Yellow Jackets quarterbacks excited about new offense
Although no pronouncement was made, Lucas Johnson probably emerged as the No. 1 quarterback coming out of spring practice. But the competition over who will start is far from over and the pool of candidates has gotten larger.
“I feel like we’ve all come a long way from our first practice,” Johnson said. “Everybody is getting a lot more comfortable. There’s a lot of stuff we need to improve on before we come back in the summer. Everybody is more comfortable. For five weeks, I think we did pretty well tonight.”
Johnson, a junior from San Diego, showed he’s completely recovered from the foot injury that kept him out of the 2018 season. He’s also a nice fit for the new spread attack and was able to show off his arm at the White and Gold game. Johnson completed 12 of 16 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown for the winning Gold team, although he was sacked three times.
“It felt great,” Johnson said. “It was a long journey, a lot of ups and downs. Last year was really disappointing. It felt so good to be out there, throwing the ball around and playing with my friends. It made it worth it.”
James Graham, a redshirt freshman from Fitzgerald, also proved adept in the new attack. He completed 4 of 10 passes for 54 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown throw to Adonicus Sanders, and carried 10 times for 18 yards and one touchdown.
“It was exciting to hear the crowd that loud,” Graham said. “We haven’t heard it that loud in a while. It was a nice experience to be in that atmosphere.”
Tobias Oliver, a redshirt sophomore from Warner Robins, will also be in the mix for playing time. He missed the end of spring practice and the spring game with his right hand in a sling.
The additional depth at the position came from Liam Byrne, a redshirt sophomore from Woodstock, and Ryan Lantz, a redshirt freshman from North Palm Beach, Florida. Byrne completed 6 of 14 passes for 77 yards and one touchdown, with one interception. Lantz completed 5 of 8 passes for 106 yards, one a 58-yarder to Jaylen Jackson.
Coach Geoff Collins said it was important for the quarterbacks to take the new offense into a game setting and create some connection with the wide receivers.
“The big thing was to see coverages, make some good throws,” Collins said. “We want them to take chances and make plays. Our quarterbacks have faith on those 50-50 balls that the receivers are going to go up and make the plays.”
He said the assistants will go through the film from the spring game and use the data to analyze what each of the quarterbacks does well and pinpoint their deficiencies. Plans on how to use each player will be developed accordingly.
“The big thing for me, everything we do we want to attack success,” Collins said. “We don’t want them to be afraid. We’re going to coach them through the mistakes.”