ATLANTA – Winners of five in a row, 22nd-ranked Georgia Tech concludes its Atlantic Coast Conference slate with a 12 noon game at Maryland Saturday at Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md.
The game will be regionally televised on the Jefferson-Pilot ACC network (Fox Sports Net South in Atlanta), with announcers Steve Martin, Rick Walker, and Scott Pryzwansky. The radio broadcast on the Georgia Tech-ISP Sports Network, including Atlanta flagship WGST 640 AM, has Wes Durham as the play-by-play voice and former Tech quarterback Kim King as the color analyst.
Georgia Tech is coming off an impressive 35-0 shutout of Virginia last Thursday night. The Tech offense piled up 627 yards, while the defense recorded its first shutout since 1993, holding the Cavaliers scoreless for the first time since 1984. At 7-2 overall and 5-2 in the ACC, Tech is all but assured of earning a fourth consecutive bowl berth, which would be a first for the program since the 1950’s.
At 5-5, overall, 3-4 in the ACC after a 13-10 loss to North Carolina, Maryland is seeking a sixth win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1990.
“We’re going up against a Maryland team that is in a similar situation to Wake Forest last year, as far as needing a win on senior day to become bowl-eligible,” said Tech head coach George O’Leary. “So there are a lot of things you have to deal with, but I think we just have to get our own football team ready to play against a Maryland team that probably outplayed North Carolina.
“Obviously Maryland has a great weapon at running back in LaMont Jordan, and their quarterback, Shaun Hill , is really giving them an extra dimension as a big athlete who can run and throw the ball with accuracy.”
Tech quarterback George Godsey is second in the ACC and seventh in the nation with a passing efficiency rating of 151.6. The junior from Tampa, Fla., has completed 183 of 288 passes (64 percent) for 2,330 yards and 20 touchdowns with just four interceptions.
Kelly Campbell, the ACC leader in receptions, paces a balanced receiving corps with 53 catches for 850 yards and eight touchdowns. Seven Yellow Jackets have at least 16 catches.
In the last four games, Campbell has caught 29 passes for 553 yards and scored seven touchdowns. The junior from Atlanta also ranks 18th in the nation with a 24.5-yard average on kickoff returns and 15th in all-purpose yards with 158.4 per game. His average of 18.52 yards per play is the second in the nation.
Tailbacks Joe Burns (Thomasville, Ga.) is fifth in the ACC in rushing with 716 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is also Tech’s second-leading receiver (22 catches for 219 yards) and leading scorer (11 TD). Backups Sean Gregory (Homewood, Ill.), Sidney Ford (Lindale, Ga.) and Jermaine Hatch (Baton Rouge, La.) have combined for 594 yards on 122 carries (4.9 average) and three touchdowns.
Tech’s offensive line continues to play well, led by senior guard Brent Key (Trussville, Ala.) and senior tackle Chris Brown (Augusta, Ga.).
Over the last four games-victories over Wake Forest, Duke, Clemson and Virginia-the Georgia Tech offense has averaged 550.5 yards and 40.8 points per game. That includes averages of 332.8 yards passing and 217.8 yards rushing.
As efficient as the Tech offense has been in this five-game winning streak, the improvement of the Rambling Wreck defense is perhaps even more noteworthy. Through the first six games, Tech was allowing 401.8 yards per game, including an average of 305.2 yards passing. For the last three games, the Jackets have held their opponents to 322.0 yards per game, including 184.3 yards passing.
Tech ranks second in the ACC and 19th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 19.1 points per game.
Linebacker Recardo Wimbush (Blakely, Ga.) is Tech’s top tackler with 76, followed by true freshman linebacker Daryl Smith (Albany, Ga.) with 73.
Sophomore defensive end Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.) has 54 tackles and an ACC-leading 12 sacks, while junior defensive end Nick Rogers (East Point, Ga.) adds nine sacks and 54 tackles. Sophomore safety Jeremy Muyres (Stone Mountain, Ga.) leads the team with three interceptions and eight pass breakups.
“I think the offense and the defense compliment each other very well,” said O’Leary. “The defense is giving the offense more opportunities with turnovers and three-and-outs, and the offense is taking advantage.”
TECH GOES FOR WIN NO. 600
Now in its 108th season of intercollegiate football, Georgia Tech has an all-time record of 599-403-43 (.594). The Yellow Jackets are seeking to become the 21st team in college football with 600 victories.
THE SERIES VS. MARYLAND
Georgia Tech has won three in a row over Maryland to take a 9-3 lead in the series, which began in 1988. Tech has won the last three games by an average of 18 points, including a 49-31 victory last year in Atlanta. The last time the teams met on Maryland’s home field in 1998, the game was played at Ravens Stadium in Baltimore, Md., and Tech won 31-14. The Terrapins have captured the last two meetings at Byrd Stadium, 13-10 in 1996, and 42-27 in 1994. Tech is 2-3 at Byrd Stadium, but the Jackets have not won there since a 28-26 decision in 1992.
LAST MEETING WITH MARYLAND
In 1999 in Atlanta, quarterback Joe Hamilton shattered the Georgia Tech record for total offense with 474 yards rushing and passing to lead the ninth-ranked Yellow Jackets to a 49-31 victory over Maryland in an ESPN Thursday night game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Dez White caught five passes for 215 yards, including touchdowns of 80 and 29 yards, and Kerry Watkins added a 41-yard touchdown catch.
In the last meeting at Maryland, Joe Burns rushed for 179 yards and one touchdown and White returned a kickoff 100 yards for a score to led Tech to a 31-14 victory at Ravens Stadium in Baltimore, Md.
JACKETS IMPRESSIVE IN SHUTOUT OF VIRGINIA
The Georgia Tech offense piled up 627 yards, while the Tech defense recorded its first shutout since 1993 as the Yellow Jackets dominated Virginia, 35-0. Tech, which scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and never punted in the game, totalled 304 yards on the ground and 323 in the air to record the second-best total offense figure in school history and the best since a 706-yard effort against The Citadel in 1948. Meanwhile the Tech defense allowed just 290 yards in handing the Cavaliers their first shutout since 1984. The Jackets limited Antoine Womack, the ACC’s leading rusher, to just 44 yards.
OFFENSIVE LINE COMES TOGETHER
One of the keys to Georgia Tech’s offensive improvement over the course of the season has been the play of the Rambling Wreck offensive line. Tech leads the ACC in fewest sacks allowed with 16, including just 14 by the starting five. In the last four games, the Jackets have allowed just two sacks on 139 pass attempts.
The leaders of the line, and the offensive unit, are senior left tackle Chris Brown and senior right guard Brent Key, both all-star candidates and four-year starters. Tech has also gotten steady play all season from junior center David Schmidgall (Clearwater, Fla.), a former walk-on in his first year as a starter, while sophomore left guard Raymond Roberts-Blake (Walthourville, Ga.) and redshirt freshman right tackle John Bennett (Woodstock, Ga.) have made great strides.
CONTROLLING THE CLOCK
Georgia Tech leads the ACC in time of possession, controlling the clock for 32:40 per game while averaging better than 74 offensive plays a game. One reason for those numbers is a 49 percent success rate on third down conversions.
In the last two games, Tech has held the ball for 76:08 while running 191 plays and converting on 25 of 42 (60 percent) third down attempts. The Jackets ran 97 plays in 38:15 against Clemson, followed by 94 plays in 37:53 versus Virginia, when the Jackets were 14-for-19 on third down. -GT-