Nov. 28, 2013
By Jon Cooper
The Georgia Game.
It’s the game that needs no introduction and the result of which will resonate throughout the Peach State for the next 364 days.
Kickoff Saturday at historic Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m. and can be seen on ABC. Bob Wischusen, Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich are on the call. The game can be heard on WYAY, 106.7 FM, with Brandon Gaudin, Rick Strom and Randy Waters doing the honors as well as on Satellite radio on channel 85 on both Sirius and XM. Fans also can catch the broadcast and get live stats on RamblinWreck.com.
Saturday will be Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson’s sixth taste of the rivalry and knows the intense nature of the rivalry and the difference between “Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate,” and other rivalries — even one as storied as Army-Navy, in which coached for six years.
“It’s different,” said Johnson, who introduced himself to the rivalry by winning at Georgia in 2008, but has lost the last four meetings. “The Army-Navy rivalry there is such respect for each other for 364 days a year. Everything in the weight room says `Beat Army.’ When you end the fight song it’s `Beat Army.’ But when the game is over, the two sides will embrace and they’ll go sing each other’s alma mater.
“There’s that respect and they know that they’re going to be on the same team defending the country. Everybody doesn’t quite feel that way with this one. There are probably a lot of people who have the respect, but there are a lot of people who don’t.”
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 66-7 thumping of Alabama A&M in a tune-up last week at Bobby Dodd. The game was decided early, as Tech set a modern-day school-record by racing out to a 52-0 halftime lead then rested their regulars in the second half. Synjyn Days ran for two touchdowns as five different backs ran for first-half scores, and linebacker Quayshawn Nealy returned a fumble for another score in the onslaught. Matt Connors joined Days by scoring twice, his first scores of the season, and quarterback Tim Byerly ran for a touchdown to complete the scoring. David Sims ran for a game- and career-high 111 yards and scored his team-leading 12th TD.
The Bulldogs bounced back from an emotionally devastating loss to Auburn the previous week by routing Kentucky, 59-17, on Senior Day, but it was a costly win, as quarterback Aaron Murray, the SEC’s all-time leading passer, was lost for the year after tearing the ACL in his left knee. The injury to Murray overshadowed an overpowering performance by the offense, which compiled 602 yards of total offense, including 230 on the ground.
Johnson declared that junior Hutson Mason, who will make his first collegiate start in place of Murray, has Tech’s attention and respect.
“Hutson Mason was a highly decorated player coming out of Lassiter (HS),” said Johnson. “I can even remember in the last couple of years a couple of times that people were clamoring for Hutson Mason instead of Aaron Murray. Clearly, he’s a talented guy. It’s an opportunity for him to showcase what he can do. We have great respect for him even though he hasn’t played a lot.”
A group that has played a lot and that Johnson also has a lot of respect for is the senior class of 2013, which will be saluted on Senior Day. Get in the stadium early as Senior Day festivities begin around 3:10 p.m.
“I’m not only proud of them for what they’ve done on the field, but for what they’ve done off the field,” Johnson said. “They’re all in line to get their degree and six or seven of them already have their degree. It’s been a good group and certainly we’re going to miss them. I think it really starts to hit you as a coach around the same time it hits them — when you’re out there on the field on Saturday honoring all the seniors. You see them for the family for the last time and you realize how much time and effort they put into the program and what they meant to you not only as players but as people.”
Sting Daily salutes the seniors and offers a statistical glance at Saturday’s game.
The Series: Today is the 108th meeting in a series that began in 1893. It’s the 17th most frequently played series in the FBS and the longest in Georgia Tech history. Georgia holds a 63-39-5 advantage, including a 33-26-4 edge in Atlanta, where Tech has lost six straight and has won only once in the last 11 meetings.
13 – The 13th Annual Michael Isenhour Toy Drive takes place prior to the game. A basketball player at Tech from 1999 through 2001, Isenhour initiated and organized the toy drive for children of families that lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, even while he was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which would take his life in 2002. Isenhour’s initiative still benefits disadvantaged children throughout Georgia. Fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to the game, which will be collected by Tech student-athletes at entrances to Bobby Dodd Stadium.
