Even though the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets lost their season opener to Tennessee, there were plenty of positives to take away from this contest.
That’s not to say that this loss won’t sting for a while. It will. After all, Tech had the upper hand for most of this contest, beating the Volunteers in virtually every facet of the game. Although the Jackets never led by double digits in the first half, they were moving the ball so well that it seemed like Tennessee was behind by three touchdowns heading into the locker room. (The Vols were down 14-7 at the half.)
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. A pair of Georgia Tech turnovers and a couple of missed field goals prevented the team from winning the game in regulation. In the second overtime, the Tennessee defense stopped the option for the first time all night, giving the Volunteers the victory.
Despite these shortcomings, we still saw plenty of positives for the Yellow Jackets on Monday night. The Georgia Tech secondary had a solid outing, knocking away a number of passes and causing a handful of incompletions with some big hits. The defense also did a great job of getting the Tennessee offense off the field in the first half, allowing the Vols to convert on just one third down opportunity during that span.
Of course, the defense didn’t need to do very much in this contest because of how well the offense played, which was clearly the most pleasant surprise of the evening. Sure, everyone knows that a Paul Johnson-coached team will run the triple option effectively. But with the departures of Justin Thomas, Dedrick Mills, and Marcus Marshall, some questioned how well the Jackets would move the ball this season.
— GeorgiaTech Football (@GeorgiaTechFB) September 5, 2017
No one will ask that question going forward. KirVonte Benson and Nathan Cottrell combined to run for 203 yards, removing any doubts about how much production Georgia Tech will get out of the running back position this fall.
At quarterback, TaQuon Marshall showed exactly why he won the starting job, rushing 44 times for 249 yards and five touchdowns. He also made a number of nice throws in this contest, including a 42-yard strike to Qua Searcy to set up a Jackets touchdown. As a result of his excellent decision-making, Georgia Tech converted on 13 of its 18 third down opportunities.
Although I’m sure that Paul Johnson’s crew would trade any of the aforementioned stats for a “W,” these numbers are definitely encouraging for the Jackets going forward. Yes, it’s only one game. But racking up 655 yards against an opponent that could potentially win the SEC East is no small accomplishment. With that type of firepower on offense, there’s no reason to think the Georgia Tech couldn’t return to the ACC championship game if it were to clean up its mistakes.