O. Smith breaks down Tech offense

Greetings-

A-back Orwin Smith spoke with Paul Newberry of the Associated Press and me for several minutes Tuesday after practice in an enlightening interview on a few different topics, including how he was able to grow up in Alabama and not develop an affinity for college football. Smith, you’ll recall, became the first Georgia Tech player to have 100 rushing and receiving yards in the same game and averaged 37.9 yards on seven offensive touches with touchdowns of 95 (rushing) and 67 (receiving) yards. Onward…

1. Smith began playing organized football around the age of seven in Phenix City, Ala., which is right across the river from Columbus, but was more into playing a number of sports than watching them.

“I grew up not even watching college football,” he said. “My family itself wasn’t really big on football. We had a lot of women.”

He only started paying notice to Auburn, just down the road from Phenix City, as a sophomore.

Said Smith, “They were my first (scholarship) offer, so I was kind of forced to check ‘em out.”

2. At that point, Smith wasn’t even aware that Tech existed. I didn’t ask if the previous coaching staff recruited Smith. But I actually spoke with him when he was a senior in high school, Paul Johnson’s first year at Tech, for a story about the offense getting negatively recruited and the importance of being on television so players could see for themselves.

“I want to see how the offense flows,” Smith said then. “I want to see how many times different backs touch the ball.”

3. Anyway, Smith said he chose Tech for a few reasons, one presumably being that he was satisfied by how many times different backs touched the ball. One is that football won’t last forever and that if “you’ve got Georgia Tech on your degree, I feel like you can’t really go wrong with it.”

Another reason was the opportunity to live in Atlanta, since the only times he’d been up to metro Atlanta “was because of Six Flags like on a school trip.”

He gives Atlanta his approval. He said “it’s probably Columbus times two.”

My wife’s family, which almost all lives in Columbus (or, if you will, Atlanta divided by two), would presumably appreciate Smith’s valuation. I do enjoy visiting there – besides the homes of my wife’s parents and grandmother, Deorio’s ’s is my favorite place to eat there – but either Smith thinks a lot of Columbus or isn’t that impressed with Atlanta.

4. If you read the link, the other two prospects mentioned in the story, Courtney Dalcourt and Jamal Patterson (who now goes by Jamal-Rashad Patterson) are at Western Kentucky and Stanford, respectively. Patterson is from Henry County High, the same as receiver Chris Jackson. Patterson, you might remember, was a huge recruit who hasn’t been able to make the field much yet. This is even further off track, but was kind of funny. Patterson’s Stanford bio says his high school coach was Mike Rozier (true), “the former Heisman Trophy winner” (not true).

5. In Smith’s opinion, the main difference in the offense compared to 2010 is the blocking, since a lot of the players are the same. “We could have had the same success even last year, but it was just one or two mistakes that were hurting us,” he said. “It was costing us some serious games. This year, everyone’s clicking and playing with confidence.”

6. Smith got the ball 10 times, including kickoffs, against Kansas, and that tied for the second-most number of touches in his Tech career. (From a volume standpoint, I suppose it didn’t help that Tech had four touchdowns of 50 yards or longer, including two by him.)

Like just about every other back in the offense, he was the featured player in high school, getting as many as 30 touches per game. But he gave a couple reasons why he’s O.K. with sharing the ball. He likes seeing teammates have success, “especially when you can be the reason why somebody broke out for 60 yards.”

For example, Smith threw a block that helped spring A-back Embry Peeples‘ 63-yard run Saturday. In high school, featured backs can cause jealousy among teammates, but playing in an offense where the blocking of everyone, even a home-run hitter like Smith, is necessary to break plays, prevents that.

“Just getting a piece of the love, that’s what we say,” he said.

The other reason, which makes some sense, is that it prevents wear on the backs (except maybe the B-backs) because not only are players getting tackled less, but sometimes they’re not even touched on the play.

“You have other backs, by game seven, they’re wore out,” he said. “But a team like us, with so many athletes, we’ll be fresh all season.”

7. Smith is hopeful the versatility of his position combined with his skill set and physical ability will give him a shot at the NFL. He mentioned something I’ve heard Johnson say repeatedly, that if you can play, the NFL will find you. Smith said it put a smile on his face when he heard Johnson say that the other day.

Smith will be something of a test case for the NFL prospects for A-backs in the offense. As a member of the 2009 recruiting class, he was the first player recruited by Johnson to play A-back and obviously has speed and playmaking ability. It’ll be interesting to see how much of a chance he gets and also where teams see him as a fit.

8. Johnson mentioned earlier Tuesday that Smith has the sort of frame and ability that he is looking for in A-backs. Smith is 6-foot and 202 pounds, played tailback in high school, can run and catch, makes plays in space and is a willing blocker. I asked if he’d seen A-backs come after him who kind of remind him of himself.

