Oct. 20, 2009
Tech, Virginia Meet Saturday For ACC Coastal Division Lead
Georgia Tech (6-1 overall, 4-1 in the ACC) and surging Virginia meet Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. — a place the Yellow Jackets have not won since 1990 — in a game that will determine the leader in the ACC’s Coastal Division race (Noon/Raycom).
The Yellow Jackets, ranked 11th by the Associated Press and 13th by USA Today, have their highest AP ranking since 2001. Tech is coming off its fourth consecutive victory, a 28-23 win over No. 4 Virginia Tech, the Jackets’ first home win over a top-five ranked team since 1962.
Tech is led by junior quarterback Josh Nesbitt, an emerging candidate for ACC Player of the Year honors, who has rushed for six touchdowns over the last two games — wins at Florida State (49-44) and Virginia Tech (28-23).
Virginia (3-3 and 2-0) enters Saturday’s game as the Coastal Division leader and the only team in the ACC without a conference loss. The Cavaliers have overcome a sluggish 0-3 start to win three straight games, including a 20-9 win at Maryland last Saturday.
The Wahoos overcame a 9-3 third-quarter deficit at Maryland, helped by a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive end Nate Collins. Saturday’s winner takes over sole possession of the Coastal Division lead, although five teams are bunched together with one loss or less.
Georgia Tech has not won in Charlottesville since 1990 — a streak of eight consecutive losses. Tech’s last win at Scott Stadium was a 41-38 victory over No. 1-ranked Virginia in 1990, and the Yellow Jackets went on to earn a share of the national championship.
Virginia leads the all-time series, 16-14-1, and has won five of the last six meetings. The series history can be found on page four.
Key Statistical Match-Ups For Saturday’s Game
Georgia Tech is scoring 32.4 points per game (2nd in the ACC), while Virginia is holding opponents to 18.7 points per contest (3rd in the ACC).
The Yellow Jackets are averaging 417.1 yards of total offense per game (2nd in the ACC), while Virginia is limiting opponents to 293.8 yards per contest (3rd in the ACC).
Both Georgia Tech (+5) and Virginia (+3) have positive turnover margins.
Georgia Tech ranks second in the ACC in pass efficiency (158.8), while Virginia ranks second in the league in pass efficiency defense (93.4).
The Yellow Jackets have the best third-down conversion percentage in the ACC (52.6), and the Cavaliers have the best third-down defense in the ACC (29.3 percent).
Virginia’s red-zone offense (scoring on 17-17 trips inside the 20) is the best in the ACC, while Georgia Tech ranks second in the ACC in red-zone defense (75 percent).
Jackets Have Highest AP Ranking Since 2001
Georgia Tech made the biggest move in the Associated Press poll this week, leaping from 19th to 11th after beating No. 4 Virginia Tech. The Yellow Jackets’ No. 11 ranking is their highest in the AP poll since being ranked No. 9 on Sept. 24, 2001.
Tech is ranked 13th in the USA Today poll, up from 20th last week.
The Jackets are ranked 12th in the first BCS standings of 2009.
Tech is 13th in the Harris Poll, 10th in the Sagarin Ratings.
Quick Notes On The Jackets
Georgia Tech is bowl-eligible for the 13th consecutive season.
The Yellow Jackets are assured of finishing .500 or better in league play for the 15th consecutive season. The only team nationally with a longer streak is Florida (23 consecutive seasons, including 2009).
Tech’s win over No. 4 Virginia Tech last Saturday marked the Yellow Jackets’ first win at home against a top-five ranked team since beating No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 17, 1962.
Head coach Paul Johnson is 5-2 vs. ranked teams in his two seasons at Georgia Tech.
The Jackets are looking for their fifth straight win, which would be their longest streak since winning five consecutive in 2006. Tech’s four-game winning streak ties for the 11th-longest current streak nationally.
Tech ranks second nationally in rushing offense (286.1 ypg) behind Nevada.
Junior quarterback Josh Nesbitt, over the last two games combined, has rushed for 262 yards and six touchdowns.
Over the last three games, Tech has averaged 457 yards of total offense, 307.7 yards rushing and 39.7 points.
Over the last four games, the Jackets are 6-of-6 in fourth-down conversions.
Tech has produced more than 300 yards of total offense in 11 of the last 12 games.
Georgia Tech has rushed for 400 yards in a game five times over the last 20 seasons. Four have come under Paul Johnson including the 401-yard effort at Florida State (Oct. 10).
