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Yellow Jackets well-rested for Pitt after unplanned off week

(AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

By CHARLES ODUM

AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA (AP) From the perspective of Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi, Georgia Tech's unexpected off week gave the Yellow Jackets the advantage of extra practice time for this week's ACC opener.

For Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, having last week's game at Central Florida cancelled by Hurricane Irma felt almost like a loss.

"In my mind that's akin to losing because you're trying to get a certain number of wins," Johnson said Tuesday. "If you don't get to play, you might as well count it as a loss. ... That's why we were disappointed we didn't get to play."

Johnson said Georgia Tech (1-1) has looked for a possible replacement game on its Oct. 7 open date. The planned Sept. 16 game at Central Florida could not be rescheduled because the schools don't share the same open date.

Johnson said the missed opportunity for added game experience hurts young players and new starters, including quarterback TaQuon Marshall .

The Yellow Jackets started preparing for Saturday's visit from Panthers (1-2) last week after learning the Central Florida game would not be played.

Narduzzi said that means time for "extra rest, extra scheming" for the Yellow Jackets while his team was suffering a 59-21 loss to No. 6 Oklahoma State .

Narduzzi perhaps would like time for extra scheming to prepare for Georgia Tech's option attack. He said Monday his staff was still trying to choose a scout team quarterback who could impersonate Marshall in the spread-option offense.

"Marshall can throw it and run it, and he slings it pretty darned good for a guy that used to be one of their A-backs and then transitioned to the quarterback position," Narduzzi said. "He's athletic. He can run. We've got to find the right scout quarterback this week. I'm not sure we've got one yet, so we're still working on that."

Marshall leads Georgia Tech with 274 yards rushing and six touchdowns. He has three scoring passes with no interceptions.

It has been a strong start to the season for Marshall, but still he has played only two games. Johnson said last week's missed chance for more game experience hurts Marshall and other new starters.

"The more he plays the better he's going to get, you hope," Johnson said. "It's hard to replace the game reps. That what I'm talking about for all those guys."

Johnson gave his team three days off last weekend, so players should be healthy and rested for their first Atlantic Coast Conference game.

"We really appreciate coach Johnson gave us this weekend off so we could get off our feet back," Marshall said after Monday's practice. "... I feel really great, actually."

Johnson acknowledged the rest was valuable after the Yellow Jackets opened the season with a loss to Tennessee in a Monday night game and then beat Jacksonville State only five days later.

"From a purely rest standpoint we're going to be more rested because that would have been three games in 13 days, but when you have a lot of young guys who haven't played you lose those game reps you can't really get in practice," Johnson said. "You try, but it's just not the same."

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Updated September 19, 2017

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