Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Dedrick Mills (26) eludes a tackle by Miami Hurricanes defensive back Jamal Carter Sr. (6) in the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, October 1, 2016. Miami Hurricanes won 35-21 over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Dedrick Mills making most of freshman season

There’s no need to ask freshman B-back Dedrick Mills if he’s picking up Georgia Tech’s option offense or adjusting to the speed of college football — halfway through the season, Mills leads the Yellow Jackets in rushing yards and touchdowns.

With the power and grit to score seven rushing touchdowns in six games, Mills is the key to elevate the Jackets’ run game in the red zone for seasons to come. The 5-foot-10, 217 pound B-back from Waycross, Ga. averages 4.4 yards per carry and totals of 357 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns on the season, but still has room for improvement.

“He’s just come in and run the ball hard,” Quarterback Justin Thomas said. “It’s not like his eyes are big or anything, he’s just playing football. I think he’s going to continue to get better. He’s still has really just small things from seeing blocks different ways and things like that but he’s still catching on. He’s running the ball hard and that’s really all you can ask for.”

Mills best game of the season statistically was against No. 16 Miami when he rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns.

In his first collegiate game, Mills proved he belonged when he rushed for a 4-yard game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds remaining in the Jackets’ season opener with Boston College. Since then Mills has scored at least one touchdown in each game he’s played except for this last game against Pittsburgh.

Although Mills didn’t score either of the Jackets’ two rushing touchdowns against Pitt, Thomas doesn’t see Mills’ failure to get into the end zone on Saturday as a sign of weakness, but rather how the game shook out. Out of six possessions where the Jackets scored, one opportunity was inside the red zone on the Pitt 10-yard line. Mills rushed for 64 yards of Tech’s 119 total rushing yards in the Jackets’ 37-34 loss to the Panthers.

Mills isn’t the only Jacket that has room for improvement halfway through the season. A-back Clinton Lynch sees improvement needed in every area on Tech’s offense which averages 229.2 yards per game.

“We’ve had little glimpses of when everybody’s doing their job, the offense just works,” Lynch said. “Right now, not everybody’s perfect, not everybody’s going to do their job, but that’s what we aim for. We’re going to continue to improve and be better.”

Lynch, who scored the Jackets’ only offensive rushing touchdowns against Pitt, is averaging a team high of 13.1 yards per rush so far this season, accounting for 254 rushing yards and one touchdown.

In their last game with Georgia Southern, 348 yards of the Jackets 536 total yards came from rushing the ball, something Johnson knows the team must do well on Saturday against Georgia Southern’s physical defense which allows an average of 130.8 rushing yards per game.

“It’s pretty simple this week — you need to be able to run the ball and stop the run,” coach Paul Johnson said. “You’d like to win the turnover battle, which would be huge. For us, we need to be able to hit a couple of big plays in the passing game, off play action or whatever. If we do those things, then we’ll have a really good chance to win.”

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