Sunday, August 3, 2008

Paul Johnson Brings Option Offense To The ACC

Paul Johnson hopes the Yellow Jackets can master his offense

ACC Coastal #4 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

2007 Results & Offseason:
The '07 season started off with a drubbing of Notre Dame in South Bend 33-3, but Ga Tech was victimized by poor QB play again falling to 7-6. HC Chan Gailey was fired after 6 six seasons and 39 wins, but 0 over arch rival Georgia. Paul Johnson was hired from Navy and will bring his option offense to the ACC in 2008.

2007 Record: 7-6 (4-4)
Ret. Starters: 9
Ret. Lettermen: 50
Off PPG: 20.9 (9th), RYPG 169.3 (1st), PYPG, 196.0 (10th)
Def PPG: 21.6 (5th), RYPG 98.8 (5th), PYPG 234.3 (9th)

Offense (5 Ret. Starters, 22 Ret. Lettermen)
Poor QB play was the downfall of many of Gailey's teams. The last 4 seasons the starting QB had a less than 50% completion percentage each year. Under Johnson's offense, the QB will be making more runs, handoffs, and pitches to backs. Sophomore Josh Nesbitt was a change of pace QB last year rushing for 6.4 ypc and looks to be the favorite heading into the fall. The B-Back position is main rusher in the option offense and those duties will fall to sophomore Jonathan Dwyer (5.3 ypc). The two A-backs line up off the line by the tackles and will be speed guys like Roddy Jones and last year's leading receiver Greg Smith. Tech lost a lot of WRs in the offseason, but it shouldn't hurt too bad in this run first offense; Demaryius Thomas is the leading returner. The O-line returns just two starters and will be learning a new scheme. OT Andrew Gardner will garner All ACC consideration.

Defense (4 Ret. Starters, 25 Ret. Lettermen)
The strength of this defense is up front with all four DL seeing significant action last year. DE Michael Johnson is getting NFL Draft hype already and hopes to have a breakout year in his senior season. The Yellow Jackets lost their top two LBs last season, but have good, young depth. MLB Brad Jefferson may lead this unit as just a true sophomore. The secondary is the biggest concern for Johnson's defense. Only two starters return and the Jackets are short on experience after losing 3 key seniors. SS Morgan Burnett has the athleticism to play either S or CB and may see action at both. Expect Tech to play more zone under new DC Dave Wommack.

Special Teams:
Last year Ga Tech had one of the best units in the country led by PK Travis Bell and P Durant Brooks, but they must replace both this year. The KR and PR duties may be settled by committee early on. Dwyer was a solid kick returner last year, but his role on special teams may be limited due to his feature role on offense.

Newcomers of Note:
When Johnson first took over it was more of a who GT had lost then gained, but the Jackets recovered nicely with some players to fit the new system. A-Back Marcus Wright was a Parade All American back out of San Antonio. QB Jaybo Shaw ran a similar offense and HS and hopes to challenge for the backup spot. OG Omoregie Uzzi may see time also.

Schedule:
GT plays two Div - IAA teams this year so 7 wins will be needed for a 12th straight bowl game. In addition to Georgia, they play Miss St from the SEC. From the Atlantic, Tech got a rough draw with @BC, vFSU, @Clemson (permanent opp). Two of the first three are on the road (@BC, @VT)

Final Thoughts:
Paul Johnson is very confident his offense will work in the ACC despite many people's questions - Here it is against Jim Tressel at Youngstown State. However, the turnaround may be slow as GT has the lowest number of returning starters in the ACC is learning a new system. Tech should be much improved next year after one full season of Johnson's offense.

Key to 2008: Learning Johnson's offensive system and reducing fumbles saw in Spring ball.

Prediction:
Likely Wins: vJax St, vDuke, vGardner-Webb
Likely Losses: @VT, @Georgia, @Clemson
Swing Games: @BC, vMiss State, vUVA, vFSU, @UNC, vMiami
7-5, 4-4

My Duke, NC State, Virginia, and Boston College Previews

Next Up: ACC Atlantic #4

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