ATLANTA -- While no definitive answer was provided as to whom Georgia Tech's starting quarterback in 2011 will be based on their performance during Saturday's T-Day game at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Tevin Washington and Synjyn Days both showed they have the potential to be viable options.
Of course, the competition really isn't going to be complete until touted freshman Vad Lee gets onto campus this summer.
"I don't know if it's a lot more different than any other position on the field," Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said. "You give everyone a chance and put the players out there that give you the best chance to win."
During the spring, Tevin Washington, a redshirt junior, was the starter and ran the first-team White offense during the spring game. Even though Washington started T-Day off shaky with a fumble on a pitch play, he rebounded with nice throws under pressure in the second quarter to Orwin Smith (30 yards) and Embry Peeples (16 and 10 yards) and finished the game with 134 passing yards, but also was sacked three times with three interceptions.
Washington is still wearing a brace on his left knee, which he says is a result of a tear in his MCL from last year's Independence Bowl loss to Air Force.
"Today was not one of Tevin's better days, but I'll say that he has gotten better this spring," Johnson said.
In fact, Washington fumbled on each of the White squad's drives, including one on a sack from defensive end Jason Peters, but he followed it up with a 15-yard scramble between a big hole in his offensive line in the second quarter.
However, Days, a redshirt freshman, had the longest pass of the day for 41 yards to Jeremy Moore early in the fourth period for the second-team offense on the Gold Squad in their 21-7 win over the White, marking the end of spring practice on The Flats.
Of course, what is most apparent about Days' threat he provides is his ability to run with the ball. He didn't disappoint with the way he orchestrated the Gold's offense. He's not just a running threat; he can take a hard hit too. Days finished the game with 112 rushing yards and a touchdown.
"I think that's one of the reasons that they recruited me is that I like to run the ball," Days said. "I'm a tough competitor and going to give it my all."
"I'm excited about Synjyn and the way he can make plays, but he's got a lot of room to grow," Johnson said.
Days noted his squad's execution of a two-minute drill at the end of the first half as a positive, even though it resulted in a 21-yard field goal that sailed wide right. With 30 seconds left on the first half clock, Days scrambled for 20 yards down to the 24, followed by a 16-yard run and went of out of bounds at the 8 to stop the clock with enough time for a field goal attempt.
"Our coaches stress good clock management," Days said. "We want to get our offense set up in a position to score points in a position like that."
Days' only rushing touchdown came on a run from the 1 early in the third period, three plays after he hit Marty Alcala for a 35-yard gain. His touchdown pass went for 11 yards to B.J. Bostic in the first quarter.
Defensively, Flowery Branch graduate and starting defensive end Izaan Cross had the game's biggest play of a Gold Team lineman when he came away with a one-handed interception on a Washington shovel pass at the 30. Cross finished the game with three tackles.
The defensive front of Cross, Jason Peters and Dawson County graduate Logan Walls is clearly a team strength with all three starters back in Georgia Tech's 3-4 defense for 2011. Yellow Jackets defensive coordinator Al Groh says he's got seven players that will see time on the line in the coming season.
"Our understanding of the defense is better than it was now than at this point last season," Groh said.
"We're comfortable that all the guys we have on the defensive line can come in and play," said Peters, a fifth-year senior. "We've grown a lot as a defensive unit."
Quayshawn Nealey led all tacklers with 7 1/2 during the T-Day scrimmage, along with a sack. Three projected starters for next season at linebacker, including Flowery Branch graduate Daniel Drummond, Julian Burnett and Jeremiah Attaochu were held out of game.
While none of the running backs in the spring game had particularly eye-catching performances - or long runs for that matter - Richard Watson was the leader among the B-Backs with a 15-yard touchdown run in the opening period, along with a hard 3-yard gain on a fourth and 2. He carried the ball six times for 48 yards, and Preston Lyons rushed for 45.
Place kicking duties remains an open competition for the Yellow Jackets. Three different kickers missed an opportunity at field goal in the first half (49, 47 and 21 yards).
Most importantly to Johnson, Georgia Tech didn't sustain any injuries during the T-Day game.
"We had a productive spring, but certainly have a long way to go," Johnson added.
Georgia Tech opens the season Sept. 1 against Western Carolina at Bobby Dodd Stadium.