Georgia Tech's Nesbitt more confident in option offense

August, 10, 2009
8/10/09
4:09
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

ATLANTA, Ga. -- It's a talent that only Josh Nesbitt's teammates and coaches have witnessed much of since Paul Johnson and his staff took over at Georgia Tech.

Nesbitt, according to teammate Jonathan Dwyer, can throw the ball 60 yards "effortlessly, with the flick of his wrist, gosh, without stepping and throwing."

 
  Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
  Josh Nesbitt ran for 693 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

"Yeah," Nesbitt said with a smile, "I agree with that."

After all, his passing skills were the reason Nesbitt was recruited to Georgia Tech, and Dwyer -- who has deservedly basked in the spotlight since a breakout 2008 season -- is convinced his teammate will finally get the credit he deserves this fall for being a dual-threat quarterback.

"He's probably one of the most dominant quarterbacks in the country, and I think the whole country is going to see that this upcoming season," Dwyer said. "Maturity-wise, you can see he's growing as a person and a team leader, as a complete quarterback. Everybody knows he can run, but he was recruited as a passing quarterback, that's what everybody doesn't remember, and everybody will realize how good of a passer he really is."

It's Nesbitt's feet, though, that help keep Georgia Tech's spread-option offense moving. Against Virginia Tech last year, Nesbitt ran for 151 yards and broke the school single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback.

Last season he ran for 693 yards and seven touchdowns while throwing for 808 yards, two touchdowns and five interceptions. Those within the program say there's still room for Nesbitt to grow, but he's made significant strides since first learning the offense last spring.

"Josh is a lot more comfortable in what we're doing," said quarterbacks coach Brian Bohannon. "When we first came in, Josh had never taken a snap under center, he'd never taken a five-step drop, much less the option, which is totally new for him. So we had to start from square one and last year were piecing things together the best we could. He did a great job of making plays when we needed him to have it, but I think this spring he got a lot better and fundamentally start to hone in on what he needs to do. He's getting better in all areas but still has room for improvement."

Nesbitt said he asked the coaches to give him game tapes of last year, and what they might see this year, and took it back to his room to study. He said he knows he's better than that now, "and I'm grateful for that."

"Last year was like learning another language," he said. "You can sit in the film room for weeks, even months and years, but when you get on the field it's a whole different ballgame. It's key getting reps in to know it."

Nesbitt said he doesn't care if he throws the ball more as long as the Jackets win, but it will help confuse defenses even more if the passing game becomes more of a threat.

"I'm sure I'll get that chance one day," he said. "I think [Johnson] knows that I can throw the ball more than what I showed last year. I just came in from last season trying to be more of a leader. If I hand the ball off to Dwyer and he has 200 yards and I have 20 but we win, I'm happy."

Bohannon shares that philosophy.

"We want to do what we think it takes to win football games," Bohannon said. "We're a running offense, we make no bones about that. What we would like to see Josh do is be more efficient when we throw the football. We could have 150-[1]60 yards, but our yards per catch, and our touchdowns, they're going to be big plays if we do it right. We're not going to throw the ball 20-25 times per game probably, but we want to be very efficient in what we do, and that's what we have to get better at from last year to this year."

And it starts with Nesbitt.

"I think he's got a lot better understanding of what he's trying to do. He's trying to become a better leader," Johnson said. "He's made a lot of progress I think. I just think he needs to get more comfortable doing what we do and have a better knowledge of what's going on. Certainly we can throw the ball better, but that's not all Josh. He's got to get some help there, too."

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