Rookie versus rookie in Coastal clash

When Tevin Washington arrived on Georgia Tech’s campus two years ago, the Yellow Jackets’ staff tried to switch him from quarterback to slot back.

Washington, however, had different plans.

“I really wanted to be a quarterback, that’s why I came to Georgia Tech,” he said. “I felt like I could run this offense. I felt like if given the chance and the opportunity, that I could go out and show the coaches I could be a good quarterback for this offense.”

Now he doesn’t have much choice but to prove it.

When Georgia Tech hosts Miami on Saturday, the game is likely to feature two rookie quarterbacks in Washington and true freshman Stephen Morris. Both of them have been thrust into the spotlight at the expense of their injured teammates. Georgia Tech starter Joshua Nesbitt broke his right forearm against Virginia Tech last weekend and will miss the rest of the regular season. Miami starter Jacory Harris had a concussion two weeks ago at Virginia and remains questionable for this week. Rookie mistakes are expected from both of them, but they’re also being counted on to win earlier than expected in their careers.

“The reality of it is now Tevin’s the guy,” said Georgia Tech quarterbacks coach Brian Bohannon. “We’re hoping everybody is going to rally around him.”

Washington put forth a valiant effort in the second half last Thursday at Virginia Tech, especially considering Lane Stadium is one of the most unforgiving environments for any opponent. It was so loud that Washington said he had to take out his mouthpiece in order for his teammates to hear him in the huddle. Washington threw a 42-yard completion to Tyler Melton that sustained the drive that tied the score at 21 with 2:34 remaining. The Hokies took the lead on David Wilson’s 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, though, and Georgia Tech’s bid at a comeback fell short when Washington was intercepted in the end zone with eight seconds left.

“He got thrown in the mix Thursday night in a very tough environment, tough situation,” Bohannon said. “Though he didn’t do everything perfectly, I thought he fought hard and did the best he probably could under the circumstances. The interesting thing this week is he’s the starter now. He’s got to sit on that for a week.”

Bohannon said Washington has been getting almost as many reps as Nesbitt was, and that he’s been in the system long enough to know it.

“I think he knows what to do and where to go and all that, but there’s a difference in executing it when the lights are on and in practice,” Bohannon said. “The only way to truly get that is by out there doing it.”

Morris has already had that. Saturday’s 26-20 win over Maryland came in his first collegiate start.

If Morris was nervous, said receiver Leonard Hankerson, “he didn’t show it at all.”

Morris completed 18 of 30 passes against Maryland, including a 35-yard touchdown to Hankerson with 37 seconds remaining. Morris threw for 286 yards, a single-game high for any UM quarterback this season, and also rushed for 13 yards.

“I was very impressed by him, being as poised as he was and able to make plays, and help lead the team to victory,” said Hankerson. “He came in and did what he had to do throughout the week and made plays and helped us win the game.”

He'll have to do it again on Saturday. May the best rookie win.