Oct. 2, 2001
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech, ranked 17th nationally by the Associated Press, looks to bounce back into the win column and pick up its first Atlantic Coast Conference victory this weekend at Duke after a heartbreaking overtime loss to Clemson last weekend.
There will be no television coverage, but live radio coverage will be available on the Georgia Tech/ISP Sports Network (Flagship WQXI 790 AM).
Tech enters the game with a 3-1 overall record but an 0-1 mark in ACC play after dropping a 47-44 overtime decision to the Tigers last weekend. The Yellow Jackets are looking to avoid an 0-2 start in league play, something that has never happened under seventh-year head coach George O’Leary.
Duke is 0-4, 0-2 in the ACC after falling to Virginia, 31-10, last week in Charlottesville.
“The setback is important, but it’s how you handle the setback that’s more important,” said O’Leary regarding moving on from the loss to Clemson. “If you let a game like that go and don’t bring it to attention, it can cause problems. But I hashed it over with the team pretty good. It wasn’t a yelling session. It was more like ‘We had opportunities, but here’s why we lost this game.’ Then you show tape on it and you show everybody’s involved in this loss.
“That stuff is all correctable. You just have to continue to work on it, and Duke is a game that we’ve got to be ready to play.”
The Yellow Jackets’ defense suffered a setback last week when starting middle linebacker Daryl Smith, the team’s top tackler as a freshman a year ago, went down with a dislocated elbow injury after just 22 plays. Smith is out for this week’s game, and he could be lost for up to four weeks.
“From my experience, Daryl is probably out for a month,” said O’Leary of the injury. “With that, [outside linebacker] Ather Brown will move back to the middle, as the mike linebacker, where he played last year.”
Brown, a two-year starter at linebacker, had started the first four games of the season at the outside position. His shift back to the inside allows fellow sophomore Keyaron Fox, a primary reserve the last year and half, to move into the starting lineup. Recardo Wimbush, who has started and played extensively since his freshman year of 1999, is the other staring linebacker.
The Tech defense, which still ranks second in the ACC and 21st nationally allowing 290.8 yards per game, will face a Duke team this week that features the nation’s leader in all-purpose yards in tailback Chris Douglas (212.0 per game) and an offensive line that averages 308 pounds.
“They have a big offensive line,” said O’Leary on this week’s opponent. “I think [quarterback] D. Bryant is throwing the ball with a lot more authority with quicker decisions. Their running back is a quick guy that has caused people problems, and they have good receivers. They’re a much improved football team, there’s no question.”
Despite last week’s setback, Georgia Tech’s offense continues to run in high gear. The Yellow Jackets lead the ACC in scoring (40.5 points per game) and total offense (448.8 years per game), and rank eighth and 13th, respectively, among all Division I-A teams.
Senior quarterback George Godsey continues his high level of play in directing the Tech offensive attack. The signalcaller ranks second nationally in passing efficiency (180.4) while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and passing for more than 200 yards per game. Senior wideout Kelly Campbell leads the ACC and ranks 11th nationally in receiving (104.3 yards per game). Junior Joe Burns, who is averaging 84 yards per game with a league-best six touchdowns, paces the Tech rushing attack.
After playing no games for 20 days, the Yellow Jackets are beginning a stretch of three games (Duke, Maryland and NC State) in 15 days this weekend in Durham. O’Leary admits that it has been difficult to establish any sort of rhythm in the first full month of the season.
“That’s been one of the problems,” said O’Leary. “We’re in a game-week thing from now on, so I think it’s going to help us as a team. I think that had a little factor in the Clemson loss, but we have to play better. It’s tough when you have a chance with two minutes and you let it escape like that.”