A look at the passing game

Year Team Leading Name Team Games Average
1997 GSU 619 Joyner 1469 13 113
1998 GSU 790 Joyner 1725 15 115
1999 GSU 496 Johnson 1612 15 134
2000 GSU 988 Johnson 1651* 15 110*
2001 GSU 502 Owens 1273 14 91
2002 Navy 429 Roberts 1184 12 99
2003 Navy 493 Roberts 1304 13 100
2004 Navy 273 Tomlinson 1192 13 92
2005 Navy 445 Tomlinson 1398 12 117
2006 Navy 244 Campbell 728 13 56
2007 Navy 263 Singleton 1239 13 95
2008 Ga. Tech 627 Thomas 1290 13 99
2009 Ga. Tech 1154 Thomas 1774 14 127
2010 Ga. Tech 268 Hill 1102 13 85

* These stats are an approximation, based upon the production of the Eagles’ top two quarterbacks.

The chart above represents the passing statistics for Paul Johnson-coached teams. It includes each season’s leading receiver, as well as the team’s total and a per-game average that has been rounded up (which is why the average multiplied by the games doesn’t always add up). The team’s passing stats are the numbers that could be found in media guides.

The 2010 stats are a projection for the season, based upon the averages through eight games.

Two things stood out to me after compiling the information:

  • Demaryius Thomas’ 1,000-yard season in 2009 seems to be the exception, rather than the norm. Only one other time did a receiver come close to surpassing 1,000 yards and that occurred during a 15-game season in 2000. There were many games in Johnson’s days in Statesboro in which the stats weren’t that eye-popping….more 2008 than 2009. However, the Eagles were so far ahead in some of those games that there was no longer any need to pass, which would suppress the stats.
  • Alarmingly, unless things turn around quickly, this could be the second-least productive passing offense Johnson has ever coached.

There are many reasons the passing game has struggled this season:

  • The most obvious is the dropped passes. It’s not that much of an exaggeration to say that hundreds of yards have been left on the field.
  • The offensive line has struggled with pass protection, though there was some improvement during the three-game win streak.
  • Tech is averaging just about the same number of passes as it threw last season (13.1 this season compared to 12.9 last season). They’ve passed when facing third downs and at least 7 yards 30 times this season, compared to 40 attempts all of last season. They’ve rushed in the same situation 17 times this season, compared to 38 last season. I’m not sure what to make of that, other than they have faced third and longs an average of 5.9 times per game this season compared to 5.6 last season.

The difference suggests, as many of you have said, that Tech needs someone to catch the ball.

Anyway, there’s some fun with numbers. Let me know what you think.

Year Team Leading Name Team Games Average
1997 GSU 619 joyner 1469 13 113
1998 GSU 790 joyner 1725 15 115
1999 GSU 496 johnson 1612 12 134
2000 GSU 988 johnson 1651 15 110
2001 GSU 502 owens 1273 12 106
2002 Navy 429 roberts 1184 12 99
2003 Navy 493 roberts 1304 13 100
2004 Navy 273 tomlinson 1192 13 92
2005 Navy 445 tomlinson 1398 12 117
2006 Navy 244 campbell 728 13 56
2007 Navy 263 Singleton 1239 13 95
2008 Ga. Tech 627 Thomas 1290 13 99
2009 Ga. Tech 1154 Thomas 1774 14 127
2010 Ga. Tech 268 Hill 1102 13 85

80 comments Add your comment


October 26th, 2010
4:39 am

First! The receivers have got to learn to catch the ball, thats as simple as it gets.

Rockdale Jacket

October 26th, 2010
5:08 am

Doug: Interesting that your projections for 2010 are based on 13 games played. Sadly, I see a 6-6 record and a possibility of no bowl game.
The imbalance of passing vs. rushing in a CPJ offense has always been a concern to me.

brent cunningham

October 26th, 2010
6:02 am

Jackets will win out and beat fsu . orange in sight!!! They will come back after the break and supprise everyone…Look out vt look out her-acanes, look out leg-humpers! Stephen Hill will wake up and finally be the man.Scrape up all the money you can, borrow on thwe house,sell the cars, and bet on the Jackets! At least we are going to turn this season around with 3 star players, the humpers are two or three deep in 4 stars,every year, and never win anything. Get ready trailer trash, we are coming for you this year. I hope you have enough players left by the time you play us. If not,get some money together and bail them out.

yellow fella

October 26th, 2010
6:23 am

Brent… Nesbitt for Heisman too !!!!! life in the getto getting you down ??? muggings, drugs, sirens all night.. afraid to come out…. its depressing to watch the business folks flee to the suburbs every evening… Bi polar sets in…

GT Prep Coach

October 26th, 2010
6:37 am

Has someone suggested to Hill to get his eyes checked? Every time I have a player on my team catching passes off his chest or face mask, I tell their parents to get their eyes checked and big surprise — they need glasses!!

