Y’all spring football is here, and that means that we are mere months from the start of college football. This spring game has a little bit more added interest for Georgia Tech fans with head coach Geoff Collins now in charge of the show. Just from the things we have heard, things are looking a lot different.
For starters, scroll back up and look at the header photo. That’s a quarterback attempting a pass, which we haven’t seen in eons (I jest, but only slightly). This spring game will offer fans the opportunity to see some of these differences first hand.
Going into the game, here are the things I’ll be watching for.
Everyone knew this was coming. Georgia Tech is changing its offense from the completely run-based spread option run from the flexbone to presumably a more pass-oriented offense. With that, that means our quarterbacks need to take a big step forward. They did not add a grad transfer at the position, so Dave Patenaude, the offensive coordinator, will have to make do with what he’s got, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
With TaQuon Marshall having graduated, quarterback was set to be an offseason-long position battle anyway. With the shift in offensive philosophy, there isn’t anyone that really has an edge. Each of the main three players in the competition right now — Lucas Johnson, Tobias Oliver, and James Graham — each bring something different to the table.
Johnson has been considered the best passer of the bunch. Oliver is the only one with extended in-game experience after serving as Marshall’s primary back-up last season. As for Graham, he probably has the highest ceiling of these guys. And this is all before Jordan Yates and Demetrius Knight get here in the summer.
I fully expect this competition to go well into the fall, but after tonight, we should hopefully have a better idea of where everybody stands.
The Offense as a Whole
We’re going to see a completely different offense tonight. It’s pretty much a given that we will see a whole lot more passing, and that’s exciting because I feel like Tech actually has some decent players at receiver. Jalen Camp and Malachi Carter were solid last year, and there are a few younger guys drawing some eyes in Adonicas Sanders and early enrollee Ahmarean Brown.
But what I’m excited about is the addition of a tight end. Back in December, former UConn tight end Tyler Davis announced he would use his final year of eligibility to play for Georgia Tech, and honestly it might be the homer in me, but I think Davis has the chance to be great for Georgia Tech. Davis is the most experienced receiver playing for Tech, and I fully expect him to be relied on heavily.
Joining Davis at tight end are former linebackers Tyler Cooksey and Josh Tukes, as well as former B-back Joseph Macrina.
At running back, it is suddenly a very crowded field. Where Tech used to always have three running backs on the field at a time, they will likely only have one or two on the field and move towards a system that has more of a feature back. In my mind that means, essentially Tech’s former B-backs will be taking that role. I’m looking forward to seeing how the playing time shakes out there, especially with Jamious Griffin coming in the summer.
And then there’s the offensive line. The bane of the Paul Johnson era, the offensive line was consistently a problem under the old regime. Collins made a huge move there persuading former Alabama offensive line coach (and Georgia Tech alum) Brent Key to come over and coach that unit up. Key is arguably one of the best OL coaches in the country, so if anyone can improve this group, it’s him.
The other thing to keep an eye out for on the line is to see if any positions are shuffled. Responsibilities for offensive linemen in Paul Johnson’s offense are pretty different from most other offenses. We’ll also get a look to see what they are doing to attempt to replace Parker Braun, who announced his intentions to finish his career at Texas.
This is the last position group I’m really curious about. With three starters graduating and the unfortunate passing of Brandon Adams, the Yellow Jackets will be running out a completely new defensive line. That line will get a bit of a boost when Antonneous Clayton gets on campus, but he won’t be playing the game tonight.
The defensive line is also one of the positions that worries me the most, entirely because of that inexperience. One player that I’m pretty excited to see play, though, is early enrollee Sylvain Yondjouen. Coming from Belgium, Yondjouen turns 21 in June, so physically, he has matured more than a normal incoming freshman. I think he’ll be a lot of fun to watch.
This will be a very interesting spring game to watch. Pretty much everything is changing from what we had last year, so we will finally get a chance to see that. And don’t worry, we’ll spend plenty of time breaking it down over the course of next week before we get into our annual 100 Days to Kickoff preview in May. Be sure to study up on the rosters here.
What are you looking for during the spring game?