Offense a work in progress

ATLANTA --- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, aware there are some fans who have doubts about his option offense, could have let his starters put up big numbers against backups in Saturday's T-Day spring game.


Instead, Johnson had the first-team offense wear white jerseys and line up against the starting defense, wearing blue. The defense had the advantage in the Blue team's 24-7 win at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Quarterback Josh Nesbitt fumbled on the first snap for the White team, setting the pace for the often sloppy play in the first public showing of the new spread option offense installed by Johnson, the first-year coach.

Johnson said he designed the intrasquad scrimmage to help his team prepare for the 2008 season.

"I just don't think you gain a whole lot out of going out there and beating the fool out of the third team," Johnson said. "The fans might ooh and ahh and talk about it when you leave, but what I'm trying to do is make sure my guys get better for the fall and the best way I know to do that is to play good on good. That's what we tried to do."

Calvin Booker, competing with Nesbitt for the starting job, completed five of eight passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns for the Blue team. Booker, who also threw an interception, threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Smith in the second quarter and a 48-yard pass to Kevin Cone in the fourth quarter.

After Nesbitt's first fumble, Blue team quarterback Bryce Dykes lost a fumble on his second play. Starting running back Jonathan Dwyer also lost a fumble for the White team later in the opening quarter.

Dwyer led all rushers with 12 carries for 59 yards. Jamaal Evans scored on a 43-yard run for the White team's only touchdown.

"We've got a long way to go but this is just 15 practices in a brand new system," Booker said.

Booker said the best news is the Yellow Jackets still have more time to learn the offense before their Aug. 28 season-opening game against Jacksonville State.

"It really could have been a lot smoother scrimmage if we executed," Booker said. "We have to improve, because hopefully by Jacksonville State you'll see an offense not putting the ball on the ground, not turning the ball over, not making mistakes and giving great effort with no missed assignments."

Booker said Georgia Tech's first-team offense will have an advantage in tough Atlantic Coast Conference road games it didn't enjoy on Saturday.

"A lot of people are like 'The option? How are you going to run the option?' " Booker said. "Our defense did the best because they've seen it 15 days straight, but another team really can't prepare for it as effective as we can run it. For Jacksonville State and Boston College and Virginia Tech and those guys, it will be their first time seeing it."



Season opener: Home vs. Jacksonville State, Aug. 28

ACC opener: In Chestnut Hill, Mass., at Boston College, Sept. 6

Rivalry game: In Athens, Ga., at Georgia, Nov. 29



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