17 – The number of seniors playing their final game at Georgia Tech. They include: LB Corey Alford, DE Jeremiah Attaochu, OL Ray Beno, DE Chris Crenshaw, DT Euclid Cummings, DE Emmanuel Dieke, LB Daniel Drummond, OL Jay Finch, A-Back Robert Godhigh, OL Will Jackson, DT Ben Keith, P Sean Poole, PK David Scully, B-Back David Sims, DB Jemea Thomas, LB Brandon Watts and CB Louis Young. Safety Isaiah Johnson is part of the class but is redshirting and will play next season.
0 – The number of times in 28 opportunities that Georgia Tech has been stopped in goal-to-go situations this season. According to ESPNStats, Tech and Duke (22-for-22) are the only teams with perfect goal-to-go conversion rates. The Jackets have had eight different players cap goal-to-go’s, led by Sims, who has taken it in seven times.
.727 – The combined winning percentage of the four teams that have beaten Georgia Tech this season (32-12).
1 – The number of teams besides Georgia Tech that rank in the nation’s top 15 in red-zone offense AND red-zone defense — that team is USC. The Jackets are 13th in red-zone offense, converting at 90.5 percent (38-for-42), including an FBS-best 85.7 percent red-zone touchdown percentage (36 TDs), and are 12th in red-zone defense, allowing scores on an ACC-low 71.9 percent (23-for-32, 20 TDs).
2 – The number of teams on Georgia Tech’s 2013 schedule that are under .500. Only Virginia and Syracuse have sub-.500 records.
6 – The number of players that ran for touchdowns against Alabama A&M. The six TDs are more rushing scores than six FBS TEAMS have in 2013.
8 – The number of scores on the ground Georgia Tech had last Saturday. That’s more than seven FBS TEAMS have all year.
2 – The number of 100-yard rushing games by senior B-Back David Sims in the last four games.
2 – The number of career rushing touchdowns against Georgia by Sims. He is the only player on the current roster that has a touchdown — rushing or receiving — against UGA.
4 – Sims’ ranking in career rushing yards among active ACC players. He starts the day with 2,114 yards, 31 behind Josh Harris of Wake Forest.
5/7 – Sims’ rank among active ACC players in touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. His 26 scores tie for fifth with Boston College’s Andre Williams, and are one behind third-place Kevin Parks of Virginia and Sammy Watkins of Clemson. Sims’ 23 rushing scores are two behind QBs Logan Thomas of Virginia Tech and Tajh Boyd of Clemson.
7 – Sims’ place in school history in rushing touchdowns. He is tied with P.J. Daniels (2002-05). He’s also tied with Daniels for 19th place in Tech’s scoring list with 156 points. His 26 career touchdowns rank 10th in school history.
3 – The number of consecutive games that redshirt sophomore DB Demond Smith has recorded at least one tackle for loss. He has 3.0 on the year, including half a sack. He had one all of last year.
4 – Georgia Tech’s rank in the nation in rushing. The Yellow Jackets average 316.1 rushing yards per game. Georgia allows 138.1.
33.9 – The difference in rushing yards per game allowed… in Georgia Tech’s favor. The Yellow Jackets allow an average of 104.2 yards per game on the ground to Georgia’s 138.1. Georgia rushes for an average of 179.5 per game.
8 – The number of career interceptions by Jemea Thomas. That’s fourth among active ACC players, one out of third place.
10 – Quarterback Vad Lee’s rank in career total offense yards among active ACC players. Lee’s 2,748 yards are 541 behind FSU QB Jameis Winston.
11 – Lee’s rank in rushing touchdowns among current ACC players. His 15 TDs on the ground are one behind Miami’s Duke Johnson.
30 – The number of rushing yards Lee needs to reach 1,000 for his career. Should he get there today it would give Georgia Tech four 1,000-yard rushers on the roster — Sims (2,114), Zach Laskey (1,143), and Robert Godhigh (1,070) have already reached the marker.
13.0 – Godhigh’s yards per touch. That leads the entire FBS. He enters today’s game with 623 rushing yards and 338 yards receiving.
17.7 – Godhigh’s career yards per reception (minimum 30 catches). That ranks second in the ACC behind only Martavis Bryant of Clemson (22.9).
40.5 – The percentage of Godhigh’s yardage that has come after the initial contact. That’s 389 yards on second effort.
55.0 – The percentage of Godhigh’s touches that result in either a first down or a touchdown.
36 – The combined number of times there has been a shutout in the series. Georgia Tech has been shutout 19 times, Georgia 17. The last time Tech was shutout was Nov. 28, 1964, a 7-0 loss in Athens. The last time Tech put up a shutout came almost to the day, five years later, Nov. 29, 1969, a 6-0 win at Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium. It’s the last whitewash by either team in the series.
