Paul Johnson's offense works. It just didn’t work on Saturday.
In a “cupcake” game against FCS opponent Gardner-Webb University, Georgia Tech’s players walked off historic Grant Field letting out a deep sigh that was only a notch lower on the totem pole of relief than a pair of 22-year-old unmarried college kids hoping only one pink line shows up on the First Response pregnancy test they bought 30 minutes earlier at the local Wal-Mart.
All week long, the local sportswriters and radio broadcasters tried to compare the drumming Gardner-Webb was going to take to the Cumberland College massacre of 1916. They tried to goat coach Johnson into saying that the Jackets would put up 100 points on the lowly Runnin’ Bulldogs.
Coach Johnson knew he could not expect to hit the century mark starting third-string quarterback Calvin Booker, but there’s no way in his brilliant offensive mind that he could foresee a 79-yard rushing effort in Georgia Tech’s future.
Johnson was not the problem on this lackluster afternoon in downtown Atlanta, but the fact that his first- and second-string quarterbacks were unfit to play almost gave a black eye to a Georgia Tech team on the upswing.
Starter Josh Nesbitt dressed out, but his strained hamstring kept him out of the game for a second straight week. Meanwhile, shifty backup quarterback Jaybo Shaw did not even bother to put on pads while recovering from a concussion suffered in the previous week’s 27-0 beating of Duke.
Because of Booker’s shocking lack of speed and quickness, coupled with severe problems pitching the ball outside in the triple-option offense, Gardner-Webb just set up outside and let the Tech quarterback’s ineptness aid the defense.
While Jonathan Dwyer came in averaging an ACC-best of over 109 yards per game, the ill-timing of Booker’s pitches seemed to throw off the star running back all game long. As great players do, however, Dwyer showed his raw talent and athletic ability during the second quarter, when he took a short pass 79 yards to the end zone for Georgia Tech’s sole touchdown of the game.
If Calvin Booker is going to be so ineffective in the passing game, why not put a running back or wide receiver at quarterback and let them run the option?
There is a moral to this past Saturday’s showing on “The Flats” at Georgia Tech, and the message is that the Yellow Jackets can rely on a veteran defense to be the constant when the offense is sputtering (or in this case, stalls out completely) and should have both of their effective quarterbacks healthy and ready to head up to Clemson this weekend.
Paul Johnson and the Georgia Tech triple-option offense will be ready to redeem itself in Clemson, South Carolina this weekend, so the Tigers better be ready for a Jackets attack that will be coming full-throttle.