Tech A-backs preparing to be busy vs. Miami

The return of Georgia Tech A-back Charles Perkins is a boon for the Yellow Jackets, as the A-backs figure to be active Saturday night against Miami. (HYOSUB SHIN/AJC)

The return of Georgia Tech A-back Charles Perkins is a boon for the Yellow Jackets, as the A-backs figure to be active Saturday night against Miami. (HYOSUB SHIN/AJC)

In last year’s Georgia Tech-Miami game, the Yellow Jackets’ A-backs had 22 rushing attempts, the most of any game last season, for 164 yards, a total that included Charles Perkins’ 31-yard touchdown run. In 2012, the total was 21 for 153 yards. In that game, Tony Zenon added two catches for 74 yards. Compare that to the Virginia Tech game two Saturdays ago, when A-backs had four carries.

“It’s just the way the (Miami) defense plays,” coach Paul Johnson said, explaining that the Hurricanes played to deny the first two options of triple-option plays, leading to a number of option pitches to the A-backs.

Tech expects the same Saturday.

“I know everybody in the A-backs room, we’re excited for this week because we’re probably going to get some chances on the perimeter,” A-backs coach Lamar Owens said. “It’s our job to make sure that we just make our blocks and do what’s necessary, and just really excited the way these guys have been playing. Hopefully we’ll have a good showing on Saturday.”

To that end, it’s good news for Tech that Perkins is back after suffering what he diagnosed Monday as “a mixture of things.” Perkins is the best blocker among the A-backs, not to mention an effective ball-carrier on the perimeter. Perkins said earlier this week that he could have played against Virginia Tech had the game been a couple days later.

Johnson is hoping for bigger plays from the perimeter game. Among the A-backs, Perkins has a 63-yard run (which was a counter up the middle) and Zenon has a 41-yard run. Those are the only two plays of 20 yards or more from the A-backs thus far. Tech had 16 last year (nine by Robert Godhigh).

On the perimeter, “especially when you get it out there and you get it pitched, you’d like to have big plays, not seven yards or eight yards or six yards,” Johnson said. “You’d like to have some that were 60 and 70 and 80.”

Some other notes from Owens:

1. On preparation this week: “The biggest thing for this week is just not to get caught up in everything. It’s a white-out. It’s a night game. It’s Miami. It’s all these things, but I think if we can just continue to focus on the things we do day in and day out, hopefully that should be enough for us to be successful.”

2. Owens wants to get A-backs Broderick Snoddy, Dennis Andrews and Isaiah Willis into the game, “but it’s always, when do you?” he asked. “And Broderick and Dennis, I think they’re both doing a great job at practice right now of trying to earn reps in the game.”

Snoddy and Andrews aren’t at a much different stage at their respective points in their careers than Zenon, Perkins and Godhigh were, Owens said.

“We’re just bringing them along, but they’re exceptional athletes,” Owens said. “The quicker I can get them ready, the better we will be as a group.”

3. Owens has been productive recruiting the northeast Florida region, including Jacksonville, Daytona Beach and Orlando. Among the Jackets he’s pulled out of the area – cornerbacks Lynn Griffin and Step Durham and defensive end Antonio Simmons.

“I think Jacksonville is a city that’s really talent-rich and there are some players there that want to have the academic pedigree to do well here at Georgia Tech,” Owens said. “And, also, we’re not extremely far away, and with us having some players already here from that area, I think it helps be a draw. Who wouldn’t want to live here in Atlanta and come to Georgia Tech?”

Owens said he runs into Miami recruiters in the area on occasion. The Hurricanes do the majority of their recruiting in south Florida, with good reason. There’s only one player on the roster from Jacksonville, a walk-on, and none from Orlando or Daytona Beach. There’s actually five from Georgia – tight end Christopher Herndon IV (Norcross – A-back Clinton Lynch’s school), defensive tackle Ufomba Kamalu (Starr’s Mill – B-back Zach Laskey’s alma mater), linebacker Juwon Young (Albany), linebacker Raphael Kirby (Stephenson), offensive tackle Taylor Gadbois (East Paulding).

Kirby and Gadbois start, although the latter is not expected to play due to an injury suffered against Duke. Kamalu and Young are on the two-deep depth chart as backups.


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