42 – The number of points Georgia Tech needs in its finale and ensuing bowl game to reach the 25,000 mark all-time.
51 – The number of points scored in the 1999 renewal, Georgia Tech’s 51-48 overtime win on Nov. 27, 1999. In Joe Hamilton’s final game as a Yellow Jacket, Luke Manget’s 38-yard field goal, after his first attempt was blocked then recovered by the Jackets provided the difference for No. 20/24 over No. 16/21 Georgia. The 51 points are the most scored in the series. Each team has hit it once (Georgia did it in 2002).
10 Things To Know About Georgia
.673 – The winning percentage of Georgia’s senior class entering today’s game. They have gone 35-17 as a group and are 3-0 against Georgia Tech.
0 – The number of career starts for junior quarterback Hutson Mason. But just because he was trapped behind Aaron Murray doesn’t mean he can’t play. In his seven career appearances Mason has completed 51 of 82 passes, a 62.2 percent completion percentage, for 705 yards (13.8 yards per completion) and has thrown five touchdown passes vs. only one interception. He brings in an efficiency rating of 152.10. This season he’s completed 68.6 percent of his throws (24-for-35) for 349 yards (14.5 yards per completion) with two TDs vs. one pick, and a 165.47 efficiency rating.
0 – The number of touchdown passes by backup quarterbacks in starts under Mark Richt. Neither Joe Tereshinski (2005, replacing D.J. Shockley), Matthew Stafford (2006, replacing Tereshinski), nor Joe Cox (2006, replacing Stafford) found the end zone through the air in his debut.
3 – The number of wins in three games for Georgia in games started by its backup QB under Mark Richt. Tereshinski beat No. 16 Florida, 14-10, completing eight of 21 for 100 yards with an INT and a TD reception, Stafford beat UAB, 34-0, going 10 for 17 for 100 yards with a TD rushing, and Cox won at Ole Miss, 14-9, going 4 for 10 for 24 yards in the first half (he was replaced by Stafford in the second half).
7 – The number of sacks Georgia has allowed in its last nine games after surrendering six in the first two. That includes four clean games, including against No. 6 LSU, and a one-sack game at Auburn.
3 – The Bulldogs’ rank in the SEC in total offense averaging 494.6 yards per game. The O-Line has paved the way to two games of better than 600 yards of total offense, four more of better than 500 yards and has produced at least 400 yards in all but one game this season. The unit of senior left tackle Kenarious Gates, senior left guard Dallas Lee, junior center David Andrews, senior right guard Chris Burnette, and sophomore right tackle John Theus have anchored the O-Line over the last four games.
12 – The number of points by which Georgia has lost three of its four games this season. All three came on the road, with two coming at then-No. 8 Clemson, 38-35, in the season opener and the 43-38 heartbreaker at then-No. 7 Auburn.
119 – The SEC-leading number of tackles by ILB Ramik Wilson. The 6-2, 232-pound junior had a monster game at Auburn, making a career-high 18 stops, the most for a Bulldog since Orantes Grant had 22 in 1998 vs. Kentucky. Wilson, who averages 10.8 stops per game, has led the team in tackles eight times this season after making a TOTAL of 10 tackles in 18 games his first two years. He’s looking to become only the third Georgia player to lead the SEC in tackles (Whit Marshall did it with 128 in 1995 and Rennie Curran had 130 in 2009).
149.3 – Sophomore tailback Todd Gurley’s all-purpose yardage in the four games since he’s come back from an ankle injury. In that span, Gurley has rushed for 331 yards on 53 carries (82.8 yards per game) with three TDs, and has tacked on 266 receiving yards on 21 catches (66.5 ypg), with three more scores. That included a 73-yard pass play against Florida and a 10-catch day at Auburn. Gurley made his presence felt as a freshman in last year’s game against Georgia Tech, rumbling for 97 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, while taking two passes 20 yards.
48-65/738/9/1 – Aaron Murray’s career numbers in three games, all wins, against Georgia Tech. Murray completed 48 of 65 passes, a 73.8 completion percentage, for 738 yards, with nine touchdowns against one interception. The one interception came by Louis Young in the first quarter of the 2011 game. He responded pretty well, as on the ensuing two drives Murray completed nine of 10 passes (4-for-4 and 5-for-6) for 142 yards and two touchdowns.
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