Georgia Tech needed this game. After three straight losses and a week in which Coach Paul Johnson’s job security was again called into question, the Jackets were in desperate need of a dominant victory to help get their season back on track. Bowling Green is not a good team, and it’s tough to say we really learned a whole lot from this game, but there are still a few notable observations from today’s win:
TaQuon Marshall has improved at passing the ball...maybe
It wasn’t always pretty, but quarterback TaQuon Marshall had a stellar day throwing the ball. Taking advantage of Bowling Green’s defense lining up with only one safety, Paul Johnson gave Marshall the green light to throw deep all afternoon. Marshall completed five of his six passes for 160 yards, including a 41-yard pass that made Clinton Lynch Tech’s first ever player to gain 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a career. There’s plenty of room for improvement: Marshall’s passes weren’t always placed perfectly, and on his one incompletion he tried throwing into triple coverage. Still, it’s encouraging to see TaQuon have success in an area where he’s struggled most of his career. Today’s game will hopefully give Marshall more confidence going forward, since the Jackets will need him to keep throwing the ball well if they’re going to have any chance at competing in the ACC Coastal.
Marshall has improved at pitching the ball
As we discussed in last week’s Option Strategy Report, Marshall has struggled all year at recognizing when to pitch the ball. Most of his issues boiled down to a failure to force the pitch key to commit, and as a result, the Jackets continually took losses on plays that should’ve gone for big gains. Today seemed like a noticeable improvement, and by the time Marshall left the game early in the 3rd Quarter Tech’s A-backs had combined for 108 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Tobias Oliver is really fast
Maybe Bowling Green’s players are just slow, but Tobias Oliver looked really, really fast today. He showed off his wheels on touchdown runs of 34 yards and 62 yards, plus another run that went for only a 17-yard gain after he ran into his own offensive lineman. Oliver might be the second-fastest quarterback of the Paul Johnson era (after Justin Thomas), and it will be exciting to watch him make big plays on The Flats for the next several years.
Tech’s secondary needs to get better
It wasn’t a great day for Nate Woody’s defense. The first drive of the game saw Bowling Green gain 63 yards on 13 plays, which led to a Falcons field goal. Tech’s cornerbacks gave Bowling Green’s receivers huge cushions the whole game, and the Falcons were frequently able to find open receivers underneath the soft coverage. Bowling Green finished the game with 393 yards of offense, 330 of which came through the air. While some of those yards came in garbage time, the Georgia Tech secondary ultimately looked weak against an inferior opponent. It will be interesting to see if Nate Woody can turn things around in the upcoming weeks, and fortunately for him, the Jackets’ next opportunity will come this Friday against Louisville who ranks 115th nationally is passing yards per game.
Nobody should get overly excited by the outcome of this game. Bowling Green’s only win so far this season was a close game against an FCS team, so it’s no surprise that Tech came away with an easy victory. More than anything, this game was a much-needed morale boost for the Georgia Tech players and coaches as they try to recover a season that got off to a disastrous start. The celebrations won’t last long as Tech now faces a short week leading up to their road matchup against Louisville on Friday night. If the Jackets can beat the Cardinals and climb back to 3-3, then it may start to feel possible that this team could make a run at winning the ACC Coastal. While Tech still hasn’t beaten a serious opponent, for the moment it just feels great to get a win.