The emergence of stud B-Back Dedrick Mills has significantly reduced incumbent starter Marcus Marshall’s role in the offense so far this season, but that could change as early as this weekend against Duke if Paul Johnson decides to act on his wish to get the ball to Marshall more often. It’s unfortunate that Marshall’s carries have gone down after a phenomenal freshman campaign that saw him overtake a couple of veterans and rush for north of 7.5 yards per carry, but Dedrick Mills has just been too effective to keep off the field. However, it’s likely that the Tech offense could stand to benefit from introducing Marshall’s speed back into the equation for the rest of the year. We saw that come into play on the wheel route he took for a long touchdown on the first play against Vanderbilt, but the younger brother of former UGA back Keith Marshall has been very quiet otherwise. The talent is there for him to make an impact once again, but the opportunities have to be given to him.
Speaking of explosive runners, taking away the big-play opportunities from Tech has been a main focus for Duke head coach David Cutcliffe as he prepares to face the Jackets. Those types of plays were bountiful for Paul Johnson’s team prior to the last two seasons, but making the prevention of large gains a priority has yielded great results for the Blue Devils of late; they’ve won two-straight in the series. In simplest terms, this week’s game is a must-win for Tech whether the big plays come or not. A 4-4 record with a loss to Duke would mean that not even bowl eligibility is a given, making the team’s path to the postseason quite murky.
Georgia Tech, meanwhile, has been locking in on finding a way to generate more turnovers and get a few more third-down stops against Duke. The Jackets are currently tied for 119th nationally with just 6 turnovers forced in 7 games this season, one of which was the interception that immediately turned into a safety versus Clemson. That’s just not getting the job done, and Ted Roof needs to find some way to make it work in the coming weeks. I expect those turnover numbers to increase some in the near future as we transition from facing run-heavy and largely conservative offenses to the more free-flowing and oftentimes mistake-prone ones. After all, the majority of Tech’s first-half opponents rank within the top-50 in terms of fewest turnovers lost, with Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh, and Miami all ranking in the top-10 in that category. We’ll see if it gets any better.
Have a great Thursday!