Georgia Tech Football: Jeff Sims Showing Positive Signs as Freshman Season Progresses

Oct 24, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Jeff Sims (10) passes the ball during the first half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 24, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Jeff Sims (10) passes the ball during the first half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

Georgia Tech’s patience with allowing Jeff Sims to struggle earlier in the season appears to be paying off for the Jackets.

Through the first three games of the season, it’s safe to say, those outside the Georgia Tech football program had their doubts about Yellow Jackets freshman quarterback Jeff Sims.

After all, Sims was just 54-for-98, for 695-yards, and three touchdowns to go along with eight interceptions and not to mention multiple lost fumbles in those first three games. It was not a pretty start for Sims to say the least, yes, he led a comeback victory against Florida State and looked promising doing so but even then he had his struggles in that win.

As he went on and faced some better competition, those struggles were magnified and at times, Sims looked extremely overmatched and if the Jackets made a change at quarterback, you wouldn’t have blamed them.

That being said, Geoff Collins and his staff remained solid with Sims and took their hits as he had his freshman struggles. After all, not everyone comes into college football and is a Trevor Lawrence, Sam Howell, etc type quarterback who could be a game changer from day one.

With that, sticking by Sims and the patience they have had with his development over the course of the season appears to be paying off. After his tough start, Sims over the last five games has showed quite the improvements in key areas and while there’s ways to go before he gets to where he needs to be (if the program hopes to progress as desired), the improvements made so far are an encouraging sign of what could be in store in the future for the Jacksonville, Florida native.

Since a poor performance against a weak Syracuse Orange team back at the end of September, Sims has consistently taken steps forward. In that game against Syracuse, Sims struggled with multiple facets of his game including his accuracy, holding the ball too long, reading defenses, and making some poor decisions through the air. He finished against Syracuse with a stat line of 13-for-28, for 174-yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. An abysmal day to say the least.

Following that game, the Jackets had a much needed bye week coming off back-to-back losses. That’s when we started seeing improvements from Sims, non-shockingly. After all, he had an entire week to more focus on his play and his game rather than the upcoming gameplan.

In that following week against Louisville, Sims led the Yellow Jackets to a 46-27 victory over the Cardinals. In that game, he completed 11-of-21 passing attempts which isn’t great but did so for 249-yards and two touchdowns. He also most importantly didn’t throw an interception in the game while on the ground he added seven carries for 64-yards and a score.

The following week against Clemson is probably unfair to judge as going up against a team as talented as the Tigers is challenging for any quarterback let alone a true freshman. The Jackets offense never really stood a chance including Sims as he finished that day 6-for-13 for 81-yards, one touchdown, and one interception. It wasn’t pretty but it was still improvements from what was seen in weeks prior.

Against Boston College and Notre Dame, Sims had two of his better games despite not putting up a ton of yardage. Against the Eagles, he completed 12-of-18 passing attempts for 171-yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Against the Fighting Irish, 15-for-26 for 150-yards. Notre Dame has had one of the nations best defenses all season so a quality performance against them is notable and was a great sign for Sims. Unfortunately, all three of his performances post Louisville, would end up in defeats, leading into another bye week. Or well, at least originally expected to be one bye week. Instead, it took nearly a month till the Jackets took the field again which while unfortunate may have been the best thing for Sims development.

That brings us to this past weekend against Duke. Perhaps the most confident we’ve seen Jeff Sims all season. He didn’t have to post dazzling numbers to be successful and have a good performance, he had to simply play within himself which he did and did it well. He finished the day 13-for-23 for 146-yards and three touchdowns while throwing one interception. The lone interception was avoidable but for the most part he limited his bad decisions in the game. On the ground, he had his most effective game of the season as well, carrying the ball 12 times for 108-yards. For his performance, he earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors for the third time.

Sims in the game looked poised, he never really looked like he panicked in the pocket, he did a good job of evading some pass rushers (only sacked twice), while showing really good ball placement at times as well. Two of his touchdown pass were perfectly placed balls where only his receivers could get the ball and bring them in for touchdowns. He’s shown flashes of those types of passes all season but against Duke, he really was able to highlight his ball placement skills and showed some much needed consistency. It wasn’t a perfect performance but it was the type of performance that you can point to at the end of the season as the type of quarterback Sims could be week in and week out in the future.

All in all, the skill set and potential is there for Sims. Jeff Hafley, the head coach of Boston College put it best a few weeks ago stating that what Sims could do as a freshman is “really impressive” and that alongside Jahmyr Gibbs, he sees Sims and Gibbs growing into one of the best backfield duos in the ACC.

While Sims has made great strides this season in playing to his capabilities, not trying to force plays, and just overall improving, it will be interesting to see if he could take a few more steps forward heading into next season. This weekends matchup against North Carolina State will be a good one for Sims as the Wolfpack are allowing 265 passing yards per contest this season. It will provide potentially a good stepping stone game for Sims and the Yellow Jackets passing attack before they finish their season against two better pass defenses in Pittsburgh and Miami.

Overall, Georgia Tech fans and the Tech coaching staff alike have to be happy with what Jeff Sims has shown through 70% of the Jacket season. No, he hasn’t looked like a future No.1 pick, he hasn’t dominated competition week in and week out. A chunk of the time, he’s looked like a true freshman even in his better performances. But the improvements and strides he has taken over the last two months speak to the caliber of player he is both on the field and off the field. The future is bright for Sims and for the Georgia Tech program, it may not always be pretty but with some patience, it could ultimately develop into something.