Oct. 6, 2012
By Jon Cooper
– With September in the rearview mirror, Georgia Tech will try to get October off to a good start, when it takes on No. 15 Clemson this afternoon at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets have their work cut out for them against the Tigers as they look to regroup from a pair of disappointing defensive performances in home losses to Miami and Middle Tennessee State. While playing the defending ACC Champions on their home turf, where they’ve won nine straight games, isn’t necessarily the ideal place to end a losing streak, Tech head coach Paul Johnson believes this game is the kind of challenge a competitor should relish and he expects his squad to step up.
“I don’t know if going to Death Valley is ever a good thing, that’s a tough place to play,” said Johnson at his weekly press conference. “If you’re competitive — and if there’s one thing I am it is competitive, sometimes to a fault — but you want to play again, no matter who or where. You just want to go out and have a chance to play again. We drew a great football team and good place to play. We’ve had some good games with them the past few years, so hopefully if we can hold our end of it, I’m sure it will be a good game again.”
The Jackets have had success in the series, having won nearly two-thirds of the meetings between the schools, and have even won in the past in Death Valley, holding a 10-6 record. They have won four of the last seven meetings in the series.
Clemson’s offense is loaded, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington, the ACC’s leading rusher, and the explosive duo of receivers, DeAndre Hopkins, the ACC’s receiving leader, and Sammy Watkins, last year’s ACC Freshman of the Year. They’ll present the biggest challenge yet for a Jackets defense, which has allowed more than 1,100 yards over the past two games.
“Certainly we will have to play better than we have on Saturday if we want to beat them,” Johnson said. “We’ve had some communication issues, but even having said that, the bottom-line is we have to tackle better, quit giving up the big plays, take better angles and every time the ball breaks the line of scrimmage it doesn’t have to be a touchdown. There are a lot of things we can get better on, but there are things we can get better on everywhere.”
Here are some numbers to get you ready for today’s kickoff.
The Series: Georgia Tech leads, 50-25-2 Current Streak: Georgia Tech has won one straight In Clemson: Georgia Tech leads, 10-6 Last Meeting: Georgia Tech 31, No. 6 Clemson 17, @ Georgia Tech, Oct. 29, 2011
40 – The number being worn this week by linebacker Chris Crenshaw. The number had been worn by linebacker Julian Burnett, who was forced to stop playing due to a neck injury suffered in last year’s Hyundai Sun Bowl. The number will be worn by a different Yellow Jacket every week in tribute. It has been worn by defensive end T.J. Barnes, cornerback Rod Sweeting, quarterback Tevin Washington, long snapper Tyler Morgan and, last week, by defensive end Izaan Cross.
0 – The number of scoring drives by Georgia Tech and its opponents that have taken at least 7:00. Through five games last season, the Yellow Jackets had four such drives, with two well over nine minutes.
.696 – Georgia Tech’s record against Atlantic Division teams since the start of divisional play in 2005. That includes a 6-3 mark in road games. Today is Tech’s first game against an Atlantic Division foe in 2012.
2 – The number of Yellow Jackets ranked in the top three in active ACC players in rushing touchdowns that will be playing in today’s game. Quarterback Tevin Washington ranks second, with 29 rushing scores, and A-Back Orwin Smith has 17, tied for third with North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard. Clemson’s Andre Ellington leads with 31.
4/2/1 – The number of solo tackles, interceptions and forced fumbles by junior corner Jemea Thomas in last year’s game against Clemson. The two interceptions are his single-game high and the forced fumble is the only one of his career thus far.
7 – The number of touchdowns out of Georgia Tech’s last eight that have been scored on runs by Tevin Washington.
20 – The total number of yards in the seven touchdown runs — and one of thoae scores was a 10-yard dash against Miami. The four TDs against MTSU, which tied a school record for touchdowns in a game, totaled six yards.
11/13.6 – Washington’s touchdown total on the season and his points per game. The touchdown total leads FBS quarterbacks, while his 13.6 points per game are fourth in the country amongst all players.
89 – The number of FBS teams that have fewer rushing touchdowns than Washington.
10 – The number of Georgia Tech touchdown drives taking a minute or less.
15 – The career-high number of carries by B-Back David Sims in last year’s game. He ran for 68 yards in the game.
8.3/34.5 – A-Back Tony Zenon’s yards per carry (17 carries for 141 yards with a long of 39 yards) and yards per catch (4 for 138, his long is 57 yards).
9 – The number of touches by Zenon that have resulted in either a first down or a touchdown.
9 – The number of Yellow Jackets who have made a play that has gone at least 20 yards.
9.7 – A-Back Orwin Smith’s career yards per carry. That’s the highest of any player in the ACC. Smith has gained 1,402 yards in 144 attempts over 44 career games. The nearest player to him is Ja’Terian Douglas of Tulsa, who has a 7.7 ypc average (1,592 yards on 206 carries).
17 – The number of points Georgia Tech has allowed opponents following turnovers. The Jackets’ defense has twice gotten the ball back on downs and twice forced punts following turnovers.
