Well since Joey stole my idea about Georgia Tech's capability to go undefeated this season, I decided to make another prediction: Zach Laskey will be Georgia Tech's first 1000-yard rusher since Anthony Allen. I actually think this prediction is MUCH more likely than Georgia Tech going undefeated, simply because anything can happen any given day. I do, however, have my reasons for believing both. But since this is about Zach Laskey, I'm only going to talk about those reasons.
Depth at B-Back
The first (and quite possibly most important) reason. Many people, including myself, were really hoping Travis Custis would be able to come into Georgia Tech and be the next Jon Dwyer. However, due to certain circumstances, that will not be happening. Because of this and the graduation of David Sims, the Yellow Jackets suddenly have almost no depth at B-Back.
Listed in the recently released depth chart, there are three players listed at B-Back: Zach Laskey, Matt Connors, and Donovan Wilson. While he has been a solid back-up, it is simply illogical to believe that Matt Connors will be taking a large amount of carries away from Laskey. In his career, Connors has carried the rock 24 times for a total of 165 yards (6.9 yds/car). That does sound very impressive; however, I did not look at his game-by-game stats to see against what opponents those yards came against or at what point in the game they came. I'm no gambling man, but I would be willing to bet that the majority of Connors' yards came either against mediocre opponents or in garbage time. He should be a serviceable back-up this year, though.
The other name on the depth chart was Donovan Wilson. This is a guy that will be vital to the success of Georgia Tech in the very near future. I don't believe, however, that that future means the upcoming season. First of all, Wilson has no playing experience at the collegiate level with the exception of practices. Secondly, Wilson is also new to the position of B-Back, after being moved there from A-Back prior to spring practice 2014.
There are also two more guys who, at one point in their Georgia Tech careers, played B-Back: Charles Perkins and Broderick Snoddy. With the lack of depth at B-Back, I will go out on a limb and say that one of them moves back to B-Back. If you'll look at the depth chart, you'll notice that only one of these names is listed in the two-deep at A-Back: Snoddy. Because of this, I believe it will be Perkins that moves back to B-Back.
Perkins has been an interesting case at Georgia Tech. When he first arrived on the Flats, people thought that he could be the next Jonathan Dwyer. I'm big enough to admit that I too was one of these people. To this point, Perkins has not shown the ability to be the next Dwyer, even when he got his chance in 2012. Perkins came into the 2012 season as the starting B-Back and most people (again, myself included) expected him to show up and show off against VPI in the first game of the season. He finished that game with a grand total of 5 yards on 3 carries (1.67 yds/rsh). It didn't help his case that he ended up missing the rest of the season after the next game due to an injury.
This past year, Perkins was moved to A-Back. In 13 games, Perkins carried the ball 13 times for 114 yards (8.8 yds/rsh) and two touchdowns. I believe that the talent is still there for him to make an impact at B-Back. I also believe that he will likely see time at the A- and B-Back positions. Because of this, I don't think these three guys will take enough carries away from Zach Laskey to keep him from 1000 yards.
Size Up Front
Paul Johnson has always been notorious for having small-ish offensive linemen. I believe that the last few years, this has held back out running game up the middle. We simply have not had enough beef in the middle to push the defense back. Things are a little this year. If you'll go back and look at the depth chart I linked to earlier, look at the two-deep at guard and center.
Starting at left guard (for now) is Trey Braun. Braun isn't a small guy, being listed at 295. Before being moved to left tackle last season due to Ray Beno's injury, Will Jackson was the starter at left guard. Jackson was listed at the same 295. That isn't really the major difference there. The major difference there comes in the form of Trey Braun's back-up: Shamire Devine. This is a big man. The official depth chart has Devine listed at 6-7, 370 lbs. I have heard, however, that Devine is in the process of getting down to 330 lbs. and is currently around 350. Even at 330 lbs, Devine would still be our biggest offensive lineman.
At center, we are going to see one of two guys attempting to replace Jay Finch: Freddie Burden and Thomas O'Reilly. Georgia Tech's website has Finch listed at 285 lbs. Both Freddie Burden and Thomas O'Reilly are bigger than that, with Burden at 292 and O'Reilly at 302.
Returning as a starter at right guard will be Shaq Mason. Mason is listed at 311 lbs, which if accurate is the heaviest of Georgia Tech's current starting offensive line. Likely backing him up is Nick Brigham, who comes in at 302 lbs.
As you can see, Georgia Tech is getting bigger up front. All of this to also say that Zach Laskey is getting bigger too. The website has Laskey listed at 217, but I hear that he is closer to 220 or 225. That size will be very helpful, since not only will it be more difficult to get to Laskey, but he will be harder to bring down.
Georgia Tech has not had a single 1000-yard rusher at the b-back position since Anthony Allen. This doesn't mean, however, that the b-backs at Georgia Tech have not rushed for 1000 yards. Quite the contrary, actually.
|Season||Player(s)||Total Rushing Yards|
|2011||David Sims & Preston Lyons||1038|
|2012||David Sims & Zach Laskey||1309|
|2013||David Sims & Zack Laskey||1369|
Clearly looking at this chart above, getting 1000 yards from the B-Back position has not been a problem since Paul Johnson has been at Georgia Tech. The main issue has been getting that kind of production from a single player. In the latter 3 seasons, the highest single season total for a player on that chart is David Sims in 2013, when he ran for 884 yards.
What I'm trying to say here is that getting 1000 yards from the B-Back position every season since Paul Johnson came to Georgia Tech has been like clockwork. This year will be different, though. There simply won't be anyone who will take enough carries away from Zach Laskey to keep him from getting 1000 yards this season. Up to this point in his career, Laskey has averaged 5.4 yds/rsh. If he stays at that pace, it would take him about 185 carries to get 1000 yds. He's very likely to get much more than that. I also believe that due to other factors, that average will be even higher and possibly even touch 6.0 yds/rsh or more.
Well that's my opinion. What do y'all think? Can Laskey get 1000 yards on his own this season? Will it be enough?