clear
Sunday May 3rd, 2015 1:00PM

Tech getting back to basics with option

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech is going back to what it has done best under coach Paul Johnson.<br /> <br /> The Yellow Jackets were 7-6 last season, and at times Johnson's option offense was difficult to recognize. The Yellow Jackets struggled after installing shotgun and pistol formations and new plays to tap into quarterback Vad Lee's skills.<br /> <br /> Lee has transferred to James Madison, and after two-plus hours in helmets but no other pads on Thursday, the first day of preseason practice, senior fullback Zack Laskey said he felt at home again.<br /> <br /> The Yellow Jackets will return to what they did before while finishing in the top five in the nation in rushing in each of Johnson's first five seasons.<br /> <br /> "I think we're going to just go back to basics, smash-mouth football," said Laskey, who figures to carry and catch the ball more this season than all other players based the history of the lone setback in Johnson's offense.<br /> <br /> "I think we have the guys to do the things we have to do and as far as I can tell . . . there's going to be a lot more option offense."<br /> <br /> After his team's first practice, Johnson was typically simple in most answers.<br /> <br /> There were signs in spring scrimmages Tech would simplify and perhaps use a no-huddle approach, but Johnson said Thursday was not much different than the first day of fall practice in any of his first six years as a head coach.<br /> <br /> "There's not a lot of different things you can do," he said. "You always go back to the basics, to scratch, because you don't want to lose (freshmen)."<br /> <br /> Sophomore Justin Thomas is listed as the No. 1 quarterback, but the 5-foot-10 speedster who originally committed to attend Alabama as a defensive back, will have to fight off a challenge from metro Atlanta native Tim Byerly, a transfer from Middle Tennessee State.<br /> <br /> The speedy Thomas rushed for 234 yards on 33 carries for a 7.1-yard average and completed 9-of-17 passes for 131 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions last season.<br /> <br /> "With camp starting, you've got to get more in the mindset mentally instead of physically," he said. "You've got to come in like you're going to be first string no matter what."<br /> <br /> Georgia Tech has to replace seven starters on defense, but graduated safety Isaiah Johnson, who missed last season after a knee surgery, and junior safety Jamal Golden, a return ace who was lost for the '13 season after a shoulder injury in the third game, are healthy again.<br /> <br /> A replacement for defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu, who left as the all-time school leader in career sacks (31.5) and was drafted in the second round by the NFL's Chargers, will be hard to find.<br /> <br /> The Georgia Tech staff figured that starting linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days could move into that role, making the transition Attaochu made a year earlier. Hunt-Days became academically ineligible in the spring, however, and this season will work on the scout team as a non-scholarship player.<br /> <br /> Johnson said Thursday potential starting defensive end Kenderius Whitehead, who was expected to graduate this summer from Georgia Military (Junior) College, is on campus but has not yet graduated from GMC.<br /> <br /> It remains unclear whether Whitehead - who missed Thursday with what Johnson described as headache issues - may achieve graduation and be eligible to play this season.<br /> <br /> "Right now, he's a transfer student like everybody else," Johnson said in referencing the NCAA rule that states that most players who transfer to a Division I school have to sit out a season before playing.
© Copyright 2015 AccessNorthGa.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 4 months ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 4 months ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 4 months ago )
Sports
Jackets, Mississippi St. clash in Orange Bowl
No. 10 Georgia Tech has the nation's second-ranked rushing offense. No. 8 Mississippi State has held seven of its 12 opponents under 125 yards on the ground.
5:04PM ( 4 months ago )
Ole Miss defense braces for TCU offense in Peach Bowl
Mississippi and TCU were part of the playoffs story in 2014. Each team was part of the chase. Each team fell short of the coveted semifinals.
5:01PM ( 4 months ago )
Kiffin shining again after season of redemption
Lane Kiffin was modest in his goals and complimentary about the team he'll be facing in the Sugar Bowl. He went on and on about how much he's learned from Nick Saban, while insisting it's no big deal when his boss yells at him. Very un-Kiffin-like, you might say.
11:02PM ( 4 months ago )
College Sports
Coach Quinn believes 1st NFL draft with Falcons a success
General manager Thomas Dimitroff and new coach Dan Quinn say the Atlanta Falcons got exactly what they were looking for on the last day of the NFL draft.
3:40PM ( 2 hours from now )
Golf: Red Elephants surge back to claim Invite crown over Marist
The Gainesville boys golf team staged a second-round comeback on Saturday to claim The Invite crown at Chattahoochee Golf Club in Gainesville.
11:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
David Ragan ready to move to Michael Waltrip Racing
David Ragan’s tenure in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota comes to an end with the GEICO 500 and he’ll be moving onto his third team in 11 races—“a little weird, for sure,” he acknowledged—when the Sprint Cup schedule resumes at Kansas Speedway on May 9.
By Mark McCarter-NASCAR Wire Service
8:00AM ( 5 hours ago )
Reds notch 8-4 win over Braves
Jay Bruce powered two long triples, Marlon Byrd broke out of his slump and Zack Cozart had three hits to lead the Reds to an 8-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday night.
10:42PM ( 14 hours ago )
American Pharoah gives trainer a long-awaited 4th Derby win
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Three times in seven years, Bob Baffert left the Kentucky Derby empty-handed. Two seconds and a sixth-place finish by the wagering favorite.After a while, those close calls star...
9:28PM ( 15 hours ago )