ATLANTA — Vad Lee appears to be emerging as Georgia Tech’s future at quarterback.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said Tuesday that he will try to play Lee behind senior starter Tevin Washington on Saturday in the Atlantic Coast Conference game against Virginia.
“He’s got ability and we’re going to try to bring him along and not throw him to the lions,” Johnson said. “He’s still a redshirt freshman. He’s still got a long time to be here and a long time to learn, but we’re excited about where he is.”
Lee (6-foot-2, 213 pounds) had a successful debut playing behind Washington in last week’s 59-3 win over Presbyterian.
He ran for 101 yards, including a 79-yarder, and threw an impressive 82-yard touchdown pass. He also had a 1-yard touchdown run.
“I think he did some positive things,” Johnson said. “He’s got great upside. He’d be the first to tell you he’s got a lot of things to work on.”
Lee made his debut on Georgia Tech’s third series in the first quarter. He ran and passed for touchdowns in the third quarter.
“I obviously had a lot of fun in the debut, but you know what? It’s over,” Lee said after Tuesday’s practice. “I had fun, and that was Saturday, and we’re off to a new week. It gives me extra motivation and an extra boost.”
Johnson wouldn’t reveal his plans for Lee against the Cavaliers.
“We’ll see. I’m going to try to play him some,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to commit to saying he’s going to be in on the second series or the third series or whatever. I’ll play it by feel to some degree, and Vad and I will know that. No one else will.”
Johnson’s most revealing comment about Lee’s future might have been when he revealed Synjyn Days, Washington’s other backup, is practicing more at running back than at quarterback this week.
Days’ role could give Lee the opportunity to prove he can play behind Washington this season and take the starting job in 2013.
“Well, I’m just going to continue to work,” Lee said.
“I know for a fact that I will be ready. I’ve been working since the spring, trying to get better at the little things. I know I’ll be ready if my number is called.”
When asked whether Days’ time at the A-back position means Lee is the backup quarterback, Johnson said “Situational. It would depend on the situation.”
“Synjyn is playing A-back mostly in practice but he’ll still spend some time at quarterback,” Johnson said, adding his decision about the backup quarterback would be decided by “what you’re trying to do and what gives you the chance.”
Johnson said Lee’s playing time could increase this season.
“It’s hopeful as you move along he will progress himself to the point that you feel good about him in that situation and it could possibly progress to the point where he’s playing all the time some,” Johnson said. “I don’t know that he will beat the other guy out this year, but there could be a situation if he progresses and continues to get better that we could play with both of them some.”
Lee wasn’t the only new star in the lopsided win over Presbyterian.
Running back Zach Laskey also had a breakout game, running for 116 yards and a touchdown in his first start.
Laskey, a sophomore, is listed as Georgia Tech’s starter against Virginia.
Johnson was guarded in his review of Laskey’s first start.
“He did really good running,” Johnson said. “He’s still got some work to do blocking, but they all do. ... I think the more he plays the better he’ll get at it. The good news is they’re not afraid to block. They’re not afraid to run up in there and do what they’ve got to do.”
Johnson said Laskey was “pretty keyed up and fired up, like a lot of guys” for his first start. He said Laskey even forgot he was on the punt team.
“The more he plays, the more relaxed he gets, I think the better he’ll be,” Johnson said.
There will be another lineup change on offense against Virginia. Junior Will Jackson, who was the starting left guard, has moved to right tackle, where he’s listed as the starter. Sophomore Shaquille Mason moves up as the starter at left guard.
“It’s kind of a situation where we’re working to try to get our five best guys there and get some depth,” Johnson said.
“Shaq had been sitting out and he’s one of our best players, so it will enable us to get Shaq out there.”