After a season-opening loss to Louisville, Georgia Tech quarterback Haynes King and his offense emphasized execution in practice.
The Yellow Jackets focused on the skill “every day, every rep,” King said. This proved key to Tech’s victory against South Carolina State on Saturday, King said — and has emerged as a strength for the program.
“If you simulate tight coverage every rep, when it is tight coverage, you will be able to make that throw,” King said. “It’s just execution — the more experience you have with everybody, the more reps you get, the better we’re going to be.”
As the Jackets ready for No. 17 Ole Miss (7:30 p.m. Saturday, SEC Network), they’ve remained focused on execution. Tech’s offense has been resurgent this season, scoring more points through two games (82) in 2023 than it did through the first six (81) in 2022.
But that’s not the most important measure of success for coach Brent Key.
“As far as points, 2-0 is a win like 50-0 is a win,” Key said. “Does it help to expand the margin with point differential and explosives? Yeah.”
He’s been impressed with the Jackets’ execution on offense, but said the group can improve in all positions. The team’s offensive performances so far has provided a “small glimpse” of what they’re capable of, Key said.
What has been important for Tech’s new-look offense aside from execution? Depth at wide receiver, Key said.
The Jacket’s top receivers Saturday – Malik Rutherford, Dominick Blaylock and Eric Singleton Jr. – combined for 175 yards on 12 receptions. But several other players got involved, tallying 310 yards on 24 receptions.
“It’s a super unselfish group,” Key said. “A lot of guys in that position, they want the ball — especially in the perimeter game.”
Tech’s receivers aren’t like that, however, Key said. They constantly block for each other, he said, and consistently get the next block whenever they fail.
Key said King’s previous experience in big games, particularly on the road, is important, too. King is “completion-driven” and knows how to take care of the ball, Key said.
King is no stranger to facing Ole Miss, having played for SEC-foe Texas A&M for three years and stood on the sidelines in games against the Rebels. He feels the Jackets’ fast and physical play in practice will be valuable Saturday night.
But the Ole Miss defense, led by first-year defensive coordinator Pete Golding, won’t make things easy. After allowing 17 points in the first half against Tulane on Saturday, the Rebels held the Green Wave to only a field goal in the second half.
Key said Ole Miss’ defense excels at negative-yardage plays and playing aggressively up front.
“They’ll mix up the coverages and vary the coverages on the back end to try to confuse the quarterback and receivers in the passing game,” Key said.
Tech’s offense certainly has improved since Ole Miss routed it 42-0 in 2022. But the Rebels, a national and SEC powerhouse, may give the Jackets similar offensive woes when they meet again Saturday.
From the wide receivers to King’s 21-for-29 passing performance at quarterback, Tech’s offense clicked last weekend. Running back Jamal Haynes feels there’s a chance the team can repeat the magic at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night.
“If everything connects, it’s going to be a great night,” Haynes said.