ATLANTA — David Sims is hoping a strong finish last year will carry over into his senior season at Georgia Tech.
Sims will need that momentum as he competes for a starting spot in Georgia Tech’s group of returning running backs.
Coach Paul Johnson said Sims, Zach Laskey and Matt Connors have seen most of the snaps this spring at the B-back position which lines up behind the quarterback. Charles Perkins, who opened the 2012 season as the starter, and Broderick Snoddy have recently returned from injuries to join the competition.
Sims’ top five rushing totals of the 2012 season came in his final five games. His rushing total increased in each game, including 71 yards with a touchdown against Georgia, 91 yards in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game against Florida State and 99 yards in the Sun Bowl win over Southern California.
“Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come,” Sims said. “How I finished last year was how I imagined the whole year to begin and end, but unfortunately I had some setbacks. Fortunately, I was able to put up some numbers at the end of the year.”
Laskey and Sims were two of four players who had more than 600 yards rushing in the Yellow Jackets’ balanced running game. Laskey led the team with 697 yards rushing. Sims, who missed two games with a leg injury, ran for 612 yards.
It was the second consecutive year Georgia Tech had used balance at the B-back position, a contrast to Johnson’s first three years when Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen combined for three consecutive 1,300-yard seasons at the position.
The lack of a dominant back might detract from the star appeal the position had with Dwyer and Allen, but together Laskey and Sims were as effective as they combined for more than 1,300 yards.
“I don’t think there was a drop-off at the B-back position just because there wasn’t a 1,000-yard rusher,” Laskey said. “That doesn’t mean we’re not getting the production. Going back to the Dwyer days, you don’t get the notoriety for that because it’s not one guy. A lot of people don’t realize it’s the same pretty much.”
Or even better.
Georgia Tech set school records with 4,356 yards rushing and 6,175 total yards last season. Because those totals came in 14 games, the Yellow Jackets’ average of 311.2 yards rushing per game was a little below the previous two seasons. The average was good enough to lead the ACC and rank fourth in the nation.
Sims, Laskey and the other B-backs are trying to make a good first impression with new assistant coach Bryan Cook, the former Cal Poly co-offensive coordinator. Cook was named this week the replacement for Brian Bohannon, who left to become Kennesaw State’s first coach.
Cook, who coached a similar offense at Cal Poly, said he likes having good depth and experience at running back.
“I think there’s some depth there, no question about it,” Cook said. “There are some guys with some game experience. When you come in as a coach, it’s nice to feel that the B-backs are a seasoned group and you don’t have to worry about how they’re going to react under the lights.”
Johnson has been reluctant to pass out many compliments as he prepares for the team’s spring game on April 19.
Asked about the competition at B-back, Johnson said “It’s been OK.”
With Perkins and Snoddy returning from shoulder and hand injuries, respectively, do you have good depth at the spot?
“It’s fairly deep, yeah,” Johnson said.
There also is good depth at the two A-back spots – the running backs who line up wide in the spread-option offense.
Georgia Tech must replace A-back Orwin Smith, who had 682 yards rushing. Returning at the position are Robert Godhigh, B.J. Bostic, Tony Zenon, converted quarterback Synjyn Days and Deon Hill.