Posted: 12:16 am Friday, April 4th, 2014

Justin Thomas ‘has the ability to keep the play alive’ 

By Ken Sugiura

Georgia tech yellow jackets, college football

Justin Thomas (5) is likely candidate to be Georgia Tech’s starting quarterback ahead of Tim Byerly and Ty Griffin. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

1. I am working on a story for Saturday about Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas’ development thus far. I talked with him and position coach Bryan Cook following Wednesday’s practice.

“He’s done alright,” Cook said. “He’s got a lot of work to do.”

Cook elongated “a lot” like “a lo-o-o-o-t” of work to do. He named three priorities, finishing runs, running the option game and reading progressions and the defense when dropping back to pass.

“All the basic things to being a quarterback,” he said.

But, Cook said he’s improving and getting good experience out of repetitions with the option, though he also mentioned that “he probably doesn’t value them as he needs to, but we’re getting there.”

While the pace of development is not swift, Thomas still has shown the ability to create plays when the designed plays fail.

“I’d rather have that, because you can’t coach that,” Cook said. “I’d rather drive myself nuts coaching the other stuff and have a guy that can do that, if I was choosing.”

Cook said there’ve been “a bunch” of such plays thus far in spring practice.

“He just did it 15 minutes ago,” Cook said shortly after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s just when stuff breaks down in the pocket, he has the ability to keep the play alive and extend it. He’s not going to get sacked real easily.”

2. The team did not make much of an impression on coach Paul Johnson in Wednesday’s practice, the sixth out of 15.

“Some guys pushed through it, but we had a lot that didn’t,” he said after the practice.

It’s one practice out of 15, and some will be better and some will be worse, but certainly not the ideal evaluation.

3. I think I mentioned earlier that wide receiver Ricky Jeune was out with a knee injury. It was in a myajc story, I know for certain. Jeune will miss the rest of spring practice, but Johnson said he’ll be back for preseason camp, which means it isn’t a ligament tear. Regardless, it is unfortunate for Jeune, who could have used the reps this spring but was out before the end of the first week.

4. Neither of the next two Saturday morning scrimmages will likely be open. It is a change from at least the past three spring practices that I’ve covered, when at least one of the scrimmages has been open to the public. Logistical issues (a coaches clinic this weekend and the Pi Mile race next weekend) were cited as the reasons.

137 comments
gt-40
gt-40

It does give you pause to think  are there any quarter backs at all that run the TO in high school that could come into Tech and hit the ground running pun intended...Just how long should it take to develop a TO qb??

Hookedonshortpasses
Hookedonshortpasses

After reading this...what a diverse group.  Some want barking; others want love.  Some want more running;

others want more passing from the gun.  Thankfully, Tech winning in football is not tied to unity in

purpose from a group of bloggers.

GTQBdefender
GTQBdefender

Why is it a non-grad can afford to pay while the grads whine?

Why is it the non-grad has NEVER resold a Tech ticket while the grads do whenever there is a motivated fan base? Examples: Mormons in football, Heels and just about all ACC teams in basketball, and especially Dawg fans who turned the East upper deck red for the arch-rival game, the fan base already having cut and run before the game started?

It's Vad Lee who is weak?

Maybe you folks should look in the mirror.

I do not blame him a bit for leaving.

The AD should have told Johnson last February to bring in a new O coordinator and offense to fit a rare Tech QB with passing skills.

POAD2013
POAD2013

STOP MAKING most of your articles AJC PAID cap and maybe people will read it.



iseestupidpeople
iseestupidpeople

Hey Ken,

Why are all the Tech stories on the pay site ?

By comparison only one Ga story is.

What's up ?

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Paul Johnson has a lot of work to do developing a stable passing offense to go with the run, no matter who is under center.

Redfin
Redfin

I just can't find anything to get excited about with this years team.  There was a reason why J Thomas didn't play last year.........he couldn't beat out V Lee.  Don't believe he's any better this year.   Sure he can run, but good athletes on Def can also.  We won't have a prayer of a passing game as Thomas "throws" (not passes) but "throws" the ball about like the average 8th grader.  If this is Johnsons'  answer for QB,  he's not very interested in keeping his job...........Been nice knowing you  PJ........now maybe it's time to move on.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

I don't know why Thomas would have a "loong" way to go. He played in the system last season. It should be familiar.

