Nov. 15, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
No. 22 Georgia Tech puts its three-game winning streak on the line when it closes out its 2014 ACC schedule, hosting No. 19 Clemson. The game, which can be seen on ESPN, kicks off at noon.
The Yellow Jackets, who remain in second in the Coastal, behind Duke, and two games (both in the win column) ahead of third-place Miami, will try to keep the pressure on the Blue Devils, who kick off at the same time against Virginia Tech, while the Hurricanes have a prime-time kickoff hosting Florida State.
The Jackets hit 56 for the second time in three week last Saturday, crushing NC State, 56-23, in Raleigh, ruining the Wolfpack’s Homecoming game. B-Back Synjyn Days had another monster game, rushing for 157 yards and a touchdown, while the quarterback tandem of Tim Byerly and Justin Thomas ran for three scores — Byerly two and Thomas one. The defense also got into the act, as junior corner D.J. White recorded the first pick six of his career and senior LB Quayshawn Nealy returned a fumble for a score. Before his return, Nealy made a key second-quarter interception that preserved Tech’s 14-13 lead. Although he was stripped from behind on the return, a fumble recovered by State, White stepped up two plays later, stepping in and picking off a Jacoby Brissett pass and taking it to the house, putting Tech up 21-13. The Jackets weren’t challenged after that. Nealy returned a fumble for a score on the next drive to put away the ‘pack.
The Tigers won their sixth straight game and kept the pressure on Atlantic-leading Florida State, beating a game Wake Forest team, 34-20, in Winston Salem last Thursday night. Clemson, which is 6-1, a half-game behind the Seminoles, trailed 7-0 after one quarter, was tied 17-17 at the half and held a slim 20-17 lead after three before breaking the game open in the fourth. QB Cole Stoudt threw for 282 yards, hitting 27 of 42 passes, with three TD passes, including a 68-yarder to freshman Artavis Scott for the winning score early in the fourth.
While the Jackets no longer play within the Coastal Division, Head Coach Paul Johnson realizes the competition ramps up big time against talented Clemson.
“We’ve got a tremendous challenge with a team that is just loaded with four- and five-star players,” said Johnson. “They’ve got the number one total defense in the country, number one in third down defense. Offensively they get their freshman phenom quarterback back. I’m sure they’re excited about that. It’ll be a huge challenge for us. We are looking forward to the game. We are excited to have chance to play them here in Atlanta. Hopefully we can be competitive.”
Here are some numerical nuggets to get you ready for Senior Day.
Today is the 80th game in the series that dates back to 1898. Georgia Tech holds a resounding 50-27-2 edge and is 43-13-2 at home, having won four straight at Bobby Dodd.
.500 – The percentage of games under Paul Johnson in which Georgia Tech has rushed for 300 yards. The Jackets have hit three bills on the ground in 45 of 90 games and are 36-9 in those games. They’re 11-2 the last 13 times they’ve done so.
.717 – The winning percentage of Paul Johnson-coached FBS teams when rushing for 300 yards. Navy and GT are a combined 71-18.
.760 – The winning percentage for Georgia Tech in home games in the series against Clemson. Tech is 43-13-2 all-time at home.
1 – Georgia Tech’s national ranking in rushing touchdowns. GT has rushed for 34 scores in 2014, with 10 different players getting in, led by Tim Byerly (seven).
2 – The Yellow Jackets’ rank in rushing yards per game (335.6). Tech is one of four FBS teams averaging 300 yards on the ground per game.
5 – The number of blocked kicks by the Yellow Jackets this season. That’s second in the nation, one behind Eastern Michigan. Chris Milton has two of them, while Matt Connors, Adam Gotsis and KeShun Freeman each have one.
5 – The number of blocked kicks over the last two seasons by Milton.
6 – The number of Georgia Tech quarterbacks that have rushed for 1,000 yards in their career. Justin Thomas became No. 6 last week against NC State. He begins play Saturday with 1,015 yards.
6.4 – The number of rushing attempts it takes for Tim Byerly to score a touchdown. Byerly has scored seven times this season on 45 carries.
219 – The number of rushing yards Thomas needs to become the second quarterback in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
4 – The number of times out of the previous six meetings that Georgia Tech has beaten Clemson when both teams are ranked.
4 – The number of career defensive touchdowns by Nealy.
4 – The number of consecutive years that Nealy has picked off at least two passes.
4 – The rank for Georgia Tech-Clemson as far as frequency of games.
6 – Georgia Tech’s edge in scoring in the third quarter (63-57). It’s the Yellow Jackets’ lowest edge in any quarter and the 63 points are the fewest by Tech in a period. The third is the only quarter in which they haven’t scored 100 points.
57 – The number of points Georgia Tech has allowed in both the third and fourth quarters. It’s the opponents’ lowest-scoring quarters.
4 – The number of second-half quarters out of 20 that the Jackets defense has allowed more than one score. Two of those came October 18th at North Carolina. None have come since then.
3 – The number of second-half quarters that Georgia Tech has not scored. Two of those three were followed by double-digit fourth quarters.
1 – The number of games in which an opponent has outgained GT in total offense. Only Virginia Tech (9/20) managed to do so (424 to 375) but still lost the game.
8 – The number of yards wide receiver DeAndre Smelter needs to reach 1,000 career-receiving yards. He’d be the 21st receiver to reach that mark.
8.0/3.5 – The team-high number of tackles for loss and sacks by freshman KeShun Freeman.
9/77 – The team-high number of tackles against NC State and for the season by sophomore WILL Linebacker P.J. Davis.
