20 Georgia Tech

August 20, 2012

The running game will be murder on foes, but the catch is a lack of proven wideouts

The Skinny

FOR THE last three seasons the Yellow Jackets' triple-option offense has ranked first or second in FBS in rushing. All three of their backfield leaders return this fall: QB Tevin Washington, A-back Orwin Smith and B-back David Sims. As important, the O-line has five players with starting experience, led by All-America senior guard Omoregie Uzzi. But with wideout Stephen Hill (29.3 yards per catch in 2011) gone to the NFL, there isn't one proven playmaker at receiver. Indeed, there isn't a wideout on the roster with a single career catch—which is bad news for Washington, who threw only one TD pass over the final eight games last season. Expect coach Paul Johnson to get his running backs more involved in the passing game this fall.

Key Recruit

FRANCIS KALLON The 6'5", 245-pound defensive end is a London native who moved to the U.S. in 2010. He had 13 scholarship offers before he played his first game at Central Gwinnett (Ga.) High last year. A four-star recruit, he could see the field as a pass-rush specialist.

Breakout Player

JEFF GREENE The Yellow Jackets ran 81.1% of the time in '11, but that didn't keep Hill (like Demaryius Thomas before him) from turning his rare opportunities into NFL riches. Greene could be next. The 6'4", 210-pound sophomore's athleticism should help him stand out.

Final Analysis

WITH AN offense that should have few problems controlling the ball, the Yellow Jackets' hopes in the ACC Coastal Division lie with a defense that is now in its third year under coordinator Al Groh. The unit has six starters returning, including outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, but is still in search of a consistent pass rush. Even more troubling is the way the D faded last season, giving up more than 30 points in each of the last four games, three of them losses. There won't be much time to work out the kinks this fall, as the Yellow Jackets open the season at Virginia Tech.

THE VITALS

Coach Paul Johnson (5th year)

34--19 (22--11 ACC)

2011 Record 8--5 (5--3, 2nd in ACC Coastal)

Final AP Rank NR

Returning Starters Offense 7, Defense 6

2011 STATS

Total Offense (FBS Rank) 458.8 YPG (18)

Rushing Offense 316.5 YPG (2)

Passing Offense 142.3 YPG (112)

Total Defense 359.3 YPG (44)

Rushing Defense 161.5 YPG (66)

Passing Defense 197.9 YPG (28)

TELLING NUMBER 7

Consecutive bowl defeats for the Yellow Jackets, including last year's 30--27 Sun Bowl loss to Utah. Tech's last postseason victory came in 2004.

TOP PLAYERS

Offense

QB Tevin Washington

Sr. 6'0", 205 pounds

987 YDs (R), 1,652 YDs (P)

RB Orwin Smith

Sr. 6'0", 202 pounds

615 YDs (R), 11 TDs (R)

G Omoregie Uzzi

Sr. 6'3", 300 pounds

12 games, 12 starts

Defense

LB Jeremiah Attaochu

Jr. 6'3", 240 pounds

59 tackles, 6 sacks

FS Isaiah Johnson

Jr. 6'2", 205 pounds

78 tackles, 3 INTs

CB Rod Sweeting

Sr. 6'0", 184 pounds

56 tackles, 3 INTs

Special Teams

PK Justin Moore

Jr. 5'10", 171 pounds

56/56 PATs, 11/17 FGs

PHOTOTODD KIRKLAND/ICON SMI (UZZI)Behind Uzzi, the Yellow Jackets' rushing attack has ranked first or second in the nation over the past three years. PHOTOKENT MCCORKLE/CAL SPORT MEDIA (GREENE)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)