Through the first few installments of this series, we looked at ACC assistant coaches moving into new roles for the upcoming season. Georgia Tech did not make any changes to its coaching staff, so we picked two assistants who are in the spotlight because of major personnel changes at their respective position groups.
Assistants: Bryan Cook, Lamar Owens
Titles: Cook: QB/B-backs coach; Owens: A-backs coach
Why they are in the spotlight: The A-back and B-back positions for Georgia Tech have the most uncertainty surrounding them this offseason because nearly every experienced player is gone. Zach Laskey. Gone. Synjyn Days. Gone. Charles Perkins. Gone. Tony Zenon. Gone. Even their replacements are gone: C.J. Leggett hurt his knee in the spring and is out for the season; Dennis Andrews has been dismissed from the team. So that leaves A-back Broderick Snoddy as the most experienced player returning to the backfield. And he's coming off a gruesome leg injury.
If Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson is just a little concerned, he is not showing it. Maybe that is because there is talent in the backfield. Marcus Allen moved to B-back after spending the last few seasons at linebacker. He came to school as a B-back and played well in the spring game, rushing for 77 yards. Patrick Skov transferred in from Stanford and brings a B-back mentality with him. Talented freshmen Marcus Marshall and Mikell Lands-Davis are eager for an opportunity to prove themselves when fall practice starts.
Aside from Snoddy at A-back, Isiah Willis, Qua Searcy and Clinton Lynch could all have breakout seasons based on their skill sets. But these are all based on potential. Nobody has proven yet they can handle the load required of the A-backs and B-backs in this system. Not even Snoddy, who only started three games last season before he got hurt. Snoddy has shown flashes because of his track speed, but he hasn't consistently put his game together. Nobody else on the roster has ever gotten that opportunity.
But that all changes in the fall. Georgia Tech was so successful last season because of the production it got out of its entire set of backs -- quarterback, A-back and B-back. Laskey and Days proved especially difficult to slow down at the B-back spot, grinding their legs for the tough yards to help the Jackets establish the best running game in the country. Georgia Tech does have talent here. And it does return quarterback Justin Thomas, the biggest key to making this offense tick.
But instead of seniors surrounding him, he has to deal with more inexperienced players than at any other position on the roster. Given how much Georgia Tech relies on its backs to make key reads and plays, Cook and Owens are going to need to coach these guys up to get them ready for the rigors of their respective positions -- and the season.