Sept. 4, 2001
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech, ranked 10th in the nation by the Associated Press, travels to Annapolis, Md., to face Navy on Saturday at 12 noon. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net South, and live radio coverage will be available on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network (Flagship WQXI 790 AM in Atlanta).
Tech enters the game with a 2-0 record after picking up victories over Syracuse (13-7) and The Citadel (35-7), while Navy is 0-1 after falling to Temple, 45-26, last week.
“Anytime you play in Annapolis, it’s a different type of situation,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary. “I think it will be a good experience for our team to play on the road again in a tough environment. I like playing the academies, and I think it’s a good epxerience for our players. They are a national team.”
The Midshipmen have a new look on both sides of the ball in 2001 with the addition of new offensive coordinator Mark Hudspeth and defensive coordinator Rick Lantz, who spent the last 10 years as the defensive coordinator at Virginia. Interestingly, Saturday’s game will also feature a matchup of two youngest offensive coordinators in Division I-A as Tech’s Bill O’Brien, 31, is the third youngest in the country, while Hudspeth, 32, stands as the fourth youngest.
“They’ve changed somewhat,” said O’Leary, now in his seventh year at Tech. “They’re still running some option, but they’re throwing it more. They’re really spreading things out with five wides and four wides but still running their good option game. Defensively, it comes down to responsibilities and assignments.
“They’re putting a lot more pressure on you in the passing game with quick passes and gadget plays. You’ve got to be very responsible in what you’re doing. Any time you run option, it’s great equalizer, and so is the quick passing game. You miss a tackle and a five-yard pass becomes a 20-yard gain.”
To help prepare for Navy’s option attack, O’Leary has the Tech scout team work with a nerf football. The soft ball allows the players to easily handle option pitches while also concealing the ball from the defenders and forcing them to focus on their assignments rather than the football.
“I’m very concerned about this game because of the type of offense we’re facing,” he said. “We have to tackle extremely well. Short-yardage becomes very big in this game as far as getting off the field. They’re basically not huddling, so it’s going to be a lot of plays. It’s similar to Clemson with no huddle and quick tempo.”
Through the first two games of the season, the story has been the impressive play of the Tech defense. The unit has allowed just 222.2 yards of total offense and seven points per game, which ranks it 18th and seventh in the nation, respectively. Even more impressive, the Yellow Jackets are limiting opponents to just 64.5 yards per game on the ground.
Offensively, quarterback George Godsey has looked sharp in the early season. Despite playing less than one half, Godsey completed 14 of 16 passes for 222 yards last week against The Citadel, and he currently ranks 10th in the nation in passing efficiency (173.96).
“I think it’s George’s overall confidence that has improved,” said O’Leary. ” Last year he wasn’t very confident early on, but he gained more confidence as he had some success. What I see now is that he knows exactly what every guy on the field is supposed to be doing. Some quarterbacks know what the receiver is supposed to be doing but have no idea about protection and who that tackle is supposed to be blocking. George knows what everybody is supposed to be doing on that field. He knows where to throw it and he knows where the weakness of the defense is.”
Also of note, junior placekicker Luke Manget booted five PAT’s in the win over The Citadel to extend his consecutive PAT streak to an ACC-record 97 straight, every kick that he has attempted in his career.
The Yellow Jackets and the Midshipmen are meeting for the third consecutive year, and Tech will be looking for its third straight win in the series. The Yellow Jackets took a 49-14 win in Annapolis in 1999, and then won 40-13 a year ago in Atlanta. Tech leads the all-time series, 15-9, and the Yellow Jackets own a 20-10 record against the service academies.
O’Leary also reported that wide receivers Kelly Campbell (ankle) and Will Glover (calf), and cornerback Marvious Hester (hamstring) are all available this week after sitting The Citadel game with minor injuries.