Sept. 13, 2015
By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
– As college debuts go, Matthew Jordan’s first acts on the football stage weren’t exactly electric, but maybe if he hadn’t been hidden out of position folks would not have been shocked to see him jolt Tulane in Saturday afternoon’s 65-10 rout.
Serving as Georgia Tech’s primary backup quarterback in Bobby Dodd Stadium because junior Tim Byerly wrenched his right knee in practice earlier in the week, he made more of an impression than when playing A-back a week earlier.
Once the Yellow Jackets blew out to a 44-7 lead against the Green Wave, starter Justin Thomas’ day was done.
All he did was trigger a nine-play, 91-yard drive in his first action at quarterback, capping it with a 35-yard touchdown pass down the middle to freshman TaQuan Marshall. It was his only pass.
“He’s leading the nation in quarterback rating,” said head coach Paul Johnson. “I told him we’ll never throw it again; he can stay right there. I thought Matthew played well. He played about like I expected. He’s been here.”
Actually, Jordan was over there at A-back.
Recruited out of Jackson, Ala., as a quarterback, he was moved to the wingback spot this summer because the Yellow Jackets lost five of their top six from last season. He rushed three times for 18 yards from that spot in a season-opening win over Alcorn State.
With a pair of quarterback runs totaling seven yards before Saturday’s touchdown pass to Marshall, Tech’s newest multi-tool was unveiled.
“It’s totally different, but like I told coach Johnson, I’m here to do whatever he needs me to do. I just want to play,” Jordan said. “I was really excited to be out there and get my first reps at quarterback.”
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman sure looked like he knew what he was doing, and there would be more highlight tape to come.
“He was the quarterback all spring,” said Johnson, who was not surprised. “We moved him to A-Back [in summer practice] because we knew we were going to have some young guys there, and we think he’s a good athlete.
“There’s a couple of those A-Backs that, truthfully, probably next spring will be quarterbacks . . . so we felt like we needed him more at A-Back.”
Jordan played wide receiver and cornerback in high school before moving to quarterback, and worked at quarterback after arriving at Tech for the spring semester in 2014. Until this week, that is, when he moved back.
Just as his head coach suggested, he benefitted from working at another position.
His decision making was fairly crisp, especially when the Jackets next took the ball.
On the first play, Tech ran the option, and Jordan tucked it and took off on a 65-yard touchdown run for a 58-10 lead. He went untouched.
“[Having played another position] just makes the offense really come together and click … see how it works,” he said. “It kind of helps me know what to do … the [defender] took the B-back and [another] took the pitch [man], and I saw the hole and tried to hit it.”
Byerly figures to return to action this season, but probably not in time for Tech’s trip to No. 9 Notre Dame this week. Johnson doesn’t seem worried.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Chase Martenson is expected back from injury, Jordan acquitted himself nicely while rushing three times for a team-high 72 yards, and Brady Swilling carried six times for 49 yards after Jordan departed.
“The back-up quarterback situation is not really day-to-day,” Johnson said. “It will be a couple of weeks before we really know. I’m comfortable with Matthew. We’ll get Chase back on Monday, too. I feel okay about Brady, if he had to play.
“They’re not going to dazzle you with big runs like J.T. but they can move the team if everybody else does their job … The one thing I’ll tell you about Matthew: He’s confident. He’s not scared. I can tell you that.”
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