Sept. 3, 2010
By Jon Cooper
As Georgia Tech marches into its 118th season, the defending ACC Champion also wades into uncharted waters. This afternoon’s season opener marks the first meeting between the Yellow Jackets and the South Carolina State Bulldogs and the first meeting for Tech against a Historically Black College. Tech head coach Paul Johnson is 2-0 against the MEAC, however, with both wins coming against Florida A&M, as coach of Georgia Southern.
Taking S.C. State lightly because of its FCS status would be a mistake. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 12 in the FCS Preseason Coaches poll, are two-time defending champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and went 10-2 last season, 8-0 in the conference. Oliver “Buddy” Pough’s squad returns its entire offensive line, led by MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year Johnny Culbreath, and 6-3, 250-pound quarterback Malcolm Long. But they also lost two key defensive linemen and three-quarters of the secondary from the ball-hawking defense that created 33 turnovers, and held opponents to 13 points or less eight times.
State is hoping for better luck in its second venture into the ACC. Their first ended in a 54-0 loss to No. 23 Clemson on Sept. 20, 2008.
The Jackets have won 10 of their last 11 home openers, their last three by a combined score of 147-45 (69-14 over Samford in 2007 and 41-14 and 37-17 in ’08 and ’09 against Jacksonville State.
Here are some numerical nuggets to get you ready for kickoff!
.706/.829 – Georgia Tech’s all-time winning percentage in season openers (79-32-3) and home openers (64-12-3).
1 – The number of coaches in conference history to win back-to-back ACC Coach of the Year Awards.
2 – The number of back-to-back ACC Coach of the Year Awards won by Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson.
2 – The number of punt returns taken to the house by Jerrard Tarrant in 2009. His next one will tie the Georgia Tech career mark. Jimmy Brown (1965-67) holds the record.
3 – Defending ACC Champion Georgia Tech’s projected finish in the Coastal Division in the 2010 Preseason ACC poll.
3 – The number of consecutive wins in season openers. In that span they outscored their opponents 101-34 (33-3 at Notre Dame in 2007, 41-14 over Jacksonville State in ’08 and 37-17 vs. Jax St. in ’09).
5 – The school-high number of wins in season home openers, set against Clemson (5-1) and Gordon (5-0). Tech also has beaten Vanderbilt five times in season-openers (5-0-1).
6 – The number of season openers in the last seven years won by Georgia Tech.
9 – The number of years since Georgia Tech last opened back-to-back seasons ranked. The Jackets, ranked 16th and 17th this season, were ranked 15th in both polls last season. They were 10/13 in 2001 and 11/10 in 2000.
10 – The number of Georgia Tech wins in the 11 games decided by five points or less in the Paul Johnson era.
11 – The number of victories by Paul Johnson-coached teams in 13 season openers. That’s a career winning percentage of .846.
14 – The number of consecutive games in which Georgia Tech has scored in the fourth quarter.
15 – The number of starters from last year’s Yellow Jackets lineup.
16 – The number of seniors on the 2010 Georgia Tech roster. That’s 10 more than last season.
60 – The amount by which those seniors are outnumbered by freshmen and sophomores.
17 – The number of games Georgia Tech has led after three quarters under Paul Johnson.
17 – The number of wins Georgia Tech has when leading after three quarters under Paul Johnson.
20 – The number of wins for Georgia Tech over the last two seasons (9-4 in ’08, 11-3 last season). Coincidentally, S.C. State also has won 20 games in that span, winning 10 games in each of the past two seasons.
25 – The number of rushing touchdowns by senior QB Joshua Nesbitt heading into 2010. He already holds the school record for rushing scores by a quarterback, six more than second-place Shawn Jones (1989-92).
2,069 – The number of rushing yards by Nesbitt, already the school record for a quarterback by 311 yards over second-place Joe Hamilton.
41 – The number of consecutive extra points converted by Tech kicker Scott Blair. Only Duke’s Nick Maggio, who is 50-for-50, has a longer current PAT streak. Blair begins the 2010 season 16th on the school career scoring list, but is only 11 points out of the top 10.
61 – The most points Georgia Tech has scored in a season-opener. They did it back in 1916, a 61-0 blanking of Furman.
77-21 – The combined score of Georgia Tech’s two previous games played on Sept. 4, a 28-7 win over Samford in 2004 and a 49-14 rout at Navy in 1999.
159 – The number of consecutive games without being shutout. The last time Georgia Tech was held without a point in a game was Oct. 18, 1997 against Florida State.
201 – The combined number of seasons coached by Paul Johnson and his coaching staff. They’ve coached in a combined 72 bowl games.
12,000 – The number of page visitors within the first 60 hours that Nesbitt4Heisman.com was launched on Tuesday.