Know the Foe: Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets shut out Alcorn State in their season opener
Georgia Tech quarterback TaQuon Marshall (16) dives into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of its game against Alcorn State on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, in Atlanta. (Hyosub Shin/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) GAATJ101
Published Sep. 3, 2018
Updated Sep. 3, 2018

A look at Georgia Tech, which faces USF at noon Saturday at Raymond James Stadium (on ABC):

Nickame: Yellow Jackets
Record: 1-0 (defeated Alcorn State, 41-0, on Saturday)
Coach: Paul Johnson (11th season at Georgia Tech, 76-54; 22nd season overall, 183-93)
Preseason rank: None

The breakdown: While the Jackets' 41-0 romp of Alcorn State (which received a $375,000 paycheck) appeared impressive on paper, Johnson was underwhelmed with his offense. Senior QB TaQuon Marshall, in his second year of operating Georgia Tech's flexbone triple option, completed only four of 12 passes in the first half and finished 9-for-18. "He can play so much better than he played (Saturday)," Johnson said. For Marshall, who completed only 37.1 percent of his passes last season, being able to stretch the field periodically is essential to the effectiveness of Johnson's scheme, which churned out 439 rushing yards Saturday. In their base formation, the Jackets will employ two outside receivers, two "A-backs" (wingbacks), a B-back (fullback) and no tight end. The result is some midline option, inside veer and other ground variations requiring tremendous eye discipline by defenders. Four players ran for at least 70 yards Saturday, but 208-pound junior B-back KirVonte Benson (a 1,000-yard rusher last season) may be the most dangerous. The backs are protected by a veteran front; three linemen who started Saturday were returners. Defensively, the Jackets — who run a 3-4 under new coordinator Nate Woody — held the Division I-AA Braves to 146 total yards and let them cross midfield only twice (once on a fumble).

Odds & ends: The Bulls and Yellow Jackets never have played each other. … Johnson typically uses no play sheet, instead sending in plays via his receivers. … Bulls defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary spent six seasons at Tech (2004-09) as linebackers coach, the last two under Johnson. He left to join Charlie Strong's inaugural staff at Louisville. … The Jackets roster includes Plant alumnus Kyle Cerge-Henderson, a senior defensive end who had two tackles against Alcorn State.

Audible: "The thing we've got to do is get off blocks. It's going to come down to assignment football — who has the QB, who has the dive, who has the pitch. If we can get all three of those things handled, then we have a chance. We know this, offensively, our possessions are going to be limited because they're a ball-control offense. So when we do get the ball on offense, we've got to take advantage of the opportunities." — USF coach Charlie Strong