Sept. 25, 2006
ATLANTA–Nationally ranked for the first time this season, 24th-ranked Georgia Tech puts its three-game winning streak on the line as the Yellow Jackets travel to 10th-ranked Virginia Tech Saturday. Georgia Tech’s first road game of the season kicks off at 3:30 p.m. at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va., and will be regionally televised on ABC.
Tech (3-1, 1-0 ACC) is coming off its third straight victory with last Thursday’s 24-7 win over Virginia. Virginia Tech, ranked 10th by USA Today and 11th by AP, is off to a perfect start at 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the ACC after last Saturday’s 29-13 win over Cincinnati. The two Techs are the only teams in the ACC Coastal Division without a conference loss.
Calvin Johnson, Tech’s all-America wide receiver, paces the offense with 19 receptions for 411 yards and five touchdowns. Senior quarterback Reggie Ball has completed 45 of 88 passes for 592 yards and seven touchdowns with three interceptions. He is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 197 yards and a 5.1-yard average. Tailback Tashard Choice leads with 259 yards on 23 attempts and two touchdowns.
Tech is in the top three in the ACC and the Top 20 in the nation in every defensive category, including first in the league and 8th nationally in pass efficiency defense (87.74 rating). The Jackets also rank third in the ACC and 16th in the nation in rushing defense (75.25 ypg), third in the ACC and 18th nationally in total defense (249.0 ypg), and third in the ACC and 17th nationally in scoring defense (11.75 ppg).
Virginia Tech counters with a defense that leads the ACC and is second in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 5.75 points per game. The Hokies also lead the league in total defense at 223.5 yards per game.
The Hokies also feature the ACC’s leading rusher in Branden Ore, gaining 99.8 yards per game with six touchdowns.
JACKETS RETURN TO RANKINGS
Coming off its third straight win with a 24-7 victory over Virginia, Georgia Tech makes its 2006 debut in the Associated Press Top 25 this week at No. 24.
Tech’s last national ranking was in the final regular season poll of 2005, when the Yellow Jackets were No. 24 in both polls. Tech spent nine weeks in the national rankings in 2005, climbing as high as No. 15 the week of Sept. 18.
With its trip this week to 10th-ranked Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech will be facing its second Top 10 team in five games. The Jackets opened the season by falling, 14-10, to then No. 2 Notre Dame. Last season, Tech defeated two nationally-ranked teams on the road with wins at No. 15 Auburn and No. 3 Miami.
ANOTHER DOMINATING DEFENSIVE EFFORT
The Georgia Tech defense was dominant in the Yellow Jackets’ 24-7 victory over Virginia, holding the Cavaliers to nine first downs and 166 total yards. Virginia did not cross midfield until midway through the third quarter, and its lone touchdown was set up by a Tech fumble at the 29-yard line.
In two of the last three games, the Tech defense has allowed fewer than 170 yards, holding Samford to 163 and Virginia to 166.
JOHNSON UP FOR CINGULAR ALL-AMERICA PLAYER OF WEEK
Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson is one of four nominees for this week’s Cingular All-America Player of the Week. The winner will be determined by fan voting. In addition to Johnson, this week’s nominees, selected by a panel of ESPN college football analysts, include New Hampshire wide receiver David Ball, Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn, and South Carolina wide receiver Sidney Rice.
Johnson, a junior from Tyrone, Ga., had a career-best 165 yards receiving on six catches with two touchdowns to lead Georgia Tech to a Thursday night victory over Virginia, 24-7. Despite missing the week of practice with a leg injury, Johnson caught the two longest touchdowns of his career on plays of 58 and 66 yards.
Fans can determine the winner by text messaging “VOTE” to “87654” on their wireless phone and casting their votes for the nominees by 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The winner will be announced September 21 during ESPN’s Thursday night college football game between Auburn and South Carolina.
SERIES VS. VIRGINIA TECH
Since Virginia Tech joined the ACC, the Hokies have won both meetings with Georgia Tech to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Virginia Tech won, 51-7 in last year’s game, which was also played at Blacksburg, and the Hokies won 34-20 in 2004 in a Thursday night game in Atlanta.
