Possessions key for Georgia Tech


This is the notebook for Thursday’s paper. Not a ton of new stuff in here (there’s a sales pitch) if you’ve read the stuff previously posted Wednesday, but hopefully something new. And to the caller to Paul Johnson’s radio show with the Moneyball question who mentioned the blog, my thanks. That made my evening. Next time, though, please give out the website when you mention it. (kidding)

1. Georgia Tech A-back Orwin Smith is 42nd in FBS in rushing at 90 yards per game with just 12 carries. No one ahead of him has fewer than twice as many rushes and most have four times as many or more.

Smith, who is averaging 22.5 yards per carry, is fine with it.

“It’s not tough, because I look at it as an advantage,” Smith said. “I feel like we can last longer.”

At Phenix City (Ala.) Central High, Smith got as many as 30 touches a game, he said, but at Tech he receives 10 in a busy game. Against Kansas Saturday, he used his five carries to go 157 yards, including a school-record 95-yard touchdown run. Like the other A-backs, he gets plenty of blocking assignments, which he also doesn’t mind.

“I love to see other guys have fun, especially when you can be the reason why somebody broke out for 60 yards,” said Smith, who helped spring A-back Embry Peeples for a 63-yard touchdown against Kansas last Saturday.

He was efficient in his rushing last year against North Carolina, whom Tech plays Saturday. He had one carry, which went 73 yards for a touchdown in the Yellow Jackets’ 30-24 win.

(We’ll see who gets the ball Saturday. Could be anybody.)

2. Tech coach Paul Johnson and North Carolina coach Everett Withers agree on at least one thing about their game Saturday. Taking care of possessions will be critical.

Withers, speaking on the ACC coaches teleconference Wednesday, said that North Carolina can’t stop Tech’s offense, but does want to try to manage the Jackets’ possessions, forcing long drives and field goals instead of touchdowns.

Like Tech, the Tar Heels have shown an ability to score quickly and also grind out long drives with an offense that averages 179.3 rushing per game.

“The big key is going to be us stopping them from running the ball,” Johnson said. “They’re going to come in here, I’m sure, trying to run the clock and control the ball.”

(Both teams have averaged 12-13 possessions per game thus far, which seems to be close to the norm, but the numbers I’d think are skewed by Tech’s number of one-play drives. This could be a short game, time-wise.)

3. B-back Preston Lyons and wide receiver Jeff Greene are doubtful for the game with unspecified injuries. Lyons, the No. 2 B-back, would be replaced by Charles Perkins. Johnson said Daniel McKayhan or Chris Jackson would replace Greene, the No. 3 receiver.

Two players who have yet to play this season, A-back Marcus Wright and guard J.C. Lanier, will be available to play for the first time. If Lanier were to play, it would be his first game on the offensive line. He played on the defensive line in his true and redshirt freshman years before converting to offensive line in the spring.

For North Carolina, kicker Casey Barth will likely sit out Saturday’s game with a sore thigh and hamstring. Barth is a four-year starter and a two-time second-team All-ACC pick.

(A big chance for Perkins to get some meaningful carries and show what he can do. Barth’s injury is not insignificant. His backup, Thomas Moore, is a walk-on freshman.)

4. Both North Carolina and Tech made news this week for their geniuses and, no, Johnson wasn’t one of them. Tech grad Shwetak Patel and UNC researcher Kevin Guskiewicz were two of 22 recipients of $500,000 no-strings-attached fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, so-called “genius grants.” Patel, now a professor at Washington, has invented a series of low-cost and easy-to-use sensors for the home that track energy consumption to help save energy and improve daily life. Guskiewicz has been at the forefront of research of sports-related concussions.

(It would be so awesome if these two guys connected and bet all of their grant money on the game. Not that I condone gambling, of course.)

5. The school is cautioning fans attending the game Saturday to be wary of heavy traffic due to other events in the city. The Music Midtown festival will close roads around Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Football Classic will start at 3:30 p.m. at the Georgia Dome. Also, the PGA Tour Championship will be taking place at East Lake Golf Club. … The Tech men’s and women’s basketball team will sign autographs on the south deck of Peters Parking Deck for one hour starting at 10:30 a.m.

(I’ve got nothing here. Get there early, and don’t take 10th Street. I went to the Tour Championship several years ago with my parents. We were watching players hit on the range, and Justin Leonard was already hitting, and Davis Love III came onto the range wearing the exact same outfit. Awkward!)

Thanks for reading. I’ll have something up in the morning, probably something from UNC defensive coordinator Art Kaufman.

Please follow on Facebook and Twitter.

By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat

57 comments Add your comment


September 21st, 2011
10:03 pm

Ken, great work, but do you ever sleep? Tell the boss I said a late morning post is fine with the rest of us!

Buford T. Pusser

September 21st, 2011
10:05 pm

Buford T. Pusser

September 21st, 2011
10:05 pm


September 21st, 2011
10:06 pm

Ken Sugiura

September 21st, 2011
10:11 pm

Thanks, Fuzzybee. i may take you up on that.


