Eight plays into the game, a hush settled over a once raucous Bobby Dodd Stadium as confused Georgia Tech fans wondered what had just happened on their team’s sideline.
Muttering silently among themselves, they slowly began realizing one of their worst fears had come true: Starting quarterback Josh Nesbitt was injured and would not be able to finish the game.
It was a freak injury; a tweaked hamstring suffered as the scrambling signal-caller ran out of bounds at the end of a 21-yard, first-down run.
Moments later, the shock Yellow Jackets fans felt as they witnessed Nesbitt being tended to was replaced with exasperation, as his young replacement jogged onto the field. Clearly for some in the crowd, expectations weren’t high for the true freshman from Flowery Branch. Perhaps they should have been.
Photo from espn.com. Quarterback Jaybo Shaw (right) listens as Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson talks to him. Shaw had a strong outing against Mississippi State, filling in for injured starter Josh Nesbitt.
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Three plays after entering the game against Mississippi State, backup Jaybo Shaw handed off to A-back Embry Peeples, who scored the game’s first touchdown. Some four minutes and a Yellow Jackets fumble recovery later, Shaw connected with receiver Demaryius Thomas on a 20-yard touchdown pass to give Georgia Tech a big early lead. It was just the start the Yellow Jackets hoped to have. The week before, the Bulldogs had allowed just a field goal in a tight, defense-heavy 3-2 home loss to then-No. 9 Auburn.
After charging to the 14-0 first-quarter lead, the Yellow Jackets continued to pile on points as Shaw showcased his decision-making skills — as well as his hard-juking feet — to the crowd of 48,402.
Early in the second quarter — one play after recovering his own fumble — Shaw faked an option pitch before weaving his way to a 25-yard touchdown run. After the score, the visibly quarterback ran up to the north end zone seats and high-fived a student hanging over the wall. It was Shaw’s coming out party.
But the freshman’s exploits weren’t the only ones on full display.
B-back Jonathan Dwyer set a Georgia Tech school record in the third quarter, when he scored on an 88-yard touchdown run. One of nine carries that day for the player who became 2008’s ACC player of the year, Dwyer rushed for 141 yards in limited work.
Beating their first SEC foe of the year, the Yellow Jackets won 38-7, and Shaw rode his wave of confidence into his first career start a week later against Duke.