After clutch catch, Waller’s confidence expands

The final play of Georgia Tech’s final drive against Florida State in the ACC Championship game likely caused most people to forget the seven plays that preceded it.

However, in those seven plays was a drive-extending catch by Tech wide receiver Darren Waller that may prove to be of value in years to come.

“Knowing (Tevin Washington) can trust me, that’s a great feeling,” Waller said. “Coming a long way, not even starting at the beginning of the year, just trying to fight for opportunities.”

To refresh your memory, Tech took over on its own 15-yard line with 2:17 after Jemea Thomas’ phenomenal interception, down 21-15. On a 3rd-and-14 from the 11, Washington was flushed out of the pocket and rolled right and found Waller by the sideline for a 17-yard gain.

Waller had had only seven career catches prior to that. The biggest were a 63-yard reception from Vad Lee against North Carolina and a 42-yarder earlier in the title game, also from Lee. Both, interestingly, were on the first play of their respective drives.

You could make a pretty simple case that the 17-yarder was the biggest of his career. Waller said it was an option route, with a choice between running a vertical route or sitting down against a cornerback playing deep.

“I was just thinking, I probably want to come back and give ‘Tev’ an option instead of, like, running deep and having to make a catch in traffic,” Waller said. “Me and Tev were on the same page, kept the drive going.”

Going into the Sun Bowl against USC, Waller has eight catches for 162 yards and could have had more had he held onto a few dropped passes. Take out his 63-yard catch against UNC, and Waller’s two-catch, 59-yard effort against FSU produced more yardage than the rest of his season. For Waller, a good day for two big plays.

Waller said the game – and the third-down catch in particular – has given him confidence “knowing I can make plays, knowing I can help, not just being a decoy, knowing I can be an impact-type player in the offense. That’s really going to motivate me going into the offseason.”

The Tech receiver group will lose only Chris Jackson. Waller will be in the mix with Jeff Greene, Anthony Autry and Travin Henry (both coming off rehab), Jeremy Moore and Micheal Summers, who has redshirted this season.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

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29 comments Add your comment

CC

December 11th, 2012
2:48 pm

A returning receiving group and a QB, in Vad Lee, who knows the reins will be in his hands next year just may allow Tech to have a legitimate balanced attack next year. It’s not all in the coach. It’s in the skills and confidence of the players a good coach has to work with.

CW

December 11th, 2012
3:15 pm

JD

December 11th, 2012
3:19 pm

Henry didn’t play this year did he?

ibidGT

December 11th, 2012
3:41 pm

Tech won’t have a legitimate balanced attack until CPJ is gone. He simply won’t throw the ball. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran the same number of pass plays even if he had someone like Tom Brady at QB.

5150 UOAD

December 11th, 2012
3:43 pm

Autry looked real good in the few games he played before he was hurt.

Delbert D.

December 11th, 2012
4:41 pm

Let’s see how Justin Thomas does at QB in the spring. He is a sub-4.4 guy who ought to do well in this offense.

Ken Sugiura

December 11th, 2012
4:51 pm

JD – no. he suffered a knee injury in practice.

DC

December 11th, 2012
5:04 pm

Ken any DC names being mentioned?

Ken Sugiura

December 11th, 2012
5:09 pm

not that i’ve heard yet. i don’t think anything will happen until after the bowl game.

CC

December 11th, 2012
5:14 pm

Maybe Vad could have enough in him to tweak plays at the line. All depends on how good a reader of defenses he might be, and whether he can prove to CPJ he can make the right calls. And if the returning receivers (or just one) can improve enough, the potential is there to add that dimension.

My bet is, if there was a Calvin Johnson on this team, he’d be used if the QB new when to use him. Sometimes a guy like Waller discovers he’s better than anyone ever thought, given the chance, and given the vision to believe it himself.

JD

December 11th, 2012
5:19 pm

I think Henry will be a good one in his time at Tech. So this is just his redshirt season.

Flak Jacket

December 11th, 2012
5:29 pm

The forward pass is critical if GT plans on beating good football teams in the near future because GT has not done it lately.North Carolina game must of slipped CPJ`S mind.Go Jackets, win the Sun Bowl!

Flak Jacket

December 11th, 2012
5:31 pm

I meant throwing to our guys of course.

Jim 70

December 11th, 2012
5:38 pm

GT is getting a lot of good press with Johnson and Thomas, and hopefully Hill will get healthy and perform like his first NFL game. should help in recruiting.

dry dirt road

December 11th, 2012
6:20 pm

Tech has as much chance as a snowball on the Sun to win the Sun Bowl.

dry dirt road

December 11th, 2012
6:23 pm

DC, ever hear of Pat Swilling, Marco Coleman, Lucious Sanford and Phillipe Claybrooks?

dry dirt road

December 11th, 2012
6:25 pm

DC, how about Perdoni?

dry dirt road

December 11th, 2012
6:30 pm

DC, Perdoni could probably get in weight room with all players and outlift all of them, and he played all the way back in ‘71-72 seasons.

techmule

December 11th, 2012
6:40 pm

YOU SAY YOUR FIRED UP ABOUT THIS BOWLE GAME AGAINST USC .OOOOOKK.WELL WHAT HAPPEN DURING THE SEASON YOU WASN”T FIRE UP THEN.pAUL JOHNSON YOU NEED TO GO AWAY NOW BYE BYE,YOU DID NOT HAVE TEAM FIRED UP ABOUT ALL THESE OTHER GAMES THEY LOST THIS SEASON. MANNY falcons is what you are.CAPITAL LOSERS

Rock Perdoni......

December 11th, 2012
7:14 pm

…now that guy was a stud in any time frame…

Flak Jacket

December 11th, 2012
7:40 pm

Perdoni,Gebhart,Swilling, Ingram, Rudolph,Coleman,Ford,Hoates,Rogers,Clay,Rhino,can any of you guys dress out and play defense so we might have a fighting chance?

Flak Jacket

December 11th, 2012
7:44 pm

Smylie rest in peace.

Dog kicker

December 12th, 2012
5:38 am

I bet it would take CPJ 8hr to get to Underground from Grant Field in his car because he never passes!

Burdell

December 12th, 2012
7:50 am

But I wouldn’t want to be a pedestrian Dog kicker…he’ll run right over you.

Bad one…I know.

GTBEE

December 12th, 2012
9:14 am

Kevin Steele had a good year at Clemson last year until they got waxed in the Orange Bowl. Steele went on to LSU in an administrative role of some sort. He might be a decent DC at Tech if given a second chance.

What do you think?

dawgfan

December 12th, 2012
9:18 am

LOL. Defensive coordinator in the ACC. “Administrative role” in the SEC.

That says it all right there.

Coach

December 12th, 2012
4:15 pm

Good observations, CC. It’s like the silly Reggie Ball comments. If Chan would have had a better QB, I think he would have played him.

GTBEE

December 13th, 2012
8:53 am

Hey dwagfan…your head caoach was nothing more than an assistant in the ACC before becoming an HC in the SEC. LOL!!

atlgnt

December 17th, 2012
2:55 pm

if we use the WRs more they would feel comfortable in the scheme. And I have no doubt they would make plays. Watching teams like Nevada for example…they mix the pass with the option and do quite well. have to make those safeties pay for “getting in the box” to stop the run.