TaQuon Marshall had one of the most impressive season-opening performances in 2017. He ran for 44-249-5 against Tennessee. He had five other games where he had 20+ carries and finished as the overall CFF QB21. The main area where Marshall will need to improve his game is as a passer. Being an effective runner is far more important than a passer in this offense, but he could improve his value if he can grow as a passer. Marshall is a former A-Back which shows in both his running and passing. He ran for the most yardage of any QB in GT history while he also managed the lowest completion percentage of any QB in school history (37%). He had a poor passing day in Tech’s first scrimmage but followed it up with a 10 of 13 outing the second scrimmage. The Jackets lost QBs Matthew Jordan to career ending injury and Jay Jones (incredible athlete!) to transfer. As a result, there are two QBs on the roster behind Marshall. SO Lucas Johnson and FR Tobias Oliver will back him up to start the season. There is some debate about whether or not the QBs will be live in Friday’s scrimmage and I hope they will be to truly get a feel for what the backups possess.
While the pass catchers aren’t used a lot in this offense, they have some talent on the roster. The breakout candidate that has been having a terrific camp is Camp, Jalen Camp. He isn’t a very good blocker yet, but at 6’2” and 213 pounds, he’s physically imposing and could be a big play threat this season. Brad Stewart is a SR that has also shown explosive play ability when he has gotten serviceable QB play. There are speedsters like rSO Jair Hawkins-Anderson and rFR Adonicas Sanders. rSO Stephen Dolphus is 6’5” and could be a threat in the red zone. There isn’t much CFF value with any of these WRs, but this looks like a pretty good group.
Georgia Tech utilizes both an A-Back and a B-Back in their option offense. There are three guys that will likely be used in the rotation at A-Back: Clinton Lynch, Qua Searcy, and Nate Cottrell. This group underperformed in 2017, but both Lynch and Searcy showed a lot of promise in 2016. The A-Backs can be used as both perimeter runners and pass catchers. They will often rack up massive YPC stats and can be true home-run hitters. The grinders and backbone of this offense are the B-Backs. They are the interior hammers that are responsible for throwing hooks to the defenses body all game. Physicality and determination are two of the highest value traits for these players, and rJR KirVonte Benson possesses them both. The likely backup in 2017 found himself thrust into the starting role after Dedrick Mills was kicked off of the team. He finished with 204-1053-6 on the ground, which was solid but didn’t live up to Mills’ incredible 2016 season of 152-771-12 in part-time work. Benson can squat every single plate that resides in a small to medium sized gym. He is a brut that relishes contact. Behind Benson, SO Jerry Howard is both of one my favorite backs in the conference and the most talented on this roster. He only got 23 carries last season but averaged nearly 8 YPC and should see a greatly increased role in 2018. Howard has an NFL future. rFR Jordan Ponchez-Mason is talented as well and could see some work at A-Back in order to utilize his ability and get him out of the logjam at B-back. The offensive line play was erratic last season but should be improved in 2018. Parker Braun plays on the interior and likely has an NFL future.
Georgia Tech hired former Appalachian State Defensive Coordinator, Nate Woody. As such, they will be moving to a 3-4 base alignment and playing in a simplified scheme which allows the players to play faster and will consist of more pressure packages. The defensive line has nice depth but not a ton of standout players. FR T.K. Chimedza is the most talented player on the line, but he may not be called upon right away. There a couple of seniors and a couple of sophomores that project to be the starting LBs in this defense. Bruce Jordan-Swilling was a highly valued recruit that could have played RB as well, but he could be a backer that has a pro career. Jaquan Henderson is a talented OLB that should grow into a core asset for this defense in 2019 and beyond. Safety AJ Gray is hurt right now, but he will be one of the most important pieces of this defense in 2018. I really like the hire of Nate Woody and think it’s going to pay immediate dividends for a team that can’t afford to get in too large of a hole due to the methodical nature of the ground game. Tech should be a better football team in 2018, but I’m not sure their record will clearly reflect that.