Oct. 7, 2001
ATLANTA – Fifteenth-ranked Georgia Tech challenges for Atlantic Coast Conference supremacy as the Yellow Jackets host undefeated and 20th-ranked Maryland in Thursday’s nationally-televised showdown at 7:30 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
In addition to national television on ESPN, the game can be heard on the Georgia Tech ISP radio network, including Atlanta flagship WQXI-AM 790 The Zone, featuring the call of Wes Durham and Kim King.
Tech, ranked 15th in this week’s ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, improved its record to 4-1 overall, 1-1 in the ACC with a 37-10 victory at Duke. The Terrapins (5-0, 3-0 ACC) stand alone atop the ACC standings after a 41-21 win over Virginia.
“It’s a tough game because you don’t have a lot of time to prepare, but we’re looking forward to it,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary. “We’ve played well on Thursday nights.
“I said over the summer that I thought Maryland would be a good team because they returned 17 starters. They’re making plays on offense, and their defense is keeping them in a lot of games with turnovers.”
The game features the return of first-year Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen to the school at which he spent nine years as offensive coordinator, including the last four under O’Leary, who downplayed that subplot.
“Ralph did a good job for Georgia Tech, and Georgia Tech did a great job for Ralph,” said O’Leary. “I don’t like playing friends because nothing good can really come from it. But players make plays, coaches just call them.”
Tech quarterback George Godsey (Tampa, Fla.) ranks eighth in the nation in pass efficiency with a 162.8 rating. He has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,115 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions. He leads an offense that ranks ninth in the nation in both scoring (39.8) and yardage (460.0).
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 is second in the ACC in both receptions (25 catches/6.3 per game) and receiving yards (371/92.8 per game), while junior Kerry Watkins (LaPlace, La.) has 16 catches for 268 yards but leads the team in touchdown catches (4) and yards per catch (16.8).
Burns, the ACC’s third-leading rusher, is the backfield workhorse with 458 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on 104 attempts. Junior Sidney Ford (Lindale, Ga.) has shown promise, rushing for 260 yards and a team-leading 5.1-average with one TD.
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.). Gathers leads the Jackets with seven sacks, 12 tackles for loss and two fumbles caused. Rogers adds five tackles for loss and one sack.
Placekicker Luke Manget, a junior from Conyers, Ga., is one of the nation’s best. The ACC’s leading scorer is perfect on extra points (22-for-22) and 9-for-10 on field goals.
GEORGIA TECH VS. MARYLAND
Georgia Tech has won four in a row and five of the last six meetings with Maryland to take a 10-3 lead in the series, which only began in 1988. Tech won last year’s game, 35-22, at College Park.
Tech has won all six games at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, including a 49-31 decision in 1999 in the last meeting here. Of those six games, only Tech’s 28-24 victory in 1989 was decided by fewer than 18 points.
This year’s game marks the fourth time since 1995 that Tech and Maryland will meet in an ESPN Thursday night game. The Jackets have captured two of those three, winning 49-31 in 1999 and 31-3 in 1995, both in Atlanta, while the Terrapins claimed a 13-10 victory in College Park in 1996.
This year’s meeting is the first in the series in which both teams are nationally-ranked. The only other time that Tech has faced a Top 25 Maryland team was 1995, when the Terps were 4-0 and ranked 16th, the Jackets won that game, 31-3.
First-year Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen spent a total of nine years as Georgia Tech’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, including the last four years under George O’Leary. Friedgen originally coached at Tech from 1987-91 on Bobby Ross’ staff, when O’Leary was the Rambling Wreck defensive coordinator. The two also coached together two years (1992-93) with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers before O’Leary returned to Tech.
Friedgen is one of two former O’Leary assistants who are now head coaches, along with Connecticut’s Randy Edsall.
MORE COACHING CONNECTIONS
Georgia Tech defensive tackles coach Peter McCarty is a former Maryland assistant. McCarty spent five years in College Park, coaching the Terps’ defensive ends and linebackers from 1992-96 under Mark Duffner.
Maryland defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo spent the last two years in the same capacity at Tech before moving to College Park with Ralph Friedgen.
