- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Georgia Tech backup quarterback Vad Lee will play against Maryland.
But will he start?
Tune in Saturday.
Though Tevin Washington is listed as the starter on the depth chart this week, head coach Paul Johnson has left open the possibility that he will make a change at the position to give his team a much-needed spark as it tries to keep its bowl streak alive.
"I think Vad’s a good athlete and we’re excited about him. He’s going to play some on Saturday. We haven’t decided yet what in what role and how exactly that’s going to be," Johnson said Wednesday on the ACC coaches call. "We still have a couple days of practice. That will determine to a large part what happens."
Washington has started 25 games and is closing in on a few school and ACC records. He is two rushing touchdowns shy of tying Joshua Nesbitt for the school and ACC career records in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. Washington has rushed for 15 touchdowns this season and now has 33 in his 30-game career as Tech’s quarterback.
While Johnson has largely praised Washington for the job he's done, Washington also has made some critical errors at the wrong times in games. Last week, he was pulled against BYU after throwing an interception with the Jackets down 24-14. The Cougars converted that turnover into a score to stretch their lead to 17 before winning big.
Against Middle Tennessee, Washington threw an interception with the Jackets down seven points. Middle Tennessee converted the turnover into a touchdown and the Jackets did not get any closer in the upset loss.
Then in a loss to Clemson, a fourth-quarter safety essentially ended the Jackets' upset chances -- Washington did not see the pursuing Spencer Shuey when he made the option pitch and Orwin Smith was tackled in the end zone.
Now, there is plenty of blame to go around for the way the Jackets have played this season. The defense has been particularly disappointing as well. But when you play the quarterback position, there is much more riding on your shoulders.
"As we’ve struggled a little bit record wise this year and it’s not up to what we like or what we expect, is the fact that in spots Tevin hasn’t played that poorly. He’s done good things," Johnson said. "It’s kind of highlighted when you’re not winning, so therefore he’s under that microscope."
Johnson was asked about whether there was a trade-off in going with the more athletic Lee versus the more experienced Washington.
"Vad’s a little bigger and a little faster with a stronger arm, and right now doesn’t have as good a working knowledge of the system, so it’s kind of a trade-off with what you go with," he said.
Though Maryland has had some fourth-quarter lapses on defense, that unit is the clear strength for the Terps. Maryland has not given up more than 20 points in four straight games. In fact, the most points the Terps have given up in a game this season is 31 -- against West Virginia in Week 4.
Johnson knows what is at stake against one of the best run defenses in the nation. Now he has to pick the quarterback he believes will be most effective in moving the ball down the field.
No matter whom he chooses to start, a difficult challenge awaits.
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3dJared Shanker and Andrea Adelson