Sept. 30, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Despite the best start in his tenure at Georgia Tech and moving from unranked up to No. 21, head coach Paul Johnson continues to call the 2011 team a work in progress and its season a process.
“This team has done nothing,” he said at his Tuesday morning press conference. “It has accomplished nothing. So it’s still a process on-going.”
Today, that process takes the Yellow Jackets to Raleigh, N.C., to take on NC State.
So far in 2011 Georgia Tech has proved it can win on the road (Week 2 at Middle Tennessee State), it can win a revenge game (Week 3 against Kansas) and it can win in ACC play (last week against North Carolina). Against NC State they will try to do all three at once.
The Jackets earned a hard-fought ‘W’ last weekend in its ACC opener, a 35-28 dogfight at Bobby Dodd against the Tar Heels. They let a two-touchdown lead get away in the fourth-quarter before showing the resilience in driving for the winning score with 5:25 to play, then twice holding Carolina off.
Quarterback Tevin Washington continued his growth, leading the team on a four-play, 61-yard drive, capping it with a five-yard touchdown run. Junior wide receiver Stephen Hill was again spectacular, catching a career-high six passes and hooking up with Washington on a 59-yard touchdown play. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu led the team with five tackles and recorded three sacks.
The Wolfpack needs a big effort today. They have split their first four games but are 0-1 in ACC play and are coming off a nationally televised 44-14 loss to Cincinnati. Senior wide receiver T.J. Graham was one bright spot last week, setting a school-record with 336 all-purpose yards, including 87- and 49-yard touchdown connections with junior quarterback Mike Glennon. Senior middle linebacker Audie Cole made a career-best 16 tackles in the game.
Tech holds a 17-10 edge in the series and has won five of the last eight meetings, but is coming off a 45-28 spanking at the hands of the Wolfpack last season at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The loss ended a seven-game series winning streak.
“Last year they beat us pretty good here,” Johnson recalled. “They scored more points than anybody since I’ve been here and I know in the league. So, we’ve got to play better, take better care of the ball and see if we can get them off the field, which we struggled with last year at times.”
The Jackets are 7-6 all-time at Carter-Finley Stadium, and ride a three-game winning streak there. They haven’t lost in Raleigh since 2000.
Today’s game will be on ABC in the Atlanta area, ESPN everywhere outside the ACC area, with Mike Patrick and Craig James 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 Sirius channel 133 or XM channel 191. Fans can log onto RamblinWreck.com to get live stats.
As Tech prepares for its first of two forays inside the Research Triangle, here are some well-researched statistical tidbits for you.
0 – The number of wins against NC State in two tries by Paul Johnson-coached teams. In addition to last season’s loss he was 0-1 against the Wolfpack while coaching at Navy.
2/6 – Jeremiah Attaochu’s ranking in the ACC and nationally in sacks. The junior has four on the season. His three sacks last week matched his freshman season total of 2010.
3 – The number of Yellow Jackets ranked in the top 87 nationally in rushing. A-Back Orwin Smith (87.3 yards per game, 54th), quarterback Synjyn Days (71.3, 80th), and B-Back David Sims (69.0, 87th) are all included.
3 – The positive turnover margin for Georgia Tech this season. That ties for second in the ACC with NC State. Last season the Jackets were minus-6.
3 – The number of seasons Tech recruiting coordinator/defensive line coach Andy McCollum coached linebackers at NC State.
4 – The team-high number of sacks and tackles for loss by Attaochu.
6 – The career-high number of tackles by sophomore OLB Brandon Watts in last year’s game against N.C. State.
11 – The number of wins out of 30 in the three-plus seasons under Paul Johnson that the Yellow Jackets have trailed by at least seven points and come back to win.
18 – The number of solo and assisted tackles by Tech’s leading tackler Julian Burnett.
29.9 – Georgia Tech’s yardage per pass completion.
33.0 – Hill’s yards per reception thus far this season.
63 – The average yards per play by Georgia Tech’s offense on its first play from scrimmage over the last three games. They include a 73-yard pass play from Tevin Washington to Tony Zenon at MTSU, a 95-yard run by Orwin Smith against Kansas, and a 21-yard catch and run by Smith against North Carolina. The other play was only good for five yards, but it was the final five yards to the end zone by Smith in the opener.
180.3 – Smith’s all-purpose yardage. That ranks 10th nationally.
213 – Georgia Tech’s point total in four games. They are the second team in ACC history to break 200 points in four games. The other is 1995 Florida State, the ACC champions.
Five Things to Know About NC State (and one thing about one of its coaches)
0 – The number of starters on the defensive line who were in the starting lineup for NC State’s season opener.
1 – State’s ranking in the ACC in quarterback sacks. The Wolfpack has sacked opposing QBs 12 times for minus-69 yards. Georgia Tech has allowed two sacks for minus-22 yards.
36 – The number of years the ACC single-game all-purpose yardage mark lasted until senior WR/KR T.J. Graham shattered it on Sept. 22 at Cincinnati. North Carolina’s Ted Brown had the mark with 297 yards in 1975).
84.4 – The percentage of their 2010 rushing yardage that NC State has had to replace, the team’s top three leading rushers from last season, Mustafa Greene (597 yards), quarterback Russell Wilson (435) and Dean Haynes (320). Greene has been out with a foot injury, Wilson has transferred to Wisconsin and Haynes is playing primarily at safety. The Wolfpack averages 85 yard per game on the ground, 11th in the ACC.
113 – The number of points the Wolfpack has scored in two games against Paul Johnson-coached teams. In addition to the 45 points scored last season against Georgia Tech, they scored 65 in a 65-19 win against Johnson’s Midshipmen back in 2002. Coincidentally, this is the first home game they will be playing against him.
6 – The number of seasons State linebackers coach Jon Tenuta was on the Georgia Tech staff.