JACKSONVILLE — Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson isn’t pleased that his Yellow Jackets will face Jacksonville State only five days after a Labor Day showdown with Tennessee, blasting his former athletics director for scheduling the game.
“If you’re going to (play on short rest), you don’t schedule the No. 2 or No. 3 team in the country in (FCS) and give them two weeks off,” Johnson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I mean, that was a setup job. Call it what it was.”
Then-athletics director Mike Bobinski spearheaded the scheduling of the game in September 2015. Jacksonville State (1-0) enters this one after having the weekend off. The Gamecocks beat Chattanooga in its opener Aug. 26.
While the turnaround won’t be easy for Georgia Tech, which lost 42-41 to Tennessee, the Gamecocks are going on short preparation, too.
The Yellow Jackets use the rare Wing-T formation extensively on offense, and they’re doing it with a new quarterback and primary running back. But the Gamecocks didn’t get a look at it until watching Tech’s game on television Monday night.
“I watched it at home,” JSU coach John Grass said Monday afternoon during the team’s regular weekly news conference. “I recorded it on the DVR, so I could go back and look at it. We (coaches) got on the film this morning.”
Grass and his staff compiled information and video about Georgia Tech during the spring and summer. They worked against Tech’s basic schemes, including the vaunted Wing-T, especially last week.
But because the Yellow Jackets didn’t open their season until Monday, the Gamecocks had to wait until then to study personnel.
Junior TaQuon Marshall started his first game against the Vols. Before then, he had thrown only one varsity pass and run the ball only 10 times. Sophomore running back KirVonte Benson didn’t carry the ball at all last season.
Against Tennessee, Marshall ran 44 times for 249 yards and five touchdowns as the Yellow Jackets rushed for 535 yards. He completed 5 of 9 passes for 120 yards. Benson gained 124 rushing yards on 26 carries.
“I think there were some questions about the quarterback on that team after losing the starter last year, but I think that question got answered real quickly against Tennessee. .... We have our work cut out for us, but our guys will be ready to go on Saturday,” Grass said.
The best part of watching Monday’s game is that the schemes weren’t a surprise to JSU.
“We watched mostly for personnel,” Grass said. “As far as what they ran, they didn’t do anything they hadn’t done before.”
JSU defensive back Siran Neal said the guys on the team watched the game at various places. He said he watched with a couple of teammates.
Although the Tech-Tennessee game went into two overtimes and was decided when Marshall’s two-point pass fell incomplete, Neal said he and his teammates didn’t watch as much to enjoy the game.
“I definitely appreciated the teams,” he said, “but I focused in on what we’re going to have to do.”