Aug. 25, 2014
By Matt Winkeljohn
The Good Word
– Some things are less likely than others to change, like the fact that it is nearly an iron-clad bet that Georgia Tech’s fullbacks are going to get a bulk of the action this season. So, with the first kickoff looming, Zach Laskey is pumped up.
He is finally, after a few diaries worth of hard work and perseverance invested, the main man behind the quarterback. That’s a big deal in head coach Paul Johnson’s offense. Johnson’s “B-backs” do work.
Yet where Laskey might first figure that he’s about to play more than ever in a Yellow Jackets’ uniform because Tech’s B-backs have been cramped by transfer and injuries, he will not be a one-man show Saturday against Wofford.
Change does indeed happen.
Example: The fellow who will probably most often spell Laskey didn’t even play the position until a couple weeks ago, but Synjyn Days has caught on fast since transitioning from wingback. He’s passed senior Matt Connors on the depth chart.
So, Laskey will start, and Johnson said Days will, “will play a lot in there.”
First a safety/punt returner upon arrival on The Flats, Laskey is so ready to roll. But he’s a realist, too. Laskey is, after all, a Tech man.
For one thing, he’s been a backup for three years, and when adding the fact that he thinks Days is, “Not only a great teammate, but a good friend,” Zack is at peace with the notion of sharing — more or less.
“Who wouldn’t want to play the whole game? But at this position, it’s tough to do,” he said. “It’s going to be good to have another guy out there with me.”
Funny that it would be Days.
Like Laskey, who played enough at Starr’s Mill High School to be considered by several scouting services to be one of the top 15 fullbacks in the nation (he also played linebacker and safety), Days did not debut at his current position at Tech.
An erstwhile quarterback, that’s Synjyn. He played some, too, in his first three seasons with the Jackets (one as a redshirt). Then, Johnson and his staff last season moved Days to A-back, his starting spot for the final seven games.
That’s now a very crowded position, however, and B-back is not.
The spring transfer of potential contributor Travis Custis and a short stack of summer injuries to fellow freshman C.J. Leggett left the position closer to bare.
So Johnson and Co. moved Days into the rodeo ring a few weeks ago.
In practices and scrimmages, he’s made an impression upon the folks who matter.
It probably doesn’t hurt that he looks the part; Days is 6-feet-2, 225 pounds (down from 238 last season) where Laskey is 6-1, 215 or so.
Days relishes the role, in fact, and his ever-broad smile may be wider than ever because he feels that much at home.
All those scatbacks on the wings?
They can do all the wiggling they want. Days is ready to rumble. He sees himself less a gazelle and more a Brahma.
“I’m more of a power back,” he said. “Running the ball in between the tackles is my strength, even when I was at A-back, and in [youth] ball.”
This is not a revelation.
Days was more a blocker than a runner at wingback, where his 27 rushing attempts in 13 games netted a modest 93 yards.
He did log considerable snaps at A-back in short-yardage and red-zone situations, and even took snaps at quarterback near the goal line. Hence, four touchdowns. So, he’s more fit to batter more than scamper.
Laskey, whose 84 carries ranked third while his 485 yards were fourth, sees it.
“Oh, yeah. He’s a big body; he’s tough to tackle,” Zack said of Days. “He’s learned the basics. It’s actually impressive how he’s been able to convert really fast. Really, right now he just has to work on seeing things faster.”
Tech’s fullbacks station themselves, most of the time, in a three-point stance just a few feet behind the quarterback. There can be vision issues at times, and the job description at B-back is a good bit different than at quarterback or A-back.
Even when that guy does not take a handoff -starter David Sims (also a high school quarterback) and Laskey last season combined for 243 of Tech’s 713 carries – he tends to come under heavy siege from unfriendly fire.
Whether carrying out a play fake or blocking, B-backs take beatings.
So, Days is not suggesting that his second transition is complete even though he believes that much of his skill set is a sweet match for the position.
“It’s a huge difference. At A-back, I’m used to running on the perimeter and blocking on the perimeter … the blocks are lower,” he explained. “At B-back, you have to run faster and not wait on the blocks.
“And [he’s working on] making sure I get my eyes up on pass plays, when I stay in and block. My blocking has always been a strong suit, even at A-back.”
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