Week 9: Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech (6-2) features three very talented skill players and one of the ACC's top defenses.

BACKGROUND
Location:
Atlanta, Ga.
Enrollment: 16,500
Nickname: Yellow Jackets
School Colors: Old Gold & White
Stadium: Bobby Dodd (55,000)
Conference: ACC

TEAM
Head Coach:
Chan Gailey
Record at GT: 34-24 (5 years)
2004 Record: 7-5 (5-3)
2005 Bowl: Emerald vs. Utah (L, 38-10)
2005 AP Ranking: No. 20
2005 Current Record: 6-2 (4-1)

Georgia Tech Game Notes

UPDATE ON THE JACKETS
Georgia Tech rebounded from its loss at Clemson with a 30-23 victory over Miami that puts the Yellow Jackets in first place in the ACC Coastal Division at 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the ACC. Coastal Division rivals Miami, Virginia Tech and Virginia all have two losses, and the Jackets have wins over all three.

The win also made Georgia Tech bowl eligible for the 10th straight year, giving the Jackets the chance to extend their school-record bowl streak. Tech's 6-2 record is its best after eight games since 2001.

Tech opened the season by playing five of its first six games at home. The Jackets now face three of their last four games on the road, beginning with this week's game at NC State.

JACKETS WRECK HURRICANES
Georgia Tech scored 17 straight fourth-quarter points and the Tech defense held Miami to just one offensive touchdown as the Yellow Jackets took control of the ACC Coastal Division with a 30-23 victory. Tashard Choice rushed for 107 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown run with 3:49 to play that put the Jackets ahead 30-16. He is the only back to top 100 yards against the Hurricanes this season Tech fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter but rallied to tie the game at 13- all just before the half on a pair of field goals by Travis Bell and Reggie Ball's 46-yard touchdown pass to James Johnson. Trailing 16-13, Tech tied the game on Bell's third field goal before taking its first lead on Calvin Johnson's one-yard touchdown catch from Ball, who had four straight completions for 42 yards on the 74-yard drive. After connecting on just three of his first 16 passes, Ball was 8-for-11 in the second half. Tech quickly added another score after Adamm Oliver's sack caused a fumble that KaMichael Hall recovered at the UM 27 to set up Choice's TD. Tech's defense came up with four turnovers and six sacks, holding Miami to 71 yards rushing and 3-for-12 on third downs.

SERIES VS. NC STATE
Georgia Tech has won four of the last five and nine of the last 11 meetings with NC State to take a 16-9 lead in the series. However, the Wolfpack won last year's game, 17-14, on a Thursday night in Atlanta. Tech's last win in the series was a 24-14 decision in Raleigh in 2004. The last six games between Tech and NC State have been decided by 10 points or fewer.

The Jackets have won two in a row and four of the last five games at Carter-Finley Stadium, where Tech's lone loss in the last decade was a 30-23 overtime contest in 2000. The two schools are 6-6 in all games in Raleigh.

The two schools first played in 1918, when the John Heisman-coached Yellow Jackets won, 128-0. After a 17-0 Tech victory in 1922, the teams did not meet again until 1983, when they first played as ACC members.

JOHNSON IS SEMIFINALIST FOR MAXWELL, BILETNIKOFF AWARDS
Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson is one of 15 semifinalists for the Maxwell Award as Collegiate Player of the Year. He is also a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver. The all-America leads the ACC in receptions (40, 5.0 pg) and receiving yards (627, 78.9 pg), and his nine touchdown passes are fifth in the nation.

JOHNSON, WHEELER NAMED MID-SEASON ALL-AMERICAS
Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson and linebacker Philip Wheeler were tabbed to the "Mid-Season All-America" first-team by SI.com. Tech and top-ranked Ohio State are the only schools with two players on the first team. Johnson was also the No. 1 player on the "Mid-Season Hot List" by ESPN.com columnist Bruce Feldman, who tabbed Wheeler No. 18. Of Johnson, Feldman said, "The most gifted player in college football, Johnson is like the superman player you create on video football games when you want to toss reality aside."

FOURTH-QUARTER COMEBACKS
In each of its last two victories, Georgia Tech entered the fourth quarter behind before rallying. In Saturday's win over Miami, the Jackets fell behind 10-0 early and trailed 16-13 after three quarters before scoring 17 straight points, including a oneyard scoring pass from Reggie Ball to Calvin Johnson and a 24-yard touchdown run by Tashard Choice.

