Composed QB Marshall has Georgia Tech on high-scoring roll
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech has scored more than 60 points in two straight wins, giving new life to a season that showed little promise following a 1-3 start.
Quarterback TaQuon Marshall, suddenly playing more composed and avoiding mistakes on option plays, has been the key to the high-scoring streak.
Georgia Tech (3-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) will try to continue its offensive surge on Saturday against Duke.
Marshall, a senior, says he may have tried to do too much early in the season. The last two weeks have been far different. He has led the Yellow Jackets to scores — 13 touchdowns and one field goal — on his last 14 possessions.
“I think I’ve calmed down a little bit,” Marshall, a senior, said after Tuesday’s practice. “My nerves are down a little bit more. Just trying to go out and have fun and play because it’s my last go-around.”
Georgia Tech ran for touchdowns on its first seven possessions in its 63-17 win over Bowling Green two weeks ago. Then the Yellow Jackets scored eight touchdowns and kicked a field goal in their first nine drives of last week’s 66-31 rout of Louisville .
“It’s amazing,” said running back Clinton Lynch. “It’s always a lot more fun when the offense is clicking and we’re just scoring so many points. It just feels like the opponent can’t really stop us.”
Coach Paul Johnson pounced on the one field goal when looking for evidence his spread option offense can still improve.
“We had 10 or 12 missed assignments,” Johnson said. “We had two or three plays that went for nothing. We miscalled a formation on a play. You know, it wasn’t perfect. And we had to kick a field goal. So there were things we could have done better.”
Maybe the Yellow Jackets weren’t perfect, but even Johnson had to acknowledge they came close the last two weeks. He said he couldn’t remember better streaks of scoring on every possession in his 22 years as a coach at Georgia Southern, Navy and Georgia Tech.
“What we’ve been able to accomplish the last two weeks ... I don’t remember that happening, maybe when I was at Georgia Southern, where we went like that and scored consistently,” Johnson said Tuesday, adding “It’s been pretty remarkable.”
The Georgia Tech offense also looks remarkable to Duke (4-1, 0-1).
Duke linebacker Ben Humphreys said Marshall “is playing like a senior in that offense. He’s running it really well and that makes us want to practice harder and focus.”
Duke coach David Cutcliffe said Georgia Tech “is playing right now as well as anybody I’ve seen, period.”
Cutcliffe recruited Marshall (5-10, 185), but not necessarily as a quarterback.
“He’s obviously a great athlete, and he’s not the prototypical size drop-back quarterback,” Cutcliffe said. ”... Yeah, he can play quarterback. He’s proven that every game. But he could also be a running back. He could be a slot receiver. He could be a DB. So I think when you sign a player like that, you’re really not sure what to expect. You get them on your roster, but I promise you, you’ll find lots of ways to use them.”
Marshall had four of the Yellow Jackets’ eight fumbles in a 49-21 loss to Clemson on Sept. 22. Johnson then assumed more responsibility of coaching the quarterbacks. He also took steps to simplify the offense to run only “four or five base plays.”
“Let me clarify it by saying we ran four or five base plays better,” Johnson said. “We got our quarterback fundamentals better, we got downhill. We just played better. We’re taking better care of the ball. We haven’t had penalties. All those things that stop drives.”
Marshall likes the emphasis on simplicity.
“I think we’re really clicking right now,” Marshall said. “I think everything is going the way we want it to go. I think everyone knows what they’re doing. We’re keeping it really simple right now so it’s pretty hard to mess it up.”
AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary contributed to this report.
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