Making a strong case: Washington firms up his standing as Georgia Tech’s starting quarterback

sports@macon.comSeptember 14, 2011 

ATLANTA -- The opinion among Georgia Tech fans regarding Tevin Washington has gone through quite a turnaround during the past two weeks.

Before the season began, there was a faction that believed Synjyn Days should be the starter. Others felt some sort of a tandem between Washington and Days would be most productive. Others were calling for freshman Vad Lee to get the starting nod.

But now that the Yellow Jackets are 2-0 and have become one of the nation’s most prolific teams -- albeit against poor competition -- there is a growing feeling among the Tech faithful that perhaps Washington is the man for the job, after all.

“He ran the offense fairly efficiently,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “He’s thrown the ball. He’s given guys the chance to make a play. I think he got better last week.”

Washington has rushed for 40 yards and two touchdowns, hardly the sort of numbers that will cause Tech fans to forget three-year starter Joshua Nesbitt. Washington has thrown for 473 yards and five touchdowns and would lead the NCAA in efficiency rating (329.68) if he had enough attempts to qualify.

Some believe Washington is actually running the offense more efficiently than Nesbitt, but he doesn’t have the strength to play the same role as a dominant runner. And there’s no question that Washington’s passing has been an upgrade.

In last week’s 49-21 win at Middle Tennessee State, Washington did a little of both. He connected with A-Back Tony Zenon in the flat for a 73-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. After getting the ball back, Washington led the team on a 17-play, 98-yard drive after the Blue Raiders had downed a punt at the 2.

And while the concept of a 17-play scoring drive is impressive, there are also plenty of opportunities for a quarterback to make a mistake, be it a poor exchange from center, a bobbled handoff or a bad pitch. Washington was part of four fumbles in the first game, but the Yellow Jackets put the ball on the ground only twice in the second game.

“He had the one time the ball was out and tied to pull it and lost control of it,” Johnson said. “He had a couple underthrows, but at least he gives guys the chance to make a play. He worked on a lot of his problems he had the week before, so he did a better job in that area. I think he got better last week.”

Washington put 28 points on the board quickly against Middle Tennessee State. In addition to the touchdown to Zenon, he had a 71-yard touchdown to Stephen Hill. Washington also scored on runs of 2 yards, which completed the 98-yard drive, and 7 yards, which completed a 90-yard drive.

“When you run the ball as much as we do sometimes, you’re going to have long drives,” Johnson said. “I think it’s always good where you can execute at a level where you don’t screw yourself up before you get down there. Sometimes that’s hard. Somebody will make a mistake or a penalty or do something to get you behind, and we didn’t do that on those long drives.”

And much of the credit goes to Washington, who is gaining in confidence. And, as is the case with most successful quarterbacks, he deflected credit to others.

“We were in rhythm (Saturday),” Washington said after the game. “We were all clicking.”

Johnson will continue to play Days; the redshirt freshman leads the team with 146 yards rushing and has scored three touchdowns. With the development of Washington and Days, the chances that Lee will be redshirted increase each week.

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