Three times the headache

Paul Johnson has made a habit of annoying the heck out of Clemson defensive coordinators. His offense is up next in the list of five challenges for the Tigers' D in 2014.

But, over the last couple of years, the Georgia Tech triple-option seems to have lost some of its pop. Perhaps it has something to do with the decline in talent.

When Johnson took over in Atlanta back in 2008, the cabinet was rather full. Unfortunately, for the folks around The Flats, gone are the days of Demaryius Thomas, Jonathan Dwyer, Josh Nesbitt and Anthony Allen, all of whom have been on NFL rosters since winning the ACC title in 2009.

Now, the Yellow Jacket faithful are yearning for the return of Tevin Washington, the quarterback who was subjected to plenty of verbal abuse during his tenure under center.

Exactly who will trigger the Georgia Tech triple-option in 2014 is to be determined. Vad Lee, last year's starter, transferred to James Madison. Ty Griffin, the brother of 2015 running back prospect Taj Griffin, recently announced that he would transfer, too.

With Griffin's departure, the race for the starting job is down to two: Tim Byerly and Justin Thomas.

Byerly, the perceived favorite, rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries last season. Of his four passing attempts, one was completed for three yards.

Thomas carried 33 times for 234 yards and two scores in 2013. He also completed 9 of 17 passes for 131 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Travis Custis was supposed to return some of the thunder to the B-Back position. A former four-star recruit out of Lovejoy High School, Custis took a redshirt as a freshman last fall. At the end of the spring semester, Custis announced that he was transferring to a junior college because of academic concerns.

Instead, Zack Laskey will man the starting B-Back job. The team's leading returning rusher [485 yards, seven touchdowns], will be joined at the position by Matt Connors, a redshirt senior walk-on, and Donavon Wilson, who redshirted last season.

Also gone from the 2013 squad is A-Back Robert Godhigh, a former walk-on who signed an undrafted free-agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons earlier this month.

Broderick Snoddy, the top returning A-Back, rushed 24 times for 150 yards in 2013. Deon Hill [119 yards, one touchdown], B.J. Bostic [116 yards], Synjyn Days [93 yards, four touchdowns], Tony Zenon [35 yards], Dennis Andrews [140 yards] and Charles Perkins [114 yards, two touchdowns] all return from last season.

The wide receiver trio of DeAndre Smelter, Anthony Autry and Darren Waller combined for 48 receptions, 923 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013.

Though the talent pool may not be as strong as it's been in years past, Clemson will have to go on the road after hosting Georgia Tech for consecutive seasons, and playing in Atlanta is never easy for Clemson, no matter the system, no matter the coach, no matter the Jimmys and Joes. Top Stories