Every spring, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson talks about wanting to improve the efficiency of his passing game.
That statement has taken on a bigger sense of urgency this year, as the Yellow Jackets have some major questions at the receiver position. Only two wide receivers who caught a pass in 2012 return this year -- Darren Waller (eight catches for 162 yards) and Anthony Autry (three catches for 117 yards). Autry is out for the spring. So is Travin Henry, a talented redshirt freshman.
So finding and developing depth is a major priority.
"You’d like to hope that Darren Waller will be a go-to guy," Johnson said in a recent phone interview. "He played some last year. He’s got all the tools physically. He’s about 6-6 and 225, 230 pounds, can really run. We’ve got a couple guys that we redshirted. Micheal Summers, whom we held out, he’s got a chance. Corey Dennis played a little bit last year on special teams so we have some guys there. It’s just a question of them getting more game experience and producing on the field."
How did the Jackets get to this point? Jeff Greene, the team's leading wide receiver, parted ways with the team before the bowl game. Chris Jackson and Jeremy Moore were both seniors. Waller started 10 games last season; Autry started three. Otherwise, there are no receivers left on the roster with a start.
Though the Jackets are a team known for their run, they do rely on receivers to make big plays. That, in turn, helps the efficiency of the passing offense. Incoming starter Vad Lee got his opportunities last season and showed flashes, though he only completed 48.2 percent of his passes with four touchdowns to three interceptions.
"Some of it is inexperience and some of it is situational," Johnson said. "If you’re throwing the ball way down the field, he’s not going to complete as many as you were if you were checking down and doing those kinds of things. I think he’ll be fine. You constantly work on mechanics and you constantly work on him reading defenses. But he’s got a strong arm so he should be able to throw the ball."
The question remains -- who will he throw it to?