Sept. 25, 2013
By Jon Cooper
In what unquestionably is its toughest test to date and may turn out to be the battle for Coastal Division supremacy, Georgia Tech takes on Virginia Tech in a contest fittingly held in prime time tonight at Bobby Dodd Stadium at historic Grant Field. Kickoff is at 7:31 p.m., and will be televised on ESPN.
The game is the Yellow Jackets’ third division game in 12 days and, having already taken care of business at Duke and on Saturday against North Carolina, they’ll try to complete the hat-trick. Coming back against a Hokies team that has become a nemesis in recent years on a short week and following the physical contest against the Tar Heels presents a big challenge. Head Coach Paul Johnson cited the 2011 season as a precedent that he’d like to turn around this time around.
“The last time we played three games in twelve days, the last game down in Miami we looked like we were running in sand so you hope that’s not the case,” said Head Coach Paul Johnson at his weekly press conference. “At least we’re at home and we’ve got a great crowd, and when they get into the game maybe we can get some energy from that.
“We’ve got guys who will probably try to play Thursday without putting on pads all week because they’ve been banged up, hit and injured,” Johnson added. “At this level that’s hard to do. You’ve got to cut back on packages, and some of the stuff you do. The biggest thing is just to get guys there physically.”
The Yellow Jackets fed off the energy of the home crowd on Saturday, fending off a constant rain as well as a fast start by North Carolina, grinding out a 28-20 victory. A-Back Robert Godhigh ran for his first career 100-yard game and B-Back David Sims had 99 more as the Jackets overcame a pair of 13-point, first-half deficits. The offensive line flexed its muscle, helping Tech keep the chains moving. The result was a 40:38 to 19:22 edge in time of possession. The defense also rose up and smothered the Tar Heels in the second half.
The Hokies also battled inclement weather in a battle with Marshall, needing a late touchdown then three overtimes to survive the Thundering Herd’s upset bid, 29-21, at Lane Stadium. Redshirt-senior QB Logan Thomas threw a two-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with a little over three minutes remaining, then, in the third OT, ran in from two yards out and added the two-point conversion to win the game. The Hokies defense shut out Marshall in the second half and the three overtime possessions. In typical “Beamer Ball” fashion, A pair of blocked kicks — a punt returned for a touchdown and a field goal attempt in the second overtime — played a big part in the victory.
That defense, ranked fifth in the nation in total defense and sixth in pass efficiency, concerns Johnson.
“[Defensive Coordinator] Bud [Foster] always does a good job with his scheme,” said Johnson. “They can all run; they’re very physical. The two inside guys are 300-pound guys who’ve got good feet and can move and the rest of their guys are true athletes. They can run and hit, they’re physical. They also don’t usually screw up. They know what they’re doing.”
Sting Daily will help make sure you know what you’re doing when you debate any Hokies fans as you watch tonight’s Coastal Division showdown.
The Series: This is the 11th meeting between the schools in a series that began in 1990 but didn’t become an annual series until 2004, when Va. Tech joined the ACC. The Jackets trail 7-3 overall and have lost five of the last six meetings with the Hokies. They are 2-3 at Bobby Dodd, including winning that inaugural meeting, a 6-3 struggle that nearly derailed the team’s national title hopes. Last year was the first time the winner of this game did NOT represent the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship Game, although they are still the only two teams to have represented the Coastal Division in the title game.
3 – The positive turnover margin for both teams heading into tonight’s game. Georgia Tech has four interceptions while throwing but one and is even on fumbles (both Tech and opponents have lost one). Virginia Tech has a 9-6 edge in interceptions and also is even, also 1-1 on fumbles.
25 – The number of wins in 38 career games for Paul Johnson-coached teams when they win or are even in turnovers. The Jackets are 3-0 in such games this season.
4 – The number of times in the last five games in the series that the margin of victory has been seven-or-fewer points. Those four games were decided by a total of 18 points. The one game decided by more than a touchdown was in 2011, a 37-26 home loss, which Georgia Tech led with 16 minutes of play remaining.
6 – The number of pass attempts separating Vad Lee from ranking second in the ACC in pass efficiency. Lee has hit on 22 of 39 attempts with one interception, a 200.54 efficiency. The ACC (and NCAA) minimum number of pass attempts to qualify is 15 per game.
