Jackets vs. Bulldogs: Clean, old-fashioned mismatch
Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey gets to practice his motivatin' this week, trying to get his players over the emotional hangover of last week's 14-10 heartbreaker to No. 2 Notre Dame. Now he needs to get his team interested in playing Div. 1-AA also-ran Samford. Let's give him a hand.
Why Tech should get excited about playing Samford:
1. Their nickname is the Bulldogs. ‘Nuff said.
2. They're better than you think. Assuming you thought of them at all, that's likely true. The boys from Birmingham went 5-6 last year, and are 12-12 in conference play since joining the Ohio Valley Conference. But they redshirted 14 players last year and picked up four Div. 1A transfers in the off season, so their depth and talent ought to be improved.
3. It'll be an opportunity to make big plays on defense. Samford likes to throw (21-33 for 290 yards against Div. II Miles last week). But they don't throw that accurately; Miles picked off two passes en route to losing 37-7. Interceptions and sacks for everyone!
4. Tech's offense will have a chance to put a few drives together, and score more than two touchdowns for the first time in six games (research by Dr. Football). Samford has never finished in the top half of the OVC in total defense.
5. As Tech linebacker Phillip Wheeler noted the other day, they're getting to play college football. That's excitement enough, no?
7. Tech has never lost to Samford, formerly known as Howard College, in six meetings. They last met in 2004, with Tech cruising 28-7.
8. Gailey coached Samford in 1993, leading them to a Samford-like 5-6 record.
9. Ummm, something about the Gipper.
10. Their nickname is the Bulldogs.
Hmm. Not that strong a list. Let's hope Chan comes up with something better.
Where they're coming from: As mentioned, the Birmingham Baptists are a middlin' Div. 1-AA squad, beginning their fourth season since moving from the Southern Conference to the OVC. They rarely step out of their weight class, except for an annual beating by their fellow denominationalists from Baylor (48-14 last year). Tech subs for Baylor as this year's paycheck game. Last week's tuneup against outclassed Miles, a tiny college whose football website hasn't been updated this year, was indicative only of Samford's penchant for soft scheduling.
Bulldogs to watch: The Bulldogs may have a quarterback controversy, as redshirt junior Jefferson Adcock, last year's 11-game starter, was pulled in the first half last week after throwing two picks (but was 10-14 for 141 yards and a touchdown). Duluth High School grad Dante Williams came in and went 9-15 for 135 and a TD. Their favorite target is junior Jeff Moore, who led the team with 53 catches for 669 yards last year. On defense, DB/LB Jay McCurty led the team last weekend with eight tackles, an interception and a sack.
Who's hurt: As of last Monday, Samford DB Quinton Smith (ankle) was doubtful. Backup DT David Fisher (pec strain) was out. Tech linebacker Travis Chambers and tight end Colin Peek are out and likely will be redshirted. DE Michael Johnson will also be held out.
Xs and Os: Samford head coach Bill Gray is known for offense, and has produced several Div. I-AA All Americas at the receiver spot. Adcock is a passer (2,338 yards, 18 TDs in 2005) who can run (365 yards last year), while Williams is perhaps more mobile, rushing for 24 yards on six carries last week. Senior Justin Ray (479 yards, 5 TDs last year) is a credible running back. The defense, not that great to start with, has to replace All-America safety Cortland Finnegan.
Key matchups: Patrick Nix vs. Chan Gailey. It's possible that offensive coordinator Nix called all the plays after Chan Gailey put his headset back on last week. But Gailey's comments since leave the question open as to who's really calling plays for the Jackets. Whoever it is is going to be closely watched this week for some sign, any sign, of boldness. Tech vs. Ennui. It's difficult to get motivated against a Div. 1-AA team, and even tougher against a mediocre Div. 1-AA team. The Bulldogs have enough upperclassmen to cause heartburn if Tech doesn't put them away early. But Tech will do just that.
Jackets vs. Bulldogs: Old-fashioned mismatch
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