Posted: 10:41 am Monday, July 28th, 2014

Who emerges at A-back for Tech? 

By Ken Sugiura

A-back Tony Zenon, who came out of spring practice at the top of the depth chart, will be one of several with a legitimate shot at a starting job. Photo by Johnny Crawford/AJC.

A-back Tony Zenon, who came out of spring practice at the top of the depth chart, will be one of several with a legitimate shot at a starting job. Photo by Johnny Crawford/AJC.

 

Georgia Tech won’t lack for experience or depth at A-back – Synjyn Days, Deon Hill, B.J. Bostic and Tony Zenon all started games for the Yellow Jackets last year. Dennis Andrews and Charles Perkins also saw playing time last season. The group is packed with seniors.

The challenge for each going into preseason camp, which begins Thursday, is moving to the head of the pack.

“You’d love for one of those guys to say, ‘I’m going to be a dominant blocker, and every time I go out there, somebody’s going on the ground. That’s my role,’” coach Paul Johnson said. “Everybody can’t have the ball every play.”

Johnson said he’ll be fine spreading out snaps among the group if there aren’t a few players who assert themselves. But he obviously would prefer that one or two demand more playing time with their productivity.

“Robbie Godhigh played a great deal more than the other guys last year, for good reason,” Johnson said.

Godhigh excelled for the Jackets the past two seasons in all three A-back roles, running, pass receiving and perimeter blocking. None of the other A-backs approached his value to the offense. For example, Godhigh had 16 plays of 20 yards or more last season on 102 touches. The returning scholarship A-backs, not counting Broderick Snoddy, who mostly played B-back last season, had nine 20-yard plays in 110 total touches. (It perhaps should be mentioned that many of Godhigh’s 16 touches for 20-plus yards were sprung by blocks by returning A-backs.)

Days is probably the best blocker, although Perkins is capable. Snoddy is the fastest. Hill, who missed all of spring practice with complications from Crohn’s disease but is expected to take part in the preseason, might possess the best all-around game.

Bostic is quick and has had flashes. Zenon is shifty, but slight. Andrews has shown well in the spring and is particularly effective in space, but will miss the first two games with a suspension. Incoming freshman Clinton Lynch will get a chance to prove himself.

Myles Autry would have been plugged in at A-back, and he at the least offered significant potential to be a playmaker at the position, but has been released from his letter of intent.

Of the eight mentioned, all but Snoddy, Andrews and Lynch are seniors, meaning it’s the last shot those five will have to punctuate careers that have yet to distinguish themselves on the field, which could prove to be the motivational carrot that the group needs.

“You always like to see a couple guys separate themselves,” Johnson said.

 

38 comments
ricojack
ricojack

Jamal Golden was a quarterback in high school, use him at times at A Back and of course special teams.  With Isaiah Johnson back, defensive backfield can manage.  

Jmonty
Jmonty

Paul Johnson's system is pretty much plug and go.  They just need a back with good hands and good blocking abilities.  Simple right??  No.  Seriously...  I thought Days looked good last year.  Zenon also had sparks of greatness last year.  But, we need someone that can be consistant.  I think it will be running back by committee.  No one back really has outshined the others, in my opinion.

Slack104
Slack104

Some people are still on here saying that our offense is fine. The style of offense we play greatly limits our recruiting abilities.  You read that most of our A-backs are seniors.  What happens after this season. Our two biggest RB recruits are gone, Custis and Autry.  I heard such great things about Bostic and Zenon when they came to the Flats, but I haven't seen it on the field.  What's the problem?  Are they not living up to the hype?  Does the system not allow them to perform up to their abilities?  Are the coaches not coaching them up to the college level?  All three of these lead back to PJ. 

Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB
Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB

they are all pretty capable overall, one thing's for sure, whoever coughs it up first is going to ride the Pine for a while

fuzzybee78
fuzzybee78

yeller bug… there's a lot there we agree on!

fuzzybee78
fuzzybee78

Super and Chuck, I agree with both of you, however if you are already behind the safety….its a foot race and we know who wins!