Dog Kicker

October 26th, 2010
7:07 am

How many touchdowns have been dropped this year? We miss Bay-Bay more than any other player from last year. Somebody PLEASE catch the dang ball !!

Alabama Jack

October 26th, 2010
7:22 am

Its a simple game, you throw the ball, you catch the ball, you run with the ball, you block, you tackle.

Now I’ve solved all the problems, right?

BTW, there is a dumb delusional dawg who has been posting under my name – anything negative about Tech comes from him.

Lee Purdy

October 26th, 2010
7:23 am

Doug – interesting information

Could you tell us what the practice plans are for the next two weeks? I’m sure it will be unique given the off-week and Thursday game next week – as well as the time off before Miami.


Ramblin Man

October 26th, 2010
7:28 am

aw is yella fella a scared. I love you idiots that have probably never even been to Atlanta like to talk about how dangerous it is. Ask any of the pre-med or pre-law students going to UGA if they would rather pratice in a major city or small town. Oh and numbers wise you would see that most small towns have similar numbers when it comes to most crimes per capita

Ramblin Man

October 26th, 2010
7:33 am

The numbers are interesting, but with those other teams what did the attempts/completion ratio look like? If the pass attempts were similar was the ball spread around? I would love if we had another Thomas on the team, but it’s not needed. What is needed is for the opposing team to respect the ability to pass and have the DBs play honest instead of stacking the box. I still wonder if GT would not be better off recruiting TEs instead of WRs. Most have good hands and know how to block.


October 26th, 2010
7:42 am

I agree the passing game needs improvement, but the offense is missing more than Bebe Thomas. I think the loss of Dwyer has had a significant (negative) impact. When you get inside the red zone and can only kick field goals, the offense has some problems. If we were sooring points at the same rate we were last year we would be 7-1, having beat both KU and CU.

Brunswick Tech

October 26th, 2010
7:45 am

sad what we have this year…..when passes hit you in the face mask and you can’t catch them….sad sad….maybe next year some newbies will want it more.


October 26th, 2010
7:51 am

Great analysis Doug.

The rumors of CPJ’s high-flying history as a run-and-shoot passing team clearly doesn’t match these statistics. I’m a huge beeliever in CPJ, but the notion that he has thrown a lot in the past is a total myth. I know that there are those that will cite Hawaii days as an OC, but I’ve seen those numbers and they too are heavily skewed to the run. All this being said, I don’t care if we never complete another pass, so long as we are winning. That’s the CPJ way. Win the games! I trust that we canturn it around, but losing brings out all the warts in a program.

yellow fella

October 26th, 2010
7:57 am

Ramblin’…a good friend gave his grad student son a nice car (cad).. it was stolen and recovered 3 times in 3 months.?????

yellow fella

October 26th, 2010
8:00 am

off GT campus… we don’t more business men live downtown and save hours of driving stuck in traffic ?????

Willie Coyote

October 26th, 2010
8:00 am

They need to catch the ball period. It has been embarrassing to watch them at times.

Nesbitt also needs to stop pitching it on the ground. He appears to have regressed at times.

We need to play more of our big defensive linemen. I don’t want to hear anything about the guys we have playing because they are undersized and are not getting off blocks (except for Barnes & Cross). That is poor coaching in my opinion.

O. Smith, B. Bostic, & R. Jones need to get more touches. Why Peeples seems to be the preferred guy over those others is beyond me.

Tech Man

October 26th, 2010
8:12 am

Brent: You were a helluva scat back at Tech. I loved to watch you run on that artificial turf. Now reality. What have you been smoking in your golden years. First of all, Nesbit can’t pass a lick. Sometimes he lucks up and hits a receiver. His receivers drop a lot of balls, but Joshua’s throws are like rockets. They are just hard to catch. I love Tech but without a passing game we will be lucky to finish 7-5. Our defense can’t stop the run and gives up too many big plays.


October 26th, 2010
8:45 am

One of the things that has endeared me to Tech over the years is something I read or heard years ago. It stated that every year, the Tech football team does something to make you proud. In essence, a signature win. We have not had it this year, but we need it now, more than ever.

Go Jackets!!!


October 26th, 2010
8:47 am

Part of our problem is a lack of depth at the WR position. We put all of our stock in Hill being the answer to Thomas – he isn’t. Hill was a great high school receiver and a highly sought after recruit but he simply hasn’t panned out at Tech and we don’t have a plan B.