20 – The team-high number of solo tackles by redshirt-junior linebacker Brandon Watts. Watts has 28 total tackles, which rank third on the team. His 3.5 tackles for loss are second on the team, a half-tackle behind team leader Rod Sweeting.
39:00 – The season-high time of possession by Georgia Tech in last year’s game against Clemson.
67 – The season-high number of rushing attempts by Tech in the game, which allowed them to hold the ball for 39:00. The Jackets’ ran for 383 yards and outrushed the Tigers by 288 yards.
176 – Washington’s career-high rushing yards in last year’s game against Clemson. He carried 27 times and broke off his then-career-best run of 56 yards. Tevin surpassed that mark Sept. 15, rambling for 60 yards against Virginia.
192.8 – Washington’s total offense per game. He has rushed for 304 yards, while passing for 660.
3,622 – The amount of career all-purpose yardage gained by Smith. That’s third among active players. He’s gained 1,570 of those yards on returns, 1,402 rushing and 650 receiving. He enters today 207 yards behind the current leader, who will be across the field from him, Clemson’s Andre Ellington (3,829 – 2,870 rushing, 363 receiving, and 596 in returns.
10 Things To Know About Clemson (Plus one heartwarming note)
.857 – Clemson’s winning percentage in ACC home games in the Dabo Swinney Era. The Tigers sport a 12-2 record in such games. It ranks third all-time among ACC coaches, tied with former Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne. Swinney is behind only former Clemson coach Ken Hatfield, who had an .893 percentage (12-1-1) and recently retired Florida State legend Bobby Bowden, who had a .862 percentage. In fact, four Clemson coaches rank in the top 10 all-time, with Hatfield holding the top spot, Swinney tied for third, Danny Ford is seventh and Frank Howard is tied for ninth.
1 – The number of times running back Andre Ellington has been stopped behind the line of scrimmage in 92 carries thus far this season.
5 – Quarterback Tajh Boyd’s all-time ranking among Clemson passers. He surpassed the 5,000-yard mark on Sept. 22, against Florida State and currently has 5,508 career yards passing. He trails only Charlie Whitehurst (9,665 yards), Woody Dantzler (6,037), Cullen Harper (5,762) and Nealon Greene (5,719), and is on pace to blow past all of them. His 61.2 completion percentage is better than all of them.
13 – The number of passes Hopkins caught against Auburn in the season opener on Sept. 1. The 13 catches broke the school-record set by Airese Currie in 2003 against Middle Tennessee State. Coincidentally, Currie’s position coach was Dabo Swinney.
16 – The number of career takeaways by senior safety Rashard Hall, which tie him for third all-time in career takeaways, with DeAndre McDaniel (2007-10). He has 13 interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Hall is two takeaways behind second-place Michael Hamlin (14 INTs., 4 FRs) and three behind career leader Terry Kinard (17, 2).
19 – The number of wins in 22 games that John Heisman had as Head Coach at Clemson. His .833 winning percentage is the best in Clemson history (minimum four seasons). Heisman coached twice against Georgia Tech, winning both games by a combined score of 117-5. He left Clemson for Georgia Tech in 1904 then went 10-2-1 against the Tigers. His teams won the last nine games of that run surrendering a total of 15 points.
49 – Boyd’s school-record-tying number of touchdown passes. Only a junior, he reached the mark in 646 fewer attempts than Whitehorse (722 vs. 1,368) and has been much more efficient, having thrown 18 interceptions to Whitehurst’s 46.
74/41 – Clemson’s percentage of touchdowns upon getting into the red zone and their opponents’. The Tigers have hit pay dirt 17 times out of 23 trips into the red zone. Opponents, on the other hand, haven’t faired so well. They have reached the end zone seven times in 17 trips inside the 20.
120.8/103 – The per game receiving yardage of Hopkins and rushing yardage of Ellington. It is the first time in school history that Clemson has a running back and a wide receiver simultaneously averaging more than 100 yards per game.
132/129 – The rushing yards and return yards gained by Ellington during the victory over Boston College. The senior finished the game with 264 all-purpose yards and became the first player in school history to gain at least 125 yards in a game in two different all-purpose running categories.
1 – The number of promises being fulfilled to a fallen army buddy by redshirt freshman Daniel Rodriguez. The first nominee for the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl FWAA Courage Award, the 24-year-old Army veteran was injured in battle during an ambush by some 300 Taliban insurgents in Kamdesh, Afghanistan. He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. Rodriguez made a promise to his friend, Pfc. Kevin Thompson, who was killed in the attack, that if he made it home he would find a way to play college football. Rodriguez, who served 18 months in Iraq and a year in Afghanistan, sent video to several four-year schools, including Clemson. Coach Dabo Swinney offered Rodriguez, who is going to Clemson on the G.I. Bill, an opportunity to walk on and he made the team. He wears no. 83. He’s played in all five games on kickoff coverage and got some reps at receiver against Ball State and Furman. He has one catch good for four yards. Rodriguez would be the second Tiger to win the award, as former Tiger Ray Ray McElrathbey, who won the award in 2006.