Georgia Tech running back J.J. Green (28) runs down the sidelines until he is pushed out by Jacksonville State safety Marlon Bridges (1) in the first half of Jackets’ home opener at Bobby Dodd Stadium Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Atlanta.
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Report card: Georgia Tech 37, Jacksonville State 10

A review of Georgia Tech’s 37-10 win over Jacksonville State Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Bradley: Tech off to slow start in win

Run offense

After a gigantic performance against Tennessee, the Yellow Jackets didn’t have nearly the same amount of gas in the tank. The offensive line failed to generate much push, notably on consecutive third-and-2 and fourth-and-1 plays in the second quarter. Backup quarterback Matthew Jordan, in after starter TaQuon Marshall was briefly knocked out of the game, was stuffed on keepers, plays that Tech typically picks up. Playing on short rest against a team that hadn’t played in two weeks had to be a factor. In the second half, Tech showed much better, showing its form with a 65-yard TD run by freshman B-back Jerry Howard and then polishing off the Gamecocks with a 10-play, 65-yard drive that was powered by nine runs. Tech finished with 210 yards on 49 carries, fairly pedestrian for Tech’s standards. Grade: B-  

Pass offense

The Jackets did not go to the air much, but made their attempts count to great effect. A-back Clinton Lynch, playing in his first game after missing the opener with a lower-body injury, caught a 33-yard pass slipping across the field wide open. Late in the second quarter, Marshall gave Ricky Jeune a jump ball in the end zone, which he won for a 27-yard touchdown reception to give Tech the lead at 10-7. In the third quarter, Marshall picked up a third-and-17 by finding Jeune again, this time for a 23-yard score. On the next possession, Marshall threw a dart across his body for a 10-yard scoring pass to A-back J.J. Green, hanging in the pocket to absorb a late hit in the process. Marshall attempted seven passes and threw touchdowns on three of them. His passing efficiency rating: 347.3. Grade: A+ 

Run defense

The final numbers were pretty good – Jacksonville State ran 38 times for 116 yards. In the first half, Tech had trouble getting off blocks and did not disrupt much in the interior. Jacksonville State running back Roc Thomas, a transfer from Auburn and a five-star high-school prospect, was elusive and hard-nosed. Quarterback Bryant Horn was productive on option keepers. Tech did much better after halftime than before it. The Gamecocks gained 94 yards on 19 carries in the first half but picked up just 22 yards on 19 carries in the second half. Grade: B 

Pass defense

Nickel back Lawrence Austin made the play of the game with a second-quarter interception. The Jackets trailed 7-3 and were playing lethargically and faced the prospect of going down two scores with Jacksonville State getting the ball to open the third quarter. Austin’s pick gave Tech the ball at the JSU 32, setting up a quick score and changing the momentum. Corerback Step Durham followed with a gift interception on the second play of the second half to give Tech a short field for a touchdown and a 17-7 lead. They were Tech’s first turnovers of the season, and went a long way to securing the final result. Horn finished 8-for-14 for 73 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Grade: B+   

Special teams

Kicker Shawn Davis came through with a field goal in the first quarter, a clean 34-yard attempt that must been a huge relief after his forgettable performance against Tennessee. He did miss a point-after try, banging it off an upright, and put a kickoff out of bounds, a no-no. Punter Pressley Harvin and the punt team netted 40.0 yards on three kicks. The return game did not have significant opportunities to create yardage. Grade: C

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