Georgia Tech

Laskey, Days combine to lead Georgia Tech ground game

ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech has two of the ACC’s most productive runners in Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days. But unlike other teams that can put two such prolific rushers in the game at the same time, the Yellow Jackets can only use one part of their two-headed monster at a time.

Laskey and Days both play B-back, essentially a fullback in the Georgia Tech option attack. The B-back is there to pound the inside and make it easier for the quarterback to run the option or pitch the ball to the A-backs. It’s an important position that has launched the career of players like Jonathan Dwyer and Anthony Arnold.

And it likely will be important again Saturday when Georgia Tech faces Florida State in the ACC championship game.

“They’re both great examples of guys in their senior years who have worked hard and gotten better each year that they’ve been here,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “I think it’s good that you have them both and they can complement each other.”

Laskey began the season as the starting A-back and held the job until he injured his shoulder against North Carolina. That kept him off the field for three weeks but opened the door for Days, who had spent most of his time at A-back this season. But Days had experience at both positions and had the sort of toughness and blocking skills that are required to succeed at B-back.

Given the chance, Days produced on a grand scale. He had three consecutive 100-yard games as a starter and gained 157 against N.C. State.

Days also started against Clemson and Georgia, but Laskey was healthy enough to return and contribute. The duo combined for 102 yards against Clemson’s rugged rush defense and combined for 234 yards on 42 carries in the win over Georgia. Laskey had a career-high 140 yards and three touchdowns.

“Me and Zach have great chemistry on and off the field,” Days said. “He’s honestly one of my best friends. We’re always encouraging each other on and off the field. Little tidbits, little things we might see on the sideline, when the other person comes to the sideline, we ask them what they saw. We’re able to get on the same page. There’s no drop-off when the other one is in the game.”

Laskey has rushed 150 times for 748 yards (fourth best in the ACC) and eight touchdowns. Days has rushed 117 times for 686 yards and three touchdowns.

Both players arrived at the position in a round-about manner. Days, who played in high school at Hillgrove in Cobb County, joined the program as a quarterback. Laskey, who played at Starr’s Mill in Fayette County, was originally recruited as a defensive back.

This year it just happened to work out that both have found the sweet spot and made the combination work.

“They both get the tough yardage that we need,” guard Shaq Mason said. “They both have their own unique thing that they bring to the table. Zach is more of a hard-nosed, get-downfield guy. Synjyn gets yardage that way, as well.”

Georgia Tech has proven to be successful with either player in the backfield.

“We’re always falling forward; we’re always going to keep our feet moving to try to get the extra yards,” Days said. “We’re definitely hard workers on and off the field, trying to be leaders. Being seniors, me and him, we wanted to go out there our last go-around, leaving everything out on the field, to have no regrets.”

Another honor: Johnson was named the ACC coach of the year for the third time. Johnson received 32 of the 55 votes cast by Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association members for the coaching award while Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher had 14. Johnson -- who won the award in 2008 and 2009 -- guided No. 12 Georgia Tech to a 10-2 record, the Coastal Division championship and a spot opposite No. 2 Florida State in the ACC title game.

Tickets available: The official Georgia Tech ticket allotment is sold out, but tickets are still available for Saturday’s ACC championship game in Charlotte. Tickets are no longer available at the Georgia Tech ticket office and must be purchased through Ticketmaster.

Weather report: The weather forecast for Saturday calls for a high of 56 and a low of 47, with a 70 percent chance of showers.