What do we think when we hear 2011 Georgia Tech Offense? How about record setting?...explosive?...video game-esque? Perhaps if you've been asleep for a few weeks, that's what you'd say. With the addition of an effective and, at times, explosive passing game, the offense seemed unstoppable as Georgia Tech rolled through it's early-season non-conference play. Lately, the offense has returned to its 2010 level of effectiveness, relying on defense to win last week's game against Maryland. However, this offense can still be effective, and we can all only hope that they pull it together as the schedule toughens in the coming weeks. Well, let's look at the positions and how they're contributing to the offense's success in 2011.
After the way 2010 ended, many of us were weary of the quarterback position for the 2011 season. Joshua Nesbitt was a great competitor during his tenure, and Tevin Washington didn't look like anything special after being forced into action for the last four games of the season. This season, however, he looks like his ceiling is even higher than Nesbitt's was. Washington is passing with ease (at least until NC State and Maryland) and running the option offense effectively. As Maryland showed us, Washington is not as effective of a runner as Nesbitt was, but he is capable. Behind him, Synjyn Days has shown his ability as a runner in mop-up duty. Being late in the game, however, he hasn't been given the chance to pass the ball much. However, with Washington's execution of the offense and Days' promise as a backup, highly touted freshman Vad Lee will redshirt this season. As Paul Johnson (approximately) said, "Lee will be better as a fifth year senior than a true freshman."
Unsung Hero: Tevin Washington (before the season, everyone was looking to replace him, but he has really performed well this season, especially passing the ball)
Season Outlook: B (while Washington isn't going to be a dominant runner, he's still effective, and get this...the passing game is back too)Offensive Line:
This group is playing very well overall in the run game. They handled the powerful UNC defensive line (probably the best they've played this season) en route to a huge rushing performance, and protected Washington against an NFL-caliber line. The line's best player is Omoregie Uzzi. In almost every run play, he's down field at the second level making a block, which can't be said for his line-mates. Jay Finch has really stepped in, replacing All-ACC center Sean Bedford. The interior line also has some up-and-comers who will keep this offensive line relevant for years to come, highlighted by talented freshman Shaq Mason. At the tackle spot, Phil Smith and Tyler Kidney were slated to start during the offseason. However, after Phil Smith was suspended for the first couple games of the season, Ray Beno stepped in and made the case to stay on the field even after Smith returned. This gives us a great rotation at both guard and tackle. One thing to note is that, although this line won't dominate in pass protection, they have been infinitely more effective than they were last season, helping to open up the passing game. Also, did I mention that only two of these players are upperclassman? This bodes well for the future.
Unsung Hero: Ray Beno (he really took advantage of his opportunity to get on the field and has earned the right to stay on the field)
Season Outlook: A- (they may not be great pass blockers, but they're good enough, and they're playing very well in the run game. You can't lead the nation in rushing without good offensive line play)
Running Back (A- and B-Backs):
B-Back is not the focal point that it has been since Paul Johnson took over this team. David Sims, while effective at blocking on the second level, hasn't carried the load like the B-Backs of yesteryear. B-Backs coach Brian Bohannon re-opened the competition between Sims, Preston Lyons, and Charles Perkins, which tells me that they aren't sold yet. Perkins earned his coach's praise for his work ethic over the past couple weeks, but they're still concerned with his propensity to fumble. Sims won the re-opened competition again, but I have a feeling that this isn't over.
Fortunately, the perimeter game has been explosive to make up for the lack of production inside. Orwin Smith has been a playmaker this season, and the depth at the position has been pretty good. Roddy Jones is probably still the best all-around A-Back in terms of running, blocking, and receiving. One interesting nuance about the A-Back position is that Orwin Smith is not the prototypical A-Back. The depth at that position is full of undersized, speedy backs, but bigger backs have really had a lot of success there, as evidenced by Orwin Smith and Anthony Allen. I'm curious to see if Paul Johnson tries to recruit bigger backs to play A-Back or if he can get sustained success with the B.J. Bostic/Tony Zenon-type guys.
Unsung Hero: Roddy Jones (while he's not really "unsung," he's not the guy who gets the ball all the time, but he does everything that the position requires, and does it well)
Season Outlook: B- (Smith is the focal point, but the carries are a lot more even amongst all the players this season. Also, while not terrible, the B-Back position hasn't been able to carry the load like before).
For the fourth season in a row, this has been a one man show. Stephen Hill is the focal point of the passing game, and for better or worse, will continue to be until someone else steps up. Tyler Melton has played as expected in the run game and catching the occasional pass, but he hasn't produced much. We all have hopes for massive (6-4, 200 lbs) freshman Jeff Greene, but he hasn't had many chances in the passing game. He's still young, and I think we can all see that having two threats at that position is better than one. If the secondary can't rotate what little help it has to any single receiver, that will make the passing game even more explosive. Unfortunately, I think we'll have to wait until next season to really see that.
Unsung Hero: N/A (We all knew that Stephen Hill was going to be the go-to guy, and that's been the case. No one else has really done much)
Season Outlook: B- (with only one threat, I don't think you can get higher than B-; but, this offense reduces the importance of the position to where that is probably sufficient to be effective).