He’s not the most stylish quarterback in the land, and he doesn’t throw the prettiest passes. But if it’s fourth-and-2 and his team is going for it — and Georgia Tech’s coach tends to go for it — Joshua Nesbitt is the one you’d trust most with the ball.
He’ll get the two yards. He’ll get them if he has to steal the ball back from an opponent. He’ll get them no matter how many opponents grab onto him. Joshua — nee Josh — Nesbitt is a bottom-line guy.
The Jackets will be missing two key offensive players in 2010, but B-back Jonathan Dwyer can be replaced by Anthony Allen. At issue is whether Stephen Hill can run under enough of Nesbitt’s wobblers to offset the absence of Demaryius Thomas. But even if he can’t, Nesbitt will figure out something.
Nesbitt reminds me of Derrick Ramsey, the quarterback who led Kentucky to the 1976 Peach Bowl and a 10-1 season in 1977. (Those were the Wildcats who beat Georgia 33-0 in Sanford Stadium before an audience including both James Brown and Prince Charles.) Derrick Ramsey was aptly named: He was the size of an oil derrick and had the finesse of a battering ram. He was a quarterback in name only.
Fran Curci, who coached Kentucky back then, used to say: “We run the option, but our quarterback never pitches the ball.” Didn’t matter. Ramsey would run around end and get six yards every time, and the worst-looking offense you ever saw managed to beat not just Georgia in Athens but also Penn State, LSU and Florida on the road. (Those ‘Cats didn’t grace a bowl because — whoops! — they were on probation.)
Their only loss was at Baylor in a game where fullback Rod Stewart, the MVP of the previous year’s Peach Bowl, tore up his knee diving for an overthrown Ramsey pass. This taught Kentucky a lesson: Stop passing. Indeed, in the season’s final game the Wildcats were trailing Tennessee late and had to summon backup quarterback Mike Deaton to deliver the completion that put Kentucky deep in Vol territory, whereupon Ramsey, who had taken so many hits he couldn’t lift his throwing shoulder, returned and bull-rushed the team into the end zone.
It was often said that Ramsey was a tight end masquerading as a quarterback. Well, in the NFL that’s what he played — tight end for the Raiders.
I’m not trying to suggest Nesbitt is nearly as ineffective a passer as Ramsey was — he’s much better, and he can darn sure run the option — but I see in the Tech man a similar indomitable streak. And I mean that as the highest possible compliment.