ATLANTA (Sept. 26) – Georgia Tech’s potent offense is led by Heisman hopeful quarterback Joe Hamilton, but Tech’s veteran offensive line are the unsung heroes of a unit that ranks fifth in the nation in scoring and total offense and seventh in rushing.
“Anybody that is moving the ball, whether through the air or on the ground, has an offensive line that is getting the job done,” says Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary following Sunday’s workout as the ninth ranked Yellow Jackets (2-1, 0-1 ACC) prepare for a Thursday night clash with undefeated Maryland (3-0, 0-0 ACC).
Tech and the Terrapins meet at 8 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field in nationally televised contest on ESPN.
“When you can run the ball and throw the ball with consistency, I think your offensive line is doing an outstanding job,” continued O’Leary. “They’re the unheralded ones. They don’t get much praise, but they are the ones opening the holes for running and protecting the quarterback to pass.
“I think they’ve done a great job. I still think they haven’t played their best game yet, but they are creating movement, which is the key to a good offensive line.”
Tech’s “unheralded ones” included tackles Jon Carman (Waldorf, Md.) and Chris Brown (Augusta, Ga.), guards Jason Burks (Vinemont, Ala.) and Bill Madigan (New Hyde Park, N.Y.) and center Noah King (Panama City, Fla.). Those five average an even 300 pounds from tackle to tackle, not the biggest line in the ACC, but they have 73 career starts between them. And that does not include guard Brent Key (Trussville, Ala.), who started all 24 games the last two seasons but has been hampered this fall by a preseason back injury.
“I think it’s been a real team effort,” said O’Leary. “Jon Carman has played very well, but they’ve all had their moments.”
Tech is averaging 41.7 points and 494.0 yards of total offense per game, including 257.7 yards on the ground. Against Navy, Tech gained 341 yards rushing with six different backs gaining at least 35 yards, and against Central Florida, the Jackets put up 318 yards despite playing without their top two tailbacks.
O’Leary is happy that the second-team unit has been able to play most of the fourth quarter in victories over Navy and Central Florida, but he would like to see that group continue to progress.
“We’re getting them enough snaps, but I would like to see them get things done from an intensity standpoint. They need to understand that when I put them on the field, I expect them to be productive.”
O’Leary commented on the sudden death of Georgia assistant coach Pat Watson, a former member of the Tech staff from 1987-91 and 1995-96.
“That’s a sure tragedy and a great loss to the coaching profession,” said O’Leary. “The Georgia Tech football program sends its regrets to Pat’s wife Freddie, his children, and his mom and dad. It’s a sad situation. He was a good guy and a great football coach.”