Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will once again enter a football season with a quarterback who has never made a start at the Division 1 college level, and you’d think that would be a concern. But head coach Paul Johnson seems to feel confident that his quarterbacks will be fine.
In a recent Q&A with RamblinWreck.com, Johnson was queried as to the performance of the quarterbacks this spring, and how he felt the battle for starter was shaping up.
On how things look at the quarterback position right now:
"I feel like the quarterbacks will be fine. I have a lot of confidence in them. [Justin Thomas] played some last year. Tim [Byerly] had a really good spring. He’s a tough, physical kid. I feel really good about both those kids."
Perhaps this is misplaced confidence, or just trying to prop up two youngsters who are heading into what could be a tough season. Truthfully, outside of Byerly’s nice spring game against the Gold team defense, quarterback play honestly looked a little shaky this spring.
On whether or not Justin Thomas has earned the starter’s spot to this point:
"I think Tim closed the distance a lot. I thought he had a really good spring. But like I said, I feel really good about both those guys. In addition, Matthew Jordan will get better the more he gets reps."
There is no disputing that Byerly has closed the gap, maybe even more than Johnson is letting on. Keeping an eye on freshman Matthew Jordan would be wise however. If the wheels start to come off the offense early on in the season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jordan get a little baptism by fire treatment.
On the quarterbacks running a no-huddle offense:
"I don’t know how often we will use it. We’ve worked on the no-huddle in the two-minute drill since I’ve been here. It’s a trade-off. With a young quarterback, it may help that I can help call plays and they won’t have to check (out of the play) as much, but they’re still going to have to know what’s going on. The other thing is, if you’re going to run more snaps, the other team is also going to run more snaps. So, it’s a trade-off. It’s not a magic elixir that’s going to change the world. We may use it some, we may not. We will make that decision this fall."
Running a no-huddle would certainly give the Jackets an advantage in keeping tired and sore defensive linemen on the field, as one of the countermeasures that coaches employ against an option-based offense is to rotate linemen in and keep them fresh. But as Johnson stated, the trade-offs are many, and young quarterbacks can sometimes tense up and make big mistakes in no-huddle situations.
One thing is certain, the quarterback play is going to be something that everyone will be watching closely when fall arrives. The Yellow Jackets have an opportunity to return to the ACC championship as representatives of the Coastal Division. The quarterback play will be a huge factor in making that happen.
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