Florida St.-Georgia Tech Preview

Jimbo Fisher said Sunday the team that wins the ACC championship

may be the one that does the best job of moving past a crushing

loss to its top in-state rival.

Florida State dropped three spots to No. 13 in Sunday’s

Associated Press Top 25 following a 37-26 loss to Florida. Fisher’s

Seminoles (10-2) play Georgia Tech, which must regroup following a

lopsided 42-10 loss to Georgia, in the Atlantic Coast Conference

championship on Saturday. The winner will play in the Orange

Bowl.

Even with so much on the line, it’s not easy to quickly recover

from a loss in a state rivalry game.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Fisher said. “They had a

great rivalry game and we did too. You’ve got to be able to put it

behind you quickly and go on. I think that is going to be a big

factor, I don’t think there’s any doubt.”

It’s an unlikely matchup. Georgia Tech is only 6-6 overall but

won the Coastal Division with a 5-3 ACC record because Miami

self-imposed a bowl ban for the second straight year as it hopes to

lessen possible penalties from an ongoing NCAA investigation.

Miami, also 5-3 in the ACC, would have won a tiebreaker with

Georgia Tech for the Coastal Division title if not for the

self-imposed ban.

Fisher said the Seminoles will be without one of their top

defensive players, senior defensive end Cornellius “Tank”

Carradine, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right

knee against Florida.

“He’s sad. He’s down,” Fisher said. “He can’t be with his

teammates.”

Fisher said he hasn’t decided on a new starter. Options include

freshmen Giorgio Newberry and Mario Edwards.

Carradine led the team with 80 tackles and was second with 11

sacks, and has been projected as a probable first-round pick in

next year’s NFL draft.

“The draft will still be fine,” Fisher said. “He’ll go rehab and

that won’t affect those guys much at all, maybe a round at the

most. … It’s not that big a deal to them anymore.”

Quarterback E.J. Manuel, another candidate for the 2013 draft,

needs 33 passing yards to reach 3,000 for the first time. He’s

trying to bounce back after throwing a season-high three

interceptions against Florida.

“That was not one of his more stellar performances, that’s for

sure,” Fisher said. “We have to do a better job coaching him.”

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has lost four straight games to

Georgia after beating the Bulldogs in his first season.

The Yellow Jackets, who have struggled on defense all season,

have had to bounce back from other ugly losses this season,

including a 49-28 loss to Middle Tennessee State which cost

defensive coordinator Al Groh his job. Johnson said his defense may

have hit a new low against Georgia, making it more difficult to

regroup for the ACC championship game.

“You never know. You hope that we’ll bounce back,” Johnson said

Sunday. “We’ve got another great opportunity. I’m sure Florida

State is fighting some of the same thing today following their game

against Florida. It’s unfortunate it happened like that, but we’ll

do the best we can to move on.”

Georgia Tech’s normally productive spread-option offense was

held to a season low in points by Georgia’s defense, which

stiffened near the red zone. The Yellow Jackets had 26 first downs

and 426 yards but were held without a touchdown until midway

through the fourth quarter.

“We haven’t played very well defensively,” Johnson said.

“There’s no secret about that. The last game was probably as bad as

we’ve played all year against Georgia, and they had a lot to do

with that. They’re a very good football team.”

Johnson said Florida State’s defense is just as strong as

Georgia’s. His first two words to describe the Seminoles were

“Speed. Athleticism.”

“I think they play hard,” Johnson said. “They play with an edge.

They can run. They’re very athletic on both sides of the ball.

They’re right there with (Georgia). Every bit as fast.”

Georgia Tech’s offense could get a boost if leading rusher Orwin

Smith – averaging 9.0 yards per carry – can return after missing

last week’s game with a sprained right ankle.

“It’s still to be determined,” Smith said when asked about his

status. “I think I will play. We’ll just see how it goes day by

day.”

Georgia Tech won its last four ACC games following a 1-3 start

in the conference. After a 47-31 loss to Clemson on Oct. 6, Georgia

Tech’s only losses were to BYU and Georgia.

“The way our season started off in the league, it certainly

didn’t look too promising,” Johnson said. “But to our guys’ credit,

they won four in a row down the stretch.”

Those wins didn’t come with good defense.

“I think we were able to outscore people, honestly, if you want

to know the truth,” Johnson said. “The last four games we got far

enough out in front of people and scored enough points to secure

the games.”

Asked what he’d say to those who accuse Georgia Tech of backing

into the ACC championship game, Johnson said “Say whatever you

want.

“You know, that’s something that Miami decided to do. We had no

control over it. The only thing we had control over was we were 5-3

in our division. It’s not the first time a 5-3 team has gone to the

championship game.”

Florida State defensive coordinator Mark Stoops was hired as the

next head coach at Kentucky this week, but he is expected to coach

in this game.