Sept. 4, 2006
ATLANTA–Georgia Tech continues its season-opening four-game homestand as the Yellow Jackets host Samford in a non-televised game Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
Tech (0-1) opened its 2006 season with a hard-fought, 14-10 loss to second-ranked Notre Dame. Tech led 10-0 in the first half before Notre Dame scored on Brady Quinn’s five-yard run with just 11 seconds left in the half, and then Fighting Irish scored the go-ahead touchdown on Darius Walker’s 13-yard run with 6:33 left in the third quarter.
The Jackets held Notre Dame’s high-powered offense to its lowest point total of the Charlie Weiss era. Calvin Johnson had seven catches for 111 yards, including a four-yard touchdown catch from Reggie Ball, to pace the Tech offense, and Philip Wheeler led the defense with 13 tackles and two tackles for loss.
Samford (1-0), coached by Bill Gray, is coming off a 37-7 victory over Miles College last Thursday night.
In head coach Chan Gailey’s fifth season on the Flats, Tech features an experienced offense, led by all-America wide receiver Calvin Johnson, three-year starting quarterback Reggie Ball and junior tailback Tashard Choice. On defense, the Jackets welcome back five starters, led by defensive tackle Joe Anoai and linebackers KaMichael Hall and Philip Wheeler. All-ACC placekicker Travis Bell also returns.
THE SERIES VS. SAMFORD
Georgia Tech has won all six meetings with Samford, including a 28-7 victory in Atlanta in the 2004 season opener. In that game, Reggie Ball passed for 201 yards and two touchdowns, and P.J. Daniels rushed for 169 yards and scored three times to lead the Jackets, who held Samford to just 211 yards of offense.
The first five meetings with Samford occurred between 1903 and 1945, when the school was known as Howard. Tech won those five games by an aggregate score of 170-0. The first two meetings were played in Birmingham in 1903 and 1911. Tech then hosted the Bulldogs at Grant Field three times in seven years from 1939-45. In the last meeting, Tech won 43-0 on Oct. 13, 1945, the Jackets’ first season under legendary head coach Bobby Dodd.
Since 1978, when NCAA Division I was split into Division I-A and Division I-AA, Tech has a record of 18-1-1 against I-AA schools. Both the loss and the tie came at the hands of Furman, which defeated Tech, 17-14, in 1983 and then tied the Jackets, 17-17, in 1986. Since that tie, Tech has won 14 straight games over I-AA opponents. Since 1996, Tech has played against I-AA teams just twice, defeating The Citadel, 35-7, in 2001 and Samford, 28-7, in 2004.
GAILEY FACES FORMER SCHOOL
Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey spent the 1993 season as the Samford head coach. Gailey took over the Bulldogs program after two years as the head coach of Birmingham Fire in the World League. He posted a 5-6 record in his only season before returning to the National Football League as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
At Samford, Gailey succeeded Terry Bowden, who moved on to Auburn, where current Tech offensive coordinator Patrick Nix was his starting quarterback in 1995. Current Samford assistant coaches Mike O’Toole and Adam Caine were on Gailey’s staff in 1993.
Nix also spent one year at Samford, serving as the Bulldogs’ wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator in 2001, just prior to his move to Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech’s starting right guard Nathan McManus, a native of Birmingham, Ala., who attended Mountain Brook High School, lives just minutes from the Samford campus. Other Jackets from the Birmingham area are cornerback Jahi Word-Daniels (Hoover) and David Brown (Madison/Bob Jones).
Tech has a total of eight players from Alabama, more than any state except Georgia and Florida.
Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech’s sensational wide receiver, enters his junior season as one of the nation’s top players. A two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, he earned first-team all-America honors last fall. He is the preseason choice as the ACC Player of the Year as well as a preseason all-America.
Johnson opened the season with seven catches for 111 yards and a touchdown against No. 2 Notre Dame. He already ranks among Tech’s all-time leaders with career totals of 109 receptions, 1,833 yards and 14 touchdowns after just 25 games.
