2007 Georgia Tech Preview - Offense
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Offense
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Preview 2007 - Offense
2007 Georgia Tech Preview
2007 GT Defense Preview
2007 GT Depth Chart
2006 CFN Georgia
What you need to know: Is it possible an offense can lose
the offensive coordinator, a sure-fire NFL superstar and a
four-year starting quarterback and be better? Absolutely. Calvin
Johnson's departure will sting, but the passing game should be
even better with Taylor Bennett (or any one of a slew of
terrific prospects) taking over for Reggie Ball. Patrick Nix
left to take over the Miami offense, but John Bond is a veteran
who did a good job with the Northern Illinois program for the
last three years. James Johnson will be a decent number one
target, and now someone else has to quickly emerge to take the
heat off and give Bennett more options. Tashard Choice is an
All-ACC caliber back leading a deep and talented group of
runners working behind a fantastic line loaded with experience
Passing: Taylor Bennett
25-58, 523 yds, 5 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Tashard Choice
297 carries, 1,473 yds, 12 TD
Receiving: James Johnson
39 catches, 608 yds, 7 TD
Star of the offense: Senior RB Tashard Choice
Number two receiver, quarterback experience
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
WR Greg Smith
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore C
Best pro prospect: Junior OT Andrew Gardner
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Choice, 2) Gardner, 3)
WR James Johnson
Strength of the offense: Offensive line, line depth,
running back depth
Weakness of the offense:
Projected Starter: Call it a blessing in disguise.
While Reggie Ball's academic suspension at the end of last year
might have cost the team a possible Gator Bowl win over West
Virginia, it allowed now-junior Taylor Bennett a chance
to get his feet wet. He was fantastic completing 19 of 26 passes
for 326 yards and three touchdowns prompting many Yellow Jacket
fans to wonder why he hadn't been in earlier when Ball was
struggling. While he's not going to run like Ball did, he's not
a statue and is a night-and-day better passer with a strong arm
and good decision-making ability. The 6-3, 215-pound left-hander
should make the passing game continue to shine even without
Calvin Johnson to throw to.
Projected Top Reserves: Redshirt freshman Byron
Ingram and junior Kyle Manley have had time in the
system and know what they're doing, and Calvin Booker has
loads of potential. The number two job would've gone to
true freshman Steven Threet, but he chose to transfer to
As well as they all might
do pushing Bennett for time, everyone might just be keeping the
seat warm for Josh Nesbitt, the team's top recruit and,
arguably, the best quarterback prospect Tech has gotten in
several decades. Nesbitt is Reggie Ball with an accurate arm
throwing for 63 touchdowns and rushing for 1,745 yards over the
last two years at Greene County High in Greensboro, Georgia.
Ingram has a nice combination
of size, arm and athleticism, but he'll have a hard time working
his way into any sort of a backup role. Booker, a junior, is an
Auburn transfer who has shown just enough to be in the hunt for
the number two job. At 6-3 and 235 pounds, he has the size and
the arm, and if he gets the offense down he could be the
wild-card in the race. Jonathan Garner was supposed to be the
star of the future, but got lost in the shuffle and will
transfer to Marshall.
Watch Out For ... an amazing battle for the number
two job that could carry over into a fight for the starting
spot. Bennett is the unquestioned number one going into the
summer, but Threet and Booker could quickly change that, and
Nesbitt could make things very interesting down the line.
Strength: Options. The coaching staff can't go
wrong with any of its choices. If Bennett falters in any way,
there are several other prospects ready to give it a shot.
Weakness: Overall experience. Yeah, Bennett
appears to be vastly improved and he should be more than fine,
but he only has one good game under his belt while the backups
have no experience. This is an ACC championship-caliber team
that's relying on an inexperienced player at the most important
Outlook: It's addition by subtraction losing Ball
but improving the overall position. Bennett appears to have a
great command of the offense, but he has to make everyone around
him better without Calvin Johnson to rely on. There are almost
too many good options to work with making for an interesting
battle for playing time over the next few seasons. From top to
bottom, this may be the best stable of quarterbacks the program
has ever had.