The Jackets are outscoring opponents 76-28 in the first quarter.
Sophomore Jerrard Tarrant leads the ACC in punt return average (24.9 ypa).
Junior wide receiver Demaryius Thomas leads the ACC in receiving yards per game (95.9 ypg).
Tech might not pass that often — 82 attempts in seven games — but the Jackets average a remarkable 23.7 yards per completion and have completed six passes of 50 yards or longer.
Tech has scored at least one rushing touchdown in 18 of 20 games under Paul Johnson.
Tech is 12-1 under Johnson when taking a lead to the locker room at halftime.
Seven true freshmen have seen action in 2009. Three — defensive end Izaan Cross, linebacker Julian Burnett and wide receiver Stephen Hill — have started at least one game.
Every Georgia Tech point scored has been recorded by a non-senior.
Only three seniors are starters and only five seniors are listed on the Tech two-deep.
Georgia Tech has not attempted a field goal since Sept. 26 vs. North Carolina.
Leftovers From The 28-23 Win Over The No. 4 Hokies
After being held to 37 yards rushing in the first half, Georgia Tech erupted for 157 yards in the third quarter alone.
Tech had the ball for 22 minutes, 28 seconds in the second half. The Hokies had the ball for 7 minutes, 32 seconds.
Georgia Tech’s 88 yards of total offense in the first half were its fewest in any half since Oct. 11, 2008 when it gained 29 yards in the second half against Gardner-Webb.
Virginia Tech attempted just 14 passes — the fewest by a Yellow Jacket opponent since Nov. 20, 1999 (Wake Forest).
The two teams combined for just 11 pass completions and 21 pass attempts — both the fewest in a Tech game in more than 20 years.
The 66-yard run by Virginia Tech’s Ryan Williams was the longest against the Yellow Jackets since Sept. 20, 2008 when Mississippi State’s Anthony Dixon had a 71-yard run.
Time Of Possession: Not Such A Useless Stat After All
Since Georgia Tech began its four-game winning streak, the Yellow Jackets have dominated time of possession, having the ball an average of 37 minutes and 8 seconds per game.
In Tech’s only loss of the season, at Miami (Sept. 17), the Yellow Jackets lost the TOP battle, 26:25 to 33:35.
Tech’s time of possession against North Carolina (42:06) was its highest since 1996.
North Carolina (Sept. 26) had just 44 offensive plays against Tech, and Virginia Tech had just 45 offensive plays.
Tech ranks first in the ACC and seventh nationally in time of possession.
Nesbitt Joins Conversation For ACC Player Of The Year
Junior Josh Nesbitt may not put up gaudy passing numbers — that’s not his role — but he is the engine that drives Georgia Tech’s offense.
Among quarterbacks, he ranks second nationally in rushing (89.3 ypg).
Among all positions, Nesbitt ranks third in the ACC (36th nationally) in rushing, tied for third in touchdowns scored (9), tied for fourth in scoring (54 points).
Over the last two games, Nesbitt has rushed for 262 yards and six touchdowns against Florida State and Virginia Tech.
He has rushed for 90 yards or more five times this season.
He will easily become the most prolific rushing quarterback in Georgia Tech history. He trails the all-time leader, Joe Hamilton, by just 101 yards.
Nesbitt is the first quarterback in Georgia Tech history to rush for 100 yards in consecutive games.
He has rushed for at least two touchdowns in a game three times this season.
At Florida State (Oct. 10) Nesbitt rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns. He also passed for 131 yards and a touchdown — the second time in his career he has passed and rushed for 100 yards in the same game.
Nesbitt’s three rushing touchdowns were the most allowed by Florida State since 1997.
Nesbitt has been responsible for 23 plays of at least 20 yards, including 17 passes and six rushing attempts.
At Mississippi State (Oct. 3), Nesbitt completed 11-of-14 passes for a career-high 266 yards and a touchdown. He averaged 19.0 yards per attempt — easily Tech’s highest average per attempt in at least 20 years. Nesbitt’s 319 yards of total offense at Mississippi State were the most by a Yellow Jacket since 2005.
Against North Carolina (Sept. 26), Nesbitt rushed a career-high 32 times — the most by a Jacket since 2007 — for 97 yards and two TDs.
Sept. 10 against Clemson, Nesbitt threw a 39-yard strike to Demaryius Thomas, setting up a game-winning field goal.
As a team, Tech ranks second nationally in rushing and eighth in pass efficiency.