Sept. 6, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
With one win in the books, Georgia Tech hits the road for the first time in 2014, playing guest in the inaugural game at Yulman Stadium, taking on the Green Wave of Tulane. Kickoff is at 4:00 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets will try to start the season 2-0 for the second straight season and the fifth time in Paul Johnson’s seven years on the Flats. It would be the fourth time they did so by winning on the road.
The Jackets are coming off a 38-19 win over Wofford last Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The game was one of two different halves, as Tech led only 10-9 at the break before controlling the final 30 minutes. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Justin Thomas completed 11 of 15 passes, for 282 yards and two scores in his first collegiate start. Both scores went to senior WR DeAndre Smelter, the second a spectacular 71-yard catch and run. Thomas led Tech with 71 rushing yards, while senior B-Back Zach Laskey added 70. Defensively, linebackers Demond Smith and Quayshawn Nealy led Tech with six stops apiece, while four different Jackets had TFLs, led by Shawn Green, who had a pair.
Head Coach Paul Johnson expects a big improvement in the quality of his team’s play in Week Two in response to the improved competition.
“Tulane’s a bowl team from a year ago and, if you watched their game against Tulsa, they had really every opportunity to win the game and probably should have won,” Johnson said. “So playing at their place in the first ever game in a new home stadium, I’m sure they’re going to be jacked up and it ought to be a fun atmosphere. Hopefully our guys are ready to go play.”
The Green Wave lost a heart-breaking 38-21 double-overtime decision at Tulsa in its season opener. The Green Wave blew a pair of 14-point leads and led by eight with 6:50 to play but allowed the Golden Hurricane to tie the game with 2:53 remaining.
After matching field goals in the first overtime, Tulsa scored a touchdown then got a stop. The Green Wave put up 516 yards of total offense, with a balanced attack — 254 rushing and 262 through the air — but the defense surrendered nearly 600 yards, 438 through the air.
Today’s game will be the first at brand new Yulman Field, and will be the first between the original members of the Southeastern Conference since 1982, Georgia Tech’s first in the ACC, and coincidentally, Tech Defensive Coordinator Ted Roof’s freshman season.
Here are some numbers to get you ready for the renewal of hostilities on the Bayou:
The Series: This is the 49th meeting between the schools. Georgia Tech holds an overwhelming 35-13 edge and is 15-9 in New Orleans. Tulane had won three of the last four meetings between the school prior to the 32-year hiatus.
.500 – Paul Johnson’s career winning percentage against Tulane. He is 2-2, with four games coming while coached Navy. Johnson was 2-0 at home, 0-2 on the road. None of the games was closer than 17 points.
2 – The school-record number of interceptions returned for scores by Tech on Oct. 22, 1966, a 35-17 Jackets win at Bobby Dodd. One of those was by Bill Eastman, a 99-yard return, the third-longest in school history. That record has been tied twice since, including in last year’s season opener against Elon. The 139 yards in interception returns in the ’66 game was the school-record until last year’s game with Elon.
2 – The school-record number of punts blocked in a game, set against Tulane on Oct. 28, 1961, a 35-0 shutout at Tulane Stadium. That record was matched on Nov. 13, 2004 against Connecticut. The two blocked kicks tie for the most by Tech in a game. It’s something they’ve done nine times, twice against Tulane. The Jackets blocked a punt and a PAT in the ‘57 game.
3 – The school-record number of Yellow Jackets to throw a TD pass in a game on Oct. 27, 1956 renewal, a 40-0 whitewash of the No. 15 Green Wave by the No. 3 Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd. That record was matched against North Carolina on Nov. 17, 2007. The 40 points are the ninth-most the Jackets have ever scored against a ranked team.
2 – The number of kickoffs returned more than 90 yards for a touchdown all-time by Georgia Tech against Tulane. It’s something the Jackets have done 10 times in their history but Tulane is the only school to be victimized twice (in 1957 and 1961). Gerry Bussell went 93 yards in 1962 and Lester Simerville went 91 in 1957.
2 – The school-record number of defensive touchdowns scored by Rick Lewis in the 1970 game with Tulane. Lewis outscored the Green Wave in a 20-6 Tech victory.
4.0 – The career-high number of tackles made by redshirt sophomore Nose Tackle Patrick Gamble last week against Wofford.
7 – The number of times in the Paul Johnson Era when Georgia Tech has amassed more yards in the air than on the ground. The Jackets did that against Wofford, gaining 282 passing yards vs. 226 on the ground.
8 – The streak of consecutive completed passes Justin Thomas carries into today’s game. Hitting his final eight passes was a nice finish to a game in which Thomas started 3-for-7.
14 – The number of players that made their collegiate debut last week against Wofford. That included seven true freshmen and six players making their first start.
5 – The number of tackles made by Rook-Chungong. Four of those stops were solos.
19 – The number of tackles made by Duane Wood in the Oct. 25, 1980 game against Tulane. It ties for sixth-most in school history. Wood would match that total the following season against Navy.
6 – The number of completions by Georgia Tech against Tulane on Oct. 26, 1974 and Oct. 28, 1967. The former resulted in the sixth-best completion percentage day in school history (6-for-7, .857), while the latter is tied for the worst day with at least 20 attempts (6-for-22, .273). As you might have guessed, Tech won in ‘74 and lost in ‘67.
5/132 – The career-high number of receptions and receiving yards by Smelter.
25 – The current team-high number of starts made by RG Shaq Mason heading into today’s game.
60.2 – Georgia Tech’s school-record kickoff return average in the Oct. 26, 1957 game against Tulane. The yardage, on two kickoff returns, helped key a 20-13 win at Tulane Stadium.
28.0 – Jamal Golden’s kickoff return average last week against Wofford. In his first game back after missing nearly all of 2013, Golden took five kickoffs 140 yards. That included a huge 40-yard return at the end of the first half, with GT down 9-7 that helped the Jackets regain a 10-9 lead at the break.
70 – The career-high number of receiving yards by A-Back Tony Zenon last week. Zenon, a New Orleans native, did the damage on three receptions.
75 – The number of rushing attempts by Georgia Tech in the Oct. 25, 1975 game with Tulane. It’s the seventh-most carries in a game in school history and was part of a 23-0 win at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
78 – The number of rushing yards Zach Laskey would need to move past Glenn Turner and into 30th place all-time in Georgia Tech’s all-time rushing list. That’s only eight yards more than he gained last week.
353 – The number of yards of total offense accounted for by QB Justin Thomas.
518 – The number of yards Tech ran for against Tulane on Oct. 22, 1977. It’s the third-most productive day on the ground in school history. The Jackets won, 38-14, that day at the Superdome.
10 Things To Know About Tulane [including one Mad (Men) fact]
.588 – Tulane’s all-time winning percentage in home-openers. The Green Wave is 68-47-4 in its first home game. Current Head Coach Curtis Johnson has split his first two home openers with Tulane.
.614 – Tulane’s all-time winning percentage in home games played on their campus. They were 255-154-34 when playing host from 1893 through 1974. But it’s been 40 years since the Green Wave last hosted a football game on its campus, as after playing at Tulane Stadium from 1926 through 1974, the Green Wave played nearly all of its home games at the Superdome, beginning in 1974.
.389 – Tulane’s all-time record against current Atlantic Coast Conference teams. The Green Wave is 60-95-3 vs. the ACC.
50 – The successful conversion rate by Tulsa last week against Tulane on third and fourth down. The Golden Hurricane was 10-for-20 overall, going 9-for-19 (47 percent) on third down and 1-for-1 on fourth.
9 – The number of penalties by the Green Wave in last week’s loss at Tulsa. The dirty laundry cost the Green Wave 96 yards. Georgia Tech was flagged five times for 46 yards against Wofford.
38 – The number of years since Tulane last started a freshman quarterback in its season opener. Tanner Lee had quite a day, going 22-for-44 for 262 yards, with three touchdown passes against only one INT. The three scoring aerials are the most in a game by a TU freshman since Ryan Griffin threw for three against Rice on Nov. 14, 2009.
215 – The number of rushing yards by redshirt freshman running back Sherman Badie on 15 carries in his collegiate debut. That’s a not-too-shabby 14.3 yards per carry. The 215 yards were only six yards short of the school record, set by Matt Forte vs. Army on Nov. 16, 2004, and was the sixth-most yards in the nation in Week One. One of those carries resulted in a 90-yard scamper for a touchdown, the longest scoring run in the country and the longest by a Tulane back in 21 years (Jerald Sowell, 96 yards at Alabama on Sept. 4, 1993).
14/11 – The number of tackles and solo tackles made by senior free safety Sam Scofield last week. That was more than double the nearest Tulane defender. Last season, Scofield led the team with 104 stops, including 9.5 for loss.
1,546 – The combined weight of Tulane’s starting offensive line, an average of 309.2 pounds per starter. The group includes redshirt junior LT Arturo Uzdavinis (6-7, 307), redshirt sophomore LG Colton Hanson (6-5, 311), redshirt sophomore C Nathan Shienle (6-5, 309), sophomore RG Chris Taylor (6-2, 312), and redshirt senior RT Sean Donnelly (6-8, 307). Tech’s front four (redshirt sophomore DE Tyler Stargel, junior DT Adam Gotsis, redshirt senior Shawn Green, and redshirt sophomore Rod Rook-Chungong) weighs in at 1,047 pounds, an average of 261.8 pounds, with Gotsis the heavyweight at 282 pounds.
1985 – The year that actor Bryan Batt, who will sing the National Anthem today, graduated from Tulane. Batt, a New Orleans native, is better known as Salvatore Romano on the AMC series Mad Men.
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