Sept. 11, 2006
ATLANTA–Playing at home for the third straight Saturday, Georgia Tech (1-1) hosts Troy (1-1) in a non-televised game Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
Georgia Tech got in the win column with a dominating 38-6 victory over Samford last Saturday. Calvin Johnson caught a pair of touchdown passes, and the Tech defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns to lead the Yellow Jackets.
Johnson, the junior all-America, paces the Tech offense with 11 receptions for 137 yards and three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Reggie Ball has completed 22 of 40 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns with just one interception. Junior tailback Tashard Choice in the team’s leading rusher with 98 yards and one touchdown on 21 carries.
Linebacker Philip Wheeler leads Tech’s outstanding defense with 15 tackles and three tackles for loss.
Troy, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, caught the nation’s attention in a 24-17 loss at Florida State last Saturday. The Trojans allowed just 45 yards rushing to the Seminoles, who had to score a touchdown with less than two minutes left in the game to pull out the victory.
The Trojans are led by quarterback Omar Haugabook, who has completed 49 of 78 passes for 390 yards and five touchdowns in two games.
GAILEY FACES ANOTHER FORMER TEAM
For the second week in a row, Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey will be facing a school which he formerly coached.
Gailey served two years as the head coach at Troy, then known as Troy State, in 1984-85. The team posted a 7-4 record in 1984, followed by a 12-1 mark in 1985 as the Trojans captured the NCAA Division II National Championship.
That was the second stint at Troy for Gailey, whose first full-time coaching job was as the Trojans’ secondary coach from 1976-78. He left Troy for four seasons at Air Force before returning as head coach.
Last week, Tech defeated Samford, where Gailey served the 1993 season as head coach. Gailey took over the Bulldog program after two years as the head coach of Birmingham Fire in the World League. He posted a 5-6 record in his only season before returning to the National Football League as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
ANOTHER DOMINATING DEFENSIVE EFFORT
Calvin Johnson caught two touchdown passes and the Georgia Tech defense dominated, returning two interceptions for scores, in the Yellow Jackets’ 38-6 victory over Samford last Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. Safety Djay Jones returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown on Samford’s first possession, and safety Jamal Lewis had a 97-yard scoring return late in the first half. In between, Johnson caught touchdowns of five and 11 yards from Reggie Ball, and Tashard Choice added a six-yard scoring run as the Jackets opened a 35-6 halftime lead and then rested their starters in the second half.
The Tech defense held the Bulldogs to 11 yards rushing and just 163 total yards, the third-best performance for the Yellow Jackets under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta. Samford managed just nine first downs, none in the second half.
The last time Tech had two interceptions returned for touchdowns in a game was 1966 versus Tulane, when Bill Eastman (99 yards) and Giles Smith (40 yards) each turned the trick on consecutive possessions
Lewis’ 97-yard return is the fourth-longest in school history and the longest by a Yellow Jacket since Jeff Ford set the record with a 102-yard return vs. Notre Dame in 1969. The only other Tech interception returns longer than Lewis’ were by Frank Broyles (101 vs. Clemson, 1944) and Bill Eastman (99 vs. Tulane, 1966).
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. Then he added two touchdown catches while playing just the first half of Tech’s win over Samford.
Johnson already ranks among Tech’s all-time leaders with career totals of 111 receptions, 1,862 yards and 16 touchdowns after just 26 games.
Career Receiving Yards Years Yds
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. Bobby Rodriguez 1989-92 115 Jerry Mays 1985-89 115 8. Robert Lavette 1981-84 114 9. Calvin Johnson 2004- 113
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 leads the ACC and ranks fourth in the nation with a 48.0-yard average. His net also leads the league and stands 12th nationally. Eight of Brooks’ 12 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.
MR. SMITH GOES BACK TO RETURN PUNTS
Sophomore Andrew Smith took over punt return duties in Georgia Tech’s victory over Samford. He returned five punts for a 13.8-yard average, with a long of 22 yards.
His stature and fearless nature remind Tech fans of Kelley Rhino, who returned punts for the Jackets from 1999-2002 and finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in career punts returns (112) and punt return yards (1,135).
EVANS AND EVANS
Georgia Tech’s offensive backfield includes a pair true freshmen named Evans. Playing behind veterans Tashard Choice and Rashaun Grant, Jamaal Evans and Tyler Evans both earned playing time in Tech’s lopsided win over Samford. Tyler rushed for 44 yards on 11 carries, while Jamaal had 37 yards on 12 attempts
At Irving (Texas) High School, Jamaal became the all-time leading rusher in the city of Irving with more than 6,300 yards and 67 touchdowns in three seasons.
Tyler is a walk-on from Kennesaw, Ga., who gained more than 2,000 all-purpose yards and scored 17 touchdowns last fall for Harrison High School.
Five scholarship true freshmen have seen action for Georgia Tech so far this season. Defensive end Robert Hall, linebackers Shane Bowen and Sedric Griffin and cornerback Laurence Marius all played in the season opener against Notre Dame, and then tailback Jamaal Evans joined the action against Samford. Tailback Tyler Evans, a walk-on, also played against Samford, as did walk-on receivers Jonathan Malone and Miles King
Georgia Tech opens the 2006 season with four straight home games for the first time since 1984. The string includes games against Notre Dame (Sept. 2), Samford (Sept. 9) and Troy (Sept. 16) before the Jackets host Virginia on Thursday, Sept. 21, meaning Tech plays at Bobby Dodd Stadium four times in 19 days.
The last time Tech played four straight home games in at any point in a season was 1989, when the Jackets ended the season with four consecutive contests at Bobby Dodd Stadium. In fact, Tech then opened the 1990 season with three straight home games for a string of seven in a row at home.
A CASE FOR THE DEFENSE
Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta has built one of the nation’s top defenses over the last two seasons. Tenuta’s unit has ranked in the Top 25 nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense each of the last two seasons, including 13th against the run both years.
Since the start of the 2004 season, the Jackets have held 12 teams below 275 total yards, including Miami (237 in 2005), Georgia (226 in 2004; 266 in 2005) and Maryland (82 in 2004).
Most recemtly, Tech held Samford to 163 total yards in last week’s 38-6 victory, the third lowest total for a Yellow Jacket opponent against a Tenuta defense.
NO ROOM TO RUN
Twenty-six times in 52 games under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, Georgia Tech has held its opponent under 100 yards rushing, and the Jackets are 19-7 in those games.
Samford became the most recent victim of Tech’s stout run defense as the Bulldogs gained just 11 yards, the fourth-lowest total of the Tenuta era.
Since the start of the 2003 season, Tech has allowed an average of 101.5 rushing yards per game and held 21 of 39 teams below 100 yards. The Jackets ranked 12th nationally in 2003, allowing 100.5 yards per game, then 13th in 2004 at 104.6 yards per game, and 13th again in 2005 at 103.9.