Two games earlier, Tech trailed Maryland 23-14 before scoring two touchdowns in 83 seconds early in the fourth quarter on runs by Ball and Choice. Tech had to survive a threat when Maryland had first-and-goal at the seven in the final minute before Michael Johnson came up with sacks on third and fourth downs.

In both games, linebacker KaMichael Hall set up a late touchdown with a fumble recovery deep in the opponents' territory. Earlier this season againt Troy, Tech entered the fourth quarter tied at 14- all before scoring three touchdowns in a five-minute span to take control. In five seasons under head coach Chan Gailey, the Jackets have won 11 games in which they entered the fourth quarter tied or behind.

DURANT DURANT
Junior punter Durant Brooks has become a very effective weapon in his first season in a Georgia Tech uniform. The transfer from Georgia Military College leads the ACC with a 44.8-yard average (7th in the nation). His net of 41.20 leads the ACC and ranks second nationally. Twenty-one of Brooks' 45 punts have been inside the 20-yard line. Tech's punt coverage also deserves credit; only 19 of Brooks' punts have been returned, for an average of just 3.3 yards. Brooks played a key role in the Jackets' win over Miami, when he averaged 50.8 yards with a net of 45.2 on six punts. He boomed a 63-yard punt when Tech was backed up at its own one-yard line. Then, with Tech holding a sevenpoint lead and trying to run out the clock, he nailed a 53-yard kick to the 16-yard line, which Miami fumbled to end the game. Brooks punted seven times for a 48.1-yard average against second-ranked Notre Dame. He had three kicks of over 50 yards against the Irish, including a 57-yarder, and he had four punts inside the 20-yard line. In the Jackets' win at 10th-ranked Virginia Tech, Brooks averaged 45.8 yards on five punts, including kicks that were downed at the three- and four yard lines.

CONSISTENT SUCCESS
With a 4-1 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Georgia Tech will finish with an ACC record of .500 or better for the 12th straight year. Tech is one of just seven schools in NCAA Division I-A to post a conference record of .500 or better every year from 1995-2005. The others are Florida State, Florida, Michigan, Southern Mississippi, Toledo and Miami (Ohio). Among ACC schools, Clemson has the next longest current streak after Tech and FSU with seven straight years of .500 or better, entering 2006. Since 1995, Tech, with 57 ACC victories, is second only to Florida State (79).

CHOICE CUTS
Tashard Choice ranks third in the ACC in rushing, averaging 82.1 yards per game. He has 657 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games. He is averaging 96.2 yards in ACC games. Choice has 100-yard efforts in two of the last three games, including a career-best 138 yards and two touchdowns lead Georgia Tech to a 27-23 victory over Maryland. His 15-yard TD run in the fourth quarter proved to be the gamewinning score.

He added 107 yards in the Jackets' win over Miami, again scoring the winning points on a 24-yard, fourth-quarter TD run. He gained 64 of his yards in the fourth quarter as he became the only back this season to gain 100 yards on the Hurricanes.

Choice's 24-yard touchdown run against Miami is one of the nominees for this week's Pontiac Game-Changing Performance. The junior from Riverdale, Ga., has raised his Tech career rushing total to 1,170 yards as he became the 32nd 1,000-yard rusher in school history. Choice also had 100 yards as a freshman at Oklahoma for a career total of 1,270 yards.

LINEBACKER TANDEM
The key to Georgia Tech's defense is the linebacker tandem of senior KaMichael Hall and junior Philip Wheeler, who have combined for 112 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, including 11 sacks, four pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. Hall and Wheeler are one-two on the team in tackles. Hall leads the team with 58 hits, while Wheeler is right behind with 54.

Wheeler leads Tech and the ACC in tackles for loss (12.5), while ranking second in the ACC in sacks (8.0). Hall has 5.5 TFL and three sacks. In Tech's win at 10th-ranked Virginia Tech, Wheeler and Hall combined for 19 tackles, four sacks, two caused fumbles and two pass breakups. Wheeler was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week and Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week.

One game later against Maryland, they teamed for 17 tackles, two sacks, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery. Hall was honored as ACC Defensive Back of the Week.

BIG-PLAY K
Senior linebacker KaMichael Hall turned in big plays in Georgia Tech's victories over Virginia Tech, Maryland and Miami. Hall made one of the key plays in Tech's 27-23 comeback victory over Maryland with his fourth-quarter fumble recovery at the Terps 17-yard line, setting up the go-ahead score. He had a game-high 11 tackles, including a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss. He was named ACC Defensive Back of the Week, the second time in his career he has been so honored. He also won the award following last year's win at Miami. In this year's win over Miami, Hall again came up with a crucial fourthquarter fumble recovery. After Tech took its first lead of the game at 23-16 in the fourth quarter, Hall recovered a fumble by quarterback Kyle Wright, caused by defensive end Adamm Oliver, to give Tech the ball at the Miami 27. Two plays later, Tashard Choice scored the clinching touchdown with 3:49 to play. In the win at Virginia Tech, Hall had 11 tackles, including two sacks for minus-23 yards as he helped Tech hold the Hokies to just 42 yards rushing. He broke up two passes and forced a fumble that the Jackets recovered.

JOHNSON'S TRIUMVERATE
All-America wide receiver Calvin Johnson put together a three-game stretch in which he had 22 catches for 413 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Jackets to ACC victories over Virginia, 10th-ranked Virginia Tech and Maryland.

Johnson began his hot streak with a career-best 165 yards receiving on six catches with two touchdowns to lead Georgia Tech to a Thursday night victory over Virginia, 24-7. Despite missing the week of practice with a leg injury, Johnson caught the two longest touchdowns of his career on plays of 58 and 66 yards.

Then he led the Jackets to a 38-27 victory at 10th-ranked Virginia Tech with six catches for 115 yards, including touchdown catches of three and 53 yards on consecutive drives in the first quarter. He was chosen the Cingular All-America Player of the Week and was named ACC Offensive Back of the Week for the second straight week and the third time this season. Johnson tied his career best with 10 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in Tech's win over Maryland. The Houston, Texas, native is Tech's leading tackler with 58, including three sacks, 5.5 TFL, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

ON THE BALL
Senior quarterback Reggie Ball is playing the best football of his career. He is averaging 192.1 yards of total offense per game, including 154.2 yards passing and 37.9 yards rushing per game. He ranks fourth in the league in total offense. Ball leads the ACC with 13 touchdown passes, and he also has two rushing TDs.

JACKETS IN THE RANKINGS
Georgia Tech is ranked No. 20 this week by both Associated Press and USA Today (coaches). Tech has been ranked six straight weeks, climbing as high as No. 13 the week of Oct. 15, its highest ranking since reaching No. 9 in 2001. The Jackets spent nine weeks in the national rankings in 2005, reaching as high as No. 15 the week of Sept. 18.

SEVEN WINS OVER RANKED TEAMS UNDER GAILEY
Georgia Tech recorded the 29th victory in school history over a Top 10 opponent with the Jackets' 38-29 win at Virginia Tech, which was tied for the 10th spot in that week's USA Today coaches' poll. In the last 13 months, Georgia Tech has won at Auburn, at Miami and at Virginia Tech. The Jackets have defeated at least one nationally-ranked team each of the last 12 seasons (1995-2006). Last fall, the Jackets opened the season with a 23-14 victory at No. 15 Auburn and then knocked off third-ranked Miami, 14-10, at the Orange Bowl. Tech's win over Virginia Tech gives the Jackets seven wins over ranked teams in five seasons under head coach Chan Gailey. Six of the seven victories have been on the road. In 2004, Gailey's Jackets won at 18th-ranked Clemson, 28-24, and at 23rd ranked Maryland, 20-7. In 2002 in Gailey's first season on the Flats, the Jackets won at eighth-ranked NC State, 24-17. In 2003, Tech knocked off No. 17 Auburn, 17-3, at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.

Press Conference Quotables

Chan Gailey

On team being able to come back from an early deficit: There is a certain level of maturity and experience. There is an intelligence level that realizes there is a lot of football left, don't panic.

On drawing off earlier comebacks: Sure, that's a confidence level. Anytime you've done something, you know you can do it again.

On not looking past N.C. State and staying focused: First of all, we talk about getting better every week. Let's go get better as a football team. If we want to be where we want to be at the end, we have to continue to get better. As soon as you think you have arrived, you haven't for sure.

The next thing I talk about is it's a conference game and you go and win conference games. Division games are more important, but conference games are still important because they count in the end and you want to be able to finish strong as a football team. Let's go win the game and prove what kind of a football team we are.

