Nov. 7, 2014
With the Coastal Division portion of its schedule out of the way and its place in the top 25 regained, Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2 ACC) plays its final ACC road game of 2014 Saturday, traveling to Raleigh, N.C., to take on the Wolfpack of NC State. Kickoff for State’s Homecoming Game and the 300th game at Carter-Finley Stadium is set for 12:30 p.m. The game can be seen on the ACC Network (WUPA, The CW 69) and can be heard on the Georgia Tech Radio Network, on 680 AM and 93.7 FM. It also can be heard on satellite radio on Sirius Channel 108 and XM Channel 194.
The Yellow Jackets begin play second in the Coastal, right on Duke’s heels, and just ahead of third-place Miami. The Blue Devils visit Syracuse, while Miami has a bye. North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Virginia are a game back.
The Jackets put themselves in a favorable position by overpowering Virginia, 35-20, last Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Tech jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead then used a smothering defense to stifle the Cavaliers and send the Homecoming crowd home happy. B-Back Synjyn Days, making his second straight start at B-Back, rumbled for a game- and career-high 147 yards and a touchdown, while quarterback Justin Thomas completed 7 of 13 throws for 141 yards and three touchdowns.
Thomas spread the wealth, throwing TD passes to Days, and wide receivers DeAndre Smelter and Darren Waller. Defensively, the Jackets limited Virginia to 22 yards rushing and limited the Cavs to 3-for-12 on third down, only 1-of-5 in the second half, when they pitched a shutout. Junior corner D.J. White had a team-high six stops (all solo), while sophomore WILL linebacker P.J. Davis and freshman DE KeShun Freeman, the ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week, each had five with a sack and a forced fumble. Freeman added a pass-breakup, batting down a Greyson Lambert pass that was intercepted by a diving Adam Gotsis, Gotsis’ second career pick.
The Wolfpack head into Homecoming looking to ride the momentum from last week’s 24-17 win over Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The win pushed them back over .500 for the season and snapped a four-game losing streak and 12-game conference losing streak, gaining second-year Coach Dave Doeren his first ACC win. It didn’t come easy, though, as the Pack let a 9-0 first-half lead slip away early in the third. But State turned the tables for good late in the stanza, getting a big play from the defense.
With Syracuse up 14-9 and threatening at the State 22, redshirt freshman DE Pharoah McKever intercepted Orange QB A.J. Long at the 18 and went 82 yards for the score. After hitting the two-point conversion, State was on its way. QB Jacoby Brissett hit 20 of 32 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown, and Jaylen Samuels led the way on the ground, gaining 46 yards on only two carries. The defense set the tone for the day, limiting Syracuse to 38 yards rushing on 37 attempts while sacking Long eight times. The defense also forced a fumble, leading to a short-field touchdown.
Head Coach Paul Johnson is wary of the Wolfpack and warns that looking solely at their record would be a mistake.
“They’ve kind of had a tale of two schedules,” said Johnson. “The first part of their schedule wasn’t as tough and then they hit four pretty good teams that are already bowl eligible in Florida State, Clemson, Louisville and then Boston College. So it’s hard to really get a good gauge on them. We’ve got all the respect in the world for them. We know it’s going to be hard fought game going up there. It’s a hard place to play too.”
Having done our research, here is some info to help get you ready for Georgia Tech’s trip into the Research Triangle.
Today is the 29th game in the series that dates back to 1918, but saw a 61-year hiatus from 1922 to 1983. The Jackets lead 18-10, and by two in Raleigh, 8-6. GT has won 11 of the last 14 meetings, including the last four at Carter-Finley Stadium. The schools, which haven’t played since 2011, have split the last four meetings, with the road team winning all four times.
574 – Georgia Tech’s FBS-leading conversion rate on third down. The Yellow Jackets have extended possessions 62 of 108 times. Tech is the only team in the conference converting at better than 50 percent on third down. NC State’s opponents convert at 55.3 percent on third down, the highest in the conference (almost five percent higher than Georgia Tech, whose 50.7 is second-highest).
.600 – The percentage Georgia Tech holds opponents scoreless after a turnover. The Yellow Jackets have allowed an opponent to score only four times following their 10 turnovers (three TDs, one FG).
.278 – The percentage Georgia Tech’s opponents hold the Jackets scoreless after a turnover. The Yellow Jackets have been held scoreless five times after forcing an opponent’s turnover. Of the 13 times they’ve scored, 12 have been touchdowns.
1 – Georgia Tech’s rank in the ACC in touchdowns (45), rushing offense (319.7 yards per game), total offense (473.8 ypg), pass efficiency (158.2), third down conversions (57.4), fourth down conversions (75.0), offensive first downs (24.2), time of possession (33:23) and turnover margin (plus-8).
