. Someone needs to fill the void of a homerun threat, with Waller or possibly Henry being the most likely candidates.
Unit Rating: 6

Offensive Line

The Yellow Jackets’ O-line loses just a single starter, but it was an important one, three-time All-ACC selection Omoregie Uzzi. Tech ought to still be capable up front, led by fourth-year starter Will Jackson, who started games at guard and tackle in 2012 while dealing with a shoulder injury for much of the season. The 6-3, 290-pound honorable mention All-ACC pick is feisty, fundamentally-sound and focused on supporting the offense. Slotted in at left guard, Jackson is going to benefit from an entire offseason to rehab his shoulder, before beginning his finale on the Flats.

Joining Jackson with honorable mention All-ACC honors at the conclusion of 2012 was 6-3, 285-pound C Jay Finch. He’s about to enter his third season as a starter for the Yellow Jackets, confidently handling the pivot for the offense. Finch is quick to the second level, nasty at the point of contact and always willing to grapple until the play is blown dead. He’ll begin 2013 as one of the league’s better centers.

Rounding out the interior will be RG Shaq Mason, who started the final 12 games of 2012 at left guard. The 6-1, 305-pound junior showed steady growth during the first half of his career, a trend the program feels will continue in 2013 and 2014. He’s a little undersized and still inconsistent, but his personal trend is heading in the right direction.

The Jackets’ lone returning starter at tackle will be 6-2, 292-pound senior Ray Beno, the starter in all 14 games last season. He’s versatile enough to play any position in the trenches, and is one of the hardest workers on and away from the field. Beno may not make many headlines, but he’s one of the steadiest blockers up front for the Yellow Jackets.

The least experienced member of the line is 6-4, 295-pound junior Morgan Bailey, though he did start the final seven games of 2012 after injuries forced him from the bench. He still has a lot of room for growth to go along with one of the biggest frames among the Tech blockers. Bailey is going to benefit in a big way from having been thrust into the lineup last fall.

Three Yellow Jackets who lettered as reserves in 2012 are back to add depth from the bench. Sophomore LG Trey Braun, junior C Catlin Alford and sophomore RT Bryan Chamberlain have combined for four letters on the Flats. Chamberlain is the only member of the trio with a start on his Tech resume.

Watch Out For … rookie Shamire DeVine to put a jolt into the veteran tackles. The four-star DeVine is one of the highest-rated linemen in a very long time to sign with the Yellow Jackets. And he’s massive, which Tech doesn’t attract all that often. He’s 6-6 and 350 pounds, yet agile enough to get to the second level. It’s going to be interesting this summer to see if the true freshman can muscle his way into the rotation.
Strength: Footwork. Although the Yellow Jackets are not sending blockers to the NFL on a regular basis, they have located a formula for cobbling together athletic, intelligent front walls that get out of the blocks quickly and open holes for the ground game. This remains a no-name, unheralded group will open holes for the myriad backs, and has the system down to an exact science.
Weakness: Brute strength. Okay, so the Georgia Tech staff isn’t looking for a bunch of space-eaters, but they would come in handy when faced with certain physical opponents. At an average of about 290 pounds form left to right, the Yellow Jackets are prone to getting moved off the ball and knocked backwards at times.
Outlook: Uzzi will be missed, but Tech can take solace in the return of four veteran starters. The Yellow Jackets are scrappy and fundamentally sound at the point of attack, using quick feet and crisp technique to free up the backs. They’ll still struggle against physically-imposing front walls, though the signing of DeVine might be a harbinger of good things to come in the future.
Unit Rating: 7
 
- 2013 Georgia Tech Preview | 2013 Georgia Tech Offense
- 2013 Georgia Tech Defense | 2013 Georgia Tech Depth Chart