Career Rec Yards Years Yds
Career Receptions Years Rec 1. Kelly Campbell 1998-01 195 2. Jonathan Smith 2000-03 174 3. Kerry Watkins 1999-02 171 4. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 165 5. Will Glover 1999-02 122 6. Bobby Rodriguez 1989-92 115 Jerry Mays 1985-89 115 8. Robert Lavette 1981-84 114 9. John Sias 1966-68 110 10.Calvin Johnson 2004- 109
CALVINISM, BOOK II
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Calvin Johnson to the Georgia Tech passing game. Over his three seasons, he has accounted for nearly 40 percent of Tech’s passing yards and nearly 30 percent of the team’s completions while catching 14 of the Jackets’ 30 touchdown passes.
Completions Tech CJ Pct 2004 169 48 28.4% 2005 197 54 27.4% 2006 12 7 58.3% Total 378 109 28.8%
Passing Yards Tech CJ Pct 2004 2210 837 37.9% 2005 2343 888 37.9% 2006 140 111 79.3% Total 4693 1836 39.1%
TD Tech CJ Pct 2004 17 7 41.2% 2005 12 6 50.0% 2006 1 1 100.0% Total 30 14 46.7%
SOLID DEBUT FOR BROOKS
Junior punter Durant Brooks had a solid debut in his first game in a Georgia Tech. The transfer from Georgia Military College punted seven times for a 48.1-yard average against second-ranked Notre Dame. That leads the ACC and ranks fifth in the nation.
Brooks had three kicks of over 50 yards, including a 57-yarder, and he had four punts inside the 20-yard line.
Four true freshmen saw action for Georgia Tech in the season opener against second-ranked Notre Dame. Defensive end Robert Hall was the only freshman to play on offense or defense. Hall also played on special teams, along with Shane Bowen, Sedric Griffin and Laurence Marius.
Georgia Tech opens the 2006 season with four straight home games for the first time since 1984. After opening with Notre Dame, the Yellow Jackets host Samford on Sept. 9, Troy on Sept. 16 and then Virginia on Thursday, Sept. 21, meaning Tech plays at Bobby Dodd Stadium four times in 19 days.
BALL ENTERS RARE AIR
Quarterback Reggie Ball has entered “rare air” on Georgia Tech’s career passing charts. With 6,448 career passing yards and 38 touchdown passes, Ball is in the company of all-ACC honorees Joe Hamilton, Shawn Jones and George Godsey. He ranks third in Tech history in passing yards and total offense, tied for third in touchdown responsibility and fourth in touchdown passes.
With 7,600 yards of total offense, Ball trails only Hamilton and Jones, both of whom finished their respective careers as the ACC’s all-time leader in total offense.
In ACC annals, Ball currently stands 15th in total offense and 18th in passing yards.
Career Passing YardsPlayer Years Cmp-Att TD Yards ACC
Career Rushing Yards by QB Player Years Yards ACC 1. Joe Hamilton 1996-99 1,758 4th 2.Reggie Ball 2003- 1,152 9th 3. Danny Myers 1973-75 921
BELL LOOKS TO RING TRUE AGAIN
Junior placekicker Travis Bell looks to return to the all-conference form of his freshman season after enduring an up-and-down sophomore campaign.
Bell was remarkably consistent as a freshman, when he was an all-ACC selection and a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Collegiate Placekicker Award. He hit 15-of-17 field goals, including a school-record 15 straight in 2004.
The former walk-on made his first five of 2005, giving him 20 of his first 22 field goals, but then his struggles began. He missed his next six field goals, then made five in a row before missing four of his last five.
He got off to a positive start in 2006, hitting from 30 yards on his only attempt against Notre Dame.
Still, Bell is 27-for-39 in his career for a field goal percentage of .692, third best in school history. He also ranks seventh in Tech annals in career points by kicking and 17th in career scoring with 140 points. He is a perfect 59-for-59 on extra points for his career.