Justin Thomas the option Quarterback was one of my favorite players in the 2014 season and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets had a memorable season finishing with a big win over Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl. F
The Jackets finished 2nd in the ACC behind defending national champions Florida State with an 11-3 record.
Thomas was as smooth as those option Quarterbacks of the old days.
In the 2014 season, Thomas threw for 1,719 yards and 18 Touchdowns. He also ran for an impressive 1,086 yards and 8 more touchdowns.
In 2015, his stats went down to 1,345 yards passing and 488 yards rushing.
So, what happened?
People may have underestimated the losses from the Georgia Tech 2014 roster.
Shaq Mason, at Offensive Guard, was their best Offensive Lineman. Mason was a 4th round pick by the New England Patriots and he was good enough to start several games for the Patriots as a rookie.
DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller were huge losses at Wide Receiver. Smelter was taken in the 4th round by the San Francisco 49ers. Waller was taken in the 6th round by the Baltimore Ravens. At 6-6, 245, Waller played some as a rookie before being injured. But, he’s moving to Tight End this season and if he can block he will be outstanding as a receiving Tight End.
At Georgia Tech, in 2014, these guys combined to catch most of Justin Thomas’ passes. They were both big and dependable targets.
Georgia Tech also lost both of their Fullbacks, or B Backs. Synjyn Days and Zach Laskey tore up defenses in 2014 unmercifully. They would start Days, and then bring in a fresh Laskey, and it was a tough combination to stop. Days ran for 924 yards and Laskey ran for 851 yards.
The other huge problem for the 2015 team was the loss of so many of the Yellow Jacket Running Backs to injuries.
So, the blocking was not quite as good and Thomas didn’t have the talented targets at Wide Receiver to hit down field to open the field up for his running game.
The defense was actually better in 2015 than it was in 2014, but the offense just never really got it going consistently.
Now, for 2016, Justin Thomas has one more shot at greatness.
Of course, it all starts up front. If the Offensive Line is back to where it was in the 2014 season, then Thomas and company have a leg up already.
Then, that all important B-Back in the Flex Bone probably comes next. Marcus Marshall and Christopher Leggett represent Georgia Tech’s best chances of having a great inside running game this season. When that Georgia Tech B Back gets rolling, this offense is really hard to stop. It’s almost impossible. Marshall led the team in rushing last season with 654 yards, but they have to have more production than that.
Clinton Lynch ran for 466 yards last season and he’s back for his sophomore year. He is going to be
one of the A Backs in the Flexbone along with Qua Searcy.
Ricky Jeune led the Yellow Jackets in receiving last season and he is back and will start along with Brad Stewart, or Harland Howell.
Can these guys produce as well as Smelter and Waller back in 2014?
Justin Thomas is an option Quarterback like those old guys from the 1970s. Like them, he has almost no shot at playing Quarterback in the NFL.
2016 may be his last shot at football glory. This blog has to pull for him, because he was a joy to watch in 2014.