Sept. 28, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Georgia Tech looks to end September on a high note and get back over .500 when it takes on Middle Tennessee State this afternoon at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Kickoff at is scheduled for 12:08 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets should be a determined group when they take Grant Field as they’ll be on a mission to bounce back from last week’s emotionally devastating 42-36 overtime loss to Miami. The see-saw battle saw Tech overcome a 19-0 first-quarter deficit, then score 36 straight points, only to see the Hurricanes come back and score the game’s final 23 points, including a game-tying touchdown with 1:33 to play. The ‘Cane’s comeback overshadowed a tremendous effort from Tony Zenon, who had a team-high 131 all-purpose yards, with a touchdown, and quarterback Tevin Washington’s three-rushing-touchdown day.
Even with two Coastal Division losses, head coach Paul Johnson feels his team still has plenty to play for.
“Are we in a position that we’d like to be? No, we’re not. But we’ve put ourself in that position,” said Johnson at his Tuesday press conference. “It’s disappointing but you keep playing. It’s like you would think we lost games 50-6 or something. The program’s in disarray. They were pretty good football games. Now could we have won those games? Certainly, we could have had we had played a little better. But I don’t think it’s ready to sack the bats and call it a day.
“We talked a lot about dealing with adversity and how you respond to it and how you react to it,” he added. “It helps to define you. I think they’ll come back and play on Saturday. I’d be disappointed if we didn’t.”
The Blue Raiders come into Bobby Dodd on a two-game winning streak during which they have scored 79 points in wins over Florida Atlantic and at Memphis. The Blue Raiders present a balanced attack, which is second in the Sun Belt Conference in pass efficiency (156.7), third in rushing offense (194.7 yards per game) and fourth in scoring (33.3 ppg).
“They’re fairly balanced, but they throw a lot of bubble screens, a lot of quick-passing game,” said Johnson. “They’re a typical spread-type offense, pretty good receivers and their quarterback’s experienced and has done a good job throwing it around.”
The Jackets will try and make it 3-0 all-time against MTSU, having won handily both in Atlanta in 2010 and last year in Murfreesboro.
Here is a nice souffle of statistical info. to get you ready for the noon start.
The Series: Georgia Tech leads, 2-0 Current Streak: Georgia Tech has won two straight In Atlanta: Georgia Tech leads, 1-0 Last Meeting: Georgia Tech 49, MTSU 21, @ MTSU, Sept. 10, 2011
90999 – The number to text to donate $5 to help raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. Both coaching staffs will be wearing Coach to Cure MD patches on their shirts this weekend to bring attention to the cause.
40 – The number being worn this week by defensive end Izaan Cross. The number had been worn by linebacker Julian Burnett, who was forced to stop playing due to a neck injury suffered in last year’s Hyundai Sun Bowl. The number will be worn by a different Yellow Jacket every week in tribute. It has been worn by defensive end T.J. Barnes, cornerback Rod Sweeting, quarterback Tevin Washington and, last week, by long snapper Tyler Morgan.
0 – The number of series in the last two games that Georgia Tech’s offense has failed to get at least one first down. In the games, against Virginia and Miami, the Yellow Jackets have converted 52.2 percent of their third-down plays (12-of-23).
1 – The number of transfers on the Georgia Tech roster from Middle Tennessee State. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tim Byerly, an Alpharetta native and former Chattahoochee High School star, red-shirted last season with the Blue Raiders.
2 – The number of players named Shaquille on the field. Shaq Mason is a sophomore offensive tackle for Georgia Tech, while Shaquille Huff is a freshman defensive tackle for Middle Tennessee. Ironically, Mason is a native of Columbia, Tenn., while Huff comes from Covington, Ga.
2 – The number of rushing touchdowns quarterback Tevin Washington needs to tie Clemson’s Woodrow Dantzler (1998-2001) for third place for ACC career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. Washington enters the game with 25 scores on the ground. He’s also four behind former Wake Forest QB Larry Russell, who had 29 between 1969-71. Washington’s predecessor, Joshua Nesbitt, holds the all-time record, with 35 rushing TDs. Washington has scored three touchdowns in each of the last two games and has eight multi-rushing-touchdown games in his career. He ran for a pair of touchdowns last year against MTSU.
3 – The total number of points Georgia Tech allowed to Miami in the second and third quarters last Saturday. The Jackets outscored the Hurricanes 36-3 in those 30 minutes (22-0 and 14-3), stretching their advantage in the middle two quarters on the season to 88-3 — 46-0 in the second quarter, 42-3 in the third.
3 – The number of games out of four this season that punter Sean Poole has driven at least one punt more than 50 yards in the fourth quarter. Poole, who is averaging 41.6 yards per kick, is averaging 52.3 yards per punt in the final period. The one game he didn’t hit at least one 50-yard punt in the final stanza was Sept. 15, against Virginia, when he didn’t punt.
6 – The consecutive number of wins by Georgia Tech over teams in the Sun Belt Conference. In addition to the wins over MTSU, the Jackets have beaten Troy, and have a hat-trick over Western Kentucky.
