RALEIGH, N.C. (Oct. 28, AP) — One was too small coming out of high school. The other, too slow. But the stats don’t lie now about the stellar college careers of Georgia Tech’s Joe Hamilton and North Carolina State’s Jamie Barnette.
The two quarterbacks have combined to throw for 15,970 yards and 106 touchdown passes and will meet for the final time Saturday in Atlanta in a crucial Atlantic Coast Conference game filled with bowl implications.
Barnette is third on the ACC’s all-time passing list, and Hamilton is seventh as the Wolfpack (5-3, 2-3 ACC) looks to upset No. 7 Georgia Tech (5-1, 3-1).
“It just shows you what hard work and determination and a competitive spirit can do for you,” Wolfpack coach Mike O’Cain said of the 6-foot Barnette and 5-9 Hamilton. “I think those two guys as much as any two quarterbacks I have ever seen love to compete.
“Joe has played about every snap for the past four years. Jamie has played about every snap. That tells you a little bit about their competitive nature. They’re tough, they are guys you want to go to war with. They have showed you don’t have to be 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds to be able to do things to be a good quarterback.”
Both teams have kept their valuable QBs healthy, but have had numerous offensive injuries around them. And there’s not much help on the other side of the ball. Both have fielded defenses that are at times porous, which should make for a high-scoring game Saturday.
“I don’t think people understand from a defensive standpoint how many young people are out there,” Georgia Tech coach George O’Leary said. “They’re making great effort, it’s just sometimes in the wrong direction. I do think they’re going to be pretty good when they get their feet wet.”
O’Cain said some of the criticism of the Yellow Jackets’ defense is unwarranted.
“They make you earn your points, you don’t get them easy,” O’Cain said. “They are hard to get a big play on. You’re not going to get a big play against them unless you fool them with something like a halfback pass.
“They say, `If you can go 80 yards in 15 plays or 12 plays and don’t make a mistake then you’ve earned it.’ You have to learn to be patient.”