His size I and ball protection are my biggest concerns. And the latter is closely linked to the former. Option QBs take some hits. He's got to be able to handle that, and not give up the football. Nesbitts size and strength made him effective.

Johnson has signed a couple of pretty good size QBs for 2015 though.

RBR
RBR

@charlestonian77- it's not about running our military...it's about running our football team which is comprised of student athletes, not soldiers.    I live right down the street from Coach K and he is ALWAYS talking up his players.  He gets in their faces during games and practices but he always talked them up.  I just think CPJ could provide a little more positive reinforcement.. I can't read all of his quotes nor do I want to, but they all seem to be negative or lacking positive connotation.   It's always "they did so-so or they didn't do this or that".  

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

Vad was adequate in the TO---it was never his strong suit.  The question becomes how much do you change your offense to fit your players and how hard do you try to change your players to fit your offense.  This is probably more art than science.  If a Peyton Manning were to come along and want to go to Tech, then I'd change the entire offense for him.  Vad was no Peyton Manning, but some feel his talents were not fully utilized on the field.  I think Toemeetsleather stated it well---JT will be the QB that saves or slays CPJ.  It seems CPJ wants to run the ball all day long and throw 10-12 times a game.  If he's successful, no one will care.  If he's not, then this one dimensional offensive strategy will die a painful death.  I'd prefer he migrate to something more similar to the Auburn offense, but I'm just one season ticket holder---2014 needs to be a good year and I have less hope than I did for 2013.

charlestonian77
charlestonian77

thank god you folks who are upset at  cpj's getting in our players faces do not run our military. if we gave every military recruit a 'gold star' or a 'trophy'  we would lose every battle.

i have seen cpj quoted before. he has said his job is to 1. graduate the players 2. make them the best player they can be.  fake praise has never made anybody improve.

one would think that  none of you have ever seen coach k get in his players faces. there is a reason why coach k is the winningest coach in america and being a milquetoast isnt  one of them.

FreddieBlassie
FreddieBlassie

@Radar123  You are 100% wrong that an AD has any business telling a football coach anything except you are hired or you are fired and our AD does not have any experience in football so he should remain silent. Johnson is a good coach; better at coaching  than our athletic administrators or Tech administrators are at administrating so I say stay the course and avoid another Bill mistake; e.g. Curry or Lewis.

FreddieBlassie
FreddieBlassie

@Radar123  You are 100% correct, sir. Any grad who sells their tickets to rival team supporters should have their degrees revoked. They are pencil neck geeks who we do not need. We are already playing when and where at the whim of television: we don't need these pukes.


Vad Lee was a sub standard passing quarterback as well as a frightened runner. The real football players do not respect cowards or quitters.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Johnson doesn't need and will never have an OC. He's a master of the triple option---which some fans myself included don't care for. But he's proven it can be effective.

What Johnson needs is better recruiters and a solid D coach. And he's addressed those issues.

The ADs job is business and balance sheets. And also to interface between the coaching staff and administrators in order to promote the best chance of success. And Bobinski has done that by allowing Johnson more special admits.

If ADs were remotely qualified to coach any major sport, they would. It would significantly increase their salaries.

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@Radar123  

If the AD at ANY school pulled that kind of stunt with the head coach, the head coach would probably tell the AD where he could stick it and then walk out the door.  OF course, that would please some people, but regardless, AD's are not hired to micro-manage the individual sports. 

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@POAD2013  

Pretty sure Ken doesn't make that decision.  But it's obvious the AJC staff thinks Tech fans should pay for info while the mutts get it for free.

BleedingGold
BleedingGold

@iseestupidpeople

AJC making him posts the more interesting stories under the paid subscription section, trying to get us to pay for what should be free.

GTBob
GTBob

@Redfin  The reason he didn't play last year was because he was a redshirt freshman with no game experience. I guess by your definition, every backup in the country right now is worse than every starter meaning college football is gradually getting worse every year. Those guys in the early 1900's must have been the best players of all time.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

@Redfin  

I think most GT fans are tired of the option experiment.  And I agree with your assessment about the likelihood of success this year.

I expect Johnson's seat to be hot, not just a little warm this time next year.  And it honestly wouldn't surprise me if a coaching change was made after this season.

