Nov. 2, 2003
Riding a four-game winning streak, Georgia Tech travels to Durham, N.C., Saturday for an Atlantic Coast Conference test against the rejuvenated Duke Blue Devils, now coached by former Yellow Jacket star Ted Roof.
The non-televised game kicks off at 1 p.m. at Duke’s Wallace Wade Stadium.
After its 7-3 victory over Maryland on Oct. 23, Tech enters the game with a record of 5-3 overall, 3-2 in the ACC. Tech’s four-game winning streak is its longest since 2000, when the Jackets won their final seven regular season games to finish second in the ACC, and Tech now stands just one victory away from eligibility for a school-record seventh straight bowl berth.
Duke (2-7, 0-5 ACC) has not won under Roof but has performed admirably in losses to NC State (28-21) and Tennessee (23-6).
In addition to preparing for a much-improved Duke team, the Jackets must maintain their sharpness after playing just one game in four weeks.
Some telling statistics from Tech’s streak: the Jackets are plus-five in turnover margin for the four games and are outgaining their opponents, 343-to-305.3 yards per game, including a 164.5-to-100.8 yard advantage on the ground.
But the story of Tech’s season has been the play of the Rambling Wreck defense under the director of coordinator Jon Tenuta.
Tech leads the ACC in rushing defense (94.8) and ranks third in total defense (312.5) and scoring defense (16.0). The Jackets are in the top 22 nationally in all three categories, including 12th in scoring defense and 15th in rushing defense.
The Tech defense is second in the ACC in third-down conversion percentage allowed (30.3 percent) and second in red zone defense. On 25 opponent red zone possessions, the Jackets have allowed 19 scores but just 12 touchdowns.
Ball, the leading candidate for the ACC’s Rookie of the Year award, has passed for 1,374 yards and seven touchdowns, completing 51 percent of his passes. Over the last three games, the Stone Mountain, Ga., native has completed 48 of 89 passes (54 percent) for 606 yards with five touchdowns passing, one touchdown rushing and just one interception.
Perhaps no player in the ACC is more valuable to his team than Smith, who has caught 45 passes–nearly half of Ball’s completions–for 768 yards and three touchdowns.
Daniels, the former walk-on, is the ACC’s leading rusher with 686 yards and four touchdowns. He averages 4.1 yards per carry and 85.8 yards a game.
TECH FACES FORMER YELLOW JACKET Ted Roof
Georgia Tech will see a very familiar face on the Duke sideline in former Yellow Jacket player and assistant coach Ted Roof, who was elevated from defensive coordinator to the Blue Devils’ interim head coach on Oct. 19.
Roof was an all-ACC linebacker for the Jackets and a senior on Tech’s “Black Watch” defense of 1985. He returned to his alma mater as linebackers coach in 1998, and then spent three years (1999-01) as the Rambling Wreck’s defensive coordinator before moving to Duke in 2002.
The last time that Georgia Tech faced an opponent who was coached by a Tech graduate was 1978, when the Yellow Jackets defeated Jim Carlen’s South Carolina team, 6-3. From 1974-78, Tech went 1-3 against the Gamecocks under Carlen, who lettered at Tech in 1953-54. The Jackets’ only other game against a Tech graduate was against Frank Broyles’ Arkansas squad in the 1960 Gator Bowl, which the Razorbacks won, 14-7. Roof will be the third former Tech assistant to face the Jackets as a head coach this season, following BYU’s Gary Crowton and Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen.
OUT-FOXING THE COMPETITION
The leader of Georgia Tech’s strong defensive effort this season is senior linebacker Keyaron Fox, the ACC’s leading tackler who is averaging 12.6 hits per game.
Fox played a huge role in Tech’s win over Maryland, leading a standout defensive effort that held the high-powered Terps to three points, 96 yards rushing and 253 total yards. In addition to his 15 tackles, Fox was involved in the play of the game as he sacked Terps quarterback Joel Statham and forced him to fumble. The ball was eventually recovered by Tech’s Jonathan Cox to set up the game’s only touchdown.
Fox was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his play against Maryland. He was also honored for his play in Tech’s win over Auburn, when he had a career-high with 16 tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss.
FREDDIE IS THE BEDROCK OF TECH OFFENSE
One of the ACC’s top offensive threats, wide receiver Jonathan Smith ranks second in the ACC and 17th nationally in receiving yards (96.0 per game). He is fourth in the ACC in receptions with 5.6 per game, while his average of 17.1 yards per catch is second in the league. Smith also returns punts for the Yellow Jackets, and he is second in the ACC with 121.1 all-purpose yards per game.
Nicknamed “Freddie,” Smith leads Tech with 45 catches for 768 yards and three touchdowns. He has 20 more catches than number two receiver Nate Curry.
With his receiving and rushing yards, Smith has accounted for ONE THIRD of Tech’s offense (807 of 2,399 yards), by far the highest percentage of any non-quarterback in the league.
Player, School Rush Rec. Total Team Pct.Smith, GaT 39 768 807 2399 33.5%Douglas, Duke 739 174 913 3123 29.2%Barclay, WF 748 5 753 2981 25.3%Pearman, UVa 484 370 854 3453 24.7%Lundy, UVa 598 154 752 3132 24.0%Cotchery, NCS 20 961 981 4350 22.6%Thorpe, FSU 6 856 862 3817 22.6%Hamilton, Clem 79 630 709 3615 19.6%Pollock, UNC 14 665 679 3522 19.3%
THE BUTLER DID IT
Free safety James Butler has shown a penchant for making big plays, particularly in Georgia Tech’s victory over Maryland.
