August 15, 2009

Jackets suffer major setback

The Georgia Tech offense shined on Saturday afternoon, but a freak injury to one of the Jackets' most important offense weapons could change the course of the whole season. The Yellow Jackets began the year with five scholarship quarterbacks and two weeks from the start of the season they are down to three scholarships after a strange play in the Saturday scrimmage in Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Sophomore quarterback Jaybo Shaw broke his collarbone when a defender fell on him accidentally. Shaw walked off the field holding his wrist, but came back out to the field with his shoulder in a sling and his season possibly over.

"It is a broken collarbone," Head Coach Paul Johnson said of Shaw's injury. "I am going to guess that he is out six to eight weeks. We will have to sit down with him and it might be that he gets his redshirt year, this year. We will have to take a long and see. It is unfortunate because he is really playing well.

Shaw was injured on a passing play after he released the ball.

"It was one of those fluke things and a kid fell on him. It was not a shot," Johnson said. "He had thrown the ball and a kid fell on him on the ground. Whoever it was could not help it. It was not like he got hurt ducking his shoulder to run the ball. It is disappointing and I feel bad for him."

During weekly practice, the quarterbacks do not get hit, so coach Johnson elected to have the quarterbacks live during the scrimmage. Typically, the whistle is blown before contact on passing plays if it looks like there is a sack, but Shaw's injury could have happened during a non-contact drill in practice.

"You have to play sometime and we are not going to tag them for the next two Saturdays," Johnson said. "You have to get somewhat used to it and you have to be smart, but you cannot second guess what you are going to do. That is football and it is one of those things that happens and it is bad luck for him, but it is what it is."

Shaw's injury leaves starter Josh Nesbitt and redshirt freshman Tevin Washington as the top two quarterbacks. David Sims and walk-on Jim Henry will run the third and fourth team offenses.

Washington was three-for-three passing with a long touchdown pass to A-back Jamal Paige. Overall the team complete 11-for-18 with one interception thrown by Sims to Brandon Leslie.

True freshman Jordan Luallen could return from his ankle sprain this coming week and he could slide into the third spot behind Washington.

"Jordan is getting better and he is walking on it," Johnson said. "He should be back in a week or so."

Sims feels like he is ready to step into the third quarterback spot and compete for some playing time this year.

"This was better than the first scrimmage and I am feeling more comfortable in the offense and I was able to make a couple of plays," Sims said. "The offense is complex and you have to learn the checks and different reads, but I am getting there. The running part I have been doing all my life, so the hard thing for me is learning the checks and the different ways we step when we drop."

Despite the injury to Shaw, Johnson was pleased with the overall offensive performance.

"We did not throw it a lot today nor did we have to, but they did execute it a little better," Johnson said. "I thought the quarterbacks played fairly well. If you are cheating, popping and doing a lot of stunting it is hard to cover more vertical things. We were able to hit a couple of vertical passes."

The Jackets will get their first day off tomorrow since camp began on August 3.

"I think it is really important and I think guys are tired, so we kind of knocked it off a little bit short," Johnson said. "You could tell they were tired."

Freshmen impact

Coach Johnson liked what the A-backs and B-backs did during practice including the play of Jonathan Dwyer and Marcus Wright.

"The defense is missing some guys, so overall it was more of an offensive day than usual," Johnson said. "We tried to get Jon some hard work and he stuck in there, Marcus Wright also did some things. We had some guys make some plays."

Several freshmen made standout plays on Saturday as well.

"Stephen Hill made a great catch down on the goal line and Orwin Smith had a long run," Johnson said of the freshmen. "There are some freshmen making plays, but until we look at the tape we really don't know. We are a little bit leg weary."

Hill made a tremendous adjustment on an under thrown ball by Sims and came down hard, but Johnson says he is not injured.

"Stephen is fine," he said.

Dwyer, Wright, Anthony Allen, Sims and Orwin Smith all had rushing touchdowns in the scrimmage.

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