We have a stockpile of A-Backs and B-backs but our entire passing game rests on whether or not one WR recruit pans out. That is not a very sound plan in my opinion.

Reality Stinks

October 26th, 2010
8:50 am

A look a the passing game

Now there’s a joke I did not get

There is no passing game under this coach give me a break

Frustrated Fan

October 26th, 2010
8:55 am

The difference between last year and this year is the WR position. Last year BAY Bay caught everything thrown in his direction. I remember the clemson game and the fake punt and the throw that he caught for a TD without that catch we loose the game. There were others that he made the play to keep the drive alive and then we score. Bottom line, We don’t have very good WR’s in the fold. Not sure that we will get any Top Pro prospects to come to TECH the way we run it however there are a lot of great (short) Wr’s that will love to play Division 1 ball that will never make it to the NFL because of there size that would be willing to come and CPJ needs to bring in a few each year to rebuild that part of the program.

Macon Jacket

October 26th, 2010
9:00 am








October 26th, 2010
9:01 am

I’ve said before we need a Ricky Dobbs type qb at tech….David Sims is our guy. Although he’s bigger than Dobbs ,which may be a plus,he will be much better than Nesbitt. Let’s get through this year of horrors and come back strong next year.

One thing that does interest me is when Tech loses it’s all about how the offense doesn’t work against big boy football. But when the likes of VT or Miami or Clemson lose it is never brought up that their offense is figured out. What gives? Why is this system subjected to the “it doesn’t work” theory?

I think if any offense is executed well then they work. Meaning blocking, catching the ball, running correct routes, reading your blocks, etc….


October 26th, 2010
9:08 am

Vad Lee will start next year and that will be a nice change IF people catch the ball. Joshua has been fine this year, just no one catches the ball.

Bean Counter

October 26th, 2010
9:10 am

As long as CPJ doesn’t want to throw the ball Tech will never have a passing game. Maybe instead of blaming the receivers for the lack of a passing game, you should look at who is being recruited and the offensive scheme of CPJ. Seems like more of the coach’s fault rather than the players.


October 26th, 2010
9:12 am

Frustrated fan – Three wide recievers are coming to Tech next year, one is 6′5 205lbs. The other two are 6′2 or taller and as CPJ has said “they all come highly recommended”


October 26th, 2010
9:16 am

Bean Counter – I agree ultimately you have to blame CPJ, but do not lose faith in him just for this year. He will right the ship. He has recruited well and with “his” players on the field next year and the year after we should see a big difference. He has 3 wide recievers coming in and he will continue to recruit these types in and we will run a triple optioon / run and shoot. You can see the plays we run work well, they are just not executed too well.


October 26th, 2010
9:44 am

Our running backs have better hands than our receivers when fielding a pass. Unbelievable.


October 26th, 2010
9:49 am

A big time WR will flourish in this offense just like Thomas did and they will be able to head to the NFL successfully too….just like Thomas. Without the homerun threat to keep the Ds on their heals we are in trouble. Someone needs to start catching it when it hits them in the hands.

The WR is also responsible for blocking for the run game, maybe this is why we don’t have many TD runs from long distance. Any stats on this Doug?

buzz fart

October 26th, 2010
9:53 am

its coaching, qb needs to learn how to set his feet and square up and then maybe he can put the ball in the right part of the body —not at feet, back of legs or high —its coaching people

Old Tech Dude

October 26th, 2010
10:03 am

I tried to tell you folks but you wouldn’t listen. A few even insinuated I was a fake fan – a plant from another fan base. The bottom line – this team is not very good and the passing game is even worse.

Our offense can and will be stymied unless we develop a basic passing attack.


October 26th, 2010
10:04 am

Tech’s problem isn’t just Stephen Hill not catching a damn ball. Stephen Hill wasn’t on the defense in the 4th qtr. sat. when Clemson shoved it down tech’s throat sideways! Everybody knew Clemson was going to run the ball and the defense couldn’t stop it. Then on offense two drives into the twenty and the o-line couldn’t block anyone to get it in the endzone. The drive in the third with the missed fg was the same problem. That’s 15 potiental points left on the table. If you can’t block and you can’t tackle you aren’t going to beat many people.


October 26th, 2010
10:08 am

Doug, how much of the decision on QB play is political?


October 26th, 2010
10:11 am

I think this team would be better served with Cox and Lyons at b-back and Allen being put back at a-back. Not that Alllen is doing a bad job at bb, but he seemed to be one of tech’s better blockers on the edge last year as well as being a big play threat when he gets the ball in space. Cox is a good grinder and will get you the same tough yard inside. Also on the same note why doesn’t Watson get more time at bb. He looks like a Dwyer clone and seems to run with the same low pad leval thru the hole.


