2010 Georgia Tech Preview - Offense
Georgia Tech RB Anthony Allen
Georgia Tech RB Anthony Allen
Posted Jun 16, 2010

CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Offense

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Preview 2010 - Offense

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What You Need To Know: Can the spread-option be a perennial force in the ACC? You bet. His offense cranking on all cylinders and his roster beginning to reflect his vision, Paul Johnson has the Jacket attack buzzing after just two seasons. Georgia Tech really turned it up a notch in 2009, leading the ACC in rushing, scoring, and total offense; only Miami, Georgia, and Iowa kept it under 28 points. While the early departures of RB Jonathan Dwyer and WR Demaryius Thomas, and the rebuilding of the O-line are legitimate concerns, Tech doesn't plan on going in reverse. First team All-ACC QB Josh Nesbitt is back to pilot the offense, and a new wave of B-backs and A-backs are poised to pad stat sheets. In particular, Anthony Allen, who averaged 9.7 yards a carry is preparing for lift-off. Young Stephen Hill is aiming to become the next big-play receiver on the Flats, while unproven linemen Nick Claytor, Omoregie Uzzi, and Nick McRae could carry the fate of the offense on their pads.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Josh Nesbitt
75-162, 1,701 yds, 10 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing: Josh Nesbitt
279 carries, 1,037 yds, 18 TDs
Receiving: Embry Peeples
8 catches, 244 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Josh Nesbitt
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior A-back Roddy Jones
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore G Omoregie Uzzi
Best pro prospect: Senior RB Anthony Allen
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Nesbitt, 2) Allen, 3) Senior C Sean Bedford
Strength of the offense: The ground game, big plays in the passing game, the pivot, third down conversions, red zone scoring
Weakness of the offense: Uncertainty on the offensive line, wide receiver, depth


Projected Starter: After two seasons of running the spread option, 6-1, 218-pound senior Josh Nesbitt is set to contend for honors beyond just the ACC. The league's first team quarterback, he ran for 1,037 yards and 18 touchdowns on 279 carries, while going 75-of-162 for 1,701 yards, 10 touchdowns and five picks through the air. A tough and physical runner, he has a knack for bouncing off would-be tacklers, and is constantly getting better with his pitches and decision-making. More of a big-play passer than an accurate one, he might not be the same threat through the air now that big-play WR Demaryius Thomas is a member of the Denver Broncos.

Projected Top Reserves: With the transfer of Jaybo Shaw to Georgia Southern, Tech will be green off the bench. Nesbitt's caddy will now be 6-1, 203-pound sophomore Tevin Washington, who gets one more year as an apprentice before bidding for the job in 2011. He made one appearance last year, but did all of his learning in practice and from the sidelines. Consistent with all of the school's quarterbacks since Paul Johnson arrived, he's a gifted all-around athlete, with a quick release and underrated accuracy as a passer.

Barring the unforeseen, no other quarterback will get significant reps this fall. There will, however, be some jockeying for next summer. Redshirt freshman Jordan Luallen is one of those players looking to narrow the gap on Washington. A possible gem out of Indiana, he's atypical in this system at 6-4 and 217 pounds, yet has excellent speed to go along with the best potential as a pocket passer.

Watch Out For … Nesbitt's ankle. He's had problems with his ankles in the past, undergoing minor surgery on the right one in February. He'll be fine for the start of summer drills, but as one of the most indispensable players in the ACC, his recovery warrants close scrutiny.
Strength: Toughness. The Jacket quarterbacks, namely Nesbitt, are more than just terrific athlete. They are tough and rugged runners, who will dish out as much punishment as they absorb. Nesbitt picks up a ton of yards after contact and is especially to stand up as he approaches the goal line.
Proven depth. The loss of Shaw to a transfer could wind up hurting this team more than most anticipate. He had some experience, which is a luxury that this year's squad will not enjoy. As often as Nesbitt gets hit, he'll have Tech fans holding their breath whenever he's slow to get off the turf. Outlook: Nesbitt was not an ideal fit for the spread option when the new staff arrived two years ago. He is now, using his legs and his arm to pick apart opposing defenses. A safe bet to rush for 1,000 yards again this season, the coaches would now like to see him improve as a passer. They're looking for more accuracy, a quest complicated by Thomas' early departure.
Unit Rating:

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Yes, the Yellow Jackets wish Jonathan Dwyer hadn't left early for the NFL. No, they won't be destitute in the backfield. Senior Anthony Allen, a former transfer from Louisville, has been itching at the opportunity to be the feature back, or B-back, in this attack, rolling up some impressive numbers in limited opportunities last fall. Averaging over 10 yards a touch, he carried 64 times for 618 yards and six scores, adding five receptions for 112 yards and another touchdown. Not unlike his predecessor, he runs with the power of a fullback and the speed of a tailback, setting the stage for a monster final season in Atlanta.

