Last season Georgia Tech turned in a solid 9-4 record for the year. One story coming out of that effort was the way they finished so strong down the stretch with wins at ACC Coastal champion Virginia Tech, against Virginia, at Georgia, and against Kentucky in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
An impressive run, to say the least, for the Yellow Jackets. The other story at the end of the year was how they would replace reliable senior quarterback, Justin Thomas. It only took one game this season to see that head coach Paul Johnson had that answer in junior TaQuon Marshall.
In the opening game for the Yellow Jackets on national television, Marshall was an instant game-changer in Johnson’s triple-option offense. Marshall rushed for 249 yards and five touchdowns against the Tennessee Volunteers, and added 120 yards through the air on five completions. Any coach would take that debut performance from their quarterback.
Since then Marshall has helped the Yellow Jackets reel off three straight wins. They stand at 3-1 following their open week after an earlier game against Central Florida was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma.
The hurricane was just about the only thing that has stopped Marshall this season. With four games in the books, he leads the nation in points/game with 13.5. He’s the only non-kicker in the top five in that category in the ACC.
Johnson’s junior playmaker has had a knack for finding the end zone. Right now he is 4th in the nation in rushing touchdowns, which is good for 1st in the ACC. He’s also tossed four touchdowns through the air.
Marshall is also currently first in the ACC in yards-from-scrimmage/game with an average of 130+ yards/game. That leaves him ranked 8th in the country in rushing yards per game.
When you watch Georgia Tech, Marshall looks like he’s been running that offense for years. He looks very confident in executing Johnson’s game plan and there is no doubt he is the leader of this offense. That confidence has spread to his teammates and it shows when they line up for each play. He’s giving defensive coordinators fits trying to scheme for him and he keeps fans on the edge of their seats waiting to see what he’ll do next because they know he can break out at any moment in the game.
Georgia Tech’s next big test will come this week against the 11th-ranked Miami Hurricanes. Miami is coming off a hard-fought win over rival Florida State. The Hurricanes will have to refocus quickly after an emotional win to concentrate on stopping the Yellow Jacket offense, which has had two weeks to rest and prepare for this game.
Miami returned one of the best front sevens on defense in the ACC, but so far their run defense, in terms of yards, has not lived up to the preseason hype. They currently sit at 11th in the ACC in rushing defense, which puts them 62nd in the nation. To their credit thought they have only allowed one rushing touchdown so far this season.
Something will have to give this weekend in this matchup. Miami will be a big test for Marshall and he will have to be sound in his decision-making on Saturday. If he is seeing things clearly and making the right reads, he may be giving Miami headaches all day long. Either way, this game is shaping up to be one of the more intriguing games of the weekend in the ACC.