The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets traveled down to Tampa, Florida, Saturday to take on the University of South Florida Bulls.
The two teams traded punches for most of the game, but it was South Florida that would come out on top 49-38. Here are the three takeaways from Georgia Tech’s (1-1) second game of the season.
1. Northside product Tobias Oliver could be the real deal.
In the third quarter, Tobias Oliver — the redshirt freshman from Northside High School in Warner Robins — checked into the game as quarterback. The Yellow Jackets were trailing 21-17. But Oliver flipped the tide. He engineered three touchdown drives to put Georgia Tech on top. TaQuon Marshall went out with an ankle injury and had been locked in as the starter for the team following a 1,000-yard rushing season in 2017.
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Paul Johnson may have a quarterback competition on his hands now with Oliver coming in and playing like a veteran. The offense seemed to move up and down the field better with Oliver in at quarterback. The Yellow Jackets went back to Marshall mid-way through the fourth quarter. Some may question this move as they failed to score again after Oliver checked out of the game and actually turned the ball over twice with Marshall at the controls.
2. Special teams play comes back to bite the Yellow Jackets.
Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it (or something like that). Georgia Tech learned that lesson early in this game. Terrence Horne, Jr., took it to the house twice in the first quarter on back-to-back kickoff returns. The Bulls grabbed the lead away from the Yellow Jackets immediately after scores with those two kickoff returns. Tech struggled with momentum early in the game because of those plays.
Once the Yellow Jackets hit conference play it could be a problem if their coverage unit doesn’t do a better job of containing the kick returner. The Georgia Tech defense contained the South Florida offense for much of the first half but still trailed due to their special teams unit.
3. Late turnovers cost Georgia Tech.
For most of the game the Yellow Jackets took care of the ball, but turnovers on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter were ultimately their undoing. Blake Barnett and South Florida scored 21 unanswered to end the game to capture the victory.
Georgia Tech must clean up its special teams and turnovers to compete in the ACC Coastal division. This out-of-conference loss will be a set back for the Yellow Jackets, but Georgia Tech will look to bounce back next week in a conference matchup against Pittsburgh.