April 25, 2010
By Matt Winklejohn
The highlight of Georgia Tech’s T-Day game for me came after the White squad manhandled the Gold 27-7 in just two quarters. Anthony Allen delivered a great moment of locution, which will come many paragraphs aft.
First, on the field quarterback Tevin Washington was the man; no question.
As a matter of fact, the rising redshirt sophomore from Wetumpka, Ala., has gone a long way this spring toward answering a big question. Saturday, Washington triggered lightning – real lightning – while doing it.
When backup quarterback Jaybo Shaw transferred to Georgia Southern – in part to pursue a degree that would dovetail into his ambition of being a teacher and coach like his father – a hole remained. Who would step into the maw if quarterback Joshua Nesbitt were to step out?
Safe to say, even with “fall” camp pending, that will be Washington. “Oh, I think; don’t you?” was Head Coach Paul Johnson’s response when asked if No. 13 had thrown a hammerlock on the No. 2 QB spot.
If “The Prez” (think George Washington) did any substantial wrong in Bobby Dodd Stadium, I missed it. He accounted for all four White touchdowns, once by air and three times by ground – including one exquisitely-timed run at the end of the first half that lit up a very, very dark sky like magic.
The numbers: 10 rushes for 35 yards and touchdown runs of 10, 5 and 5 yards; seven passes thrown, six completed — one for a 70-yard score to Stephen Hill — and 122 total passing yards. This came in one half, against Tech’s first-team defense.
His pitches seemed well-timed, his runs were made with confidence, his throws found their mark.
No wonder Washington wants Nesbitt’s job. “Keep pushing. This is my chance . . . to take it and run with it,” Washington said. “I think that’s everybody’s goal. I don’t think anyone comes to college to be a backup. Everybody pushes to be a starter.”
Washington cut loose in the second quarter when he saw a rising sophomore wide out get “leverage.” Hill wrestled Dominique Reese and won.
“He’s matured,” Hill said of Washington. “He’s got a lot of confidence up under his belt. A lot of people are pushing him hard because you don’t know what’s going to happen with Joshua Nesbitt next season.”
Nesbitt told me last week and Johnson said Saturday that the rising senior QB has resumed throwing and will be 100 percent ready to go for summer practice after missing spring practice following surgery to clean debris out of and tighten ligaments in an ankle.
“I was really proud of Tevin. He’s played well all spring. He’s made huge strides,” said Johnson, who tends to be measured when doling out platitudes. “What happened out there [Saturday] is not a lot different than what’s happened at every Saturday scrimmage.”
As always in a spring game, with good comes bad. If the offense is rolling, the defense is getting rolled. Washington’s White squad was generally comprised of the first team offense and second team defense, and the Gold squad vice-versa.
Translation: after surrendering 274 yards, 11 first downs and four touchdowns in two quarters, the approximated first-team defense has work yet. But new defensive coordinator Al Groh has a built-in. His 3-4 scheme is a big switch from what the Yellow Jackets were doing.
Outside linebacker Anthony “A.T.” Barnes, who may finally find a spot, had five tackles and a sack for the Gold defense, and Izaan Cross had four tackles.
They had a tough time slowing Washington and the White in something of a reverse of most springs; usually, the defense is ahead of the offense. But Washington is entering his third year in Johnson’s system, and the first-team offense Saturday had touchdown drives of eight plays and 70 yards; nine plays and 50 yards; one play and 70 yards; and 15 plays and 71 yards.
Allen, in line to replace Jonathan Dwyer as B-back, rushed 15 times for 91 yards for White.
Washington seemed comfortable post-game, yet his sense of timing still exceeds his interview skills.
With the skies having darkened ominously for a scrimmage moved up one hour for fear of weather, Washington’s third and final scoring run came as the first half ended and lightning snapped wickedly.
Thunder clapped quickly about Bobby Dodd, and within moments Johnson and his charges were high-tailing toward the Tech locker room. A voice came quickly over the P.A. system to notify a large crowd of thousands that the end had arrived. The message: go home.
Washington seemed there already. Allen, too.
Finished with media interviews, he paused before exiting the wood-paneled room where players and Johnson mingled with formerly ink-stained wretches who are now more likely to populate the internet.
“Words of wisdom for the day,” Allen said as the room paused and turned toward the doorway he sought to exit. “If there’s lightning outside, go inside.”
Channel 11’s Randy Waters – or it might have been his video man, I’m not certain – shot back: “Unless you can dodge it.”
Allen rolled with it, reminding me of a glib, quickly-witted Tech back from not-so-long-ago – a Mr. Tashard Choice.
“That’s true, and I can,” Allen said. “But it takes a good six or seven years of training. Do not try this at home.”
A back-grounder last fall, Allen with his dreadlocks and battering-ram style shows signs of becoming a workhorse, photogenic centerpiece and go-to interview all in one.
His emergence, however, played second chair Saturday. Washington took center stage. “Tevin’s led the team to a lot of touchdowns pretty much every Saturday,” Johnson said. “Like I said, he’s gotten a lot better . . . a lot better.”