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Keeping it Offensive

By Matthew Osborne
SouthernPigskin.com
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As the Georgia Tech defense looks for improvement under the guidance of Ted Roof, Georgia Tech’s offense will be leaned upon early for points and production.

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson has drawn the ire of certain Yellow Jacket fans over the past few seasons due to his unconventional spread option offense, but that criticism has certainly proven to be unsubstantiated.

In his five seasons in Atlanta, Johnson’s offenses have finished in the top half of the ACC in scoring offense every single season. The only other team in the conference to replicate that statistic during that time span is Florida State.

While considered unconventional, and sometimes even dreadfully boring,  by most mainstream college football fans these days, Georgia Tech’s offense has been one of the most dynamic and consistent units in the country over the past half-decade.

The thought of going head-to-head against Georgia Tech’s assembly of tenacious cut-clockers, speedy A-backs and physical B-backs has long been enough to cause sleepless nights for defensive coordinators in the conference.

What is sure to cause even greater concern from the league’s defensive masterminds heading into the 2013 season is the knowledge that this year’s collection of offensive talent in Atlanta is likely Georgia Tech’s best in Johnson’s tenure.

The Yellow Jackets lose four starters from last year’s offense which averaged nearly 34 points per game, but that number doesn’t accurately depict the current situation.

Redshirt sophomore Vad Lee, who is set to replace the departed Tevin Washington as Tech’s unquestioned leader under center, received significant playing time as a freshman last season, even though he is not considered a returning starter.

Despite not being the starter in 2012, Lee finished the season fourth on the team in carries, placing ahead of talented A-back Orwin Smith. He also finished the campaign with 56 passing attempts, a surprisingly high number when you consider how infrequently the Yellow Jackets throw the football.

Starring as a quarterback at Hillside High School in Durham, North Carolina, Lee was recruited by most schools as a wide receiver or an athlete. He had multiple offers from SEC schools as an athlete, but ultimately decided that he wanted to remain at quarterback in college, leading to his decision to sign with Georgia Tech.

Lee was unable to dethrone Washington as the starter last season after a redshirt year in 2011, but he certainly made his presence felt when he was on the field.  Although Washington had a significant edge in experience, knowledge of the offense and leadership, there was no question which quarterback had the higher ceiling. Plays which resulted in three or four-yard gains with Washington quickly transitioned into 10 and 15-yard gains with Lee’s superior explosiveness and athleticism.

With another offseason being utilized to improve his size and understanding of Johnson’s option concepts, Lee will instantly assert himself as one of the most dangerous playmakers in the ACC this fall.
Lee’s athletic prowess will be a welcomed sight in Atlanta this season, but, as is the case with any offense, points will not be scored unless the offensive line can accomplish its job.

Luckily for Johnson, things also look very bright along the offensive front for the upcoming fall.

Set to lose only one starter – guard Omoregie Uzzi – from last season, Georgia Tech will have one of the most experienced offensive lines in major college football. The coaching staff has repeatedly commented that Shaq Mason, Uzzi’s replacement at guard, has the potential to be an all-conference player.

At the remaining skill positions, the Yellow Jackets will have to deal with the losses of A-back Orwin Smith and wide receivers Jeff Greene and Jeremy Moore. The losses out wide should be minimal, as Georgia Tech does not throw the ball with great frequency. Smith will be slightly more difficult to replace, but Robert Godhigh, Tony Zenon and Synjyn Days are all elite athletes who are capable of turning any play into a long touchdown.

Zach Laskey and David Sims each rushed for over 600 yards from the B-back position last season and their production should continue to increase with the surplus of talent around them this fall. The B-back position could also receive a nice boost from incoming freshman Travis Custis, who was one of Georgia Tech’s highest ranked recruits in the class of 2013.

As the Tech defense looks for improvement under the guidance of Ted Roof, Georgia Tech’s offense will be leaned upon early for points and production.

At this point, it appears to be a task for which they are adequately prepared.

Matthew Osborne - With an extensive background in both writing and high school recruiting, Matt serves as the Editor and Director of Recruiting for Southern Pigskin. Once serving as the South Region Senior Scout for a national scouting service, Matt is very familiar with the top football prospects in the south. If it is a weekend in the fall, you can rest assured that Matt is on the road watching some of the top high school and college games in the region. To keep up with all of the latest recruiting news in the south, be sure to follow Matt on Twitter: @MattOsborneSP. You can email him at matt@southernpigskin.com.