Marshall had started 18 consecutive games dating back to the start of the 2017 season, but left the Duke game with an upper-body injury, which limited his practice time leading up to the Virginia Tech game. As a result, Johnson gave the start to Oliver, the first start of the redshirt freshman’s career.
Marshall’s play this season has been effective at times and less so at others, not unlike the team as a whole. Early in the season, Johnson said he thought that Marshall was trying to do too much. After the loss to Clemson, Johnson became more involved in coaching the quarterbacks to improve play at the position. After that, Marshall was highly productive against Bowling Green and Louisville before the entire offense misfired against Duke.
From the Louisville game: TaQuon Marshall’s directive: Just play
From Steve Hummer after the Virginia Tech game: Yes, Georgia Tech has a two-quarterback thing going now, too
Johnson made clear that Oliver will play, as he has in seven of Tech’s eight games, although the first six were in situations when the game’s outcome had been determined or Marshall had to come out of the game.
“But I’m not going to take a senior captain on the team who’s a starter and set him down because Tobias played really great against Virginia Tech,” Johnson said.
Johnson also said that, while both have strengths, Oliver is “still a redshirt freshman” and doesn’t have Marshall’s experience in identifying defenses and making checks. He added that Oliver has improved markedly since the start of the preseason, when he was the No. 3 quarterback behind Marshall and Lucas Johnson, who suffered a season-ending foot injury during the preseason. Johnson praised Oliver’s elusiveness as a runner and his quickness in turning downfield.
“He’s got a lot of things going for him, too,” Johnson said. “Like I said, it’s not denigrating one over the other. They both can do some things that are positive. If you asked us before the season started, ‘Who’s your three or four best players on the team?’ I don’t think anybody would have left TaQuon out, right? And Tobias has pushed himself up to the point where he’s played really good. So it’s a good problem to have. You’ve got two good players.”