Lee ready for strong finish, start to 2013

If Vad Lee’s time as Georgia Tech quarterback doesn’t start Monday in the Sun Bowl, it will begin soon after.

Upon the Yellow Jackets’ return to campus for the spring term, Lee assuredly will gather up wide receiver Darren Waller and whoever else wants to join for some throw-and-catch. Perhaps then, as his spirals pierce the still air of the Tech indoor practice building, Lee will take over. Justin Thomas will be right on his heels.

“Vad’s time’s coming really fast,” quarterbacks and B-backs coach Brian Bohannon said. “Whether it’s (in the bowl) or not, I don’t know, but after that, they’re going to have to be able to run it. They’re going to have to be able to do it.”

Tech closes the 2012 season against USC in El Paso, Texas, in the Jackets’ 16th consecutive bowl game. Tech can break its seven-game bowl losing streak, even its record at .500, provide coach Paul Johnson with his first bowl win at Tech and gain a measure of satisfaction from a season that has been something less than magical.

Through 13 games, arguably the most gleaming highlight was Lee’s play in the North Carolina game, as he led the Jackets to 55 points in Tech’s 68-50 win. Lee’s leadership and playmaking offered promise that he could be a galvanizing piece of the 2013 Jackets team that could have 16 starters back.

Coaches have largely gone with starter Tevin Washington since the UNC game, staying with a pattern of giving Washington and Lee two possessions each and then deciding on playing time from there. For the Sun Bowl, coach Paul Johnson has said only that both will play.

“I’ve been through a lot of key situations, so I kind of feel comfortable, and whenever my number’s called, I’m just ready to go,” Lee said.

Lee is only at the start of his development. In some cases, he hasn’t assessed defensive alignments well enough to check into the right play before the snap. He has become more adept at executing option plays, but needs to improve. He has shown a willingness to learn and an appetite for work.

“He wants to be good,” Bohannon said, “and he’s working at it.”

The North Carolina game offered a snapshot of his progress. Bohannon said Lee told him that “there were times I was just balling” – relying on his playmaking instincts rather than reading keys to execute plays as designed.

Yet, on a triple-option play in the same game, Lee handled what Tech calls a “blood stunt” flawlessly. On the play, the defense charges the quarterback with both the play-side defensive end and a second defender as he is in the mesh – the point where the quarterback has the ball held out to the B-back and has to decide whether to hand off or keep.

The defensive players are trying to swat the pitch from the quarterback and force a possible turnover, Lee said. Lee had faced blood stunts in practice, but never before in a game. He made the instant decision to quickly separate from the mesh and pitch to A-back Orwin Smith.

With two defenders taken out of the play, Smith ran 22 yards for a touchdown.

“I was pretty proud,” Lee said. “That game, I was pretty tired so I was happy that Orwin scored and I could get a breather off the field.”

Meanwhile, Thomas has impressed players and coaches on the practice field with his work with the scout team and also in occasional duty with the second-string offense. Thomas doesn’t have Lee’s size, but he was a state sprint champion in Alabama and is said to be an accurate passer.

“We’ve got a young one behind him who really picked up on things pretty fast, so I’m excited about those guys,” said Bohannon, referring to Thomas. “I think that’s a bright future at that position.”

When they begin spring practice, Lee will likely be listed as the starter with Thomas the backup given Lee’s playing experience.

“But when you go into spring, anybody could beat anybody out,” Johnson said. “It really doesn’t matter. They’ll both have their opportunity.”

If Johnson needs Lee Monday, he knows where to find him.

In case you missed it…

Thomas, Godhigh, Uzzi share team honors

Five freshmen who have impressed in practice

Sun Bowl gifts include hair dryer (again)

Notes: Johnson, Barkley out for bowl

Some highlights, but special teams still lag

After forgettable season, Young can start fresh

Tech 2008 signing class delivers in classroom

Tech blows past Citadel

USC’s Barkley reportedly unlikely to play

Notes: Successful career for Tech long snapper

Orwin Smith tries for strong finish

35 football players make dean’s list

Thanks for reading.

Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog

16 comments Add your comment


December 31st, 2012
9:51 am

Good to hear, competition is always good, but it also can be distracting if you are constently looking over your shoulder to be pulled.


December 31st, 2012
9:51 am

First I guess

GT Joe

December 31st, 2012
9:59 am

Wonder if tevin ends THIS game with yet another interception.

Vad: take a seat on the bench. You won’t play. And we’ll lose because of it.

As for Thomas, all I hear is “coachspeak”. The coaches hype up thomas in an effort to push Vad to higher levels, knowing thomas will never beat out Vad. I get it. They hyped up Vad right before they redshirted him, presumably to push Tevin.

It’s Vad’s team for the next 3 years. Sadly, it’s still Tevin’s team today.

GT Joe

December 31st, 2012
10:00 am

where can I watch this game online?


December 31st, 2012
10:01 am

CPJ said the defense was having to think too much in Groh’s scheme. It appears, at times, the QB is having to do the same in his offensive system. Maybe if we can get both sides of the ball “just balling”, we may be on to something special down on the Flats.

Missing on the Luellen kid at QB set CPJ back a year or two at TECH. We should see the full potential of the TO over the next few years. If we can just play average D, Charlotte should become a regular December destination for the Jackets.

GT Joe

December 31st, 2012
10:10 am

TML: Exactly. We need more “just balling”. I’ve said it forever; Tevin runs the offense better, but Vad has the athleticism to make up for any execution mistakes (UNC game for instance).

Just one more Tevin game to endure….then perhaps we can smile about GT Football once again.


December 31st, 2012
10:13 am

Game is on CBS at 2pm. If you are trying to watch online just google stream cbs.


December 31st, 2012
10:34 am

Ready for the offense to erupt right up in the middle, rip the Trojans right off after a fast finish, and leave them in a pile on the ground. After that, the Jackets will be spent and well satisfied!

5150 UOAD

December 31st, 2012
10:59 am

Lee and Thomas on the field at the same time could be great too. I hope Vad gets the pitch down and really throws some great passes. Ready to see the O really go down field some more.

5150 UOAD

December 31st, 2012
11:04 am

What’s the Good Word?
To Hell with the TROJANS

How bout them Crying Tech fans?
Pizz on them!!!!!!!!!!

5150 UOAD

December 31st, 2012
11:05 am

GT JOE go to ramblinwreck.com and look what TECH is showing for viewing options.

GT Joe

December 31st, 2012
11:33 am

apparently i can watch at cbssports.com

Gr8 2B aFuzzyB

December 31st, 2012
11:56 am

Thanks for the teaser Ken. Look forward to Vad’s 2 series. Anything more is a bonus.


December 31st, 2012
2:30 pm

Ok, the game is on, who knows maybe the NFL loss is GT gain, hopefully Ken Whisenhunt will return to TECH as the head coach, I can wish cann’t I? (lol)

GT fan

December 31st, 2012
9:03 pm

Ken you had a live blog for GT & USC game..you never showed up..you stayed on tweets all game..That was pretty sorry on your part. If you going to have a live blog stay on it.

Great game Team and Coaches..You made us proud.

Ken Sugiura

December 31st, 2012
10:40 pm

GT fan – duly noted. Thanks for your input.