ATLANTA — Josh Nesbitt had to learn Georgia Tech’s spread option offense on the run last season.
Everything has slowed down in his second year as the starting quarterback for the No. 15 Yellow Jackets.
"Now when I’m under center, everything is like it’s in slow motion," Nesbitt said Monday. "It means I know what I have to do. When you feel like everything is so fast, you really don’t know what to do. You can’t adjust on the run."
Nesbitt said more proof that he is making better decisions comes in meetings with coach Paul Johnson and the assistants.
"They don’t get on me for the same things I did last year," Nesbitt said. "That’s a good thing."
Nesbitt led Georgia Tech to a 9-4 record in Johnson’s first season as head coach. He ran for 693 yards and seven touchdowns and was the second-leading rusher in an offense that ranked fourth in the nation in the category.
Georgia Tech won nine games despite ranking only 116th of 119 major schools in passing as Nesbitt completed only 43.9 percent of his throws for 808 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions.
Nesbitt’s increased confidence could lead to an increase in passing yards, though Johnson’s attack will
always be run-first.
Johnson says Nesbitt’s confidence has been obvious in preseason practices.
"I think Josh is way ahead of where he was a year ago, no question," Johnson said. "He has his days, certainly, where he could do better. Everybody does. I think overall his understanding is way better."
Safety Cooper Taylor said players can see Nesbitt is "light years ahead" of last year.
"Josh is on a different level than last year," Taylor said. "Our whole offense is on a different level. He understands where everybody is going so much better, he’s making his reads so much quicker and he’s just carrying himself with the kind of presence that he’s going to do something special with this team."
Nesbitt missed all or part of four games in 2008 due to injuries. Flowery Branch graduate Jaybo Shaw, who played behind Nesbitt last season, will miss the start of this season with a broken collarbone.
Tevin Washington, a redshirt freshman from Wetumpka, Ala., has moved up as Nesbitt’s backup. Freshman David Sims and redshirt freshman Quentin Sims, a receiver who played quarterback at Colerain High in Cincinnati, also are working behind Nesbitt.
"Tevin is making progress. He’s getting reps," Johnson said, adding he’s not worried about depth at quarterback.
"We’re in probably better shape than we were a year ago," he said. "A year ago we had a true freshman (Shaw) as the backup."NOTES: Johnson said freshman defensive tackle J.C. Lanier of Emanuel County Institute has a shoulder injury that will require season-ending surgery. "We’re going to probably fix it so he can compete in spring," Johnson said. "He was probably going to redshirt anyway, so we’ll just go ahead and fix it now."