Aug. 6, 2012
by Jon Cooper
2011 Finish: 4-7 (3-3, fourth in Big South Conference) 2012 Prediction: Fourth in the Big South
Sept. 1: Brevard
Sept. 8: @Georgia Tech
Sept. 15: @Vanderbilt
Sept. 22: Furman
Sept. 29: @Davidson
Oct. 6: @VMI
Oct. 13: Liberty
Oct. 20: @Charleston Southern
Oct. 27: Stony Brook
Nov. 10: Coastal Carolina
Nov. 17: @Gardner Webb
Presbyterian returns eight starters on offense and six starters on defense. None of the returnees is bigger than 2011’s leading rusher and scorer Lance Byrd. The team also brings back four of its top receivers, including leading receiver Michael Ruff, and two-fifths of the offensive line. Defensively, Josh Polk (4.5 sacks, 2.0 tackles for loss) returns on the line, as do linebackers Donelle Williams, an All-Big South Preseason selection (83 tackles) and L.J. Perry (7.5 sacks) and safety Cedric Byrd (1 INT, 5 pass break-ups). Special teams specialists Aaron Mayes (PK), Cannon Jordan (LS), and Preseason All-Big South punter Patrick Morgano all return.
The Blue Hose lose six starters on each side of the ball. The biggest non-returnee is quarterback Ryan Singer, while on the defensive side, safety Justin Bethel, the team’s leading tackler (87, 60 solo) and interceptor (four, one returned for a touchdown and Matthan Burton (36 tackles, 24 solo, 2 INTs) are gone. The duo combined for half of the team’s 12 interceptions.
The Last Time We Met:
It’s been a while since these schools have met on the gridiron. The last time Georgia Tech walloped Presbyterian, 59-0, in the season-opener on Sept. 24, 1937 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. William Alexander’s Yellow Jackets would open the season 3-0, outscoring their opposition 119-0 on their way to a 6-3-1 season. Tech would post five shutouts on the season. Presbyterian’s season didn’t get much better, as it finished 0-5 and didn’t score a point all season, getting outscored overall, 240-0.
Tech leads 3-0 (3-0 at Bobby Dodd Stadium)
Five things to know about Presbyterian-Georgia Tech:
Presbyterian’s first points against Georgia Tech will be its first points in the series. The Yellow Jackets and Blue Hose met three straight seasons — 1935 through ’37 — with the Jackets outscoring the Hose, 147-0. Tech won 33-0 on Sept. 28, 1935, ending a nine-game losing streak (tied for the third-longest streak in school history), 55-0 the following Sept. 26 and finally 59-0 in ’37. Of course, since then, Presbyterian has gained full Division I status, gaining that in 2008. The Yellow Jackets are 18-1 against the Big South, having outscored its teams, 523-78, and only once allowing more than 10 points (a 14-13 loss to VMI on Nov. 11, 1950).
The Blue Hose were quite proficient running the football in 2011, rushing for 175.6 yards per game, second in the Big South (only Stony Brook ran for more, 267.3 ypg) and were third in total offense, gaining 342.2 yards per game. But they also were sixth in rushing yards allowed, giving up 203.4 ypg and 24 touchdowns. The defense allowed 116 rushing first downs, sixth in the conference.
Presbyterian was an opportunistic squad, with a plus-three turnover margin (second in the conference). The Hose recovered nine fumbles while picking off 12 passes. They fumbled seven times and had 11 passes intercepted.
The red zone was not a friendly place for Presbyterian in 2011 on either side of the ball. They scored 70 percent of the time they got within the 20 (31-of-44), and reached the end zone 23 times, a 52 percent conversion rate. Conversely, the defense allowed scores 92 percent of the time, stopping opponents on only three occasions in 38 visits. Opposing offenses put the ball in the end zone 31 times, an 82 percent conversion rate.
Presbyterian is located in Clinton, South Carolina. Prior to being named Clinton in 1852 — named for Henry Clinton Young, who helped lay out the state — the community was referred to as “Five Points.”