6 – Georgia Tech’s consecutive wins in ACC regular-season games. The streak is the second-longest for conference wins in school history, one short of the all-time record, set in 2009 and ’10. Tech’s last conference loss was last Oct.6, a 47-31 loss at Clemson.
7 – The total number of points Georgia Tech’s defense has allowed over the last five games in second half. Only Duke has been able to score a point in those 150 minutes, a Brandon Connette seven-yard touchdown run four seconds into the fourth-quarter on Sept. 14.
10 – The number of tackles by DE Jeremiah Attaochu in each of the last two games against Virginia Tech. Attaochu had five solos and five assisted stops in 2011, including 2.5 tackles for loss, with a sack, then, last year, had three solo tackles and seven assisted stops, including half a TFL (half a sack).
10 – The number of touchdowns out of 18 for which quarterback Vad Lee is responsible in three games as starter. Lee has passed for seven scores while running for three. Tthe Jackets, as a team, passed for 12 TDs all last season, with last year’s starter Tevin Washington throwing eight.
11 – Georgia Tech’s national rank in total defense. The Jackets are allowing 275.3 yards per game — 42 yards per game more than Virginia Tech’s fifth-ranked defense.
12.4 – The ACC-leading yards per carry average for redshirt senior A-Back Robert Godhigh. Godhigh, who had 100 yards last Saturday, has set career-highs for rushing yards each of his last two weeks.
13 – Paul Johnson’s rank among active FBS coaches in career wins. Tech’s head man, who won game no. 150 last week, is in his 17th season as a head coach. He won 62 games in his five years at Georgia Southern, won 45 more in his six years at Navy and has 42, and counting, in his sixth season on The Flats.
14 – The number of years since the Yellow Jackets overcame a double-digit deficit in an ACC game prior to last week, when they overcame 13-0 and 20-7 deficits. The last time the Jackets forged such a comeback was on Oct. 9, 1999, also against North Carolina, a 31-24 overtime victory. The comeback marked the largest first-quarter deficit Tech has overcome since doing so at Wake Forest on Nov. 13, 1993, a 38-28 victory.
14 – The difference in the number of wins by Paul Johnson-coached teams when holding the ball for more than 30 minutes vs. having the ball for 30 minutes or less. Johnson’s teams are 29-11 with a T.O.P. of at least 30:01. They are 15-15 when at 30:00 or less.
4 – The number of times in Georgia Tech’s five meetings with Virginia Tech under Johnson that the team that won time of possession also won the game. Last year was the lone exception, as the Yellow Jackets held the ball 34:46 but lost in overtime.
19 – The number of Thursday night games hosted by Georgia Tech. That’s the most of any ACC school. Virginia Tech is second with 15. The Jackets have played in 25 Thursday night games, second only to Virginia Tech’s 27, and has played in at least one in each of the last 21 seasons. They are 10-15 all-time, 3-3 in the Paul Johnson Era.
32.5 – Opponents’ success-rate on third-down against the Yellow Jackets. They’ve converted 13 times in 40 tries. The Hokies defense has allowed opponents to succeed at 32.8 percent, (20-for-61).
66.7 – Georgia Tech’s ACC-leading success rate on third down. Tech has gotten a fresh set of downs on 28 of 42 tries. That’s second in the nation behind only UCLA, which is at 68.3 percent (28-of-41). Virginia Tech is 13th in the 14-team ACC, converting on 21 of 66 attempts (31.8 percent).
48.3 – The ACC-leading average per punt of Georgia Tech’s Sean Poole. That’s nearly seven yards better than his career average. Poole has boomed three of his seven punts at least 50 yards, including a long of 66, and he’s dropped four kicks inside the 20 with only one touchback. In last year’s game against Virginia Tech Poole punted seven times for 40.0 yards, with a long of 50.
324 – Georgia Tech’s season-LOW for rushing in a game in 2013. That came last week in the rain against North Carolina. Tech averages 345.3 yards on the ground per game, fourth in the nation. They have never finished out of the top five in rushing in the Paul Johnson Era.
435 – The combined number of consecutive games in which Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech have not been shut out. Georgia Tech’s streak stands at 201, while Virginia Tech’s is at 234.
697 – The all-time number of wins in Georgia Tech Football history. The Jackets hold a 697-468-43 record (a .595 winning percentage) in 121 years. Virginia Tech hit No. 700 on Saturday.
