- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 8, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - For Georgia Tech, it’s like another opener.

The Yellow Jackets began the season with a 69-6 blowout of FCS school Alcorn State, a game that provided little insight into what kind of team it might be.

Quarterback Justin Thomas played only the first quarter. Georgia Tech didn’t even bother throwing a pass in the second half. The defense wasn’t challenged at all.

“I am concerned about that,” defensive coordinator Ted Roof said after practice Tuesday, noting that some starters played as few as nine snaps in the opener. “It’s almost like they haven’t played a game yet.”

Georgia Tech moved up one spot to No. 15 in the rankings released Tuesday and is a whopping 28-point favorite against Tulane, which began the season with a dismal 37-7 loss at home against Duke.

Still, the Yellow Jackets are counting on a much tougher challenge from the Green Wave.

“You want your starters to get in a groove,” Roof said, remembering how Georgia Tech had to grind out a 38-21 victory when the teams met a year ago in New Orleans. “That will not be an issue this week. It will be a good football game.”

After Saturday, the difficulty of the schedule picks up significantly, including a trip the following week to South Bend to meet No. 9 Notre Dame - the first of four games the Yellow Jackets will play against teams currently ranked among the top 12.

Thomas, who ran for a touchdown and threw a 19-yard scoring pass during his brief time on the field against Alcorn State, will surely get more playing time against Tulane, even if Georgia Tech races out to another big lead.

There are still a few areas he needs to work on - including his tendency to carry the ball loosely with one hand - before he faces Notre Dame.

“Maybe it looked good to everybody else, but it didn’t look good in our (film) room,” Thomas said. “Just some small things I need to work on. Getting downhill. Pushing it to the defender some more. Just some ticky-tacky things you can work on.”

The Yellow Jackets did get a good look at their new B-back combination - and the early results were promising. Patrick Skov, a senior transfer from Stanford, ran for 72 yards on 12 carries. Freshman Marcus Marshall broke off two long touchdown runs and finished with 184 yards on just eight carries.

“They are different guys,” coach Paul Johnson said. “Patrick will run you over and is a real physical-type guy and has OK speed. Marcus is more of a jitterbug, a speed guy. Patrick is going to get you the tough yards and Marcus is probably going to have longer runs if everybody is blocked.”

Skov will remain the starter against Tulane, with the playing rotation determined by how the game plays out. The Yellow Jackets also have junior Marcus Allen, who carried only three times in the opener before going out with an ankle injury. He might be a bit limited in practice this week but should be able to play on Saturday, according to Johnson.

“It’s just a feel thing,” Johnson said. “Patrick is the starter, and we’ll play off that. Marcus (Marshall) is a good complement. Marcus Allen brings some things to the table. … I can envision games where three of them are playing. I can see games where two of them are playing. I can see games where one of them is playing.”

The Yellow Jackets also are dealing with an apparent injury to backup quarterback Tim Byerly, who was seen on crutches with a sleeve on his right leg after Monday’s practice.

Byerly was not available Tuesday, and interviews were moved to a location where the players could not be seen after they finished practice.

Johnson was coy when asked if Byerly would be available against Tulane. He played extensively in the opener, and is often used to give Georgia Tech a more bruising runner at quarterback in goal-line situations.

“Possibly. Could be. You never know,” the coach replied. “We’ll have (a backup quarterback) on Saturday. We’ll have more than one. We’ll have several backup quarterbacks. We have a long list of them.”


AP college football site: https://collegefootball.ap.org


Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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