ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech is going back to what it has done best under coach Paul Johnson.
The Yellow Jackets were 7-6 last season, and at times Johnson's option offense was difficult to recognize. The Yellow Jackets struggled after installing shotgun and pistol formations and new plays to tap into quarterback Vad Lee's skills.
Lee has transferred to James Madison, and after two-plus hours in helmets but no other pads on Thursday, the first day of preseason practice, senior fullback Zack Laskey said he felt at home again.
The Yellow Jackets will return to what they did before while finishing in the top five in the nation in rushing in each of Johnson's first five seasons.
"I think we're going to just go back to basics, smash-mouth football," said Laskey, who figures to carry and catch the ball more this season than all other players based the history of the lone setback in Johnson's offense.
"I think we have the guys to do the things we have to do and as far as I can tell . . . there's going to be a lot more option offense."
After his team's first practice, Johnson was typically simple in most answers.
There were signs in spring scrimmages Tech would simplify and perhaps use a no-huddle approach, but Johnson said Thursday was not much different than the first day of fall practice in any of his first six years as a head coach.
"There's not a lot of different things you can do," he said. "You always go back to the basics, to scratch, because you don't want to lose (freshmen)."
Sophomore Justin Thomas is listed as the No. 1 quarterback, but the 5-foot-10 speedster who originally committed to attend Alabama as a defensive back, will have to fight off a challenge from metro Atlanta native Tim Byerly, a transfer from Middle Tennessee State.
The speedy Thomas rushed for 234 yards on 33 carries for a 7.1-yard average and completed 9-of-17 passes for 131 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions last season.