Nov. 13, 2006
ATLANTA- With the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title in hand, 18th-ranked Georgia Tech hosts Duke Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in a non-televised contest that is the Yellow Jackets’ final home game of the season at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
Georgia Tech (8-2, 6-1 ACC) won its third straight game with a 7-0 victory at North Carolina as the Yellow Jackets clinched the ACC Coastal Divison title and a berth in the ACC Championship game, which will be played Dec. 2 in Jacksonville, Fla. Tech’s Atlantic Division opponent likely will not be determined until after the games of Nov. 25.
Tech will have the chance to play for its third ACC title; the Jackets previously won the ACC in 1990 and claimed a share of the crown in 1998. Tech has won a total of 15 conference championships in its history, including titles in the SEC (1939, 1943, 1944, 1951, 1952), Southern Conference (1922, 1927, 1928) and SIAA (1916, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1921).
Ranked No. 18 in all polls, Georgia Tech is bowl eligible for the 10th straight year, giving the Jackets the chance to extend their school-record bowl streak. Tech’s 8-2 record is its best after 10 games since 2000.
Duke (0-9, 0-6) is looking for its first win after falling at Boston College, 28-7.
Calvin Johnson, Tech’s all-America wide receiver, leads the ACC in receptions with 52 (5.2 per game) and receiving yards with 808 (80.8 pg). His 11 touchdown receptions, a new Tech season record, rank fourth in the nation.
Sophomore James Johnson, Calvin’s running mate at wide receiver, has stepped up with 33 catches for 442 yards and five scores.
Senior quarterback Reggie Ball has completed 113 of 240 passes for 1,527 yards and 17 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 316 yards and two scores. His 17 touchdown passes lead the ACC.
Tailback Tashard Choice leads Tech and stands third in the ACC with 940 yards rushing on 208 attempts and eight touchdowns. He has topped the 100-yard mark in five of the last six games, and he has an ACC-best average of 109.1 yards per game in conference games. As a team, Tech is second in the league in rushing (161.1).
Linebackers KaMichael Hall and Philip Wheeler lead the Tech defense with 67 tackles each. Wheeler is third in the ACC in sacks (8.0, 20th nationally) and tackles for loss (12.5). Safeties Djay Jones and Jamal Lewis lead Tech with three interceptions apiece.
The Tech defense has allowed just one offensive touchdown in the last three games in leading the Jackets to victories over Miami, NC State and North Carolina.
DEFENSE DOMINATES TO BLANK UNC
Tashard Choice rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown, and that was all the offense that Georgia Tech would need to defeat North Carolina, 7-0. The Yellow Jackets’ defense held UNC to 211 yards of offense, intercepted two passes in the end zone, and allowed the Tar Heels to convert just 2-for-13 on third downs in recording Tech’s first shutout since a 35-0 blanking of Virginia in 2000 and its first on the road since beating Duke, 9-0, in 1985.
This week’s game against Duke marks the final home game for 11 Georgia Tech seniors. Six are starters, including quarterback Reggie Ball, tight end Michael Matthews and tackle Mansfield Wrotto on offense and tackle Joe Anoai, linebacker KaMichael Hall and cornerback Kenny Scott on defense. Also being honored today are tight end George Cooper, wide receiver Chris Dunlap, wide receiver Xavier McGuire, defensive back Sam Williams and offensive lineman Travis Kelly.
This senior class, which includes just three fifth-year players, has earned four straight winning seasons and four consecutive bowl berths while compiling a record of 29-18 (19-12 ACC), capped by this year’s ACC Coastal Division title. Highlighting the win total are two bowl victories and six wins over nationally-ranked teams, including three wins over Top 10 teams.
NO TOUCHDOWNS ALLOWED
The Georgia Tech defense has not allowed a touchdown in the last two games, including a 7-0 shutout of North Carolina and a 31-23 victory over NC State in which the Wolfpack offense only managed three field goals.
In Tech’s last four victories, wins over Maryland, Miami, NC State and North Carolina, the Rambling Wreck defense has allowed just two offensive touchdowns, one of which came after a Tech fumble at its own eight-yard line.
On the season, the Tech defense has allowed 15 touchdowns in 10 games. The Jackets have held six opponents (Samford, Virginia, Maryland, Miami, NC State and North Carolina) to one offensive touchdown or loss.
SERIES VS. DUKE
Georgia Tech has won two in a row and 10 of the last 11 meetings with Duke. Tech won last year’s game, 35-10, at Durham, and the Jackets also won the last meeting in Atlanta, 24-7 in 2004. Duke’s last win the series was a 41-17 victory in Durham in 2003.
Tech holds a 42-30-1 lead in the series. The two teams have met every year since 1933, making it the Jackets’ second-oldest continuous series, behind only the Tech-Georgia rivalry. The only schools that Tech has played more than Duke (73 meetings) are Georgia (100) and Auburn (92).
Tech has a 24-12-1 record against Duke at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. The Jackets have won seven straight in Atlanta, where the Blue Devils’ last victory was a 27-12 decision in 1994.
