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.
By Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech beat