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Unblemished Techs Meet on Gridiron
The ACC game will be televised on ABC at 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 20, 2005
The 15th-ranked Yellow Jackets (3-0, 1-0 ACC) travel to Blacksburg, Va., for an Atlantic Coast Conference divisional showdown against No. 4 Virginia Tech (3-0, 2-0 ACC) this Saturday at Lane Stadium. The game is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. and will be televised to a split national audience on ABC (WSB-TV in Atlanta). Radio coverage for the game will broadcast on 790 The Zone (WQXI-AM 790) and WREK Radio (WREK-FM 91.1).
"This is a tough Virginia Tech team and a big ACC showdown that could set us up real good going into our off week next week," said senior wide receiver Damarius Bilbo. "These are the games that you come to college for."
Georgia Tech is off to its first 3-0 start since the 2001 season, and have not started a season 4-0 since the 1990 season where the Jackets captured their fourth national championship. The Hokies are the defending ACC champions and are riding a seven-game conference winning streak heading into Saturday's game.
"Having watched them on film, they deserve that No. 4 ranking," said head coach Chan Gailey. "I don't see a weakness on their team in regards to offense, defense and special teams. They are very impressive and it will be a great challenge for us to go into their place and win the game."
Virginia Tech is led by quarterback Marcus Vick, brother of Atlanta Falcons pro bowl quarterback Michael Vick. Vick, a redshirt junior, leads the ACC in passing efficiency at with a 164.5 rating, completing 60.1 percent of his passes (34-56) and throwing six touchdowns to one interception.
"I knew about his athleticism and the fact that he could run the football, but he's a better passer than I thought he was going to be," said Gailey about watching Vick on film.
Joining Vick in the backfield is tailback duo of Mike Imoh and Cedric Humes. Imoh and Humes rank ninth and 10th in the ACC in yards per game with 56 and 50.3, respectively. Imoh leads the team with 168 rushing yards, while Humes has 155. The Hokies are averaging almost 37 points per game and stand 20th in the nation in scoring offense.
"Obviously, they are very big up front," said senior safety Chris Reis. "We have faced some big lines, with Auburn and UNC, but they are just big and physical up front. They are going to run the ball until we stop them and that's one of our key things: to stop the run and force them to do something that they don't like to do, which is pass."
"I think everyone knows they like to run the football," said Gailey. "They've worked pretty hard on their passing game in the past few games to make that aspect better. They have good enough wide outs that can go by you in a heartbeat if you're not paying attention."
Not only do the fourth-ranked Hokies enjoy a talented offense, but their defense leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 5.33 points per game. Virginia Tech leads the ACC in total defense, allowing just 220.7 yards per game (5th in the nation), and is seventh in the NCAA in turnover margin (+2.00).
"They put pressure on you at all times," said Gailey. "You have to work for 60 minutes, and we used last year's game to demonstrate that fact to our team, this year and last."
Leading the Hokies on defense is cornerback Jimmy Williams and linebackers James Anderson and Vince Hall. Williams is a 6 foot, 3 inch, 215 pound corner with speed and athleticism. Anderson and Hall are physical linebackers that lead the Hokies with 24 and 23 tackles, respectively.
"Physically, he's probably one of the biggest corners in the nation," said Bilbo. "I've been watching a lot of film on him, and the guy plays like a linebacker, so with two big guys out there knotted up against each other should be a good match-up."
Coach Gailey agrees with Bilbo's assessment. "He deserves all the press he gets. He's big, fast, athletic and aggressive."
Georgia Tech has one of the more stingier defenses in the conference as well. The Yellow Jackets lead the nation with 10 interceptions in three games, after having that many in 12 games last season.
The Yellow Jackets lead the conference and the NCAA in turnover margin (+3.00) and rank third in the ACC in rushing defense (80.0 yards per game). The Jackets are fourth in the league in pass defense efficiency (90.8) and fifth in scoring defense (16.0).
The Rambling Wreck's running game continues to improve as the season moves forward. Senior tailback P.J. Daniels ranks third in the ACC, averaging 109.3 yards per game and has eclipsed the century mark in each of Tech's first three games. Redshirt sophomore Tashard Choice is coming off a career-high 89 yards and two touchdowns against UConn last Saturday night.
"The advantage that we have is we have two guys that can go out there and play," said Gailey about his two running backs. "We can keep both of them fresh by rotating the backs. They both can break the big run and will make you work to get them to the ground."
Making his first start in relief of a sick Reggie Ball was redshirt freshman Taylor Bennett at quarterback. Bennett threw a touchdown on his first collegiate pass and finished the game with 142 yards passing.
"I'd like for him to be more accurate," said Gailey about Bennett's progression from last week to this week. "I thought he rushed a few things but the game will slow down for him the next time he walks out there for a game. He'll be able to see things better, anticipate them, and just have a much better feel for the game."
Ball is expected to be on the practice field on Tuesday for the Yellow Jackets. His condition for this Saturday is still questionable.
"I met with Reggie yesterday and obviously he's feeling much better," said Gailey. "We're going to work him back slowly, to see if any of the symptoms come back. There is a process you have to go through to get back to full speed."
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