Jackets to Watch

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Jackets to Watch

Justin Thomas (photo Georgia Tech Athletics / Austin Foote)
Justin Thomas
(photo Georgia Tech Athletics / Austin Foote)



To paraphrase Sun Tzu, “know your enemy,” and thus, here are some Jackets to watch for in Saturday’s 111th game between the Georgia and Georgia Tech.



Following a splendid sophomore season in 2014 when he set a new program rushing record (1,086 yards) for a quarterback and was named MVP of the Orange Bowl game, Thomas went through a junior slump in 2015 while guiding the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense. However, he has bounced back strongly this season, both running the football and throwing it. With his quickness on the option keepers, the Georgia defense will surely be tested on the perimeter by Thomas come Saturday between the hedges. Thomas missed Tech’s win over Virginia Tech two weeks ago with an upper-body injury sustained in the loss to North Carolina but, regardless, the Jacket offense was in good hands as redshirt sophomore backup Matthew Jordan (No. 11) ran for 121 yards and two touchdowns.



The younger brother of former Georgia tailback Keith Marshall, Marcus Marshall (5-10, 212) was the Jackets’ leading rusher last season as a mere freshman and is among Georgia Tech’s top three ball carriers this season, along with freshman back Dedrick Mills (26), the former Ware County standout who has been suspended the last two games, and senior quarterback Thomas. Marshall romped for 143 yards in the Jackets’ 30-20 win over then nationally-ranked Virgina Tech in Blacksburg and will certainly be pumped to have a good showing against his brother’s former team on Saturday.



This Georgia Tech veteran on the defensive front leads the Yellow Jackets in both sacks and tackles-for-loss this season. The 6-5, 277-pound senior end/nose tackle combines both strength and quickness when he comes off the ball and the Bulldogs’ O-linemen will be put to the test Saturday as they attempt to keep Gamble from disrupting Georgia’s offensive rhythm.



While weakside linebacker PJ. Davis led Georgia Tech in tackles the past two seasons, Griffin, a 6-2, 195-pound redshirt junior, has been far and away the Jackets’ top tackler this season from his defensive back spot. Griffin, out of Sandy Creek High School, combines quickness with a distinct nose for the football, whether it’s coming up to halt a ball carrier or defending against the pass and the Georgia offense will have to account for his presence at all times.

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Murray Poole is a 1965 graduate of the University of Georgia Journalism School. He served as sports editor of The Brunswick News for 40 years and has written for Bulldawg Illustrated the past 16 years. He has covered the Georgia Bulldogs for 53 years.