1. Chris Tanner’s patience has been rewarded.
The Georgia Tech kicker, who began his career in 2008 as a walk-on and had played in five games up until last Saturday, took all of the Yellow Jackets’ placekicks in their win over North Carolina and will have full duty, including kickoffs, against Duke this Saturday.
“There’ve been a few times when I’ve been pretty frustrated (about not playing), but at the end of the day, I wanted to finish,” said Tanner, a Norcross High grad.
Injuries to David Scully and Justin Moore put Tanner on the field against North Carolina; his performance will help keep him there. He was 8-for-8 on extra points and 2-for-2 on field goals, a considerable relief for a team that has endured its share of errant kicking. North Carolina’s average start point on Tanner’s seven kickoffs was the 28-yard line, a little less than a yard better than Tech’s average this season.
“I felt like that he’s been one of the most consistent,” coach Paul Johnson said. “Both of the other guys have got a stronger leg. He’s been consistent.”
While many walk-ons see playing time as opportunities to prove they can play at this level, Tanner, whose first field-goal try was his first since high school, didn’t see it that way.
“I’ve always been confident, and when I got the opportunity to go out there in 2009 (for three games), that was great,” Tanner said. “But, yeah, just getting a chance to kick for Tech was a great experience and I look forward to Duke and any games after that.”
2. The Chick-fil-A Bowl listed the Duke-Tech winner among its ACC candidates on its weekly blog. The Dec. 31 game at the Georgia Dome has the first pick of ACC teams after the BCS bowls. There are more options to consider this year as Clemson and Florida State may both earn BCS bowl invitations, one as league champion and the other as an at-large team.
Besides Clemson and Florida State, the other candidates were Miami and N.C. State.
3. Outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu will don the No. 40 jersey Saturday in honor of former linebacker and team captain Julian Burnett, who suffered a career-ending injury last season. Players have taken turns wearing the jersey. He’s the third junior to wear it, after linebacker Chris Crenshaw and safety Isaiah Johnson.
4. Duke defensive coordinator Jim Knowles on Tech guard Omoregie Uzzi: “Coach Johnson does such a good job of recruiting linemen that maybe wouldn’t fit into other systems, but that kid just seems like he can play no matter where he’s at or what he’s doing. He’s just a really good lineman.”
Tech offensive line coach Mike Sewak on Duke’s defensive linemen: “They’re big, they’re strong, they’re going to put their hands on you. They’re going to make it difficult to get to the linebacker. … They’re going to try to clog it up and let the linebackers make the plays.”
Duke coach David Cutcliffe on A-back Orwin Smith: “He’s an exceptionally fast young man. He’s tough, he’s experienced. He’s been a good football player down there for a long time.”
5. A crowd of about 45,000 is expected for Saturday’s game, the final home game of the season and senior day. It is also military appreciation day. Military veterans and retirees and their families can purchase discounted tickets at the Tech ticket office or at 1-888-832-4849.
At the game, Tech athletes will be at the gates collecting toys and monetary gifts for the Michael Isenhour Toy Drive. Fans are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy. Toys will be donated to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter.
6. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU. Anish Shroff (play-by-play) and Dan Hawkins (color) will call the game. They also handled the Virginia game in September. … Tech has had an interception in the past nine games and 11 total. They’ve been made by nine different players. Only Jemea Thomas, with three, has more than one this season.
Thanks for reading.
In case you missed it…
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog