ATLANTA (August 26) — Georgia Tech featured one of the nation’s most potent offenses last season, but that doesn’t stop head coach George O’Leary from looking for ways to improve that unit.
The 11th-ranked Yellow Jackets return nine starters on offense, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Hamilton (Alvin, S.C.) at quarterback.
You’re always looking to get better, O’Leary told a group of visiting media from around the Atlantic Coast Conference. Once you’re on film, people see what you’re doing. Everybody has a pencil and everybody’s drawing all the time.
Last season, with Hamilton and split end Dez White (Orange Park, Fla.) leading the way, Tech averaged 35.5 points per game, its highest figure since 1921. The Jackets led the ACC and ranked 13th nationally in scoring while setting a school record with 50 touchdowns.
I would say that the thing we do the best is do a lot of things, said O’Leary, who enters his fifth full season at the helm of the Tech program. We’re not predictable and there are not a lot of tendencies, we don’t think. We scout ourselves a lot to see if there are any tendencies that people can pick up on. We try to do what we need to do to score by taking advantage of defensive weaknesses.
One of O’Leary’s favorite expressions is, I don’t think you ever remain the same; you either get better or worse, and he applies that to the offense.
We’re always looking to advance and get ahead, he said. There are things we didn’t do last year from a protection standpoint that we’ve added this year to correct some weaknesses there.
I do think we have the ingredients, from a talent standpoint, to be better, mainly because of the receivers. Everybody else is back. Where we had to improve was to get more receivers on the field who can stretch the defense. We have other players besides Dez who can get some things done and take some heat off of Dez.
Last season, White caught 46 passes for a school-record 973 yards and nine touchdowns. He accounted for more than 30 percent of Tech’s pass completions and 43 percent of the Jackets’ receiving yardage.
This season, redshirt freshman Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.), true freshman Will Glover (Tampa, Fla.), junior Jon Muyres (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and sophomore Kelly Campbell (Atlanta, Ga.) will add depth and speed to complement White.
One of the two offensive starters that Tech lost to graduation, flanker-tailback Charlie Rogers, is a difficult player to replace because he wore so many hats for the Jackets.
He played receiver, he played running back and he played punt returner, said O’Leary of Rogers, now with the Seattle Seahawks. Now we’ve got three guys doing what he did.
While Charlie Rogers’ emergence was a key to Tech’s success last season, this fall O’Leary is pointing to another Rogers–senior tailback Phillip Rogers (East Point, Ga.).
If our offense is to go to another level, Phillip Rogers is the guy who needs to have a break-out year, said O’Leary.
Rogers, a 6-1, 230-pounder, shares the starting tailback position with sophomore Joe Burns (Thomasville, Ga.). The two combined for nearly 1,000 yards rushing last season as Burns gained 474 and Rogers added 466.
I don’t think either one is number one. I think they’re both one and 1-A, O’Leary said.
Also aiding the offense is a veteran front line, led by senior tackle Jon Carman (Waldorf, Md.).
The experience we have back on the offensive line is one of our strengths on the offensive side of the ball, said O’Leary.
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