Oct. 28, 2003
With an open date this week, Georgia Tech is coming off a 7-3 victory over Maryland in a nationally televised contest on Thursday, Oct. 23. That win was the Yellow Jackets’ fourth straight to put Tech within one victory of bowl eligibility.
Tech’s four-game winning streak is its longest since 2000, when the Jackets won their final seven regular season games to finish second in the ACC.
Some telling statistics from Tech’s streak: the Jackets are plus five in turnover margin for the four games and are outgaining their opponents, 343-to-305.3 yards per game, including a 164.5-to-100.8 yard advantage on the ground.
Tech returns to action with a Nov. 8 ACC contest at Duke, which is now coached by former Yellow Jacket star Ted Roof. The non-televised game kicks off at 1 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Noting the Yellow Jackets . . .
THE BUTLER DID IT
Free safety James Butler has shown a penchant for making big plays, particularly in Georgia Tech’s victory over Maryland.
The junior from Climax, Ga., grabbed two interceptions and made 12 tackles against the Terrapins and was named ACC Defensive Back of the Week.
Earlier this season, he sealed Tech’s win over Vanderbilt with an interception on the Commodores’ first play in overtime. Against Wake Forest, he had caused two fumbles, blocked a field goal and grabbed an interception in the Tech victory.
Butler leads the ACC and ranks ninth in the nation with five interceptions.
OUT-FOXING THE COMPETITION
The leader of Georgia Tech’s strong defensive effort this season is senior linebacker Keyaron Fox, the ACC’s leading tackler who is averaging 12.6 hits per game.
Fox played a huge role in Tech’s win over Maryland, leading a standout defensive effort that held the high-powered Terps to three points, 96 yards rushing and 253 total yards. In addition to his 15 tackles, Fox was involved in the play of the game as he sacked Terps quarterback Joel Statham and forced him to fumble. The ball was eventually recovered by Tech’s Jonathan Cox to set up the game’s only touchdown.
Fox was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his play against Maryland.
FREDDIE IS THE BEDROCK OF TECH OFFENSE
Developing into one of the ACC’s top offensive threats, wide receiver Jonathan Smith leads the ACC and ranks 14th in the nation in receiving yards (96.0 per game), He is third in the ACC in receptions with 5.6 per game, while his average of 17.1 yards per catch is second in the league. Smith also returns punts for the Yellow Jackets, and he is second in the ACC with 121.1 all-purpose yards per game.
Nicknamed “Freddie,” Smith leads Tech with 45 catches for 768 yards and three touchdowns. He has 20 more catches than number two receiver Nate Curry.
Smith turned in two remarkable games in Georgia Tech’s victories over Wake Forest and NC State to earn back-to-back ACC Offensive Back of the Week awards.
Against NC State, Smith had nine catches for 155 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown catch. In the first half alone, he caught eight balls for 143 yards to stake Tech to a 22-10 lead. Four of his catches resulted in third down conversions.
The senior from Argyle, Ga., followed against Wake Forest with seven receptions for a career-best 194 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown catch and a 55-yard reception down to the 11-yard line to set up another score.
DANIELS WALKS INTO OPPORTUNITY
Sophomore tailback P.J. Daniels leads the ACC in rushing, averaging 85.8 yards per game, just ahead of Virginia’s Wali Lundy (80.4).
Daniels rushed for a career-best 175 yards on 33 carries in Tech’s win over Wake Forest, the best rushing effort by an ACC back this season.
That was one of three 100-yard game of the season for Daniels, who has averaged 110.5 yards per game in Tech’s current four-game winning streak. He also topped 100 yards against Florida State (113) and Vanderbilt (105) and just missed the century mark against NC State (99).
Daniels, whose given name is Prince, is a former walk-on who was Tech’s seventh-string tailback early last season. He was placed on scholarship in January, 2003.
NO ROOM TO RUN
Georgia Tech leads the ACC and ranks 16th nationally in rushing defense, allowing 94.8 yards per game on the ground.
Tech has held five of its eight opponents this season to fewer than 100 yards rushing. In 10 of 21 games under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta the last two years, the Jackets have allowed fewer than 100 yards rushing
In Tech’s win over NC State, the Yellow Jackets turned in the fifth best performance in school history against the run as the Wolfpack netted minus-8 yards on 19 attempts. Tech held Auburn to just 40 yards rushing, BYU to 86 yards, Florida State to 91, and Maryland to 96.
IMPROVEMENT ON THIRD DOWN
One of the storylines in Georgia Tech’s offensive development is improved production on third down. In the last two games, Tech hasnearly 50 percent of its third down opportunities (23-49, 46.9 percent). Contrast that with the first five games, when Tech managed just 22 percent (15-67).
CENTER OF ATTENTION
The anchor of the Georgia Tech offense is senior center Hugh Reilly, who was named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week after leading Tech to a 24-7 win at Wake Forest.
Reilly paved the way for a season-high 441 yards of total offense by the Yellow Jackets, including 175 yards rushing by P.J. Daniels. Tech sealed the win by grinding out an eight-minute touchdown drive in the fourth quarter; every play on the 16-play, 78-yard drive was on the ground.
A preseason nominee for the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center, Reilly has played every snap in Tech’s first eight games (526 offensive plays). He has started every game the last three seasons (34 straight games), starting at right guard in 2001 before moving to center in 2002.
SMITH CLIMBS RECEIVING LISTS
Senior wide receiver Jonathan Smith now ranks fourth in Georgia Tech history in both career receptions and career receiving yards with 141 catches for 1,868. He trails the triumverate of Kelly Campbell, Kerry Watkins and Harvey Middleton in both categories. Smith’s 10 touchdown receptions are tied for ninth in Tech annals.
TECH CAREER RECEPTIONS Years Rec1. Kelly Campbell 1998-01 1952. Kerry Watkins 1999-02 1713. Harvey Middleton 1994-97 1654. Jonathan Smith 2000- 141