FACING FORMER JACKET Ted Roof
Duke head coach Ted Roof, a 1987 graduate of Georgia Tech, will be coaching against his alma mater for the fourth time. In 2003, Roof earned his first victory as a head coach against the Yellow Jackets, but Tech has won the last two years.
A native of Lawrenceville, Ga., Roof was an all-ACC linebacker at Tech in 1985, when he was a senior leader on the Rambling Wreck’s “Black Watch” defense that keyed a nine-win season and All-American Bowl victory. He returned to Tech as an assistant coach from 1998-2001, including three seasons as defensive coordinator, before moving to Duke in 2002. He was inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 1998.
Since 2001, Tech has played 13 games against former assistant coaches, posting a 9-4 record ( Roof, 2-1; Randy Edsall, Connecticut, 3-0; Ralph Friedgen, Maryland, 3-2; Gary Crowton, BYU, 1-1).
Roof is just the third Georgia Tech graduate to coach against his alma mater. The Yellow Jackets are 3-5 when facing a team coached by a Tech graduate, including a 1-3 mark against Jim Carlen’s South Carolina teams from 1974-78 and a loss to Frank Broyles’ Arkansas team in the 1960 Gator Bowl.
MORE COACHING CONNECTIONS
In addition to head coach Ted Roof, the Duke staff also includes former Yellow Jacket player and assistant coach Glenn Spencer, who was Roof’s teammate from 1982-85 and served at Tech from 2001-03, coaching running backs and then the defensive line. Duke offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien also spent time at Tech, starting as a graduate assistant (1995-97), then serving as running backs coach (1998-2000) and offensive coordinator (2001-02).
Conversely, Georgia Tech assistants Joe D’Alessandris and Buddy Geis previously coached at Duke. D’Alessandris, Tech’s offensive line coach since 2002, spent five years in the same capacity with the Blue Devils from 1997-01. Geis, Tech’s assistant head coach and wide receivers coach, was Duke’s offensive coordinator in 1993, when Roof was also on the Blue Devil staff. Geis’ son, Adam, lettered in football and baseball at Duke (1994-98).
Junior punter Durant Brooks is a strong candidate for all-America honors one of 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter.
Brooks LEADS THE NATION in net punting at 40.83 yards per kick. His gross average of 44.9 yards per kick lead the ACC and ranks 9th in the nation. Twenty-seven of his 60 punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line. He has 18 punts of 50 yards or longer.
Guy is a native of Thomson, Ga., and a mentor for Brooks, who attended the former NFL star’s kicking camps. A transfer from Georgia Military College, Brooks has become a very effective weapon in his first season in a Georgia Tech uniform.
With a 6-1 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Georgia Tech will finish with an ACC record of .500 or better for the 12th straight year, the longest active streak in the league. Florida State’s 3-5 record this season snaps a streak of 14 straight years at .500 or better in the ACC. Clemson has the next longest streak at eight straight years of .500 or better, including 2006.
Tech is one of just four schools in NCAA Division I-A to post a conference record of .500 or better every year since 1995. The others are Florida, Michigan and Southern Mississippi. (Toledo will join the list if it can win its final two games to finish 4-4 in the MAC).
Since 1995, Tech has won more ACC games (59) than any school except Florida State (80).
Tashard Choice ranks third in the ACC in rushing, averaging 94.0 yards per game. He has 940 yards and eight touchdowns. He is the only ACC back averaging more than 100 yards in conference games (109.1 ypg).
Choice has topped the 100-yard mark in three straight games and five of the last six, including a career-best 164 yards to lead Tech to a 31-23 win at NC State. The workhorse has averaged 130 yards and better than 30 carries a game on Tech’s current three-game winning streak to seize the ACC Coastal Division title.
In last Saturday’s win at North Carolina, Choice accounted for 151 of Tech’s 221 yards (119 yards rushing and 32 yards receiving) and scored the game’s only points on a three-yard touchdown run.
Choice began his hot streak with 105 yards and two touchdowns in the Jackets’ win at Virginia Tech. Then he rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns to lead Tech to a 27-23 victory over Maryland. His 15-yard TD run in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winning score. He added 107 yards in the Jackets’ win over Miami, again scoring the winning points on a 24-yard, fourth-quarter TD run.
The junior from Riverdale, Ga., has raised his Tech career rushing total to 1,453 yards to rank 18th in school history. Choice also had 100 yards as a freshman at Oklahoma.
BALL ENTERS RARE AIR
Quarterback Reggie Ball has entered “rare air” on Georgia Tech’s career passing and total offense charts. Ball ranks third in career passing yards and total offense, trailing only Heisman Trophy runner-up Joe Hamilton and all-ACC honoree Shawn Jones. Those two quarterbacks finished their respective careers as the ACC all-time leader in total offense.
With four touchdown passes against NC State, Ball moved ahead of Jones and into second place in Tech history with 54 in his career. He now needs just 49 yards of total offense to pass Jones for second place in that category.
In ACC annals, Ball currently stands 8th in total offense, 11th in TD passes and 13th in passing yards.