Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims expected to play against Kennesaw State

After leaving Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois with a left arm or shoulder injury, Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims is expected to be available to play for the Yellow Jackets’ game Saturday against Kennesaw State.

In comments about Sims’ play against Northern Illinois at a Tuesday news conference, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said that he needs to work on staying confident, concluding the response by saying that “we have conversations about it all the time, and I expect him to go out there and play a hell of a game on Saturday.”

Backup Jordan Yates subbed in for Sims and played the final two-plus quarters, leading the Jackets to all of their 21 points in the 22-21 loss. While Sims watched from the sideline with his left arm in a sling, Yates finished 12-for-18 for 135 yards with one touchdown pass. He also ran nine times for 27 yards, including minus-16 yards on a sack and intentional grounding, and a touchdown.

Sims was 3-for-8 passing for 21 yards. He ran six times for a net of 34 yards, including six yards in sacks. He was off target on a few critical throws, including a deep ball into the end zone to wide receiver Nate McCollum that was overthrown.

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

“I thought he was a little tight,” Patenaude said of Sims. “I think it was the first time back under the lights. He kind of choked a couple balls, didn’t really drive the ball. Kind of just wanted to get it out there.”

Patenaude said that, in the previous two weeks of practice, Sims had looked “elite” in his passing.

“I mean, he didn’t miss a throw,” Patenaude said. “And I kept saying to myself, ‘Wow, this is impressive.’ But it’s different, you get out here and there’s 40,000 people here and the lights are on – you’ve got to be able to go. And he was just feeling his way through.”

Sims did run the ball effectively, read the defense well and completed his final throw before he was injured diving after a fumble. Patenaude raised a trait of Sims’ that he can be highly critical of himself, which may also have factored into his play.

“You’ve just got to be out there and say (to the receiver), ‘Listen, I missed you (on the throw)’ and snap out of it and go to the next play,” Patenaude said.

Patenaude complimented Yates’ preparedness, saying it wasn’t a surprise that he played well given his preparation to play in every game. His run game included two carries in which he took on defenders and got flipped over.

“I told him, ‘Listen, you are not auditioning for the U.S. gymnastics team,’ ” Patenaude said. “’You don’t have to do a triple Salchow and stick the landing when the linebacker’s hitting you, so protect yourself.’”