Head coach of the Yellow Jackets Paul Johnson has been put in a bind. Former starting QB Vad Lee is transferring to James Madison. So, with little game experience,either Justin Thomas or Tim Byerly will have to step up and become the leader that this team has been lacking for some time. A few key notes:
Justin Thomas QB#5
- From Prattville Ala.
- High school- Prattville
Played in 10 games as 2nd string QB, rushed 33times -234yards (7.1ypa), two touchdowns, 9 of 17 passing (.529) for 131 yards with one touchdown.
Tim Byerly QB#18
- Redshirt Junior
- From Alpharetta Ga.
- High school – Chatahoochee
- Transfer from MTSU
Played 4 games as 3rd String QB, attempted 4 passes completed 1 for 3 yards, rushed 18 times for 119 yards (6.6ypa), two touchdowns.
The advantage in size and strength clearly goes to Tim Byerly, you cannot teach 6-0/215lbs. For an option QB having that big body frame is key for taking big hits and that is something that Justin Thomas lacks. With the size that Tim has he can break tackles with ease and can keep a drive going, but sometimes that drive will stall out from a lack of big plays. Even with that size you still have to play smart because the body can only take so much physical contact. That is what Tim fails to realize, as minor injuries that were just a nuisance have become problematic. Tim suffered a major shoulder injury from taking a big hit from a defender during practice, and also a concussion earlier that year during a scrimmage. So he needs to find that balance in his game so he can protect himself better in order to stay on the field.
Justin Thomas is not a big bruiser; he does not have the ability to run over a defender, though he has taken a few hits in the 10 games he has played. We do not know what is going to happen when he gets into a physical game where he has to fight through a defender for that game winning touchdown. But Justin has something that Tim does not have, that ,“wow factor”. Something that just makes you say ,”how did he just do that”. When things are going wrong and you need an exciting play to get the team and the fans alive , Justin is able to do that by making a 60 or 70 yard run for a touchdown while making a defender look defenseless at the same time.
On paper the obvious choice is Justin Thomas as Tech’s starting QB. He is currently the starter at the beginning of spring football, mainly due to the fact that he has played in 10 games, always a plus in a coach’s eyes. But not every game went the way Justin wanted it to. There were multiple mistakes that he made in pressure moments that were primarily mental errors. Justin’s lack of in game experience showed in at least half of his games. Just like most inexperienced players, when things go wrong panic sets in and the more they panic the more mistakes they make. The more experienced player is mentally stronger, they are aware of those in game situations and able to handle it better. Now that Justin has a full year under his belt, he knows what to expect.
Tim Byerly is a very viable backup. His history of injuries are keeping him away from the starting job.As a head coach that would be hard to overlook, so Paul Johnson has that on his mind as he observes Tim. Can Byerly last a whole season without any injuries? Can he get through a practice or a game without hurting his shoulder or getting a concussion. These are things that make a coach hesitant in giving a QB the keys to the Mercedes so to speak. Ultimately only time will tell who is going to be the starter. Head coach Paul Johnson normally will rotate QBs during games and create packages for the starter and back-up. So Justin and Tim will see significant playing time, but looking at the two right now I will go with Justin Thomas as the Starting QB for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.