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No one stepping forward in Tech quarterback derby

Georgia Tech redshirt freshman Jay Jones runs the ball in the Yellow Jackets' scrimmage August 12, 2017, at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Georgia Tech redshirt freshman Jay Jones runs the ball in the Yellow Jackets' scrimmage August 12, 2017, at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Credit: Danny Karnik

Credit: Danny Karnik

Georgia Tech’s quarterback competition could continue into the season opener, coach Paul Johnson said Monday. And the competition among Matthew Jordan, TaQuon Marshall, Lucas Johnson and Jay Jones took a turn with a shoulder injury to Jordan that kept him out of Monday’s practice and may keep him sidelined for a few days.

“It’s still open,” Johnson said. “I think it’s a competition. As of now, there’s no one who’s really separated themselves from the pack consistently. Guys will have a day and then another day, but it’s starting to clear up, starting to get better.”

Jordan was held out of Monday’s practice after suffering a shoulder injury in Saturday’s scrimmage. Johnson said that he hoped that he would return to practice this week. With the clock ticking – Tech will begin preparations for the season opener against Tennessee in the Sept. 4 Chick-fil-A Kickoff game – it is precious time lost.

It’s another unlucky turn for Jordan. His foot injury halfway through spring practice gave his competitors more practice time and experience running Johnson’s offense.

“If he’s not out there, it does (play a factor),” Johnson said.

After having backed up Justin Thomas for the past two seasons, and having notably led an upset of Virginia Tech in November, Jordan went into the spring as the No. 1 candidate to succeed him. Johnson said at the outset of the spring that he hoped that Jordan would solidify the job by the end of spring practice. In July, he said that the job was his to lose.

However, Johnson hasn’t seen enough to feel comfortable awarding him the job.

“I just want to see the guy who plays the best consistently and understands the system and takes care of the ball and does what you ask him to do and can make plays,” Johnson said.

Marshall, who was the No. 3 quarterback last season and took over the No. 1 spot in the spring after Jordan’s injury, has improved daily, Johnson said, but needs to take better care of the ball and play with more consistency.

“Because he’s got good ability,” Johnson said. “He can throw the ball. He’s got good quicks. I think he’s learning the offense more and more every day.”

Johnson said he has a 1, 1A and 1B in mind, but maybe not a 1C. Johnson is open to not determining a clear-cut No. 1 even going into the opener.

“Sure,” he said. “I can go into the game not having one. Just say, ‘Hey, Matthew, you’re up.’ ‘TaQuon, you’re up.’ ‘Jay, you’re in.’ It’d be easy.”

This is not the usual for Tech with Johnson, who did not have this much competition at that position in the preseason in any of his first nine seasons at Tech. Johnson said it was not the reason that he cut off media access to players and assistant coaches this week, a first in his Tech tenure.

“No,” he said. “We’re in camp right now, and there’s just no reason to have them available. It’s not something they enjoy doing. Right now, they can concentrate on what they’ve got to do, and as we get closer to the season and the games, then we’ll see how it goes.”