Archive for November, 2010

Has the light come on for Stephen Hill?

It hasn’t been the best season for Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill, but perhaps he has figured something out.

Expected to provide the offense with a downfield threat, Hill has instead been anonymous in most games, other than when he’s dropped passes.

Still, he entered Saturday’s game against Duke as the team’s leading receiver with 12 catches for 165 yards. It appeared things were going to get off to a rocky start for him against the Blue Devils when he was flagged for blocking in the back on Tech’s first series. The penalty, which looked like a bad call, wiped out a 40-yard touchdown run by Anthony Allen.

But Hill bounced back later in the game, catching a 79-yard touchdown pass that cemented Tech’s victory and bowl eligibility.

“I’ve had a pretty bad year, but it’s all right,” Hill, a 6-foot-5 speedster, said. “We’re looking forward now.”

This week’s game against rival Georgia has special significance for Hill. After he committed to Tech in 2008, Georgia made a late …

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Stats that matter: Tech vs. Georgia

Georgia Tech (6-5) will take on Georgia (5-6) at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens. NCAA ranks are in parenthesis.

STATISTICAL COMPARISON

Category……………………..Georgia Tech…….Georgia

Rushing offense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .319.4 (1) . . . . . . . .147.1 (72)

Passing offense . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86.3 (119) . . . . . . .243.8 (41)

Tech’s passing offense just hasn’t been able to get off the ground this season and is now just one spot above the worst passing team in college football: Army, which is averaging 77.91 yards per game.

Total offense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .405.6 (42) . . . . . . .390.9 (54)

Tech is 17 yards off last year’s pace in this category, mostly because of the deficiencies in the passing attack.

Scoring offense . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27.0 (T-61) . . . . . . .33.5 (26)

The Bulldogs have scored more than 30 points in each of their past six games. Tech has broken 30 five times this season.

Rushing defense . . . . . . . . . . . . . …

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Can Tech pressure Murray?

Georgia Tech has one sack in its past four games.

“We haven’t gotten a lot of production in that area,” coach Paul Johnson said, his dissatisfaction evident.

In Al Groh’s 3-4 scheme, the linebackers are supposed to be the playmakers. One, backup Jeremiah Attaochu, has the lonely sack, which came against Duke last week.

Trying to protect his players, Johnson said that they substitute a lot and use a lot nickel- and dime-packages, so some of the starters don’t get chances in obvious passing downs to make plays.

But Tech must pressure redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray if it hopes to slow down Georgia’s passing attack. Murray has passed for 2,580 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. Georgia’s signal-callers have been sacked 21 times. Murray has the skill to evade rushers and scramble.

Many teams this season have used the shotgun formation or short drops and quick releases to negate Tech’s pressure. Duke did so last week.

“There were a large number of passes the other day …

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Tech’s line wary of Houston

The Yellow Jackets have had problems pass-blocking this season, so much so that Paul Johnson said if you’re going to drop back at Tech, you’d better do it quickly because the other team is coming in a hurry.

Here comes Justin Houston.

Houston, an outside linebacker for Georgia, has 10 sacks this season and was recently named a finalist for the Butkus Award, given to college football’s top linebacker.

“He’s explosive. He’s absolutely explosive off the ball,” Tech left tackle Nick Claytor said. “It’s not even moves, he’s just beating you. It’s going to be a test for the whole offensive line to contain him. He’s not huge, but really really fast and agile.”

Even though Tech seldom passes (12.6 attempts per game), it is allowing 1.36 sacks per game. Johnson attributed some of the issues to Tech having to use six different combinations of starters on the line because of injuries and a lack of production and experience. Tech features two redshirt sophomores and three redshirt …

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Green has Tech’s attention

Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green has the attention of Georgia Tech’s coaches and players.

Paul Johnson said that Green is “the best wide receiver in the country. Best I’ve seen on tape. It’s not even close.”

Secondary coach Charles Kelly, whose players will be matched up with Green in Saturday’s game, said, “He does everything great. He’s big (6-4, 212 pounds) . He’s strong. He’s quick. He’s physical. He can jump and play the ball in the air.”

Green has 41 catches for 674 yards and nine touchdowns this season in just seven games. His story is well-known. He was suspended for the first four games of the season after he sold his jersey from the Independence Bowl to an agent’s rep.

When he returned, the Bulldogs’ offense took off, scoring at least 30 points in its last six games. It topped 30 once in the first five games. In less than three seasons, he has 2,445 yards, third on the school’s career list.