Out of the slot, or A-back, Georgia Tech has a bona fide dynamo in 5-9, 195-pound junior Roddy Jones. An explosive play waiting to happen, he's averaged 7.7 yards a carry during his career, running 53 times for 345 yards and three touchdowns in 2009. Never quite right last season after injuring his wrist in the summer, he's prepared to rebound and pick up where he left off at the end of 2008. With the quickness of a jackrabbit and crippling stop-and-start moves, he can bring a defense to its knees when he's not bogged down in traffic.

Aiming to fill out the backfield when the triple-option is employed will be 5-10, 177-pound junior Embry Peeples, one of the team's many speedy and elusive A-backs. Although somewhat lost in the crowd, he got increased playing time as the year progressed, finishing with 31 carries for 170 yards. He has also soft hands out of the backfield, turning eight receptions into 244 yards and an 87-yard touchdown catch.

Projected Top Reserves: Challenging Peeples at one A-back spot is 5-8, 173-pound junior Marcus Wright, a diminutive player with the speed to gash defenses. Reminiscent of Jones in the open field, he has explosive tendencies, but doesn't have the thickness to absorb too many hits. As a reserve in all 14 games last season, he carried 33 times for 190 yards and three touchdowns.

Behind Allen, 6-0, 213-pound junior Preston Lyons is the favorite to be the No. 2 B-back once he returns from a shoulder injury. A tough inside runner, who's wisely added more muscle since arriving, he played well in his first year removed from Colgate, running 30 times for 139 yards and a touchdown.

Providing breathers for the bigger backs will be 6-0, 232-pound senior Lucas Cox , a more prototypical fullback in other offenses and a former A-back. A starter for much of 2008, he saw his playing dip in 2009, finishing with just nine carries for 31 yards. While limited athletically, he offers a bruising change-of-pace in short yardage, and is the most physical and effective blocker among the backs.

One of the wild cards of a deep backfield is 6-1, 215-pound sophomore Chris Jackson , who sat out last season after transferring from Alabama. An original commit to Georgia Tech, he has the best size among the A-backs, enough giddy-up to go the distance, and the hands of a former wide receiver. The staff would like to get him into the mix as early as possible to see what he can do.

Watch Out For … Allen to erupt in his expanded role at B-back. From his days at Louisville to his debut at Georgia Tech, he's been productive at every stop along the way. However, he has always had to share the load ... until now, that is. If he can get 20-25 touches in this offense, he could be in store for national notoriety.
Strength: Diversity. Whatever the requirement, this backfield has someone capable of filling it. Even without Dwyer, Allen has complete back potential, and Jones, Peeples, and Wright are the long ball hitters. With so many unique options out of the backfield, the Jackets will be able to keep defenses guessing all season long.
Weakness: Depth at B-back. Okay, so Allen is established as the feature back, who has his back? While Lyons filled in nicely last season, he's not the heir apparent, and Cox is a glorified blocking back. With Allen in his final season, the Yellow Jackets might want to dedicate some of this year to developing his successor.
Outlook: Although Dwyer's presence will be missed, Allen is around to minimize the damage. He's going to pile up huge numbers as the new focal point of the backfield. More output, however, will be needed from the A-backs, like Jones, Peeples, and Wright, who were a little too quiet a year ago.
Unit Rating: 9


Projected Starters: Yes, even on a team that runs the ball far more than it throws it, Tech is going to sorely miss first round NFL Draft pick Demaryius Thomas. He was that dangerous as a receiver and a downfield blocker. The heir apparent? It could be 6-4, 196-pound sophomore Stephen Hill, who gave hints of his enormous upside during practice and by making six grabs for 137 yards and a score. He also turned five carries into 84 yards and a touchdown, showing off great wheels and terrific hands for such a young player. Opportunity is calling and he's poised to follow in the footsteps of Thomas and Calvin Johnson.

Over on the opposite side is 6-0, 206-pound junior Tyler Melton, a starter in 17 games over the last two years. Not your typical wide receiver, he's used more like a blocking tight end, selflessly getting down the field and putting a helmet on a linebacker or safety. Despite all of those snaps, his production speaks volumes about his usage, catching just five passes each year for a total of 99 yards.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Kevin Cone, a walk-on transfer from Shorter (Ga.) College, was actually a starter in the first three games and played in six before breaking his ankle. The B team's version of Melton, he's 6-2 and 206 pounds, failed to catch a pass, and is at his best when he's springing one of his teammates for more yards. An unselfish player, he has the good size to get his hat on someone and not let him go.

