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Wednesday May 25th, 2016 9:22AM

Tech loses starting QB; Lee set to transfer

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech was hoping that Vad Lee would be its starting quarterback for three years.

Instead, Lee announced Friday that he plans to transfer to another school following a 7-6 season that ended with a 25-17 loss to Mississippi earlier this week at the Music City Bowl.

Georgia Tech released statements Friday from Lee and coach Paul Johnson saying they appreciated the chance to work with each other, but the team's spread offense was inconsistent during much of the season.

Johnson often publicly criticized Lee for making wrong reads and his teammates for missing blocks and failing to create space on the perimeter in the coach's signature scheme.

Despite arriving for the bowl game in Nashville, Tenn., with the nation's No. 4 rushing offense, the offense sputtered after a touchdown on its opening drive, and the Jackets trailed 23-7 early in the third quarter.

Ole Miss finished with 477 total yards. Georgia Tech finished with 298, its ground attack averaging just 3.1 yards on 49 attempts.

"We never got in sync on offense at all, never really got into any kind of rhythm," Johnson said. "It was just kind of haphazard. We hit some plays here and there, but nothing to gain with any consistency."

Losing to Ole Miss was painful for Lee, but the disappointment of blowing a 20-point lead to Georgia five weeks ago hurt even worse.

He was particularly despondent that the Jackets' fifth-year seniors went 0-5 against the hated Bulldogs. Georgia Tech has lost 12 of its last 13 to Georgia, including seven straight at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

"I can imagine how (the seniors) feel right now not being able to beat Georgia," Lee said. "That game matters a lot here and it was special. The game was special with a great atmosphere and we really wanted to win."

The Jackets' success in recent bowl games hasn't gone much better. They have lost five of six under Johnson and eight of nine overall.

Georgia Tech's offensive struggles against Ole Miss continued a recurring theme with a few bursts of success mixed in with longer lulls of frustration.

In the closing minutes at the Music City Bowl, Johnson took the ball out of Lee's hands, calling for a reverse pass by reserve receiver Corey Dixon, who didn't have a run, a pass or a catch this season.

The play resulted in a 15-yard fumble and a safety.

When Georgia Tech got the ball back, only 37 seconds remained, and Lee had one last chance but threw an interception on the first snap.

"We were playing in spurts and really couldn't finish," Lee said. "That's been the thing the whole year. I feel like we were moving the ball and were doing some good things, but we just didn't finish."

The Jackets are likely to open spring practice with Justin Thomas, a rising sophomore, listed atop the depth chart at quarterback with Tim Byerly No. 2.

Also in the mix will be freshmen Ty Griffin, who was redshirted in 2013, and Matthew Jordan, who's expected to enroll this semester.
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