“Addition of A.J. Green has made it better for everybody,” Georgia coach Mark …

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A few notes about the game

A few notes about the game, from Tech’s sports information department:

  • Saturday’s game marks the first Georgia Tech-Georgia meeting in which neither of the two teams are nationally ranked since 1996. Last year Tech was ranked 7th and Georgia was not ranked.
  • The Tech-UGA game is one of four ACC-SEC match-ups on Saturday. The SEC is 3-0 against the ACC this season. LSU beat North Carolina (30-24), Auburn def. Clemson (27-24 ot) and Alabama beat Duke (62-13). The previous two seasons (2008 and 2009) combined saw the SEC go 11-10 vs. ACC teams.
  • Georgia Tech did not play a home night game in 2010, a rarity on the Flats. The Yellow Jackets, however, will play their third road night game of the season on Saturday.
  • In the last 30 meetings with Georgia, Tech has gone scoreless in the first quarter 15 times. Meanwhile, the Jackets have gone scoreless in the second quarter just three times.
  • Tech has more fourth-down attempts this season (34) than Florida State, Boston College, Virginia …

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Blair’s in a good place

Should Georgia Tech need a field goal in the final seconds to defeat Georgia, Yellow Jackets kicker Scott Blair is in a good place mentally and ready to go.

The senior is having an All-ACC campaign this season. He has hit 15 of 17 field goals, including eight of 10 from 40 yards or longer. Three of those came in last week’s win against Duke. Blair is also a perfect 32-of-32 on point-after attempts.

His success this season can be traced back to the mental mess that he got himself into last season. He tried to be Mr. Roboto on every kick, making sure every fundamental was perfect. As a result, he reached a point of paralysis by analysis. He missed 6 of his 20 field-goal attempts, including four from less than 40 yards. His kickoffs were as wild as a Nuke LaLoosh pitch.

It reached a point where coach Paul Johnson pulled Blair aside and told him to relax.

He did. While still focused on making sure he’s fundamentally sound, Blair said he started focusing on the positives of …

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Johnson takes blame for Duke’s fake punt

Georgia Tech Paul Johnson said the successful fake punt that Duke ran in last week’s game was “our fault.”

Because the Yellow Jackets haven’t had much success returning punts this season (6.2 yards per game, 91st in the NCAA), they tried to double-team more of Duke’s players to give themselves a chance at breaking a long return.

The first time Tech tried that tactic, Duke’s Alex King simply held onto the ball for a while longer while his coverage team ran downfield. And then he punted.

The second time King pulled the ball down and rushed to the left 16 yards for a first down.

“That was a scheme thing all the way,” Johnson said.

Georgia is allowing 4.4 yards per return. Its net punting average (41.0) is third in the NCAA.

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Johnson’s most frustrating issue this season

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said the most frustrating thing about this 6-5 season is his inability “to find the hot button on this team.”

He said finding ways to motivate his players has been consistently difficult.

“People can cry about schemes and play-calling, but the chemistry and just being able to do that [motivate] are just as important,” Johnson said.

This week shouldn’t be an issue.

“It’s for the state championship and bragging rights,” he said. “Pick one game off our schedule for alumni, fans and everyone involved, this is the game they would pick.”

He said that he and his staff have tried many different things this season, from the obvious and popular what’s at stake for Tech to what’s at stake for the other team.

“Try everything until you find something that works,” he said.

When asked what motivated last year’s ACC championship team, he said, “If I knew I would use it this year. I don’t know. It just happens.

“I’m more frustrated about that than anything …

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Quotes from Paul Johnson

Quotes from Paul Johnson’s weekly Tuesday press conference, courtesy of Georgia Tech’s sports information department:

Opening Statement

“We are working hard to try and get ready for the game on Saturday.

I am sure that both of the teams would have liked to have a better

record going into this but it is what it is and doesn’t change that it

is still a huge game. It is for the state championship and bragging

rights and I know that if you picked one game on our schedule for our

alumni, fans and everybody involved, this is the game that they would

pick. I am sure that you will have two teams excited to play on Saturday

night and we will see what happens. Georgia is a very talented football

team and they have a lot of great individual players on their

roster.”

On how he approaches the game

“I think you have to try and approach it the way that you approach

the other games in preparation. That is the only way that I know how to

do it. You can’t get yourself so revved up on …

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