Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Breaking Down The QB's.....

It's not easy being an option quarterback, particularly for Paul Johnson. Sure you have many of the same responsibilities as your peers at other schools that run "conventional" offenses: the pre-snap read, audibles, finding the weakness in the defense i.e. "the open man", and executing the play. Then there's that physical element......You get hit. A lot. By angry safeties flying up to force the pitch and battleship size defensive linemen on the midline. This ain't for the faint of heart. No red, "non-contact" jersey wearers need apply. You take a pounding, every day, in practice or games. So we need a great athlete and superior decision maker who's incredibly tough. We need a runner with the ability to throw the football, not a thrower who can run. Let's get that straight. That's why David Sims is still here & Jordan Luallen has moved on (we wish him all the best- great kid). So what's the story:
  • It would be easy to spend a couple paragraphs reciting the obvious: Joshua Nesbitt is a warrior and the heart & soul of our football team. No single player is more important to us than #9: a fumble stealing, 4th down making, never smiling machine who exists simply to win. He's simply a beast. But one of the main reasons, along with improved offensive line play, I think our offense will improve this year is Nesbitt's renewed health and continued development as an option quarterback. First off, this is the best Nesbitt has felt physically since high school, according to him. After missing spring ball to have surgery to clean out his balky ankles, #9 appears quicker, stronger, & faster than at any time since he's been on the Flats. We'll see how long this lasts once he starts getting pounded but it certainly bodes well heading into the season. This is now Joshua's 3rd full year executing the offense; he now understands not only what he is supposed to do but why he is supposed to do it. This is very important. But while Nesbitt was fantastic last year he was far from perfect - his footwork isn't always spot on & he still misses to many reads. Before you start howling that I'm a desecrater of the faith, hear me out: Joshua has lots of room to improve. I have not charted plays from last season but my guess is that Josh made between 75-80 percent of his reads properly. Not bad & the results, an ACC title & trip the the Orange Bowl, speak for themselves. But with another year under his belt any slight improvement makes our already deadly offense even more lethal; I expect Joshua to make that leap this year. And let's get to this "he has to throw the ball better" stuff. Sure, that would help. Improved accuracy & a better passing game, led by Joshua, would greatly help loosen up defenses. That's why we used the shotgun in the spring & will use it this Fall; it gives Nesbitt a better opportunity to see the field & find the open man. But it's not just Joshua that needs to improve: it's the pass blocking, route running, and hands of the entire offense that need work. To lay our poor passing entirely at Nesbitt's feet is simply short-sighted & wrong. As a Tech fan, you have to feel great having Nesbitt under center this year. In fact, in all my year's as a fan there's no player I'd rather have in a clutch situation than Joshua Nesbitt; he has a will to win that few possess. So don't obsess about post-season awards or whether or not people think Russell Wilson is a better player. Who cares? Would any Tech fan trade Joshua for anyone else? I know CPJ, the staff, & Joshua himself have high expectations for this season. So do we......

Before we get to the back-up QB's individually let me say that we're in very good shape here, better than at any point during CPJ's tenure. Jaybo Shaw, a competent back-up to Nesbitt for his first two years on campus, left this spring & headed down to Georgia Southern to join Jeff Monken. Why did Shaw leave? Well, the writing was on the wall; he just wasn't good enough to start at Tech. That's not a knock on Jaybo or Jordan Luallen, who also recently left the program, but more of a statement as to how our other quarterbacks have developed. It's now year three of the CPJ regime & we finally have some depth at QB.

