Less than three weeks until college football kicks off! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
It’s no secret that Georgia Tech’s offense is driven by the running game — but which back? New quarterback Vad Lee has experience, but I believe his value is found more in his arm and overall versatility in comparison to his predecessors. It could be any of the B-backs, who ultimately take over the scoring opportunities and drive-extending short-yardage situations. But to me, it’s the plethora of A-backs that really make the 2013 edition of this team look extremely promising. We’ve discussed David Sims, but it may be his counterpart Zach Laskey, who’s Tech’s most important ball-carrier this fall.
From a pure rushing standpoint, Laskey’s got a slight advantage, racking up 5.2 yards per carry on 133 rushes. He’s not the running back that’s going to be diving across the goal line (he’s 6’1″ and 208 pounds, so he doesn’t have the size for that sort of punishment), but he is a persistent rusher and one who can break off a big gain when possible. There’s also his value as a receiver out of the backfield — he had six catches for 122 yards and two scores last year — that makes him a different type of commodity for Tech. The Yellow Jackets don’t have a ton of pass-catchers on this team, so anything helps. As Lee gets acclimated as the primary signal-caller, that safety valve will be enormous. Fully expect Laskey to get further involved in that aspect of the game — especially early on.
Due to the construction of the Tech offense, it’s admittedly a bit tough to gauge Laskey’s value in relation to the other backs in the conference. Even at his optimal production, he’s not looking at more than 150 carries and another 20 catches (both probably the max); so how do you gauge that when placed up against runners with upwards of 250 touches? Average yards-per-carry is impressive for him, but it doesn’t necessarily work when he’s got 100 less than his competitors. Still, I’ll buy in on Laskey’s strengths in regard to this offense. Without a ton of elite speed or size, he’s arguably the best back this run-heavy squad has, and that in and of itself is a pretty impressive accomplishment. Expect Laskey’s role to grow within this group as he develops into its leader and “primary” runner (whatever that means for the triple-option attack.