Oct. 14, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Georgia Tech has enjoyed the first half of its 2011 season and enjoyed great success, going 6-0 and rising from unranked in preseason polls to No. 12 in the country.
Today, the Yellow Jackets begin what promises to be a challenging second half, taking on the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium, in Charlottesville. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.
“They’re 3-2 this season, but I think their two losses have come to two teams that are a combined 10-2 (North Carolina and Southern Mississippi both are 5-1). It’ll be a tough game,” said head coach Paul Johnson. “Defensively, they’re in the top 25 in the country. They’re in the top part of our conference in most every stat. Offensively they have a big, physical offensive line. They will be a challenge for all phases of our football team.”
All three phases of the game came through in Tech’s 21-16 victory over Maryland last Saturday, in which the Jackets jumped out to a 21-3 lead then held off the stubborn Terrapins. Offensively, quarterback Tevin Washington carried a career-high 32 times for 120 yards, and A-Back Orwin Smith scored his ACC-leading ninth touchdown. On special teams, Tony Zenon took the opening kickoff of the second-half kickoff back 79 yards to set up a score, while the defense, despite playing without starting linebackers Jeremiah Attaochu and Daniel Drummond, stiffened down the stretch to preserve the win.
The Cavaliers are coming off a bye week. In their last game they barely survived an upset bid by Idaho, winning, 21-20, in overtime at Scott Stadium. Junior tailback Perry Jones scored a pair of short touchdown runs and the defense denied the Vandals’ two-point conversion try in OT to get the win.
While Johnson admits the Cavaliers having an extra week to prepare for his Spread Option Offense is advantageous, he is not about to let that hover as an excuse.
“The extra time is probably an advantage preparing for any offense,” he said.
“I think that might be over-hyped a little bit,” he added. “It’s along the same lines you have to play disciplined defense. ‘We’ll have to play disciplined defense against Virginia this week. We’re not disciplined and our guys don’t play the gaps they’ve got and their responsibilities, we’ll get gashed.’ You have to play disciplined every week.”
The Yellow Jackets have won the last two games in the series to pull even in the all-time series (16-16-1), and while the Cavs have a 3-9-1 edge at Scott Stadium, the Jackets came away with a resounding 34-9 victory in their last visit in 2009.
Today’s game will be on ESPNU, with Pam Ward and Dan Hawkins calling the action. Of course, Tech fans can listen on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network, with Wes Durham and former Tech QB Rick Strom calling the action. The game can also be heard on Sirius Radio channel 113. Fans can log onto RamblinWreck.com to get live stats.
Here is some statistical stuff n preparation for a battle in Charlottesville.
.697 – The combined winning percentage of the teams Georgia Tech plays in the second half of its schedule. Of that group (Virginia, Miami, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Duke and Georgia), only one school has a losing record and that is Miami, which is 2-3 and hosts Tech next week (the ‘Canes visit North Carolina this weekend).
1 – The number of wins for Georgia Tech against the Cavaliers in Virginia in five tries during Al Groh’s tenure as head coach (2001-09). The Jackets were 3-6 overall in those years. Tech is 1-0 against Virginia with Groh. This is the Jackets’ first visit to Charlottesville with Groh as defensive coordinator.
1-3-1 – Tech’s record at Scott Stadium in games when it is ranked and the Cavaliers are not. The win, however, came in the last such meeting, in 2009.
1 – The number of rushing touchdowns junior A-Back Orwin Smith needs to tie redshirt-senior A-Back Roddy Jones for the lead among active Yellow Jackets. Jones, making his team-high 45th start (second among active ACC players), enters the game with 13 scores.
2 – The number of schools this season that have celebrated an anniversary with Georgia Tech in town, as UVA commemorates Scott Stadium’s 80th birthday today. Middle Tennessee State celebrated its 100th anniversary of football on Sept. 10. Tech’s gift was a 49-21 loss.