Maryland defensive coordinator Gary Blackney coached on the same staff as George O’Leary at Syracuse. Blackney was the secondary coach for the Orangemen from 1980-83 while O’Leary was the defensive line coach.
THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE
For the second year in a row and the third time since 1996, Georgia Tech will play two Thursday night, nationally-televised games on ESPN, beginning with this week’s game against Maryland. The Yellow Jackets also host North Carolina on Thursday, Nov. 1.
Tech has been selected to play in ESPN Thursday night games more than any other school in the nation.
The Jackets have a 6-5 record in ESPN’s Thursday night games, and all but three of the games have been in Atlanta. Tech is 2-1 against Maryland on Thursday night.
In four of the 11 games, Tech did not have an open date the previous Saturday, and the Jackets are 2-2 in those contests.
In addition to the 11 ESPN dates, the Jackets have also played two other Thursday prime-time games in recent years, defeating Virginia, 31-27, in 1983 on TBS and falling to Arizona, 20-19, in 1995 on Prime. Counting Thanksgiving, Tech’s record on Thursday is 28-18-2.
ESPN THURSDAY NIGHT GAMESYear Opponent Result Att1991 #20 Virginia hW 24-21 42,1921993 #25 Virginia hL 35-14 42,1001994 #7 Arizona hL 19-14 45,1121995 #16 Maryland hW 31-3 44,1371996 Duke hW 48-22 44,1451996 at Maryland aL 13-10 22,5101997 #5 North Carolina hL 16-13 45,1261998 at Clemson aW 24-21 62,0001999 Maryland hW 49-31 44,6122000 at NC State (ot) aL 30-23 49,8572000 Virginia hW 35-0 41,885
CAMPBELL GOES FOR ONE MORE RECORD
Already Georgia Tech’s career leader in receiving yards (2,512) and touchdown catches (23), Kelly Campbell is now eyeing the school record for receptions. The senior wide receiver has 158 receptions and needs just two to pass record-holder Harvey Middleton (165).
In ACC annals, Campbell ranks eighth in receiving yards, 10th in touchdown receptions and 17th in receptions.
BURNS BURNS BRIGHT
Junior tailback Joe Burns is Georgia Tech’s leading rusher with 458 yards, a 4.4 average and eight touchdowns. He recorded the eighth 100-yard game of his career with 122 yards against Duke.
Burns, who currently ranks third in the ACC in rushing, has raised his career rushing total to 1,927 yards, good for seventh place in Tech history. He also ranks second with 25 career rushing touchdowns and third with 27 touchdowns overall.
CAREER RUSHING Years Yards Needs1. Robert Lavette 1981-84 4,066 2,1402. Jerry Mays 1985-89 3,699 1,7733. Eddie Lee Ivery 1975-78 3,517 1,5914. C.J. Williams 1994-96 2,365 4395. David Sims 1974-76 2,274 3486. William Bell 1989-93 2,026 1007. Joe Burns 1998- 1,927
GATHERS GATHERS SACKS
Defensive end Greg Gathers is making his mark as one of the most prolific pass rushers in school history. With seven sacks in the first five games, the junior all-America candidate now stands just two away from the Georgia Tech record.
Only all-Americas Coleman Rudolph (28.5) and Marco Coleman (27.5) stand ahead of Gathers, who is tied for second, behind Rudolph, with 50 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. Greg Gathers 1999- 274. Pat Swilling 1982-85 23
CAREER LEADERS: TACKLES FOR LOSS 1. Coleman Rudolph 1989-92 52 2. Marco Coleman 1989-91 50 3. Greg Gathers 1999- 50
MANGET ON THE MARK
Placekicker Luke Manget is a model of consistency. The junior from Conyers, Ga., has hit 31 of 32 placements this season and to lead the ACC in scoring. He is perfect on 22 extra points, extending his streak to 113 in a row, and has made nine of 10 field goals.
Manget’s career field goal percentage .762 (32-for-42) is the best mark in school history.
He now has 209 career points, more than any players in Tech history except kicker Scott Sisson (299) and running back Robert Lavette (276).