Sept. 12, 2015
By Jon Cooper | The Good Word
The 15th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets look to ride the momentum of their opening-week rout of Alcorn State and make it 2-0 in 2015 when they take on the Green Wave of Tulane. Kickoff at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field is set for 3:30 p.m.
A win put the Jackets at 2-0 for the sixth time in the Paul Johnson era and for the third straight season, something they have never done under Johnson. In fact, NO Tech coach has started 2-0 in three straight seasons since legendary Bobby Dodd did it six straight years (1959-64).
Tech put themselves in the position to make history by coming out storming in their season-opener last Thursday night, scoring touchdowns on their first seven possessions in blasting Alcorn State, 69-6. The B-Back combo of freshman Marcus Marshall and graduate student Patrick Skov combined for 256 yards and five touchdowns as the Jackets netted 476 yards on the ground. Tech led 34-0 after 15 minutes and 48-0 at the break then cruised home. Tech’s defense limited the Braves to 2-for-16 on third down and held QB John Gibbs, Jr., the 2014 SWAC Offensive Player of the Year, to 8-for-22 passing and 50 yards, sacking him once and picking him off once. The Griffins, Corey and Lynn — unrelated — led the defense, each chalking up six tackles, while Chris Milton made an early pick to set up the score that made it 14-0 and signaled the blow-out. Tyler Stargel and Antonio Simmons each recorded a sack.
Tulane struggled in its opener, falling 37-7 to Duke at Yulman Stadium. The Green Wave got 246 passing yards from quarterback Tanner Lee but was unable to sustain any offensive momentum — they were 2-for-14 on third down — and, defensively, could not contain Duke’s powerful offense, allowing 530 yards of offense, 206 on the ground. The Green Wave trailed 23-0 early in the fourth before finally getting on the board with a four-play, 99-yard drive, that featured a 76-yard completion from Lee to redshirt-junior receiver Devon Breaux, the 16th-longest in school history. But special teams were burned for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. Junior linebacker Nico Marley led the defense with 15 tackles (13 solo).
Johnson is expecting a different Tulane team this week.
“The Duke game was a lot closer than the score might indicate,” he said. “They hurt themselves on special teams and third down was awful for them. I think the kickoff return kind of sealed the game for them. Everybody usually gets better from the first game to the second game, and I’m sure Tulane will as well. They’ll get much better.
Here are some numbers to get you better prepared for Saturday afternoon.
The Series: Saturday will be the 50th meeting between the Yellow Jackets and Green Wave, both original members of the Southeastern Conference in 1933 as well as members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) and the Southern Conference. The series actually that dates back to 1916. The Jackets hold a 36-13 edge, a 20-4 mark at home and ride a two-game series winning streak. After meeting every year from 1956 through 1982, the teams did not meet until last season in the inaugural game at Yulman Stadium. Saturday will be the first meeting between the schools in Atlanta since 1980, a 31-14 Tulane win. Tech’s last win at home came on Sept. 23, 1978, a 27-17 win.
.727 – Georgia Tech’s all-time winning percentage against the American Athletic Conference (70-26-1). More than half of those wins, 51.4 percent, have come at the expense of Tulane.
.840 – Georgia Tech’s winning percentage under Paul Johnson when scoring at least 30 points. The Jackets are 42-8 in those games. Tech is 9-2 in such games since the beginning of last season.
0 – The number of penalties committed by Georgia Tech last week. It marks the second time in Paul Johnson’s tenure that his team played a clean game. The other was a 56-0 rout Syracuse on Oct. 19, 2013
6 – The number of different Yellow Jackets that rushed for a touchdown last week. In addition to freshman B-Back Marcus Marshall’s three scores and grad. student B-Back Patrick Skov’s two scores, quarterback Justin Thomas, A-Back Isiah Willis, and quarterbacks Tim Byerly and B-Back/QB Brady Swilling all found the end zone.
8/184/3 – The number of carries, rushing yards, and touchdowns by Marshall. It’s the most yardage by a true freshman since Jonathan Dwyer went for 189 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown in No. 10 Georgia Tech’s 30-23 win over Wake Forest on Nov. 7, 2009.
10 – The number of games since the start of last season in which the Jackets rushed for 300 yards. Tech is 8-2 in those games.
12 – The number of possessions Georgia Tech had last week before punting on its final two drives.
14/25/4 – The number of career rushes, rushing yards and touchdowns for B-Back Patrick Skov prior to the game against Alcorn State, in which Skov carried 12 times for 72 yards and an ACC-leading three touchdowns.
15 – The number of consecutive 200-yard rushing games by the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech hasn’t been held under 200 yards rushing since the 2013 Music City Bowl against Ole Miss. Tech gained 344 yards on the ground last year at Tulane.
