Sept. 2, 2012
HOW TO FOLLOW IT
It’s Monday Night Football college style as Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech cap the season’s opening weekend in a battle of ACC Coastal Division titans. Although Hank Williams, Jr., won’t be singing the intro, you can find the game on ESPN. It’s also available via the WatchESPN app on your mobile device. Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman and Quint Kessenich will call the game on the Worldwide Leader. As always, you can hear Wes Durham and Rick Strom on the Georgia Tech IMG Sports Network – in Atlanta on 790AM and 106.7FM, on Sirius/XM Channel 86, or check the radio affiliate list.
You can also follow @gtathletics for in-game updates on Twitter and use the hashtag #GTVT12 for in-game discussion.
WHEN TO WATCH
Official kickoff is set for 8:01 p.m. Eastern Time.
MATCH-UPS TO WATCH
Tech’s offense vs. Tech’s defense. Wait, what? OK, the Yellow Jackets’ offense versus the Hokies’ defense. Georgia Tech returns 75 percent of its rushing offense from a unit that finished second nationally at 316.5 yards per game last season. Dual-threat senior QB Tevin Washington averaged 75.9 yards per game, and senior A-Back Orwin Smith racked up a 51.2 rushing average per game, and more staggering, a 10.1-yards PER CARRY average. The duo combined for 25 of Tech’s 45 rushing scores. The Jackets’ spread option attack is countered by a defensive unit that many consider one of the best in Frank Beamer’s tenure in Blacksburg. It’ll start up front, with junior end James Gayle, who is coming off an All-ACC campaign in 2011. At 260-pounds, Gayle can run (was clocked at 4.44 in the 40 during the off-season), and had opponents on the run last season with 12.5 TFL, seven sacks and 20 QB hurries.
Special Teams. Georgia Tech hired special team coordinator David Walkosky in the off-season, marking the first person to hold that position in Paul Johnson’s five years on the Flats. It’ll be no easy welcome for Walkosky, as he faces a VT team that has made good special teams play its calling card (they call it “BeamerBall” up here). Since Beamer took the helm in 1987, the Hokies have scored 130 special teams or defensive TDs, including 113 in the past 232 games. Here’s another nugget to chew on… the Hokies own the nation’s longest active streak of not allowing a kickoff return for touchdown at 233 games (the next closest streak is 136 games by San Diego State).
Quarterbacks. The ACC is home to a wealth of returning talent at the quarterback position — and two of the best will be on display at Lane Stadium in Tevin Washington and Logan Thomas. Washington is coming off a season in which he rushed for 987 yards, threw for 1,652 yards and accounted for 25 TDs (14 rushing, 11 passing). The fifth-year senior, who saw his first significant collegiate action at Lane Stadium in 2010 when then-starter Joshua Nesbitt broke his arm, enters this season in the top 15 in six different career stat categories at Georgia Tech. Thomas, meanwhile, threw for 3,000 yards last season, and tied VT’s school record for rushing TDs by a quarterback with 11.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“I think you approach it just like you would any opening game. We haven’t changed the way we try to get ready to go play. You get ready for the systems. Certainly they’ve got a talented quarterback who is a great player…They’re very multiple, so it gives us a chance to cover a lot of different areas and things that they may do.”
–Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson on Virginia Tech
“I feel like that’s just our way, as a senior class and also as the Georgia Tech football team, to acknowledge to him that we appreciate everything you did for us, wish you could be out there with us.”
–Georgia Tech senior QB Tevin Washington on the team’s decision to honor injured linebacker Julian Burnett. The Jackets will have one player per week wear Burnett’s No. 40 during a game. Burnett suffered a career-ending injury in last year’s Sun Bowl.
“I tend to do better when pressure is on me. I like to live for the big moment.”
–Virginia Tech true freshman punter A.J. Hughes, who won the team’s starting job in preseason camp. VT was ranked 108th in punting last season.
“You see this offense once a year and having a little extra time to work on that part of it I do think that is a benefit. The other thing is no matter who you put out there, our scout team can’t run it like their team, that’s for sure. When you get on the field with it live, things happen fast. So it takes a little getting used to even at the game, I think.”
–Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer on Georgia Tech’s spread option offense
SIMILAR SOUR TASTES
Both Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech each ended their 2011 seasons on similar sour notes in bowl games. The Jackets were ousted by Utah, 30-27, in overtime at the Hyundai Sun Bowl, while the Hokies were dumped in overtime by Michigan, 23-20, in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Field goal kicking was critical in each as GT missed a 48-yarder at the buzzer that would have won it, while VT missed a field goal on its first possession of overtime.
On a more un-sour note, Monday’s meeting features teams with two of the longest active bowl-appearances streaks. Virginia Tech’s 19-straight bowls is the third-longest in the nation, while Georgia Tech’s 15-straight appearances is the next longest.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Georgia Tech has played just one previous time in its history on Sept. 3 — also on the road, also in a hostile environment, also against a team ranked 16th in the AP poll, also when the Jackets were not ranked. That was Sept. 3, 2005, when the Yellow Jackets swarmed Jordan-Hare Stadium and handed 16th-ranked Auburn a 23-14 setback in front of 87,451. The Hokies have already announced a sellout at Lane Stadium, which seats 65,632.
PICK A WINNER
Tech. Couldn’t resist.
Jeremiah Attaochu is 18 tackles shy of 100 for his career… Izaan Cross is 17 tackles shy of 100 for his career… The next tackle by Isaiah Johnson will be the 125th of his career… Charles Perkins needs five yards rushing to surpass the 100-yard mark for his career… Sean Poole needs five yards to surpass 2,500 punting yards for his career… Orwin Smith needs 143 kick-return yards to reach the 1,500-yard career mark… Tevin Washington is 369 yards shy of surpassing the 4,000-yard mark for career total offense… Izaan Cross and Orwin Smith will play their 40th career games on Monday night.