After the foot injury, Sims was deemed available only on an emergency basis in the team’s next three games. That availability came under question in the Yellow Jackets’ loss to Miami on Saturday after quarterback Zach Pyron was knocked out of the game with a broken clavicle.
Zach Gibson finished the game while Sims, who was dressed to play, remained on the sideline. After the game, Key was asked about Sims as a possible option to go in the game after Pyron was unable to continue.
“(Sims) was deemed an emergency basis in the game, and the time that Pyron got hurt, he was not available to go in,” Key said.
Asked further if Sims had been cleared to play, Key responded, “I’ll just leave it at that.”
On Monday, Sims’ parents tweeted explanations of why their son could not play.
“He’s just simply not healthy enough to go out there and be Jeff Sims, if he could, he would,” wrote Aisha Sims, the quarterback’s mother.
“His mind and heart is willing but his foot which is essential for launching, cutting and running needs to heal,” wrote Jeffrey Sims Sr.
At his news conference Tuesday, Key said of Sims: “He’s frustrated he has an injury that’s preventing him from being able to be full speed.”
Also at the news conference, in response to a question about whether there was a difference of opinion about whether Sims could play against Miami, Key did not answer the question directly, but brought up the concept that there is a difference between being injured and being hurt. Generally, a player who is injured won’t be cleared to play. A player who is hurt can play but has to make his own determination on playing through it. A player can be medically cleared to play, “but it doesn’t always mean at that point in time you feel great,” Key said.
Regarding Sims on Saturday, Key said that “the ability to go out there and him to be the person that he wants to be on the field didn’t present itself at the time.”
With Pyron out for the season (Key said that he will undergo surgery Thursday and is expected to be ready for spring practice) and Sims unavailable, Tech now turns to Gibson, who has had difficulty leading the offense in limited opportunities. In 16 full possessions in three games, he has led the Jackets to 10 points.
The likely backup to Gibson is Taisun Phommachanh, who transferred to Tech from Clemson during the summer. A four-star prospect in high school, Phommachanh played in 13 games as a backup over three seasons for the Tigers. He has not taken a snap this season. Likely behind Phommachanh is walk-on Brody Rhodes, who is in his second season on the team and has yet to take a snap in a game. As of Tuesday, the Jackets were 21.5-point underdogs to the Tar Heels, who have won six games in a row and have clinched the ACC Coastal Division championship.
“We’ve got enough quarterbacks to be able to take a snap, and we’ll prepare all those guys at the highest level to get those guys to be able to play at their best on Saturday,” Key said.