Georgia Tech’s quarterback situation remains murky headed into the Yellow Jackets’ matchup with Florida State.
With starter Jeff Sims considered day to day with a sprained foot, backups Zach Gibson and Zach Pyron are possibilities to play against the Seminoles.
“I think the good thing there is we’ve got three guys that may see the football field on Saturday, so that leaves a little bit up in the air for them to try to defend,” quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke said.
Speaking on a videoconference call, Weinke made a rare appearance in front of the media Wednesday. A former Seminoles star and a Heisman Trophy winner, Weinke is making his return to Tallahassee, Fla. He said Sims, who suffered his foot injury against Virginia on Thursday night, was in full pads for practice Wednesday and that Gibson and Pyron received practice repetitions. Interim coach Brent Key said Tuesday that he expected Gibson and Pyron to play Saturday.
“They’re both going to be expected to be able to operate and execute our game plan,” Weinke said, “but we’ll probably be more specific with each of those guys in terms of what we’re going to try to accomplish as it relates to their comfort level, as it relates to their ability to execute.”
A transfer from Akron, Gibson received extended playing time for the first time in his Tech career against Virginia. He was 10-of-25 passing for 99 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, but could lead the Jackets only to one field goal in two-plus quarters.
After getting to work more with Gibson this week, senior wide receiver E.J. Jenkins talked about what the offense has worked on this week and how they can help Gibson now that he has time to prepare.
“This biggest thing is giving him confidence,” Jenkins said. “Especially being back there just knowing what he is doing. He is being way more vocal than he ever has been. We can help by giving him confidence, and he helps by giving the same energy right back. We’ll just feed off each other.”
Being confident despite coming off a performance that did not go the Jackets’ way was one of the keys the offense kept in mind this week. That confidence will come from executing the plans set in practice, part of what Tech struggled to do last week. No matter which Zach is playing quarterback this week, the emphasis of practice remained on what the offense could control, according to Jenkins.
“The main focus was moving the ball,” Jenkins said. “It was about sustaining drives and keeping the defense off of the field.”
Having the week to implement a game plan does not benefit only the offensive players but the coaches, too, given the varied skill sets of Gibson, Sims and Pyron, who possibly will see time Saturday.
Key described how adjusting to a different quarterback is difficult for the coaches.
“It is hard, especially when there’s that much of a difference in skill sets,” Key said. “It’s tough. We have to continue to work and be better prepared for that. Though, regardless of how prepared you are, when that switch flips, and how you have prepared yourself and planned to call plays for the last 48 hours, it’s tough to switch it back the other way. But we have to. It’s our job to put our players in positions for success and to play to their strengths.”
Having the prior knowledge that Sims may not play likely makes it much easier to have an idea of how to adapt to each quarterback’s strength, though there has not been an official ruling on Sims, and Tech likely won’t release one until game time.
Credit: Ben Hendren for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution