Video: Northside quarterback Tobias Oliver is ready for Houston County
Under normal circumstances Tobias Oliver would automatically have become the successor at quarterback for Georgia Tech when incumbent TaQuon Marshall graduated.
But these aren’t typical times for the Yellow Jackets, where there’s a new coaching staff and a new offensive philosophy.
It was believed by many that Oliver, the full-time backup in 2018, didn’t have the skills necessary to start at quarterback in Georgia Tech’s new spread offense.
Based on his level of discomfort as a passer last season, on the rare occasions he was given a chance to throw, Oliver didn’t exactly inspire confidence and some observers thought the sophomore would be find it difficult to compete for the job. There was even talk that he might be moved to a different position.
That line of thinking now appears to be misguided. Oliver from Northside Warner Robins has picked up the new offense and has quickly proven that he knows how to throw the ball.
Offensive coordinator David Patenaude was patting Oliver on the back last week after the team’s second scrimmage. He said he was impressed with Oliver’s ability to recognize what the defense was doing and make the proper adjustments to produce a positive play.
“Tobias changed the protection, looked to his left, stepped up in protection, went backside and threw a back-shoulder ball to a receiver for about a 25-yard gain,” Patenaude said. “That doesn’t happen if you can’t throw or unless you’re a really good player.”
Oliver was an accomplished runner in 2018. He carried 152 times for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games. The highlight came against Virginia Tech, when he rushed 40 times for 215 yards and three touchdowns and was named ACC Freshman of the Week. He also ran for 100 yards against Bowling Green, Louisville and North Carolina.
His passing numbers created doubt as to whether Oliver could make the transition to the new attack. For the season he completed 7 of 16 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. The total was slightly skewed by an 86-yard touchdown pass he threw against North Carolina.
Now that he’s had three months to study and prepare under the new staff, Oliver said, “It’s been great. It’s a much different team. Everybody’s picking it up pretty well. It’s been good.”
Part of Oliver’s confidence comes from the similarity in the new offense with the one he ran at Northside Warner Robins. He was a three-year starter for the Eagles and helped the team win the state championship as a sophomore and reach the semifinals as a senior.
“I’ve been in the shotgun,” Oliver said. “I prefer to throw it.”
Oliver totaled 7,003 yards of offense during his high school career. He set a school record with 3,785 passing yards and finished third all-time with 3,218 yards rushing. As a senior he ran for 1,460 yards and threw for 1,604 yards. A three-star recruit, he had offers from Army and Troy before deciding to sign with Georgia Tech.
“We ran an offense similar to this in high school,” he said. “I’m just reverting back to what I did. As far as learning plays and football, I’m learning pretty fast.”