Sept. 2, 2012
By Jon Cooper
The 2012 Georgia Tech football season begins tonight, with a Labor Day showdown with No. 16/20 Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.
As if a season-opener and a conference game against the two-time defending Coastal Division champion and preseason favorite to make it three straight isn’t enough, the eyes of the college football world and the lights and cameras of ESPN will be focusing in.
It’s got all the makings of a big-time bowl game.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere,” said Head Coach Paul Johnson on Friday morning. “That’s a great place to play, their fans do a tremendous job and I’m sure they’ll have a large crowd and it will be loud. That’s why guys come to school at a place like Georgia Tech, so you can play in those kinds of games. It’s fun.”
Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech games usually are fun. While the Hokies lead the series 6-3 and have won four of the last five meetings, the last four games have been tight and easily could have gone either way.
Expect nothing different tonight.
Here are some numbers to chew on as you await kickoff, so as to save your nails for the game.
1 — The number of times the Jackets have played on Labor Day.
1 — The number of wins for Georgia Tech in four tries at Lane Stadium. The win came on Sept. 30, 2006, when the 24th-ranked Jackets upended the No. 11/10 Hokies, 38-27.
1 — The number of times Georgia Tech has played on Sept. 3 in its history. That game came in 2005 and was a success, as the Yellow Jackets toppled No. 16/15 Auburn, 23-14, in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
2 — The number of times Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech have been scheduled to meet to open a season. The previous time came in 2000, in the BCA (Black Coaches Association) Bowl and was won by Mother Nature, as a ferocious storm led to the game’s cancellation.
10 — The total margin of victory by Virginia Tech over Georgia Tech in the last two meetings at Lane Stadium — 20-17 on Sept. 13, 2008 and 28-21 on Nov. 4, 2010.
15 — The total margin of victory in the three games preceding last year’s 11-point victory by the Hokies at Bobby Dodd Stadium, a game in which the Jackets led in the third quarter.
7 — The number of consecutive years that either Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech has won the Coastal Division. The Yellow Jackets won in 2006 and 2009, while the Hokies have won it in 2005, ’07, ’08, ’10 and 11. The winner of the Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech game eventually won the Division each of those years.
83 – The combined number of ACC wins by Georgia Tech (37) and Virginia Tech (46) since 2005. That ranks 1-2 in the conference.
3 — The number of ACC coaches, in addition to Johnson, that have beaten all 11 ACC teams. The other three are Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, retired Florida State legend Bobby Bowden, and current NC State coach Tom O’Brien.
3 — The career-high number of rushing touchdowns in a game scored by Tech quarterback Tevin Washington in last year’s game against the Hokies. He ran for a two-yard score and a pair of one-yarders.
8 — The number of seconds left when kicker Scott Sisson made his 38-yard game-winning field goal to lift No. 7 Georgia Tech to a 6-3 win over Virginia Tech, on Nov. 10, 1990, the first meeting between the schools.
9.56 — A-Back Orwin Smith’s career yards per rush average. It’s the highest in the nation among ball carriers that have gained at least 1,000 yards.
10.1/5.5 — Smith’s yards per carry in 2011 and the number of carries per touchdown (11 scores in 61 attempts).
12 — The number of wins for Johnson in games decided by five-or-fewer points. He’s 1-1 in such games against Virginia Tech, dropping a 20-17 decision in Blacksburg in 2008, then winning, 28-23, the following year in Atlanta.
14 — The number of interceptions by the Yellow Jackets in 2011. That’s six more than they had in 2010. Of those 14, 13 were made by players returning for 2012 — three each by junior safety Isaiah Johnson, and senior cornerback Rod Sweeting, and redshirt junior corner Jemea Thomas, two by redshirt sophomore linebacker Quayshawn Nealy and one each by junior linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu and junior corner Louis Young, who will not be available tonight due to suspension.
20 — The number of places the Jackets’ defense improved in total defense in 2011 over 2010, moving up to 44th in the nation from 64th.
20 — The minimum number of yards gained by the ’11 Jackets on 79 different plays last season. Thirteen such plays came in the 66-24 rout of Kansas.
29/3 — The number of receptions and touchdowns in 2011 from players on the 2012 roster.
0/0 — The number of receptions and touchdowns made in 2011 by wide receivers on the 2012 roster.
5 — The number of returning rushers in 2012 from Georgia Tech’s top seven in 2011 (minimum 200 yards gained). Between them, redshirt senior quarterback Tevin Washington, redshirt junior B-Back David Sims, senior A-Back Orwin Smith and projected A-Back Synjyn Days combined for 2,877 yards (69.9 percent of the team’s rushing yardage) and 38 of the Jackets’ 45 rushing touchdowns. That doesn’t even include projected redshirt sophomores Charles Perkins (95 yards, 1 TD), the starting B-Back and Tony Zenon (86 yards), an A-Back, and one of the team’s kick-returners.