ToeMeetsLeather
ToeMeetsLeather

@Redspin. Dude, go dust off the bulldog sitting on the front porch. You obviously know nothing about TECH sports and didn't see Thomas play last year AT ALL. Thomas's arm strength and his accuracy are fine. The coaches will need to create throwing lanes for him by having him roll out more, that's all. The offense will run fine with him in charge, if he can stay healthy(but that is the case for every team in the country).

The OLine is the key to the 2014 offense. These "big uglies" need to step up their games.

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@RBR  

Let me make sure I have this right - Coach K gets in the face of his players on TV when the cameras are on but he talks them up in private.  Ah - the old "admonish in public but praise in private". 

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@RBR  

Have you ever  noticed a sideline during a Tech game?  Quite a few of Johnson's former players are there each week.  Nesbitt has been there for several games.  Hell, even Calvin Johnson, who didn't even play under CPJ, has been there for at least one game.  Ask any of his former players what they think of him, and they will tell you they love the man.  How could that be if he doesn't show them any love first.  Don't judge him by his sideline demeanor any more than you judge Coach K for his court-side demeanor.

MikeS777
MikeS777

@Yellerbug  I would argue that the best OC's swallow their pride and change the offense to fit the personnel they have on hand.  That's exactly what Gus Malzhan did at Auburn last year.  His offense at Arkansas St. actually threw the ball around more, but he had the personnel to do it.  Also, Nick Marshall had a banged up shoulder most of the year.


By contrast, Mike Bobo at UGA is going to run his blueprint no matter what.  He calls a game like Todd Gurley is in the backfield whether he is or not.  That's a huge reason why UGA's offense struggled until Gurley and Marshall came along.


I don't think that makes you a bad OC because obviously the system works if you get the personnel.  I just think the best OCs out there are the ones that will adapt their system based on the talent they have.

Hookedonshortpasses
Hookedonshortpasses

@charlestonian77 Actually, I did receive a medal in basic for being a great shot with an M1.

After basic and school, except for the Company 1st Sgt early in he AM, most commanders and fellow GIs I worked with treated me pleasently and very few hollered at me or asked me if I was stupid.

Hookedonshortpasses
Hookedonshortpasses

@FreddieBlassie  Last year, johnson, for one game, utilized a non standard (for him) formation.  During that game, the guy you said was a sub standard passing qb seemed to prove that statement wrong. If you had qualified that statement by indicating Lee was sub standard in the normal johnson formation, many probably would agree with you.

Do you think johnson has had a qb at Tech that was not sub standard in passing?

GTBob
GTBob

@SupersizeThatOrder-mutt @Radar123  Not only that but we likely wouldn't get a quality coach again until the AD was gone. No coach would ever want to come to Tech if they think the AD was that kind of manager. Especially an AD with zero football background.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket I may have asked this before but are you going to be rooting for us to lose this year so that your dream of going back to a pro style offense might come to fruition?

Buzz-Off
Buzz-Off

Being on the sideline means you got a free ticket. It has absolutely nothing to do with loving your coach.

charlestonian77
charlestonian77

@MikeS777 @RBR last time i looked the age of our soldiers = the age of our fb players but dont let that get in the way of your negativity.

the only quotes that catch your eye are the ones you try to fit into your agenda. wanna bet i can find many quotes where cpj said it was on the coaches?  wanna bet?

-cpj is too stubborn to change
-cpj is out of control on the sidelines
-cpj has lost the team
- the players hate cpj

pick your poison.  that seems to be the list of complaints that our miserable portion of the fan base like to bring up again and again.   i promise you many of these same fans had issues with chan and with oleary.  point being.... there aint no pleasing you folks no matter what we do.

cpj is so stubborn he has gone through 3 dc's since he has been here. he is so stubborn he hired an innovative qb coach and has been looking at other variations to the to. including the diamond.

imo coach richt has shown a greater  stubborn streak than cpj but again that is just my opinion and the opinion of a whole bunch of dwags who are unhappy with the constant underachieving of the dwags.



GTBob
GTBob

@MikeS777 @Yellerbug  The offense has been fine though. Even last year with Vad struggling the offense still put up pretty decent numbers. When you guys talk about tailoring the offense why don't you just say what you mean? You want CPJ to quit running the triple option.

