Preview 2017: The Georgia Tech Option O Still Works
It might be old school, but the Georgia Tech offense is still leading the way to wins.
Really, America. It’s okay to run the flexbone triple-option.
What else do you want Paul Johnson to do to prove that his philosophy works, and why aren’t other mid-level Power Five programs giving his style a shot?
Of course, the easy answer is that it’s not sexy. It’s hard to sell a fan base on an option attack style that ran its course at the end of the 1980s, and it’s tough to pitch recruits on an O that doesn’t crank up a high-octane passing game.
But winning is sexy.
The service academies have no talent whatsoever compared to the rest of the FBS college football world, yet Navy has been consistently fantastic for over a decade because of its offense, and Army finally got the whole thing to work using the option.
Of course, the defense has a little to do with the success – Army didn’t get good until the defense became a lot better – and Georgia Tech has been able to come up with decent Ds over the years, too.
But now Johnson is going into his tenth year at Georgia Tech after coming up with six winning seasons, eight bowl appearances, four Coastal titles and an ACC Championship along the way.
The rushing attack is still relevant, the deep passing game still works when defenses get caught trying to deal with that rushing attack, and the wins are still coming. The machine still works, with this offense the differentiating factor that, on the right day, is good enough to beat anyone in the country.
The downside is that when the opposing defense figures out how to hit the curve, there’s a big problem and the Yellow Jackets fall flat – the 26-7 loss to Clemson last year was brutal. And sometimes, even having a great ground game isn’t enough. Georgia Tech couldn’t overcome other issues with a 3-9 2015 season even though the offense worked.
But when you run for 199 yards or more in 11 of the last 12 games like Johnson’s team did last year, you’re still doing something right.
This year’s team has just about all the top running backs returning, but that doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t hurt, but the Yellow Jacket offense is a machine that replaces the running back parts about as easily as any style of O in college football.
The receivers are in place to stretch the field, and now without Justin Thomas, the quarterback situation will work itself out without a problem – especially if Matthew Jordan’s injured foot is okay.
The defensive front has to replace three of the four starters, and star LB P.J. Davis is gone, but almost everyone returns to a good back seven with the depth in place to fill in the gaps.
The kicking game is a concern – great PK Harrison Butler is gone, and expected new starting punter Grant Aasen is leaving football for divinity school – but that should be the only main problem early on.
Don’t take this all for granted, Georgia Tech fans. The Yellow Jackets proved they can still beat Georgia. They showed that they could beat another SEC team – Kentucky – and win a bowl game. They proved they can can still be relevant and dangerous, all using this offense as the consistent base to work off of.
Enjoy this option attack. It’s all still rambling.