#TGW: Looking for More

Sept. 4, 2014

By Jon Cooper
The Good Word

– Georgia Tech ran 59 offensive plays in chalking up their 38-19 win over Wofford last Saturday in its 2014 opener.

Considering that none of the 38 points came from defense or special teams, that’s a lot of points in not a lot of plays.

In fact, the 59 plays are the fewest a Paul Johnson-coached team has run in a game since Sept. 17, 2011, when the Jackets ran 57 plays and scored 62 points in wiping out Kansas, 62-24.

But let’s hold off on the talk about how less is more. Head coach Paul Johnson certainly is.

Johnson found that in last Saturday’s win over the Terriers, sometimes less isn’t more. Sometimes less really is less.

One example of that was the number of players he’d have preferred see action, especially on the offensive line, where the five starters, left tackle Brian Chamberlain, left guard Trey Braun, center Freddie Burden, right guard Shaq Mason and right tackle Chris Griffin played the entire game.

“We intended to play more guys but we only had 59 plays,” Johnson said. “And then, towards the end, there was no reason to put guys in to kill the clock or take a knee. So we’ll play more guys this game.”

Another player that was the victim of the numbers game was Synjyn Days, the versatile back, who came to the Flats in 2011 as a QB, played A-Back in 2012 and ’13 and these days is lining up at B-Back, second 1A on the depth chart with Zach Laskey. On Saturday, Laskey got 15 carries, Days five, but both hit the end zone, book-ending the scoring — Laskey scored his first of two touchdowns at 8:16 of the first quarter (he added another with 8:34 left in the fourth quarter), while Days scored with 1:34 remaining in the game.

“We didn’t do a whole lot of inside running plays. I thought that Zach was okay. We need to play Synjyn a little more. He didn’t play enough,” said Johnson. “Again, with 59 reps it was hard to kind of gauge it but I feel good about that position. I think both those guys can be pretty good.”

Johnson said he also wants to get a look at true freshman C.J. Leggett.

With Tulane not running the same kind of clock-eating offense that Wofford did, Johnson is certain the Jackets will get more possessions — Tech had nine, but really only seven, as they scored on one play on one (no complaints there) and went three-and-out on another. Ideally more possessions will allow the Jackets to run its clock-eating offense and give Johnson the opportunity to substitute a lot more freely and get him a better look at a lot of players that he feels need to be seen.

“We’ll be committed to it at least at a couple of positions up there,” he said. “We need to get a look at a couple of other guys.”

Johnson also hopes to show a more diverse repertoire to the Green Wave.

If the Jackets appeared to be running the same play over and over and over against Wofford, it’s because, well, for the most part they were.

But it had nothing to do with red-shirt sophomore Justin Thomas’ ability to grasp the offense. It was more a reaction to the way the Terriers defense set up and trying to make the most of every possession.

With only 59 plays, the Jackets didn’t even get to run the Triple Option.

“They were crowding the line up there, so we had one of our best players one-on-one out there and we threw the ball a few times,” Johnson said. “I think we threw 17 passes, which is about 25 percent of the time, which is about normal. We ran some toss plays and some different stuff.”

That’s likely going to change on Saturday. Expect to see the Triple Option, the play, not the misnomer for the entire offense, a lot.

“We’ve practiced it a lot,” Johnson said. “I’m sure you’ll see it on Saturday.”

It’s one of many things in store for Jackets fans, who Johnson expects will travel en masse to New Orleans and should provide a truer look at the personality of the team.

“I’ve said historically, I think teams make the best improvement from Week One to Week Two,” he said. “Certainly we’re looking forward to working that way and doing that.”

So expect more from the Jackets on Saturday. And in this case, more is more!

* * * * *

When Tulane hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday, it also will christen its new home, Yulman Stadium, the 30,000-seat stadium with the $73 million price tag.

That should mean a rockin’ atmosphere.

Johnson is hoping to spoil the party with a strong showing from the Georgia Tech fan base as well as a big day from his team.

He’s played spoiler before.

On September 16, 2006, Johnson brought the Naval Academy into Palo Alto to play the first home game in newly refurbished Stanford Stadium. The Midshipmen rained on the parade, demolishing the Cardinal, 37-9. He’d like to bring the same kind of rain on Saturday.

“Our team knows that it’s a new stadium and we’re going in there and they’ll be excited,” he said. “Playing at their place in the first ever game in a new home stadium, I’m sure they’re going to be jacked up and it ought to be a fun atmosphere. So hopefully our guys are ready to go play.”

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