Georgia Tech’s first full week of preseason practice ended with an encouraging performance by quarterback Jeff Sims.

In a Saturday morning full-pads practice mostly devoted to scrimmaging, Sims threw accurately and decisively as the Yellow Jackets performed before a crowd of season-ticket holders and family members at Bobby Dodd Stadium. It was the team’s seventh practice of the preseason.

“I thought he was on target, moved the offense,” coach Geoff Collins said. “His demeanor, his presence, his footwork, his reads, his execution was at a really high level.”

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Unofficially, Sims completed 13 of 18 passes for 225 yards in a variety of situations, such as starting with the ball inside the offense’s 5-yard line, red zone, two minutes and more conventional circumstances. He was credited with one touchdown pass and two touchdown runs.

Sims’ progress in the preseason is critical for an offense that appears to be strong in the running back department and OK with receivers and tight ends, but faces questions with the offensive line. Going into his third season as a starter, Sims will be responsible for directing the up-tempo scheme of new offensive coordinator Chip Long as players get accustomed to the offense. As the team aims to make its first bowl game in Collins’ tenure after three consecutive three-win seasons, Sims perhaps will bear a greater playmaking burden with All-American running back Jahmyr Gibbs now at Alabama.

“Proud of the way (the offense) worked together, and now we’ve just got to continue to go and build all the way until the first game and beyond,” Collins said.

Wide receiver Malachi Carter was the recipient of perhaps Sims’ best throw of the morning, bringing in a downfield pass up against the sideline against tight coverage from cornerback Zamari Walton.

“I’m really proud of Malachi, his development, who he is right now as a player in this program and as a leader in this program,” Collins said.

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The offensive line continues to be juggled as line coach Brent Key has tried different combinations since the start of camp Aug. 5. Collins said that “another really physical, competitive week of camp” is scheduled for this coming week after which lineups may get settled. As a two-year returning starter, offensive tackle Jordan Williams likely has a spot.

Collins also said that nickel corner and the four starting spots on the defensive line also have been competitive, although defensive end Keion White likely has one spot secure. On Friday, defensive tackles coach David Turner said that tackles D’Quan Douse and Makius Scott have been the most consistent performers at that position. Other competitors at tackle include Zeek Biggers, T.K. Chimedza, Akelo Stone and transfer Daniel Carson.

“It’s trying to get everybody else up to their level right now,” Turner said of Douse and Scott. “By no means have we arrived.”

Speaking of the defense, Collins did not identify any standouts from Saturday’s scrimmage as he did in praising Sims, but called it a collective effort, saying that on-field communication within the secondary and with the linebackers – a problem last season – was effective.

“The thing that I noticed just standing where I am on the field (behind the offense), the communication was the level that it was supposed to be,” Collins said. “The eyes were in the right place, they were communicating at a high level – all the checks with the motions and the shifts.”

The practice left plenty of work to be done. While Sims led successful red-zone possessions, the play by both the offense and defense in two-minute drills was sloppy. In one-on-one pass-rush drills near the start of practice, the defensive line largely got the better of the offensive line, which either is a promising result for the defense or a worrisome one for the offense or both.

“We’ve just got to continue to go and build all the way until the first game and beyond,” Collins said.

On Saturday afternoon, the team was to participate at the annual fan day, the first at Tech since 2019 because of the pandemic. Collins opened his post-practice remarks by offering his thanks to fans and family members in attendance.

“Jeff Sims, Jordan Williams, a bunch of young guys that have played a lot of football for us have not gotten to experience a fan day, this kind of atmosphere with fans and families being here,” he said. “This is really cool.”