Nov. 6, 2001
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech, ranked 17th nationally in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll, visits Virginia in an important Atlantic Coast Conference matchup on Saturday afternoon at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.
Saturday’s game will not be televised, but it can be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP radio network (flagship WQXI 790 AM in Atlanta).
The Yellow Jackets enter the game having won their last two contests to improve to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the ACC. Tech is one game behind in the loss column to both Maryland (5-1) and Florida State (5-1) in the conference standings. Tech is coming off its most complete game of the season, a 28-21 win over 22nd-ranked North Carolina last Thursday night.
“Our effort and execution was the best that it’s been in all three phases,” said Yellow Jacket head coach George O’Leary of his team’s effort last week. “The offense, defense and special teams had played well at times, but this game I thought all three played well. We still made mistakes in all areas, but I thought we gave a great effort and beat a very good North Carolina football team.”
Virginia stands at 3-6 overall and 2-5 in the ACC and has lost five straight contests after opening with a 2-0 record in conference play.
“They’ve been unfortunate, and [head coach] Al Groh, to his credit, hasn’t brought up injuries,” said O’Leary. “He’s played without a lot of his running backs. Alvin Pearman is doing a good job, but you’ve got a couple of backs ahead of him injured. Obviously Antwoine Womack has been out since the Wisconsin game, and he was the leading rusher in the ACC last year. I would expect a lot of those players back this week. I’ve been impressed with their offensive line. They have great size and they don’t give up a lot of sacks.”
Virginia’s offense is led by the two-quarterback attack of sophomores Matt Schaub and Bryson Spinner. The duo combines to give the Cavaliers the third-best passing attack in the ACC, averaging 238.8 yards per game, while junior wide out Billy McMullen currently owns a league-high 63 catches, 791 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, the Cavs rank last in the ACC in third-down conversions (33.6%) and eighth in scoring offense (19.2 points per game).
“They play two quarterbacks, but they run similar packages,” said O’Leary. “I think Spinner can probably run it a little better, but Schaub has run quarterback draws and gotten first downs. They both throw with accuracy, and they’ve got the leading receiver in the conference in McMullen.”
Virginia’s defense is led by junior linebacker Angelo Crowell, who is currently fifth in the ACC with 12.1 tackles per game to go along with four sacks. The Cavaliers are allowing 430.7 yards of total offense per game, eighth best in the league, and 27.6 points per game. Virginia changed from a 3-4 defensive front to a 4-3 alignment prior to the Cavs last game against Wake Forest.
“Defensively, they’ve been a 50 team and they went to a 40 front last game,” said O’Leary. “They have the personnel to play both. Any time you go into a game you have to prepare for anything. I think we’ve got to be ready for both fronts because they played both last game.”
Tech will be looking for its first win in Charlottesville since a 41-38 over a No. 1 ranked Virginia team in 1990. The Yellow Jackets lead the all-time series with the Cavaliers, 12-10-1, although the home team has won every game in the series since 1995.
Tech’s defense has been impressive thus far this season, leading the ACC and ranking 12th nationally in both total defense (291.4 yards per game) and rushing defense (91.4 yards per game). The Yellow Jackets also rank first in the conference in scoring defense (17.0 points per game), fewest first downs allowed (15.8 per game) and kickoff coverage (19.7 yards per return).
The Yellow Jacket offense, meanwhile, has done a good job of keeping the opponents’ offense off the field, leading the ACC in time of possession (32:04 per game) while converting a league-best 49.2% of its third down conversions. Tech ranks 21st nationally in total offense (434.2 yards per game) and 22nd in both passing (267.5 yards per game) and scoring (33.9 points per game).
Senior quarterback George Godsey ranks 16th nationally in passing efficiency while leading the ACC in completion percentage (63.8%). Junior tailback Joe Burns, who ran for a career-high 198 yards last week against North Carolina, averages 103.4 yards per game on the ground, the second best mark in the ACC. Senior Kelly Campbell, Tech’s career leader in receptions and receiving yardage, currently ranks second in the ACC in receptions per game.
Placekicker Luke Manget leads the ACC in scoring (8.9 points per game) and field goals made (14) while connecting on an ACC-record 120 consecutive extra points. The NCAA record for consecutive extra points made is 161.