Nov. 13, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Having achieved bowl eligibility, Georgia Tech has its sights set on getting a share of the Coastal Division. The Yellow Jackets will go for a season-high fourth-straight win in its ACC finale when they take on eighth-ranked Clemson in a prime time battle.
Kickoff at Memorial Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN. Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack and Samantha Ponder are on the call. The game can be heard on WYAY, 106.7 FM, with Brandon Gaudin, Rick Strom and Randy Waters doing the honors and can be found on Satellite radio on channel 91 on both Sirius and XM (Tech fans should be warned that Sirius and XM will air the Clemson broadcast).
The Yellow Jackets are coming off their second bye week of the season and are eager to get back on the field to take on their Atlantic Division arch-rival. Adding to the already intense feelings between the teams is Georgia Tech’s opportunity to earn a share of the Coastal Division crown with a win. Head Coach Paul Johnson expects a typical Georgia Tech-Clemson get-together.
“It’s just been good games,” said Johnson at his weekly press conference. “Last year up there, I don’t think the score was indicative of the game. I think it got away from us, but we were up one in the fourth quarter and had the ball on the 12-yard line on fourth-and-one and we fumbled the snap. So they’ve been good games. This may be the best team they’ve had since I’ve been here.”
The Yellow Jackets put together a solid effort in their last game, a 21-10 victory over Pittsburgh at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Redshirt senior B-Back David Sims had a game-high 94 rushing yards, while redshirt senior A-Back Robert Godhigh added 89 and both scored rushing touchdowns to lead the offense. Defensively, the Yellow Jackets recorded five sacks and limited the Panthers to minus-five yards on the ground.
The Tigers rolled up 610 yards of total offense in crushing Virginia, 59-10, in their last game. Tajh Boyd threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns, and Sammy Watkins caught eight passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. After the Cavaliers tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter Clemson scored 35 unanswered points in earning the road win.
Trying to keep Boyd and Watkins in check will be priority No. 1 for the Jackets, but Johnson is just as concerned about the Tigers defense.
“They’ve been good offensively, but this might be their best team defensively since I’ve been here, just personnel-wise and athletically,” he said. “They’ve had some good individual players, but as a whole this might be their best defensive team since I’ve been here.”
Sting Daily offers a statistical look at tonight’s game.
The Series: Tonight will be the 79th meeting between the schools, Georgia Tech’s fourth-longest rivalry. The Jackets holds a substantial 50-26-2 edge in the series, have won seven of the last 10 meetings and are 11-6 all-time at Memorial Stadium, but the Tigers have had the edge lately. Clemson has lost two of the last three overall and the last three meetings in “Death Valley,” including last year’ 47-31 shootout. The teams have split their last 30 meetings as conference rivals.
0 – The number of losses by Georgia Tech in its last five games when their opponent has had more than a week to prepare. In the last three of those games, against USC in last year’s Sun Bowl, Elon in the 2013 opener and Sept. 21 against North Carolina, Georgia Tech has allowed a total of 27 points. Clemson is coming off a bye week.
1 – The number of road wins by Georgia Tech in its six previous Thursday night road games. The Jackets will try to break a five-game losing streak tonight. Clemson also is wants to change its fate in Thursday night games, as the Tigers have lost both of their previous Thursday night home games. They haven’t hosted since 2002 and has played eight straight Thursday nighters on the road.
1 – The number of sacks needed by senior DE Jeremiah Attaochu to break into the top 15 all-time in ACC history. Attaochu’s 25.0 career sacks are half-a-sack behind former Jacket Eric Henderson (2002-05) and 2006 NFL Draft overall No. 1 Mario Williams (NC State). He is one full sack behind former Clemson Tiger William “The Refrigerator” Perry.
1.8 – Georgia Tech’s points-per-game edge in scoring defense. The Yellow Jackets are tied for 14th in the nation, allowing 18.8 ppg, while the Tigers are tied for 23rd, giving up 20.6.
5.6 – The difference in scoring per game, with Clemson holding a slight edge. The Tigers are 15th in the country, putting up 39.8 points per game, while the Jackets are 37th, at 34.2 ppg.
4 – Georgia Tech’s national rank in third down percentage (.540). Coincidentally, it’s also Clemson’s national rank in third-down defense (.286).
