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Georgia Tech notebook: Nesbitt looking like a more attractive option at QB for Gailey

POSTED: November 12, 2007 5:03 a.m.

ATLANTA — So far, backup quarterback Josh Nesbitt has looked like a pretty good running back.

Nesbitt has thrown only seven passes but has 31 carries for 187 yards, an average of 6.0 yards per carry, as a freshman for Georgia Tech. It may be time to learn if Nesbitt is more than just a running quarterback.

After starter Taylor Bennett reached a low with his four interceptions in last week’s loss to Virginia Tech, could Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey consider giving Nesbitt more snaps on Saturday at Duke?

Gailey appeared to leave that option open when asked about his quarterback plans.

"It’ll be a change-of-pace deal," Gailey said before adding about Nesbitt: "We’ll continue to give him the package, and if it looks like there’s a spot where he may get more than that, then we’ll take that opportunity."

Nesbitt (6-1, 204) has been able to show off his running skills early because the rest of the offense is more difficult to learn for a true freshman. Ultimately, he may surprise some observers who have him pegged as only a running quarterback.

As a senior at Greene County High in Greensboro, Nesbitt passed for 2,256 yards and 32 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He was regarded among the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks in last year’s recruiting class.

Nesbitt is only 3-of-7 passing for 35 yards with an interception, but his teammates say he has proved his passing skills in practice.

"He’s a great talent running and throwing the ball," said Tech center Kevin Tuminello. "He really hasn’t had the chance to throw that much, but he has a great arm and he’s definitely a dual-threat quarterback."

Bennett passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns against West Virginia in last season’s Gator Bowl, but he has passed for only two touchdowns in nine starts this season. He has thrown seven interceptions for Tech (5-4 overall, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Tech fans had boos for Gailey at the end of the 27-3 loss to Virginia Tech, and shaky play at quarterback may be the motivation for some of the negative reviews.

In the last two games of his 2006 senior season, four-year starter Reggie Ball completed only 6 of 22 passes with two interceptions in a 15-12 loss to Georgia and only 9 of 29 passes with two interceptions in a 9-6 loss to Wake Forest in the ACC championship game.

Bennett lacks Ball’s skills as a runner but was supposed to provide more stability as a passer. He has completed only 50.4 percent of his passes: 120-of-238 for 1,494 yards.

Bennett had a quick reply when asked how he has handled his four-interception game against Virginia Tech.

"Definitely forget about it," he said. "That’s never happened to me before in a game or even in a season. I have to try to forget about all that and worry about the three games ahead of us and move on."

Gailey has made no indication he is considering a significant change at quarterback, though he said Nesbitt is improving.

"It all depends on him," Gailey said of the freshman. "You can’t push him too fast. It’s not fair to him and that’s not fair to the team. But at the same time, you don’t want to take him too slow.

"He does improve. He gets better. But to do everything is going to take some time. He is getting better. That’s the encouraging part. He has not hit a wall, which is good."

Gailey said he is working with Bennett on "overall game management"

Academic honors

Tuminello and defensive tackle Darryl Richard were named to the Academic All-District 3 team announced Thursday by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Tuminello and Richard advance to the ballot for Academic All-American. Tuminello is a building construction major. Richard is a management major.

Bowl talk

Gailey has reminded his players that the last three games against Duke, North Carolina and Georgia will determine their standing among the ACC’s bowl-eligible teams. The first task is to become bowl-eligible with a sixth win.

With a win over Duke on Saturday, Tech would become eligible for its 11th straight bowl season. Tech is one of six schools to play in bowls each of the last 10 years, joining Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Michigan and Virginia Tech.


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