Here was the trade-off for Georgia Tech Monday night: It did not win a game, but it certainly identified a quarterback for the next 11 or so more to come this season.
It was a hard, hard Labor Day for junior TaQuon Marshall. No hod carrier ever toted bricks like Marshall carried the football – 44 times. In his first start, the quarterback worked overtime, unpaid. Ran for a record five touchdowns, and totaled 249 rushing yards. And still lost to Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff II at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“He played his tail off,” said the Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson.
Aside from the numbers, Marshall showed himself a leader in other ways. On the quick dissection of the overtime two-point conversion that failed and cost the Yellow Jackets the game, Johnson pointed to a blocking breakdown.
Marshall, though, pointed to himself.
“Think it might have been a little selfish on me,” Marshall said, who ducked inside on an option carry and was bottled up with nowhere to go. “I could have given it to KirVonte (B-back KirVonte Benson). Maybe he could have taken it to the edge and dove to the pylon.”
After churning out 655 yards of total offense and holding the ball for nearly three times as long as the Vols, Marshall and the Tech offense didn’t really need to shoulder much blame.
Swallowing a loss after such a dominating offensive performance will be more the challenge. Looking at the quick turnaround between Monday night and Tech’s next game against Jacksonville State Saturday, Marshall said, “It’s still going to be in the back of our minds that we should have won – in my mind I think we should have won. But we got to move on from this and get ready for next week.”
“I really wish the results would have been different. You can’t change that. Got to put it behind me and come back next week – this week – ready to work. I’m going to bring the guys onboard with me, lead them. We’re going to be ready to play Saturday.”
The new quarterback shifted very quickly to next-game mode. And rest-of-the-season mode.
“I’m going to flush (the Tennessee loss). Get in the meeting room tomorrow and look at film and after that get it going,” Marshall said.
“I’m ready to lead the team to do great things this season.”