September 21st, 2011
10:18 pm

Going to be an awesome game Saturday. Cant wait. All you jacket fans better get out and suppor the team. UNC is a very good football team. If tech wins Saturday and puts out more impressive offensive numbers, I will be sold on this team.


September 21st, 2011
10:20 pm

Ken, you are over the top! Keep doing a great job, but get some sleep! And maybe think about vacation (after football season). Great Job! Go Tech!

Supersize that order, mutt

September 21st, 2011
10:24 pm

Ken, do your kids even know you anymore? LOL REALLY appreciate all the good work, but please do get some family time.

Jackets 2011

September 21st, 2011
10:25 pm

We’ve had the Heels number in football and even basketball (relative to Duke)
Better expect a tough game.
2.3 yards per carry Heels rushing defense vs Jackets 12.1 yards per carry rushing offense (vs Kansas)
Immovable object vs irresistible force.
Something has to give.
We ought to have a contest to predict Tech’s yards per carry.
I’ll be optimistic and hopefully realistic by starting with 6.2.
That’s probably too high.
I’ll accept any number if we win.
I’m glad we have a passing game this year just in case they manage to stop the run.


September 21st, 2011
10:37 pm

Ken, we’ll all vacation someplace warm around New Years and watch you work in person!


September 21st, 2011
10:39 pm

I’m enjoying your efforts…happy to read about my team while I’m on the road and at home. Kinda comforting.

Jackets 2011…I’ll take 6. Over or under? If you all get a chance somehow…I recorded last years GT-UNC game…and at the end of the game there was some serious preachin’ and prayin’. I loved it and it brought tears to my eyes. Anyone know who that huge preachin’ coach is? I want to send him a letter.


September 21st, 2011
10:43 pm

Ken what is al groh saying about the game??? How is the defense going to improve from last game??


September 21st, 2011
10:58 pm

I think thats Derrick Moore if its the same chaplin from the famous T Choice video on Youtube.


September 21st, 2011
11:12 pm

Well, Leonard and Love are Polo guys, so….


September 21st, 2011
11:14 pm

Ken, you have proven to be a warrior on the blog front…thanks for all the time! You da man!!! GO TECH!!!

Hayseed Dixie

September 21st, 2011
11:20 pm

Ken, have you wielded the ban hammer against me? For why? ;) Hope it’s just the comment system hiccups.

The more I read about UNC: this’ll be a solid-but-not-impossible test for our D.

CPJ likes it

September 21st, 2011
11:22 pm

10th street is already halfway shut down. If I had to guess, all streets between 10th and 14th will be shut down, so will anything East of Peachtree to Monroe between 10th and 14th. Get to town early, take the 1st possible exit, don’t get caught east of Peachtree.


September 21st, 2011
11:24 pm

Thanks fuzzybee78…that man…whoa…that’s what I’m talkin’ about!!

5150 UOAD

September 21st, 2011
11:54 pm

KEN are you single?

5150 UOAD

September 21st, 2011
11:56 pm

I might have a sister i need to hook you up with.
Hell if it gets me some free crap I am game. how bout you? LOL

yeller bug

September 22nd, 2011
12:34 am

I’ll take the over on yds/carry. > 6.2 with 200+ yds passing.


September 22nd, 2011
3:52 am

It’s nice seeing a bunch of respectful bloggers today. The NC game should show us something.


September 22nd, 2011
6:17 am

Hahah, gonna show you a loss


September 22nd, 2011
7:08 am

Another great post, Ken. Your work continues to be much appreciated.

Agree with dagnabit – Saturday will definitely give us some real insight into just what we have with the 2011 Jackets.

And, if things don’t go our way, one thing I won’t be doing is coming on the blogs with bunch of Chicken Little rantings. Let’s leave that approach to fans of you-know-who…….


September 22nd, 2011
7:35 am

Yes…that is D-Mo…the team chaplain…he is intense. The T. Choice sledgehammer video is a classic.

This season on the big screen they have him doing a motivational talk after they showcase the starting lineup and they show the historical video montage of seasons past right before the team comes out of the tunnel. It’s great.

Can’t wait….two more days!!!! YELLOW!!


September 22nd, 2011
7:52 am

Where did all those dawg fans go?


September 22nd, 2011
8:05 am

Ken is married with children…I loved that show


September 22nd, 2011
8:26 am

I think the offense will still have high production. We will see! Will be glad to see Charlie Perkins in there. Hold onto the ball Charlie!! But he will get the handoffs from Tevin. I like the fact that he is ready to get some snaps because he’s a true running back at the B back position. This is going to be good. If he can get through, he may get some big numbers for the B back position. Have wanted to see him play since reading about him in HS.

I think the defense will step up more than people are thinking. One thing, we better contain NC running. Do you guys know that NC has nto had a 1000 yard rusher since ‘97 or something. Last year they did some rushing but it was shared. If we can get them into thrid and long like we had many times in the tune-up games, then I really like our chances.

fan of shorter passes & longer runs

September 22nd, 2011
8:28 am

Glad to hear that Smith does not believe that a running back “gets stronger with more work” myth/nonsense.


September 22nd, 2011
8:32 am

Johnson is on a mission and it’s time the world took notice. I just hope the officials at GT have already begin researching where best to put his statue at. Looks like it could be erected as soon as next year.


