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Georgia Tech Offense Preview: Ready To Ramble On

The Yellow Jackets offense is forming into the well-oiled machine that Paul Johnson expects. Can they keep it rolling along despite losing key pieces?

While many questions surround Georgia Tech and its defense, less surround that of the Ramblin’ Wreck’s offensive prowess. The questions are more about whether the Jackets can maintain the numbers and stellar production generated just a year ago.

The Yellow Jackets return a significant portion of their offense as they gear up for 2010, including quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, but they are missing two of their main reasons for success last year. Gone are two premier heavyweights from the 2009 ACC Championship squad: Jonathan Dwyer and Demaryius Thomas.
Lesser-known Georgia Tech A-back (now B-back) Anthony Allen will step in and take over Dwyer’s position. Allen has the power necessary to push through the defensive line for consistent gains. Top-end speed is the big question for Allen. Can he stay ahead of defenders once he reaches the open field?
The biggest hole, however, in the offense is the one left by Thomas.  Not just for his receiving prowess but also for the blocking abilities he took with him to Denver. It was largely because of Thomas that so many Georgia Tech plays turned from infield singles to home runs. Allen has shown flashes of ability that indicate he will be a competent replacement for Dwyer, but Tech's default No. 1 receiver, Stephen Hill, has only been on the Flats for a single regular season and was used sparingly in 2009. Tech fans hope his lack of production in 2009 will spark a fire in his play as he will need to be the go-to receiver in 2010.

With 2010 comes more of Paul Johnson’s recruiting influence, as few remnants of Chan Gailey’s tenure remain with the offense. Gailey's remaining recruits amongst the offensive starters include Nesbitt, Roddy Jones, and Nick Claytor. The other eight positions are all tagged as Paul Johnson recruits. The Jackets are finally being molded in Paul Johnson's image.

Paul Johnson's spread option (AKA "the Wreckbone") focuses on fundamental football with the obvious elements: multiple options to deliver the football. In the typical balanced offense, you have an offensive line on its heels blocking and protecting the quarterback as they develop a pocket -- a reactionary offensive line rather than a proactionary. With Georgia Tech, the offensive lines attack! The line consistently generates a push as Johnson runs the ball almost every play, forcing the defense to react consistently. Ideally, this puts the defensive line on its heels.

Many first thought that Paul Johnson’s offense was "three yards and a cloud of dust," an offense that would be a boring, plodding affair. Two years after CPJ’s arrival on campus, he’s proven it’s anything but. In 2009, the Jackets ranked in the nation's top five in third-down conversion percentage, first downs converted, time of possession, and rushing yards per game.  Simply put, it’s an offense built on execution, domination, and wearing down a defense. It's designed to score a touchdown as soon as the defense makes a mistake.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.