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Opinion Week 2022: The Quarterback Position is Anything but Decided

Jeff Sims will start this season, but I don’t think he’ll be the starter by the end of the year.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 02 Ball State at Akron Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last season saw Jeff Sims and Jordan Yates both start some games (to varying degrees of success), and nobody was really very happy about it at all. With Yates and redshirt freshman Chayden Peery out the door, it seemed like Sims was finally going to be THE guy with no real competition.

And you know what? I think the QB room might actually be more talented this year than it was last year. Since losing Yates and Peery, the Yellow Jackets added two transfer quarterbacks: former Akron QB Zach Gibson and former Clemson QB Taisun Phommachanh. In addition to those two, the Yellow Jackets also added Zach Pyron in their recruiting class, and he has received good reports thus far.

Going into the Summer, it seems all signs are pointing toward Jeff Sims being the starting quarterback come Labor Day. But I would be willing to bet money that he will not be the only quarterback to start this year. I do want to say this: I am not rooting for anyone to get injured. I believe there will be a change at quarterback for play-related reasons. There has also never been a season where Geoff Collins has made it a whole year sticking by one quarterback.

Anyway, let’s take a closer look at these three guys.

Jeff Sims

Jeff Sims Career Stats

Season Completion Percentage Passing Yards TD INT Rush Attempts Yards Average/Rush TD
Season Completion Percentage Passing Yards TD INT Rush Attempts Yards Average/Rush TD
2020 54.9 1,881 13 13 120 492 4.1 6
2021 60.1 1,468 12 7 70 372 5.3 4

The easiest case for Sims to be starter is that he has the previous starting experience that none of the other QB options have. He has been the primary starter at Georgia Tech for the last two seasons, and he is in line to be the primary starter this season.

Sims has not always done very well in the starting role, though he has certainly shown some incredible glimpses of potential. I remember watching his debut performance against Florida State in 2020 thinking that Tech football was on the rise. Since then, he has had a lot of up and down performances. Justin Dottavio often referred to him as Dr. Jeff and Mr. Sims.

We know that the potential is there for Sims to take hold of the job and be successful. He’s got the arm talent and is dynamic on the ground. What it comes down to, though, is his decision-making skills. Sims has an incredible knack for making you just cock your head and say, “Huh?”

With Chris Weinke coming in as the new QB coach, replacing Dave Patenaude, the hope is that Sims will finally be developed enough to really take hold of the QB job.

Zach Gibson

Zach Gibson Career Stats

Season Completion Percentage Passing Yards TD INT Rush Attempts Yards Average/Rush TD
Season Completion Percentage Passing Yards TD INT Rush Attempts Yards Average/Rush TD
2019 50.6 425 1 3 14 57 1.3 0
2020 57.6 784 4 5 48 -44 -0.9 0
2021 69.4 1262 10 0 43 -72 -5.1 0

I am a big fan of the potential of Zach Gibson. Robert did a great job reviewing Gibson and what exactly he has done. Gibson turned a lot of eyes at Akron (of all places) last season with his incredible efficiency, passing for nearly 70 percent completion with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. Even looking through advanced metrics, Gibson performed in the top 10 in CPOE, CAYOE and EPA/play.

Gibson’s success, while impressive, comes in a vacuum. Outside of last season, Gibson has not had much success. In 2020, Gibson’s numbers looked much more human. Also, Gibson played at Akron, which is not exactly the world’s stage.

I think Gibson can be successful at Georgia Tech. I don’t think he’s as talented as a guy like Jeff Sims. He doesn’t have the arm. He doesn’t have the athleticism. If nothing else, though, I believe that Gibson can be a pretty great game manager.

I do believe that Gibson is more than just a game manager, though. A lot of players can look the part, but those advanced numbers will inform what kind of difference those players are making. And those advanced numbers look really good for Gibson.

Taisun Phommachanh

Taisun Phommachanh Career Stats

Season Completion Percentage Passing Yards TD INT Rush Attempts Yards Average/Rush TD
Season Completion Percentage Passing Yards TD INT Rush Attempts Yards Average/Rush TD
2019 50 56 0 1 12 56 4.7 0
2020 29.4 17 0 1 7 25 3.6 0
2021 57.9 136 1 1 11 69 6.3 1

And now we start to get into more of the unknowns. With Sims and Gibson, I was able to talk about what they had accomplished. Phommachanh doesn’t have a ton of in-game experience. Most of it came this season, where he appeared in five games and threw 19 passes.

I was able to find some clips from Clemson practices (and a few in-game plays). It’s tough to get too much from this, but I have seen enough to believe that he will certainly play a factor in the QB battle this Summer. He is a big, athletic quarterback. He has a big arm. And it probably helped that he was practicing against Clemson for the last three seasons.

Zach Pyron

The last option is, in my opinion, the least likely option, and that is Zach Pyron. I think Pyron is a solid quarterback, and I think he could be really successful here. He is able to handle pressure well and is a good mid-range passer, which Tech has notoriously struggled with for a while.

Coming into this season, though, I think Tech is probably going to defer to one of the guys with a little more experience. That’s not to say that Pyron won’t play. With the current redshirt rules, he can appear in four games and still have four seasons to play after that. Unless things go dramatically crazy, though, I don’t see Tech burning his shirt this year.

Conclusion

As we move into the Summer and Fall, I think one thing is certain: the QB battle is far from over. The Yellow Jackets have four guys who could be the starter come Labor Day. Personally, I think it could be a really cool story for Taisun Phommachanh to come in and start that game, since it is against his former school (Clemson). At this point, though, I would put money on Sims to be the starter on Labor Day. Past that, though, your guess is as good as mine.