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Tech Travels to No. 10 FSU in Prime Time

Sept. 7, 2003

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech (1-1) looks to build on the momentum of a very memorable win over 17th-ranked Auburn as the Yellow Jackets face their second consecutive ranked opponent with a trip to No. 10 Florida State (2-0) Saturday at 8 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium. Tech’s first Atlantic Coast Conference test of the season will be regionally televised on ABC-TV.

Tech evened its record at 1-1 with the 17-3 victory over the Tigers, who entered the season as the nation’s sixth-ranked team. The win was significant because it was Tech’s first over its long-time rival in 25 years, because it was the first game in the expanded and renovated Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, and because of the tremendous performance by the Rambling Wreck defense.

“A game is never as good as you thought after you watch the film,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey Sunday of his team’s performance. “We lacked some execution on offense, so we have room to improve, which is good.

“Now defensively, the effort was every bit as good as I thought. I told [defensive coordinator] Jon Tenuta that was the best defensive game plan and the best execution of a game plan that I think I’ve ever been around. There were so many positives on defense.”

The stars for the Tech defense were numerous, including sophomore defensive end Eric Henderson, who had three sacks, and senior linebackers Daryl Smith and Keyaron Fox.

Fox is Tech’s leading tackler with 27 hits, including three tackles for loss, while Smith has 16 tackles and two tackles for loss. Henderson leads the tam with five tackles for loss, including four sacks.

Freshman quarterback Reggie Ball has put up fairly modest passing numbers but he continues to impress with his poise and play-making ability. He has completed 24 of 45 passes (53.3 percent) for 296 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He is also Tech’s second-leading rusher with 65 yards on 14 carries.

The strength of the offense is a veteran offensive line, anchored by Dave Rimington Trophy candidate Hugh Reilly, Tech’s 6-4, 285-pound senior center. The unit also features two-time all-ACC left tackle Nat Dorsey, junior Kyle Wallace at right tackle, junior Andy Tidwell-Neal at left guard and sophomore Brad Honeycutt at right guard. Junior guard Leon Robinson, a starter last year, now comes off the bench.

Senior wide receiver Jonathan Smith and senior tight end John Paul Foschi are Ball’s primary receiving targets, but 11 different players have caught passes in the first two games. Smith had nine catches for 121 yards, while Foschi has three grabs for 14 yards.

Tailback P.J. Daniels, a sophomore, is Tech’s leading rusher with 97 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries. He is backed up by sophomores Ajenavi Eziemefe and Chris Woods, a transfer from Morris Brown.

Senior placekicker Dan Burnett is 3-for-3 on field goal tries, while senior punter Hal Higgins averages 37.9 yards per kick.

The Seminoles (2-0, 2-0 ACC) have been impressive in their opening victories over conference foes North Carolina and Maryland. In particular, Gailey mentioned the play of senior tailback Greg Jones, who has 147 yards and three touchdowns on just 22 carries (6.7-yard average) and the improvement of quarterback Chris Rix (33-for-55, 460 yards, 3 TD 1 int).

“Greg Jones is a big back, and the challenge of facing a big back is different,” said Gailey. “Chris Rix looks like he has proven that if you commit everything to stopping the run, he can make something happen throwing the football.

“But I know that you’d better not let Jones get a head of steam.”

THE SERIES VERSUS FLORIDA STATE

Florida State leads the series with Georgia Tech, 11-7-1. The Seminoles have won all 11 meetings since joining the ACC for the 1992 season, including a 21-13 victory last season in Atlanta and a 28-17 decision in 2001 in the last meeting at Tallahassee. The Yellow Jackets are 0-5 at FSU’s Doak Campbell Stadium.

Florida State is the only team in the ACC with a winning record against Georgia Tech.

Tech’s last win over the Seminoles was in 1975 with a 30-0 shutout at Grant Field in Atlanta.

