Preview: Gator Bowl

The Rambling Wreck looks to rebound from a disappointing ACC Championship game without team leader Reggie Ball, while the Mountaineers look to win their first Gator Bowl in six tries.






BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: GT 2-0-0
Mon 1/1 1:00 pm
Jacksonville, Fl.

Alltel Stadium
Record: 10-2
USA/Coaches: 12th
Last Game
Rutgers W 41-39

Click for Jacksonville, Florida Forecast
Record: 9-4
USA/Coaches: T-25th
Last Game
Wake Forrest L 6-9
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule
First Meeting: 1954
Last Meeting: 1997
Rosters/Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule

Injuries:

WVU: Craig Wilson (Ankle) Doubtful, Rayshawn Bolden (Hand) Will Play, Steve Slaton (Leg) Probable, Pat White (Ankle) Will Play, Owen Schmitt (Ankle) Will Play

Georgia Tech: Reggie Ball (Academics) Out, Xavier Mcguire (Academics) Out, Kenny Scott (Academics) Out, Tyler Evans (Undisclosed) Out indefinitely, Jacob Lonowski (Shoulder) Out indefinitely.

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. GT defense

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Game Info
WVU 10-2, 5-2
GT 9-4, 7-2
Mon 1/1 1:00 pm
Alltel Stadium
Series: GT 2-0-0
TV: CBS
BCS: WVU 13th - GT 29th
Harris: WVU 12th - GT 25th
Line: WVU -10
The tough Yellow Jacket defensive unit is lead by senior linebacker KaMichael Hall (6-0, 225). Hall leads the team with 81 tackles, nine of them for a loss. The Texas native has also racked up four sacks, four pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.

Joinging Hall at linebacker will be Philip Wheeler (6-2, 225) and Gary Guyton (6-2, 235). The active duo has combined for 108 tackles, 20 for a loss, and 10 sacks.

The defensive front four has been lead in tackles by Adamm Oliver (6-4, 265) with 67 stops. The junior also owns 3.5 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss. Oliver teams with Darrell Robertson (6-5, 245) at defensive end. Robertson has totaled 48 stops, three sacks and four quarterback hurries during the regular season.

Starting at the tackle positions will be Darryl Richard (6-4, 285) and Joe Anoai (6-3, 280). The pair has combined for 56 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss and six sacks. Anoai has been named All ACC first team and serves as a team captain for Tech.

With Kenny Scott not available for the Gator Bowl, look for freshman Laurence Marius (5-11, 175) to see significant time at cornerback. The Florida native has recorded nine tackles over 12 games this season. Teaming with Marius at cornerback will be Avery Roberson (6-2, 200). Roberson has 49 tackles and one pass breakup on the season.

Manning the safety spots will be Jamal Lewis (6-0, 192) and Djay Jones (6-1, 200). Lewis leads defensive backs with 67 tackles and has recorded three interceptions with an impressive 134 return yards. Jones owns 44 tackles and leads the team with four pickoffs.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked fifth in total offense (463.00 yds/game), second in rushing offense (302.33 yds/game) and 98th in passing offense (160.67 yds/game)

GT is ranked 20th in total defense (289.69 yds/game), 11th in rushing defense (88.92 yds/game) and 62nd in passing defense (200.77 rating).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. GT offense

Taking snaps in place of Reggie Ball will be Taylor Bennett (6-3, 215). Bennett, a sophomore, has connected on 16 of 29 passes in limited action this season. The Missouri native is not as mobile as Ball and is more of a passing threat. Bennett has thrown two touchdowns and one interception this season. He has been bothered by a blistered foot during bowl practice, but will be ready to play in the game.

Joining Bennett in the backfield will be tailback Tashard Choice (6-1, 205) and fullback Mike Cox (6-1, 245). Choice, named second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference, leads the ACC in rushing with 1304 yards and 10 touchdowns. The junior has also caught eight passes for 70 yards this season. Cox, nicknamed "Bull", rarely gets any carries but is one of the better blocking backs in the country.

The receiving corps is lead by the best receiver in the country, Calvin Johnson (6-5, 235). Johnson, the 2006 Biletnikoff Award Winner and the 2006 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, has hauled in 67 passes for 1016 yards and 13 touchdowns. The talented junior is joined by James Johnson (6-0, 190) who has also been very impressive. The sophomore has caught 37 passes for 540 yards and six touchdowns.

The Georgia Tech offensive line is a talented group anchored by center, Kevin Tuminello (6-4, 285). On either side of Tuminello will be Matt Rhodes (6-3, 280) and Nate McManus (6-3, 300). Rhodes and McManus are both two year starters at guard and could be the best offensive guards that WVU has faced this season.

Rounding out the offensive line will be tackles, Mansfield Wrotto (6-3, 310) and Andrew Gardner (6-6, 290). Wrotto was converted to offensive tackle after three seasons of playing along the defensive line, while Gardner was a Freshman All-America and All-ACC selection last season.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 53rd in total defense (324.17 yds/game), ninth in rushing defense (87.75 yds/game) and 100th in passing defense (236.42).

GT is ranked 78th in total offense (320.23 yds/game), 34th in rushing offense (162.62 yds/game) and 100th in passing offense (157.62 yds/game).

Advantage: Push

WVU special teams vs. GT special teams

The Yellow Jackets will field one of the best punters in the nation in Durant Brooks (6-1, 198). The junior has averaged an outstanding 45.5 yards per punt with 35 of his 75 attempts being fielded inside the 20-yard line.

The place kicking duties will be handled by Travis Bell (6-0, 210). Bell has had a solid season, connecting on 12-17 field goals and all 38 extra points. The junior was 2-5 on field goals beyond 40 yards with a long of 47 yards against Virginia.

Returning punts and kickoffs will be Andrew Smith (5-11, 195) and Jamaal Evans (5-8, 191). Smith, a former walk-on, has averaged 7.6 yards per punt return with a long of 22 yards. Evans, a freshman, has averaged 23.3 yards per kick return with a long of 53 yards.

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By The Numbers:
WVU is ranked 28th in net punting (37.00 yds/punt), 16th in kick returns (23.30 yds/return) and 52nd in punt returns (9.20 yds/return).

GT is ranked second in net punting (40.96 yds/punt), 52nd in kick returns (20.64 yds/return) and 85th in punt returns (7.40 yds/return)

Advantage: WVU

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Owen Schmitt

On Defense: Jay Henry

Totally Useless Facts:

  • The 2007 Gator Bowl in Georgia Tech's tenth straight bowl apperance, the Wreck is 5-4 over the previous nine years.

  • Georgia Tech has an impressive list of football coaches throughout its past, including John Heisman, Bobby Dodd, Bud Carson, Pepper Rodgers, Bill Curry, Bobby Ross and George O'Leary.

  • Georgia Tech is 3-3 in the Gator Bowl.

Prediction:

A healthy Mountaineer squad would beat this Georgia Tech team by 17 points, but with injuries to several key WVU players this game will be close. If the Blue and Gold wins the turnover battle, they will win. If not, it will be another long day in Jacksonville.

WVU - 24 GT - 23


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