Lee leads Jackets into familiar setting
For all the focus on Duke’s quarterbacks in light of Anthony Boone’s collarbone injury a week ago, Georgia Tech’s quarterback will be under a spotlight today, as well.
While at Hillside High School, Vad Lee spent many days around Duke’s football team.
His former teammates with the Hornets, wide receiver Corey Gattis and running back/wide receiver Desmond Scott, played for the Blue Devils from 2009-12.
Lee and Duke coach David Cutcliffe, known for his prowess coaching quarterbacks, became close.
But now Lee is back in his hometown representing the Blue Devils’ opponent. A redshirt sophomore, he is the starting quarterback for Georgia Tech, which plays the Blue Devils today (3:30 p.m., ESPNU) at Wallace Wade Stadium.
While the Yellow Jackets (1-0) perennially are one of the nation’s top rushing attacks with their triple-option sets, Cutcliffe said Lee gives them a complete offense.
“They do the best job consistently of creating problems with big plays,” Cutcliffe said. “Great play-action pass team, particularly with a quarterback like Vad. He has such a strong arm. He can go downfield with the ball.”
Lee has been to Wallace Wade Stadium with Georgia Tech once before. When the Yellow Jackets beat Duke 38-31 on Nov. 19, 2011, Lee was on Georgia Tech’s sideline but didn’t play since he was redshirting as a freshman.
“It’s a great feeling to just know that I’m going to go home this time and play,” Lee told the Associated Press.
Today won’t be his first time playing in the Triangle as a college player.
This past Nov. 10, he was part of a record-setting day of offense at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, as Georgia Tech beat North Carolina 68-50 in the highest-scoring football game in ACC history.
Lee, as a reserve quarterback, rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns and threw for a third touchdown.
To help Duke prepare for what Lee offers as a challenge in today’s game, Blue Devils freshman quarterback Quay Chambers (6-3, 215) has impersonated Lee in practice this week with breakaway speed.
He displayed those talents during an August scrimmage with a long touchdown run against Duke’s reserve defenders.
At 6-1, 215 pounds, Lee is almost identical to Chambers.
“Quay is a big, fast athletic guy, which is similar to what we’re going to see this weekend” Duke All-ACC cornerback Ross Cockrell said. “He gives us a good look in terms of lowering his shoulder and trying to get extra yards, juking people, faking pitches. I’m excited that Quay is there for us. He is giving us a good look.”
In Georgia Tech’s 70-0 win over Elon on Aug. 31, Lee completed 7 of 11 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 49 yards and a touchdown.
The Yellow Jackets had an open weekend while Duke was winning 28-14 at Memphis a week ago to start the season 2-0.
The Blue Devils lost Boone, their starting quarterback, during that game. Redshirt junior Brandon Connette replaced Boone and threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to spur the win.
Today, Connette starts for the first time since Boone was injured. It will be the second career start for Connette, who has 18 career rushing touchdowns for Duke.
“I’ve always had a comfort level out there on the field,” Connette said. “It gave them a comfort level with me. I’ve been on the field taking hits, putting the ball in end zone. They have confidence I know what I’m doing on the field. They know I’m not going to be going out there and screwing things up.”