On what Tech needs to improve on: We can still work on kickoff coverage, because we have to do a better job at that. We have to do a better job at sustaining drives, offensively. Early in the year we had hardly any three-and-outs. We need to control the ball better. We still maintain field position, because Durant [Brooks] is kicking the ball so well and the coverage team is doing such a super job. Even if we are not getting first downs, we are still turning the field over and making the other team have a long way to go. We have been fortunate in that respect, but if we want to continue as a football team, we have to get back to sustaining drives offensively and we have to stop the run early. We did not stop the run early enough, we let a big run out early last game and we gave them a lot of momentum, which we did not want to do.

On penalties: We've had fewer penalties (referring to N.C. State), but the yards are more. We have to stay away from the big penalties is what we have to do. You're going to have a certain amount of penalties. We have to stay away from the major penalties like pass interference, late hits and things like that. If we can stay away from those then we can handle field position, get off the field defensively and maintain drives offensively.

On pointing out negatives in previous games: I do that all the time. You learn from previous games, and learning is the negative being pointed out and not letting that happen again. It doesn't always happen that way, you try and make the point, whichever way you can.

On motivating the team: I try to be very honest. I don't try to sugarcoat, I try to be very honest. I speak from the heart, that's all I know how to do. I'm not smart enough to remember something that I have said before, so I just try and speak the truth every time I stand up.

I just say what's pertinent to that week and that game. Have I used anecdotes, I'm sure I have. Have I used stories of previous years where I have been, I have. You get to my age you have a lot experience to pull from. A lot of things had happened.

The thing about it is I'm trying to speak the truth and get them to understand what's at stake. If explaining what's at stake motivates, then ok. I don't throw chairs, I don't yell and scream. I'm passionate about what I say.

On the players understanding the program now: If you hang around somebody for four years, you are going to figure it out. These guys have been around us, and what we are trying to do and what we believe in. What we said in their homes four years ago, is being said the same way today. You can maintain that consistency through the years, than I think the message does come through. If you're going into somebody's house for four years, you are going to understand what the house rules are.

On N.C. State's running game: There are a lot of concerns. The first one is trying to stop those two running backs (Andre Brown and Toney Baker) who can both run the football and are both explosive. At times they both run the ball extremely well, and the thing that is unique is they (N.C. State) pound and pound and pound you, then they throw it up to [John] Dunlap, or try and get it to [Darrell] Blackman quick and let him make a play. You have to be on your toes at all times because they have every formation and motion in the book, so you have to pay attention to what is going on out there.

On N.C. State's defense: If you don't block those two inside guys (Tank Tyler and DeMario Pressley) you will be in trouble. They have typical N.C. State linebackers (Pat Lowery and LeRue Rumph) that can run and make plays, the defensive ends have been overshadowed because of the guys they've had the last few years and the safeties are good players. This is a very talented football team, and one of things that is overlooked about this football team is Blackman in the return game. He is in the top three in kickoff and punt returns in the conference, so your coverage team better be good.

On Tech fullback Mike Cox: He is probably a much better athlete than anybody knew about. He's a very talented run, jump, change direction; throw catch, type of football player in a 6 foot, 1 inch, 255-pound body. We all knew it and I think Patrick [Nix] is doing a good job using his talents and doing different things with him.

On the tight ends and running backs making plays in passing game: People are paying so much attention to Calvin [Johnson] that it is allowing other people to be open. With [Tashard] Choice having a 100 yards in a couple of games is another thing that is grabbing their attention and allowing other guys to be open. You have to give Reggie [Ball] some credit, he sees it, they see it upstairs in the booth, they are calling the plays and Reggie is executing it. That throw he made to Michael Matthews, you won't see a better throw than that at any level of football.

On concern about kickoffs: We're asking Mohamed [Yahiaoui] to do a lot of different types of kickoffs. We are asking him to place the ball in certain spots, so we can zone in our coverage. If we went out and boomed it every time, we might have some more touchbacks, but we lose an area of coverage having to cover the entire field. If anything, he's done a good job, we're just asking him to do something that is very specific and that cuts down on his ability to go out and boom it every time.

On Durant Brooks being an NFL caliber punter: No question.

On how the new rule of starting the clock affects the game: Tremendously, it makes a big difference at the end of the ballgame with the new rule.

On playing to that during the game: No, I don't think so. Every time you run on the field the clock starts, so even after the fumble, we told Reggie to take his time when there were five minutes left. So we were able to run an extra 20 seconds off at that time and after the last kickoff. That's almost a minute you can knock off there at the end of the ballgame which is helpful.

