NCAA Football: North Carolina at Georgia Tech

Oct 5, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels defensive back Greg Ross (10) is blocked by Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets wide receiver Malachi Carter (15) in the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Former Mountain View standout Malachi Carter seems to be taking advantage of his opportunity to embrace a more important role at Georgia Tech. The sophomore could be in a position to become the go-to receiver for the Yellow Jackets.

Carter has gotten a lot of love from offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude since the spring, when he emerged as one of the team’s top potential targets.

There was plenty of concern on The Flats last week when veteran receiver Jalen Camp was ruled out for the season. Even though he had a limited number of receptions in his three-year career, he had the speed and the physical gifts to be a major threat in the new Georgia Tech spread offense.

Camp had been struggling with an injury all season and decided to have season-ending surgery a week ago. He will be able to return in 2020, but his absence left the Yellow Jackets with a big hole at wide receiver. And for a team that has struggled offensively, the fears were certainly warranted.

But some of those worries were allayed on Saturday. Even though Georgia Tech lost a 38-22 decision to North Carolina, there were signs of an offensive pulse. Specifically, there was encouragement at receiver, where Carter and Adonicas Sanders both stepped up and showed they may able to ease the pain that came from losing Camp.

Carter had three catches for 45 yards and one touchdown, a nifty 28-yarder in the end zone. Sanders had three catches for 67 yards, including a 39-yarder that was the longest catch of the day.

“(Sanders) goes out there and competes every single day,” Collins said. “Malachi was out there competing as well. It’s unfortunate that you lose key members to the team, but the next man has got to step up.”

It was the second straight week that Carter has come up with three catches, matching his career high. He set a personal-best for yards in a game. His previous longest catch was 11 yards.

“We have a great receiving corps and you could see it in the second half,” Carter said. “We started to pick it up a little bit, started to find out what we can do, how we can get down the field. We started to get more comfortable but it’s all going to come from working and getting more reps with James (Graham) starting so we can start off a lot faster than we did.”

Graham got his first career start and appeared to grow in the role. He completed 11 of 24 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Depending on how the staff deals with the nagging injuries sustained by Tobias Oliver and the shoulder issues of Lucas Johnson, Graham may become the starting quarterback.

Graham effectively spread the ball around. He went to seven different targets for receptions and was active in trying to throw downfield. And he likes the possibilities he sees at among his receivers, including the slotback and the tight ends.

“It is exciting to have guys like Malachi, AB (Ahmarean Brown), Adonicas and TD (Tyler Davis) and even the backup tight ends came in a little bit to show what they can do,” Graham said. “We are going to get better every day at practice and the connection is going to get better. It’s all just going to fall together.”

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