6.0/11.5 — Linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu’s team-leading totals in sacks and tackles for loss. That was playing in only 11 games. He also was third on the team in tackles (59, 36 solo). Attaochu set his career-single-game high with 10 tackles in last year’s game against Virginia Tech.
7 — The number out of 10 of the top tacklers from 2011 that are returning. Leading tackler, LB Julian Burnett had to retire due to injury, while safety Rashaad Reid and linebacker Steven Sylvester graduated. Louis Young, who was sixth (52, 24, 2.0 TFLs, 3 INTs) and linebacker Daniel Drummond, who was ninth last year (44, 24, .5 sacks) will not play tonight due to suspension.
81.5/77.7/83.7 — The percentage of tackles, tackles for loss and sacks returning from 2011. That’s 721 of 885 tackles, 50.5 of 62 TFLs and 19 of 22 sacks.
130 — The total number of points by which the Yellow Jackets outscored opponents coming out of the locker room in 2011. They held a 115-62 edge in the first quarter and a 121-44 advantage in the third.
151 — The number of rushing yards (on 28 carries) by Joshua Nesbitt in the 2008 game against Virginia Tech. It’s the second-best total in a game by a Georgia Tech quarterback and in an ACC game. The next season, Nesbitt ran for 122 yards on 23 carries against the Hokies, the fifth-best running day by a Tech QB in ACC competition.
11/464 — The number of kicks and resulting yardage from punter Ben Arndt in Tech’s 2005 game against the Hokies, a forgettable 51-7 loss in Blacksburg. Arndt’s day ties for the third-busiest (with Jeff Pierce against North Carolina in 1980) and is the third-most productive by a Jackets punter in a game or an ACC game.
41 — The length of kicker Justin Moore’s season-high field goal last season against the Hokies.
51.0 — The school single-game record for yardage per pass completion, set on Oct. 17, 2009, in Georgia Tech’s 28-23 win over Virginia Tech. It was the ONLY completion on the day for Joshua Nesbitt, who went 1-for-7, but it was a big one, as the 51-yard hook-up with Demaryius Thomas set up a Nesbitt one-yard touchdown run that gave Georgia Tech a 7-3 lead over the No. 4 Hokies. The Jackets would never trail the rest of the way.
10 Things To Know About Virginia Tech
.680 — Virginia Tech’s winning percentage in openers in 25 years under Frank Beamer. The Hokies have won 12 of their last 16.
.790 — Virginia Tech’s winning percentage at Lane Stadium in the Beamer Era. The Hokies have put up a 122-32-1 record in the quarter-century of home games played under Beamer.
.864 — The Hokies’ winning percentage in September games since 1993. Virginia Tech has won 64 of 74 games in those Septembers. They have won 83.3 percent of their first-month games (25-5) since 2005.
1 — The number of returning players on the offensive line. That one is junior center Andrew Miller, who started all 14 games in 2011 and is on the Rimington Award Watch List for 2012. Miller has 14 of the projected starting offensive line’s 18 career starts.
3 — The total number of carries for Virginia Tech’s tailbacks and fullbacks on the two-deep roster heading into tonight’s game.
6-6, 254 — The size of redshirt junior quarterback Logan Thomas. He stood much taller last year against Georgia Tech, rushing for a career-high 70 yards and accounting for five touchdowns, with three TD passes (one a career-long 63-yarder to Danny Coale) and a pair of scoring runs. Thomas, who took over for 2010 ACC Player of the Year Tyrod Taylor, responded by leading the team to a school-record 5,782 yards, accounting for a school-record 3,482 yards himself and becoming the second QB in school history to throw for over 3,000 yards. He also ran for 11 touchdowns, tying the school record, and becoming the first QB to lead the team in scores since David Lamie in 1977.
8 — The Hokies’ current streak of 10-win seasons. That’s the most of any team in the nation. A 10-win season in 2012 would tie the 2001-09 Texas Longhorns. The modern-era record is 14 set by Florida State from 1987 through 2000. Tech’s current streak of 14 eight-win seasons is the best in the nation.
11 — The number of career sacks for redshirt senior linebacker Bruce Taylor, who had career-high 14 stops against Georgia Tech last season, junior defensive end James Gayle, who he had seven sacks last year and 12.5 TFLs in 2011, and redshirt junior defensive end J.R. Collins. The trio rank second in sacks among active ACC players.
87 — The number of consecutive sellouts for the Hokies at Lane Stadium. The streak began against Virginia on Nov. 28, 1998.
100 — The number of years since Virginia Tech played on Monday night in Blacksburg. The opponent that night was Roanoke College. The Hokies won, 40-0. Virginia Tech is 8-4 all-time in Monday night football games, with three of them being home games.