4 – The number of times in six seasons that Georgia Tech would earn a share of the Coastal Division title with a win tonight.
5/10 – Georgia Tech’s national rank in rushing offense and rushing defense. Tech is one of only three teams (Ohio State and Wisconsin) to rank in the top 10 in both rushing offense and rushing defense.
8 – The number of times in 11 games that unranked Georgia Tech has beaten ranked Clemson. The Jackets are 3-2 in such games at Clemson and had their three-game winning streak in those games snapped last season. This is the first time the teams will have met on a Thursday night with Clemson ranked and Tech not in the top 25.
5 – The number of Georgia Tech double-digit tacklers in last year’s game against Clemson. Four of the five, Jabari Hunt-Days (13, 10 solo), Jeremiah Attaochu (13, 8), Jemea Thomas (11, 8), and Daniel Drummond (11, 5) will be on the field tonight. All five would have been available but Isaiah Johnson, the Jackets’ leader in the game (14,10), is redshirting this season. Linebacker Brandon Watts, who nearly reached double-digits (nine tackles, six solo), also will be playing tonight.
7 – The number of career fourth-quarter interceptions by senior DB Jemea Thomas. The first two of those picks came on Oct. 29, 2011 at Bobby Dodd Stadium against Tajh Boyd and No. 6 Clemson to seal the Jackets’ 31-17 victory.
9 – The number of years since Calvin Johnson caught three touchdown passes from Reggie Ball in Tech’s miraculous 28-24 win at Clemson on Sept. 11, 2004. On his way to becoming “Megatron,” Johnson caught the final two scoring passes in the final 1:50, with the last one coming with 11 seconds left as Tech rallied from 24-14 down inside of 3:00.
16 – The number of years since Ajenavi Eziemefe blocked a Kevin Laird punt and Travares Tillman caught it and took it to the house for a touchdown in Tech’s 23-20 win over Clemson on Sept. 27, 1997 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. It’s the last time the Yellow Jackets returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.
18.7/93.3/325.7 – The number of points, rushing yards and total defense the Yellow Jackets are allowing this season. That’s a decrease of 10.4 points, 28.1 rushing yards and 69.3 total yards from last year. All three categories are Tech’s lowest in five years.
19 – The number of consecutive seasons that Georgia Tech has finished at least .500 in conference play. That’s the longest such streak in the nation. Clemson and Boise State (WAC, Big West) are next with 15 straight seasons.
20 – The number of sack yards DE Jeremiah Attaochu needs to tie Greg Gathers’ school record. Attaochu enters tonight’s game with minus-190 career- yards lost via sack. Coleman Rudolph (200) sits in the middle between Attaochu and Gathers.
20 – The number of three-and-outs by the Georgia Tech offense this season in 108 drives. That’s an 18.5 percentage, eighth-lowest in the nation.
21 – The number of career touchdowns by senior B-Back David Sims heading into tonight’s game. That ties him for 10th all-time in school history with…David Sims, a running back with the Yellow Jackets from 1974-76, but no relation.
21 – The number of tackles made by DB Jemea Thomas over the last two games. Thomas had 15 tackles, 12 solo, at Virginia then had six more, all solo, against Pittsburgh. In that span, the two-time ACC DB of the Week also had three pass break-ups and an interception. Thomas leads the Yellow Jackets with 58 tackles.
50 – The number of solo tackles made by Thomas. That’s three more than the nearest Tech defender’s total tackles — LB Brandon Watts has 47 (31 solo).
27 – The number of touchdowns by Georgia Tech in 32 red zone possessions. That’s a nation-best 84.3 percentage. The Jackets are fourth in the ACC and 32nd in the nation in red zone offense, scoring on 87.5 percent of its trips into the red zone.
46.8 – Punter Sean Poole’s career average in two games against Clemson. He’s blasted six punts a total of 275 yards, with a long of 53 in 2011.
45.2 – The percentage of yards for A-Back Robert Godhigh that have come after initial contact. Godhigh, who is averaging 11.3 yards per rush, has run for 320 of his 708 yards on second-effort.
55 – The percentage of touches by Godhigh that have resulted in first downs or touchdowns. 21 of his 42 carries and nine of his 12 receptions have given Tech points or extended a drive.
