Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson not ready to give up on Vad Lee

After great start Lee has slumped in latest games against Miami and BYU

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerOctober 15, 2013 

Atlanta -- Although his last couple of games haven't been great, the coaches aren't ready to give up on Vad Lee as quarterback at Georgia Tech.

Lee will be the starter again this week when the Yellow Jackets return home for the first time in three weeks for an ACC game against Syracuse. The fans long to see more of the Lee who displayed his skills during the first three games of the season than the guy who made costly mistakes against Miami and BYU.

Coach Paul Johnson said Lee, a redshirt-sophomore, continues to put in the time it takes to get better.

"His attitude is good," Johnson said Monday during his weekly radio show. "He's trying to do exactly what we're asking him to do. He's frustrated, just like everybody. But he comes to work and he tries to get better every game."

Last week Lee completed 7 of 20 for 133 yards. He failed to complete a touchdown pass for the third-straight week after getting at least one in the first three games. He was sacked three times and threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.

"He had some drops and he had a few busted routes," Johnson said. "A couple of guys were open deep and he overthrew them. We've got to starting hitting some of those plays. But he's come back and worked on it and wants to get better."

Lee has completed 42.7 percent of his passes for 758 yards and seven touchdowns. He's thrown five interceptions and been sacked seven times. He's carried a team-high 103 times for 282 yards and four touchdowns.

"I think he's actually getting better with his reads, his fundamentals, his technique on some of the option stuff," Johnson said. "I think in the running game he is getting better. Is he perfect? No, but nobody is. We've got to protect him better in the passing game. That's the bottom line."

Johnson said the situation with backup quarterback Justin Thomas hasn't changed. The redshirt freshman will likely get some playing time, depending on how he practices this week. There is a plan to get Thomas into the game.

Johnson had a conversation with Lee while watching film this week regarding the demands -- physically and mentality -- that playing every down requires.

"We were just talking and one of the quarterback draws came up and the play he ran to the right with the linebacker got him by the foot and got him down," John son said. "I said 'last year that guy wouldn't have caught you" and he said, 'That's what my mom said'. But there is a difference when you're playing 65 plays as opposed to 15 or 20, just like with Justin, when he comes in he's fresh, so there may be some value in getting them both in the game a little bit for that purpose."

Every new quarterback has growing pains. That was true with Josh Nesbitt and Tevin Washington; both turned out to be productive quarterbacks for the Yellow Jackets. It seems like Lee has been around forever, but he's only started six games.

"Vad wants to be good," Johnson said. "He's working at it. He's listening, he's trying to do what we want him to do. He can improve, but everybody around him can, too. They can make his job a lot easier if they'd improve."

Tech notes: Offensive lineman Ray Beno remains questionable for Saturday's game because of an injured foot. Beno didn't make the trip to BYU. Continued injuries to lineman Morgan Bailey leave him questionable. Defensive tackle Shawn Green was on crutches Monday and isn't likely to play. … The start for next week's game at Virginia has been set for 12:30 p.m.

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