To beat Miami and Georgia in its final two games of the college football season, Georgia Tech barely threw once every 10 plays —- and still scored 86 points.
For their bowl game, however, the Jackets may trot out the basics of a wide-open passing attack.
In preparation for LSU in Wednesday’s Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome, Tech has worked extensively on its passing offense, a package of plays known as the “Run and Shoot.”
“It’s pass plays that we’ve had in, but we really haven’t had time to perfect them,” A-back Roddy Jones said. “Now we’re taking the time to run them against different looks and try to really get them down.”
The Jackets have run the football about 81 percent of the time —- by design. Tech focused, in practice and games, on gaining consistency in the running game, particularly its set of option plays. It obviously worked.
The Jackets have gone 9-3, won a share of the ACC Coastal Division title and, in case anyone needs reminding, beat Georgia for the first time in eight years. They did this running the ball more times than all but three Division I-A teams and throwing it fewer times than all but the same three (Air Force, Army and Navy).
Tech’s prowess at running the ball peaked at the end of the season, when the Jackets amassed 881 rushing yards against Miami and Georgia.
Tech ranks third nationally in rushing yards per game with 282.3 yards per game.
Said quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon, “We feel like we’ve made some progress in some other areas so that we can maybe put a little more emphasis on our pass game.”
The Run and Shoot generally uses two receivers and two slotbacks —- as Tech’s offense does —- and calls on the receivers and backs to adjust their pass routes based on the defensive alignments. The offense reached its height of popularity in the late 1980s and early ’90s, when dozens of college and pro teams, including the Falcons, ran the pass-heavy scheme.
Tech coach Paul Johnson used it when he was the offensive coordinator at Hawaii from 1987 to ‘94. Johnson’s offenses broke or equaled more than 160 school records.
“It’s always been part of the package,” Johnson said. “How much you run it depends on how much it fits your personnel.”
With playmakers like quarterback Josh Nesbitt, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and Jones, the Jackets have the talent to make the passing game work.
The possibility of a passing game to go with Tech’s powerful running game intrigues. When Tech has passed this season, it has often been to great effect. Teams are so committed to stopping the run that it leaves them vulnerable to the pass.
Atlanta Journal Constitution