Maybe I was a scrub when I played high school football, but playing a receiver in the Wishbone offense pretty much guaranteed that I wouldn’t see the football. I did on the junior varsity and quite a bit, but never on the varsity. Maybe I should have asked to be on the junior varsity as a senior? It was a lot more fun to get a pass thrown my way, than just blocking all the time.
I will admit that my high school days had influence on my thinking as far as college football. For a long time, I didn’t want to pay much attention to option style offenses like the Wishbone, or the Flexbone like Georgia Tech uses. I will also admit that when I started writing this blog I was going to blast Paul Johnson and his Flexbone offense saying that it would never really work against big time college football defenses.
But, then, I started watching his offense more closely and I saw for myself that it really does work providing that you have the right people in place. The right people mostly means the offensive
line, but even more so the right quarterback.
I became somewhat enamored with former Yellow Jacket quarterback Justin Thomas from Prattville, Alabama. He was something of a magician with the ball in his hands, making beautiful last second pitch outs to his running backs. He could also pick up huge chunks of yards on his own and cut up a defense throwing the football. Thomas is not a big guy at 5-11, 190, but he was very durable as a college running quarterback. Alabama recruited him as a defensive back, but he signed with Georgia Tech because they offered him a shot at playing quarterback. Play quarterback he did indeed.
His best season was 2014 because he had a couple of really talented wide receivers. With a great running game and two great receivers, a quarterback like Justin Thomas becomes basically unstoppable. The Yellow Jackets fought their way to an impressive 11-3 record in 2014 and won the ACC Coastal before losing to playoff bound Florida State, 35-37.
In the Orange Bowl, they embarrassed Mississippi State.
Justin Thomas started three seasons for Georgia Tech and then tried his hand at the NFL. He originally signed with New Orleans, but was cut. Picked up by the Los Angeles Rams, he was also cut. Now, he’s a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, but on the practice squad.
With Thomas gone, my thinking was the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets would drop off
dramatically. The back up quarterbacks that I had seen were a far cry from Justin Thomas.
I may have been wrong yet again.
In spite of being located in Atlanta and being surrounded by top recruits, Georgia Tech rarely signs any of the top rated recruits. In the 2015 recruiting class, the Yellow Jackets only signed three 4 star recruits and 23 3 star guys. Compared to other schools in the south, that’s not very impressive. But, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson seems to get the best out of what he brings in.
TaQuon Marshall was brought in that season as a 3 star guy and ESPN had him ranked as the 67th best Athlete in the country.
TaQuon Marshall took over the starting position and against the Tennessee Volunteers in the first game and ran for 249 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also completed 5 passes out of 9 attempts for 120 yards.
The Yellow Jackets lost the game when Tennessee actually stopped Marshall on a 2 point attempt in overtime. But, TaQuon Marshall was sensational.
Since then, the Yellow Jackets have beaten all comers and improved their record to 3-1.
Marshall leads the team in rushing, but Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson loves to spread the ball around. Option offenses obviously opt to not throw the ball very often, but like Justin Thomas when he needs to throw it he is fairly efficient.
He’s thrown for 333 yards in 4 games with the tools to improve as the season progresses. His
favorite target is Ricky Jeune who only has 10 catches.
From the tiny Georgia town of Hamilton, Marshall has a level of quickness that few players possess. He makes his reads and runs that option so efficiently much like his predecessor Justin Thomas. Marshall may even be quicker and more athletic than Thomas which is saying a lot.
Georgia Bulldog fans can forget about their mortal enemies the Yellow Jackets dropping off with a different quarterback.
TaQuon Marshall is a talent and will keep the Jackets competitive this season and the next.
If you should find yourself in the mood for some good old fashioned throw back running offenses, find a game featuring the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and their quarterback TaQuon Marshall. They are fun to watch.