1 – The Yellow Jackets’ rank in the nation for consecutive seasons with at least a .500 record in Conference play. Their 20 such seasons are four better than runner-up and ACC-rival Clemson (which Tech hosts next week), five better than Boise State (Mountain West) and six up on Oklahoma (Big 12).
1 – The number of wins necessary to earn Georgia Tech its fourth eight-win season in the seven seasons under Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets had nine eight-win seasons in the previous 50 prior to Johnson’s arrival.
2 – Georgia Tech’s rank in consecutive years playing in a bowl. With their bowl eligibility in 2014, the Jackets would play in a bowl for the 18th straight year.
3 – The number of FBS schools, including Georgia Tech, which has scored on at least 50 percent of its possessions. The other schools are Georgia Southern and Oregon. The Jackets have scored 52 times in 93 possessions.
5 – The number of FBS schools, including Georgia Tech, who have scored touchdowns on at least 40 percent of its possessions. The Jackets have hit pay dirt 45 times. The other four schools are Oregon, Georgia Southern, Marshall and Ohio State.
7 – The team-high number of big plays made by senior wide receiver DeAndre Smelter. Smelter has receptions of 71 yards (from Thomas vs. Wofford), 65, (from Thomas vs. Virginia), 57 (from Thomas vs. Georgia Southern), for 46 (from Thomas at North Carolina), for 31 (from Thomas at Virginia Tech), and for 26 (from Thomas at Pittsburgh). He also has a 75-yard run (at North Carolina). Thomas is next with six, all on runs (27 at Tulane, 26, 29 and 32 at Virginia Tech, and 33 at Pittsburgh and 33 vs. Georgia Southern, his lone home big-play run).
3 – The number of touchdown passes Thomas needs to throw to tie Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Famer Joe Hamilton’s output in 1998 and move into the top five all-time for TD passes in a season.
4 – The number of games this season in which Thomas has had a QB rating of at least 200. That’s the most of any FBS passer this season. Thomas had a 275.3 against Wofford in the opener and has gone over 200 in each of the past three games (209.1 at North Carolina, 206.5 at Pittsburgh and 205.7 vs. Virginia).
5.0 – Thomas’ rank among FBS QBs in rushing yards per game. Thomas’ 80.1 rypg trails Boston College’s Tyler Murphy (107.2 ypg), Georgia Southern’s Kevin Ellison (98.1), Navy’s Keenan Reynolds (98.0) and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott (90.6).
4 – The number of 100-yard receiving games by DeAndre Smelter. Smelter’s best day entering 2014 was 76 yards.
5/1/1/1 – The number of tackles, sacks, forced fumbles and pass-break-ups by freshman DE KeShun Freeman last week against Virginia in being named ACC Lineman of the Week.
5.0 – The minimum number of tackles linebacker Paul Davis has made in any game this season. Davis leads the team with 68 stops (56 solo).
5.5 – The career-high number of tackles for loss by senior LB Quayshawn Nealy. That’s two more than his best season. His 31 yards in losses also is a career-high, nearly double his best season.
14/109 – The number of carries and rushing yards by which B-Back Synjyn Days has surpassed his single-season bests. Days has 62 carries for 342 yards and has set career-highs in both categories in each of the last two games. He went for 147 yards on 24 carries last week against Virginia.
20 – The advantage held for Georgia Tech in big plays (plays of 25 or more yards). The Jackets have 51 big plays vs. 31 for opponents.
24 – The minimum number of points scored by Georgia Tech in its four straight wins at Carter-Finley Stadium.
31:02 – Georgia Tech’s time of possession over the final three quarters last week against Virginia. Tech held a 38:55-21:05 edge, yet only had the ball 46 seconds longer than UVA in the first quarter.
34 – The number of consecutive starts by senior right guard Shaq Mason. That’s double the nearest starter, junior corner D.J. White.
41 – The number of rushing yards by which redshirt senior A-Back Tony Zenon has beaten his best season. Zenon has 234 yards on
32 carries (both career-bests).
60 – The season-high number of yards netted by Ryan Rodwell’s fourth-quarter punt against Virginia. The punt traveled 54, one off his season-best, with coverage netting the final six, as Freeman caused a fumble, which Virginia recovered for a loss of six yards.
45 – The number of rushing yards Thomas needs to gain 1,000 for his career.
182 – The number of rushing yards Days needs to reach 1,000 career yards. Whoever gets there first, Days or Thomas would become Georgia Tech’s 44th 1,000-yard rusher.
