As a senior, or simply as a competitive athlete, Georgia Tech B-back David Sims could be excused for wanting to gobble up as much playing time as he can. He takes a different view, though, of the teammates who would keep him on the sideline, backup B-backs Zach Laskey and Broderick Snoddy.
“If I feel there’s a certain type of play or a certain situation where they want to have Zach or Broderick in, (if) it’s something that they’re pretty good at and I might not be as strong at, I have no problem with it,” Sims said. “That’s because I want to win.”
Sims, Laskey and Snoddy lined up in the same order on the depth chart last year, but each figures to be better. Sims is healthier, Laskey is stronger and Snoddy has more experience. Each brings different assets to the mix. Conceivably, the Yellow Jackets could receive meaningful contributions from each member of the trio.
“We’re all different, but we’re all trying to accomplish the same goal,” Sims said. “Put up yards, as much as we can.”
Johnson has not always had this depth at the position. His first two B-backs, Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Allen, clearly were the players that coaches wanted on the field.
“The drop-off was huge,” Johnson said.
In 2011, when Sims won the job, he had 135 carries for 698 yards. No. 2 B-back Preston Lyons had 57 carries for 340 yards. Last year, Sims and Laskey split the carries nearly evenly — 135 for Sims (for the second year in a row) for 612 yards and 133 for Laskey for a team-high 697 yards. Snoddy had 13 carries for 50 yards.
That Sims-Laskey balance was in part because Sims was limited in the first half of the season as he recovered from a stress fracture in his shin. In the first six games of the season, two of which he sat out, Sims had 28 carries for 99 yards. In the final eight games, he had 107 carries for 513 yards.
A little more than a week before the season opener against Elon, Sims is healthy and has been popping big runs throughout the preseason. Laskey, a sophomore whose running style Sims describes as “slippery,” feels a big difference in power. Laskey committed himself to muscling up after watching game video from 2012 and seeing several plays that he could have broken for big gains if he had had the strength and size to run through tackles. Working out as many as three times a day over the summer, he added about 15 pounds of muscle to get to 217.
Said quarterbacks and B-backs coach Bryan Cook, “You can see a little bit of difference between his film last fall and the way he’s playing right now. He’s more powerful in his core and more explosive, too.”
“I feel like I can jump out of my stance a lot faster,” Laskey said. “I’m running through contact.”
Sims and Laskey have a significant edge over Snoddy in their experience and their consistency, both in running with the ball and blocking, an oft-overlooked aspect of the position. Snoddy, though, probably is the fastest player on the team, as evidenced by his breaking the school 60-meter dash record three times last winter. That dynamic may help coaches discount his shortcomings as a pass blocker.
“I’ve yet to see him really get run down (from behind),” Laskey said. “He’ll hit it quick, and he can go.”
There is value in giving one back the bulk of the carries — he can get into a rhythm, and it keeps the mesh between the quarterback and B-back the same. However, Cook said, since defenses don’t adjust their tactics based on who the B-back is, alternating three B-backs with different strengths could be useful, too.
“It is nice to have some change-up pitches, but they all need to be good at the core of what we do,” Cook said.
Cook said Monday that he and Johnson have yet to pinpoint how they’ll distribute playing time, but acknowledged that, if the Jackets were playing right now, “we’d play all three of them.”
That would be OK with Sims.