Sept. 9, 2001
ATLANTA – “Florida State is an outstanding football team with outstanding athletes who have played in a lot big games and played very well,” said Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary as his 10th-ranked (AP) Yellow Jackets (3-0) travel to Tallahassee, Fla., for the much-anticipated, nationally-televised (ESPN) showdown with the sixth-ranked Seminoles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) Saturday at 7:45 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium.
“They’re athletic ability is very evident, and they are very well coached,” continued O’Leary.
Georgia Tech is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 1990 after last Saturday’s 70-7 victory over Navy. The Jackets have won 10 of their last 11 games. Florida State is off to a 2-0 start after a 29-7 victory over UAB.
“If we can continue to play a lot of people, I think we have a chance to be pretty good as far as having some quality depth,” said O’Leary. “We’re not where we need to be yet, but we’re working to get better. We’re creating more competition for positions, which is going to make us a better football team.”
Senior quarterback George Godsey (Tampa, Fla.) has played less than one half in each of the last two games, but he has been almost perfect, hitting 22 of 25 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns.
For the season, Godsey leads the nation in pass efficiency with a 197.9 rating. He is 37-for-51 (72.5 percent) for 604 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Godsey is surrounded by a talented cast of skill players, including the one-two punch of all-ACC receiver Kelly Campbell (Atlanta, Ga.) in the passing game and junior tailback Joe Burns (Thomasville, Ga.) in the running game. Campbell has 14 receptions for 230 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore Jonathan Smith (Argyle, Ga.) is developing into another go-to receiver and has 11 catches for 157 yards and one score.
Burns is the backfield workhorse with 210 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 50 attempts.
Tech’s defense has performed well in the first three games, surrendering just a single touchdown in each contest. The Jackets rank 10th in the nation in scoring defense and 13th in total defense, allowing 220.3 yards per game. Meanwhile, the Florida State defense, always one of the nation’s best, is 15th nationally in scoring defense (10.0) and 18th in total defense (229.0).
“To me, their defense has always been their biggest strength,” said O’Leary. “Mickey Andrews and company do an outstanding job. They don’t give you anything, you have to earn it. They shorten the field, so when their offense comes out, it’s usually in good field position.”
The Tech defense is led by the all-star defensive end tandem of junior Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.) and senior Nick Rogers (East Point, Ga.). Despite very limited playing time the last two games, Gathers has three sacks and five tackles for loss, and Rogers has one sack and two tackles for loss.
Linebacker Daryl Smith (Albany, Ga.) is the Jackets’ top tackler with 20 hits and three tackles for loss.
Placekicker Luke Manget, a junior from Conyers, Ga., is one of the nation’s best. He is perfect on extra points (16-for-16) and has hit two of three field goals.
GEORGIA TECH VS. FLORIDA STATE
Florida State leads the series with Georgia Tech, 9-7-1, including all nine meetings since the Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992. FSU is the only ACC school with a winning all-time record against Tech.
Florida State won last year’s game in Atlanta, 26-21, and captured the last meeting in Tallahassee, 41-35, in 1999.
The Yellow Jackets are 0-4 at FSU’s Doak Campbell Stadium.
LAST MEETING WITH THE SEMINOLES
On Sept. 9, 2000 in Atlanta, FSU’s Chris Weinke passed for 453 yards and two touchdowns as the second-ranked Seminoles defeated Georgia Tech, 26-21. Tech held a 15-12 lead late in the third quarter after Joe Burns’ eight-yard touchdown run. After two FSU touchdowns, Tech’s George Godsey threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jon Muyres to pull the Jackets within 26-21 with 4:50 left. Godsey’s pass on fourth-and-one at the FSU 40-yard line fell incomplete with 1:32 to play. Godsey completed 13 straight passes in the fourth quarter and finished 18-for-32 for 189 yards.
In the last meeting at Tallahassee in 1999, Tech quarterback Joe Hamilton completed 22 of 25 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns, but No. 1-ranked Florida State outlasted the Yellow Jackets for a 41-35 victory. Hamilton rallied the Jackets to within six points with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kelly Campbell with 1:35 left, but FSU recovered Tech’s onsides kick to seal the verdict. Campbell caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
RECORD-SETTING WIN OVER NAVY
George Godsey threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score in less than two quarters of play as 10th-ranked Georgia Tech turned in one of the most prolific offense performances in school history in a 70-7 victory at Navy. Tech’s 70-point output, which included a 42-0 halftime lead, was its highest since a 70-0 victory over Davidson in 1921. The 63-point margin was the worst defeat for Navy in 121 years of football.
