The good news for Georgia Tech was that the running game looked as good as it did in the season opener against Tennessee. Running for 436 yards against any opponent, let alone Pittsburgh in the ACC opener, is usually cause for celebration.
But there’s that nagging problem of turnovers.
Georgia Tech fumbled the ball five times Saturday and lost four of them in a 35-17 win. As it turned out, the defense was stout enough to prevent any of the takeaways from being turned into points. But as head coach Paul Johnson said, “... because against a good team we won’t be able to survive.”
Ouch. That will likely end up on the Pittsburgh bulletin board for next season, but Johnson hit the nail on the head.
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“The expectations have always been high on that side, and they’re still going to be high,” Johnson said of the offense. “I look at this thing, and we rush for something like 436 yards, and it should have been at least 150 more.”
But the Yellow Jackets continue to produce at quarterback and B-back, where TaQuon Marshall and KirVonte Benson, respectively, have filled in nicely for Justin Thomas and Dedrick Mills.
Marshall ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns to give him eight for the season. He threw for 48 yards and remains without an interception. Benson rushed 29 times for 197 yards — both career bests — and scored two touchdowns.
“Twenty-nine carries is good,” Benson said. “I like the amount of time I get the ball. TaQuon makes good opportunities for me to get the ball, and I am glad I can perform when I have the ball in my hands.”
The B-backs ran well all day. Freshman Jerry Howard rushed three times for 19 yards, and sophomore Quaide Weimerskirch rushed four times for 31 yards and his first career touchdown. But Benson lost two fumbles and Howard and Weimerskirch each lost one fumble.
“We work on it all the time,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to be focused enough to care enough not to do it. Nobody fumbles on purpose, but you have to learn to push through sometimes when you get tired. You can’t get sloppy with your fundamentals; you have to continue to push through We need to help him. We probably don’t need him to pay so much. We got three guys. We just need to play them more.”
The A-backs didn’t get much action. J.J. Green rushed five times for 38 yards, including a 17-yarder on a sweep, and Clinton Lynch added 18 yards.
The offensive line continues to play well as a unit. There was a brief scare when left tackle Jahaziel Lee had to be helped off the field by the trainer, but he soon returned and showed no ill effects.
“We’re getting pretty good push out of the center (Kenny Cooper),” Johnson said. “We’ve got to do better to get off on the Mike (linebacker), but we were knocking them off pretty good.”
Coper added, “We have to get the push for them so they can get into the open field to make big plays. It’s good to have a B-back back there running hard and getting the extra yards we need to win the game.”