Georgia Tech has two Thursday night games on the 2011 football schedule released today.
The Yellow Jackets will host ACC champs Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. on Nov. 10 in the teams’ second consecutive Thursday night meeting. The game will be on ESPN. Georgia Tech will open its schedule against Western Carolina with a Thursday night game on Sept. 1 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The Yellow Jackets went 6-7 last season, losing to Air Force in the Independence Bowl. The team has a challenging schedule featuring games against eight teams that played in bowls last season.
The Yellow Jackets will open ACC play by hosting North Carolina on Sept. 24. Its first road game will come the next week at N.C. State. The team has just one set of back-to-back road games, at Virginia and then at Miami on Oct. 15 and 22. It has a bye on Nov. 5.
GEORGIA TECH (home games in caps)
Sept. 1 WESTERN CAROLINA (Thursday)
Sept. 10 at Middle Tennessee
Sept. 17 KANSAS
Sept. 24 NORTH CAROLINA
Oct. 1 at NC State
Oct. 8 MARYLAND
Oct. 15 at Virginia
Oct. 22 at Miami
Oct. 29 CLEMSON
Nov. 5 OPEN
Nov. 10 VIRGINIA TECH (Thursday), ESPN, 8 pm
Nov. 19 at Duke
Nov. 26 GEORGIA
Here’s more about the games:
Sept. 1 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
2010 record: 2-9 overall, 1-7 in the FCS Southern Conference.
Last year’s result: Did not play.
Tech coach Paul Johnson is a WCU alum (class of ‘79). WCU averaged 16.5 points and allowed a whopping 34.5. The rushing attack was led by Decatur native Michael Johnson (611 yards), who will be a junior. The team was quarterbacked by Zac Brindise, a transfer from South Carolina. He passed for 1,405 yards and seven touchdowns last season as a junior. After the season, coach Dennis Wagner fired offensive coordinator Keith Heckendorf and tabbed himself as the play-caller.
Middle Tennessee State
Sept. 10 at Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
2010 record: 6-7 overall, 5-3 in the Sun Belt.
Last year’s result: Tech won 42-14 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
This will be Tech’s first visit to Murfreesboro, Tenn. Dual-threat quarterback Dwight Dasher is gone, but the team returns Logan Kilgore (540 passing yards) and Jeff Murphy (395 passing yards). The team averaged 26.5 points and allowed 28.1 last season.
Sept. 17 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
2010 record: 3-9 overall, 1-7 in the Big 12.
Last year’s result: Tech lost 28-25 in Lawrence, Kan.
The loss in Week 2 last season set off alarms for Tech fans. After all, the Jayhawks were beaten in their season-opener by a FCS team. In the second year of Turner Gill’s regime, Kansas will bring its most productive quarterback, running back and wide receiver to Atlanta: Jordan Webb (1,195 passing yards), James Sims (742 rushing yards) and Daymond Patterson (487 receiving yards). The Jayhawks lost three of the best defensive players, but will return linebacker Steven Johnson (team-leading 95 tackles). Kansas averaged 17.1 points and allowed 34.4 last season. Both were among the worst in the FBS. This will be the Jayhawks’ first game at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Sept. 24 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
2010 record: 8-5 overall, 4-4 in the ACC.
Last year’s result: Tech won 30-24 in Chapel Hill.
The win over the Tar Heels in Week 3 was arguably the high-water mark of Tech’s season. North Carolina will be without two of their best offensive players: quarterback and Marietta native T.J. Yates and running back Johnny White, who used up their eligibility. Wide receiver Dwight Jones (946 yards) will return. Bryn Renner is expected to take over for Yates. Many of the defensive players involved in last year’s scandals declared for the NFL. The Tar Heels averaged 25.3 points and allowed 23.2 last season.
Oct. 1 at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.
2010 record: 9-4 overall, 5-3 in the ACC.
Last year’s result: Tech lost 45-28 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The big question: Will quarterback Russell Wilson return for his senior season or will he go play professional baseball? Wilson (3,563 yards, 28 touchdowns) tore up the Jackets’ defense in last year’s game. The Wolfpack will return leading rusher Mustafa Greene (597 yards). On defense, N.C. State has lost middle linebacker and leader Nate Irving, but do return leading tackler and safety Earl Wolff. N.C. State averaged 31.8 points and allowed 21.3 last season.
Oct. 8 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
2010 record: 9-4 overall, 5-3 in the ACC.
Last year’s result: Did not play.
