Saturday’s game against North Carolina could decide the ultimate fate of Georgia Tech’s 2018 season and we provide three quick thoughts on the game.
Starting TaQuon Marshall is the right choice but……
I think starting TaQuon Marshall against North Carolina is the right choice by Paul Johnson and the coaching staff. While the offense hasn’t always looked stellar with Marshall as the signal caller, he has earned the right to be the starter in the locker room and as being a team captain, it could cause some locker room drama if that right was stripped from him after one great start by Tobias Oliver.
That being said, I think having a two-quarterback system against the Tar Heels is also the right choice. We’ve seen plenty this year that Marshall can struggle mightily at times and when that happens, the entire offense takes a step back. I think for most of Saturday, the coaching staff will go with the hot hand. If Marshall struggles on the first two drives for the Yellow Jackets, expect to see a short leash, however, if the Jackets are able to run wild on North Carolina early, it wouldn’t be shocking to see little to any of Tobias Oliver at all.
Now, if Marshall struggles throughout the game and Oliver continues his hot play from a week ago, I do believe it is possible for Oliver to win the starting job this weekend but I wouldn’t count on it.
Summary: Starting TaQuon is the right choice and it wouldn’t be shocking if Marshall does well early, we see little or none of Tobias Oliver against North Carolina. If Marshall struggles, however, there is a chance that Oliver could win the starting job with a strong performance.
Don’t overlook North Carolina
Yes, the Tar Heels are 1-7 on the season and their lone win is against Pittsburgh. That being said, the Tar Heels have played tough each of the last three weeks and has a pair of losses that were decided by three points. Don’t get me wrong, North Carolina is still a really bad football team but they are also playing their best football of the season over the last three weeks. If the Yellow Jackets play down to North Carolina’s level, anything can happen.
Summary: North Carolina is still very much a bad football team but they’ve elevated their play recently and could pull off a win over the next four games.
A must-win game
This probably goes without saying but Saturday’s game against North Carolina is a must-win game for the Yellow Jackets. With Miami, UVA, and Georgia left on their schedule, the Yellow Jackets must beat the Tar Heels on Saturday. A win against UNC will give the Jackets five wins on the season and one shy of bowl eligibility. While Miami, UVA, and UGA will be difficult matchups for the Yellow Jackets, the chances of winning one of those remaining three are much higher than winning two of them.
Right now, ESPN’s FPI has the Yellow Jackets defeating UNC and UVA while being slight underdogs against Miami. The FPI also gives the Yellow Jackets almost no chance (9%) to beat Georgia. A win also probably secures at least one more year for Paul Johnson as the head coach of Georgia Tech.
Summary: With three games left after this week against formidable opponents, Georgia Tech must defeat North Carolina to get one win away from bowl eligibility.