Game by game, Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee is learning. The lessons are many – stepping up in the pocket under pressure, leading a two-minute drive, reading the option, playing within the structure of the offense. It’s been a lot.
“I feel like I’m growing up,” Lee said this week. “Quarterback is always a tough position to play, something that I’m happy to play and signed up for, but you go through so much during games. And as you get older, you go through more. I think as far as everything, I’m getting more accustomed to just being an overall quarterback.”
A lesson that’s sinking in is ball security. Lee has lost four fumbles this season. One was on a center-quarterback exchange. The other three were all on similar plays – triple options where Lee said he misread the play and kept the ball off the B-back mesh.
On all three – against Virginia Tech, Miami and Virginia – Lee didn’t secure the ball well enough as he encountered traffic.
Said Lee, “Really, all of them were missed reads when I could have pull-pitched it, but the guy came too close and I just didn’t want to make a bad play worse by pitching it backwards.”
The Virginia Tech and Miami fumbles were costly. Against Virginia Tech, the Jackets lost the ball on the opening possession deep in their own territory and allowed the Hokies to take an early 7-0 lead. Against Miami, Tech was ahead 17-7 and on the Hurricanes’ 22-yard line trying to expand the lead when Lee’s fumble gave the ball and momentum back to Miami.
Against Virginia Tech, linebacker Kyle Fuller came on a run blitz just as Lee pulled the ball from the mesh to keep. On the other two, Lee was following the B-back into the hole when the ball came loose. Coach Paul Johnson said this week that Lee "can be his own worst enemy" in the run game because he is thinking too much as he makes the reads.
“Because it happened so fast, I’ve got to keep getting better at my reads and avoid those plays, and when I do miss a read, I know I’ve got to tuck it with two hands, probably because you’re going in the middle where everybody’s at, and there’s hands everywhere,” he said. “And it’s really not anybody doing anything spectacular (to force the fumble), it’s me not having it tight.”
From a rate standpoint, Lee does appear to be improving. Of his eight fumbles (four lost, four recovered by Tech), only one has occurred in the past three games.