The much-watched quarterback battle at Georgia Tech continues without a resolution in sight. The four candidates have had their brilliant moments, as well as their struggles, as the Yellow Jackets get ready for the season opener.
But so far, the jury remains out regarding who the starter will be against Tennessee on Sept. 4 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“It’s still open. It’s a competition,” head coach Paul Johnson said. “No one has separated themselves from the pack consistently. It’s starting to clear up.”
Matthew Jordan, the No. 1 candidate, dinged his shoulder in the scrimmage Saturday and did not practice Monday. We was back at practice Tuesday. He is still considered the man to beat, but the others certainly are not making it easy for him to secure the spot.
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“Just want to see the guys play consistent … understand the system, take care of the ball, do what you ask them to do and make plays,” Johnson said. “We’ve got guys who can do that. They just have to do it consistently.”
TaQuon Marshall, No. 2 on the depth chart, continues to improve as he gets more repetitions in practice.
“He’s getting better every day. He’s a good athlete. We need to get him on the field somewhere,” Johnson said.
Johnson dismissed the idea of moving the athletic Jay Jones, a redshirt freshman, to another position.
“I think Jay’s a quarterback,” Johnson said. “He’s going to be a really good quarterback at some point, if not this year at some time. He’s got a ton of ability. Got to harness it and knock out that negative side, because he’s going to have some upside.”
Johnson maintained he isn’t worried about quarterback, something he has said from the beginning of camp.
“It’s not bad that you have competition,” he said. “I wish you had it at every position. It makes everybody better.”
Offensive line troubles
The Yellow Jackets lost starting right tackle Andrew Marshall with an undisclosed lower body injury. Marshall will miss the Tennessee game, which puts more pressure on the relatively inexperienced offensive line.
Marshall’s injury leaves Jahaziel Lee, Will Bryan and Jake Stickler in the tackle rotation. Lee played in 10 games as a true freshman and started three at left tackle. Bryan played in all 13 games and started 11 of them, the first five at left guard and the next five at right guard. Stickler played in eight games last year but is coming off perhaps his best performance in a scrimmage.
Another domino from Marshall’s setback is at guard. Bryan’s move to tackle leaves Parker Braun, Shamire Devine and Brad Morgan at guard.
Braun started the final eight games of the season as a true freshman in 2016 and was named to the ESPN True Freshman All-America team. He was the ACC’s Offensive Lineman of the Week after the Virginia Tech game. He will start at left guard.
At the other spot, Devine has NFL size (6-foot-7, 380 pounds) but has struggled with conditioning and was termed “a spot guy” by Johnson. Brad Morgan played 13 games, mostly in kicking situations.
Marshall’s injury will also be felt at center, where he was the backup behind Kenny Cooper. That leaves Scott Morgan as the No. 2 player there. Morgan, a sophomore, did not play last year as a redshirt freshman “We’re trying to get eight or nine guys ready,” Johnson said.
Jordan Ponchez-Mason, a highly regarded freshman from Gallatin, Tennessee, has been moved from B-back to A-back. The move was made after freshman Jerry Howard has continued to solidify his standing at B-back.
“That was kind of our plan,” Johnson said. “Let them both start at B and move one. We’ve got too any scholarship guys at B and not enough (at A). Plus, we need some bigger A-backs, and Jordan is a bigger guy and can do some of that stuff.”
Johnson likened Ponchez-Mason (6-1, 205) to the size of Anthony Allen, who successfully played A-back and B-back. Allen rushed for 1,316 yards in 2010.
Ponchez-Mason joins A-back corps of Clinton Lynch, J.J. Green, Qua Searcy, Nathan Cottrell and Omahri Jarrett.
Etc.: Backup linebacker David Curry also suffered a lower-body injury and will miss the Tennessee game. … Johnson said at least three freshman linebackers will play in the opener: Jaquan Henderson, Bruce Jordan-Swilling and T.D. Roof.
“Have to, just from a depth standpoint,” Johnson said.