47-24 – The conference record of both Georgia Tech and Clemson since 2005. Both schools trail only Virginia Tech in wins in that span.
176 – The number of rushing yards for former quarterback Tevin Washington in the 2011 game against Clemson. It’s the last time a Yellow Jacket rushed for 150 yards in a game.
10 Things To Know About Clemson (plus Georgia Tech’s history of Thursday Night success vs. Clemson)
0 – The number of times this season that a Clemson opponent has scored on its first drive of the game. Clemson, meanwhile, has scored six times on its first drive (three touchdowns, three field goals). That’s second in the ACC to Florida State’s seven times.
.656 – Coach Dabo Swinney’s winning percentage in conference games over his first five full seasons. Swinney was 40-21-0, a .656 winning percentage, which ranked eighth all-time. Currently, his 48 wins tie former North Carolina coach Dick Crum (1978-82) for fourth and are only three behind the ACC’s all-time leader in that span, former Clemson Coach Danny Ford, who was 51-15-2. Swinney begins tonight three wins ahead of Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson (45-28-0). The two were tied with 40 wins after five years (Swinney’s percentage was slightly higher with a 40-21 record, .656, to Johnson’s 40-26, .606).
.857 – Swinney’s ACC home winning percentage (minimum four seasons). The Tigers have won 18 of 21 conference home games in the Swinney Era. That ranks third all-time behind only former Clemson coach Ken Hatfield (12-1-1, .893 from 1990-93) and former Florida State legend Bobby Bowden (62-10, .861 from 1992 through 2009). Swinney is currently tied with former Maryland coach Jerry Claiborne (24-4, from 1972-81).
2 – The number of touchdown passes quarterback Tajh Boyd needs to set the ACC record for career touchdown passes. Boyd enters the game with 93 TD passes, two behind NC State’s David Rivers (2000-03). Boyd has 116 career scores (93 passes, 23 runs) and last week passed Rivers for touchdown responsibility.
4 – The number of points needed by Clemson kicker Chandler Catanzaro to move into third place all-time in career ACC scoring. Catanzaro enters tonight’s game with 373 points on 63 field goals and 184 extra points. He currently is the active leader in scoring, 86 points ahead of Boston College’s Nate Freese.
12/30 – The increase in sacks and tackles for loss by the Clemson defense from last season. The Tigers have 30 sacks and 85 TFLs this season vs. 18 and 55 a year ago. Opponents have lost nearly 100 more yards this year, being pushed back a total of 472 yards (162 on sacks, 310 on TFLs). That’s up from 378 last season (135, 243). Redshirt junior defensive end Vic Beasley is the Tigers’ leader, having made 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss, ranking in the top five nationally in both categories.
13/90.9/6.41 – The number of career 100-yard receiving games, yards per game and catches per game by junior wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Watkins’ 13 100-yard games are three more than the nearest active ACC receiver (Boston College’s Alex Amidon has 10) and includes six this season. His 90.9 yards per game are the most in ACC history, and his 6.41 catches rank fourth nationally among active players. Watkins is 91 yards away from 3,000 career receiving yards. His 4,477 all-purpose yards are 749 more than the nearest ACC player, Michael Campanaro of Wake Forest.
16 – The number of consecutive games in which Clemson has chalked up double-digit wins against unranked opponents. The Tigers’ streak of mauling the unranked includes all seven games this season and nine last year. It’s the second-longest such streak in the nation, behind only Alabama’s 25 straight and has seen an average margin of victory of 27.0 points.
21.8 – The yards per catch average of junior wide receiver Martavias Bryant. That’s more than four yards higher than Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin and Pittsburgh’s Devin Street, who are next at 17.4 ypc.
203 – The number of points Clemson has scored in the first half this season. That’s second in the ACC. They’ve outscored the opposition 203-97 in the first half, and have split their scoring pretty evenly, 103 in the first quarter, 100 in the second. Only Florida State (the first, second and third) and Miami (second) have 100-point quarters thus far this season.
9 – The number of losses in Clemson’s first 10 Thursday night games, which preceded its current two-game winning streak. Georgia Tech bookended the skein. It began with a 24-21 loss to the No. 22 Jackets on Nov. 12, 1998 at Memorial Stadium and concluded with a 30-27 defeat to the No. 15 Jackets, on Sept.10, 2009 at Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
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