Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee (2) scrambles away from the Duke Blue Devils defense Saturday in Durham, N.C. (Mark Dolejs-USA Today Sports)
ATLANTA — It certainly seemed like Georgia Tech threw in a little more variety to its offense during its 38-14 win over Duke last Saturday in Durham, N.C.
There were several sightings of the new “diamond” alignment, in addition to the pistol set that the Yellow Jackets had only occasionally used previously.
There were also 16 pass attempts of varying distances, including four touchdown tosses to three different receivers by quarterback Vad Lee, making him the first quarterback since Paul Johnson took over as head coach to throw that many scoring strikes in a single game.
But Johnson insists very little had changed about his spread-option offense as he and the Jackets prepare to play host to North Carolina on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
“We’ve only ran about two plays out of (the diamond),” Johnson said of the new wrinkles Tuesday during his weekly press briefing. “We’ve got more plays. Will we see it (this) Saturday? Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on how they (North Carolina) play.”
He had a similar attitude about the Jackets taking to the air more during Saturday’s win at Duke, including Lee hooking up with DeAndre Smelter twice and Robert Godhigh and Zach Laskey once each for touchdown passes.
“We were just trying to call plays off what the (Duke) defense was doing,” Johnson said. “They were rolling down hard trying to stop the run, and we were able to hit some wheel routes. … It’s not something we put more emphasis on. We always look out there and see how the defense is playing and try to run the best play that gives us a chance (to succeed). Saturday, it just so happened a lot of it was in the red zone.
“It could’ve been we probably haven’t thrown a lot down there. So, the opposing defense probably wasn’t expecting us to throw down there. I think Vad can throw the ball. He settled down. At one point, he was 1 for 7 to start the game, and then he kind of got settled in a little bit.”
Lee finished the game 8 of 16 for 125 yards with an interception and the four scores, and added 76 yards and a TD on 22 carries in his return to his home town to earn ACC Offensive Back of the Week honors.
If history is any indicator, Saturday’s game could also be a big one for the 6-foot-1, 215-pound redshirt sophomore from Durham, N.C.
Last year against the Tar Heels, in his first return to his home state, Lee ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 169 yards and another score in the Jackets’ 68-50 victory in Chapel Hill.
Johnson said he isn’t necessarily counting on another offensive shootout with North Carolina this Saturday.
“I don’t ever try to figure out how the game’s going to go,” Johnson said. “It could go 6-3. That would be fine if we have six. I just don’t know.”
Green gives ‘D’ boost
Tech’s defense will get a boost with the return of redshirt junior defensive lineman Shawn Green to full work at practice this week.
And the 6-0, 280-pound Grayson grad is expected to be available for Saturday’s game.
“He’s good to go this week,” Johnson said of Green.
Just how much time Green will see is still very much up in the air. He’s not listed on Tech’s two-deep depth chart yet, and Johnson is waiting to see how he does in practice as the week progresses.
However, he also said that Green’s presence should not only help the line’s depth, but also add a dimension of speed and experience.
“Shawn played a lot of football last year,” Johnson said. “He’s shown himself to be a guy who can go in and give you some snaps. What kind of football shape he’s in, I don’t know. (Defensive line) Coach (Mike) Pelton will probably base his rotation and how much he plays based on what he does in practice, I would assume. I’ll leave that up to Coach Pelton. He’s the guy who’s going to work with him every day.”