Oct. 18, 2003
With an open date this weekend, the Georgia Tech football team hit the practice field Saturday to begin preparations for next Thursday’s nationally-televised Atlantic Coast Conference game against Maryland.
Tech (4-3, 2-2 ACC) and the Terps (5-2, 2-1 ACC) square off at 7:45 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field before a national audience on ESPN in the Yellow Jackets second Thursday night game of the season.
Both teams bring winning streaks into tonight’s Atlantic Coast Conference game. The Yellow Jackets have won three in a row with wins over Vanderbilt, NC State and Wake Forest, while the Terps have rebounded from their 0-2 start with five straight wins.
Tech head coach Chan Gailey said that it wasn’t difficult to get his team’s attention in its first full-scale practice since last Saturday’s 24-7 victory at Wake Forest.
“If they’re not getting ready for this game, they’ll never get ready for one,” said Gailey after Saturday’s workout.
Tickets for the Tech-Maryland game are available on-line at the Georgia Tech Ticket Center or by calling 1-888-TECH-TIX (1-888-832-4849).
Fans ordering on-line may purchase a $20 ticket to the Maryland game that includes a hot dog and drink. This ticket offer is only available on-line at at the Georgia Tech Ticket Center.
Groups of 10 or more may purchase tickets to the Tech-Maryland game for $15 each by calling the Georgia Tech Marketing & Sales Department at (404) 894-6265.
Noting the Yellow Jackets . . .
FREDDIE IS THE BEDROCK OF TECH OFFENSE
Developing into one of the ACC’s top offensive threats, wide receiver Jonathan Smith has turned in two remarkable games in Georgia Tech’s victories over Wake Forest and NC State to earn back-to-back ACC Offensive Back of the Week awards.
Against NC State, Smith had nine catches for 155 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown catch. In the first half alone, he caught eight balls for 143 yards to stake Tech to a 22-10 lead. Four of his catches resulted in third down conversions.
The senior from Argyle, Ga., followed against Wake Forest with seven receptions for a career-best 194 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown catch and a 55-yard reception down to the 11-yard line to set up another score.
Nicknamed “Freddie,” Smith leads Tech with 40 catches for 725 yards and two touchdowns. He has 17 more catches than number two receiver Nate Curry.
Smith leads the ACC and ranks ninth in the nation in receiving yards (103.6 per game), while his average of 18.1 yards per catch also leads the league. He is third in the ACC in receptions with 5.7 per game. Smith also returns punts for the Yellow Jackets, and he averages 128.0 all-purpose yards per game (second in the ACC).
DANIELS WALKS INTO OPPORTUNITY
Sophomore tailback P.J. Daniels ranks second in the ACC in rushing, averaging 89.0 yards per game, just behind Virginia’s Wali Lundy (89.7).
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 the third 100-yard game of the season for Daniels, who has averaged 126.3 yards per game in Tech’s current three-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).
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 17th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 94.6 yards per game on the ground.
Tech has held four of its seven opponents this season to fewer than 100 yards rushing. In nine of 20 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 and Florida State to 91.
BALL EARNS FOURTH ROOKIE AWARD
True freshman quarterback Reggie Ball has been named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Week four times already this season, including each of the last three weeks as he has led the Yellow Jackets to three straight victories.
Most recently, Ball led Tech to a win at Wake Forest as he completed 12 of 24 passes for 225 yards while rushing for 22 yards. He threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Smith and a 10-yard scoring pass to John Paul Foschi.
Against NC State, Ball passed for two touchdowns and rushed for another score, completing 24 of 37 passes for a career-high 283 yards with no interceptions. He threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Smith, and then threw a perfect fade pass to a diving Nate Curry in the end zone for a five yard touchdown pass with just 15 seconds left in the first half. His four-yard touchdown run with 12 minutes left sealed the win.
IMPROVEMENT ON THIRD DOWN
One of the storylines in Georgia Tech’s offensive development is improved production on third down. In the last two games, Tech has converted better than 50 percent of its third down opportunities (17-33, 51.5 percent). Contrast that with the first five games, when Tech managed just 22 percent (15-67).
CENTER OF ATTENTION
The anchor of the Georgia Tech offense is senior center Hugh Reilly, who was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week after leading Tech to a 24-7 win at Wake Forest.
Reilly paved the way for a season-high 441 yards of total offense by the Yellow Jackets, including 175 yards rushing by P.J. Daniels. Tech sealed the win by grinding out an eight-minute touchdown drive in the fourth quarter; every play on the 16-play, 78-yard drive was on the ground.
A preseason nominee for the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center, Reilly has played every snap in Tech’s first seven games (457 offensive plays). He has started every game the last three seasons (33 straight games), starting at right guard in 2001 before moving to center in 2002
SMITH CLIMBS RECEIVING LISTS
Senior wide receiver Jonathan Smith ranks fourth on the Yellow Jackets’ career receiving list with 136 catches, and with 194 yards receiving against Wake Forest, he vaulted from 10th place to fifth place in career receiving yards. Smith now has 1,825 career receiving yards, just eight yards behind fourth place Dez White.
TECH CAREER RECEPTIONS Rec1. Kelly Campbell, 1998-01 1952. Kerry Watkins, 1999-02 1713. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 1654. Jonathan Smith 2000- 136