10 Things To Know About Virginia Tech (plus an ACC first they gained last week)
4 – The number of times Virginia Tech has met Georgia Tech on Thursday night. They are 4-0, having won three times at Bobby Dodd and once at Lane Stadium. The Hokies won their three Thursday night road games by a combined 49 points (Oct. 28, 2004, 34-20; Nov. 1, 2007, 27-3; and Nov. 10, 2011, 37-26). The one home game was a 28-21 game on Nov. 4, 2010.
4/2.5/1.5/1/1 – The number of tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, fumble recoveries and blocked kicks by senior defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins in Saturday’s win over Marshall. The 6-0, 311-pounder ranks fifth on the team in tackles (18, 3 solo), is tied for second on the squad in TFLs (4.5) and sacks (2.0). Hopkins’ blocked field goal attempt in the second overtime extended the game to the decisive third possession.
8 – The number of wins in nine ACC openers since joining the ACC in 2004. The only loss came in 2011, a 23-3 loss to Clemson. Twice the Hokies have victimized Georgia Tech, both times in Blacksburg and both times by 20-17 scores, including last year’s overtime thriller.
9 – The number wins for Virginia Tech in 10 games played coming back on a short week. The Hokies won their first eight before, in 2010, they lost to James Madison on Sept. 11, five days after dropping their season-opener to Boise State. They’d lose one more game the rest of that year and finished 11-3. Tonight’s game will be the second time and the second straight year Georgia Tech has been involved in short-week games. Last year they were the first game, the season-opener on Sept. 3. Five days after edging Tech the Hokies topped Austin Peay.
23 – The number of touchdowns by Virginia Tech redshirt senior quarterback Logan Thomas. That’s tops among active ACC players. Thomas also comes into the game ranked second among active players in total offense (7,878 yards), 300-yard offense games (nine), and touchdown responsibility (61), fourth in career passing yardage (6,974 yards), and touchdowns passes (41), and third in 200-yard passing games (18). His 531 career completions also are a school-record.
77/76 – The length of runs by redshirt freshman tailbacks Trey Edmunds, against Alabama, and Chris Mangus, against Western Carolina. They account for the two longest runs from scrimmage in the ACC so far this season. Edmunds comes into tonight’s game with 352 rushing yards, fifth in the ACC. He’s averaging 88.0 yards per game, 4.5 yards per carry and has two 100-yard games in his young career, including 132 against No. 1 Alabama.
233.3 – The number of yards Virginia Tech’s defense allows per game. That ranks fifth in the nation. The Hokies allow 96.5 yards per game on the ground, which leads the ACC and ranks 15th in the country. Their 136.8 yards per game allowed through the air ranks sixth nationally and is second in the ACC behind only Florida State. Opponents complete 47.3 percent of their throws and have been picked off an ACC-high nine times. That is when they can get passes off, as Virginia Tech has an ACC-leading 16 sacks.
7/3 – The ACC-leading number of passes defended by corner Kendall Fuller and intercepted by Brandon Facyson, both freshmen. Fuller has six pass break-ups, deflecting four against Marshall, as well as an interception, while Facyson, a Newnan, Ga., native has three interceptions and a break-up.
249/387 – The number of interceptions and turnovers forced by Virginia Tech since 2000. Both are at the top of the FBS. The interceptions lead No. 2 Boise State by 20, while the turnovers are tied with Southern California. The Hokies’ nine interceptions this season rank third in the nation.
700 – The number of program wins for Virginia Tech. The Hokies got win No. 700 the hard way last week with their triple-overtime victory over Marshall. With fellow ACC program Syracuse also getting win No. 700 on Saturday, there are now 16 schools that have reached that mark. The Hokies are 700-441-46 all-time, a .609 winning percentage. Of those 700 wins, Frank Beamer has 219 of them in his 27 years at the helm and sports a .675 winning percentage (219-105-2).
1 – The number of ACC teams to play triple-overtime in a non-conference game and WIN! Virginia Tech was the fourth ACC team to go three overtimes in a non-conference game but was able to do what 2003 North Carolina, 2003 NC State and 2005 Florida State could not. Carolina fell short against Syracuse on Sept. 7, 2003 (a 49-47 loss), No. 24 NC State lost at No. 3 Ohio State a week later, 44-38, and No. 22 Florida State lost to No. 3 Penn State, 26-23, in the Orange Bowl, on Jan. 3, 2006. The Hokies also became the fifth ACC team to play three overtimes. No ACC team has played longer.