Nov. 27, 2001
ATLANTA – In what will be the final Atlantic Coast Conference game to kick off in the 2001 regular season, Georgia Tech meets Florida State this weekend at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.
Saturday’s game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised nationally by ESPN, featuring the call of Dave Barnett, Bob Golic, and former Tech head coach Bill Curry. The game can also be heard on the Georgia Tech/ISP radio network (flagship WQXI 790 AM in Atlanta).
The Yellow Jackets enter the game with a 7-4 overall record and a 4-3 mark in ACC play, while the Seminoles currently stand at 6-5, 5-2. Both teams are coming off losses to their in-state rivals, Tech at the hands of Georgia and Florida State to Florida, and are looking to end the regular season on a winning note.
“Florida State and Georgia Tech – we like going after each other,” said Yellow Jacket head coach George O’Leary of the rivalry between the two schools. “I think it’s a game where both teams respect each other. We have to play and play hard because that is a very tough place to play. After playing a big game like we just played [against Georgia], very rarely do you have an opportunity to go out and do it again the next week. We get that opportunity to go out and try to improve.”
Tech and Florida State were originally scheduled to meet on Sept. 15, but the ACC cancelled all of its games that weekend in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. At the time of the postponement, the Yellow Jackets stood at 3-0 and were coming off a 70-7 win over Navy.
“Football is a rhythm game,” noted O’Leary when asked about the game being postponed from its original date. “You have a fairly young club, and you’re coming off a high like the Navy game and you’re all ready to go against Florida State and then the game is cancelled. I agreed with the decision, but it was a let down. We had three weeks off between games, and I think that’s where we lost our edge.”
The Seminoles, meanwhile, have shown marked improvement on the offensive side of the ball as the season has progressed with freshman quarterback Chris Rix. In their first three games, the ‘Noles averaged just 331.3 yards of total offense. In the last seven contests since the games of Sept. 15 were postponed, Florida State has averaged 468.1 yards of offense.
“Defensively, I think they’ve come together, but they’ve been solid there since day one,” said O’Leary of Florida State. “They can run, they can hit, they can do everything you need to do on defense. Offensively is where I think they’ve really grown. They’re now using a lot of the packages that they used with Chris Weinke. I can see them starting to gel.”
Rix currently owns the best passing efficiency rating in the ACC (156.4) and the highest mark in the nation by a freshman quarterback. He has completed 58% of his passes for 2,515 yards and 22 touchdowns on the season.
Javon Walker leads the Florida State receiver corps with 43 catches for 879 yards, while Greg Jones and Nick Maddox have combined to rush for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.
Florida State ranks second in the ACC in total offense (427.1 yards per game), while Georgia Tech stands right behind with 426.3 yards per game. Tech’s defense ranks second in the league (325.8 yards per game), and the Seminoles rank fifth in that department (359.4 yards per game).
Senior quarterback George Godsey leads the Yellow Jacket offense that averages 33.1 yards per game. Godsey leads the ACC in passing yards (2,810) and completion percentage (64.9%), while connecting for 18 touchdown passes. Junior tailback Joe Burns, who is one of just the fifth player in Tech history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season (1,126 yards), has a league-best 12 touchdowns on the ground.
Tech placekicker Luke Manget, the ACC’s leader in scoring, has already set a Tech record for points by kicking in a season (92), and he needs eight points on Saturday to become just the second Yellow Jacket to score more than 100 points in a season.