College football fans who have been following Paul Johnson through the years and watching his spread-option offense haven’t seen it change much.
“I mean, the core principles of it are pretty much intact,” Johnson said. “You have some wrinkles here and there. We've added some things. If you watched us play in 1985, it's probably not a lot different now, truthfully.”
Still looks the same -- the Jackets threw the ball 194 times last year and ran it 808. That doesn’t mean, though, that Johnson is opposed to change. In fact, if Georgia Tech has a receiver emerge this summer, Johnson said he would be willing to call more pass plays this fall with first-year quarterbacks Vad Lee and Justin Thomas.
“I could see possibly throwing the ball a little more with these guys,” Johnson said. “I think they're a little better at it than what we've been playing at, if we can get the protection and the guys that can catch it. It's not just one guy, it all intertwines together.”
With Lee penciled in as the starter at quarterback and an underrated passer in Thomas, the Jackets could have the pieces in place to get more out of their passing game. The spring wasn’t a good gauge of the position, as injuries depleted the group, but only two receivers who caught a pass in 2012 will return this fall. Darren Waller had eight catches last season for 162 yards and is the leading returning receiver. Anthony Autry (three catches for 117 yards and a touchdown) missed the spring with an injury, along with Travin Henry, a talented redshirt freshman.
“Darren Waller is a guy who has all the tools to be a really good player,” Johnson said. “He's 6-6, 230 pounds. There's been days in practice that he looks unstoppable, then there's days that he's not. He's got to become consistent.
“Anthony Autry is a freshman, started some last year, hurt his knee about seven or eight games in. Micheal Summers is a redshirt freshman. Travin Henry got hurt last year. He'll be a redshirt freshman. I think any of those four guys probably could step up.”