LAST MEETING WITH THE SEMINOLES

In 2002 in Atlanta, Stanford Samuels had two interceptions, including a game-saving pick in the end zone with 20 seconds left as 17th-ranked Florida State held off Georgia Tech, 21-13, at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. Adrian McPherson threw two touchdown passes, including a 72-yarder to Craphonso Thorpe, and tailback Nick Maddox rushed for 122 yards, but Samuels’ interceptions proved to be the difference. He returned his first interception 82 yards for a touchdown. For Tech, quarterback A.J. Suggs completed 22 of 44 passes for 211 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to Levon Thomas, and Gordon Clinkscale rushed for 89 yards on 10 carries.

BEST DEFENSE VS. RANKED TEAM SINCE 1995

Georgia Tech’s defense keyed the Yellow Jackets’ 17-3 victory over 17th-ranked Auburn with Tech’s best defensive performance against a ranked opponent since 1995, both in terms of points and total yards allowed.

Defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta’s unit held the Tigers to just three points, the fewest points allowed by Tech against a ranked team since a 31-3 victory over then 16th-ranked Maryland in 1995. The 230 yards of total offense accumulated by Auburn are the fewest by a ranked team against the Jackets since 15th-ranked Arizona managed just 219 in 1995, although the Wildcats won that game, 20-19.

For the season, Tech is allowing 13.5 points (22nd in NCAA) and 63.0 yards rushing (17th in NCAA) per game.

“REG-GIE” BALL

Just two games into his college career, true freshman quarterback Reggie Ball has made a splash with his poise and play-making ability.

The first true freshman quarterback ever to start a Tech season opener, he completed 15 of 24 passes for 147 yards while rushing five times for 39 yards in his debut against Brigham Young. His most impressive play was a 33-yard down to the BYU four-yard line to set up a score.

Then Ball directed Tech to a win over 17th-ranked Auburn as he passed for 149 yards on just nine completions, including a 26-yard touchdown to Mark Logan. He set the tone for the game by completing a 54-yard strike to Nate Curry on Tech’s first offensive play, setting up a field goal.

NO ROOM TO RUN

Georgia Tech leads the ACC and ranks 17th nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 63.0 yards per game on the ground. The Yellow Jackets held Auburn to just 40 yards rushing, the lowest total by a Tech opponent since Georgia managed just 26 yards in 2000.

Tech’s defensive performance against Auburn also marks the seventh time in 15 games under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta that the Jackets have allowed fewer than 100 yards rushing.

COACHING CONNECTION

Georgia Tech assistant coach David Wilson previously served two one-year stints on the staff at Florida State in 1992 and 1996. The Seminoles finished 11-1 and ranked second in the nation both seasons he was on the staff, participating in the 1993 Orange Bowl and the 1997 Sugar Bowl.

FRESHMEN IN THE LINEUP

Eleven Georgia Tech true freshmen have played thus far. Ten played in the season opener, including two starters in quarterback Reggie Ball and defensive tackle Mansfield Wrotto.

Ball, Wrotto, linebacker Philip Wheeler and defensive end Joe Anoai are the only true freshmen to play on offense or defense. Seven other freshmen have played on special teams, including cornerback Kenny Scott, who blocked a punt that Tech recovered for a touchdown against BYU. Also playing on specials teams are linebackers, KaMichael Hall and Nick Moore, safety Joe Gaston, cornerbacks Brian Fleuridor and Sam Williams and receiver Chris Dunlap. Williams played for the first time against Auburn.

Tech’s 11 true freshmen are the most to see action for the Jackets since 1995, when 15 played.

SUNSHINE JACKETS

Eighteen Yellow Jackets hail from the state of Florida, more than any state other than Georgia. Nine of Tech’s 20 scholarship freshmen are Floridians.

Wide receiver Nate Curry (Miami) is the only starter from the Sunshine State. Reserve cornerback Venice Gilliam is from Tallahassee, where he attended Rickards High School.

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