I repeat myself,  but we lost to VT 2 years ago up there, in part, because they got a behind us with a "track" guy at WR on one play. That kid I'm pretty sure did not start and it changed the game. I hope Snoddy is more than a one trick pony, i.e. speed, but if the trick is really good…lets see it! 

juvenal
juvenal

hopefully signalling plays in instead of using the A's as messengers may help.......... 

ChuckAllison
ChuckAllison

I hope that somehow, and in some way, Snoddy's speed can be visibly seen as an advantage this year.  We have been talking about his wonderful speed for two years and I have yet to see it displayed on the field. Speed at the A back position Is a good thing if you ever use it to advance the ball up the field.  Good luck to him.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Free Zenon!!

All this kid does is make plays.....apparently too many since PJ won't play him. :(

fuzzybee78
fuzzybee78

It seems to be CPJ guy you have to be the best at all 3… block,run,catch…maybe thats wrong and he does use guys situationally based on the play called. I guess Im confused when we give a scholarship to the fast kid from TN, and glad we did, but we have the fastest kid in GA (and AL) on the team but he never see's a chance to blow past the safety on a fly route from A back? 

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

No Todd Gurleys back there, but we are OK at that position.

It's the offensive line that's the question.  

GTBob
GTBob

People wondered how we could replace Roddy and Orwin emerged. People asked how we could replace Orwin and Robbie emerged. Someone will step up this year. My money is on Days. Im excited about Hill, Perkins and Andrews as well though.

hpt84
hpt84

IMO, Days is a lock at one of the a-back position.

rome_tiern
rome_tiern

GTSteve, really, if you said that in a few years we would be better with them I could stomach that, but it is very naïve to think that any incoming freshman could beat out these guys with all their years in the program. New A-backs have to learn the offense, and most of them HAVE to learn how to block on the edge too.   Custis was  a B-back, by the way.

GTSteve
GTSteve

Would have been better with Custis and/or Autry

juvenal
juvenal

they have all had enough time to develop....... 

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB 

For me, this is a fault I have with PJ.  That when a kid "coughs it up" it seems to take way too long, if ever, for him to have another chance. BJ Bostic is a good example.  In limited action he has made some plays, but I recall a fumble a few years ago, and it seems he's never be able to get off the pine for long stretches.    

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@ChuckAllison 

Snoddy's problem last year was that when he got hemmed in or saw somebody coming at him, he would back track and then end up losing yardage.  He needs to learn to keep it moving forward at all times, unless there is clearly a chance for gaining yards by backing up first and finding a new hole.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

@fuzzybee78 Though I'm getting older and my memory has more holes than Swiss cheese, I recall CPJ being asked about (I think Roddy Jones) not getting as many touches carrying the ball and perhaps it was a typical sluff-off of the journalist, CPJ had this nonchalant response that he wasn't sure why Jones didn't get many touches---that it just worked out that way.  The point being that it seems CPJ calls his plays and is less concerned about the personnel on the field---an attitude of "hey they need to just execute and we'll be fine" which supports fuzzybee78's assessment---be the best all around player.  That is old school and out-of-date philosophy.

The advantage of the hurry up offense is 1) it puts a lot of pressure on the D and inhibits them from swapping out personnel based on situation.  [GT has responded to this challenge by switching its base D to a 4-2-5]. The other advantage (2) is that it allows our offensive coaching staff to assist the QB in evaluating the opposing D alignment and then adjust the play call to not only take advantage of the weakness in the opposing team's scheme, but also to take advantage of personnel matchups. Thus if CPJ sees that the opposing team may have a LB guarding an A-back (Snoddy), then to call a fly route (as Fuzzy suggests) should produce a very favorable result.  The speed of the game has not just increased on the field with faster players, it also includes the chess-playing by the coaches to read D's and adjust play calls to maximize the chance for success.  I hope this is CPJ's strategy by going with some hurry-up offense this year. If not, it's not the high school offense that is the problem, it's the high school or old school method of calling plays by shuttling players to a huddle and not taking every second to evaluate and update the play call to give us the best chance to succeed. The coaching staff should always be mindful of player matchups and incorporate that into our play calling strategy. We need to call a play, line up, read the D, assess matchups (includes spotter feedback from pressbox), react, adjust play call (if necessary) and execute the play in less than 30 seconds. It may be more efficient to switch steps one and two and line up, then call the play, read the D, assess, react, adjust etc., but the strategic point is to rapidly use the latest and best input and assessment of our opponent before making our final play call.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