Georgia Tech’s victory in the series came in 1990 in Atlanta, when the Yellow Jackets defeated Virginia Tech, 6-3, on Scott Sisson’s 38-yard field goal with just eight seconds left.
The two teams were also scheduled to play in the 2000 BCA Bowl at Blacksburg, but severe lightning and torrential rain just before kickoff forced the game to be cancelled.
TURNING `EM OVER
The Georgia Tech defense is picking up where it left off last season in terms of forcing turnovers, particularly interceptions. Tech is second in the ACC and tied for 12th nationally with six interceptions in the first four games. The Jackets are tied for the ACC lead with a +1.0 turnover margin, which is tied for 18th nationally.
Last season, Georgia Tech led the ACC and ranked 16th nationally with a +0.75 turnover margin. The Jackets were sixth in the nation with 21 interceptions.
Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech’s sensational wide receiver, is one of the nation’s top players. The two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection earned first-team all-America honors last fall. He is the preseason choice as the ACC Player of the Year as well as a preseason all-America.
Johnson opened the season with seven catches for 111 yards and a touchdown against No. 2 Notre Dame as he was named ACC Offensive Back of the Week. He added two touchdown catches while playing just the first half of Tech’s win over Samford. He sustained a leg injury against Troy but then caught six passes for a career-best 165 yards against Virginia, including the two longest touchdowns of his career, covering 58 and 66 yards.
Johnson already ranks among Tech’s all-time leaders with career totals of 121 receptions, 2,036 yards and 18 touchdowns after just 28 games.
Career Receiving Yards Years Yds1. Kelly Campbell 1998-01 2,9072. Kerry Watkins 1999-02 2,6803. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 2,2914. Jonathan Smith 2000-03 2,2385. Calvin Johnson 2004- 2,036
Career Receptions Years Rec 1. Kelly Campbell 1998-01 195 2. Jonathan Smith 2000-03 174 3. Kerry Watkins 1999-02 171 4. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 165 5. Will Glover 1999-02 122 6. Calvin Johnson 2004- 121
Quarterback Reggie Ball has moved into second place in career rushing yards by a Georgia Tech signal caller, trailing only Joe Hamilton. Among all players, he ranks 22nd on the Yellow Jackets’ career rushing list.
Ball, who has been sacked only 12 times over the last two seasons, is one of just 11 quarterbacks in ACC history to rush for 1,000 yards. He currently stands sixth in league annals in rushing yards by a QB.
Career Rushing Yards by ACC QBs Years Yards
1. Woodrow Dantzler, Clemson 1998-01 2,615 2. Mike Dunn, Duke 1975-78 1,939 3. Larry Russell, Wake Forest 1969-71 1,923 4. Joe Hamilton, Georgia Tech 1996-99 1,758 5. Steve Fuller, Clemson 1975-78 1,665 6. Reggie Ball, Georgia Tech 2003- 1,294
BALL ENTERS RARE AIR
Quarterback Reggie Ball has entered “rare air” on Georgia Tech’s career passing and total offense charts. Ball ranks third in every category, trailing only Heisman Trophy runner-up Joe Hamilton and all-ACC honoree Shawn Jones. Those two quarterbacks finished their respective careers as the ACC all-time leader in total offense.
In ACC annals, Ball currently stands 12th in total offense and 17th in passing yards.
TECH CAREER LEADERSPassing Yards Years Cmp-Att TD Yards
NCAA ACTIVE LEADERS Total Offense G Plays Yards TDR 1. Kevin Kolb, Houston 40 1652 10,987 84 2. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame 40 1490 9,530 74 3. Chris Leak, Florida 41 1457 9,409 87 4. Jordan Palmer, UTEP 44 1294 8,311 75 5. Reggie Ball, GT 40 1559 8,194 54
BROOKS OFF TO GOOD START
Junior punter Durant Brooks is off to a solid start in his Georgia Tech career. The transfer from Georgia Military College is second in the ACC with a 42.8-yard average (21st in the nation). His net of 38.88 is also second in the league. Fourteen of Brooks’ 25 punts have been inside the 20-yard line.
Brooks punted seven times for a 48.1-yard average against second-ranked Notre Dame. He had three kicks of over 50 yards against the Irish, including a 57-yarder, and he had four punts inside the 20-yard line.