Sept. 5, 2006
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech continues its season-opening four-game homestand against Samford in a non-televised game on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
Tech (0-1) will try and prevent a letdown after their nationally televised hard-fought, 14-10 loss to second-ranked Notre Dame to open the season.
“This week we are playing Samford and we call that a `trap’ game,” said running back Rashuan Grant. “When you get a team like Notre Dame and all the hype and then you play a team where there is not as much hype. You have to refocus. There is a process you go through each week to prepare for a game and that process should never change.”
Samford (1-0), coached by Bill Gray, is coming off a 37-7 victory over Miles College last Thursday night. Samford will test the Jackets secondary with their multiple receiver formations and tendency to spread the field. The Bulldogs quarterbacks completed 21 passes to eight different receivers for 290 yards and three touchdowns against Miles. Samford also tallied 162 yards on the ground including 75 by senior Justin Ray.
“They like to run three or four multiple wide receiver sets and they will come out and try to attack us,” said cornerback Pat Clark. “We are expecting that from every team we play, considering everyone thinks we have a weak secondary, but that’s not going to do anything but get us better and prepare us for the teams down the road in the ACC.”
Head coach Chan Gailey, a former head coach at Samford, believes this game will help prepare the Jackets, especially on defense, for further challenges down the road.
“We will be challenged this week with a lot of different things than we saw last week,” said Gailey. “It will really challenge our guys mentally to do the fundamentals correctly. They can take advantage of you with all the receivers that they get out. This game is much more about us, and making sure that we do our assignments, get emotionally right, go play with passion and all those things.”
The Jackets have won all six meetings against Samford, including a 28-7 victory in Atlanta in the 2004 season opener.
“I don’t know much about their defense this year, but we played them in the past and you can expect them to come out and play hard,” said Grant. “Especially when you have a school like Samford that has the opportunity to come out and face a team like Georgia Tech, they will play with a lot of emotion.”
Tech’s senior quarterback Reggie Ball led the offense with a solid effort against Notre Dame, finishing 12-24 for 140 yards and a touchdown. Ball also rushed for 55 yards on 11 carries. Junior wide receiver Calvin Johnson caught seven passes for 111 yards, tallying his seventh career 100-yard game and catching his 14th career touchdown.
Georgia Tech’s defense continued to shine last Saturday, recording two sacks and five tackles for a loss against Notre Dame, but has much room for improvement. Junior linebacker Philip Wheeler posted 13 tackles, including two for a loss, and senior linebacker KaMichael Hall finished with five tackles.
“If you look at some of the assignments that Hall or Wheeler had, when they broke a run or completed a pass, we had some assignment miscues,” said Gailey. We had some communication miscues that allowed them to make some critical plays at times. We can get better. Until they have no yards and no points, we’re not perfect.”