  • redshirt sophomore Tevin Washington begins the season as Nesbitt's backup and after a Spring taking all the first team snaps may be one of the most improved players on the team. No one made more progress during spring ball than Washington, whose grasp of the offense & ability to read the defense are light yeras ahead of this time last year. Taking all the first team snaps with Nesbitt out gave Tevin invaluable experience & he's made a quantum leap ahead between years two and three. Not as physically imposing as Nesbitt, Washington is a slippery & elusive runner who navigates well through traffic. While his arm isn't strong, Washington has enough to get the job done & has improved greatly throwing the ball over the last year. No one will mistake him for Peyton Manning, mind you, but there's progress being made. In sum, we're much better with Tevin backing up Josh than in year's past when Jaybo filled that role. While he may not ever be a star, Tevin is developing into a solid if not spectacular option QB.
  • Sitting at number three on the QB depth chart is a Hash favorite, David Sims. A redshirt freshman from Calhoun, SC, the 6'0", 213 Sims entered camp as a true freshman last year overweight, out-of-shape, & no favorite of CPJ. But Sims is a changed man, both mentally & physically, in year two. Sims re-applied himself to football this year & the results are apparent as he looks to challenge for Nesbitt's job next year. Of all our QB's, Sims is by far the best running the football; a deadly combination of size & speed who bursts through the hole and can go either around or through a defender. What Sims must continue to develop is his grasp of the offense and a value for the football, both of which should improve with time & repition. A reticent passer, Sims almost always chooses to tuck & run with the ball, often taking flight before a passing pattern has time to develop. Hopefully with age comes patience & he can learn to wait for plays to develop, both in the run & passing game. Sims height, he's closer to 5'10 than 6'0" by my estimation, may also bother him when throwing the ball. But man those wheels! I expect next year we'll see plenty of Mr. Sims.....

  • The biggest surprise of Fall camp may be the play of true freshman QB Synjyn Days, formerly of Hillgrove High here in Atlanta. Days, who ran the spread option offense in high school, has impressed the coaches with his decision making, physical play, & strong arm. By all accounts he 's further along than any freshman QB we've had enter the program since CPJ & Co. have been here. That's not to say he's perfect: his decision making, footwork, & accuracy all need work. But days is a physical player who will challenge in next year's race to replace Nesbitt.

As a whole we have a great deal to look forward to at QB this year: the returning All-ACC QB, a capable backup, & two young guns competing to move up the depth chart. That's more than most programs can hang their hat on. What if Nesbitt gets hurt? No we won't be as good. but we won't be crippled either. So enjoy the last year watching #9 & get ready for a great battle next spring & fall to replace him. My guess is it will be a tight one between all three players......


  1. Knowing CPJ i think he'll play Tevin, however, I think it will be a HUGE mistake for the program. I think Days should play, as the ACC will have a down year in 2011 as Ponder, Tyrod Taylor, Josh Nesbitt, Kyle Parker, and TJ Yates will be out. Days could spend this down year running the offense as a RS Freshman and spend the next three terrorizing the ACC. Everyone knows it takes game experience to mature in our offense and after 10+ games Days should be the next Nesbitt.

    Don't get me wrong, Tevin is a GOOD backup but he should never be the starter b/c he just doesn't have the atitude for it. Tevin is a very timid player and can't put on muscle like the other backups. David Sims seems to be a lethal runner, however, he needs to learn how to keep his head in the game when he makes a mistake ( I almost feel like he'd be a good BBack).

    Speaking of the future, I feel like Vad Lee should be in the mix next year as well, however, I think he is a year too late and he will probably transfer after Days or Tevin secures the #1 spot.

  2. I think it will be a Sims vs. Days battle next year. I like Tevin but agree he is better suited to a back-up role. If Sims doesn't win the job I expect a move to B-back. Kid can tote the mail. My hope is that either or both Sims or Days makes the quantum leap forward next year that Tevin did this year. Vad Lee is a hell of an athlete but he's at LEAST a year away. Never player in the spread option offense. It will take him time to adjust. TJ Yates leaving will do nothing but improve QB play in the ACC. I'm hearing Renner starts midway through this year. Don't want to throw the kid to the Tigers early & rattle him.


  3. I haven't seen Days play but there is something about him, dunno could be the name, or the fact Washington's potential seems to be less than stellar (not a bad backup, but not so sure about starter) and Sims seems to be a much better runner than passer. But then there is Vad Lee and if Days redshirts Vad will only be one year behind him.

  4. Hearing about Days gives me a really, really bad Reggie Ball flashback.....oh, mercy....