The junior from Climax, Ga., grabbed two interceptions and made 12 tackles against the Terrapins and was named ACC Defensive Back of the Week.
Butler leads the ACC and ranks ninth in the nation with five interceptions.
Earlier this season, he sealed Tech’s win over Vanderbilt with an interception on the Commodores’ first play in overtime. Against Wake Forest, he had caused two fumbles, blocked a field goal and grabbed an interception in the Tech victory.
THE SERIES VERSUS DUKE
Georgia Tech has won eight in a row and 12 of the last 13 meetings with Duke. Tech’s current eight-game winning streak against the Blue Devils is its longest against any ACC team. The Yellow Jackets won last year’s meeting, 17-2 in Atlanta, and won the last game at Duke, 37-10 in 2001. Duke’s only victory since 1989 was 27-12 decision in Atlanta in 1994.
Tech is 17-17 at Duke and has won six in a row at Wallace Wade Stadium, where the Blue Devils’ last victory was in 1989 by a 30-19 margin.
The Jackets hold a 40-29-1 lead in the all-time series with Duke, which began in 1933 and has been renewed every year since. The series with Duke is Tech’s second-oldest continuous rivalry, behind only the Tech-Georgia series. The only schools that Tech has played more than Duke are Georgia (97) and Auburn (91).
LAST MEETING WITH DUKE
In 2002 in Atlanta, Gordon Clinkscale ran for two touchdowns and the Georgia Tech defense held Duke to no points and just 284 yards of offense in the Yellow Jackets’ 17-2 victory. The Blue Devils’ only points came on a safety.
Two Georgia Tech assistant coaches previously served as assistants at Duke.
Tech offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris came to Tech in 2002 after five years (1997-01) in the same position at Duke.
Passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Buddy Geis served as the Blue Devils’ offensive coordinator in 1993 under Barry Wilson. Geis’ son, Adam, lettered in football and baseball at Duke (1994-98).
DANIELS WALKS INTO OPPORTUNITY
Sophomore tailback P.J. Daniels leads the ACC in rushing, averaging 85.8 yards per game.
Daniels rushed for a career-best 175 yards on 33 carries in Tech’s win over Wake Forest, the best rushing effort by an ACC back this season.
That was one of three 100-yard game of the season for Daniels, who has averaged 110.5 yards per game in Tech’s current four-game winning streak. He also topped 100 yards against Florida State (113) and Vanderbilt (105) and just missed the century mark against NC State (99).
Entering the Duke game, Daniels needs just 59 yards to become the 30th 1,000-yard rusher in Georgia Tech history. He now has 941 career yards.
Daniels, whose given name is Prince, is a former walk-on who was Tech’s seventh-string tailback early last season. He was placed on scholarship in January, 2003.
NO ROOM TO RUN
Georgia Tech leads the ACC and ranks 16th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 94.8 yards per game on the ground.
Tech has held five of its eight opponents this season to fewer than 100 yards rushing. In 10 of 21 games under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta the last two years, the Jackets have allowed fewer than 100 yards rushing
In Tech’s win over NC State, the Yellow Jackets turned in the fifth best performance in school history against the run as the Wolfpack netted minus-8 yards on 19 attempts. Tech held Auburn to just 40 yards rushing, BYU to 86 yards, Florida State to 91, and Maryland to 96.
Fewest Yards Rushing by a Tech Opponent-30 Maryland, 1995 (24 att.)-20 Maryland, 1990 (25 att.)-11 Navy, 1970 (36 att.)-9 Florida, 1963 (42 att.)-8 NC State, 2003 (19 att.)
SMITH CLIMBS RECEIVING LISTS
Senior wide receiver Jonathan Smith now ranks fourth in Georgia Tech history in both career receptions and career receiving yards with 141 catches for 1,868. He trails the triumverate of Kelly Campbell, Kerry Watkins and Harvey Middleton in both categories. Smith’s 10 touchdown receptions are tied for ninth in Tech annals.
Tech Career Receptions Years Rec1. Kelly Campbell 1998-01 1952. Kerry Watkins 1999-02 1713. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 1654. Jonathan Smith 2000- 141
THROWN FOR A LOSS
Linebackers Daryl Smith and Keyaron Fox and defensive end Eric Henderson are climbing Georgia Tech’s career list for tackles for loss. With 43 tackles for loss, Smith stands fourth in Tech history, trailing only Greg Gathers, Coleman Rudolph and Marco Coleman. Fox is tied for eighth with 32 TFL, while Henderson, just a sophomore, is already 11th with 30 TFL.
Tech Career Tackles for Loss Years TFL Yds1. Greg Gathers 1999-02 57 2902. Coleman Rudolph 1989-92 52 2853. Marco Coleman 1989-91 50 2154. Daryl Smith 2000- 43 1155. Pat Swilling 1982-85 37 224 Felipe Claybrooks 1997-00 37 2017. Marlon Williams 1990-93 33.5 1828. Recardo Wimbush 1990-92 32 90 Keyaron Fox 2000- 32 9410. Nick Rogers 1998-01 31 16011. Eric Henderson 2002- 30 98