Teams facing a Paul Johnson-coached offense know they are going to face an attack unlike any other they will see throughout the season.
The Georgia Tech head coach has earned his reputation as one of the best option coaches in all of college football. While he does a great job of varying his scheme with formations and motions, opponents have never spent much time wondering what was coming at them. His teams have always ran quick toss, midline option, traps, belly and a variety of counters. This year, however, they’ve added another component: the forward pass.
That’s not to say that Johnson’s teams have never passed in previous seasons, but they haven’t done so with the success that they are this year. As a result, the Yellow Jackets are keeping defenses off-balance and having great success in both aspects of the game.
The versatility of sophomore quarterback Vad Lee is critical for Johnson and the Jackets. Not only is he tough enough to take the pounding that option quarterbacks must endure, he also is a talented passer who can fit the ball into small windows. He leads Georgia Tech in carries with 52, but has also thrown the ball 39 times through three games.
Johnson has thrown the ball on first and second down much more than he has in the past because of the confidence that he has in Lee. He’s no longer afraid of getting behind the chains because he knows he has a quarterback who can complete passes even when the defense is prepared for it.
As a passer, Lee has completed 56 percent of his passes for 418 yards and seven touchdowns. Additionally, he’s only thrown one interception.
The Yellow Jackets face their first top-tier defense Thursday night when they host the Virginia Tech Hokies (28th nationally in points allowed). If they are going to win, they’ll need to remain a more balanced attack that keeps defenses guessing.
Lee will be integral in that game plan.
B.L. is an ACC Football writer for Rant Sports who can be followed on Twitter @coachlip or on Google.