Ge­or­gia Tech’s John­son in no hurry to re­veal start­ing QB

Rome News-Tribune - - SPORTS - By Paul Newberry As­so­ci­ated Press Sports Writer

AT­LANTA — With less than a week to go be­fore sea­son opener against No. 25 Ten­nessee, Ge­or­gia Tech still hasn’t re­vealed who will start at quar­ter­back.

That’s not to say coach Paul John­son is strug­gling with a de­ci­sion.

Coy as al­ways, John­son in­di­cated Tuesday that he knows who will get the nod when the Yel­low Jack­ets take on the Vol­un­teers in the sec­ond of two Chick-fil-A Kick­off games at At­lanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Sta­dium.

But it looks as though he’ll wait un­til the first of­fen­sive se­ries Monday night to let ev­ery­one else in on the se­cret.

“We may play all four of ‘em in the first game,” John­son said with a smile.

Ju­nior Matthew Jor­dan is the most ex­pe­ri­enced of four can­di­dates who bat­tled through spring prac­tice and into the pre­sea­son for the chance to re­place three-year starter Justin Thomas at the most im­por­tant po­si­tion in the triple-op­tion of­fense.

But John­son’s re­luc­tance to name a starter might be an in­di­ca­tion that he’s go­ing in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion, at least for the first game. If that’s the case, ju­nior TaQuon Mar­shall would likely be the next man up. Then again, given John­son’s pen­chant for catch­ing peo­ple to­tally off guard, don’t rule out Lu­cas John­son or Jay Jones, a pair of red­shirt fresh­men.

Jor­dan is by the most ex­pe­ri­enced of the can­di­dates. He was Thomas’ backup the last two years, and even stepped in to lead Ge­or­gia Tech to an up­set vic­tory at Vir­ginia Tech in 2016. Mar­shall played nine games at run­ning back as a fresh­man, then shifted to quar­ter­back last sea­son, ap­pear­ing in two games as a third-stringer.

“Matthew is a lit­tle older. He prob­a­bly has a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what we’re try­ing to do than any­body else,” John­son said. “But I think I could call a game for any of ’em.”

Ge­or­gia Tech re­leased an up­dated depth chart that shows all four play­ers in bold let­ter­ing, in­di­cat­ing each still has a shot at start­ing. And, look­ing to en­sure that no one dis­cussed what they’ve been told be­hind closed doors, the school said none of the four would be avail­able for in­ter­views af­ter prac­tice Tuesday.

“Our guys know who’s go­ing to play, and I prob­a­bly know who’s go­ing to play,” John­son said. “I might send it out on Twit­ter here in a day or two. Who knows? We’ll get through a cou­ple of more prac­tices and it’ll be one of th­ese four guys. I prom­ise.”

The coach has set­tled on a start­ing B-back, a po­si­tion that sud­denly came open a cou­ple of weeks ago when the top re­turn­ing rusher, Dedrick Mills, was kicked off the team for vi­o­lat­ing ath­letic depart­ment rules.

Sopho­more KirVonte Ben­son, who has never car­ried the ball in a col­lege game, beat out Quaide Weimer­skirch, Jerry Howard and Jor­dan Ponchez-Ma­son.

“He’s prob­a­bly the fastest guy we’ve had a B-back,” John­son said of the new starter. “I think he’s got a good skillset for it. Will he play fast and tough? We’ll see. If not, one of those oth­ers guys will play.”

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