Georgia Tech Two-Deep Depth Chart

Pos No OFFENSE....................................... Ht. Wt. Cl.

WR 89 James Johnson ............................... 6-0 190 So.-R

88 Chris Dunlap ................................... 5-11 200 Sr.

LT 64 Andrew Gardner ............................ 6-6 290 So.-R

53 A.J. Smith ........................................ 6-7 290 So.-R

LG 61 Matt Rhodes .................................... 6-3 280 Jr.-R

78 LeShawn Newberry ....................... 6-0 320 Jr.-R

C 60 Kevin Tuminello .............................. 6-4 285 Jr.-R

74 Trey Dunmon ................................. 6-4 298 Fr.-R

RG 73 Nate McManus ................................ 6-3 300 Jr.

74 Trey Dunmon ................................. 6-4 298 Fr.-R

RT 68 Mansfield Wrotto .............................. 6-3 310 Sr.

71 Cord Howard .................................. 6-5 300 Fr.-R

TE 48 Michael Matthews ........................... 6-4 270 Sr.-R

80 George Cooper .............................. 6-5 260 Sr.-R

86 Wayne Riles .................................... 6-4 252 Jr.-R

QB 1 Reggie Ball ..................................... 5-11 195 Sr.

13 Taylor Bennett ................................ 6-3 215 So.-R

18 Jonathan Garner ............................ 6-4 210 Fr.-R

FB 40 Mike Cox ........................................ 6-1 245 Jr.

48 Michael Matthews ........................... 6-4 270 Sr.-R

TB 22 Tashard Choice .............................. 6-1 205 Jr.-R

3 Rashaun Grant ............................... 5-10 200 Jr.-R

20 Jamaal Evans ................................. 5-8 191 Fr.

WR 21 Calvin Johnson ............................... 6-5 235 Jr.

5 Greg Smith ...................................... 6-3 195 Fr.-R

81 Xavier McGuire .............................. 6-4 215 Sr.-R

Pos No DEFENSE ...................................... Ht. Wt. Cl.

DE 90 Darrell Robertson ........................... 6-5 245 Jr.

93 Michael Johnson ............................. 6-7 250 So.

DT 95 Darryl Richard ................................ 6-4 285 So.-R

94 Elris Anyaibe .................................. 6-3 273 So.-R

DT 96 Joe Anoai ....................................... 6-3 280 Sr.

99 Vance Walker .................................. 6-2 265 So.

DE 42 Adamm Oliver ................................. 6-4 265 Jr.-R

97 Robert Hall...................................... 6-3 225 Fr.

LB 35 KaMichael Hall ................................ 6-0 225 Sr.

44 Taalib Tucker ................................. 6-1 238 So.

54 Sedric Griffin ................................... 5-11 220 Fr.

LB 41 Philip Wheeler ................................. 6-2 225 Jr.-R

17 Matt Braman .................................... 6-3 235 So.

LB 58 Gary Guyton ................................... 6-2 235 Jr.

57 Shane Bowen ................................. 6-1 215 Fr.

CB 34 Avery Roberson OR ...................... 6-2 200 Jr.-R

32 Jahi Word-Daniels .......................... 6-0 185 So.

6 Pat Clark ......................................... 5-11 185 Jr.

CB 2 Kenny Scott ..................................... 6-2 185 Sr.

24 Laurence Marius ............................ 5-11 175 Fr.

S 4 Jamal Lewis .................................... 6-0 192 Jr.

47 Jake Blackwood .............................. 6-1 182 Fr.-R

S 23 Djay Jones OR ............................... 6-1 200 Jr.

34 Avery Roberson ............................. 6-2 200 Jr.-R

Pos No SPECIALISTS ............................... Ht. Wt. Cl.

P 39 Durant Brooks ................................ 6-1 198 Jr.-R

31 Mohamed Yahiaoui ......................... 5-11 220 So.

PK 87 Travis Bell....................................... 6-0 210 Jr.-R

31 Mohamed Yahiaoui (KO) ................ 5-11 220 So.

SN 50 Bret White ....................................... 5-11 215 So.-R

HO 39 Durant Brooks ................................ 6-1 198 Jr.-R

PR 43 Tyler Evans .................................... 5-8 179 Fr.

83 Andrew Smith .................................. 5-11 195 So.-R

KR 20 Jamaal Evans ................................. 5-8 191 Fr.

3 Rashaun Grant ............................... 5-10 200 Jr.-R


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