Yellow Jackets to Watch

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Yellow Jackets to Watch

Paul Johnson (Photo by Ga. Tech Athletics/Jeffrey Gamza
Paul Johnson (Photo by Ga. Tech Athletics/Jeffrey Gamza

Although Johnson hasn’t been able to defeat the state rival Bulldogs in Tech’s own Bobby Dodd Stadium, the Yellow Jacket coach will be seeking his third straight win over Georgia in Sanford Stadium Saturday, having toppled the Dawgs both in the 2014 and ‘016 meetings. Johnson, in his 11th season at Tech, has been named ACC Coach of the Year three times and has also taken the Jackets to three ACC Championship games. There was talk of the Tech coach being on the hot seat this season but that was before the Jackets won five of their last six games and became bowl eligible. Certainly, another whipping of the Dawgs in Athens while spoiling Georgia’s playoff hopes would solidify Johnson’s standing with the GT higher-ups.
Back in his starting role as Tech’s starting quarterback, this 5-10, 180-pound senior set a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback in 2017 when Marshall ran for 1,146 yards in just 11 games. But the Jackets have a 1-2 punch at QB this season as redshirt freshman Tobias Oliver (#8) played for an injured Marshall in the win over Virginia Tech and rushed for 215 yards. Both Marshall and Oliver are at the top of the Tech rushing stats and no matter which one is on the field Saturday in Sanford Stadium, either is capable of making the Jackets’ nation-leading rushing offense (360-plus yards per game) click.
While Marshall and Oliver rank 1-2 as GT’s rushing leaders, the 6-1, 212-pound Mason has been the leading running back this season, averaging over six yards per carry in the process. Mason has power running inside as well as the speed to get on the corners and, most certainly, the Bulldogs’ defensive front will have to first stop the dive play with Mason come Saturday at high noon.
A ringleader for the Georgia Tech defense Saint-Amour, a 6-3, 245-pound senior out of North Gwinnett High School, leads the Jackets in both tackles-for-loss and sacks this season and is very disruptive coming off the edge and getting to opposing quarterbacks. Thus, Georgia’s offensive front and running backs must be at their best to keep Tech’s No. 94 off quarterback Jake Fromm on Saturday.
Rivera, a 5-11, 200-pound redshirt senior and graduate transfer from Wofford, was the Yellow Jackets’ leading tackler, with 50-plus stops, entering the Virginia game this past weekend. He also has two interceptions to his credit this season and thus is capable of not only defending the pass well but, also, is a sure tackler for Tech in run support. The Bulldog offense will have to be aware of Rivera’s presence at all times.
This 6-2, 233-pound senior is a steadying force for the Tech defense and will be instrumental in the Jackets attempting to slow down the Bulldogs’ rugged running game on Saturday. Right at the top of the Tech tackle-leaders chart along with Rivera, Mitchell combines quickness off the ball with solid tackling skills to prove troublesome for opposing O-lines.





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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.