Nov. 7, 2010
Miami vs. Georgia Tech, Saturday, 12 noon @ Bobby Dodd Stadium; TV: ACC Network
By Matt Winkeljohn
Life has been significantly if not dramatically different in recent days for Tevin Washington, who is suddenly tasked with the responsibility of trying not only to lead Georgia Tech to wins over Miami, Duke and Georgia, but to push the Yellow Jackets’ streak of bowl game appearances to 14 straight years.
That likely will take at least one win over the final three games. So, Tech’s new QB’s phone has been ringing like mad, text messages have been rolling in by the truck load, and through it all the third-year sophomore from Wetumpka, Ala., has maintained a perspective all his own.
He was as stunned as anybody else Thursday night when Joshua Nesbitt broke his right forearm at Virginia Tech. Nesbitt’s been in-destructable, right?
Washington, however, is not sounding alarms, nor sounding alarmed any more. He’s about to begin construction of his own legacy. That’ll take a level head.
“I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me the past few days, just encouraging me to be ready, telling me my time is here,” Washington said. “I have to go out and produce. All the talking is out the window; it’s time for results.”
Soon after Nesbitt went down late in the first half, teammates began pumping up their new QB.
Senior B-back Anthony Allen’s message was simple: “Anthony just told me, Let’s go run up and down the field like we did in the spring,’ ” Washington recalled.
It took a while for that to happen.
Georgia Tech’s offense was sporadic for a while with Washington at the helm. He was getting used to players he hadn’t practiced as much with as Nesbitt (of course), and they were re-acquainting themselves with him. Spring practice was a long time ago.
On the Jackets’ first three possessions of the second half, they mustered 54 total yards on 18 plays.
The last play of the second of those possessions — a fourth-and-2 where Richardson Watson was stuffed at the line — was one Washington would like back. After the game, head coach Paul Johnson said he thought that if his QB had pulled the ball out of Watson’s gut and pitched it, Georgia Tech might’ve scored.
Watson, though, grabbed tightly onto the ball in the “mesh” and Washington couldn’t get it back.
“I should have done a better job pulling it,” he said. “It was kind of a timing thing. The more chances we get to practice that, the better it will be.”
Virginia Tech tied the game at 14 minutes later, and not long after a Georgia Tech punt in the fourth quarter, the Hokies took a 21-14 lead.
Then, Washington and Co. starting rolling.
Trailing 21-14, the Jackets drove 80 yards in nine plays to tie the game again.
Washington completed his first pass, for 42 yards to Tyler Melton, and went on to rush three times for 16 yards on that possession.
After the Hokies took a 28-21 lead by returning the ensuing kickoff for a score, Georgia Tech went on the march again. The Jackets had little choice; there was just 2:23 left in the game.
After a sack and an incomplete pass, Washington scrambled for 17 yards on third-and-17. A couple plays later, he completed a 38-yard pass to Kevin Cone, and eventually drove Georgia Tech to the Virginia Tech 16-yard-line with the help of his runs of 8 and 9 yards.
By this point, he was looking much more comfortable.
“I think I got into a groove as I went on,” he said. “I also think that the more we were in it together, the more camaraderie we developed as a unit. That helped.”
Georgia Tech’s last gasp came when Washington’s pass to Melton in the end zone was intercepted in the final minute.
He showed enough, though, that Georgia Tech fans have cause for optimism heading into the final quarter of the season. He feels good, too, knowing that he’ll be getting much more work with the No. 1 offense in practice. That should lead to greater familiarity with teammates and the plan, and a boost in confidence – both dove-tailing into a greater comfort zone.
The time for nerves has come and gone, although Washington will almost certainly have a few jitters before making his first collegiate start.
“Going into the game I know I’m the number one guy, that I’ll be in there from the first snap. It’s an opportunity to get better,” he said. “I think [practicing with the first unit this week] will help a lot, getting timing down with the receivers, and getting in a groove.
“I don’t think [the offense will change much with him at QB]; I don’t know. It will be an interesting week of practice. I just want to do whatever it takes to win.”
I have a feeling that Washington will do his thing against Miami. What do you think? Send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.