TaQuon Marshall’s life as a starting quarterback is about to get a lot more interesting.
So far, the junior has more than lived up to expectations since he won the job in the preseason and was under center for Georgia Tech’s opener at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. He has shown the ability to run the offense, hasn’t been afraid to tuck the ball and use his own feet to produce yardage and has proven he can adequately throw the ball.
This week brings a fresh chapter in his development. Marshall will be going against a highly ranked team, one with a good defense, in an important conference game. Plus, he’ll be doing it on the road.
“He’s playing well, and I fully expected him to play well,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “The moment hasn’t gotten too big for him. For the most part he’s kept his composure really well. It will heat up and this is his first road game.”
The Miami defense ranks 11th in the ACC against the run (148.0 yards per game) and 10th against the pass (235.5 yards per game). The Hurricanes rank fourth nationally in tackles for loss (nine per game) and are fourth in sacks (3.75 per game). They had four sacks and nine tackles for loss last week against Florida State.
The Hurricanes have some big-time prospects on defense. Defensive lineman Kendrick Norton is on the watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Nagurski Award and Outland Trophy. Lineman Chad Thomas is on the Nagurski list. Linebacker Shaquille Quarterman is on the watch list for the Bednarik, Nagurski and Butkus awards.
“Big guys that are fast and can run,” Johnson said. “They come on the field and get after you. They’ve got some big guys.”
In other words, this may be a little tougher this week for Marshall.
But so far Marshall has been up to every challenge that has come his way. He has developed into one of the team’s leaders — he was elected as one of three permanent captains this week — and has produced on the field. An unproven commodity two months ago, Marshall has developed into a player who last week was added to the watch list for the Maxwell Trophy.
“I think he wants to be good,” Johnson said. “I had to talk to him last game after he fumbled the ball. I told him his body language was awful and people were watching him. You’ve got to put it behind you and move on. He said, ‘Got it, got it.’ ”
The Yellow Jackets spent last week’s off week working heavily on special teams, particularly punt returns, and cleaning up a few areas.
“We worked on it awfully hard last week,” Johnson said. “We change personnel every week, but it’s not like the NFL. You’ve got who you’ve got. Got to coach them better and go down and cover them better.”
Wake Forest kickoff: The ACC has told the Yellow Jackets that their home game Oct. 21 against Wake Forest will be played at night. The kickoff will be either 7 p.m. or 7:30 p.m., depending on which network broadcasts it. It will be Georgia Tech’s first night game at Bobby Dodd Stadium this season.
Permanent captains: Senior defensive end KeShun Freeman was elected as a permanent team captain. The other two permanent designations went to Marshall (offense) and defensive back Lawrence Austin (defense).