It’s that time of the year to have the funk of football in the air if only for just a little while. Teams around the country get to show fans a sneak peak of what’s to come for the New Year. In the case of Georgia Tech it’s finding the heir apparent to Justin Thomas the dynamic triggerman of the triple threat offense orchestrated by Head Coach Paul Johnson in his 9th year at the reigns. The new face of the franchise may be a familiar one from last year’s roster the battle appears to be between Matt and Quan.
As we all try to figure out the madness to the colors Gold are those starters? or is it white? Perhaps players are mixed and matched for balance. One person had all the answers the crafty head coach. If we saw an indication of the new wave the Georgia Tech faithful hope it was displayed in the 61-yard touchdown bomb thrown by QB Chase Martenson to Senior B-Back Brady Swilling with 1:32 remaining to give the Gold team a 21-16 victory over the White team.
Brady said “When it was coming to me, the only thing I was thinking was `if I drop this, there is no living it down.’ So, one thing led to another but I had to focus on the catch first.”
Over the years the big play has been missing from the ball controlled methodical triple threat adding that would simply make it deadly.
Lucas Marshall the 6”3 200 lbs. Red Shirt Freshman from San Diego was first to go under center for the Gold team he connected on 7 passes for 69 yards and carried 11 times for 59 yards. Big play Chase Martensen threw three times completing two for 75 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 7 times for 20 yards.
TaQuan Marshall the 5”10, 185 lbs. Jr. Quarterback out of Hamilton, GA started for the White team he passed for 37 yards, completing 4 of 9 passes and ran for 57 yards on 9 carries. As expected the defense looked better than the offense as timing and precision takes more time to create especially when you are rotating Quarterbacks seeking the best fit for the new wave Jackets, (post-JT).
Jay Jones 6’0 175 lbs. Red Shirt Freshman out of McCalla, Ala. Threw for 41 yards and led all rushers gaining 104 yards on 13 carries. The most experienced QB Junior Matthew Jordan did not play due to a foot injury. He may be the leading candidate to earn signal calling rights.
Paul Johnson summarized QB play “Tonight was good for those young guys, and even TaQuon (Marshall) because he hasn’t played a lot. TaQuon has played much better all spring than he played tonight. The biggest thing is when Matthew (Jordan) comes back, he’s got that experience where he’s played in games, and the other guys have got to gain that. So the more they can play … tonight was really good for them. Jay and [Lucas], they haven’t played. They red-shirted all year, and this is the first time they’ve played in front of a crowd. I thought Lucas handled it really well. He just plays and doesn’t let much bother him. The biggest issue with Jay tonight was the ball security.”
The Defense played well pressuring each quarterback into losses totaling 72 yards. Bryant Mitchell and Lance Austin had 7 tackles each and Antonio Simmons had 6 tackles for the Gold. Tyler Merriwether and Tyler Cooksey had 6 tackles each for the White team.
Of course, there were some ooh’s and awe’s from the friendly crowd of 7500.
Shawn Davis PK for the white team was first to put up points on a 38-yard field goal. He went on to be successful on two more of 35 and 33 yards. That performance might have edged out PK Bennett Barton who was successful on 3 extra point attempts.
All in all, it was spring football guys got the opportunity to display their talents and skill sets hoping to impress their position coach aspiring to be the next man up for the starting role. I agree with Paul Johnson “it’s that time of the year when if one team beats the Hell out of the other you are more concerned about the other.” Junior Linebacker Bryant Mitchell, perhaps explained the spring game best,
“It’s just a time to get out there and work on some things to get better, you go against the guys you have been going against the whole time. The main goal of spring is to get back to the basics and get better while working on the things you need to work on most. That should be rewarding in itself to get better.”
The Yellow Jackets return 43 letter winners including16 starters from the 9-4 squad of last years’ TaxSlayer Bowl and has the nation’s eighth toughest schedule in 2017, based on opponents’ combined winning percentage in 2016.