October 26th, 2010
10:14 am

Unless Nesbitt gets hurt or the game is out of reach you just aren’t going to see another qb. Period. CPJ is loyal to Nesbitt because Nesbitt has been loyal to him. This year has been disappointing but Tech has had the success the last two years without Nesbitt being here. Jaybo was a good kid but he doesn’t hold up taking the punishment Nesbitt does week in and week out.

GT Fan

October 26th, 2010
10:28 am

There are a lot of factors that are causing this team to play the way they do. A new defense, will take a year or so for that to get better, look at UGA they have had the same problem. As for the Offense, Nesbitt is a good QB/ Running Back he is tough, durable, and pretty damn consistant. He has some bad passes but also has some bad blocking in front of him. He goes out on that field and gives 100 percent every game. Im not sure a few of the players can say the same.
The bright spots are the young line backers and a backs. Can not wait to see the guys get more playing time. GT may not be good next year with a new QB coming in, but in 2 years they could be very dangerous. Every team in college football goes through the ups and downs. Look at Michigan, Notre Dame, Florida and Tennessee. Stay calm and dont jump ship. Show up for the games!


October 26th, 2010
11:01 am

What passing game?

There is a QB who cannot throw the ball with any accuracy.

The receivers cannot catch.

Catfish Man

October 26th, 2010
11:03 am

Shut up everybody, we have no defense! We usually score enough points to win, but can’t stop the other team from scoring more points than we do! Sure we need a passing game, but tha is not our biggest problem.


October 26th, 2010
11:08 am

The passing game is just a bit of a mess right now. Nesbitt makes a bad throw probably 1/3 rd of the time and our receivers seem to drop the pass another third of the time. We can’t get any rhythm going when that happens. Add to that some troubles with pass protection. Its not that you can’t pass in this offense, its that we just aren’t doing it very well.


October 26th, 2010
11:09 am

will somebody tell me why cooper was switched to receiver??? think about this for a momento.


October 26th, 2010
11:18 am


October 26th, 2010
11:25 am

well, i am hanging onto the fact that this team has never lost 2 in a row under Johnson. the O and D have both shown flashes of their potential but haven’t put it together. special teams cost us big against clemson…i sure hope the Va Tech game is the one where we put it together, because Miami looks like a toss up and right now I think the Puppies will beat us by 20.


October 26th, 2010
11:33 am

gt will be fine ! all the bandwagon tech fans you can leave now we dont need yall!!1 coach pj will get it fixed this year i fully expect us to win 3of the next 4 if….. we execute our offense right, we have yet to execute our offense even half to what its capable of due to very poor blocking and dropping passes. coach pj earned our loyalty to him for what he has done the past 2 years, i can tell you one thing gt will be a constant 8-10 wins every year, something gailey could never do… go gt if we execute against vt we win in a shootout 38-35.

Always a Jacket

October 26th, 2010
11:44 am

Great in-depth analysis again. (Much better than the superficial dribble from Mark.)
The playbook has the passing. Execution is the problem. Your stats prove what I remember from GSU, …. run and run and run. Then, when the defense cheats up, you burn them. It is a winning formula if we execute. It is a relatively young team and a few of the expected stars on offense are not developing as quickly as hoped. If we had kept those leaving early to the NFL and others to early graduation, this season would likely be a different story. CPJ inherited some several star players, but no depth. The pipeline is starting to fill and the program is looking good long term. Keep up the good research, it certainly helps me understand the program better.


October 26th, 2010
11:46 am

Short 5 – 10 yard passes. All we need. The % will increase and our confidence will increase. The long bombs are hideous.


October 26th, 2010
12:15 pm

The over the middle pass to Peebles is the pass I’ve been looking for but he dropped it. Dropped passes account for the losses. Get ready for VT. ” GO JACKETS ” Good article Doug.


October 26th, 2010
12:16 pm

Not a Tech guy obviously but always thought Johnson could coach.

Just wondering about prior to 1997, didn’t Johnson work at Hawaii?
Was he the OC or something less on the staff? I KNOW they threw the ball.


October 26th, 2010
12:23 pm

I’ll pass on this one ya’ll would’nt catch it any way.


October 26th, 2010
12:27 pm

Embry Peoples should not be thrown to ever again. time after time he drops balls when he is wide open. find another a back that can catch. they never throw to bj bostic, marcus wright, orwin smith.

fan of shorter passes

October 26th, 2010
12:29 pm

Agree with yawn…long bombs success % is poor at best. However, Johnson had indicated that even with an incompletion, the “bomb” usually results in the secondary believing you just might do it again and they “cheat’ on the line less.
Like others have indicated, a win without any passes is a win. OK with me.