Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson wants it to be known that the Yellow Jackets offense is not what you think — it’s much more, and it’s much better.
The triple option, Johnson explained on the SEC Network earlier this month, is only the beginning.
“The triple option is one play, it’s not an offense, and we started doing this in 1985 and we’ve evolved a little bit although it’s really quite similar to what we started with in ’85,” Johnson told ESPN’s Brad Edwards on The Paul Finebaum Show.
“We can go up-tempo, we can go no-huddle, we can signal plays from the side if we want, we can do all that,” the Yellow Jackets coach said. “I just choose not to because I think it gives us a better chance right now to shorten the game some.”
Tennessee meets Georgia Tech at 8 p.m. ET on Sept. 4 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in both teams’ season-opening game.
Johnson dismissed his team’s leading returning rusher, Dedrick Mills, last Friday, but he says there are capable replacements. The Yellow Jackets went 4-0 without Mills last season.
Georgia Tech went 3-0 against the SEC last season, sweeping Georgia, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
The Yellow Jackets have become best known for their ball-control ways, utilizing the triple option — among other running plays — to keep opposing offenses off the field and wear down opponents’ defenses.
“What people tend to forget, these hurry-up, speed-it-up offenses that are trying to run 100 plays, their defenses also have to play 100, so we try to minimize the possessions in a game,” Johnson said. “There’s no question it shortens the game and maximizes the possessions, because if you make a mistake or two, it’s hard to come back.”
That would have spelled trouble for the 2016 Tennessee team, which fumbled 29 times, losing 14 of them.
Further, the Vols averaged only 27 minutes, 24 seconds in time of possession — 108th in the nation. Coupled with a depleted defense, that did spell trouble in 2016.
It gets worse for Tennessee: Georgia Tech, as Johnson boasted, was one of the most explosive offenses in the nation despite its reliance on the ground game.
“We had more big plays over 40 yards than 90 percent of the teams in the country, so it’s not the old 3 yards and a cloud of dust, like a people would lead you to believe,” Johnson said. “My contention is it’s not that much different than what a lot of the spread teams are doing with the zone read out of the shotgun.”
Whatever it is most similar to, the Vols will need to be prepared as Sept. 4 is fast approaching and the entire nation will be tuned in. It’s the only Monday night football game the week before the NFL regular season starts.
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