Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson put to rest any notion of a quarterback controversy in his first few minutes on the lectern at the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Johnson said the position belongs to Matthew Jordan — until and unless someone takes it away — as the Yellow Jackets prepared for their season opener against Tennessee on Sept. 4 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“I feel good about that position,” Johnson said. “You know, it’s Matthew’s job to lose, but I think we’ve got four guys at that position that I could call a game for right now.”
Jordan missed spring practice with a foot injury but remained as the No. 1 quarterback because of his experience. Jordan took over for Justin Thomas a year ago when Thomas was injured and led the Yellow Jackets to a crucial win at Virginia Tech. That accomplishment alone means a lot when it comes to establishing starting credentials.
“Matthew Jordan had to go up to Blacksburg, which is a really tough place to play, and start the game, and we were fortunate that he won the game there,” Johnson said. “I think that gave him come confidence and gave our guys some confidence in him.”
Jordan missed all of spring camp with the injury, which allowed three backups to soak up most of the minutes. TaQuon Marshall, Jay Jones and Lucas Johnson all played well during the spring game. The trio brings quickness and game-breaking skills.
“(Jordan) had an injury and missed most of the spring, so it gave some of our young guys, TaQuon Marshall, a chance, and Jay Jones and Luke Johnson, who were both redshirt freshmen, who may actually be the most talented kids we’ve had at Georgia Tech since I’ve been there at quarterback,” Johnson said.
The quarterbacks will be working with a new position coach. Craig Candeto, who played quarterback for Johnson at Navy, has taken over the position left vacant when Bryan Cook became the offensive coordinator at Georgia Southern.
“I think what you have to do, once we identify who the starting quarterback is, you have to mold the offense to their strengths,” Johnson said. “That’s what we tried to do with Justin, and that’s what we’re going to try to do with this guy, whoever it may end up being. If it’s Matthew, there’s certain things he does better than Justin, and there’s certain things that Justin did better than him. The same for any of the other quarterbacks.
“But I’m not concerned about that position. I think we’ll be fine there.”
Replacing a three-year starter like Thomas won’t be easy, but the transition should be made smoother by the number of established starters at the other positions. Four of five offensive linemen return, as well as the top two receivers and top running backs.
Five of the seven teams in the ACC Coastal Division will be starting a new quarterback this season.
“He’s going to be surrounded, whoever it is, by a group of guys that have played a lot,” Johnson said. “It’s very similar to three years ago when Justin was first starting and he was surrounded by a bunch of guys that had experience and had played a lot of football. That season worked out pretty good. We ended up in the Orange Bowl and beating Mississippi State. Hopefully we’ll have another year like that.”