On the team, he said, there’s only Deon Hill (6-0, 205), who followed Smith to Tech from Phenix City Central High. “All the other A-backs are kind of petite and fast,” he said, and if Smith had said that in a comic strip, I’m guessing Tony Zenon would have appeared above his head in a thought bubble.

But, he said, he is seeing more similarity with players that coaches are recruiting. One possibility is Marcus Allen of Hilliard, Fla., who committed to Tech in August over Florida Sate, Tennessee, Nebraska and others. Despite what Stanford might have you believe, Allen is not the former Heisman Trophy winner from Southern California, nor any relation, but is related to former Georgia greats Champ, Boss and Ron Bailey. Allen is 6-2, 210 pounds and would seem a candidate to play either A-back or B-back.

“I can tell Coach Johnson wants more power because nowadays you can find 6-2 running backs who can do the same thing as a 5-10 running back,” he said. “I can kind of see the transformation.”

Obviously, Smith’s success would help with that.

Thanks for reading. I’ll have something up after practice this evening.

Please follow on Facebook and Twitter.

By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat

195 comments Add your comment

macrotech

September 21st, 2011
9:39 am

ATLER (Ramblin Wreck)

September 21st, 2011
9:43 am

Smith is pretty awesome. He reminds me of a old 90s FSU Bowden player.

ATLER (Ramblin Wreck)

September 21st, 2011
9:44 am

Oh yeah thanks for the great coverage of Ga Tech Ken!!!!

Wreck 'Em

September 21st, 2011
9:44 am

Love Smith – seems like he has a good head on his shoulders and it will be great to watch him develop during the season. Kid is off to a great start. Great story, Ken!

C'Mon Man

September 21st, 2011
9:51 am

Orwin Smith just ran by me… Kansas still hasn’t caught him…

24dork

September 21st, 2011
9:57 am

Love some Deorio’s

Tech82

September 21st, 2011
9:57 am

Smith is another of the “no name” players recruited by Johnson who flies under the radar of most other schools. He is perfect for our offensive system – he has speed, protects the ball, has great hands as a receiver and is a ferocious blocker when the ball isn’t in his hands. I hope CPJ can find a steady stream of Smith clones to fill the recruiting pipeline.

Newnan Jacket

September 21st, 2011
10:01 am

Atlanta is “Columbus times two”. Classic.

ATLER (Ramblin Wreck)

September 21st, 2011
10:04 am

@Newnan Jacket

Lol!!!! That was a classic quote. How big is the town Orwin came from? Gotta luv him!!!!!

RAMBLE ON!!!

September 21st, 2011
10:04 am

Good stuff Ken.

Tom

September 21st, 2011
10:06 am

It’s been way too long since I could feel comfortable saying this…..

GEORGIA TECH has, once again, the BEST beat writer at the AJC!

5150 UOAD

September 21st, 2011
10:07 am

I love our Backs stats. Few touches but look at how MANY players are Making plays. A back can be at UGA and get 30 touches? I haven’t seen that yet. Lattimore is a workhorse but that also means he is gone to the NFL fast too so he don’t get hurt. It is great to see 4 players with more than 70 yards and 2 with over 100 yards in one game.

Simon Bar Sinister

September 21st, 2011
10:21 am

Why does the Smokey Pig get no love? They’ve got a Phenix City location, too.

GTJason

September 21st, 2011
10:23 am

Does anyone else see what ESPN has done to the UNC game? Thier ESPN/ USA Today poll they ranked UNC 25, the same UNC that only got 2 votes in the AP poll. ESPN is artificially hyping the game. I guess that’s how the ranking system always works. Little more than a popularity contest…

Ol'JacketFan

September 21st, 2011
10:26 am

With this offense cranking along as it is why would any fast, agile back NOT want to play in it? On any play a back can take it to the house via the run or pass. You do have to be willing to block for your teammates but that’s just one more skill that will translate to the NFL. If I were a back with next level aspiration I would love to be a part of this offense. Oh and to the naysayers that continue to refer to this as a “High School” offense, just look at the numbers. As CPJ says if you can play the NFL will find you!

Go Jackets!

PerimeterCenterJacket

September 21st, 2011
10:27 am

Ken, you’re dominating this blog. Good info and funny thoughts throughout. You’re like the Orwin Smith of the GT Beat – which maybe is like the Columbus State beat times two?

PerimeterCenterJacket

September 21st, 2011
10:30 am

Look, forget the eateries (although Ranger Burgers are the best thing around) in Columbus/Phenix City there is only one thing you need to understand – Bang Bang and Boom Boom “Thass Hotttt…”

Go Jackets!