Projected Starters: Former Oklahoma Sooner
Tashard Choice has come into his own as a Yellow Jacket
leading the team with 1,473 yards and 12 touchdowns last season
averaging a solid five yards per carry. At 6-1 and 205 pounds,
he's a strong back who can handle the workload with seven games
of 20 carries or more and two with over 30. Only a 48-yard
effort in the loss to Clemson broke up an impressive string of
100 yards games tearing off nine in his final ten outings
including seven in a row to close out the year. While not a
blazer, he has a good burst when he gets an opening.
cause is veteran Mike Cox, a senior fullback who's grown
into a sledgehammer of a blocker and a valuable receiver. He'll
never get any carries, but he's an invaluable do-everything-else
type that every coaching staff loves to have.
Projected Top Reserves: The emergence of Choice
diminished the role of senior Rashaun Grant as a runner,
but he grew into a key player in other areas making plays as a
kick returner and occasionally as a wide receiver. Choice brings
the power, Grant brings the speed with the ability to get to the
corner in a hurry. Injuries were an issue early in his career,
but he hit the weights, got up to a solid 200 pounds, and now is
better equipped to handle a pounding if he's needed to take
over. The coaching staff is planning on creating even more of a
niche for him to utilize his skills.
The third man in the mix,
sophomore Jamaal Evans, will likely be the main man next
season when Choice and Grant are gone. He's a compact 5-8 and
196 pounds with good power and tremendous cutting ability.
A big-time recruit for the program last year, he'll
get the ball more to keep Choice fresh.
Waiting in the wings
this fall will be superstar recruit Jonathan Dwyer, who
ran for 1,802 yards and 21 touchdowns as a
senior in Marietta, Georgia. He's 200 pounds with
At fullback, redshirt freshmen Trevor Bray
and Quincy Kelly will back up Cox. Bray has more
potential as a fullback, while Kelly has moved from running back
to linebacker to fullback. Don't rule out another move back to
the defensive side.
Watch Out For ... Grant and Evans to play a far
bigger role now that Reggie Ball, the team's second leading
rusher, isn't under center. Grant will become a more dangerous
receiver, while Evans should at least double the 36 carries he
got last year.
Strength: Depth. Tech has three tailbacks who can
carry the load and a bona fide star in Choice. With Cox leading
the way, the backfield is loaded.
Weakness: Proven home-run hitters. Grant and Evans
have the wheels to crank out big runs, but neither has ripped
off a game changer. Grant's longest carry last year was 26
yards, Evans' was 31, and Choice's was 46. This could all
quickly change if Dwyer gets on the field right away.
Outlook: This might be the best Tech backfield in
years with depth, a fantastic fullback, and an All-America
caliber back to work the offense around, and a superstar
freshman in waiting. They can all catch passes, they all know
the offense, and all should combine for well over 2,000 yards.
Projected Starters: While junior James Johnson
won't be Calvin Johnson, he should grow into a solid number
one receiver. At 6-0 and 190 pounds, he's not going to
outphysical his way past too many defensive backs, he's quick
enough to get open and be a solid midrange target. He was second
on the team with 39 catches for 608 yards and seven touchdowns
averaging 15.6 yards per catch, and now his numbers should blow
up with a passing quarterback like Bennett throwing to him.
Sophomore Greg Smith will either get the number two
starting job or be the third receiver in the rotation. At 6-3
and 195-pounds he has good size to go along with a little bit of
experience catching seven passes for 113 yards and two
touchdowns. He has the speed to grow into a deep threat and
should be a factor around the goal line. Tight end will be an
issue early on after losing the top three players from last
Sophomore Colin Peek is the only tight end on the
team with any experience being used as a blocker so far. He has
the size at 6-6 and 250 pounds to go along with a world of
potential, but he'll have to prove he can become a steady
Projected Top Reserves: It'll be an open casting
call for the number two spot next to Johnson with Correy
Earls, Andrew Smith and Bay-Bay (Demaryius) Thomas
all getting a chance. Earls, a redshirt freshman, is one of
the team's quickest receivers and will start out behind Johnson.
Smith, a junior walk-on, has mostly been used on punt returns
and will likely be the odd man out in the mix if everything goes
according to plan with Earls and Thomas. Thomas is the most
intriguing prospect with 6-4, 220-pound size and loads of
athleticism. While not nearly as fast as Calvin Johnson, he has
a similar build.