September 22nd, 2011
8:59 am

Unc not having that kicker could be huge if it;s close.

Robert Barron

September 22nd, 2011
9:14 am

I was one of the few speaking up for Tevin after the T Day game and during the pre-season.
Days is a great runner and makes a very good 2nd stringer but Tevin runs the offense better than him and even Nesbitt.
With Tevin, there are 4 options as Mark Bradley pointed out.
With the others 2 or 3 at the most.
Since we all love Nesbitt, Mark phrased this very diplomatically yesterday.

Jackets 2011

September 22nd, 2011
9:38 am

I was one of the few defending Tevin back in the spring and during pre-season.
He did his part last year to beat Georgia.
Yes Days is the better runner.
But that is deceptive and some of you were fooled
Tevin runs the offense better, opening up the possibilities to include the fourth option of passing the ball regularly and not just depending upon a star to make a great play.
Days makes a very good 2nd string QB.
I look forward to him becoming more proficient making the pitch.
Our schedule was tailor made for us.
The hurdles get a little higher each week.
Hopefully we can continue our good play to meet the more difficult tasks as we move through the season.
Go Jackets.


September 22nd, 2011
9:45 am

we are in trouble-heather is picking us!


September 22nd, 2011
9:47 am

Looking forward to the first play of the game. Four in a row would be awesome.

Jackets 2011

September 22nd, 2011
9:54 am

No juvenal.
Our quadruple option has converted her.
Some of the ESPN babes know their stuff.
Maybe not her though.
BTW the winning post on AJC’s Sports Vent today will be mine.
I point out Muschamp is just the coach Georgia fans wish they had.
Vote early and often.
Even Dawg fans are voting for it.

Jackets 2011

September 22nd, 2011
9:58 am

Here’s the plan to beat the Heels.
Not that Paul needs any help.
Establish the third and fourth options (passing) before using the B back much.
Where Sims will run is their strength.
Use him only to keep them honest.
They probably can stop the B back dive play with their solid front line.
Unless we get really excellent blocking there.
I trust Paul to make the right calls.
He usually does.


September 22nd, 2011
10:10 am

my pessimism comes from our tendency to drop off right after the media gives us love-my hope is that we now have so many options, & hopefully CPJ will use whatever works, tempered by the belief that Tevin could have gotten so much more experience last year before Josh went out……

Jackets 2011

September 22nd, 2011
10:16 am

My pro Muschamp vent, written to aggravate dawg fans at the same time, is starting to lose to whiny vents crying about the Braves.
I’m losing to some cry baby.
The season is not over.
I think the Braves will hold on.
Tech fans are about the only positive fan base left in Georgia.
Maybe that is a very good thing.


September 22nd, 2011
10:17 am

Tech’s “O” line is looking forward to this game. That should have the fans excited. ” LET’S ROLL JACKETS “

Jacket Backer

September 22nd, 2011
10:19 am

Thanks Ken…..looking forward to Saturday…..

Go Jackets!

Jackets 2011

September 22nd, 2011
10:21 am

Although we do not own the Heels, we come close.
It leads to more confidence.
On their field, I would be a lot more worried about this game.
Before the game with them in 2009 after a tough game vs the Canes, I told worried Jacket fans I thought we would come through.
I feel even more confident this year.
Both our offense and defense are getting better.
UNC has a great front four.
We’ll attack elsewhere.


September 22nd, 2011
10:22 am

Jackets 2011, just voted for you.

Jackets 2011

September 22nd, 2011
10:27 am

Glad to hear that.
This year’s team is so much more motivated than last year’s, it is ridiculous.
We grow more confident each week.
Players are learning maybe the coaches know a thing or two.
And having a positive competition to see who can make the most good plays.
UNC would need a perfect game to beat us and it is not going to happen for them.
This might be a tough game on the road but at home, I’m confident we will prevail.

Jackets 2011

September 22nd, 2011
10:29 am

And thanks for the comment about our O line.
Good to know they are upbeat and out to prove themselves.


September 22nd, 2011
10:35 am

heather a babe?-smarter than she is pretty, but some folks, her, MB, SI, just prefer if they pull for the other team…..

Jackets 2011

September 22nd, 2011
10:53 am

Ok juvenal.
I see your point of view.
Hey we need to never act like the loser Braves fans are now on Schultz’ blog.
My handle there is Butch Cassidy on page six, starting with a joke from the movie.
Then I tell them to stop their whining in other posts.
The season is not over.
If a Tech game starts out poorly, keep your cool.
Don’t act like these losers are today.
6 pages of whining.
Really pathetic.

Jackets 2011

September 22nd, 2011
10:57 am

MB can’t win.
Had he predicted correctly 6-7 seasons for Tech and Georgia, the whining and complaining would have been endless.
Fans – “I want the truth”.
MB doing his best Jack Nicholson – “You can’t handle the truth”.
Well Tech fans can.
We have a quadruple option we are starting to turn loose.
Watch out ACC.


September 22nd, 2011
11:03 am

I approve of the gambling joke, Ken.


Jackets 2011

September 22nd, 2011
11:03 am