"Florida State is an outstanding football team with outstanding athletes who have played in a lot big games and played very well," said Georgia Tech head coach George O'Leary as his 10th-ranked (AP) Yellow Jackets (3-0) travel to Tallahassee, Fla., for the much-anticipated, nationally-televised (ESPN) showdown with the sixth-ranked Seminoles (2-0, 1-0 ACC) Saturday at 7:45 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium. "They're athletic ability is very evident, and they are very well coached," continued O'Leary.
The last time Georgia Tech got off to a 3-0 start they won the National Championship in 1990. And while the Jackets have won 10 of their last 11 games. Florida State has gotten off to a great 2-0 start after a 29-7 victory over UAB. Inspite of all the injuries and youth at the skill positions. Not to mention the fact that they have the nations longest winning streak at home. Big Bee knows that Tech's depth is going to be a major key for the Yellow Jackets.
"If we can continue to play a lot of people, I think we have a chance to be pretty good as far as having some quality depth," said O'Leary. "We're not where we need to be yet, but we're working to get better. We're creating more competition for positions, which is going to make us a better football team."
One would have to say that after the Jackets ripped Navy 70-7 saturday for it's worst lost at home in 124 years that they are hitting on all cylinders. Senior quarterback George Godsey (Tampa, Fla.) has played less than one half in each of the last two games, but he has been almost perfect, hitting 22 of 25 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, Godsey leads the nation in pass efficiency with a 197.9 rating. He is 37-for-51 (72.5 percent) for 604 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Kelly Campbell has gotten off to a great start with 14 receptions for 230 yards and one touchdown, in only two games. Sophomore Jonathan Smith has been a pleasant surprise and has 11 catches for 157 yards and one score. Joe Burns has been steady and tough and has 210 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 50 attempts. But it's not just the offense that has Tech fans thinking positive about saturday's showdown. The defense has returned most of the starters with 9 back, and has performed well in the first three games, surrendering just a single touchdown in each contest. The Jackets rank 10th in the nation in scoring defense and 13th in total defense, allowing 220.3 yards per game.
But saturday's game may not be a high scoring shootout because Florida State's defense is off to a good statr as well. The Florida State defense is 15th nationally in scoring defense (10.0) and 18th in total defense (229.0). "To me, their defense has always been their biggest strength," said O'Leary. "Mickey Andrews and company do an outstanding job. They don't give you anything; you have to earn it. They shorten the field, so when their offense comes out, it's usually in good field position."
Two of the most talked about returning starters on Tech's defense are defensive ends Nick Rogers and Greg Gathers. Despite very limited playing time the last two games, Gathers has three sacks and five tackles for loss, and Rogers has one sack and two tackles for loss. Linebacker Daryl Smith is the Jackets' top tackler with 20 hits and three tackles for loss. Placekicker Luke Manget, a junior from Conyers, Ga., is one of the nation's best. He is perfect on extra points (16-for-16) and has hit two of three field goals.
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