The more Vad Lee plays, the better he seems to get.
The Georgia Tech quarterback, who made good on five series of work against Maryland on Saturday, has benefited from the playing time he has received behind starter Tevin Washington. He’ll almost certainly see meaningful snaps against North Carolina on Saturday.
“The more times you get live reps in a game, the more confidence comes with it and the more that I feel that I’m getting better,” he said. “I just feel like I can go execute and make plays and just play my game.”
Against the Terrapins, coach Paul Johnson alternated Washington and Lee, giving each two possessions and then switching. It would not be a surprise for coaches to do something similar in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Using that approach against Maryland, “I think both the guys, they were comfortable,” quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said.
For Lee, the opportunity to play against the Tar Heels is particularly meaningful. While in high school, Lee saw himself playing quarterback in Carolina blue. Tar Heels coaches weren’t quite as enthusiastic about the vision.
“Carolina is always a place I thought I’d end up, but it didn’t end up that way,” said Lee.
Lee grew up in nearby Durham, starring at Hillside High. He was not nearly as high a priority for North Carolina as he was for Tech, which saw him as a difference-making quarterback. Lee saw himself the same way.
“They’ve got a new coaching staff now,” said Lee, who Tuesday said he expected about 12 family members to attend the game. “It’s no hard feelings or anything to Carolina. I’m glad that I’m here, being able to be a quarterback and make plays and get to play against a great team, UNC.”
Johnson has wanted to give Lee playing time, but has sometimes felt the need to keep Washington on the field in situations where he felt Tech needed to maximize its scoring opportunities to win. Johnson also said he wanted Lee to earn playing time in practice.
A rout of Boston College gave him more snaps. After a dismal offensive performance against BYU, Johnson decided to alternate Washington and Lee against Maryland. In five possessions against the Terrapins, then ranked No. 7 in the country in total defense, Lee led Tech to three touchdowns. One of his favorite plays was his only completion, out of two attempts, to A-back Orwin Smith, a 26-yard completion. Lee said it was the same play that the Jackets ran when wide receiver Jeff Greene dropped a pass from Lee that could have been a 49-yard touchdown reception.
The Terrapins “kind of got smart and they went with Jeff, and Orwin had a little hole between the corner and the other safety, so I just tried to throw it in the hole,” he said.
Johnson said Tuesday that, where earlier in the season Lee had to run a different set of plays because he couldn’t execute the entire scheme, “we’re to the point now with Vad where he’s going to run the same stuff that everybody else runs.”
He hasn’t run the triple-option play, the staple of the Tech offense, much, though.
Against Maryland, “we had things going that weren’t necessarily where he had to read everything out, but I think the time’s coming, he’s just going to have to do it,” Bohannon said. “If you’re going to be the quarterback here, he’s going to have to do it.”
The next step is just more game time.
“I think you can’t replace those reps when he gets out there and plays and continues to improve and do it when the game’s on the line, not just at the end,” Bohannon said.
It sounds good to Lee.
“For some reason, when those lights turn on and it’s game time, I’m ready,” he said. “I feel like I can’t be stopped.”
In case you missed it…
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog