Oct. 10, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Off to its best start in three years and back in the top 25 for the first time since 2011, Georgia Tech looks to make it three straight ACC wins when it takes on defending ACC Coastal Division champion Duke. Kickoff on Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field is set for 12:30 p.m. The game can be seen on the ACC Network (WUPA, The CW69 in Atlanta).
A win would give the Yellow Jackets undisputed possession of first place in the Coastal, as Virginia, the only other undefeated team in the division, has its bye week, and, in effect, would give the Jackets a three-game edge on the Blue Devils. Head Coach Paul Johnson reinforced to his team just how much is at stake.
“As I told our guys, ‘Okay, you’ve worked five weeks to get there. If you don’t take care of business you’ll be gone in one,’” said Johnson at his weekly press conference. “I know Duke doesn’t beat themselves. They’ve got a lot of veteran guys, it’s going to be a hard-fought game. It’s going to be a dogfight.”
The Jackets played what may have been their most complete game of the season last Saturday, taking care of Miami, 28-17, at Bobby Dodd Stadium. In its first win over The U in six years, Tech dominated time of possession (40:45-19:15), number of offensive plays (72-44) and rushing yards (318-107), to overcome a pair of first-quarter deficits and overwhelm the Hurricanes on Whiteout night. Zach Laskey ran for a career-high-tying 133 yards on a career-high 29 attempts, to spearhead a Georgia Tech offense that was 9-for-14 on third down. Tech also came up big on fourth, as punter Ryan Rodwell ran for 10 yards with a fake punt to gain a first down and, in the fourth, A-Back Deon Hill went the distance on fourth-and-two from the eight to put the game on ice. The defense stepped up, as Paul Davis recorded a team-high nine tackles (all solo), and safeties Isaiah Johnson and Jamal Golden each made a key interception to snuff out Miami drives. The ‘Canes were 1-for-5 on third down all day, and had only three possessions and ran only 24 plays in the second half.
The Blue Devils, who are coming off a bye, also played Miami in their last game, but didn’t fare nearly as well as Georgia Tech, falling 22-10 at Sun Life Stadium. Duke was held to 264 yards of total offense, only 85 on the ground in 25 attempts, and was 2-for-16 on third down. Quarterback Anthony Boone was 22-for-51, with a pair of interceptions and running back Shaquille Powell ran for a team-high 58 yards. The Devils trailed 9-0 after one, and while they were within a field goal at the break, at 9-7, but could never take the lead, hindered by the ‘Canes defense and even the elements, as a torrential second-half rain limited both teams in the second half. Defensively, redshirt junior safety Jeremy Cash had 10 tackles, while senior middle linebacker David Helton had nine (five solo), giving him 156 for his career, third among active FBS players.
Johnson likes where his team is and believes the team likes where it is as well.
“They’re resilient. Nothing much seems to affect them. We get behind and nothing changes. No panic. They just kind of keep playing,” he said. “That’s a good trait to have. I think the chemistry’s good, I think they like each other, I think they like what we do. They enjoy doing it and they’re having fun with it. When you do that you can get better at it. I think they’ve gotten better each week.”
Here is some numerical fodder to help you get better prepared for Saturday’s run-in with the Devils.
The Series: This is the 82nd meeting in a series that dates back to 1933 and is the third-most-frequently played series in Georgia Tech history. Tech holds a 50-30-1 overall edge, and has dominated of late, having won 10 straight meetings and 18 of 19. The Yellow Jackets are 28-12-1 against the Blue Devils in games played in Atlanta and have won nine straight at Bobby Dodd.
.231 – The percentage of Georgia Tech’s offensive drives considered “Methodical Drives” (drives that have gone at least 10 plays) according to the Fremeau Efficiency Index. According to FEI, that’s tops in the ACC and seventh in the nation
.535 – Georgia Tech’s offensive efficiency according to FEI. That’s also tops in the ACC and 12th in the country.
.688 – GT’s conversion rate on third and fourth down against Miami. The Yellow Jackets earned a new set of downs on nine of 14 third down situations and were 2-for-2 on fourth.
.857 – Georgia Tech’s conversion rate on fourth down for the season. The Jackets are 6-for-7 after the Miami game.
0 – The number of misses in 23 career kicks against Duke by former Georgia Tech kicker Luke Manget. Manget was 17-for-17 on PATs, including nailing all six tries in the 2000 game, and was 6-for-6 on field goals. Manget will be inducted into the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame Friday night. The entire class of six, including Manget’s teammate James Butler, Michael Johnson (track and field), Alvin Jones (basketball), Lynnette Moster (volleyball) and Bryan Prince (baseball), will be honored at halftime.
19/9/2/1 – The number of career tackles, solo tackles, tackles for loss and forced fumbles by James Butler against Duke. The former free safety and Class of ’14 Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame member, had his best game against the Blue Devils on Nov. 8, 2003, recording 11 tackles (five solo) and two TFLs, for minus-3 yards.
3.46 – Georgia Tech’s points per possession this season. The Yellow Jackets have scored 173 points on 50 possessions (that does not include four ending a half or game, when they weren’t attempting to score). Opponents are averaging 2.43 ppp (119 on 49 drives).
2 – The school-record number of forced fumbles by Maxie Baughan in the 1959 game against Duke. It was the first time a Yellow Jacket had two FF’s in the same game. The record has since been tied eight times, including on Nov. 20, 2010 by Jerrard Tarrant against Duke, and most recently by D.J. White, last Dec. 30 against Ole Miss in last year’s Music City Bowl.
3 – The number of Georgia Tech coaches since 1957 that have started a season 5-0. Bobby Dodd did it twice, in 1964, and ’66, then Bobby Ross, in 1990, and now, for the second time, Paul Johnson (2011, ’14). Tech’s record against Duke in those seasons is 4-0.
3/47/2 – The number of receptions, yards and touchdowns by DeAndre Smelter in his first ACC game, last year’s 38-14 win over Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium. Smelter’s two TD catches, went for 24 and 10 yards, both in the second quarter and broke open a 10-7 game, giving the Jackets a 24-7 halftime edge.
4 – The number of career 100-yard rushing games by B-Back Zach Laskey. Laskey had to work for number four, last week against Miami, carrying a career-high 29 times but it was worth it, as he tied his career-best day, gaining 133 yards.
4 – The number of times Georgia Tech’s offense has gone three-and-out in 2014.
8 – The number of times Georgia Tech’s defense has forced opponents into a three-and-out, or what Paul Johnson calls the “Cha-cha-cha.” That includes a crucial one late in the Virginia Tech game that got Tech the ball back and resulted in the game-tying touchdown.
5 – The number of interceptions by Georgia Tech over the last two weeks. They had three over the first three weeks, all of them in Week 2, at Tulane.
5 – Georgia Tech’s ACC-leading plus-margin on turnovers. The Jackets are plus-5 (nine turnovers caused vs. four turnovers), tied with Virginia (19-14).
9 – The number of different Georgia Tech players that have created their nine turnovers this season — ILB Quayshawn Nealy, free safety Jamal Golden, cornerback Lawrence Austin, cornerback D.J. White, strong safety Isaiah Johnson, free safety Demond Smith, WILL Linebacker Paul Davis and free safety Corey Griffin each have an interception, while defensive end KeShun Freeman has the team’s lone fumble recovery.
6 – The number of tackles redshirt senior Isaiah Johnson needs to make to move past Riccardo Ingram (1984-87) and into undisputed possession of 10th place in Georgia Tech history for career tackles by defensive backs. Johnson has 16 stops on the season and has 227 for his career, tying him for 11th with Cleve Pounds (1982-85). Johnson had five tackles (all solo) last week against Miami.
9 – The career-high-tying number of tackles by linebacker Paul Davis last week against The U. The nine stops, all solo and including one TFL (a sack), matched his career-best set a week earlier at Virginia Tech.
9.3 – Redshirt-senior A-Back Charles Perkins’ yards per carry last week against Miami, when he ran for a career high 65 yards. Perkins is averaging better than a first down every time he carries the ball, gaining 11.0 ypc.
10 – The number of yards quarterback Justin Thomas needs to move into undisputed possession of eighth place on the career quarterbacks rushing list. He enters Saturday’s game with 740 yards, six behind Billy Lothridge (1961-63) and nine behind Donnie Davis (1992-95). Should Thomas match his career-high of 165 rushing yards or even the 137-yard effort against Georgia Southern, he also would pass Shawn Jones (1989-92), who ranks seventh with 855 yards.
29 – The number of games in the series against Duke in which Georgia Tech has had a 100-yard rusher. That’s the most against any team, seven more than the next nearest opponent (Virginia and North Carolina).
66 – The length of Sean Poole’s punt in the 2013 game against Duke. It’s the last time a Yellow Jackets punter hit a 60-yarder. Current punter Ryan Rodwell has punts of at least 50 yards in each of the last two games, including a 54-yarder at Virginia Tech.
99 – The number of yards Ken Swilling went with an interception of a Steve Prince pass to gain a defensive point on an extra point in the Oct. 28, 1989 renewal. It’s the last time Georgia Tech scored on a defensive PAT. No opponent has ever scored on a Jackets point after.
127 – The number of rushing yards Laskey would need to tie Joe Hamilton for 19th place in career yards. The senior B-Back brings 1,631 yards into Saturday’s game.
230 – The number of receiving yards by Demaryius Thomas on Oct. 4, 2008 in the 27-0 whitewash of Duke. It’s the second-most receiving yards in a game in school history and was the last time a Yellow Jacket had a 200-yard receiving game. Thomas caught all nine completions that day by QB Jaybo Shaw, who was making his collegiate debut.
88 – The number of yards on the touchdown connection between Shaw and Thomas in the game. It’s the third-longest play in Georgia Tech history.
321 – The number of yards of total offense by quarterback Tevin Washington in the 2011 game against Duke. It’s the last time a Yellow Jacket accounted for 300 yards of total offense and was the third of four times Washington had 100 yards rushing and 100 yards passing in the same game. Washington had 136 rushing yards on 17 carries, with a long of 39 and a touchdown and hit 6-of-13 passes for 185 yards, with a long of 56 yards in the 38-31 win.
416 – The number of passing yards by Darrell Gast in the 1987 game against Duke. That’s the third-most passing yardage in a game by a Yellow Jackets QB.
10 Things To Know About Duke (including why the Blue Devils hope to party like it’s 1994)
.750 – The winning percentage for Duke under David Cutcliffe when scoring at least 30 points. The Blue Devils are 27-9 when hitting 30 points, 4-0 this season. Heading into 2014, Duke has averaged north of 30 points in back-to-back years (31.54 in 2012, 32.79 in 2013) and currently ranks third in the ACC, scoring 36.8 ppg. Prior to Cutcliffe’s arrival in 2008, the Blue Devils had three seasons in school history averaging better than 30.0 ppg, and only one season post-WWII, 1994, when the Blue Devils hit 30.00, even.
.933 – Duke quarterback Anthony Boone’s winning percentage as a starter in regular season play. The redshirt-senior is 14-1 at the reins, with his only loss coming to Miami on Sept. 27. Overall, Boone is 14-3 as a starter, an .824 winning percentage, having also lost, 45-7 to Florida State, in last season’s ACC Championship game, then 52-48 to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Only Worth Lutz, who was 11-2 from 1951-54 (.846) has a higher winning percentage than Boone’s .824. Boone was named to the preseason Manning Award, Maxwell Award, and O’Brien Award watch lists. Thus far in five games he is seventh in the ACC in passing yardage per game (211.0) and ninth in pass efficiency (114.5), and total offense (230.8 ypg).
3.00 – The number of TFLs per game allowed by Duke’s offensive line. That’s tops in the ACC, tied with NC State, and tied for fourth in the nation. The Blue Devils have allowed only 15 plays all season that have resulted in losses.
5 – Senior Jamison Crowder’s rank all-time in ACC history in receptions. Crowder, who broke the conference single-season record last year with 108 catches, has 227 for his career, including a team-high 29 this season. The 29 catches are good for second in the ACC, while 68.6 yards per game rank fifth. His 19 career touchdowns put him sixth all-time in school history.
7 – The number of consecutive games in which redshirt-junior safety Jeremy Cash has at least half a tackle for loss dating back to 2013. Cash leads the Blue Devils with 5.0 TFLs this season, accounting for minus-15 yards in losses, and he’s the only Duke player with a TFL in every game. He also had 10 tackles (all solo) against Miami, giving him double-digit stops in three straight games.
12.1 – The FBS-leading yards per rush average of true freshman running back Shaun Wilson. Wilson leads the Blue Devils with 435 yards on the ground (87.0 yards per game), and his four rushing touchdowns and a long run of 69 yards, both are team highs. Wilson came to light on Sept. 13 against Kansas, when he lit up the Jayhawks for 245 yards (43 more than Kansas’ team) on 12 carries, and ran for touchdowns of 69, 68 and 45 yards. The 245 yards are a school single-game rushing record, (passing Robert Baldwin, who ran for 238 yards on Sept. 3, 1994 against Maryland in a season-opening 49-16 win), and ranks fourth all-time among ACC freshmen and 27th in ACC history. The 69-yard run also ranks second in Duke history for a freshman, behind Re’quan Boyette, who went 78 yards against Florida State on Oct. 22, 2005, and tying Chris Douglas’ run Nov. 18, 2000, vs. UNC.
18 – The number of quarters out of 20 in which Duke has scored. Their biggest quarter is the second, in which they’ve outscored opponents, 55-10. They also have finished strong, holding an 86-29 edge in the second half, 48-16 in the third quarter. The only two quarters Duke hasn’t scored this season came in the first and fourth quarters of its last game at Miami.
83 – The number of consecutive PATs made by junior kicker Ross Martin. That’s one off the school record held by his predecessor, Will Snyderwine (from 2009 through 2011). Martin also is 7-for-7 on field goals, one of only eight FBS kickers yet to miss a kick in 2014. Of those eight, only four have more attempts than Martin.
13.6 – The number of points per game Duke’s defense has allowed. That’s second in the ACC behind only Louisville’s 12.7 ppg. Against “Power Five” schools that average drops to 12.50, fourth in the nation.
68 – The number of points allowed by the Blue Devils over their first five games. It’s the third-lowest total allowed by Duke through five games since the start of the 1970 season and is the fewest points allowed by a Blue Devils squad since 1994.
And on a related note…
20 – The number of years since Duke last beat Georgia Tech in Atlanta, a 27-12 win on Sept. 24, 1994. Fred Goldsmith was Duke’s head coach and the win came a year after a young coach named Ted Roof, who had been linebackers coach, left to become the Defensive Coordinator at UMass.
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