Last year for the Yellow Jackets proved to be a bit of a wild ride for the quarterback position. While starting the season primarily with Tobias Oliver and Lucas Johnson at quarterback, the team finished the season with James Graham at quarterback. And now, going into Geoff Collins’ second season on the Flats, we have some more quarterback controversy!
Already on the Roster
2019 Stats: 45.1 completion percentage, 1,164 passing yards, 12 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 2.93 rushing yards per carry, 290 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns
After the aforementioned quarterback carousel, Graham finally settled into the starting role against North Carolina. The rest of the season wasn’t ideal. Graham showed a lot of promise, especially in the loss to Virginia, which was probably his best game of the season. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns. It gave us a glimpse of what Graham could really do.
The key for Graham will be how he has developed since November. In most of Tech’s games last season, Graham was a bit on the erratic side, either overshooting his receivers or making overall poor decisions. While it was frustrating to watch at times, it was clear to see Graham’s potential; he just needs refinement.
2019 Stats: 4-of-12 passing, 38 passing yards, 11 rushing attempts, 18 rushing yards
And this is where things get muddy. Of the main guys who played at quarterback for Tech, Graham is the only one returning at the position that played very much. But there is a ton of potential outside of Graham, and that all starts with Jordan Yates.
Watching his film, there is a lot to like. One of the first thing that pops out to me is his pocket presence. He is able to shake off pass rushers with ease and still find his man while on the run. I’m also excited because Yates actually does well with short-to-intermediate passes, which Tech has struggled with for, you know, the last decade. With his skill, he will definitely push Graham for starting time.
Graham and Yates aren’t the only two quarterbacks who were on the roster last season, but they were the only ones who had playing time, so I’ll include the others in a briefer section. Serving as the reserves were Ryan Lantz and Liam Byrne, two former walk-ons.
New to the team
Gleason is a solid passer and is a deceptively good runner. He is able to find his targets pretty easily and, like Yates, does well with the short-to-intermediate passes. While he doesn’t have the showiest arm in the world, Gleason still has some good zip on his passes and shows some pretty good footwork.
Jeff Sims might be the most naturally gifted quarterback on Tech’s roster. The ball just explodes out of hand and when running the ball, it’s tough to keep up with him. I’ll go ahead and say I don’t expect much from Sims this season. While he is incredibly talented, I think he needs some refinement. Like Graham, Sims can be a bit erratic passing the ball.
This quarterback battle would have been a lot more interesting if not for, you know, gestures at everything. With spring practice ending early, Sims and Gleason did not get as much time to work with the team, despite both enrolling early. Because of that, I think it will be a two-horse race between Graham and Yates. Unless Graham takes a notable step of improvement , I expect Jordan Yates to be the starter, at least to start the season, but it could go either way.
1a. Jordan Yates
1b. James Graham
THE LINE (Please note players are listed here in alphabetical order)
Also, this is just the beginning of quarterback talk here at FTRS! Check back in a couple weeks, and we’ll be making the case for each of these guys to get the starting job.
How do you see the quarterback position shaking out?