ATLANTA — Step One in the recovery process has officially been completed.
Georgia Tech starting quarterback Joshua Nesbitt in Atlanta on Monday morning endured a surgical procedure to help repair the broken right forearm he incurred during last Thursday’s 28-21 Yellow Jackets’ loss at Virginia Tech.
“He’s back recuperating and everything is going well,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said following Monday’s workout.
The surgery begins what should be a six- to eight-week rehab process, through which Nesbitt is expected to try to return to full strength in time for a potential bowl game. But with the Yellow Jackets (5-4, 3-3 ACC) still one game shy of bowl eligibility, that hope rests on what his teammates are able to do moving forward.
“I don’t know,” Johnson said, asked if Nesbitt could return for a bowl, “we’ve got to win some more games first.”
With Nesbitt’s departure for the remainder of the regular season, redshirt sophomore Tevin Washington, who filled in for the last two quarters-plus of the Yellow Jackets’ loss, is expected to be called upon as his starting replacement when Georgia Tech returns to action Saturday against Miami (6-3, 4-2).
Johnson was hesitant to name Washington the flat-out starter, citing practice repetitions as being the final factor in whether the No. 2 backup will indeed be the starter. If he doesn’t start, redshirt freshman David Sims would, with receiver Quentin Sims serving as an optional, emergency signal-caller. As a result, Quentin Sims will get repetitions at quarterback this week, Johnson said. He played the position in high school.
Although Nesbitt’s playing future is uncertain, Johnson believes the player long regarded his team leader will preserve.
“If there’s one thing that Josh Nesbitt is, it’s tough,” Johnson said. “He’s a tough (player) and it was a tough deal, but he understands the big picture and he’ll get better. I’m sure in his mind he’s going to play again, and that’s the way he’ll approach it.”
False starts a concern
Eight times against Virginia Tech last Thursday, players on Georgia Tech’s offense flinched or moved or shifted at the line of scrimmage just before the ball was snapped. What was the product of those false starts? Some 40 yards of penalties that backed them out of key situations.
“Those definitely can hurt you, they don’t help,” backup center Jay Finch said of the false starts. “We’ve just got to clean them up. We can’t have them, they just kill drives.”
All across the offensive line, in particular, that sentiment was echoed.
“Obviously crowd noise (at Virginia Tech) was a factor, but it’s unacceptable. It really is,” said tackle Phil Smith, who jumped early once. “In my mind and the coaches’ mind, it’s unacceptable to have that many false starts. I don’t approve of it out of myself, and I don’t approve of it out of my teammates. There really is no excuse. You just shouldn’t jump offsides ever; whether it’s loud or anything.
“Jumping offsides is a product of inexperience. Inexperience is why you jump offsides in that situation.”
One of the Yellow Jackets’ most experienced players, senior Austin Barrick, had the misfortune of moving too soon when he flinched on a crucial second-quarter fourth-down.
With Georgia Tech driving and one yard from a first-down, he moved ahead of the snap, drawing penalty flags. Instead of going for it on fourth-and-short, the Yellow Jackets were pushed backward and opted to punt instead, ending their drive.
Playing in front of 66,233 constantly screaming people — most who were pulling for Virginia Tech — the Yellow Jackets faced one of the loudest crowds they have encountered this season.
“I’m pretty sure we won’t have 60,000 people where they can’t hear the count,” Johnson said Monday, joking about the 55,000-seat Bobby Dodd Stadium which hosts Miami this weekend. “But that’s no excuse. We’ve got to be more disciplined and do a better job than that.
“But the bottom line is, you couldn’t hear. They were yelling and moving around yelling and doing all that, and we didn’t react very well.”
Washington, under whom five of the false starts came, said it was so loud at Lane Stadium that he had to take his mouthpiece out and call the game without it. The experience also taught him a valuable lesson about quarterbacking a team.
“I just have to open up my mouth a little bit more and project and be as loud as I can so it’s no doubt that they can hear me and the snap count,” Washington said.
In addition to Nesbitt, the Yellow Jackets lost a host of other players to injuries last week.
Monday afternoon, the following starters were seen in red no-contact jerseys: defensive tackle Logan Walls, center Sean Bedford, guard Will Jackson and receiver Stephen Hill.
Johnson said he was unsure which of those players the Yellow Jackets would get back, but he was hopeful all would.
Walls, who celebrated a birthday Monday, had an arm wrapped in a sling due to a shoulder injury.
Duke game time set
The ACC on Monday announced that Georgia Tech’s game against Duke next Saturday will have a 1:30 p.m. kickoff, and will be televised by ESPN3.com.
No game time has been set for the season-finale at Georgia on Nov. 27.
Georgia Tech linebacker and Macon native Julian Burnett led the team with 13 tackles last Thursday. The total marked the first time that anyone other than senior Brad Jefferson has led the defense in tackles in six games. Dating back to last season, Jefferson, a former Johnson County standout, had led the Yellow Jackets in tackling 18 of the last 22 games.