86 – The number of receiving yards Smelter needs to become the 21st Yellow Jackets wide receiver to gain 1,000 yards for his career.
279 – The number of rushing yards Thomas needs to reach 1,000 yards for the season. He’d become the second Georgia Tech QB to have a 1,000-yard rushing season, joining Joshua Nesbitt, who went for 1,037 in 2009. Tevin Washington missed by 13 yards in 2011.
10 Things To Know About NC State (and why the Wolfpack can relate to battling at least one of Georgia Tech’s non-conference opponents)
.714 – The percentage of turnovers NC State converts into touchdowns. The Wolfpack has turned 10 of the 14 interceptions (seven fumble recoveries, seven interceptions) into points, eight times punching it in for a touchdown. State is 4-1 when winning the turnover battle. Last week, at Syracuse, both offensive touchdowns came off turnovers, one of them a pick-six.
1 – The number of wins North Carolina State needs to be Bowl eligible. Second-year Wolfpack Coach Dave Doeren is looking to go bowling for the 10th time in his 13 seasons as a DI head or assistant coach. Doeren’s streak of nine-straight years going to a bowl game, including leading Northern Illinois to an Orange Bowl berth in 2012 (he did not coach in the game, as he was hired by NC State) was snapped last season.
7 – The number of points senior kicker Niklas Sade needs to become NC State’s all-time leading scorer. Sade enters the game with 306 points, six behind running back Ted Brown (1975-78). He already holds the school record for both PATs (149) and for field goals (52).
11 – The number of sacks the Wolfpack has recorded in its last two games. That’s one less than the team had over its first seven games. Eight of those sacks came last week at Syracuse. The eight sacks matched the total of State’s previous four games.
3 – The number of sacks needed by defensive end Art Norman to become State’s all-time leading sacker. The 6-0, 254-pound defensive end, a graduate student, has come up big over the last two weeks, registering 4.5 of his team-leading 5.5 sacks (2.0 at Louisville, 2.5 at Syracuse). He begins Saturday’s game with 22.5, three away from State’s all-time leader, Mario Williams (2003-05). His 163 yards in losses ties for second-most all-time.
15.6 – The average yardage gained every time freshman fullback Jaylen Samuels touches the ball. Samuels is averaging 13.6 yards per carry (95 yards on seven rushes), with a touchdown and 22.5 yards per reception (45 yards on two catches).
21 – The number of freshmen and true freshmen that have seen action for NC State this season. The 21 tie for fifth in the nation with Florida and Memphis, but State might be more impressive, as 14 of their freshmen are true freshmen. Florida has nine, Memphis, six.
187 – The number of consecutive passes thrown by redshirt junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett without an interception between the second quarter of the Sept. 30 season opener against Georgia Southern and the first drive of the third quarter of Game Seven against Boston College. The streak is the seventh-longest in ACC history. The longest streak is held by former NC State alum Russell Wilson, who went 379 passes without a pick from 2008-09.
250 – The amount of yardage sophomore Matt Dayes has rushing, receiving and on returns, making him one of two players in the nation that can make that claim. Dayes is second on the team with 374 rushing yards on 68 carries (5.5 yards per carry, 41.6 yards per game), with three TDs, he has 256 receiving yards on 27 catches (9.5 ypc, 28.4 ypg), with four scores and he has 370 yards on 19 kickoff returns (19.5 ypr).
628 – The number of snaps played by junior center Quinton Schooley. The indestructible Schooley has played every offensive play in 18 of the 20 games in which he’s played. His compatriots on the O-Line also are durable, as redshirt senior left tackle Rob Crisp has played 620 snaps, graduate student right tackle Tyson Chandler has played 609 and redshirt junior right guard Alex Barr has played 552.
97 – The number of seconds that separated NC State from being upset at home by Georgia Southern. In the season opener on Aug. 30, the Wolfpack trailed the entire game, 17-3 at halftime. State still trailed 23-17 with 3:35 to play when it got the ball at its 25 after a GSU field goal. But then Brissett took over. He hit four straight passes to get the ball over midfield. After a Southern penalty and an incompletion, he hit three more passes to the Eagles 30. After a false start penalty, he hit Dayes, who went the final 35 yards for the tying score. Sade’s extra point gave the Pack the lead and they stopped GSU on four plays to hold on. Two weeks after that game, the Eagles nearly overcame a 25-point halftime deficit at Bobby Dodd Stadium, taking a 38-35 lead in the fourth. But Tech recovered a fumble at its own 28 then marched 72 yards in 11 plays, scoring with 20 seconds left to survive the upset, 42-38.