FACTS & STATS: Site: Kenan Stadium (63,000) — Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Georgia Tech 3-1, UNC 2-1. Away Record:
Georgia Tech 2-0, UNC 0-3. Neutral Record: Georgia Tech 0-0, UNC 0-0.
Conference Record: Georgia Tech 2-1, UNC 0-2. Series Record: Georgia Tech
GAME NOTES: Coming off their first loss of the season, the Georgia Tech Yellow
Jackets take to the road this week for an ACC showdown with the North Carolina
Tar Heels at Kenan Stadium on Saturday.
Paul Johnson’s team opened the season with five straight wins to forge their
way into the Top-25. Their stay there was short-lived however, dropping out of
the rankings with a 31-25 home loss to Duke last weekend.
Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels can take some solace in their 50-43 shootout loss to
top-10 foe Notre Dame on the road last weekend. However, moral victories are a
bit hollow as UNC has now dropped four straight games since opening the season
with back-to-back wins.
This marks the 50th all-time meeting between these two programs. Georgia Tech
holds a 28-18-3 series advantage and has won the last five meetings.
Despite suffering their first loss of the season last week, Georgia Tech was
still able to chew up a large number of yards on the ground with 282. It is
the norm for a Johnson-led triple-option attack, with Georgia Tech ranked
seventh in the nation in rushing at a hefty 294.7 yards per game.
Quarterback Justin Thomas is the straw that stirs the drink in Atlanta, as he
leads the team in rushing with 589 yards and three TDs. Tailback Zach Laskey
isn’t far behind and handles the majority of carries that are left, amassing
521 yards on the year and three scores as well.
Passing is a distant thought in the Tech offense, with Thomas throwing just 87
times this year. He has completed just 42 of those passes, for 724 yards, with
seven TDs against three INTs.
Wideout DeAndre Smelter is the top option down the field, leading the team
with 16 catches, for 360 yards and four TDs.
The Georgia Tech defense is holding opponents to 388.3 yards per game and
while the team has struggled at times against the run (187.7 ypg), the pass
defense is usually solid (200.7 ypg). The Yellow Jackets have recorded eight
interceptions on the season, by eight different players.
Sophomore LB Paul Davis leads the team in tackles with 43 stops. He also has
one sack and one interception to his credit. Senior LB Quayshawn Nealy isn’t
far behind with 40 tackles and one INT. Freshman DE KeShun Freeman (22
tackles) paces the team in TFL (5) and sacks (2.5).
UNC quarterback Marquise Williams put the Tar Heels on his back, but it wasn’t
enough, as they fell in an offensive slugfest with the Irish. Named the ACC
Player of the Week, Williams helped his team roll up 521 yards of total
offense in South Bend, rushing for 132 yards and one TD, while passing for 303
yards and two more scores.
The Tar Heels haven’t had many problems offensively this season, averaging
37.2 ppg on 433.0 yards of total offense. Williams is a big reason for that
success, completing just over 60 percent of his passes, for 1,386 yards, with
11 TDs. He is also the team’s top gainer on the ground, rushing for 375 yards
on the year with three TDs.
A deep receiving corps is headlined by Ryan Switzer (25 rec, 293 yds, 1 TD),
Mack Hollins (21 rec, 389 yds, 4 TDs) and Quinshad Davis (19 rec, 253 yds, 4
The real trouble UNC has had this season is on defense, where the team ranks
among the nation’s worst, giving up 43.3 ppg, while getting torched by both
the run (191.7 ypg) and the pass (316.3 ypg).
Sophomore CB Des Lawrence leads the way for UNC with 42 total tackles,
followed closely by junior LB Jeff Schoettmer (41 tackles). Sophomore CB Brian
Walker is a playmaker, with three interceptions and one forced fumble.
There is no denying the fact that UNC is stocked with offensive talent, but
against a team that terrorizes opponents on the ground, the leaky North
Carolina defense will once again be its downfall.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Georgia Tech 41, North Carolina 31