ATLANTA — Once again, the injury bug has struck at Georgia Tech.
On Saturday morning, during an extended 11-on-11 drill at Bobby Dodd Stadium, backup quarterback Jaybo Shaw suffered a broken collarbone when a teammate fell awkwardly on him at the end of a play.
Immediately after the practice, head coach Paul Johnson speculated that he believed the injury would keep the sophomore out for six to eight weeks.
“Anything shorter than that would be something else,” Johnson said.
Coming on Shaw’s second series of the simulated scrimmage, the injury occurred as he connected with receiver Quentin Sims on a near 20-yard completion that began as an innocent screen pass to the right. As Shaw delivered the short strike, he fell to the turf, where the teammate piled on him.
When he got up, Shaw was seen holding his arm as he walked off the field. Some 30 minutes later, he returned to the sidelines out of uniform and wearing a blue sling across his right arm.
“It’s one of those fluke things,” Johnson said. “Like I said, it wasn’t like he got hurt ducking his shoulder running the ball. It’s disappointing, I feel bad for him.
“It’s bad luck for us and him, but it is what it is.”
Johnson hinted at the possibility of using a medical redshirt for Shaw, who started one game and appeared in seven as a true freshman last season. After evaluating the injury and its recovery further and after consulting with Shaw and his family, Johnson will make that final determination.
The head coach said what makes the injury more difficult to take was the fact that two weeks into fall practice, Shaw had just begun showcasing his best play.
Quarterbacks coach Brian Bohannon agreed.
“Jaybo’s a solid player. He does a great job out here, and he runs the offense as well as anybody,” Bohannon said. “But things happen in football. I don’t like it. He’s a great kid, but now it’s time for Tevin (Washington) and some of these other guys to step up. That’s a part of football. When somebody goes down, the next guy has to step up, and that’s what’s got to happen.”
A redshirt freshman, Washington was slated to be the team’s third-string quarterback entering the season. But now, the young scrambling signal-caller will back up starter Josh Nesbitt.
Also waiting in the wings will be true freshmen Jordan Luallen, who is about a week away from a full rehab from an ankle sprain, and David Sims. Former Hawkinsville standout Jim Henry is also a potential backup.
Last year, it was Nesbitt who was stricken with the freak injury bug after going down with a strained hamstring after slipping as he ran out of bounds on a play against Mississippi State. He also tweaked an ankle after rolling it on another player’s foot later in the year.
It was during that Mississippi State game at Bobby Dodd Stadium that Shaw burst on the scene.
Playing most of that game, he was 3-for-7 passing for 43 yards and rushed nine times for 61. He passed and rushed for a touchdown each.
The next week, with Nesbitt still out, he got the start against Duke, completing nine passes — all to receiver Demaryius Thomas — for 230 yards en route to a 27-0 win. But the celebration was short-lived.
He received a concussion during the game, sidelining him the following week against Gardner-Webb.
Earlier this fall, in an extended 11-on-11 practice, he apparently received another — his second at Georgia Tech — after being hit hard several times during the day. On four occasions, he was hit so hard that his helmet even flew off.
On Saturday, Johnson defended the fact that his quarterbacks have been hit often.
“It’s football, and you’ve got to practice,” Johnson said. “And it’s not like we hit these guys all week. In my experience, you’ve got to play some time, and the next two Saturdays, they’re not going to tag (the quarterbacks). So you’ve got to get somewhat used to it, but you’ve got to be smart. You can’t second-guess what you do. It’s football, that’s one of those things, it happens.”