As planning for the 2020 season comes into focus (see Ben’s post from yesterday), it’s a great time to look ahead to the battle for Georgia Tech’s starting quarterback job. Cases have been made this week for James Graham, Jordan Yates, and Jeff Sims, but I’m here to tell you that this year’s starting quarterback will not have a first name with begins with “J.”
Why is there a quarterback competition this year when last year’s starter is returning? In case you missed it, the offense wasn’t very good last year. That was expected, but the lack of progress throughout the season was not. The conventional wisdom held that Graham improved over the course of last year, but the team offensive stats don’t give support to that premise. The offense averaged a 37% success rate for the first six games and fell to 30% over the final six. Similarly, the average of 5.1 yards per play over the first six games declined to 4.5 yards per play. Two caveats: the schedule over the second half of the year was much more difficult (average SP+ rating of 8.57 compared to -0.03 for the first six opponents), and there were clear efforts in the second half of the season to be more explosive and explore the capabilities of the offense with Graham under center, which ultimately hurt the efficiency numbers. That being said, James Graham did not grab a firm hold on the starting quarterback role. Going into 2020, the competition at quarterback is wide open, and that includes Graham, Yates, Sims, and Gleason.
Tucker Gleason was an early member of the 2020 recruiting class. The three star from Plant HS in Tampa was ranked the #31 dual threat QB in 2020, and he was an important building block for putting together the offensive pieces in the rest of the class. Gleason had an outstanding junior season at Plant, throwing for 2,000 yards and 27 passing TDs while running for over 1,000 yards and 17 more TDs. His production declined his senior season, but after reviewing his film, that seems to be caused b a lot of lost talent from his supporting cast. Here’s the highlights of his junior year:
During his senior year, you can see the consistency in his mechanics and approach that led to the outstanding numbers the year before:
In both compilations, Gleason shows athleticism, touch, and pocket presence against pressure that bode well for his development as a quarterback. He lacks top end arm strength, but his quick release and decision making offset that potential weakness. His footwork is stable and allows him to remain on balance when making a wide variety of throws. He can make precise throws outside of both hash marks, and he makes decisive reads in the read option game. I’m confident in Gleason’s ability to make the reads and get the ball out when he needs to in the GT offense. If he improves his arm strength and can handle ACC pass rushers at his feet, he could put a lock on the starting job for the duration of his time on the Flats.
Considering what I have seen from Graham, Yates, Gleason, and Sims, Tucker Gleason looks like the most ready-made ACC quarterback. He has the best foundations and appears to have received the best QB coaching so far. As the team has an extra week to prepare for the start of the 2020 season, watch out for Tucker Gleason to jump ahead in the race for all-important quarterback job.