The tight end situation is also up for grabs
with 6-3, 265-pound redshirt freshman Austin Barrick and
6-2, 265-pound Brad Sellers battling Peek for the job.
Barrick is a true tight end with as much upside as Peek, while
Sellers is a former defensive end who'll likely be used only as
Watch Out For ... Johnson to be better than you
think. Georgia Tech is bit of a college football wide receiver
factory, and Johnson appears to be the next in line.
Unfortunately for him, everyone will compare him to C.J., but
don't be shocked if he puts up close to 1,200 yards like the
future NFL superstar did last season.
Strength: Quickness. While there might not be a
slew of household names, there are plenty of talented young
players ready to breakout now that the passing game isn't all
about one player. They can all move; getting open should be a
Weakness: Experience. There's James Johnson and
... uh ... James Johnson. Tight end is a total question mark,
while finding a number two receiver will be an ongoing search.
The corps will be a work in progress.
Outlook: Don't be shocked if the overall
production isn't all that bad with several prospects playing key
roles. There's not a Calvin Johnson to count on in a pinch, but
Bennett's also starting from near-scratch. It's not a stretch to
call this the key to the Tech season as the receiver production
might be the difference between another trip to the ACC
Championship or also-ran status. The group, at the very least,
has to be good enough to take the pressure off the running game.
Projected Starters: The line was good last
year and should be dominant this season with four starters returning and
plenty of good backups. Junior Andrew Gardner is the star up
front starting his third year in a row at left tackle. A good run
blocker, his real worth is in pass protection where he's able to use his
athleticism to handle most speed rushers. He should be even better now
that he's used to playing at around 300 pounds after coming to Tech
6-7, 300-pound junior A.J. Smith will start on the
right side, but he'll be in a big battle with sophomore Cord Howard
who was sidelined this spring with a shoulder problem. Smith has been a
backup over the last two seasons playing both tackle spots along with a
little time at guard.
Senior center Kevin Tuminello is a two-time ACC All-Academic
performer and veteran anchor starting every game over the last two
seasons (26 straight). While he's good in pass protection, he's at his
best in the running game.
On the left side is senior Matt Rhodes,
the veteran of an experienced group with 34 career starts. Despite only
being around 275 pounds, he uses his leverage well and is a strong run
blocker. He's not special, but he doesn't make mistakes and he's always
On the other side is Nate McManus, who's been a
mainstay at right guard for the last two seasons. The 6-3, 300-pound
senior is one of the lines most talented and versatile players able to
move to guard if needed.
Projected Top Reserves: While Smith should take
over Mansfield Wrotto's right tackle job, that could change as the
season goes on. Howard is a bit more talented and more of a mauler with
the strength to play guard if needed. If he can prove he can be
consistent in pass protection, the gig might be his.
Trey Dunmon won't have a shot to beat out Tuminello, he'll be the
starter next year. At 305 pounds, he's a bit bigger than Tuminello and
has the talent to eventually grow into a special blocker with excellent
run blocking skills and good strength.
305-pound sophomore Dan Voss
could play center, but with Dunmon appearing to be the future in the
middle, he'll see time at left guard as the understudy behind Matt Voss.
6-7, 300-pound A.J. Smith is a big veteran reserve who's settled
in behind Andrew Gardner on the left side after seeing time early on in
his career at guard and center.
Watch Out For ... Gardner to grow into an
All-America caliber talent. He's literally growing into the left tackle
position and just scratching the surface on how good he can become.
Strength: Experience. Four starters with 113
career starts form the nucleus, while there's enough experience among
the backups to fall back on if injuries hit.
Weakness: Right tackle. It's only a weakness
because Cord Howard wasn't able to practice in spring ball. A.J. Smith
should turn out to be more than fine, but it's the one area that's not a
Outlook: If it's true that a veteran offensive
line is the true key to a good team, than Tech should be fantastic. Pass
protection will be a bit more of a premium without the mobile Reggie
Ball under center anymore, but this group should be able to handle it.
Getting the backups, especially on the inside, more meaningful work
would be a big help going into next year. There isn't a lot of star
power outside of Andrew Gardner, but there's so much experience, so much
returning production and so much good depth that anything less than a
big year will be a huge disappointment.