@juvenal   .....and to varying degrees they have all been mentioned as possible starters at the position.  I would say they all have developed just fine.  Now is when CPJ needs to see one maybe two game changers emerge.  But the bottom line will always be under CPJ, 'do I have that special guy under center to put it all together'.  If so, all these guys could look like all-stars.

Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB
Gr8_2B_aFuzzyB

@Dsheets Agreed, though S. Days has been given every opportunity to contribute despite his propensity to fumble when he worked the qb spot. He probably blocked more last year than he did run with the rock but at least he's been on the field.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Yellerbug How did UNCs hurry-up offense work?   Or Duke's?   Or Virginia's?  Or Maryland's?  Or Syracuse's?  Or West Virginia's?  Or Texas's?  Or Washington's?  Or Arizona's?  


The team with the 4th slowest pace in the conference just won the National Championship (against a team that runs a hurry-up).


It should be noted that we ran a play every :28, too.

unajacket
unajacket

@Quackmeyer @juvenal Quack, you are 100% correct,  a dynamic, playmaking QB will make CPJ look like the second coming of Bobby Dodd!!

inoto20
inoto20

@GeorgeStein Because of one player like auburn with newton. 

And fsu should have lost. It was a fluke win.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

@GeorgeStein Maybe it's the terminology I used or maybe you've missed my point which probably indicates my explanation was inadequate although it seems CPJ's perspective on the merits of "hurry up" (for lack of better verbiage) needs to be enhanced as well.  The objective is not to hurry for hurry's sake. It's not about trying to run 90+ plays as many journalists write about---that's a non-critical metric (perhaps some correlation to tiring out a defense maybe). It's about play calling.

You have 35 seconds between plays so the hurry part is getting the offense over the ball quickly. This prevents the D from swapping out players as you may go on a quick count & catch them with too many players on the field--a free play that results in no less than 5 yards and no loss of down. Thus it freezes their substitution strategy. You get quickly to the line, the coaches and spotters survey the field, review match-ups and then call the play or adjust the play.  It's the best of both worlds---by taking 28 or 30 seconds to run a play, we let our D rest. By lining up quickly over the ball we stress our opponent's D. By maximizing the time in an attack position (ready to snap the ball), we give our coaches the most time to analyze and make the proper call. Perhaps calling this a "hurry up" offense is a misnomer. Maybe call it an attack or press offense. Heck, we're an option team---as soon as the play is over, substitute players come in (if desired) and we line up over the ball ready to run the option. We could be in that position within 5 to 7 seconds so the opposing D must be ready by then. Then our coaches look over the situation and adjust the play call--we can take our time if we like, do a long count, pause, get a new play (or not) and then run the play. We dictate the pace of play.  We can lull D's to sleep by often taking 30 seconds between plays and then run one within 8 seconds. The key metric is getting to an attack formation quickly---not running plays quickly.

wrecked
wrecked

@unajacket @Quackmeyer @juvenal Pj is a  medicocre at  best  . In over his head coaching  and  recruiting. 6-7, 8-5, 7-7, 7-6 thats  going to be what PJ gives over and  over. Most of the  better players he's  recruited over the past  3 seasons  are  gone.His  skills a re better suited  for  Div  2  or  3  football.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@inoto20 @GeorgeStein "And fsu should have lost. It was a fluke win. "

____________________________________________


Wins are always flukes when they disprove your theories....

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@inoto20 @GeorgeStein 

Thanks for letting us know the plays vs UGA & Bama last season were in Auburn's playbook, and that the Tigers actually practiced those throughout the season.

Talk about a fluke win(s).....


GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

This would be relevant if we had tons of various personnel groupings, but we don't. We run largely the same formation, with limited changes (an A back lined up in the slot as opposed to off the outside shoulder of the tackle, for example). As a result, speed in getting to the line offers little in the way of additional benefits, because there isn't much the defense can do to change. Perhaps there is some benefit to different individuals, but I think the offense is designed to make players interchangeable (some guy named Belichick does the same thing).

You'd be a lot easier to take seriously if you checked the high school offense pejorative at the door.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

@GeorgeStein  Dang George you are normally one of the intelligent commenters here---been hanging out with UGA friends all summer?

If your level of sophistication and measurement is unable to discern the difference in skill/talent between a Days and a Snoddy, if your head coach cannot immediately recognize an ideal coverage situation where a 6'5" Waller or 6'3" Smelter is isolated against a 5'10" CB, or if you cannot recognize the value of applying constant pressure to a D by hurrying to set up on the LOS, then use the 1970s model of shuttling in plays with some random A-back or WR standing nearby and make your play calls prior to surveying what type of D setup is aligned against you.

As an FYI, I am taken very seriously by those that matter to me and you obviously missed the tongue-in-cheek joke about the high school offense. Our offensive system is fine, our play calling methodology is what needs to be updated.


Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

@unajacket @wrecked @Quackmeyer @juvenal  I doubt it is too late to pick up the recruiting pace based on last year's class and what has already happened so far this year.  Ted Roof is making a difference on defense and linemen seem to be coming on board in record numbers.  Since I'm not a GT fan, I may have more patience than the loyal followers of the program.  Get the right QB and everybody calms down and football gets better in the state of Georgia.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Yellerbug Seriously, dude, the offense is fine.   In six years it has produced at an extremely high level.


As for the difference in skill, I am pretty sure the next game we see Snoddy play at A-back will be the first, so you're right, I can't tell the difference.  This isn't a video game where you just substitute players and they magically know everything.  And as a matter of fact, we routinely change the direction of the play side at the line.  


If I mistook your humor, please accept my apologies.

EmoryEagles
EmoryEagles

@Quackmeyer @unajacket @wrecked @juvenal I see the recruiting picking up with the 2015 (thus far at least) and 2014 classes.  There were definitely some lean years, but I really do think he is making a concerted renewed effort ont he recruiting trail.  Should see the dividends in the next year or so.

inoto20
inoto20

@GeorgeStein @Yellerbug " Seriously, dude, the offense is fine.   In six years it has produced at an extremely high level."

Except when they play a good defense. But it's not about being good. it's about being able to deliver when the game is on the line. And gt football fails at that against the big 4 teams on the schedule. You know if gt needs a score or even a first down late in a game to win or send it to ot, they won't get it. PJ will call some stupid plays or a turnover happens. Never fails. Look at this group of a backs and losing godhigh the walkon, this is going to be a loooong year for gt. Which is a good thing. 

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

@GeorgeStein @Yellerbug  I understood your earlier point. The CPJ system is a machine designed to have interchangeable parts. You execute correctly, you move the ball and score points.

Just trying to apply some CPI to give us any edge possible (as we need all that we can find!). Personnel does matter however.  If we call an A-back option pass, we want Days throwing it not Snoddy or Perkins. I support using a 2 QB system but it is obvious that Thomas and Beverly have significantly different skill sets that would influence play calling. I trust CPJ's 36 years of coaching experience over any QB so along with our spotter in the press box, maybe when we line up, our staff sees something that we can signal onto the field which is more versatile than just a change of direction.  Most DCs hate defending against a hurry up style offense as it's difficult to give DL's a breather---they can't get substituted in time so let's press these guys. We can still take 28 seconds to run the play and have those long death march drives---make it more painful by making the D be ready for 21 seconds before we run each play. Maybe these changes I suggest would not add value---we don't need measure with a micrometer something we plan on cutting w  ith an axe.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@inoto20 @GeorgeStein @Yellerbug "Except when they play a good defense. "

_________________________________________


Such an intellectually lazy argument.  Good defenses are good defenses because they stop god offenses.  It would be much more worrisome if average defenses were stopping us.  As for last year, VT and Ole Miss were the only teams to really stop our offense.