One of the program's up-and-coming young receivers is 6-3, 197-pound sophomore Quentin Sims . He's added some weight since the end of last year, yet maintains the straight-line speed that'll allow the coaching staff to use him in a variety of different ways. He's expected to show up in more boxscores this fall after failing to catch a pass in 2009.

Watch Out For … fewer deep balls and more end-arounds. Without Thomas, Tech won't have nearly as many opportunities to connect with a receiver who gets behind the secondary. However, the unit does have a decent crop of young athletes capable of making things happen with the ball in their hands.
Length. In Hill, Sims, and redshirt freshman Jeremy Moore, Georgia Tech has three long and lean thoroughbreds, who can stride past defensive backs and elevate high in the air to win jump balls. There's no Thomas in this group yet, but there are some very good, young athletes.
Proven pass-catchers. Obviously, the drop-off from a season ago is going to be substantial and unavoidable. There's limited experience on the outside, and among the holdovers, Hill is the leading returning receiver with just six receptions.
An underutilized position in this offense, Georgia Tech needs to unearth another outside weapon in order victimize teams that press up too many troops to stop the run. After the way he played in limited opportunities a year ago, Hill is a logical choice to be Josh Nesbitt preferred target to catch the opposition napping and keep them honest.
Unit Rating:

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Just two starters return to an offensive line that holds the key to the success of the vaunted Tech ground game. Depth is going to come at a premium in 2009. The new line leader is going to be 6-1, 274-pound senior Sean Bedford , last year's All-ACC first team center. A revelation in his first year as a starter, he's come a long way since being a walk-on defensive tackle four years ago. Though undersized, he's rugged and agile, and plenty smart enough to flourish at calling signals for the group.

The team's other returning starter at right tackle is 6-3, 284-pound senior Austin Barrick , who'd started 13 consecutive games before injuring his lower leg and missing the final four games of 2009. He's added considerable weight since arriving as a running back, yet remains one of the best athletes among the offensive linemen. Having bounced around and finally found a permanent home, he continues to evolve and hone his technique as one of the pillars of the front wall.

There's cautious optimism that this is the year junior Nick Claytor begins to blossom into a bona fide star. The 6-6, 284-pound favorite at left tackle arrived as a signature recruit in 2007, but has been hampered by back problems that have slowed his progress. When at full-strength, he's got the right blend of size, athleticism, and attitude to emerge into a force up front for the Yellow Jackets.

It's a good thing that 6-3, 305-pound sophomore Omoregie Uzzi got 12 games of experience as a backup last year because he'll call upon it often as one of the starting guards. One of the nation's top interior lineman recruits of 2008, he plays raw power, light feet, and a quick burst off the snap. While he still has a lot to prove, the raw ingredients are in place for him to develop into an ACC star.

At left guard, Tech believes it has another rising pillar in 6-4, 296-pound sophomore Nick McRae . A versatile blocker, who can also play center, he appeared in four games in his first season after redshirting. Strong in the base and tough at the point of contact, he needs to be more effective when he's pulling and getting out into space.

Projected Top Reserves: In the event that Claytor has any kind of physical setbacks, 6-6, 276-pound sophomore Phil Smith will be first in line to take his place. He got a heap of experience a year ago, lettering with 13 appearances and four starts after Barrick was injured. He slides down the line nicely and uses his hands well, needing to just add a few more pounds to a frame that'll handle it.

Senior Zach Krisch is the type of lineman that every coaching staff loves to have on the roster. A former walk-on, he doesn't do any one thing great, but he can play multiple positions and has a work ethic that rubs off on the younger players. A 6-5, 279-pound veteran of just four career games, he could see increased action at either right tackle or right guard.

Watch Out For … any updates on Claytor's back. He was fine through the spring, refreshing news for a player who has been saddled with problems for the last couple of years. With little margin for error up front, Georgia Tech desperately needs him to get through the season without incident.
Strength: Agility. By design, the Yellow Jacket offensive linemen move extremely well, laterally and when getting into the second level. If you're not quick off the snap and in good shape, you're not getting off the sidelines, so endurance should not be an issue for the first-stringers.
Weakness: Depth. Tech has been hit hard in the offseason by graduations and transfers. While Smith is nice piece to have on the second team puzzle, he's the only potential backup with any relevant experience. For a unit that's had some issues with injuries, the staff is going to hold its collective breath if anyone goes down.
Not many opponents can stop the Jacket ground game. This offensive line, however, just might do it. Yes, there's considerable potential. There's also plenty of uncertainty, as the program holds out hope that Claytor, Uzzi, and McRae can all excel once the season begins and the training wheels come off.
Unit Rating:

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