10 – The nation-leading number of consecutive games in which Georgia Tech has rushed for at least 200 yards.
10 – QB Justin Thomas’ differential in touchdowns vs. interceptions. Thomas has thrown for 14 scores vs. four picks. Last year he had one TD vs. two INTs.
11.0 – Georgia Tech’s average gain on third-and-long plays (plays of 7-9 yards). That’s second in the FBS.
15 – Georgia Tech’s edge in big plays over the last four games (26-15). Tech has a 2-1 edge (18-9) over the last three games.
25 – The number of rushing yards B-Back Synjyn Days needs to become the 45th 1,000-yard rusher in school history. He’d be the second in two weeks, as Thomas became No. 44 last week in Raleigh.
503 – Days’ rushing yardage in 2014. He had 472 coming into 2014. His next touchdown would match his career best of four, set in 2011 and 2013.
52 – The number of return yards Jamal Golden needs to surpass his season-best yardage total set in 2012. Golden had 652 yards on 23 returns in 2012. He begins play against Clemson with 571 on 21 attempts.
61 – The number of yards wide receiver DeAndre Smelter needs to reach 1,000 career-receiving yards. He’d be the 21st receiver to reach that mark.
102 – The number of yards B-Back Zach Laskey needs to set his career season high. He has 595 on 120 carries this season. In 2012 he ran 133 times for 697 yards.
101 – The number of points Georgia Tech has scored of turnovers this season. That’s the most since Tech scored 100 in 2000.
70 – The Yellow Jackets’ edge in points off turnovers. That’s the greatest differential since 2000.
15 – The number of opponents’ turnovers cashed in for scores of the 21 gained. Tech has put 14 of those in the end zone.
10 Things To Know About Clemson (and why this is the decade of the Tigers)
.5 – The percentage of times Clemson has scored within the first five minutes this season. Four of those early scores came on the ground (D.J. Howard from one yard out 4:14 in vs. Georgia, Adam Humphries from the two 2:25 in vs. South Carolina State), two came on long pass plays (Germone Hopper a 74-yard connection with Deshaun Watson 2:26 in vs. North Carolina and Mike Williams a 56-yard pass from Watson 2:22 in vs. NC State) and the other came on a 72-yard punt return by Humphries 1:20 in vs. Louisville.
1 – The number of opponents to NOT go three-and-out on their first series against the Clemson defense. The first team to do it was Wake Forest in last week’s game.
4 – The number of freshmen in Clemson history to have back-to-back 100-yard rushing games. Wayne Gallman became the fourth to do it last week, when he gained 106 yards at Wake Forest the week after going for 101 against Syracuse. The previous first-year Tiger to go for back-to-back 100-yard games was C.J. Spiller, who went for 150 yards back to back against NC State and South Carolina. James Davis did it in 2005 (145 vs. South Carolina, 150 vs. Colorado) while Ronald Williams did it first in 1990 (128 vs. Georgia, 108 against Georgia Tech).
6.56 – The number of three-and-outs per game forced by Clemson’s defense. That’s third in the nation. Tigers’ opponents have failed to gain a first down 59 times in nine games.
7 – The number of school records freshman QB Deshaun Watson set Sept. 27 vs. North Carolina. Watson set school marks for TD passes (6), yards passing by a freshman (435), total offense by a freshman (463), yards passing in Memorial Stadium (435), touchdown responsibility in a game for a freshman (6), yards passing in a season by a freshman (914) and touchdown passes in a season by a true freshman (10). He also set four ACC records — single-game total offense by a freshman (463), TD passes by a freshman (6), touchdown passes (No. 6), TD passes in a first start (6).
7 – The number of times in school history that Clemson has posted a perfect October and November. The Tigers are 5-0 heading into Saturday’s game (they’ll still have games with Georgia State and South Carolina after Georgia Tech). The last time Clemson went perfect the final two months was in 1983 under Danny Ford, his third of three-straight seasons doing so.
10 – The number of receptions in back-to-back games by freshman Artavis Scott earlier this year against Louisville (10 for 66 yards on Oct. 11) and at Boston College (10 for 72 on Oct. 18). He is the only player in Clemson history to do that. He also became the second freshman receiver in CU history to catch two TD passes in the same game after catching two scoring passes at Wake (Sammy Watkins is the other).
11 – The number of years since Clemson last won at Georgia Tech. The Tigers won 39-3 on Sept. 20, 2003 but have gone 0-4 since.
20.4 – The nation-leading yards per reception by sophomore wide receiver Mike Williams. Williams, who went for back-to-back six-reception, 120-plus-yards days and three in four weeks, is averaging 18.76 yards per catch for his career. That’s good for fourth all-time in school history behind only Martavis Bryant (22.20 from 2011-13), Joe Blalock (20.34 from 1939-41) and Gary Cooper (20.15, 1985-89).
29 – The career-high number of sacks by senior DE Vic Beasley. The Consensus All-American from Adairsville, Ga., recorded No. 29 on Oct. 11 against Louisville, passing Michael Dean Perry (1984-87) and Gaines Adams (2003-06). His 221 yards in losses are 32 yards more than Perry and 49 more than Adams. His 29 sacks are seven more than any active FBS player while his 221 yards in losses are 68 more than No. 2. Maryland’s Andre Monroe is second in both categories.
.726 – Clemson’s winning percentage in the 2010’s. They are 45-17, with four winning seasons out of five. It’s the second-winningest decade in school history after the 1980s when the Tigers won 76,7 percent of the time (87-25-4).