The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 2012 season preview for the offensive line

The offensive line that will hit the field for the Yellow Jackets this season will have better size, athleticism, and most importantly substantial experience since the inception of the Coach Johnson triple option era that commenced in 2008.  Having some heft in the interior guard/center portion of the line will finally help open some running lanes in the A and B gaps with greater success than the past several seasons.  In addition, some much needed depth and experience has finally been established provided that everyone can remain healthy heading into training camp and throughout the season.  A key piece of this unit will be center; Jay Finch.

Jay Finch, a redshirt junior at 6’3″, 285 lbs. will be returning to once again be the starting center.  Apparently he wasn’t playing at anything close to that number by the end of the season due to a medical illness that caused him to lose lots of weight.  Hence a big reason the interior B-Back game was being clogged up in the middle of the line.  Alongside Mr. Finch at the left guard spot will be Will Jackson, also a redshirt junior at 6’3″, 285 Lbs., and the right guard will be All ACC Omoregie Uzzi, a redshirt senior at 6′ 3″, 300 Lbs.  All three of these individuals were redshirted as incoming freshman in order to have the appropriate amount of time to properly learn how to understand the complex blocking schemes in the triple option in order to execute it on the field.  That will be paying dividends starting this season as the option finally has some experienced lineman in the trenches to make a difference. 

Catlin Alford, a redshirt sophomore at 6’3″, 291 is projected to be the backup at center, but he can also play at guard if necessary.  Nick McRae, a redshirt senior at 6’3″, 291 Lbs. has also played both the center and guard positions the past several seasons and has logged substantial playing time as well.  In addition to those players, the only offensive lineman who wasn’t redshirted as a true freshman and played in every game last season, Shaquille Mason, is also back in the fold and pushing Mr. Jackson to be the starter at left guard.  Shaquille is a true sophomore who checks in at 6’1″, 300 Lbs. and started the Sun Bowl for Omoregie Uzzi who was out with an injury.  These three players will be rotating in throughout the games making the offensive line a strong point heading into this season.

The starting tackles will be Ray Beno, a redshirt junior at 6’2″, 295 Lbs., and either Tyler Kidney, a redshirt junior (former walk-on) at 6’2″ 262 Lbs.; or Morgan Bailey, a redshirt sophomore at 6’4″, 295 Lbs.  Both Beno and Kidney played substantially all of last season as they were in a three tackle rotation along with Phil Smith who has since transferred to another program.  Morgan Bailey saw plenty of action late last year and will be making a strong push to be the starting right tackle to open the season against the Hokies in Blacksburg.   

Bryan Chamberlain, 6’4″, 295 Lbs., Erin Joe, 6’3″, 295 Lbs., and Trey Braun, 6’5″ 295 Lbs., are all redshirt freshman, along with J.C. Lanier, 6’4″, 300 Lbs., a redshirt junior, and they will provide even further depth up front.  Hopefully Coach Johnson will finally be able to maintain his posture of redshirting all incoming freshman offensive linemen.

For the first time since Coach Paul Johnson arrived on the Flats, he will be fielding a team comprised of 100% of his recruits.  Let me also add that the players who chose to stick around after the triple option first came to Georgia Tech should be commended for their outstanding contributions in making his unique system work even though it was not the offense they signed on for when committing to the prior administration.  Thank you one and all!

For all the talk of the Hokies returning eight starters on their defense, the best way to counteract that is with an experienced offensive line.  Looking forward to Labor Day!  Go Jackets!

 

  • atlspartan

    Technically the 2012 GT football team still has four players on the roster that originally committed to Chan Gailey way back in 2007.

    • Mike

      Given that the few kids who “technically” committed to Chan were all still in a position to go elsewhere two months before national signing day after Coach Paul Johnson was hired, I would say these are all his recruits. Remember, Chris Jackson left and went to Alabama and then came back a year later and he too was an early commit in that 2008 class.

  • JasperJacket

    The OL has a significant amount of quality and depth which for sure will be needed realizing the stress put on the down field blocking requirements in this spread option offense. The OL have greater duties than just within 5 yards of the LOS in this offense and conditioning and depth play a major part in this OL’s performance. Baring a rash of injuries we should be ok there. No doubt the best we have had since CPJ came to GT. I am more concerned about the lack of quality depth and experience in the front 7 of the D on this club. Once you get past the first 4 LB’s the depth is seriously lacking with not much more on the DL. The key to this team defensive wise IMO is, will the LB’s be able to stop the 8-10 yd slants and outs along with the backs out of the backfield that we perform poorly on in most ball games. The short & medium range passing game has been the primary reason we have been so poor on stopping the opposition on 3rd down IMO. This is the year that Tech has the opportunity to get over the hump to a consistent better than 7-8 game winner and the best chance we have had in a long time to man up with UGA taking into account their situation with depth in Athens and the greatest load will be on the D side of the ball. Pivitol year with CPJ’s program.

    • Mike

      Hi Jasper Jacket,
      The defense is going to be a critical component this season, and we need to have great play from the down linemen in order to give the linebackers a chance. Losing Julian will be a loss, but we have some solid players that will have their opportunity to shine such as Hunt-days and Nealy who had a very good game after coming in for Julian when he injured his neck in the Sun Bowl. I think we have better depth than you might think with our linebackers, although they need some experience beyond just special teams; i.e. Menocal. If we can get better pressure from the down 3, then everything will be just fine.

  • GT Nuke

    Hey Mike, GT Nuke here. I’ve been out of the fray for a while, but just like Freddie Kruger,I’m back again! I’m feeling very optimistic about the reliability of our front line. I really hope we can get some effective dive and pitch play happening again. Man do I miss those wonderful break through dives that Nesbitt used to pull off. I haven’t seen a really explosive up the middle puch from our offense in years. An how about those Diesel runs (JD, I mean), pure majic. I believe that effective line blocking is the key to creating these opportunities. I’ve seen several fans slice up youtube videos of key dive and pitch runs which have lead me to this conclusion. The perfect angled push by the center combined with a complimentary push by the lineman next to him, and before you know it, you’ve got a beeline to the house! If only we could get some complimentary downfield blocking wide recievers, then watch out! Go JACKETS! THWG!

    • Mike

      Hi GT Nuke,
      Glad to have you back and get ready for what I think will be the best season yet under CPJ. While everyone cries about the fact we don’t get the “5″ stars recruits, the Yellow Jackets have lots of depth and good players in the mix for the upcoming season. Can’t wait to get started against the Hokies up your way and shock the entire crowd at Blacksburg. Go Jackets!