Sept. 12, 2006
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech (1-1) will face Troy (1-1) for the first time in a non-televised game Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, playing at home for third consecutive week.
Calvin Johnson caught two touchdown passes and the Tech defense dominated, returning two interceptions for scores, in the Yellow Jackets 38-6 victory over Samford last Saturday.
Tech safeties Djay Jones and Jamal Lewis made history by each returning interceptions for touchdowns. The last time Tech had two interceptions returned for touchdowns in a game was in 1966 versus Tulane. Lewis’ 97-yard return is the fourth-longest in school history and the longest by a Yellow Jacket since Jeff Ford set the record with a 102-yard return vs. Notre Dame in 1969.
“They were tremendously big plays in the ballgame,” said Tech coach Chan Gailey about the interceptions. “I hope it gives our guys more and more confidence. If they complete one, they completed one, now let’s go and get ready for the next play. Last year, we made some big plays that fed off of each other, and you like to see that happen again. We don’t have the experience yet, so you’re looking for things to raise their confidence level.”
Troy returns to the field after nearly upsetting No. 9 Florida State 24-17 in Tallahassee, Fla. last Saturday. Troy quarterback Omar Haugabook completed 29 passes to seven different receivers including eight to Toris Rutledge for 105 yards and a touchdown. The Trojans leading receiver Gary Banks added seven passes for 67 yards. Haugabook ran for 18 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
“(Haugabook) made some big plays running the football,” said Gailey. “When you take some sacks, your rushing statistics look bad. They’ve got an interesting concept on offense. They spread you out and go empty in the backfield quite a bit. They make you adjust and see if they can exploit you. They try to create mismatches with numbers outside, where lots of teams try to create numbers inside.”
The Jackets defense held Samford to 11 yards rushing and just 163 total yards, the third-best performance for the Yellow Jackets under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta. Tech will look to do the same against Troy.
“It’s close to the same thing,” said Lewis about the Troy offense. “They spread the receivers out a lot and try to catch you off guard, just like Samford did.”
Tech’s starting running back Tashard Choice scored a touchdown last week on a six-yard run to help open a 35-6 halftime lead. Choice, junior Rashaun Grant and freshman Tyler Evans each rushed for 44 yards against the Bulldogs.
Calvin Johnson’s two touchdown catches against Samford moved him into sole possession of third-place on the Tech career touchdown receptions list with 16. He has caught all three of the touchdown passes this season for Tech and has caught a pass in 26 consecutive games.
“We’ve not played anybody who does what they (Troy) do to the extent they do it,” said Gailey. “I’m talking about empty backfield and throwing it every snap. They’ve been very successful throwing the football in their first two ballgames. We’ll have to change some of our match-up situations. They do create problems by spreading you out, but hopefully, we create problems by bringing more than they can block. We’ll see how it matches up.”