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Shaw could make first start against Duke

POSTED: October 4, 2008 5:00 a.m.

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech may have to rely on a freshman quarterback making his first start as it tries to move into second place in the ACC's Coastal Division on Saturday.

Jaybo Shaw, who played all but eight snaps of Georgia Tech's 38-7 win over Mississippi State on Sept. 20, could make his first start when the Yellow Jackets play Duke.

Starter Josh Nesbitt was held out of practice Tuesday after suffering a strained right hamstring against Mississippi State. Nesbitt was injured on the Yellow Jackets' opening drive and sat out the rest of the game as Shaw led a dominant offensive performance.

An off week has given Nesbitt extra time to recover, but Shaw worked with the first-team offense on Tuesday.

Nesbitt also missed practice Monday and wasn't available for comment on Tuesday.

"It's like day to day," coach Paul Johnson said about Nesbitt's status.

"Right now it's too hard to call. We're practicing the other guys. If Josh doesn't play, he doesn't play. It won't surprise me. If he is able to come in and play it might not surprise me either.

"We don't dwell on that. We just get ready with the guys who are playing."

Shaw said he is preparing to start.

"I've just got to get myself prepared, and I think I'm doing as much as I can to be the starter on Saturday," Shaw said.

"I want to go out and just try to lead the team. I don't have to do anything spectacular, just lead the offense, don't turn the ball over, just lead the team like we did against Mississippi State."

Johnson said Nesbitt "tried to run a little bit" on Monday but couldn't participate in drills.

Georgia Tech (3-1 overall, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) will be playing its first home ACC game after winning at Boston College and losing at Virginia Tech. Duke (3-1, 1-0) is coming off a 31-3 win over Virginia that ended its 25-game losing streak in conference games.

Georgia Tech will be favored against Gardner-Webb next week and, if it beats Duke, could be 5-1 when visiting Clemson on Oct. 18.

Johnson cringed at the suggestion he might talk with his players about the opportunity ahead.

"My big picture is the Duke game," Johnson said. "That's the only picture they need to worry about right now. You better take care of your business.

"It's a conference game and it's a team that's 3-1 and that's more than enough for us to worry about. You start looking ahead, you'll be looking back in misery. All our focus is on Duke."

With Shaw leading the way, Georgia Tech had its first turnover-free game of the season against Mississippi State.

Tech had a season-high 500 total yards, including 438 yards rushing, the fifth-highest total in school history. Shaw threw a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas and had a 3-yard touchdown run.

"I can tell myself 'You did it last game. Let's do it again,"' Shaw said.

"I think having almost a full game's experience, having that behind me will help me a lot."

Notes: WR Andrew Smith wore a non-contact jersey Tuesday as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder. The Yellow Jackets also are still without WR Correy Earls, who is moving closer to his return from a hamstring injury. ... OL A.J. Smith has not played since the season opener due to an elbow injury and an illness. Johnson said Smith could play this week "if he physically can play."



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