Stats & Info: Paul Johnson

Blitz could be key vs dual-threat Hokies QB

September, 3, 2012
9/03/12
12:06
PM ET
Chris Graythen/Getty ImagesVirginia Tech QB Logan Thomas accumulated 3,482 yards of total offense last season.
When Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech face off tonight at 8 ET on ESPN, it will be all about the quarterbacks.

QUARTERBACKS

This game showcases two of the premier dual-threat quarterbacks in the country in Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas and Georgia Tech’s Tevin Washington. Both players accounted for double-digit touchdowns passing and rushing last season, a feat accomplished by only 11 players in FBS in 2011.

Thomas became only the second quarterback in Virginia Tech history to pass for over 3,000 yards in a season and broke the school record with 3,482 yards of total offense.

But Thomas struggled throwing downfield early last season. In the first five games, he completed 22.9 percent of his passes that traveled 15 yards or more and he didn’t have a touchdown. During the last nine games, Thomas more than doubled his completion percentage on passes of this length, and he threw at least one touchdown in six of eight games.

Blitzing could be a key for the Georgia Tech defense. Thomas completed less than half of his passes when opponents sent five or more pass rushers last season. In Virginia Tech’s three losses, Thomas threw two interceptions in 23 attempts when blitzed.

Thomas’ biggest strength is his running. He rushed for a first down on 51.8 percent of his third down attempts last season, the highest percentage for a quarterback with at least 30 rushes. On third and two or fewer, Thomas converted 20 of 21 rush attempts, which also led FBS.

Washington led FBS with 11.0 yards per pass attempt 22.3 yards per completion in 2011. Ten of his 11 touchdown passes last season were for 25 yards or more and seven of them were for at least 50 yards. He’ll need to get acquainted with completely new targets this year though, because there are no receivers on the roster with a single catch in their college career.

Georgia Tech’s success is highly dependent on Washington’s success as a passer. During the team’s 6-0 start last season, Washington threw for 175.3 yards per game, 10 touchdowns and just two interceptions. The team then went 2-5 in its last seven games, and Washington threw for 85.7 yards per game, one touchdown, and six interceptions.

BIG PLAYS FOR GEORGIA TECH

Since Paul Johnson’s first year as head coach in 2008, no team has been more effective in the running game than Georgia Tech. Running Johnson’s triple-option offense, the Yellow Jackets have averaged an FBS-best 302.0 rushing yards per game over the last four seasons. Last year, they ranked second in FBS with 316.5 yards per game on the ground.

Georgia Tech gained 20 or more yards on 35 of 167 pass plays last season, the highest percentage in FBS. Over the last eight seasons, no team passed for 20 yards or more at a higher rate than the Yellow Jackets. Overall, they gained 20 or more yards on 9.3 percent of their plays, the fourth-highest percentage in FBS.
1. The Oregon-LSU game is the first matchup of top-five teams in the AP Preseason Poll since 1999 when No. 3 Penn State walloped No. 4 Arizona 41-7. This is bad news for fourth-ranked LSU. There’s been three matchups of top-five teams in the AP Preseason Poll and the No. 4 team lost all three. None of those games was even competitive. To make matters worse, two of the three losing teams ended the season unranked.

2. Oklahoma is ranked No. 1 in the AP Preseason Poll for the 10th time in school history, the most among all schools. The Sooners have never dropped a season opener while being ranked No. 1. In fact, no preseason No. 1 has lost an opener since Miami (FL) in 1990.

Since the preseason poll began in 1950, teams ranked No. 1 are 54-6-1 all-time in their season openers. Can you name the only school to lose more than once? Try Michigan. The Wolverines are 0-2 all-time in season openers after being ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll (1981, 1989).

3. Georgia is opening up against a top-five team for the first time since 1965 when it beat fifth-ranked Alabama 18-17 in Athens. The Boise State game is the first of two big games to start Georgia’s season.

The Bulldogs host No. 12 South Carolina next week. Georgia is just one of three FBS teams to play consecutive currently-ranked opponents to start the season and the only team from a BCS-AQ conference to do so. The others are East Carolina and Florida Atlantic. This would be the first time Georgia has opened a season playing two ranked opponents.

4. Back to School! There will be five FBS head coaches this weekend taking on their alma maters. Marshall’s Doc Holliday (vs West Virginia), South Florida’s Skip Holtz (vs Notre Dame), Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson (vs Western Carolina), Cal’s Jeff Tedford (vs Fresno State), and Alabama’s Nick Saban (vs Kent State). Speaking of the Tide, there are four Alabama alums coaching FBS teams (Dabo Swinney, David Cutcliffe, Mike Riley, Neil Callaway). That’s tied with Iowa for the most in FBS.

5. Four ranked teams enter this weekend with coaches making their career debuts (Stanford’s David Shaw, Ohio State’s Luke Fickell, Florida’s Will Muschamp, and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen). This is the first time in the BCS era (since 1998) that there have been four head coaches from preseason ranked teams making their career debut. In fact, the last time there were three such coaches was in 1995 (Miami’s Butch Davis, Michigan’s Lloyd Carr, Colorado’s Rick Neuheisel).

Timing is everything for Georgia Tech

July, 26, 2011
7/26/11
1:45
PM ET
Paul Johnson's triple-option offense is very hard to prepare for and one of the biggest reasons he's won 133 games in his 14-year head coaching career.

The radical difference between Johnson's philosophy and those of almost every other FBS coach gives his teams an incredible advantage when it comes to game-planning.

In fact, it's so hard to prepare for that most teams need more than just a week of practice to stand a chance.

Since Johnson took over at Georgia Tech in 2008, the Yellow Jackets are 21-6 when teams have one week of practice or less to prepare.

Compare that to a 5-8 record against FBS opponents that had more than a week to prepare. Making matters worse, Georgia Tech is 0-3 in bowl games under Johnson, having been outscored 80-24 in the three contests.

Throughout his tenure the Yellow Jackets have averaged 3.0 rushing touchdowns per game when facing a team with a week or less of preparation. That number drops more than half of a rushing touchdown (2.3) in games against teams with more time to prepare.

They score significantly fewer points when teams have the extra prep time, averaging 23.0 points per game in such contests, compared to 30.7 in all others.

This season, Georgia Tech has three games (NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech) in which its opponents will have more than one week to prepare for the Yellow Jackets. With Georgia Tech, Johnson is 3-4 against those three teams.

SPONSORED HEADLINES