AugustaJacket
AugustaJacket

@MikeS777 @Yellerbug  The big issue here is that CPJ's offense isn't as readily adaptable without recruiting different personnel.  Considering we don't employ TE's, and we are overloaded with RB's as compared to most O's, it wouldn't be an easy switch to make.  Going from traditional to option, however, is much easier.  When/if CPJ is let go, this will hurt us unless we hire a new HC who utilizes the option as well.

D-Sheets
D-Sheets

@drydirtroad

LOL ..... You cherry-picker.


Under PJ how often has Tech been "stung" by the shotguns of UNC, FSU, and Clemson? 

drydirtroad
drydirtroad

@Birmingham__Jacket  I don't either b/c it's all smoke and mirrors in the backfield with no downfield production except against patsys. The major schools have figured out how to defend against it. No other major schools running it, like Navy and Air Force, are national leaders, they are all mediocre like Tech. The shotgun is the hands down leader. I also believe that next year will be PJ's last. Tech has been stung by Russell Wilson and NC State, Ole Miss and Georgia, all running shotguns.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Not rooting to lose. But I'm tired of 6-7 win seasons. I expect more from the highest paid coach in GT history. And it's true, I don't like the option.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

@GTBob @MikeS777@Yellerbug Not exactly.  When we had Dwyer and Nesbitt and even with AA we cranked out the yardage, had numerous 20 yd+ plays without throwing much and although Nesbitt had a cannon of an arm, he had the accuracy of a catapult.  I like the option, and I think CPJ knows its intricacies better than anyone, I just think we could modernize it---make it the Quad Option and include a pass wrinkle to it---slants, shuttle passes, quick curls.  If we do enough of those, then opposing LBs and Safeties won't be crashing so hard to stop our run. 

Another modernizing initiative is to stop the ancient practice of shuttling plays from the sidelines and join the 21st century.  Press the D by quick huddles and get to the line before they can change personnel---CPJ can then assess the D and change the play if necessary---you can still take 35 seconds off the clock to run a play, but up tempo it to the line which forces the D to be in a prolonged state of readiness. 

We can always improve and expand our capabilities and I hope CPJ has that attitude. 

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@drydirtroad @Yellerbug @AugustaJacket @MikeS777  

Read what GTBob says below.  The offense has done pretty damn well across the board.  The problem has been the defense, at least until this past year, when Vad, despite many obvious talents, simply could not run the offense consistently.I believe the offense is 2 out of 3 against FSU, ans the one loss was more lack of sound defense than anything.  I think we are 4 out of 7 against Clemson, also not bad.  Georgia not faked out?  HA!!  Which game were you watching; the Georgia defense hasn't stopped the offense yet; we just had no defense.

drydirtroad
drydirtroad

@Yellerbug @AugustaJacket @MikeS777  There's a time and place for everything, and against patsys the TO dominates. Against larger schools like Clemson, Miami, VT, Georgia...forget it, it won't fake 'em out, shotgun city is needed. Try the TO against BYU, even MTSU. How do you think it would fare against FSU? Against patsys like NC and Duke it works.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

@AugustaJacket @MikeS777@Yellerbug I like the option offense.  It has a lot of potential and with an up-tempo can keep a defense highly stressed.  CPJ thoroughly  understands the angles, the reads, the schemes to run.  His TO is highly-tuned and when executed properly will always result in a big gain.  The key is executed properly.  We didn't execute very well last year especially on the O-line which blows up everything in the backfield.  CPJ recognized that.  CPJ's TO offense is like a Swiss watch---it does one thing really well.  If our personnel cannot perform at a consistent level, then it runs like a Timex.  A Timex is OK if you have a lot of additional bells and whistles--thus throw some, play action, sweeps, traps, option and keep the D guessing.  If we're only going to be a one-trick pony, we just need it to be a very, very clever trick. 

POAD2013
POAD2013

@Hookedonshortpasses you implied you were living off SS and that others made that happen. If all you had as income was SS you wouldn't be living easy. No thanks needed you paid into it and earned it. That the Government stole it and is forcing the younger people to pay back your money is their fault.

POAD2013
POAD2013

@Hookedonshortpasses you sound like the reason we have this pathetic generation of losers that don't believe in personal responsibility and have a warped sense of entitlement.