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Jackets Travel to No. 6 Miami

Oct. 16, 2005

ATLANTA–After getting back in the win column, Georgia Tech faces its second straight road game with a trip to No. 6 Miami, Saturday at 12 noon at the Orange Bowl. The game will be regionally televised on ABC-TV.

Tech is now 4-2 overall, 2-2 in the ACC after a 35-10 win at Duke. Miami has won five straight games since dropping its opener to Florida State to move to 5-1 overall, 2-1 in the ACC.

Offensively, the Jackets are led by the skilled trio of quarterback Reggie Ball, wide receiver Calvin Johnson and tailback P.J. Daniels.

Ball, the junior from Stone Mountain, Ga., is averaging 243.8 yards of total offense per game, including 212.0 yards through the air with five touchdown passes as well as two rushing touchdowns.

His favorite target is Johnson, the 6-4 sophomore who leads Tech and the ACC with 32 catches for 581 yards and four touchdowns, an eye-catching 18.1 yards per catch.

A senior from Houston, Texas, Daniels carries the load on the ground, averaging 82.3 yards per game, which is second in the ACC. But sophomore Tashard Choice stepped up with a career-high 107 yards against Duke and is averaging 43.7 yards per game with four touchdowns.

In Miami, Tech faces the nation’s No. 1 defense. The Hurricanes lead the nation in total defense, allowing 227.2 yards per game, and pass defense (127.2 yards per game) while ranking second in scoring defense (10.0 ppg).

The Tech defense is anchored by all-ACC middle linebacker Gerris Wilkinson, who leads the Jackets with 44 tackles, including six tackles for loss and one interception, while junior linebacker KaMichael Hall has a team-leading seven tackles for loss.

Sophomore linebacker Philip Wheeler leads the ACC with four interceptions for a Rambling Wreck unit that is second in the nation with 14 picks.

JACKETS FACE SECOND OF THREE TOP 10 TEAMS

Georgia Tech’s game at sixth-ranked Miami is the second of three games this season in which the Yellow Jackets are likely to face a Top 10 team. The Jackets have already played at Virginia Tech, which was ranked fourth at the time and is now No. 3. Tech closes with fourth-ranked Georgia at home.

Tech opened the season with a victory at 15th-ranked Auburn. Also on the schedule is a game at Virginia, now ranked 23rd.

THE SERIES WITH MIAMI

Georgia Tech leads the series with Miami, 6-4. The two teams met as ACC members for the first time last year, when the then fourth-ranked Hurricanes won, 27-3 in Atlanta. Brock Berlin passed for 200 yards and three touchdowns and Frank Gore added 124 yards rushing to lead Miami.

Tech and Miami met in the 2000 Toyota Gator Bowl, which the Hurricanes won, 28-13. Before that, the two schools had not played since 1978, when both were independents. Tech won four straight games in the 1970s, including a 24-19 win in Atlanta in 1978 that remains the Jackets’ last victory in the series.

Eight of the 10 games have been played at Georgia Tech, where the Jackets hold a 6-2 advantage. Tech fell, 49-7, on Nov. 10, 1967 in the only previous meeting at Miami.

JOHNSON LEADS ACC

All-America candidate Calvin Johnson, one of the nation’s most exciting players, leads the ACC in receptions and receiving yards per game.

The 6-4 sophomore has 32 catches for 581 yards and four touchdowns, averages of 5.3 receptions and 96.8 yards per game. He had a season-best 10-catch, 130-yard performance against NC State, and then added four catches for 73 yards against Duke.

For his career, Johnson now has 80 catches for 1,418 yards and 11 touchdowns in 18 games. That’s career averages of 17.7 yards per catch, and 78.7 yards per game, a figure that ranks fourth among all active receivers in the nation.

NCAA Active Leaders, Rec Yds/Game       G       Rec     Yards   TD      YPG1. Hank Baskett, New Mexico     19      99      1604    8       84.42. Todd Watkins, BYU    17      75      1407    11      82.83. Greg Jennings, Western Michigan      37      201     3015    34      81.54. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech    18      80      1418    11      78.8

TECH AT THE ORANGE BOWL

Georgia Tech will be making its first appearance at the Orange Bowl sincea 1967 regular-season game against Miami, which the Hurricanes won, 49-7. That was actually the Yellow Jackets’ second trip to the Orange Bowl that year. Tech played in the 1967 Orange Bowl, in the final game for legendary Tech head coach Bobby Dodd, but the Jackets lost 27-12 to Florida, which was led by Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier.

The Jackets have also played in five Orange Bowl games, posting a record of 3-2.

Tech’s most recent appearance in South Florida was the 1997 Carquest Bowl, when the Yellow Jackets, quarterbacked by Joe Hamilton, defeated a West Virginia team that featured Marc Bulger, 35-30.

