Following a brief and unexpected absence following the discovery of Baskin-Robbins' 32nd flavor of ice cream, I have returned. Unfortunately, due to the nature of secrecy with the 32nd flavor of ice cream, I am unable to share the information I have gathered on the subject, so instead I will have to share information regarding this year's B-backs instead. I hope this will suffice.
Last season was a fantastic season for Georgia Tech's B-backs. Coming into the season, everyone, myself included, expected senior B-back Zach Laskey to finally be the premiere B-back we all knew he had the talent for. While that's not exactly how things played out, Laskey still had a fantastic season, sharing duties with fellow senior B-back Synjyn Days.
Starting the first seven games of the season at B-back before getting hurt, Laskey looked to be quite in control of things, rushing the ball 120 times for 595 yards (4.96 yards/carry), with his best game coming against Miami where he rushed 29 times for a season-high (at that point) 133 yards. In his last start though, Laskey got hurt and went on to miss three games, in which Synjyn Days would just completely show off and take the starting job away from Laskey. In those three games alone, Days rushed the ball 65 times for 414 yards (6.37 yards/carry).
The two backs would go on to share carries more evenly the rest of the season with each back having one huge game after that the rest of the season. Laskey's came against Tech's most-hated rival, uga. In that game, Laskey ran the ball down the dwags' throats 26 times for 140 yards and three touchdowns (including the go-ahead score in overtime). Days' came against Tech's second SEC foe of the season: Mississippi State. Against the other Bulldogs, Days ran the ball 21 times for 171 yards and three touchdowns.
All in all, these two B-backs had fantastic seasons and combined to put up some spectacular numbers. Together, the duo had 328 carries for 1,775 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Buried in the depth chart behind these two guys was former walk-on Matt Connors, who finished the season with 21 carries for 113 yards and two touchdowns, but was definitely a more-than-serviceable back-up.
Unfortunately, all three of these guys had to graduate. Laskey and Days were both given a shot in the NFL, though, with the Rams and Cowboys, respectively. While Laskey has had some success so far with St. Louis at his new position of fullback, Days has not been quite as lucky. After not receiving any reps at the Cowboys' OTAs, Days was released and replaced with former Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk. Days has yet to sign any further deals.
The short answer to this question is pretty much everybody. We'll start specifically with the non-freshmen. Coming into the offseason, the reigns of the B-back position were fully expected to be passed on to rising redshirt freshman CJ Leggett. Unfortunately, Leggett was lost for the season, so changes needed to be made.
That's where Marcus Allen comes in. Allen came to Tech as a B-back before moving to linebacker in order to get onto the field quicker, similar to former Tech B-back-turned-linebacker Daniel Drummond. Allen never saw the field at linebacker. Because Paul Johnson wanted to get him on the field so badly, he moved him to wide receiver to help fill the gap there. But then Leggett's injury happened and Johnson saw his chance to get Allen on the field. Just a couple weeks prior to Tech's spring game, Allen made the move back to B-back, and did a pretty decent job during the spring game, given the circumstances.
Tech's other non-freshman B-back that is new to the position is Stanford transfer Patrick Skov. In his time at Stanford, Skov was primarily used in short yardage situations. Since he has come to Tech, Skov has made it no secret that he is very serious about playing this year.
In addition to these non-freshmen, Tech also added quite a few different B-back options in this year's recruiting class. The first one of those was early enrollee Quaide Weimerskirch. Weimerskirch suffered a leg injury during spring practice, so though it may be possible for him to be back prior to the start of the season, I find it very likely that he sits out this season.
Joining Weimerskirch are two other players who both have a shot at playing. Those are Mikell Lands-Davis and Marcus Marshall. Out of these two, I think it's very likely that one of them will be joining Allen and Skov this season. Which one, well that's another question entirely.
What Should be Expected?
Right now, we know Tech will be using at least two different B-backs with Marcus Allen and Patrick Skov. While both of those seem like very solid options there, it simply cannot be overlooked that the pure talent in both Marshall and Lands-Davis will be hard to keep off the field.
At this point, I expect the season to start off with Johnson using Allen and Skov in a similar way to how he used Laskey and Days last season (Allen being Laskey and Skov, Days in this situation). At least to begin the season, those are the two most experienced football players at that position, even though they are still both pretty new to the B-back position (especially Skov).
Joining them will likely be one of the freshmen. Which one will depend on how each does from here on out. Whomever can learn the playbook and the reads and blocking schemes better than the other will be the one to get more playing time.
Then again, there's also another factor here. What if Allen and Skov play well enough that a third B-back is not warranted and we can redshirt all three incoming freshmen? If that's the case, I think that's exactly what Johnson would love to do, and I think that's a lot of what we'll see in the first part of the season. Unless the freshmen blow Coach Johnson away, they're going to be dressing, but not playing (similar to CJ Leggett last season).
In that situation, we'll see quarterback-turned-B-back Brady Swilling or walk-on Ryan Braswell possibly get some playing time.
Projected Depth Chart
|Position||First String||Second String|
As you can tell, I was being very non-committal about where to put everybody. At this point, I'd say it's safe to say that Allen and Skov will be the primary B-backs this season, at least to start the season. After that, it's anybody's game. And it should be an exciting one.
How will Tech's B-backs do this season? Who steps up? Do any of the freshmen play this season?