For example, it’s obvious that Josh Nesbitt is one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC. He even has a chance to break out next fall and garner some national attention, but it’s hard to quantify how valuable he is. There is no stat that gives the quarterback credit for executing an option play well. In a traditional running play the quarterback hands the ball of at the snap and then gets as far from trouble as possible. Besides reading the defense before the snap and changing (or not changing) the play, the quarterback has little to do with a running plays success. An option run play is different. In many ways it is a hybrid between a pass play and a run play. In both an option and a pass play the quarterback continues to make reads as the play develops. He can use miss-direction and fakes to free up the man to which he wants to get the ball, and he has to deliver the ball with good technique and timing.
The only way we would be able to truly calculate how valuable a quarterback is in a triple option offense is if someone begins tracking option yards as a third line item next to rushing yards and passing yards. This would be very difficult to do as option based attacks often incorporate plays designed to look like option plays that really aren’t. Really the only people with the ability to distinguish true option plays from other plays with 100% accuracy are the offensive coaching staffs, and they would probably prefer to keep those numbers to themselves.
Bearing all of that in mind, If we look at Tech’s QB statistics not through the lens of other quarterback’s stats, but on there own merits we can get an idea of how valuable they are to Tech.
Nesbitt’s playing style could best be described as Robocop with a Blunderbuss riding a Unicorn. Why a Unicorn? Because Unicorns are awesome! And so are rainbows! We don’t care what modern sexual politics says about unicorns and rainbows! You hear that! We’re not gay, just into rainbows, not that we’re making any value judgments, we just want to be clear on where we stand on both the rainbow and sexual orientation fronts, and unicorns…er….Jesus rode a unicorn, bet you didn’t you know that. Look it up, it’s on the internet.
Directing the offense – Unicorn
"The unicorn is the only fabulous beast that does not seem to have been conceived out of human fears. In even the earliest references he is fierce yet good, selfless yet solitary, but always mysteriously beautiful. He could be captured only by unfair means, and his single horn was said to neutralize poison."
As we were saying traditional statistics don’t really tell the whole story with Josh. The A-Backs averaged over seven yards a carry, which is one and three quarters of a yard better than the best rushing attack in the ACC, which of course is Georgia Tech. The point is, those guys, though very talented, didn’t gain seven yards a carry because of skill alone. Nesbitt’s ability to execute the offense often left them with five to ten yards of open space in front of them when they received the ball.
And that kind of effect spreads to the whole offense. Tech led the ACC in total offense last year, 86% of which came on running plays. And Tech committed the second fewest turnovers a game in the ACC.
Rushing – Robocop
“Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law”…” Bitches, leave.
Josh’s total yardage numbers are kind of middling when compared to other quarter backs, coming in somewhere between Tyrod Taylor and Kyle Parker. All three of which finished behind Chris “Toonces” Turner. But look at Josh’s rushing numbers. He ran for 1,000 yards last year. He was fifth in the ACC in rushing yards per game. He was second in touchdowns scored. Only two other teams (Virginia Poly and Boston College) have returning players that rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2009. Any team with a 1,000 rusher returning has got to feel pretty good about that position, I don’t care if it's Offensive Tackle.
Passing – Blunderbuss
From the Dutch word donderbus, which is a combination of donder, meaning "thunder", and buss, meaning "Pipe". A short, large caliber gun wih flared muzzle, which used shot. A primitive form of shotgun
Power … Gooood, 10.5 yards an attempt, best in the country
Again, some of this is the offense. If CPJ wants seven yards he’s not going to throw an out, he’s going to run something to the edge with an A-Back, meaning Josh had few opportunities to make easy throws. It also meant that when he did throw any reception was going to be for big numbers.
Even considering that, there is no reason why a quarterback in Johnson’s offense couldn’t develop into a more consistent passer. Nesbitt at times seem to lock in on BayBay Thomas and didn’t work through his progression well. He often missed open receivers in the no-man’s land 20 yards down field, between the defensive front seven attacking the line of scrimmage, and secondary running deep to cover BayBay. CPJ has said before he’d like to throw the ball 15 to 20 times a game. Last year Josh averaged 11.5 attempts per game. A better completion percentage would encourage the coaching staff to pass more. That being said, Nesbitt came a long way last year with his passing, and with a little film work could improve as a passer even more this off-season.
Also, I think the coaching staff is changing a few things in the passing game to make it easier for Josh to find high percentage passes when the go-route isn’t there, like (selective) use of the shot gun and mixing in more routes for the A-Backs.
Disregarding all that, Tech lost a lot of offensive production when Thomas and Dwyer left for the pros, but they still have Nesbitt, and while he’ll have to work hard to make up for the loss, and get new players involved in the offense, you have to feel good about having such a valuable and proven player under center.
If Jaybo Shaw had stayed at Tech, Washington still may have jumped him on the depth chart. I got a chance to watch Washington this past Saturday with Hash. It looks like he has a really good grasp of the offense, and didn’t miss many reads. That was always Jaybo’s great strength. He knew the offense. If Josh was hurt, which he often was in 2008, Tech could continue to run their basic package. Jaybo was less likely to break a big play, but you don’t necessarily need that out of your back-up. Washington on the other hand seems to have really grasped the offense, and he can make big plays. Granted Washington doesn’t have the game experience Shaw had. The only game he played in last year was the Jacksonville State game, but all signs point to him being an upgrade.
Luallen is weird for a Tech QB in that he looks like a QB. He’s taller, much taller, than Washington or Simms and throws the ball really well. He’s had a hard time making consistent reads, but if he can figure that out before next spring he’ll be an intriguing possibility for Tech. He’s the best passer on the team right now. Better than Nesbitt, and light years ahead of Washington. He runs well, but a little high. May get cracked a few times if he doesn’t change that.
Simms, like Luallen, is a red-shirt freshman. He certainly can run, but at 5’11 with a weak arm he’d be a limited option at quarterback this year, but he has another year to bulk up the arm strength and work on his QB skills. Even if he doesn’t make it as QB at Tech, he’s a good athlete and could help out the team at any number of positions.
Look, the starting quarterback for the best offense in the ACC is coming back. He ran for 1,000 yards last year and had one of the higher quarterback ratings. He’s the best Quarterback at Tech since Joe Hamilton. While Tech will miss Shaw’s experience as the back-up quarterback, Washington looks like he’s going to be a good option, and could end up being an even better player than Shaw, and with Luallen and Simms lingering just behind him, the team has plenty of legitimate options going forward after 2010.