For the third straight game, the Tech defense allowed just one touchdown while holding the Midshipmen to 217 yards of total offense.
Godsey completed eight of nine passes for 158 yards, including scoring strikes of 11 yards to Kelly Campbell and 66 yards to Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.), before giving way to backup Andy Hall (Cheraw, S.C), who was 7-for-9 for 133 yards with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Levon Thomas (College Park, Ga.). Sidney Ford (Lindale, Ga.) rushed for a game-high 129 yards, while Jimmy Dixon (Arlington, Texas) scored three touchdowns rushing.
A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE
The Georgia Tech defense has been stout in the Yellow Jackets’ first three games, allowing just a single touchdown in each contest. Against Citadel and Navy, the scores came late in the game against the Rambling Wreck’s second and third-teamers.
Tech is allowing 220.3 yards of total offense, giving up 242 yards to Syracuse, 202 to Citadel and 217 to Navy.
The Jackets held Citadel to the second lowest total offense figure of the George O’Leary era and the lowest since allowing 194 yards to Furman in O’Leary’s first game as head coach in 1995.
Tech ranks 10th in the nation in scoring defense (7.0) and 13th in total defense (220.3). The Jackets are allowing 78.3 yards rushing and 142.0 yards passing per game.
FIRST HALF SUCCESS
The Georgia Tech defense has not allowed a first half touchdown in seven straight games. The last opponent to reach the end zone in the first half was Clemson in the eighth game of 2000.
In the first three games of 2001, Tech has outscored its opponents 80-0 in the first half.
A MODEL OF EFFICIENCY
Quarterback George Godsey currently leads the nation in pass efficiency with a rating of 197.9.
Godsey’s ultra-efficient performance in Tech’s first three games has boosted his career pass efficiency rating to 151.44-the highest mark in Atlantic Coast Conference history. He is currently just ahead of 2000 Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke.
Last season, Godsey finished sixth in the nation in pass efficiency with a rating of 151.9 as he posted the second-best season statistics ever accumulated by a Yellow Jacket signal caller. The Tampa, Fla., native completed 64 percent of his passes and threw for 2,906 yards and 23 touchdowns with just six interceptions.
Godsey’s final 2000 numbers were better than any Rambling Wreck quarterback except his predecessor, Joe Hamilton, who set Tech standards with 3,060 yards passing, 29 touchdowns, a 67-percent completion rate and an efficiency rating of 175.0 that was the sixth-best season mark in NCAA history.
CAREER PASS EFFICIENCY Years Rating1. George Godsey, Georgia Tech 1998- 151.442. Chris Weinke, Florida State 1997-00 151.153. Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech 1996-99 148.194. Thad Busby, Florida State 1994-97 144.89
GATHERS GATHERS SACKS
Defensive end Greg Gathers is making his mark as one of the most prolific pass rushers in school history. With three sacks in the first three games, the junior all-America candidate has equalled Pat Swilling for third place in Tech history with 23 career sacks. Only all-Americas Coleman Rudolph and Marco Coleman had more. Gathers also ranks third, behind Rudolph and Coleman, with 42 tackles for loss.
Gathers, ranked third in the nation last season with 13 sacks, was named to the preseason Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List for the nation’s top lineman/linebacker. He is also a preseason second-team all-America and first-team all-ACC selection by Athlon Sports and Lindy’s.
CAREER LEADERS: QB SACKS1. Coleman Rudolph 1989-92 28.52. Marco Coleman 1989-91 27.53. Pat Swilling 1982-85 23 Greg Gathers 1999- 23
CAREER LEADERS: TACKLES FOR LOSS 1. Coleman Rudolph 1989-92 52 2. Marco Coleman 1989-91 50 3. Greg Gathers 1999- 42
CAMPBELL, BURNS FIND THE END ZONE
Already Tech’s career leader in receiving touchdowns by a wide margin with 22, Campbell ranks fourth overall with 25 touchdowns scored, trailing only Robert Lavette, Jerry Mays and Eddie Lee Ivery. Burns is right behind with 23 touchdowns scored. Burns’ 21 rushing touchdowns is tied for fourth place.
CAREER TOUCHDOWNS Years TD1. Robert Lavette 1981-84 462. Jerry Mays 1985-89 283. Eddie Lee Ivery 1975-78 264. Kelly Campbell 1998- 255. C.J. Williams 1994-96 246. Joe Burns 1998- 23
CAREER RUSHING TD Years TD 1. Robert Lavette 1981-84 45 2. Eddie Lee Ivery 1975-78 22 Leon Hardeman 1951-53 22 4. David Sims 1974-76 21 Joe Burns 1998- 21