Georgia Tech A-back Clinton Lynch tweaked his hamstring last preseason and was not fully healthy for the remainder of the season. The result was a dramatic dropoff in production from his first two seasons.
As Tech began its second week of spring practice Monday, speaking of his health literally put a smile on Lynch’s face.
“I feel great,” Lynch said, flashing a seemingly sincere grin. One-hundred percent. I’m not really dinged up. Just happy to be back healthy.”
The numbers tell the story. In his first two seasons, Lynch had a combined 116 touches (receptions and rushing attempts) for 1,635 yards. That’s an average of 14.6 yards per touch, with a touchdown once every seven touches. By comparison, in the final two seasons of former A-back Orwin Smith – arguably the best A-back to play at Tech – averaged 11.1 yards per touch on offense and a touchdown every 9.5 touches on offense. (Smith, it should be pointed out, outproduced Lynch with 1,891 yards, but also had 171 carries and receptions to Lynch’s 116.)
The Norcross High graduate excelled at getting behind the defense on play-action passes and for turning the corner on option pitches from quarterback Justin Thomas to break big gains.
Last season, Lynch had 31 touches in 10 games for 252 yards, 8.1 yards per touch. He didn’t score. With the lingering hamstring injury, Lynch said he had trouble hitting top speed and cutting sharply. Knee surgery in the previous offseason – Lynch missed spring practice in 2017 after undergoing a platelet-rich plasma treatment, which promotes healing of tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints – affected him as well.
The switch from Thomas to TaQuon Marshall likely was part of Lynch’s drop in production, as Thomas was an accurate downfield passer who connected with Lynch on deep balls. But the explosiveness that Lynch had in breaking free on a downfield pass or turning the corner on an option pitch also was missing.
He had four runs or catches that went for more than 20 yards, one per 7.8 touches. In his first two seasons, the rate was one per 4.1 touches.
“It was very frustrating,” Lynch said. “I wasn’t really satisfied with my season last year, but I’ve got one more year, and just got to flush last year’s results and look forward now.”
The state of Lynch’s health was only one of the many factors that contributed to Tech’s 5-6 record in 2017. Likewise, having him play at full speed this fall would be a significant boost to the Yellow Jackets’ intentions to challenge for the ACC Coastal Division title. Lynch will be back with A-back mates Qua Searcy and Nathan Cottrell. Searcy and Lynch are two of 10 players who started six games or more who are back on offense.
“I’m going to try to make as many plays as I can as long as my number’s called,” Lynch said. “I’m just excited, really.”