It was 35 degrees and windy in Atlanta last night, but the Yellow Jackets would not let their momentum be iced out – especially not by Miami. The Georgia Tech victory over Miami on Saturday night was their third in a row, and officially certified the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets as bowl eligible. Also, this win may have taken head coach Paul Johnson off the hot seat for good in 2018.
Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech vs Miami
So how did Tech perform in their 27-21 victory against Miami? Let’s discuss in our tenth edition of Fast Analysis: Georgia Tech 2018.
For the second week in a row, fans welcomed TaQuon Marshall to the field to start the game when they were expecting Tobias Oliver. And Marshall had no plans to hand the reigns over to the redshirt freshman on Saturday night. Marshall was out to prove why he was the starter for the Yellow Jackets, and he did not disappoint.
Georgia Tech’s offense got started with an impressive 11 play, 75-yard touchdown. TaQuon Marshall would cap off the drive with a 28-yard touchdown run. The most impressive play of the drive was not the 28-yard rush by Marshall, but the the20-yard pass from Marshall to Jalen Camp on third and five. Marshall has looked petrified when throwing the ball this season. He has rushed his throws, failed to plant his feet, and mostly overthrows receivers. In fact, this writer witnessed Marshall overthrowing receivers during warm-ups! But Marshall’s pass was calm and right on the money.
Georgia Tech would take advantage of a fumble on the kickoff following the touchdown drive. Ajani Kerr recovered the fumble and set the offense up to go to work at Miami’s 23 yard line. Three plays later TaQuon Marshall was rushing in to the end zone again. The Yellow Jackets scored two touchdowns in 106 seconds.
The rest of the first half would not produce similar results to the first quarter. After a three and out, and a special teams fumble, the offense would only manage to score a field goal before the end of the first half.
The offense would finish the first half with 126 total yards (106 rushing, 20 passing). TaQuon Marshall would account for 83 of the 126 rushing yards, and the two touchdowns scored by the Yellow Jackets in the first half. Georgia Tech would enter the locker room with a 17-14 lead.
Nate Woody’s defense was still warming up when the Miami Hurricanes took the ball 75 yards down the field to open the game. The Yellow Jackets defense had opportunities to force the Hurricanes offense on the field on the first drive, including a third and 12, but lapses by freshmen allowed Miami to throw the ball to sustain their drive.
But, after the first drive resulted in a touchdown, Georgia Tech’s defense would settle in well. Miami’s next three drives would end with a punt, fumble, and another punt. Miami’s second punt with 2:26 left to play in the half would result in a positive after Georgia Tech’s Nathan Cottrell fumbled the ball on Georgia Tech’s own 30-yard line. Miami would use that momentum to propel them into the end zone with 50 seconds left in the first half.
The defense allowed 156 first-half yards to Miami. 105 yards came from the two scoring drives alone. Linebacker Brant Mitchell was the standout defensive players during the first half. Mitchell recorded six tackles in the first half.
Wesley Wells and Pressley Harvin III did their jobs well in the first half. Wells made two PATs and one field goal in the first half. Harvin had one punt that left Miami inside their own 20 to start their drive. Coach Johnson cannot ask for better results.
The fumble on the punt return by Nathan Cottrel cost the Yellow Jackets dearly to end the first half. The Yellow Jackets had all the momentum and were looking to score again before the end of the half. Cotrell’s fumble swung the momentum to Miami and they used that swing to put up seven quick points.
Special Note for long-time Georgia Tech fans: Calvin Johnson was celebrated by the sports administration for his induction into the college football hall of fame. Congratulations, Calvin. Feel free to suit up any time!
— Georgia Tech Sports (@GTAthletics) November 11, 2018
The offense would not produce many points in the second half. After the first drive ended in a punt, the Georgia Tech special teams recovered a fumble on Miami’s 10-yard line. Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets would have to settle for a field goal after the fumble.
TaQuon Marshall would lead the Yellow Jackets on one more scoring drive half-way through the third quarter. Marshall rolled out to his left and it looked like he was going to keep the ball, but saw Brad Stewart open around the end zone. Marshall threw a lazy ball 31 yards down the field, and Stewart was able to make the grab, untouched, for his second touchdown catch of the season.
— Georgia Tech Football (@GeorgiaTechFB) November 11, 2018
With a 27-14 lead, it became a matter of killing the clock for Georgia Tech. The last two offensive possessions for Georgia Tech would take a combined 12 minutes off the clock. Excellent clock management did not allow Miami to mount much of a comeback late in the game.
The offense would finish with 304 total yards of offense on Saturday. That total was 163.1 yards shy of their season average; but the Yellow Jackets came away with the win. TaQuon Marshall led all rushers with 92 yards and two touchdowns. Marshall also had 73 yards through the air and one touchdown pass.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) November 11, 2018
The defense played extremely well in the second half against Miami. Because of their own miscues on special teams, Miami only had three offensive possessions in the second half. After the first two possessions resulted in punts, the Georgia Tech defense went into cruise control.
Miami decided they were not going to roll over and succumb to defeat so easily. Georgia Tech’s defense allowed Miami to drive 95 yards down the field and score with 6:53 left in the fourth. All of the sudden, Miami had life and was only down by six points. Thankfully, Georgia Tech’s offense would kill what was left of the clock, so the defense did not have to prove themselves again on Saturday night.
Georgia Tech’s defense gave up 299 total yards of offense to Miami. That is 91.2 yards below Miami’s season average. This is the third straight game that Georgia Tech’s defense has held their opponent below their season average for total offense in a game. Nate Woody’s presence is being felt in a major way in Atlanta, and will only get better.
Pressley Harvin III and the punt team began the second half strong with a forced fumble at Miami’s 10-yard line. In fact, both of Harvin’s punts in the second half were downed inside of Miami’s 10-yard line.
Wesley Wells would add another successful field goal in the second half. Wells is four-for-four on the year in field goals, and 35-for-35 on extra points. Wells’ production might be small compared to others on the Yellow Jackets team, but his consistency is invaluable to the team.
How Fans Are Feeling Now
Excited! In early October it looked like Georgia Tech was going to miss the bowl season for the second straight year. Had Georgia Tech missed out on playing in a bowl game in consecutive seasons, Paul Johnson would have likely been out of the job at the Flats. But tonight’s win over Miami guarantees Johnson one, maybe two, more season as head coach of the Yellow Jackets.
Fans are also feeling a renewed trust in TaQuon Marshall’s ability to finish out a close game. It will be interesting to see how the final two regular season games play out for Marshall. If he struggles against Virginia next week, will Coach Johnson put Tobias Oliver back in the game? Fans love what Oliver has been able to bring under center this season, but Coach Johnson clearly trusts Marshall with the ball.
Pittsburgh dashed all hopes for an ACC Coastal championship on Saturday, but the Jackets have pride to play for, if nothing else. The next two weeks will be extremely important for Georgia Tech, but they have the talent and momentum to finish 2018 strong.
— Georgia Tech (@GeorgiaTech) November 11, 2018
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