Yellow Jackets Open 120th Season On Labor Day At Virginia Tech

Aug. 27, 2012

 rv/rv Georgia Tech (0-0) at 16/20 Virginia Tech (0-0)
 Game 1 (Away 1)  Monday, September 3, 8 p.m. ET
 Location Blacksburg, Va. | Lane Stadium | Weather

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YELLOW JACKETS OPEN 120TH FOOTBALL SEASON ON LABOR DAY NIGHT IN BLACKSBURG
In a rare season-opening meeting of divisional rivals, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech battle on Labor Day night at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. (8 p.m. ET/ESPN).

The game marks the 120th season opener for the Yellow Jackets, who are 83-32-4 all-time in season lid-lifters. Tech has won five straight, seven of its last eight and 11 of its last 13 openers. In ACC openers, the Jackets are 15-14 all-time, and have won four in row and seven of their last eight.

The Tech-Tech tilt has proved pivotal in the ACC’s Coastal Division race over the past seven years. The winner of the game has gone on to represent the Coastal in the ACC Championship Game every year since divisional play began in 2005.

In his fifth season at the helm, head coach Paul Johnson returns 13 starters, both kicking specialists and 48 letterwinners from a 2011 team that exceeded all expectations. Last year’s team, predicted by most to hover at .500, won eight games, beat eventual ACC champion Clemson and advanced to a bowl game for the 15th consecutive season.

Expectations are elevated as 2012 begins, with the Yellow Jackets picked second in the ACC Coastal Division (behind Virginia Tech) and welcoming back a deep and talented offensive line, a veteran quarterback and a loaded secondary.

But Georgia Tech will have to grow up in a hurry. In addition to the Hokies, the Jackets host divisional rivals Virginia and Miami later in September.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN 2012
One thing you can hang your hat on when it comes to Johnson-coached teams is that the Yellow Jackets will be able to run the football.

Over the last four years combined, Georgia Tech has averaged more than 300 yards rushing per game, best among all FBS teams. Last year’s squad ranked second nationally in rushing despite not having a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in Johnson’s tenure.

Johnson, however, wants to see more efficiency in the passing game, which could open things up for his high-powered offense.

For the passing game to be a threat, there will need to be protection from an improved offensive line, better efficiency from the quarterbacks and inexperienced receivers will have to make catches.

GEORGIA TECH-VIRGINIA TECH SERIES HISTORY
• Virginia Tech leads the all-time series, 6-3.
• The Hokies have won the last two and four of the last five meetings.
• Virginia Tech holds a 3-1 series advantage in Blacksburg.
• Georgia Tech’s last win over the Hokies was a 28-23 win over fourth-ranked Virginia Tech in 2009.
• The Yellow Jackets’ last win in Blacksburg was a 38-27 decision over 11th-ranked VT in 2006.
• Virginia Tech won last year’s meeting, 37-26, in Atlanta.
• The last time the Jackets and Hokies met in Blacksburg — Nov. 4, 2010 — Virginia Tech came away with a 28-21 victory. In that game, Tech senior quarterback Joshua Nesbitt suffered a broken arm on the final play of the first half. Current Jacket QB Tevin Washington took over in the second half and has started every game since then. David Wilson’s second half kickoff return for a touchdown helped seal the win for Virginia Tech.
• Virginia Tech’s 20-17 win over Georgia Tech in Blacksburg in 2008 marked coach Paul Johnson’s first loss as coach of the Yellow Jackets.
• This will be the 10th all-time meeting between the two teams. Only five of those previous meetings were played on a Saturday.
• The first meeting between the Jackets and Hokies came in 1990, a 6-3 Georgia Tech win in which Virginia Tech nearly spoiled the Jackets’ run to a share of the national championship.
• Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is 1-3 all-time vs. Virginia Tech including an 0-2 mark in Blacksburg.
• Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer has been on the sidelines for all nine previous Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech games.
• Georgia Tech is 34-24-1 all-time against teams from the Commonwealth of Virginia.
• The Yellow Jackets are 22-13 all-time vs. Coastal Division opponents, including a 10-9 mark on the road, since divisional play begin in 2005.

SERIES GAME-BY-GAME (VT LEADS 6-3)Date                    GT      Opp     Result11-10-1990              7/7     ..      hW      6-38-27-2000               *Cancelled (weather)10-28-2004 (Thur)               ..       22/22  hL      20-349-24-2005                        ..       4/4   aL      7-519-30-2006                        24/nr  11/10   aW      38-2711-1-2007 (Thur)                ..       11/13  hL      3-279-13-2008                       ..      ..       aL     17-2010-17-2009              19/20   4/4     hW      28-2311-4-2010 (Thur)                ..       20/20  aL      21-2811-10-2011 (Thur)                20/19  10/9    hL      26-37*2000 BCA Bowl at Blacksburg, Va.

THE OPENER THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN
Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech were scheduled to open the 2000 season in Blacksburg as part of the BCA Bowl. However, just as the teams lined up for the opening kickoff, lightning and thunder precluded a dangerous and lengthy storm that passed through the area.

Many remember that ESPN announcer Lee Corso’s rental car was struck by lightning. The game was cancelled and was not re-scheduled.

YELLOW JACKET-HOKIE CONNECTIONS
• Georgia Tech’s only player from Virginia is walk-on offensive lineman Tim Seager of Blacksburg. Seager attended Blacksburg High School.
• Virginia Tech has four players on its roster from the state of Georgia: Detrick Bonner (McDonough), Carl Jackson (Tyrone), Christian Reeves (McDonough) and Bruce Taylor (Riceboro).
• Yellow Jacket senior Rod Sweeting and Virginia Tech sophomore Detrick Bonner, both defensive backs, both graduated from Luella High School (Locust Grove, Ga).
• Georgia Tech’s Tim Seager and Virginia Tech’s Griffin Hite and Joey Phillips all played at Blacksburg (Va.) High School.
• Georgia Tech’s Michael McDonald and Jamal Paige, and Virginia Tech’s Carl Jackson, all attended Woodward Academy in Georgia.
• Both head coaches are from North Carolina — Paul Johnson (Newland) and Frank Beamer (Mt. Airy).
• Hokie associate head coach Shane Beamer was a graduate assistant at Georgia Tech in 2000.
• Yellow Jacket defensive coordinator Al Groh coached linebackers at North Carolina from 1973-77. Hokie assistant to the head coach Billy Hite played for the Tar Heels in 1973, then coached at UNC from 1974-77.
• Georgia Tech offensive line coach Mike Sewak graduated from Virginia in 1981, the same year Hokie director of recruiting Jim Cavanaugh was an assistant coach with the Cavaliers.
• Yellow Jackets Errin Joe and Quayshawn Nealy, and Virginia Tech assistant coach Torrian Gray, all call Lakeland, Fla., home.
• Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich and Virginia Tech associate athletic director for football operations Dr. John Ballein both graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
• Georgia Tech associate sports information director Mike Stamus is a 1982 Virginia Tech graduate and worked in the Hokie SID office as a student.

TECH VERSUS RANKED OPPONENTS
• Georgia Tech will open the season against a nationally-ranked team for the first time since hosting No. 2/t-3 Notre Dame in 2006.
• The last time the Yellow Jackets opened the season on the road against a nationally-ranked team came in 2005 when Tech won at 16th-ranked Auburn, 23-14.
• Georgia Tech’s last win against a ranked team came as recently as Oct. 29, 2011 when it defeated 6th-ranked Clemson, 31-17, in Atlanta. That win over the Tigers also marked the last time the Jackets were not ranked when beating a team that was ranked.
• The Yellow Jackets are looking to beat a ranked team on the road for the first time since Nov. 29, 2008 – a 45-42 victory at 13th-ranked Georgia. That note is a little misleading because Tech has played only two ranked teams on the road since that win over Georgia.

TECH GETS FIRST WORK ON LABOR DAY
The Yellow Jackets’ season opener Sept. 3 at Virginia Tech will mark their first game played on Labor Day. The last time the two Techs were scheduled to open a season – the 2000 BCA Bowl in Blacksburg, Va. – the game was cancelled because of bad weather. The last time the Yellow Jackets opened a season with a conference game came in 1996 at NC State.

NEW FACES ON THE STAFF
The only new member of the Georgia Tech coaching staff is Dave Walkosky, who is the first special teams coach in Paul Johnson’s head coaching tenure at Tech. John Sisk is the Yellow Jackets’ new director of player development (strength coach). The Yellow Jackets also have two new graduate assistants: Ben Anderson and Paul Rice.

60TH ANNIVERSARY OF `52 NATIONAL TITLE
Georgia Tech will honor the 1951 and 1952 Yellow Jacket football teams at halftime of Tech’s game against Virginia Sept. 14 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. This marks the 60th anniversary of Tech’s 1952 national championship. The contest with the Cavaliers will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET and be televised by ESPNU.

The two teams combined for a 23-0-1 record under legendary head coach Bobby Dodd. Both teams won SEC titles and won their bowl games. The 1951 team defeated ninth-ranked Baylor 17-14 in the Orange Bowl. The 1952 team defeated seventh-ranked Ole Miss 24-7 in the Sugar Bowl to win a share of the national championship. The win over the Rebels gave Tech its third national title.

EARLY INDICATORS
Georgia Tech is set face three ACC Coastal Division foes in September – Virginia Tech, Miami and Virginia. Although it’s unusual for a schedule to be that top-loaded, it’s not unheard of. In fact, both Georgia and South Carolina have three divisional games this September.

PRESEASON HONORS
• The Yellow Jackets enter the season with five players listed on the watch lists for six different awards. Senior A-Back Orwin Smith is on the watch list for both the Paul Hornung Award (most versatile player) and the Doak Walker Award (best running back).
• Others include Omoregie Uzzi on the Outland Trophy list, Jay Finch on the Rimington Trophy list, Izaan Cross on the Ted Hendricks, and Jeremiah Attaochu on the Lombardi Award watch list.

TECH IN THE PRESEASON POLLS
In Sports Illustrated’s college football preview issue, the Yellow Jackets were picked 20th in its preseason poll. In both the USA Today Coaches and AP preseason polls, Tech was listed in “others receiving votes.”

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