Offense Adds To Its Repertoire

April 7, 2012

By Matt Winkeljohn
Sting Daily

Days like Saturday were made for sport and speculation on matters like, say, the Yellow Jackets running serious shotgun and audiblizing more than before.

Me? I cleaned gutters, trimmed shrubs, mowed grass and spread pine straw. I snuck peeks, though, into what mattered more on a beautiful day.

Whether watching the Jackets scrimmage in Bobby Dodd Stadium, checking TV to find Georgia Tech’s Matt Kuchar in the Masters lead, dropping in on a softball doubleheader against Maryland, watching the men’s tennis team play one of the best squads in the nation (Virginia) without Kevin King, or swinging by the Rusty C. To find a daunting Florida State squad battling Tech, there was plenty to be had.

For all that inventory, the most professional and succinct summation was turned in through a series of whimsical Facebook posts by a former Tech golfer NOT Kuchar.

Late morning, Bob McDonnell let it be known that he was at the High Museum, perhaps with wife Maureen and the girls, with this: I don’t get “art.”

Then, there was his photo of what I took to be a statue of Krusty the Clown (of Simpsons infamy) with his head buried in his hands. Bob wrote: “Really?”

I don’t know if there’s anything artistic about Krusty, but a couple hours later, Bob – who doesn’t post often on FB – submitted more photographic evidence of his opinion.

From beyond the outfield fence at Tech’s Shirley Mewborn Field, looking in at the press box and a sign over it that reads, “Georgia Tech Softball,” he tagged thusly: “Athletics wins out over Fine Arts.”

Written like a true Tech man. I hope Maureen agreed with the change in itinerary.

There will be nothing deep here, just a few casual observations.

Having been out of town the prior week, and slow to the spring football practice party before that, I had some catching up ahead of me.

Tomorrow, we’ll visit defense.

Today, let’s drive by the other side of the ball.

Everybody wants to know about the quarterback situation. If the election were held tomorrow, Tevin Washington would be making plans for a second term.

He didn’t play much Saturday (by design), but, “he played well,” coach Paul Johnson said.

The first offense (what there was of it) scored on the first two possessions, and while some of the starting linemen played beyond that from time to time, both starting guards are out (Omoregie Uzzi is out all spring; Will Jackson with injury), and A-back Orwin Smith – the Jackets’ best offensive player – is ailing as well (recovering from off-season turf toe surgery)

The search for wide receivers will continue.

I’m thinking the search for a quarterback is limited to hunting for one to spell Washington, or perhaps change pace – toward the pass.

The incumbent runs the offense more smartly than either Synjyn Days or Vad Lee. Period. Days and Lee have ball security issues, and while Lee looked particularly comfortable AT TIMES – throwing out of the shotgun, he loses track of the ball much like Days a year ago (and still).

Lee did break a tackle while running out of the ‘gun, and rolled to a 49-yard touchdown, but he had the benefits of playing against mostly (or entirely) backup defenders and a few front-line offensive lineman.

The potential is there, and it can even be seen in early enrollee/QB Dennis Andrews, but potential is not consistent. Paul Johnson likes consistent. It was he who said, “He’s got all the tools. It’s just a question of . . . “

I won’t even tell you who he said that of because really he could say it very spring of a solid half dozen very youngsters.

Regarding the ‘gun, the boss said, “We’ve been working on it all spring. It’s something we put a lot of it in for the [Sun] Bowl game; we just didn’t do it.

“It’s probably a little easier to throw the ball, but it’s also a lot harder to run the ball, so what you gain you may give away. It’s something we need to continue to work on.”

Some will be encouraged by that possibility.

Better to be encouraged by this: even without Jackson and Uzzi, there’s enough returning wheat on the offensive line that perhaps Johnson won’t treat the blunts like chafe.

If you’ve kept even loose tabs in recent years, you know that Johnson’s Tech teams have not been big on audibilizing at the line of scrimmage.

This is not to say that the Jackets should be changing a bunch of plays, but there are clearly times in the sport where it might be helpful.

In the past, the head coach has explained that Tech doesn’t audible much; they change the play side sometimes depending on defensive alignment, but . . . that’s generally about it.

The Jackets’ chances of winning the ACC title will not hinge on them audibilizing more, but them audibilizing more – or rather the coaches trusting personnel enough to allow more of it – may be indicative of a greater collective sense of accountability that what Tech has knitted itself loosely together with the past couple seasons.

Center Jay Finch sure seems to like the idea.

“I’m going into my third [season] and I feel real comfortable with the offense even when we try to change things out like you saw [Saturday],” he said. “The coaches have a little more trust in us being able to handle it which is good because we’re allowed to try more things.

“Simple things like letting the quarterback check out of a play because he knows a blitz is coming . . . he just taps me and I know what to do; I know what play it is. We take advantage of [the defense] trying to exploit us in our pass protection. We scored on the first two drives, and I think we audibled twice on both drives.”

I’m encouraged for reasons that should be obvious, and some that are not. Let me have your thoughts at stingdaily@gmail.com, and tell me . . . if this is not one of your very favorite weekends of the year – why?

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