Spring practice is now halfway finished at Georgia Tech and the most spirited competition continues to be at quarterback, where four players are vying for their opportunity to replace three-year starter Justin Thomas.
“The quarterbacks are competing, and that’s good,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “There’s more depth there than anywhere else on the team.”
Matthew Jordan remains the front runner for the position, since he has the most experience and led the Yellow Jackets to a win at Virginia Tech in his only start. The others have played well, too: junior TaQuon Marshall and redshirt freshmen Lucas Johnson and Jay Jones.
Marshall, who played at Harris County, said he was focused on becoming a better passer. During his game experience, Marshall — like Jordan — has been reticent about throwing the ball, preferring instead to keep it.
“I feel like I need to work better with my arm,” Marshall said. “I haven’t been throwing too well this spring. That’s one of the thing I need to improve on. I feel like I’m running the ball pretty well. It’s a running offense, so …”
Jordan and Marshall have different running styles. Jordan (6-foot-2, 208 pounds) is built to take a pounding and has been used for two years at the quarterback in situations on the goal line. Marshall (5-10, 185) is elusive and would prefer to avoid getting nailed.
“Me and Matthew are two different style players,” Marshall said. “He’s a bigger guy. I’m a smaller guy, so he can fit it up in the middle a lot better than I can because of his size. I’m more of an outside runner in space.”
After Saturday’s first scrimmage, which comes less than two weeks away from the April 21 spring game, Johnson offered this evaluation of the offense: “Too many mistakes and the ball’s out too much, and we hit some big plays in the passing game.”
Johnson said Marshall “played well.”
Regarding Johnson, the coach said, “(Johnson) had some tendinitis, and I think just staying out there and reacting. He played a little bit, and when it starts to hurt a little bit his mind wanders some. So, just dial in and focus, because he’s certainly got the ability.”
Regarding Jones, Johnson said, “(He) was all over the place. Can’t anybody tackle him. A lot of times, it’s not the way it’s supposed to go, but he reverses and he’s athletic. He is a really, really good athlete.”
Competition for the backup positions at B-back and wide receiver are ongoing.
New faces are needed to run as the No. 2 B-back behind Dedrick Mills. KirVonte Benson and Quaide Weimerskirch are the prime candidates, but neither has a distinct advantage.
“KirVonte has looked good at times with the ball in his hands,” Johnson said. “Quaide is tough. But nobody has distinguished himself winning that battle.”
Both played well during Saturday’s scrimmage.
“I don’t know how many yards they ran for, but it had to be a ton,” Johnson said. “Made some nice runs.”
The same is true at wide receiver, where senior Ricky Jeune and junior Brad Stewart are the returning starters. Jalen Camp is currently the No. 3 receiver, but Antonio Messick played well in Saturday’s scrimmage and may be moving up.
“Antonio Messick had some plays (Saturday),” Johnson said. “He made several pretty good plays (Saturday). I think he caught two or three fade routes and deep balls and did some good stuff.”