The Terrapins were the pleasant surprise of the conference last season. That didn’t stop them from firing coach Ralph Friedgen and replacing him with Randy Edsall, formerly of Big East champ Connecticut. Maryland returns the core of a dangerous offense featuring ACC rookie of the year Danny O’Brien (2,438 passing yards, 22 touchdowns) and running back Davin Meggett (720 yards). Leading wide receiver Torrey Smith (1,055 yards, 12 touchdowns) opted to leave school early for the NFL. The Terps averaged 32.2 points and allowed 22.2.
Oct. 15 in Charlottesville, Va.
2010 record: 4-8 overall, 1-7 in the ACC.
Last year’s result: Tech won 33-21 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The Cavaliers will return a new offense having lost their best quarterback Marc Verica, running back Keith Payne and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman. They do return Kris Burd (799 receiving yards) and Perry Jones (646 rushing yards). The team returns the bulk of its defense, led by cornerback Chase Minnifield, although defensive end Zane Parr did leave early for the NFL.
The Cavaliers averaged 25.3 points and allowed 28.3 last season.
Oct. 22 at Miami.
2010 record: 7-6 overall, 5-3 in the ACC.
Last year’s result: Tech lost 35-10 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Tech will face a renovated Hurricanes squad, led by new coach Al Golden. Who will guide Miami’s offense? Who knows? Neither Jacory Harris nor Stephen Morris stood out last season, combining to throw 24 interceptions and the dismissal of coach Randy Shannon. Leading rusher Damien Berry and receiver Leonard Hankerson are gone.
Lamar Miller (646 yards) returns in the backfield and Travis Benjamin (743 yards) on the edge. The Hurricanes averaged 26.3 points and allowed 20.7 last season.
Oct. 29 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
2010 record: 6-7 overall, 4-4 in the ACC.
Last year’s result: Tech lost 27-13 at Clemson.
The Yellow Jackets’ slide started with last season’s defeat in Death Valley. Clemson’s defensive line disrupted the Jackets’ blocking schemes. The good news for Tech is two of the big problems on the defensive line – end Da’Quan Bowers and tackle Jarvis Jenkins are headed to the NFL. Clemson will also be breaking in a new quarterback, possibly Tajh Boyd, as well as a running back with Jamie Harper’s decision to leave school early. There is also a new offense to learn. After averaging 24 points last season, coach Dabo Swinney fired offensive coordinator Billy Napier and replaced him with Tulsa’s Chad Morris. The Golden Hurricanes finished eighth in the FBS in scoring (41.4 points per game) and fifth in yards per game (505.2) in 2010.
Nov. 10, a Thursday, at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
2010 record: 11-3 overall, 8-0 in the ACC. Conference champions.
Last year’s result: Georgia Tech lost 28-21 in Blacksburg.
Last year’s game will be remembered because quarterback Joshua Nesbitt suffered a broken arm shortly after becoming the ACC’s most prolific rushing quarterback. Tevin Washington entered and did his best to rally the Jackets. The Hokies will be without Mr. Everything Tyrod Taylor as well as running backs Darren Evans (team-leading 854 rushing yards) and Ryan Williams, who declared for the NFL. The Hokies return leading tacklers Bruce Taylor and Eddie Whitley. Virginia Tech averaged 33.9 points and allowed 20.6 last season.
Nov. 19 at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C.
2010 record: 3-9 overall, 1-7 in the ACC.
Last year’s result: Tech won 30-20 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
The Blue Devils return a dangerous offense, featuring quarterback Sean Renfree (3,131 yards), running back Desmond Scott (530 yards) and receivers Conner Vernon (973 yards) and Donovan Varner (736 yards). Of course, defense was Duke’s issue last season. The Devils allowed an average of 35.4 points per game last season, while scoring 25.3.
Nov. 26 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
2010 record: 6-7 overall, 3-5 in the SEC.
Last year’s result: Tech lost 42-34 in Athens.
The Bulldogs have defeated the Jackets two consecutive seasons. Tech dominated last year’s game on the stat sheet, but four turnovers were its undoing. The Bulldogs return quarterback Aaron Murray (3,049 yards, 24 touchdowns) and a big question mark at running back, where incoming freshman Isaiah Crowell, one of the nation’s most sought-after running backs, could provide an answer. The Bulldogs lost wide receiver A.J. Green, who caught eight passes for 97 yards in last year’s game. Will Georgia’s 3-4 defense improve under second-year coordinator Todd Grantham?
– Doug Roberson, AJC