6 – The number of touchdowns scored by Georgia Tech following a turnover. The Jackets have forced seven turnovers this season.
10 – The number of points by Yellow Jackets opponents following Tech’s five turnovers.
8 – The number of total tackles in two career games against MTSU for senior cornerback Rod Sweeting. That’s the most among active Tech players. Sweeting had three solos and an assisted tackle last year and four solos in 2010. Junior safety Isaiah Johnson is next with seven stops, four (three solo) last year.
12 – The number of solo tackles over the last two games by redshirt sophomore linebacker Quayshawn Nealy. Nealy and Johnson are tied for the team lead with 26 tackles.
16 – The team-high number of solo stops by redshirt junior outside linebacker Brandon Watts. Watts has one more than Nealy — both had six solos against Miami — and three more than Johnson.
42 – The average yardage per punt return for Georgia Tech. It ties the school record for highest average per punt return recorded over the last 35 years (minimum two returns).
70 – The career number of kickoff returns by Orwin Smith. That ranks second in school history. Smith, who holds the season record with 37 in 2009, is 24 behind career-record-holder Drew Hill, who had 94 returns between 1975 and ’78.
73 – The number of yards B-Back Tony Zenon went with a Tevin Washington pass for a touchdown on Georgia Tech’s first play from scrimmage in last season’s game with MTSU. The pass play is a career-high for Zenon.
74 – The number of receiving yards Zenon had last week. He caught both of Washington’s first-half completions, a 57-yarder that set up Tech’s first touchdown, and a 17-yard play that contributed to the Jackets’ go-ahead score.
91/711/ 818 – Georgia Tech’s points, yards and rushing yards in the previous two games against Middle Tennessee. The Jackets scored 49 points, and had 403 yards, 382 on the ground, in the 2010 match-up, then followed that up with 42 points, 415 total yards and 326 on the ground last year.
151 – The number of points Georgia Tech has scored in its last three games.
202 – Washington’s passing yards in last year’s game at Middle Tennessee State. He got it on five completions, including scoring strikes of 73 yards to Zenon and 71 to Stephen Hill. The scoring passes came on Washington’s first two passes of the game.
352.3 – Georgia Tech’s rushing offense per game. That ranks third in the nation behind only Air Force (375.3) and Army (399.0).
503.2 – Tech’s total offense per game. That ranks 19th in the nation.
10 Things To Know About Middle Tennessee State
.736 – Middle Tennessee State’s all-time winning percentage when they have a back rush for at least 100 yards. They are 139-50-1 in such games. That percentage has shot up to .824 under current head coach Rick Stockstill, as the Blue Raiders are 14-3 in 17 such games. The Blue Raiders are 1-0 this season, beating Florida Atlantic, 31-17, on September 8. Jordan Parker rambled for 117 yards and Drayton Calhoun ran for 104 in the victory over the Owls.
8 – The number of players on the Blue Raiders roster from California. That’s eight more than on the Georgia Tech roster. MTSU also has 36 players from the state of Georgia, four of whom are from Atlanta and one from Decatur. That’s one less Atlantan but one more Decatur resident than Tech.
11 – The number of scholarship seniors on the Middle Tennessee roster. That’s the eighth-lowest total for an FBS school, although it equals Sun Belt Conference rivals Florida Atlantic and North Texas.
12 – The number of drives of 90-or-more yards by the Blue Raiders in the Rick Stockstill Era, which began in 2006. They have one this year, a 97-yard drive against McNeese State (the third-longest under Stockstill) and had four of them going 94 yards or longer last season, alone.
12 – The career-high number of tackles made by redshirt junior Mike linebacker Roderic Blunt in the win over Florida Atlantic. Blunt leads the team in total tackles (27) and solo tackles (13)
13 – The total number of points scored by MTSU AND its opponents in the first quarter this season. Georgia Tech has scored 42 points in the opening 15 minutes, but has been all or nothing, as they have scored 21 points twice (vs. Presbyterian and Virginia) and have been shutout twice (at Virginia Tech and vs. Miami).
31 – The number of points scored by the Blue Raiders following turnovers over the last two games.
48 – The number of points Middle Tennessee scored at Memphis. It’s the most points scored by a Blue Raiders team in a road game since putting up 48 at North Texas on Oct. 27, 2007, a 48-28 win.
60 – The number of points out of the 100 scored by MTSU in its three games that have come after halftime. The Blue Raiders have been especially potent in the third quarter, outscoring the opposition 31-19 (31-9 in their last two games, both wins). They hold a 29-24 edge in the fourth, but had their best fourth quarter against McNeese State in their season opener, a 27-21 loss.
92 – The number of passing yards quarterback Logan Kilgore needs to break into the top 10 all-time in school history. He already ranks 10th among MTSU QBs with 27 touchdown passes. Kilgore, who graduated in August, became the 15th Blue Raider quarterback to throw for 3,000 career yards, doing so in the season opener against McNeese State.