April 7, 2016
By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
With teammates falling to his left, right and especially across the line, Lynn Griffin crossed from defense to offense in the middle of last season. Now, his move to A-back is no longer in the cards for Georgia Tech, but into the books.
So many running backs were injured in 2015 that Griffin transitioned from the secondary to wingback for the Oct. 3 game against North Carolina, and he even started a week later against Clemson.
He did well enough that the move looks permanent, and now the fifth-year senior is actually an old head among Yellow Jackets on the flanks.
There is still plenty of learning curve to climb, though, and he’s moving into the calculus of the position in spring practice. The simple stuff is behind him.
Griffin’s in deep.
“Last year it was, ‘Get in and get the ball,’ but in the spring we start from square one. I kind of got thrown in the fire last year,” he said. “We’re working through the basics, the fundamentals. It really helps me to understand the playbook, and understand why I’m doing stuff instead of following [what’s drawn on] a card.”
Where the move of Griffin to A-back was a tourniquet, it’s now part of a plan.
The 6-foot, 199-pounder from Jacksonville meets certain physical and skill criteria – demonstrated when he rushed 14 times for 113 yards (8.1 yards per).
Now come the nuances of the position. For starters, he has to learn who to block when and how, and running routes and catching balls will be more important.
“I thought Lynn did some good things,” head coach Paul Johnson said after Tech’s first full-contact practice. “He’s good with the ball in his hands. He’s just got to get more consistent, be a better blocker. He broke a couple nice runs.”
Griffin’s working on that to the point where he was qualified to field a question about the return from injury of another Griffin to the offensive line.
Why would Lynn be equipped to address the progress of Chris – no relation – from a knee injury that kept him off the field in 2015?
Well, beyond working together, Lynn has been reviewing the offensive line almost before his teammates have dried off following post-practice showers.
The DB-turned-A-back has something of a running bet with offensive line coach Mike Sewak to see who can get into the film room first after practice to study cut-ups.
It’s all part of the learning process.
“I watched some of the film with coach Sewak yesterday, and [Chris Griffin] has a great get-off,” Lynn said. “We always argue who gets in the film room first after practice…but he always beats me to it.
“Looking at what the O-line is doing sort of gives me a better idea of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.”
Griffin’s ahead of the curve in at least one way: he runs his mouth consistently – all in fun. He seems to like that part of his job, and he and Georgia transfer J.J. Green have an interesting dialogue going at A-back.
“It’s fun out there talking trash, bringing energy and encouraging guys,” he said. “That boy’s got a lot of heart, and he’s physical as well. Lot of speed…glad he’s on our team instead of Georgia. He made the right decision.”
He’s working on making the right decisions, too.
That will take time. Cut-blocking, for example, does not come as naturally as tackling – even if there are similarities in terms of targeting an opponent.
“It is, it is [akin to tackling]… just making sure that you’re close enough to make contact because sometimes you’ve got guys shaking and jumping,” Griffin said. “You definitely don’t want to leave the [ball carrier] hanging behind you. I like to think I got A.J. [Gray in practice], but he might tell you different.”
That comment came with a big smile, which is standard issue for Griffin.