It will be the sixth time that Tech has played an opponent on less than a week’s rest in coach Paul Johnson’s tenure. The Jackets have won three (Clemson in 2009, Presbyterian in 2012 and Jacksonville State in 2017) and lost two (Virginia Tech in 2013 and Clemson in 2016).
It’s a week in which rest and hydration will perhaps be even more important than normal.
Last year’s Jacksonville State game followed Tech’s double-overtime loss to Tennessee on Labor Day night, when the offense ran 96 plays, the most in Johnson’s tenure. Players’ legs seemed to be affected in the 37-10 win over the Gamecocks. After the game, Johnson remarked that “it looked like we were playing in sand.”
In the lopsided win over Bowling Green on Saturday, starters were subbed out in the fourth quarter. The Tech defense was on the field for 87 snaps – the most the Jackets have played on defense since the Virginia game in 2016 – but most players were in a steady rotation. The offense took 56 snaps, well below its 2017 average of 68.3 snaps per game.
Louisville lost to Florida State 28-24 on Saturday to fall to 2-3. The Cardinals offense ran 83 snaps and the defense played 58.
Tech had to alter its preparation schedule last week because of the Friday night game. NCAA rules stipulate that athletes must be given one day off in a week, which for the team is normally on Sunday. But since the team was scheduled to practice Sunday, coaches gave players Friday off instead. Typically a day in which the team attends meetings at the team hotel to review the game plan, players were still at the hotel, but did not have any meetings. Marshall, whose Friday night routine includes playing video games with teammates, said he devoted his extra free time to his team-bonding exercise of choice.
When Johnson was at Georgia Southern, “we never met on Friday, never went to a hotel,” he said. “We managed to win 38 games in a row at home. It might be overrated.”
This is one of the weeks that raised Johnson’s concerns prior to the season about the class schedules of Marshall and others. Marshall started the semester with a 6 p.m. class on Monday evening, which required him to be excused early from practice in the first week of the semester.
In most weeks, it’s not a concern, as Monday practices aren’t as long as the Tuesday and Wednesday practices and not as critical to game preparation. But with the schedule moved up this week, Monday’s practice will include plenty of game prep for Louisville. (Tech also will be under a similar schedule before its game against Virginia Tech on Oct. 25, a Thursday night game.)
It’s why Marshall, at Johnson’s request, changed out of the class and will take it in the spring semester instead.
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