Supersize that order, mutt

September 21st, 2011
10:35 am

LMAO @ Perimeter……That “Columbus State beat times two” comment is even funnier than Smith’s original comment about Atlanta.

BigTimeTechFan

September 21st, 2011
10:36 am

When your 80 plus yards TD drives are only 1 to 3 plays it’s hard for backs to get many carries.
Should change this week against UNC, Tech will have to have long drives with about 10+ plays.

ormewood

September 21st, 2011
10:36 am

GTJason, it’s the coaches who vote in that poll, it’s not Fowler, Corso, Maye, et al. UNC is certainly not getting any love at all from the writers, likely due to their shenanigans. If anything, that’s where the conspiracy lies.

mp

September 21st, 2011
10:58 am

thanks for another grea blog, ken. i know i appreciate the player articles very much.

GIVE ME A BREAK

September 21st, 2011
11:07 am

Very polite young man. Saw his interview after the game with a female reporter, very classy guy. Ken, at the end of the Marcus Allen comment, you gave Smith’s height and weight again. He grew some while you were writing,LOL.

yeller bug

September 21st, 2011
11:09 am

Here’s my footnote: The Tarheels are going to get Athlete’s Foot in this game. Tech will put up 40+ points. The unselfishness of this year’s players through downfield blocking will create a lot of big plays this week despite Carolina’s better D. As Roddy or O. Smith rocket by them, they’ll think they witnessed missletoe without being kissed.

5150 UOAD

September 21st, 2011
11:12 am

Need to BURN the CLOCK a lil better than we have been doing. I know it has been easy to score and no long drives needed, but we need to keep the Defense fresh with long sustained drives.

GIVE ME A BREAK

September 21st, 2011
11:13 am

I like 45-17. What do you think?

GT

September 21st, 2011
11:13 am

Break down the Offense? The Defense is the week point of the team right now….When are we going to see us focus more in recruiting DL ? When are we going to focus on developing a pass rush?
What about playing better against the run? the Offense right now is doing OK..The Defense is the issue

AMG

September 21st, 2011
11:15 am

ESPN has a great number of people that vote in the AP poll, so yes, ESPN does influence every aspect of college football including the BCS. They are essentially the BCS decision team.

GIVE ME A BREAK

September 21st, 2011
11:17 am

5150 UOAD, It’s nice to have the problem of scoring too fast,LOL. When the blocking comes together what are you going to do. Maybe the “D” will GATA and cause some turnovers, so they can get off of the field.

GIVE ME A BREAK

September 21st, 2011
11:21 am

Orwin Smith messed up what would have been a nice 95 yd. drive. The blocking has just gotten too good. ” ROCK ON JACKETS “

WreckIt

September 21st, 2011
11:22 am

Ken, can you find out what the deal is with the offense’s new touchdown celebration? It looks like they’re brushing something off of their hip kinda’ secret-like so the refs won’t see them.

Also, I’m a Columbus Ex-pat. Deorio’s is/was amazing. Check out Dinglewood Pharmacy the next time you’re with the in-laws. Try a Scrambled Dog… don’t ask, just try it. It’s across the street from AFLAC. Columbus, however, is like Atlanta divided by 10… but folks who live there have a soft/blind spot for it for sure.

PerimeterCenterJacket

September 21st, 2011
11:23 am

GT, cool it man….we’re recruiting pretty well in terms of defensive talent. The newbies are freshmen or not on campus yet so they’ll need time. I think this defense will continue to improve throughout the season, though. Our DE’s have been alright in the last couple of games, but our run defense will be key in this game. Contain their run game, and then pressure/pick off their young QB. Second hald against Kansas was telling, in my opinion. Groh and Co. will get the job done. Remember, we only really need a few more stops per game this season to win games since the offense is clicking so well.

Go Jackets!

GIVE ME A BREAK

September 21st, 2011
11:25 am

Sounds like the Varsity needs to pick up that Scrambled Dog.

WreckIt

September 21st, 2011
11:29 am

GIVE ME A BREAK, heartburn quotient is about the same, so it’d fit their current menu, but the Greasy V’s chili doesn’t stand up to Dinglewood. [Bracing for a heated debate now]

Ol'JacketFan

September 21st, 2011
11:33 am

@PerimeterCenterJacket. Your notes are spot on. We saw in the 2nd half of the KS game the defense turning up its efforts and pressure. The tackling is getting better and despite being very vanilla on defense they are flying to the ball. Sometimes we forget just how young this defense is but the is no doubt they are much more atheltic that in the past. When you see the play of Young, Thomas, Johnson, Attaochu, Drummond and the others I feel confident the D will come to play each and every game. Just think about where this team will be if the D can rasie its play to the level of the O! With only 5 senior starters the future is very bright on the Flats!

