5) KirVonte Benson injury/Tariq Carpenter ejection
Early in Saturday’s loss to USF, the Yellow Jackets loss two of their key players on both sides of the ball. On offense, they saw starting b-back KirVonte Benson go down with a knee injury. Benson would stay on the sideline for the remainder of the first half and do some work on the stationary bike but came back out after half time in his street clothes.
Before going down with his injury, Benson was rolling against the Bulls, picking up 41-yards on five carries. While Jordan Mason filled in admirably for Benson, picking up 95-yards on 13-carries, you could tell that the Yellow Jackets offense was missing Benson for the remainder of the second half and that his departure had a huge impact on the game.
On defense, starting safety Tariq Carpenter started off the game on a strong note as well, collecting a tackle and an interception on USF’s first drive. However, late in the first quarter, Carpenter was ejected due to a questionable targeting call that even ABC’s broadcast duo of Dusty Dvoracek and Adam Amin thought could probably be deemed a football play. That being said, the referees deemed it targeting and Carpenter was ejected for the rest of the game. While the Jackets still didn’t get seriously burned through the air, Carpenter’s absence left an impact on the defense especially late in the game following Malik Rivera going down with an injury as well.
It is worth noting that starting linebacker David Curry was ejected late in Saturday’s 49-38 loss due to another targeting call. This one was the right call though as Curry lacked the discipline that you’d want to see out of a veteran on your defense. Curry will have to sit the first half of next week’s game against Pittsburgh.
Overall, the losses of Benson and Carpenter were the two biggest losses of any injury or ejection on Saturday afternoon. While the Jackets offense still rushed for over 400-yards, Benson’s ability to run through opposing defenders without slowing down is hard to find and he’s without a doubt the most gifted b-back that Tech has on the roster. They can survive without him, but his overall abilities really help in breaking down defenses as games go on. Carpenter’s ejection kept getting more important as the game went on. While the secondary wasn’t terrible, Carpenter’s big play making abilities are hard to replicate especially considering his high football IQ. Either way, the Yellow Jackets coped rather well with both losses but in the end, it just wasn’t enough to pull out a victory.