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Johnson has decisions to make with starters
Tech QB Nesbitt may miss another week

ATLANTA - There is little doubt coming off a 27-0 shutout of Duke last Saturday that Georgia Tech will be heavily favored in this week's game against Division I-FCS Gardner-Webb.

That doesn't mean coach Paul Johnson and his staff won't have quite a few decisions to make this week leading up to the 3:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

For starters - pun very much intended - there is the matter of who will start at quarterback.

Not that Jaybo Shaw did poorly. The freshman from Flowery Branch completed 9 of 13 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown in his first collegiate start - a performance that earned him Rookie of the Week honors by the ACC on Monday.

However, original starter Josh Nesbitt was scheduled to return to practice Tuesday, giving Johnson and his staff a few days to evaluate the sophomore's progress in healing from a hamstring strain suffered in Tech's win over Mississippi State on Sept. 20.

"I don't think he's 100 percent yet," Johnson said of Nesbitt at his weekly press conference Tuesday morning. "But he's good enough to come back and practice. We'll see where he's at. It's hard to say until you get out there."

Both quarterbacks have had their successes running the Yellow Jackets' (4-1, 2-1 in the ACC) option offense this season.

Nesbitt has been the better runner (290 yards and 4 touchdowns to Shaw's 125 yards and 3 scores), while Shaw has been the better passer (15-23-0, 321 yards, 2 TDs for Shaw, 16-33-1, 269 yards, 1 TD for Nesbitt).

However, Johnson made it clear Tuesday that Nesbitt is the starter provided his hamstring allows him to play.

"If (Nesbitt) can play - if we need him, he'll play," Johnson said. "Right now on Tuesday, I couldn't tell you who's going to be quarterback. In a perfect world, if he were healthy and ready to go, yeah, he'd be the starter. I feel good about Jaybo. I think we can certainly win with him. We've played the last two games with him."

It's not just this week that concerns Johnson about Nesbitt. With the Jackets set to travel to Death Valley to take on Clemson next week, Johnson would love to have both quarterbacks available, and in the case of Nesbitt, not having to come off a near four-week layoff without having seen game action.

"I'd like to see him get some snaps this week if he's physically capable," Johnson said. "But he's getting a lot of snaps in practice, and it's not like he hasn't played in a game before. ... And his nature is such that he's not one to get rattled. But yeah, in a perfect world, you'd like for him to play some this week just to kind of get him back in synch."

Quarterback isn't the only position Johnson and his offensive staff has to make decisions on based on injuries.

Injuries to sophomore B-Back Quincy Kelly prior to the Duke game and freshman A-Back Embry Peeples during it may force Johnson to take the redshirt off Marcus Wright, a true freshman from San Antonio.

Wright will be the seventh true freshman to see game action if he gets in Saturday, and it's a move Johnson didn't want to make, but the injuries, and moving Lucas Cox to back up Jonathan Dwyer at B-Back may necessitate it.

"Unless we just have to have them, I'd rather sit (freshmen) because they're going to be better players four years from now than now," Johnson said. "But our hands get forced at some positions. ... I hate to do it, but we're probably going to start playing Marcus Wright. We really don't have a choice.

"Lucas Cox is going to be a guy who plays a lot of B-Back until we get Quincy Kelly back. And Embry Peeples his hobbled a little bit. We don't know what his status will be, and we've got to have another guy to play.

"I talked to Marcus, and he's excited to play. ... Now's a good time to get Marcus' feet wet. ... We'd like to get him in for 15 to 20 snaps if he can show us this week that he knows where to go. I'm not going to play him if he doesn't know where to go."