3 – The number of solo tackles needed by redshirt senior defensive tackle Logan Walls to pass his single-season best. He had 10 solos as a sophomore in 2009. Walls enters Saturday with eight solo tackles. His 22 total tackles also are three away from tying his single-season best set in ’09.
5 – The number of passes broken up by junior cornerback Rod Sweeting. That’s two away from matching his single-season best set last season in 13 games. He’s already passed his tackles-for-loss and interceptions totals, with two of each (he had one TFL and one INT last season).
11.7 – The average margin of victory in games between Georgia Tech and Virginia in Charlottesville. The first game ever played in Scott Stadium between the two teams ended in a 20-20 tie.
13.8 – The average margin of victory in the last 11 meetings. That includes a 35-0 rout by Tech in 2000, the largest margin of victory in the series. Only two games have been decided by less than a touchdown in that span — a 39-38 Tech loss in 2001 and a 28-23 loss in 2007, both in Charlottesville.
13 – The number of third downs the Jackets converted last Saturday against Maryland. It’s the most since they had 14 against Virginia on Nov. 9, 2000.
14.5 – Orwin Smith’s yardage per carry in 2011.
15 – The number of consecutive years that Georgia Tech is bowl eligible. That’s the fourth-longest streak in the nation.
20 – The number of yards Stephen Hill needs to pass the 1,000-yard mark in career receiving yards.
32.5 – Hill’s nation-leading yardage per reception in 2011. He has 17 receptions — six for at least 40 yards and three of at least 70 — for 552 yards and four touchdowns. In his first two seasons, Hill averaged 20.4 yards per catch (21 catches for 428 yards). His four touchdowns in 2011 match his combined total for the previous two seasons.
45 – The number of years since Georgia Tech was 6-0. In week seven of the 1966 season, Bobby Dodd’s squad went on the road and demolished Duke, 48-7.
62.2 – Georgia Tech’s nation-leading third-down conversion percentage.
121 – The number of yards Tevin Washington needs to move into the top 10 for single-season rushing yards by a quarterback. That would require one more yard than he had last week. His next rushing TD will move him into the top five in single-season rushing TDs by a QB.
360.5 – Tech’s rushing yards per game. That’s the most in school history, 30.8 yards than the previous single-season best of 329.7 in 1975.
Five Things to Know About Virginia (and one about its head coach)
-4 – Virginia’s turnover margin on the season, that’s 11th in the ACC (Tech is fifth at +4). The Cavaliers are 9-2 against the Yellow Jackets when winning the turnover battle, while Tech is 6-4-1 when better protecting the ball.
25 – The number of years since Virginia started a true freshman at cornerback. Freshman Demetrious Nicholson did so this year, becoming the first since Kevin Cook in 1986. Nicholson recorded an interception in the season opener (one of four on the team this year — opponents have eight picks of Wahoo QBs), and returned it 31 yards. He is the only Cavalier with return yardage on an interception.
33.3 – The success rate for Virginia’s opponents on third down (27-for-81). The Cavs’ defense ranks third in the ACC and 28th in the country.
70.5 – Freshman running back Kevin Parks’ rushing yardage per game. That’s eighth among FBS newcomers and second in the ACC. He scored three touchdowns in the season opener against William and Mary, becoming the first Cavaliers freshman to rush for three TDs in a game since Bob Davis in 1964. Parks enters Saturday with his six rushing scores on the year, one off the all-time school freshman record. His 9.0 ppg rank second in the ACC.
73.8 – Sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco’s completion percentage on third and fourth down. He’s 31-for-42 in those situations and is 3-for-3 on fourth. UVA has converted eight fourth-down attempts, third-best in the nation.
67.3 – Head Coach Mike London’s all-time winning percentage as a head coach. London was 24-5 in two seasons at Richmond and is 7-10 at Virginia heading into today’s game. London, who is one win away from matching last season’s win total with the Cavs, also is one of two FBS coaches to win an FCS National Championship, winning with the Spiders in 2008. The other is Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, who won twice at Georgia Southern (1999, 2000).