#TGW: Glory Days
Senior Synjyn Days steps up, leads Jackets' team ground assault
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Synjyn Days has never played for himself.
It’s what has allowed him to change primary positions three times in four years.
“It’s a great thing to be able to switch positions and still be able to give something to the team to help the team get wins,” said the redshirt senior, former quarterback, A-Back and current B-Back. “That’s one of the things my dad always told me was not to be selfish. Look at other people and then worry about yourself second. That’s pretty much my lifestyle, the way my parents raised me.”
On Saturday afternoon, his father, Calvin, and mother, Paula, who, as always were in attendance, had reason to be proud of the B-Back they raised.
Days had his first career 100-yard rushing game, a 122-yard day, on a career-high 22 carries as Georgia Tech ran for a season-high 465 yards in crushing Pittsburgh, 56-28, Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak and pretty much ruined Homecoming weekend.
Pretty much is the key word, as at least one Pittsburgher had a pretty nice day. That was Jackets starting B-Back Zach Laskey. Laskey was unable to play because of an injured shoulder but he was in the team’s thoughts.
“Definitely, because he was born in Pittsburgh, so I know he wanted to be out there,” said Days. “We took it upon ourselves to say, ‘Let’s go get a win for Zach,’ because he would do anything to be out there and play in front of his hometown. He had a lot of people at the game still coming out and supporting us. That shows you the character that the Laskey family has.”
Laskey was not only in the team’s thoughts but actually in its sights as he was on the sidelines wearing a sling on his arm and a smile on his face.
Laskey, like everyone else at Heinz Field, had a hard time believing what he saw in the first quarter, as the Panthers lost an FBS-record-tying five fumbles, including four on their first six plays.
The Jackets cashed in all four, requiring only 10 plays to race out to a 28-0 lead.
“It was very important,” said Days. “We’ve never seen anything like that in our time playing football and we were just like, ‘We have to capitalize on them,’ which we did. We scored 28 straight points. We kind of slowed down a little bit in the second quarter, but we went in at halftime and everybody said, ‘We have to pick it up.’ That’s what we did, scoring 56 points.”
The 56 points were the most scored in one day by an opponent on Heinz Field.
Days’ 122 rushing yards in one day, were more than he gained on the ground all of 2013.
“He played well,” said quarterback Justin Thomas, who ran for 92 yards and a touchdown and threw for 147 more and a score on 5-for-10 passing. “He has always played hard. He is a hard runner and we gave him a shot. He had one hiccup (a fourth-quarter fumble), but he learned from it and went back out there running hard again. I think he had a great day today.”
Tech gave the Panthers a lethal dose of Days, who sledgehammered his way, never gaining more than 13 yards on a carry. That’s a fun day for him.
“Definitely. Even back in my days in high school when I played quarterback, I used to like running in between the tackles. I didn’t like running outside,” he said. “I like the physical part of it, inside the trenches. That’s kind of how today went. I just kept hammering away at them and we eventually got the win.
“Anytime somebody’s in my way I try to deliver the pain,” he added. “Running them over, letting them know, ‘If you see me coming you’re going to feel it.’”
Call it his twist on thinking of others.
While Days chose to run through the Panthers, most every Yellow Jackets runner found success running around them. Six Jackets besides Days ran for at least 20 yards, with five different Jackets found the end zone, with redshirt junior Broderick Snoddy getting in a career-high three times — tripling his career total — and three averaging over 10 yards a carry.
Days was thrilled to see so much success by so many of his teammates and was really pleased by the strong blocking on the edge (even if he chose not to use it).
“That was one of the things the coaches emphasized this past week, getting back to basics, doing what we do and things fell into place,” he said. “We executed our assignments and we had a lot of big plays out of it. That’s how the Triple-Option goes Coach Johnson. If we get the guys down on the perimeter you’re going to have a pretty good game.
“It’s always good seeing us be successful,” he added. “Seeing my fellow teammates getting a good game that they deserve is great, too.”
The win puts Georgia Tech, the only Coastal team with three division wins right back in the thick of the division race, and elevates the importance of next week’s game against Virginia at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Georgia Tech and Virginia are two of five Coastal teams with two losses.
“It makes it even that much bigger because we lost two games and we’re coming back, trying to get on a winning streak,” Days said. “Every time we win it makes the next game that much bigger.”
The irony of having to root for Pittsburgh next week in its home game against Duke, the only Coastal team with one loss, was not lost on him.
“That is pretty funny,” he said. “Of course, we want to make it to the ACC Championship. That’s on our goal board, I’m pretty sure it’s on everybody’s goal board. So hopefully Pitt goes out there and plays well and ends up beating Duke.”
Get The Good Word in your e-mail box -- it's free! Just register here to get the latest features on Georgia Tech Athletics.