ATLANTA — In the last 10 days, much has been said about Joshua Nesbitt’s passing ability and his success throwing in Georgia Tech’s offense.
To some, the fact that a Heisman hopeful quarterback like him has only completed six of his 21 season passes is alarming, and enough to signal that his name may not belong in the race for the esteemed trophy.
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Paul Johnson rejects that line of thinking, and believes anyone who follows it is creating a debate where none should exist.
“It’s just magnified when you don’t throw it a lot,” Johnson said Monday about Nesbitt’s low passing numbers. “Everybody that plays drops balls. When you’re throwing it 45 times (per game), it’s not a big deal. When you’re throwing it 15 times and you drop a third of them, it becomes a problem.”
Last Saturday, as was the case the Saturday before, dropped passes defined a hapless Nesbitt passing attack, as the senior signal-caller was held to a 5-for-15 performance in Georgia Tech’s road loss to Kansas.
Following the Yellow Jackets’ Monday practice session in advance of this weekend’s ACC opener with North Carolina, Johnson mentioned the drops and credited them to some of Nesbitt’s passing woes.
“They just don’t catch the ball,” Johnson said.
Against Kansas, the Yellow Jackets dropped four passes, including one by receiver Stephen Hill in the end zone on a ball that was thrown low and in a spot where a defender couldn’t deflect it.
Receiver Tyler Melton, who dropped a pass in Week 1 that bounced into the hands of a South Carolina State defender, couldn’t corral a ball on a tough sideline completion attempt. A-back Roddy Jones got his hands on another pass, but failed to haul in the completion on a ball he had to jump high for. B-back Anthony Allen mishandled another near the line of scrimmage.
The only correction that can be made, Johnson said, is to practice. And they’ve been doing plenty of that, he said.
“We practice it the same way we’ve always practiced it,” Johnson said. “You just hope that you’ll catch them. That’s all you can do.
“We throw the ball a lot in practice — a lot.”
Tar Heels clear Draughn
In advance of its game against Georgia Tech on Saturday, North Carolina got a jolt of good news Monday morning.
According to The Charlotte Observer and other news outlets in the Tar Heel State, the program learned that running back Shaun Draughn, the team’s leading scorer two years ago, would be eligible to compete this weekend against the Yellow Jackets. Draughn had previously been deemed ineligible by head coach Butch Davis, who had suspended him and a dozen others for their alleged involvement in a host of unethical charges.
This summer, it was revealed that Draughn was one of several Tar Heels players who had committed academic impropriety, causing the NCAA to investigate the program. It also has investigated other players who are at the center of a probe involving misconduct on the part of agents and runners.
Due to the suspensions, 13 players missed North Carolina’s season opener in Atlanta against LSU. None of the other players have been cleared.
Draughn currently sits third on the Tar Heels’ depth chart behind tailbacks Johnny White and Anthony Elzy.
NCSU kickoff on pause
Trying to make plans for Sept. 25’s North Carolina State game? You’d better exercise some patience.
The ACC on Monday exercised a six-day option on the Georgia Tech-N.C. State game, meaning it won’t announce kickoff times and television networks until Sunday.
The game with the Wolfpack will be just the second at Bobby Dodd Stadium this season. After hosting South Carolina State in their season opener Sept. 4, the Yellow Jackets traveled to Kansas last weekend before going to Chapel Hill, N.C. this Saturday.
Georgia Tech is 17-9 all-time against N.C. State, and last played the Wolfpack in 2006. The Yellow Jackets won on the road 31-23.
While Johnson has been adamant all season about improving the Yellow Jackets blocking techniques, there has been one area in that regard that has drawn his ire the most.
When it comes to downfield blocking, the head coach wants improvement.
“It has to get better, it needs to get better,” Johnson said.
He didn’t stop there.
“We also need to seal the inside some so there’s room to cut back some,” Johnson said.
Taylor, Jackson back
Once-injured Yellow Jackets Cooper Taylor and Will Jackson returned to practice Monday.
Taylor left the South Carolina State opener with what Johnson termed a “heat-related” injury, while Jackson departed the same game with an ankle and knee sprain.
ACC POW, no GT
The ACC players of the week were unveiled Monday morning, but no Georgia Tech players were selected for the five position-specific honors.
A pair of Yellow Jackets, however, were nominated.
Two Wake Forest players, freshman quarterback Tanner Price and receiver Marshall Williams, headlined the list.