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!