Go Jackets!

GIVE ME A BREAK

September 21st, 2011
11:42 am

WrechIt, been eating “V” dogs for about 45 yrs. Always willing to try something that might be better. Maybe I can check that out one day.

GIVE ME A BREAK

September 21st, 2011
11:43 am

Sorry, meant WreckIt.

Ol'JacketFan

September 21st, 2011
11:46 am

Supersize and I had the Varsity discussion yesterday ;-)

triple OPTION

September 21st, 2011
11:47 am

Good Blocking = Explosive Offense

Ken Sugiura

September 21st, 2011
11:55 am

Thanks. You all are too kind.
WreckIt – ha ha. I actually have had a Dinglewood Scrambledog. I had one the day before I got married, in fact. i’ll try to find out about the celebration. i hadn’t noticed. good observation. “blind/soft spot” – that’s pretty good.
Give me a break – thanks for the catch. I meant Allen and not Smith, of course.
PCJ – Bang Bang and Boom Boom – well done. if you don’t know what he’s talking about, watch the link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysUwxdZspBc

Mole

September 21st, 2011
11:56 am

Good piece on O. Thanks.

1Jacket7

September 21st, 2011
11:56 am

I understand what you are saying 5150. But, to score anyway the defense gives you on every series is more favorable when all you need is our defense to make a couple of stops. Our defense is getting better every week because the young guys are getting more game day reps. There is nothing like game day experience. Then we can get our second team Offense in to run out the clock. GO Jackets!!!

Ol'JacketFan

September 21st, 2011
12:08 pm

@Supersize, the food comments sound familiar? ;-)

Joshua Barlowe

September 21st, 2011
12:13 pm

First class, Ken. The personal side of your blog makes it fun to keep up with.

I think what many players are trying to say about this year vs. last year, without being mean and disrespectful, is that last year the team was full of bad attitudes and selfishness, and that is GONE this year. The team is playing as a team and not caring who get the glory (touchdowns, stats). That’s why we’ve seen such success, along with very impressive play by the O-Line. I’m very curious to see how the O-Line does this week against our first good D-Line. It will be telling, but hopefully they’ll work as a unit and continue to get results.

That has been the one weakness we’ve seen in CPJ’s 3 years; when a team with a dominant D-Line comes in, the scheme falls apart (see LSU, Iowa).

macrotech

September 21st, 2011
12:16 pm

The BEST thing you could hear from ANY player on your team is, “Just getting a piece of the love, that’s what we say,”! There are many things to celebrate about this team, but the key is the TEAM attitude to doing whatever it takes! Hill caught one pass the other day, but was KEY as he blocked downfield all day! GOTTA love this!!! GO TECH!!!

GIVE ME A BREAK

September 21st, 2011
12:18 pm

JB, you’re right about playing against tough defense. I think the difference this year will be the passing when the “D” line stiffens. I can’t think of a team on GT’s schedule that can stop the”O.”

Ol'JacketFan

September 21st, 2011
12:29 pm

@JB and macro, you’re both so right, in watching this team it has become very evident that it is a TEAM and not a collection of prima donnas. When I saw Orwin’s interview after the KS game I was impressed with how he handled himself. You don’t hit the big plays they’ve hit unless everybody is taking care of their responsibility! Lots of folks wonders what would happen after the last of CCG’s players were gone and all the players would be CPJ”s recruits. So far I think we’re very pleased at the transition ;-)

When you say Budw...

September 21st, 2011
12:46 pm

Ol’Jack… you’ve said it ALL. I have been waiting (and hoping) for 3 years the team would gel. And I agree with earlier blogs that in recent years we haven’t “whipped” the cupcakes like we have so far. Amazing the records that could have been broken when THUG-U plays S.W.Missouri ST. or Furman and whatnot. But they weren’t. It appears the humble pie S. Hill ate last year along with the last of the CCG mohicans has done wonders for our attitude this year. We cannot boast about 4-5 star recruits like our neighbors but give me a solid group of young, talented, under-rated guys with good coachable attitudes and you may see another 11 win season – or more!! Now… to win a bowl would be nice.
Go Jackets! THWG.

Truth

September 21st, 2011
1:11 pm

Ranger Burgers at Four Winds. Didn’t that place close down. I remember stopping by there on days we walked patrols at Camp Darby.

NOVAJacket

September 21st, 2011
1:20 pm

Appreciate the humor you’re bring to the blog, Ken.

NOVAJacket

September 21st, 2011
1:21 pm

meant “bringing”