Georgia Tech-Virginia Preview
Georgia Tech is off to its best start in 45 years.
Now, it’s time for the No. 12 Yellow Jackets to show they’re a
legitimate title contender. These next two weeks – an Atlantic
Coast Conference road trip, if you will – should give them a much
better idea of where they stand.
”Guys realize what’s going on around here,” quarterback Tevin
Washington said. ”We’ve just got to make sure we put ourselves in
position to have the best season we can, by doing things the way
the coaches expect us to and being the team we want to be.”
Georgia Tech (6-0, 3-0 ACC) is heading into its only stretch of
back-to-back road games, starting with Saturday’s contest at
Virginia, followed by a trip south to face Miami.
”Going up to Charlottesville is always a challenge for us,”
coach Paul Johnson said Tuesday. ”That’s a tough place to
Indeed, Georgia Tech has traditionally struggled with this
every-other-year ritual, though the Cavaliers (3-2, 0-1) have not
been overly impressive this season. In their last game, they had to
go to overtime to beat a one-win Idaho team.
Next week, the Yellow Jackets will face Miami (2-3, 0-2). Again,
the opponent doesn’t look that daunting, given its NCAA problems
and starting over with a new coach, but Johnson knows this could be
a defining stretch for a team that is growing in confidence with
”It’s really tough,” he said. ”Any conference game on the
road is tough.”
These two games are vitally important to Georgia Tech’s hopes of
making this a truly memorable season, given what awaits them in the
final month of the season.
No. 8 Clemson visits Atlanta on Oct. 29, then No. 19 Virginia
Tech comes to town for a Thursday night game. After a bit of a
breather – a road game against Duke – the Yellow Jackets close the
regular season with their traditional finale against rival
”That’s a pretty good string of games right there in a row,”
Johnson said. ”But I don’t look ahead. That’s the best way to do
it. Just focus on Virginia, then worry about the next one next
week. You can’t start looking down the road. That’s when you get in
The Cavaliers created all sorts of trouble for themselves in
their last game, nearly allowing Idaho to bounce back from a
two-touchdown deficit. They gave up a blocked punt for a touchdown
and turned it over three times. The Vandals went for the win in
overtime, but a two-point conversion failed and Virginia escaped an
Johnson is undoubtedly reminding his team of all the losses
Georgia Tech has piled up at Virginia – including a stretch of
eight straight defeats from 1992-2007. Of course, that will take a
bit of a selling job.
The coach wasn’t around for all those losses. Neither were his
players. Two years ago, the Yellow Jackets ended their Virginia
misery with a 34-9 romp.
”Since I’ve been here,” junior running back Orwin Smith said,
breaking into a smile, ”we’ve won.”
The Yellow Jackets have done nothing but win this season, taking
advantage of the most favorable part of their schedule to climb to
their highest ranking in nearly two years.
Going back a lot further, the last time Georgia Tech started the
season with six straights wins was 1966, the final year for
longtime coach Bobby Dodd. In fact, those Jackets climbed to 9-0
before losing to Georgia, then falling to Florida in the Orange
This team wants to finish the job.
”Winning is not easy,” Johnson said. ”To accomplish something
that hasn’t been done here since 1966 certainly speaks volumes for
those guys. We celebrated for a day, then it was time to get back
With each victory, the confidence level goes higher and higher.
Even when the Yellow Jackets don’t play at their best, which was
certainly the case in last week’s 21-16 squeaker over Maryland,
that final score tends to keep the team on a positive path.
”You’d be out of your mind if you didn’t feel good at this
point in the season,” Smith said. ”The best you can be is 6-0.
Guys are coming in with confidence. They’re playing with speed. You
can tell the chemistry is there. We’ve just got to stick with
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