Oct. 31, 2004
ATLANTA– Georgia Tech travels to NC State for its final Atlantic Coast Conference road game Saturday at 12 noon at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C. The game will be regionally televised on the JP Sports/Raycom ACC network (FSN in Georgia).
Both teams look to regroup after difficult losses. Tech (4-3, 3-3 ACC) is coming off a 34-20 defeat at the hands of 22nd-ranked Virginia Tech, who scored the game’s final 22 points for the victory.
NC State (4-4, 3-3 ACC) fell at Clemson, 26-20, after driving to the Tigers’ 11-yard line before throwing an interception on the game’s final play.
Defense was the story in Tech’s last two victories as the Jackets held Maryland and Duke to a combined 265 yards of total offense. The Tech defense was also playing very well against Virginia Tech before allowing a pair of big-play touchdowns in the final five minutes.
Still, Tech ranks 25th in the nation in total defense, allowing 310.6 yards per game. The Jackets are 26th in passing yards allowed (184.0), 34th in scoring defense (20.0 ppg) and 41st in rushing defense (126.6).
All-star free safety James Butler is Tech’s only senior starter on defense and the unquestioned leader of the unit. He is Tech’s third-leading tackler with 48, along with two interceptions, three pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Junior linebackers Gerris Wilkinson and Chris Reis are Tech’s top tacklers. Wilkinson has 74 hits to rank second in the ACC. Reis boasts 49 tackles, and he is tied for first in the ACC in sacks (1.0 per game) while ranking second in tackles for loss (1.7 per game).
Offensively, Tech’s fortunes seem to rise and fall with the health of tailback P.J. Daniels. The all-ACC junior is the second-leading rusher in the conference with 582 yards (97.0 pg) and five touchdowns. But he left the Virginia Tech game after one carry in the second half with a bruised knee, and he is listed as doubtful this week. Earlier, he missed the second half of the North Carolina game and then sat out the Miami game, both Tech losses.
Tech is 4-0 this season in the games Daniels has finished, and 0-3 when he doesn’t finish.
f Daniels can’t play, he would be replaced in the starting lineup by junior Chris Woods, who has 237 yards on just 45 carries (5.3-yard average).
Sophomore quarterback Reggie Ball is third in the ACC in total offense with 208.1 yards per game, including 170.6 yards passing and 37.6 yards rushing. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes but also has 12 interceptions.
Sensational freshman Calvin Johnson is the Jackets’ leading receiver with 27 catches for 446 yards and six touchdowns. The trio of Johnson and seniors Levon Thomas (19-338-2) and Nate Curry (15-186-2) have accounted for two-thirds of Tech’s completions and more than 80 percent of the Jackets’ passing yards.
The Jackets face an NC State that ranks leads the ACC and ranks third in the nation in total defense, allowing just 238.1 yards per game. The Wolfpack are second in the nation in passing yards allowed (129.4) and 22nd in rushing yards allowed (108.8).
Both teams have struggled with turnovers. Tech has committed 19 turnovers, while the Wolfpack has 23 turnovers, including six in the loss to Clemson.
GEORGIA TECH VS. NC STATE
Georgia Tech has won eight of the last nine games against NC State to take a 15-8 lead in the series, which began in 1918 with a 128-0 Rambling Wreck victory. The Wolfpack’s only win in the last nine games was a 30-23 overtime victory in Raleigh in 2000.
The Jackets have defeated NC State each of the last three years, including a 29-21 victory in Atlanta last season. The last time the two teams met in Raleigh, Tech rallied for 15 fourth-quarter points for a 24-17 victory over the then eighth-ranked and undefeated Wolfpack.
Tech has a 5-6 all-time record in Raleigh, but the Jackets have won three of the last four on NC State’s home field.
JOHNSON APPROACHES FRESHMAN MARKS
True freshman Calvin Johnson is Tech’s leading receiver with 27 catches for 446 yards and six touchdowns. He leads all ACC freshmen in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns and also ranks among the nation’s top freshmen receivers. The Tyrone, Ga., native is on pace to record one of the top receiving seasons ever by a Tech freshman.
Johnson caught his sixth touchdown pass against Virginia Tech, tying the Rambling Wreck for touchdown catches by a freshman, equalling Kerry Watkins in 1999. The Tech record for touchdowns scored by a freshman is seven by tailback Robert Lavette in 1981.
TOP RECEIVING SEASONS BY TECH FRESHMENRECEPTIONSRobert Lavette (rb), 1981 45Greg Lester (wr), 1987 33Kerry Watkins (wr), 1999 (Fr.-R) 33Calvin Johnson (wr), 2004 27
ANSWERING THE BELL
Entering the season, placekicking was a question mark for Georgia Tech, but redshirt freshmen Travis Bell has stepped forward. After missing his first field goal attempt from 46 yards in the season opener, he has made eight straight three-pointers, including a season-best 47-yard field goal against Duke. He has also been perfect on extra points (16-16).
The Georgia Tech defense leads the ACC in first downs allowed (15.1 pg) and third down conversion percentage allowed (28.2 percent).
The Jackets have not allowed a fourth-down conversion all season, stopping their opponents on 10 tries.
Junior linebacker Chris Reis has made a smooth transition to linebacker, moving there this season after two years at safety.
The 6-1, 218-pounder leads the ACC in sacks with seven (1.0 per game) and is second with 10 tackles for loss (1.7 per game). He also has 49 tackles (second on team), five pass breakups and a forced fumble.
