GREENSBORO, Ga. - The most hotly debated subject at the ACC preseason media kickoff has been whether first-year coach Paul Johnson's option game can work at Georgia Tech.
Opposing coaches seem concerned about the offense that helped Navy average 39.9 points per game last season. But the option has seldom been used in BCS conferences over the past 10 years to the extent that Georgia Tech will use it.
"I think Paul will drive people crazy," said Wake Forest's Jim Grobe.
"I wish he (Johnson) would have gone somewhere else," said Clemson's Tommy Bowden.
The question people have is whether Johnson will be able to recruit good enough athletes to that offense to win in the ACC and defeat rival Georgia, which owns a seven-game winning streak against Georgia Tech.
Will elite wide receivers and offensive linemen sign with Georgia Tech to play in an offense that's not used in the NFL? Johnson doesn't anticipate a problem with that.
"Navy recruits against Army just as hard as Georgia Tech recruits against Georgia," Johnson said. "So that part of it's not hugely different. The pool of recruits are different but the way you go about it is the same."
Georgia Tech defensive tackle Vance Walker, who's from Fort Mill, S.C., near Charlotte, said Johnson is more fiery during practice than former coach Chan Gailey. If a player made a mistake, Gailey would quietly correct it after practice through an assistant coach.
Johnson gets in players' faces immediately after mistakes. After lining up against Johnson's offense during spring practice, Walker predicts it will work.
"Not many people have seen the offense," Walker said. "I’ve talked to a couple players here already and they say it gives them headaches. It’s just like a machine. Once it gets going, it’s hard to stop."