Virginia (2-0) at Georgia Tech (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 15, 3:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bobby Dodd Stadium (55,000) -- Atlanta, Georgia. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Virginia 2-0, Georgia Tech 1-0. Away Record: Virginia 0-0, Georgia Tech 0-1. Neutral Record: Virginia 0-0, Georgia Tech 0-0. Conference Record: Virginia 0-0, Georgia Tech 0-1. Series Record: Virginia leads, 17-16-1.
GAME NOTES: The Virginia Cavaliers head out on the road for the first time this season when they invade Bobby Dodd Stadium for a clash with Atlantic Coast Conference foe Georgia Tech.
This game is also the conference opener for Virginia which is coming off a pair of wins in Charlottesville. The most recent victory came in a 17-16 nail biter against Penn State. Virginia scored to take the lead for good with 1:28 left in regulation and benefited from four missed field goals, including a potential game-winner in the waning seconds, from Penn State kicker Sam Ficken.
A matchup with FCS opponent Presbyterian was just what Georgia Tech needed in week two after taking a tough 20-17 loss in overtime in its ACC opener against Virginia Tech on Labor Day. The Yellow Jackets rolled up a 59-3 victory against Presbyterian to push their record to 1-1 on the season and 4-0 all- time against the Blue Hose.
The all-time series between these programs has been a closely contested one. Currently Virginia holds the edge with a 17-16-1 record, after a 24-21 win in Charlottesville last season. The Cavaliers scored all 24 of their points in the first half and held on to knock of the then undefeated and nationally ranked Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech has reason to believe some revenge may be in order as the Yellow Jackets are 13-7 in the series at home.
Virginia overcame some large obstacles created by its offense to secure the win over the Nittany Lions. The Cavaliers turned the ball over four times and managed only 295 yards of total offense in the game. Before last Saturday's contest, no Cavalier team coached by Mike London had won when gaining less than 300 yards of total offense. It was also a fairly rare occurrence for the offense to struggle that much with only four other similar instances occurring during London's tenure.
Despite failing to hold on the ball consistently, Virginia was efficient when it was able to do so with a 9-for-15 conversion rate on third down and perfect 2-for-2, both touchdowns, in the red zone.
The offense was almost entirely produced through the air with the squad managing only 32 yards total on the ground. Michael Rocco completed 21-of-33 passes for 258 yards and a pair of scores, though he was intercepted once. Rocco really showed up in the clutch, going 6-for-6 for 97 yards and the game- winning touchdown on the Cavaliers' decisive drive. Jake McGee ended with the team-lead in receiving yards (99) and Darius Jennings had the most receptions (five).
The defense really needed to step up in order to keep Virginia in the contest and although the Cavaliers were outgained (330-295), the unit generally did a good job. Most importantly the team was able to keep Penn State out of the end zone for the most part and force the Nittany Lions to attempt field goals. With Ficken inconsistent on the day, those stops in the red zone proved invaluable.
Steve Greer led the way for the defensive attack with a career-high and game high 15 tackles in the contest. Greer was a constant nuisance in the Penn State backfield, racking up 2.5 tackles for loss, including a pair of sacks. Two different players (Ausar Walcott and Demetrious Nicholson) kept the Nittany Lions out of rhythm in the passing game with three pass break-ups a piece.
Like most FBS teams that have clashed with FCS schools this season, Georgia Tech found itself scoring at a much higher rate than usual against Presbyterian. The Yellow Jackets scored 21 points in the first quarter and went on to post 712 yards of total offense in the 59-3 rout. The total yard production was the second-highest in school history behind a 768 effort against Kansas that ended in a 66-24 victory last season.
As usual the Yellow Jacket offense was mainly reliant on the running game with the team posting an incredible 469 yards on the ground. Two different players finished the day with at least 100 yards rushing. Zach Laskey was the leader with 116 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Vad Lee was the second with 106 yards on eight carries. Tevin Washington just narrowly missed out on being the third 100-yard rusher, finishing with 97 yards and a score.
Washington was one of three quarterbacks used as the trio compiled 243 total yards and a pair of scores through the air. Lee was one of the other quarterbacks and although he completed only one pass, it was a big one ending in an 82-yard scoring strike to Jeff Greene.
Just like the offense, the Tech defense benefited from the downgrade in competition, allowing only 243 total yards. This included an impressive effort in pass defense, as the Blue Hose completed only 13-of-35 passes for 98 yards and an interception. The Yellow Jackets were constantly making plays on the ball with seven total pass breakups as a team, which ties for the most during head coach Paul Johnson's tenure.
Brandon Watts had the team lead in tackles with six. Despite not recording a tackle, Jamal Golden had a major impact, recording the lone interception. Jemea Thomas led the team with a pair of pass break-ups.
While Virginia has benefited from a two-game homestand early on, Georgia Tech has already cut its teeth on the road against one of the best teams in the conference (Virginia Tech) and the country for that matter. With a week to tune up, the Yellow Jackets should reverse that outcome in their second go around in conference play.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Tech 30, Virginia 19
09/12 11:11:26 ET