Oct. 7, 2011
By Jon Cooper
It’s been more than two decades since Georgia Tech started a season like this year’s 5-0 mark. That year ended with a 11-0-1 record and a share of the national championship. The 2011 Yellow Jackets aren’t at that level yet and head coach Paul Johnson knows how important it is to continue to improve.
“I tell them every day how good I think they are,” he said during his Tuesday morning press conference. “We’ve got a challenge to keep trying to get better every week.
“They know what the expectations are, and I’ve told them I’m not lowering my expectations to them; they’re going to raise theirs to mine,” he said later. “With this group, I think that they work hard and they try.”
The Jackets will see if the hard work they put in this week will pay off against Maryland, in their third ACC game, second home conference game and first against the Terrapins since 2007.
Tech took care of business in its first ACC road game, a 45-35 victory over NC State last weekend. The game wasn’t as close as the final score indicated, as the Wolfpack scored a late touchdown then a defensive score 14 seconds apart in the final minute to close the final margin. The Jackets were held below 300 yards rushing (298) for the first time since their season opener and were uncharacteristically loose with the football, fumbling four times, also the first time since week one. Orwin Smith’s three rushing touchdowns and Tevin Washington’s 38-yard TD pass to Roddy Jones were too much for the Wolfpack to overcome.
Today’s game will be on the first on the road in 2011 for the Terrapins. Maryland, last year’s final No. 23-ranked team and runner-up in the Atlantic Division, has ushered in the Randy Edsall era with a 2-2 start but is 1-0 in ACC play, knocking off shorthanded Miami in its season opener. The Terps are coming off a 28-3 victory over Towson last weekend at Byrd Stadium. The win won’t do much for strength of schedule, but may have been important in re-establishing confidence after the Terps took a 38-7 thrashing the week before against Temple, a team Johnson called “very underrated.”
Maryland’s offense features quarterback Danny O’Brien, the 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year, running back Davin Meggett, a Doak Walker candidate, and wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, while defensively, they are a ball-hawking unit, that leads the ACC with 12 forced turnovers (12th in the nation).
The Jackets hold a 13-6 edge in the series and have won eight of nine games at Bobby Dodd Stadium, but the last three home games — two of them won by Tech — have been decided by a total of 11 points. They have split the last six meetings overall.
“They’ve got a lot of guys back off the team that won nine games a year ago,” said Johnson. “It’s really hard to get a beat on where they are. I know this, I know they’re 1-0 in the ACC. I expect that they’ll be a high-caliber opponent when they come in here.”
Today’s game will be on ESPNU, with Rob Stone and Danny Kanell calling the action. Of course, Tech fans can listen on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, with Wes Durham and Rick Strom calling the action. The game can also be heard on channel 85 on both Sirius and XM radio. Fans can log onto RamblinWreck.com to get live stats.
Here now some statistical info. to get you into the mood for the noon kickoff and help you get over any fear of the turtle.
0 – The number of combined wins in four games for Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson against Maryland (0-1) and Maryland head coach Randy Edsall against Georgia Tech (0-3).
1 – The number of wins Tech needs to become bowl eligible for the 15th straight season. They didn’t get win No. 6 last season until week 11.
2/60 – The number of kickoff returns and kickoff-return yardage needed by Orwin Smith to move into the top 5 all-time in Tech history in both categories. His 55 returns and 1,205 yards are right behind Charlie Rogers (56, 1,264 from 1995-98).
2 – The number of rushing touchdowns needed by quarterback Tevin Washington to move into eighth place in school history. John Dewberry (1983-85) has nine rushing scores, one ahead of Washington. Reggie Ball (2003-06) and Toppy Vann (1956-57) are tied for sixth with 11.
7 – The number of rushing yards needed by Washington to move into sixth place all-time in quarterback rushing yards. His 743 yards entering play today are three behind Billy Lothridge (1961-63) and six behind Donnie Davis (1992-95). Shawn Jones (855 yards from 1989-92) is fifth.
4 – The Yellow Jackets’ positive turnover differential after six games in 2011 versus 2010. So far, Tech has committed six turnovers, while forcing nine (a plus-3 margin). Last year through six games Tech had committed eight turnovers while forcing seven (minus-1).
4 – The number of games Georgia Tech has at least two TD passes. The Jackets did that once in 2010.
7:02 – The difference in time of possession per game between the two schools. Tech holds the ball 31:42 per game, fourth in the ACC, while Maryland is last, holding the ball for 24:40.
8 – The number of touchdowns scored by A-Back Orwin Smith, seven of those have been on the ground. He leads the ACC in touchdowns and shares the lead in rushing touchdowns (with North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard).
8 – The number of victories by Georgia Tech in its last 10 ACC home games.
9 – The number of victories by Georgia Tech in its last 11 games against Atlantic Division opponents.
10 – The number of years AFTER Tech became a member of the ACC that the Yellow Jackets and Terrapins played for the very first time (1988). Tech lost 13-8 in College Park.
25 – The percentage of rushes that Smith has taken to the end zone. He has scored seven rushing touchdowns on 28 carries. He has hit pay dirt in four of Tech’s five games (the only game he didn’t was Sept. 24 against North Carolina, although he did lead the team in rushing).
28 – The combined number of opponent scores against Georgia Tech and Maryland’s defenses on 32 possessions inside the red zone. Tech’s opponents have scored on 15 of 17 visits (14 touchdowns), an 88.2 percent success rate, 11th in the League. Maryland’s foes have scored on 13 of 15 visits, an 86.7 percent success rate, with eight touchdowns.
55.5 – The Yellow Jackets’ percentage of touchdowns on offensive possessions. Tech has 35 touchdowns in 63 possessions.
66 – The margin by which Georgia Tech has outscored opponents in the first quarter.
84.6/165.0 – Smith’s rushing and all-purpose yardage per game. Both rank fourth in the ACC. His all-purpose yardage is 20th in the nation.
310 – Smith’s combined rushing yardage over the last three games.
Five Things to Know About Maryland (and one about its head coach)
4.0 – Senior Tony Logan’s average per punt return. That’s down 14.1 yards per return from 2010, when Logan was First-Team All-ACC. Holder of two of the school’s longest career punt returns, he has a career average of 13.0 yards per return, fourth among active FBS players, and has two career punt returns for touchdowns. He may be finding his groove, however, as last week against Towson, Logan averaged 26.5 yards on kickoff returns.
+6 – Maryland’s ACC-leading turnover margin. Since the start of 2010, the Terps are 10-2 when winning the turnovers.
9 – The number of touchdowns in the red zone by Maryland over the last three games. That’s a .692 percentage and marks quite a reversal of fortune from the 1-for-7 inside the 20 in the season opener against Miami.
50 – The number of passing yards quarterback Danny O’Brien needs to move into 11th place all-time in school history, passing Dick Shiner, who threw for 3,410 yards from 1961-63. O’Brien is completing 64.2 percent of his passes and averaging 24 completions and 228.2 yards per game.
177.5 – The rushing yardage per game Maryland allows. That’s 11th in the ACC (only Miami allows more, 202.2) and 90th in the nation. Georgia Tech leads the ACC and the nation in rushing yardage per game (378.2).
17.3 – The margin of victory for Georgia Tech in the three games against Randy Edsall-coached teams. Edsall, a former defensive coordinator for Georgia Tech’s 1998 ACC Champs, saw his Connecticut teams lose 31-14 in Storrs in 2002, then 30-10 and 28-13 in 2004 and 2005 at Bobby Dodd. Coincidentally, Edsall replaced Ralph Friedgen, who was Tech’s offensive coordinator in 1998.