Oct. 14, 2008
Trip To Death Valley Awaits Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech, which extended its winning streak to three games with a 10-7 win over Gardner-Webb last Saturday, travels to Clemson Saturday for a nationally-televised battle with the Tigers (12:02 p.m./ESPN).
The Yellow Jackets, projected by one national publication to win just three games under first-year coach Paul Johnson, are 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the ACC. Clemson, 3-3 and 1-2, takes a two-game losing skid into Saturday’s game. The Tigers are coming off a 12-7 loss at nationally-ranked Wake Forest last Thursday night. Clemson will be under the direction of interim head coach Dabo Swinney, who replaced Tommy Bowden on Monday.
Playing without its top two quarterbacks — sophomore Josh Nesbitt and true freshman Jaybo Shaw — Tech struggled on offense in the win over Gardner-Webb, gaining just 79 yards rushing and 199 yards of total offense. The Yellow Jacket defense, however, allowed just one third-quarter TD. Sophomore DE Derrick Morgan and senior DE Michael Johnson combined for 8.5 tackles-for-loss.
Georgia Tech leads the all-time series, 46-24-2. The Jackets have won three out of the last four meetings including a 13-3 win in Atlanta last season. More on the series on page four.
At a loss: Georgia Tech leads the nation in tackles-for-loss and the Yellow Jackets rank in the top 10 nationally in seven different defensive statistical categories.
Putting it on the line: Tech’s four starting defensive linemen have combined for 29 tackles-for-loss, 12.5 sacks, three fumble recoveries and two blocked field goals.
Move over Joe: Paul Johnson won his 112th career game last week, tying Joe Paterno for the sixth-most wins in the first 12 seasons of a college coaching career.
A youthful bunch: Of the 44 players listed on Georgia Tech’s two-deep, 28 are either freshmen or sophomores. Seven true freshmen are playing significant roles for the Jackets.
Jackets, 5-1, Can Smile At Preseason Projections
Georgia Tech has started the season 5-1 previously, but the Yellow Jackets have not started better than 5-1 since their national championship season of 1990. The 5-1 start is especially impressive considering many of the experts thought Tech would win less than five games all season. A few of the preseason projections:
– SI.com ranked all 119 FBS teams and Georgia Tech came in at No. 80. That would put the Jackets 12th out of 12 ACC teams. SI.com’s prediction: 3-9 overall, 1-7 in the ACC.
– Southern Sports Journal projected Tech to finish 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the ACC.
– The media picked the Jackets to finish fourth in the ACC’s Coastal Division.
Seven Wins Needed For 12th Straight Bowl
Georgia Tech, 5-1 overall, has played in a bowl game 11 consecutive seasons. That ties for the fifth-longest current streak nationally behind only Michigan (34 straight bowls), Florida State (26), Florida (18) and Virginia Tech (15). Georgia is tied with Georgia Tech will 11 straight bowls.
The Yellow Jackets will need seven wins to be bowl-eligible in 2008. Tech has victories over two FCS opponents — Jacksonville State and Gardner-Webb — and only one of those count toward bowl-eligibility.
Derrick Morgan Named ACC D-Lineman Of The Week
Sophomore Derrick Morgan had career-highs of four tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks last week vs. Gardner-Webb to earn ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors. He added 10 total tackles and he blocked Gardner-Webb’s game-tying field goal in the closing moments.