Quarterback Zach Gibson announced his commitment to Georgia Tech on Saturday morning, marking the fourth transfer commit in addition to the 13 high school signees in the current class. Gibson will join his brother Tyler, an offensive lineman in the 2022 class, on the Flats with three years of eligibility remaining, after spending the past three seasons at Akron.
Welcome to my homecoming… yeah, it’s been a long time coming. A Lot of fights, a lot of scars, a lot of ups, a lot downs. I made it back, lost my dawg (I miss you papa ). But here I stand a better man… THANK YOU LORD !— Zach Gibson (@Zachgibsonjc) January 1, 2022
I’ve written already about the concern from this offseason overshadowing the excitement, but the addition of Gibson adds to the excitement side of the equation. He was rated at 87, a high three star, in the 247 Transfer Portal Ratings (for reference, outgoing QB Jordan Yates was rated an 81).
Akron had a very confusing quarterback rotation this past season, as they tried to develop an offense despite starting five freshmen on their offensive line. Gibson was far and away the best of the QB’s, though he would only end up appearing in 7 games. This might help explain why the coach was let go mid-season. In those 7 games, Gibson continued to show significant improvement that has characterized his three year arc at Akron.
Zach Gibson Stats by Season
Looking under the hood at some passing advanced stats, which take more context into account, only paints a rosier picture. Here’s where Gibson ranked in some key metrics:
2021 Advanced Stat QB Ranks (Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info)
- Completion Percentage over Expectation (CPOE): 2nd
- Completed Air Yards Over Expectation (CAYOE): 6th
- Expected Points Added (EPA) per play: 9th
Additionally, if we include QBs with all snap counts, Gibson finished 2021 with the 8th highest QB grade on PFF (compared to 173rd and 132nd for Yates and Sims, respectively).
Certainly, GT faced a much tougher slate of defenses last year than Gibson did in the MAC. But this transfer has a baseline competency throwing the football that can only help going into 2022. If Sims beats out Gibson, that tells me his throwing has taken some big steps. If Gibson wins the job, that means that Chip Long believes he’s best suited to lead an ACC attack. Either way, this addition to the QB room has me excited.
Kicking off the action against Ball State, Gibson makes an on-time throw to his favorite target, followed by a not-so-good-one under pressure. Pay particular attention to the receiver on the first play, Konata Mumpfield, who is also a transfer target for GT after putting up monster stats as a freshman.
Gibson shows masterful touch on this corner ball, making a difficult throw outside of the numbers. His arm strength doesn’t wow, but his ball placement often does.
Above, we have another corner ball that he feathers in. This is not a throw that GT has been able to rely on for the last few years.
This is simple, but it’s the kind of throw that the offense would benefit from more of. It’s quick, it’s efficient, and it makes use of the space that the defense has cleared in the middle of the field. Gibson shows that he can put some more zip on it when he needs to.
Against Ball State, he ended up 24-33 for 331 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no picks. The Zips lost on a play where Gibson made a nifty run through the defense, only to have the ball poked away as he stretched it across the goal line for what would have been the winning touchdown.
Against a very solid Western Michigan team, Gibson opens the game showing really solid footwork, as he makes an accurate throw on the run after having to escape the pocket. Stay tuned for the second play in the series, where he escapes a sure sack and runs for a lengthening first down.
Finally, Gibson once again shows his ability to navigate pressure (a huge plus for a GT QB!) while dropping one in the bucket downfield to Mumpfield. That’s a combination I wouldn’t mind watching next fall.
Bringing in a quarterback who has shown incremental improvement for three years and still has three years of potential eligibility is a strong move for new OC Chip Long. This is a floor-raising move for the offense, and Gibson will get every chance to win the job.
Welcome Zach Gibson to the Flats!