Previewing the Yellow Jackets

North Carolina heads to Atlanta to play the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on ESPN tonight at 7:30pm. A win by the Heels may put them in a position to win the ACC Championship. But, in Tech, the Heels face a team short on weaknesses...

Georgia Tech

  • ACC
  • Coach - George O'Leary (7th season – 50-30)
  • 2000 Record (9-3, 6-2 ACC)
  • Bowl -- Peach Bowl -- LSU 28 - Georgia Tech 14

  • 2001 Record (5-2, 2-2 ACC)
  • Last game – defeated NC State 27-17

  • All time record versus UNC – 17-16-3

    Offense

    Key players returned from last season
    QB George Godsey, TB Joe Burns, WR Kelly Campbell, TE Russell Matvay

    Key players lost from last season
    T Chris Brown (1st team All-ACC), G- Brent Key (1st team All-ACC), FB Ed Wilder

    Strength
    Experience. Every important skill player returned from last season, and both Godsey and Campbell were second-team All-ACC selections. Their top six receivers returned from last season.

    Weakness
    There are no multiple-year starters on the offensive line and key blockers Brown, Key and Wilder are gone from last season. The only place this has shown up this year is Tech's 3.5 yards per carry average rushing.

    Stats

  • Total offense - 435.71 – 2nd in ACC
  • Passing offense – 279.00 – 1st in ACC
  • Passing efficiency – 144.35 rating – 2nd in ACC
  • Rushing Offense – 155.71 – 5th in ACC
  • Scoring Offense – 34.71 – 3rd in ACC

    Of Note
    Kelly Campbell now owns many all-time receiving records at Georgia Tech. He is the all-time leader in career receptions at Georgia Tech with 181 catches, surpassing Harvey Middleton (165, 1994-97). He also owns the career record for receiving yards at Georgia Tech with 2,771 yards. Last season, he set the single season records for receptions (69), yards (1,105), and touchdown catches (10).

    Quarterback George Godsey currently ranks 16th in the nation in passing efficiency, has completed 63 percent of his passes this season for 1,691 yards and 12 touchdowns with six interceptions.

    Running back Joe Burns ranks sixth all-time in career rushing yards at Tech, with 2,098, and needs only 267 yards to move into fourth all-time before this season ends.

    Defense

    Key players returning from last season
    DE Greg Gathers, LB Darryl Smith, SS Jeremy Muyres, DE Nick Rogers

    Key players lost from last season
    DE Felipe Claybrooks, DT Tony Robinson, CB Jamara Clark

    Strengths
    Losses were minimal in all three units of the defense.

    Weaknesses
    There aren't any.

    Stats

  • Total defense – 290.29 – 1st in ACC
  • Passing defense – 187.71 – 1st in ACC
  • Passing efficiency defense – 101.55 rating – 2nd in ACC
  • Rushing defense – 102.57 – 1st in ACC
  • Scoring defense – 16.43 – 1st in ACC

    Of Note
    Defensive end Greg Gathers is the all-time Tech career leader in sacks with 29. He is currently tied for the all-time record for tackles-for-loss in a career with 52. Currently, he ranks seventh in the ACC for sacks in a career, 1.5 sacks behind the sixth-place holder, Julius Peppers.

    Nick Rogers, the other Tech defensive end, was second-team All-ACC (Gathers was first team), and has 9 sacks, 13 tackles-for-loss, and 16 quarterback pressures.

    In games since George O'Leary has been the head coach at Georgia Tech, the Yellow Jackets have held opponents to under 100 yards rushing 29 times, going 23-6 in those contests.

    Special teams

    Luke Manget is the one the best place kickers in the conference, hitting 12 of 16 last season, including a 50-yarder. Manget holds the ACC record for consecutive PAT's, 118, and has not missed a PAT in his career. Manget has connected on 12 of 19 field goals this season.

    Kelly Campbell is averaging 24.31 yards per kickoff return, third in the ACC, and Georgia Tech leads the league in kickoff returns overall, at 24.1 yards per retrun. Kelly Rhino returns punts for Tech, and is averaging 10.47 yards per return.

    The Yellow Jackets are second in the ACC in net punting at 39.2 yards per punt.

    Georgia Tech is first in the league in kickoff coverage, yielding only 19.7 yards per return.

    On balance

    Georgia Tech is a team almost without a weakness. They lost virtually no players of significance from last season and depth is not a problem on any unit of the team.

    The loss of Ralph Freidgen as offensive coordinator was expected to be significant. However, the Yellow Jackets are averaging an identical 435 yards in total offense as they did last season. Although Tech's offense has had inexplicable lapses that were not frequent under "The Fridge," this is still a potent offense.

    The defense has shown steady improvement since the arrival of Ted Roof as the defensive coordinator. In 1999, the Jackets gave up 189 yards per game rushing, 89th in Division 1-A. They improved to 35th in the nation in 2000, shaving off 20 yards per game to 164 yards yielded to opponents' rushing attacks. This season, they are putting up league leading stats in the ACC.

    One interesting note on this game is that it pits Georgia Tech's offense, which is next-to-last in the league in red-zone offense, against North Carolina's defense, which is last in the league in red-zone defense.

    Ronald Curry, who has been splitting time with Darian Durant at quarterback, will not likely play, and Durant will get his first start of the season and his career.

    This game is one of huge importance for both teams, but especially for UNC since a win keeps them in contention for the ACC title and a BCS bowl.

    On paper, Georgia Tech has the edge in virtually every statistical category. It should be noted that these stats were accumulated against the 96th most difficult schedule in the nation according to the Sagarin ratings, while UNC has played the 2nd most difficult schedule.


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