Jackets Talk 2012
By Matthew Osborne
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Paul Johnson, Orwin Smith and Rod Sweeting were Georgia Tech's representatives at the annual Pigskin Preview in Macon, Georgia.
Returning 13 starters from a team which won eight games last season, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are understandably anxious for the start of the 2012 college football season.
While Paul Johnson and the rest of the Yellow Jacket’s squad have plenty of reasons to expect big things this fall, there are still a myriad of questions which must be answered before Tech takes the field against Virginia Tech on September 3. Most notably, the coaching staff will have to determine whether Tevin Washington, Synjyn Days or Vad Lee will line up under center for the season opener.
Although Tech is still 2.5 months away from playing their first game of the 2012 season, Tuesday afforded members of the media an opportunity to get a sneak preview at this season’s Tech squad, as Yellow Jacket head coach Paul Johnson, A-back Orwin Smith and CB Rod Sweeting were in attendance at the annual Pigskin Preview in Macon, Georgia.
Offensively, there is talk that this very well may be the most talented unit that Paul Johnson has had at his disposal during his tenure on The Flats. Four starters return on the offensive line, while the Yellow Jackets have a nice assembly of talented playmakers in the backfield, led by the senior Smith.
As far as Smith is concerned, with such an array of talent, the goal for the Tech offense this season should be very simplistic.
“To come out like we did last year, and to come out rolling as a team and do it,” Smith said of the offense’s 2012 goals. “Obviously, we were one of the top ranked rushing teams in the country and we want to keep it like that.”
While keeping the rushing attack running on all cylinders will be a focus for the team during summer camp, the Jackets still must continue to make improvements in the passing game in order to maximize their offensive efficiency.
Thus far, the team seems to be putting in the work necessary for significant aerial progress to occur.
“We’re doing seven-on-seven three times a week,” Smith commented. “We’re in the film room. We’ve got our receivers running more routes, and we’re even trying to get the B-back out in the flat, so we’re working on a lot.”
Despite many experts expecting this to be Johnson’s most talented offense in Atlanta, Tech’s head man is quick to point out that his offense will still have to replace some valuable contributors from last season.
“Certainly, we’ve got some guys returning, but we lost some key players too,” Johnson said. “Stephen Hill is a really good athlete at wide receiver, and somebody has got to replace him. We lost Roddy Jones and Embry Peeples, so there are some pieces to plug in, but we do have a lot of returners and hopefully we can be productive.”
On the other side of the football, Yellow Jacket fans are hoping that year number three in Al Groh’s 3-4 defensive scheme will produce better results than the first two seasons.
The transition to an unfamiliar defensive scheme was not an easy one to make for many of Tech’s defensive players, but Sweeting says that the growing pains should be a thing of the past, as the defense has grown extremely comfortable with what Coach Groh expects of them as a unit.
“We’re a lot more comfortable with this being his third year here,” the senior cornerback stated. “Everybody is pretty much comfortable with it.”
Slight defensive changes will be made in order to utilize Tech’s quickness on the defensive front, but fans should not expect to see a drastically different look from the Jacket defense this fall.
The 2012 schedule promises to be arduous, but, for the sake of their season, the Yellow Jackets simply cannot afford to look any further ahead than their season opener with the Hokies. Blacksburg will present the Jackets with a strenuous task, and Sweeting knows it.
“It’s going to take a whole team effort – both sides of the ball, special teams, coaching and everybody is just going to have to come in as one and get the job done.”