Oct. 11, 2004
ATLANTA–Looking to build on the momentum of a win at 23rd-ranked Maryland, Georgia Tech hosts Duke for Homecoming Saturday at 12 noon at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
The game will be regionally televised on the JP Sports-ACC network (FSN in Georgia).
Tech enters the game with a record of 3-2 overall, 2-2 in the ACC after Saturday’s 20-7 victory over the Terps, Tech’s second win of the season over a nationally-ranked foe and one of the top defensive performances in school history. The Jackets held Maryland to just 81 yards of total offense.
The Blue Devils, coming off an open date, are 1-4 overall, 0-2 in the ACC.
“We’ve got some positive things that are happening for our defense,” head coach Chan Gailey said. “We do have a little depth. We’re starting to gain some experience at places we didn’t have experience.”
Sophomore quarterback Reggie Ball bounced back with a solid performance (197 yards passing, 1 touchdown, no turnovers) against Maryland after struggling in losses to Miami and North Carolina. For the season he is averaging 176.2 yards passing and 213.2 yards of total offense per game, ranking second in the ACC in the latter category. He has thrown eight touchdown passes but has eight interceptions. Ball is also Tech’s second-leading rusher with 185 yards on 62 attempts.
Tech also got a boost from the return of all-ACC tailback P.J. Daniels, who had 91 yards and a touchdown against the Terps. He now ranks third in the ACC in rushing, averaging 103.8 yards per game.
Tech’s leading receivers are freshman Calvin Johnson, with 17 catches for 303 yards and three touchdowns, and seniors Levon Thomas, 16 receptions for 289 yards, two TD, and Nate Curry, 11 receptions, 135 yards, two TD.
Senior all-America candidate James Butler quarterbacks the Tech defense from his free safety position, where he has recorded 37 tackles, one interception, three pass breakups and one blocked field goal
Tech’s leading tacklers are linebackers Gerris Wilkinson, who is fourth in the ACC with 47 tackles, along with six tackles for loss and an interception, and Chris Reis, who adds 37 tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss.
All-ACC defensive end Eric Henderson has returned after missing the first three games due to injury. He has 10 tackles with two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in two games.
GEORGIA TECH VS. DUKE
Georgia Tech has won eight of the last nine and 12 of the last 14 meetings with Duke, but the Blue Devils won last year’s game, 41-17, in Durham, N.C.
Tech holds a 40-30-1 lead in the series. The two teams have met every year since 1933, making it the Jackets’ second-oldest continuous series, behind only the Tech-Georgia rivarly. The only schools that Tech has played more than Duke (71 meetings) are Georgia (98) and Auburn (91).
Tech leads 23-12-1 at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, including a 17-2 victory in the last meeting here in 2002. The Jackets have won four in a row in Atlanta, where Duke’s last win was a 27-12 decision in 1994.
MORE ON TECH’S DEFENSIVE EFFORT VS. MARYLAND
Georgia Tech held 23rd-ranked Maryland to just 81 yards of offense, which ranks as the best defensive performance in the nation this season. The next best effort was by Virginia, which limited Akron to 84 yards.
Eighty-one yards allowed is a Tech record for an ACC game. Overall, it ranks as the sixth-best peformance in school history and the best since 1963, when the Jackets held Florida to a school-record 32 yards.
The 81 yards allowed is the fewest yards surrendered in any ACC game since Florida State held North Carolina to 73 yards on Nov. 8, 1997.
Tech held the Terps to just seven net yards rushing, which is the seventh best game in school history. Three of Tech’s top seven performances against the run have come against Maryland, which registered minus-30 yards in 1995 and minus-20 yards in 1990. The school record is minus-56 yards by Tulsa in last season’s Humanitarian Bowl.
GAILEY’S FOURTH WIN OVER RANKED TEAM
Georgia Tech’s victories this season over 18th-ranked Clemson (28-24) and 23rd-ranked Maryland (20-7) give the Yellow Jackets four wins over ranked teams in three seasons under head coach Chan Gailey. Three of the four victories have been on the road.
In 2002 in Gailey’s first season on the Flats, the Jackets won at eighth-ranked NC State, 24-17. Last fall, Tech knocked off No. 17 Auburn, 17-3, at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
Tech has defeated at least one nationally-ranked team each of the last 10 seasons.
FACING FORMER JACKET Ted Roof
For the second week in a row, Georgia Tech is facing a team whose head coach is a former Rambling Wreck assistant. Last week it was Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen, and this week it is Georgia Tech alumnus and former assistant Ted Roof, who is in his first full season as the Duke head coach. Later this season, the Jackets face another former assistant in Connecticut’s Randy Edsall.
A native of Lawrenceville, Ga., Roof was an all-ACC linebacker at Tech in 1985, when he was a senior leader on the Rambling Wreck’s “Black Watch” defense that keyed a nine-win season and All-American Bowl victory. He returned to Tech as an assistant coach from 1998-2001, including three seasons as defensive coordinator, before moving to Duke in 2002.
Last season, Roof earned his first victory as a head coach against his alma mater. The Yellow Jackets are 1-5 when facing a team coached by a Tech graduate, including a 1-3 mark against Jim Carlen’s South Carolina teams from 1974-78 and a loss to Frank Broyles’ Arkansas team in the 1960 Gator Bowl.
MORE COACHING CONNECTIONS
In addition to head coach Ted Roof, the Duke staff also includes former Yellow Jacket player and assistant coach Glenn Spencer, who was Roof’s teammate from 1982-85 and then coached at Tech from 2001-03, coaching running backs and then the defensive line. Duke assistants David Kelly and Marty Galbraith also spent time at Tech. Kelly coached Tech’s wide receivers from 2000-01, while Galbraith was the Jackets’ tackles/tight ends coach from 1992-93.
Conversely, Georgia Tech assistants Joe D’Alessandris and Buddy Geis previously served at Duke. D’Alessandris, Tech’s offensive line coach since 2002, spent five years in the same capacity with the Blue Devils from 1997-01. Geis, Tech’s assistant head coach and wide receivers coach, was Duke’s offensive coordinator in 1993. His son Adam lettered in football and baseball at Duke (1994-98).
The Duke game is Georgia Tech’s annual Homecoming celebration. The Yellow Jackets have won eight straight Homecoming games, including last year’s 29-21 victory over NC State. Tech’s last Homecoming loss was against Clemson in 1995. The Jackets have a record of 40-13-1 in Homecoming games, including a 12-6-1 mark when playing Duke for Homecoming.
YOUNG LINEMEN STEP IN
Georgia Tech knocked off 23rd-ranked Maryland despite playing without two starting offensive linemen who were injured. Senior center Andy Tidwell-Neal and sophomore left guard Brad Brezina missed the Maryland game and were replaced by a pair of redshirt freshmen. Kevin Tuminello filled in at center and played the entire game, while Matt Rhodes started at guard. Tech managed 197 yards passing and 131 yards rushing, and the Jackets allowed just one sack.
HENDERSON MAKES IMPACT
Eric Henderson, Georgia Tech’s all-America candidate at defensive end, missed the Yellow Jackets’ first three games due to injury, but he has made his presence felt since returning to lineup.
Henderson has 10 tackles, two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss in the two games. More importantly, his presence and the attention he draws has increased the overall productivity of the defense. After recording just three sacks in the first three games, Tech has had 12 sacks in the last two contests and now has 15 for the season.