3 – The number of times that Tulane allowed 200 yards on the ground in the 11 games following the loss to Georgia Tech, including last week’s home opener.
3 – The number of touchdowns scored by Georgia Tech off turnovers. Tech was 3-for-3 cashing in Braves turnovers after converting 72.4 percent in 2014.
6 – The career-high number of tackles made by redshirt-junior DB Lynn Griffin and redshirt-sophomore Corey Griffin last week. Corey’s previous high was four tackles, set Sept. 20, 2014 vs. Virginia Tech, while Lynn’s most stops was three, in the 2013 opener, Aug. 31, against Elon.
8 – The number of tackles-for-loss by Georgia Tech against Alcorn State, totaling 30 yards in losses. Eight different defenders recorded a TFL (Victor Alexander, P.J. Davis, Adam Gotsis, Lynn Griffin, Matthew Jordan, Brant Mitchell, Antonio Simmons, and Tyler Stargel). The TFL total matches last year’s high, recorded Nov. 29 at Georgia, which accounted for 17 yards in losses and saw seven different players register at least one: Isaiah Johnson (2), Gotsis, KeShun Freeman, Jamal Golden, Tyler Marcordes, D.J. White, and Tremayne McNair.
9 – The number of scoring drives that took less than 3:30. The only GT scoring drive that went longer was their first of the second half, nine-play, 82-yard drive which lasted 4:44 and answered Alcorn State’s lone score.
18 – The number of wins by Georgia Tech under Paul Johnson in 34 games when possessing the ball fewer than 30 minutes. Tech made it 18 last week, as the Jackets had the ball only 28:05.
20 – The number of rushing first downs by Tech in the 34-point first quarter. That’s more than six opponents had in entire games last season — seven if you count Alcorn’s 13. It also matches Tech’s first-quarter output in last year’s game at Tulane.
46 – The length of the season-high blocked-punt return by LB Beau Hankins at Tulane last year. Hankins picked up the blocked punt by Matt Connors and rumbled to the Tulane one-yard line. The Jackets scored three plays later for the final touchdown of the 38-21 win.
335 – The number of times Georgia Tech has been on TV since their debut against Tulane on Oct. 2, 1948, a game televised on WSB-TV.
SEVEN POINTS ON TULANE
.900 – The percentage of rushing yards returning to the Green Wave in 2015, led by 5-11, 199 redshirt sophomore tailback Sherman Badie (688), 6-0, 219 redshirt junior fullback Lazedrick Thompson (533) and 5-11, 195 sophomore tailback Dontrell Hilliard (452). The trio combined for 55 of TU’s rushing yards last week against Duke.
6 – The number of interceptions made last year by First-Team Freshman All-America cornerback Parry Nickerson, top in the nation among freshmen. A preseason candidate for the Jim Thorpe Award, Nickerson had one assisted tackle and a pass break-up last week against Duke. Last year against Georgia Tech, he had two tackles (one solo) and an interception of Justin Thomas, which came late in the third quarter at the Tulane 14, ending a Jackets drive.
15 – The number of tackles made last week by junior linebacker Nico Marley, 13 of them solo. Marley, who last year had 82 tackles (46 solo), including 13.5 for loss, half a sack, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, an interception and three pass break-ups, was named to the Lombardi Award Watch List. Last year against Tech, Marley, the grandson of reggae legend Bob Marley and the son of former Miami Hurricanes LB Rohan Marley, recorded 11 stops (six solo), with a TFL, and a fumble recovery.
6-5.2/306.6 – The average size of Tulane’s starting offensive linemen, redshirt senior left tackle Arturo Uzdavinis (6-7, 305), redshirt junior left guard Colton Hanson (6-6, 305), junior center Nathan Shienle (6-5, 311), junior right guard Chris Taylor (6-3, 320) and redshirt junior right tackle Todd Jacquet (6-5, 292). The quartet of Shienle, Hanson, Taylor and Uzdavinis combine for 77 career starts.
89 – The number of turnovers forced by Tulane in 38 games over the four years under Head Coach Curtis Johnson — 2.3 per game. Over the previous 37 games in the three years prior to Johnson’s arrival, Tulane created 52 turnovers, 1.4 per game. Even in defeat, the Green Wave won the turnover battle last week against Duke, 3-0.
115-13 – The combined point totals of Tulane’s last two matchups against ranked teams. They lost 73-13 to No. 11 Houston at the Superdome on Nov. 10, 2011, their last game against a team in the top 25. The Green Wave’s last road tilt against ranked team ended in a 42-0 loss at No. 9 LSU in Baton Rouge on Oct. 31, 2009.
33 – The number of years since Tulane knocked off a ranked team on the road. The Green Wave upended No. 12 LSU, 31-28, on Nov. 27, 1982.
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