GEORGIA TECH AT THE ORANGE BOWL (3-3)Date    ResultJan. 2, 1940    Georgia Tech 21, Missouri 7 (Orange Bowl)Jan. 1, 1945    Tulsa 26, Georgia Tech 12  (Orange Bowl)Jan. 1, 1948    Georgia Tech 20, Kansas 14 (Orange Bowl)Jan. 1, 1952    Georgia Tech 17, Baylor 14 (Orange Bowl)Jan. 1, 1967    Florida 27, Georgia Tech 12 (Orange Bowl)Nov. 10, 1967   Miami 49, Georgia Tech 7 (regular season)

SUNSHINE JACKETS

Georgia Tech has 18 players, including three defensive starters in tackle Joe Anoai (Pensacola Escambia), defensive end Adamm Oliver (New Port Richey Ridgewood) and cornerback Kenny Scott (Daytona Beach Seabreeze).

Three Tech players hail from South Florida in Brian Fleuridor (Delray Beach Boca Raton), Jake Blackwood (West Palm Beach King’s Academy), Chris Dunlap (Miramar) and Travis Rogers (Wellington).

Other Floridians on the roster include Rashaun Grant (Tampa Jefferson), Pat Clark (Jacksonville Mandarin), Colin Peek (Jacksonville Bolles), Jonathan Garner (Daytona Beach Mainland), A.J. Smith (Tampa Jesuit), Andrew Smith (Tampa Jesuit), Randall Cox (St. Augustine), LeShawn Newberry (Daytona Beach Spruce Creek), James Johnson (Oakland West Orange), Omar Billy (Orlando Colonial), Troy Garside (Jacksonville Episcopal) and Mark Youngblood (Tallahassee Lincoln).

GAILEY RETURNS TO MIAMI

Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey is no stranger to the Sunshine State. Gailey, a 1974 graduate of the University of Florida, came to Tech after two seasons (2000-01) as the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins.

JACKETS SECOND IN NATION IN INTERCEPTIONS

Georgia Tech is second in the nation in interceptions with 14 (2.3 per game), trailing only TCU, which has 15. The Yellow Jackets reached last year’s season total of 10 interceptions in the first three games.

The Jackets grabbed three interceptions and recovered a fumble in the win over Connecticut. Tech forced five turnovers in its season-opening win over Auburn with four interceptions and a fumble recovery, all in the second half. The Jackets added three interceptions against North Carolina, again all in the second half, and two each against NC State and Duke.

Tech is 12th in the nation in turnover margin at +1.17.

CHOICE CUTS

The Georgia Tech backfield is developing into an effective one-two punch with senior P.J. Daniels and sophomore Tashard Choice, who joined the Yellow Jackets this season after transferring from Oklahoma.

Choice rushed for a career-best 107 yards on just 15 carries and scored two touchdowns in Tech’s win at Duke. Earlier against Connecticut, he had 89 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Last fall at Oklahoma, Choice totalled 100 yards on 22 carries.

For the season, the pair of Daniels and Choice have combined for 756 yards rushing (126.0 yards per game) and six touchdowns.

WHEELER STEALS

Sophomore linebacker Philip Wheeler leads the ACC and ranks sixth in the nation with four interceptions.

Wheeler grabbed one of Tech’s four interceptions in the win over Auburn, and then added picks against North Carolina, NC State and Duke.

BALL’S “FEETS”

Over the last two games, junior quarterback Reggie Ball has rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. For the season, Ball is Tech’s third-leading rusher with a net of 159 yards and an average of 4.0 yards per carry.

Ball has been sacked just three times all season. As a team, Tech leads the ACC in sacks allowed with five, including just two sacks allowed in four conference games.

Ball has moved into third place in career rushing yards by a Tech signal caller, trailing only Joe Hamilton and option specialist Danny Myers.

Career Rushing Yards by Tech QB Years   Yards1.      Joe Hamilton 1996-99 1,7582.      Danny Myers     1973-75 9213.      Reggie Ball   2003-present    8754.      Shawn Jones     1989-92 855

SECOND HELPINGS

In each of its last two games, Georgia Tech has endured a sloppy first half, followed by a very productive second half.

Against NC State, the Jackets trailed 10-0 at the half as quarterback Reggie Ball struggled, completing just 6-of-25 passes. Then in the second half, Ball to hit 15-of-28 for 206 yards and rushed for 67 yards to lead the Jackets to a pair of touchdowns and in position for a potential game-winning score in the 17-14 loss.

In last week’s win over Duke, Tech moved the ball very well in the first half (137 yards rushing; 12-19, 102 yards passing) but trailed 10-7 because of two turnovers and several costly penalties. Then, in an eight-minute span in the third quarter, the Jackets scored four touchdowns in an eight-minute span of third quarter to take control of the game en route to the 35-10 victory.

“STICK” STICKS IT IN THE END ZONE

Defensive end Darrell Robertson was one of the heroes in Georgia Tech’s victory over Duke.

Dubbed “Stick” by defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta for his lanky build, Robertson helped put Duke away with a third-quarter interception that he returned 28-yards for a touchdown. The 6-5 sophomore from Jonesboro, Ga., had four tackles and a pass breakup, his third of the season.

Robertson has started Tech’s last four games in place of senior Eric Henderson.

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