In the last four games, Reis has collected all seven of his sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, five pass deflections and a caused fumble, including strong performances in Tech’s outstanding defensive efforts against Maryland and Duke. Against Maryland, Reis had three tackles for minus-32 yards, including 2.5 sacks. Then against Duke, Reis had three tackles for loss, including two sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble.
POSITION CHANGES DON’T PHASE WILKINSON
Playing his third position in three seasons is no problem for Georgia Tech’s leading tackler, Gerris Wilkinson. The junior linebacker from Oakland, Calif., is second in the ACC with 10.6 tackles per game. He also has 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception and a forced fumble.
After playing as a backup outside linebacker as a redshirt freshman in 2002, Wilkinson moved to defensive end just before the start of the 2003 campaign. He started every game at end and collected 47 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and four sacks. He was named to the 2003 ACC All-Academic team.
Last spring he returned to linebacker but had to learn the middle linebacker position, where he replaced Daryl Smith, now a starter for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars.
JB QUARTERBACKS DEFENSE
Georgia Tech’s “quarterback” on defense is free safety James Butler, the only senior on the Tech defense.
An all-America candidate who is rated one of the top defensive prospects for the 2005 NFL draft, Butler is Tech’s third-leading tackler with 48 hits. He also has two interceptions, three pass breakups, a forced fumbled and a blocked field goal.
But defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta will you that Butler’s role in Tech’s defensive success goes far beyond statistics. The 6-3, 215-pounder from Climax, Ga., is invaluable as a “coach on the field,” making calls and adjustments and providing leadership. Not surprisingly, he earned Academic All-ACC honors last fall in addition to all-ACC accolades on the field.
NO KNOCK ON WOODS
When all-ACC tailback P.J. Daniels has been injured this season, backup Chris Woods has provided solid relief. For the season, Woods is Tech’s third-leading rusher with 237 yards on 45 attempts, an average of 5.3 yards per carry.
The junior from Atlanta played most of the second half against Virginia Tech, rushing for 57 yards on nine carries.
Earlier he started in place of Daniels against Miami and rushed for 74 yards on 12 carries. He also played much of the game against North Carolina and gained 79 yards on 14 carries.
Woods has made two starts in a Tech uniform, and both have come against top five teams – Miami and last year against Georgia. With Daniels listed as doubtful for this week’s game at NC State, Woods may get his third career start.
Woods enrolled at Tech in 2003 after one season at Morris Brown in Atlanta. He was eligible immediately because the former NCAA I-AA program was disbanded.
P.J. Daniels is second in the ACC and 31st in the nation in rushing, averaging 97.0 yards per game.
Daniels gained 324 yards in Tech’s first three games, and then did not play against Miami. He returned against Maryland and gained 91 yards, and then added 114 vs. Duke. He played just one half against Virginia Tech before leaving due to injury. He is doubtful for this week’s game at NC State.
The junior from Houston, Texas has raised his career total to 2,284 yards, good for sixth place on Tech’s career rushing list. His next target is No. 5 C.J. Williams with 2,365 yards.
Daniels gained 1,447 yards last fall, the second-best season total in Tech history (Eddie Lee Ivery, 1,562 in 1978) and fourth-best in ACC annals.
Tech's Career Rushing Leaders Years Att. TD Yards1. Robert Lavette 1981-84 914 45 4,0662. Jerry Mays 1985-89 695 18 3,6993. Eddie Lee Ivery 1975-78 609 22 3,5174. Joe Burns 1998-01 614 31 2,6345. C.J. Williams 1994-96 539 20 2,3656. P.J. Daniels 2002- 480 17 2,284
BALL CLIMBS PASSING LISTS
After setting Georgia Tech freshman records for passing yards (1,996) and total offense (2,380) a year ago, sophomore quarterback Reggie Ball is already beginning to climb Tech’s career passing charts. The sophomore from Stone Mountain already ranks eighth in Tech history in career passing yards.
Tech's Career Passing Leaders Years Cmp-Att TD Yards1. Joe Hamilton 1996-99 629-1020 65 8,8822. Shawn Jones 1989-92 652-1217 51 8,4413. George Godsey 1998-01 484-765 41 6,1374. Mike Kelley 1978-81 391-785 23 5,2495. John Dewberry 1983-85 310-533 27 4,1936. Eddie McAshan 1970-72 360-698 32 4,0807. Donnie Davis 1992-95 270-478 22 3,2618. Reggie Ball 2003-present 270-512 19 3,190
Sophomore quarterback Reggie Ball is Georgia Tech’s second-leading rusher with 263 yards. He has actually gained 399 but has 136 negative yards on sacks.
Ball rushed for 80 yards on 13 carries against North Carolina, then followed with 60 yards on 14 attempts against Miami. One game earlier against Clemson, he gained 73 yards but netted zero because of six sacks. He added 60 yards rushing against Virginia Tech.
Ball’s career high for rushing yards is 103 yards in last year’s win over Vanderbilt, when he became just the third quarterback in school history to rush and pass for 100 yards in the same game.
Career Rushing Yards by Tech QB Years Yards1. Joe Hamilton 1996-99 1,7582. Danny Myers 1973-75 9213. Shawn Jones 1989-92 8554. Donnie Davis 1992-95 7495. Billy Lothridge 1961-63 7466. Reggie Ball 2003-present 647