Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson says he wants to see a total team effort to help quarterback Joshua Nesbitt improve his passing efficiency.
Nesbitt passed for a career-high 1,701 yards last season, averaging 22.68 yards per completion. But he completed just 46.3 percent of his passes. That was a small improvement over the 43.9 percent of the passes he completed during the 2008 season. But, as with every position on the team, the coaches want to see improvement.
To do so, Tech may utilize the A-backs more in the passing game this season. They had 15 receptions last year, compared to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas’ team-leading 46.
While it was hard for Nesbitt to look for anyone but big No. 8, Nesbitt and A-back Embry Peeples started to form a connection as the season progressed, usually when the team needed something less than the deep threat of Thomas and more than what they could get on a typical rushing play.
Peeples, a junior, caught eight passes (second-most on the team) for 244 yards, a whooping 30.5 yards per catch. Many of the yards came after the reception.
After catching just one pass in the season’s first three games, Peeples said repetition in practice was the key to strengthening the relationship with Nesbitt. Establishing trust will be important again this season, according to position coach Lamar Owens, not only for Peeples but for all the A-backs, including Roddy Jones, who didn’t catch a pass last season. He was limited for much of the season because of a hand injury.
Jones, Peeples and the rest of the A-backs are working on going hard every play so that Nesbitt knows where to put the ball.
“It’s about us getting to the right spots,” Jones says, “us being where he expects us to be.”
They are also improving their communication with Nesbitt after every play by telling him what coverage they saw and comparing it with what he saw.
More and more, they say they are seeing the same thing.
“I’m counting on them when the receivers can’t get open that they will get open,” Nesbitt said. “And when I throw it they will catch it.”