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2007 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Collegefootballnews.com
Posted Dec 31, 2007


2007 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Recap: The Yellow Jackets’ 11th consecutive bowl invitation, a loss in the Humanitarian Bowl, was overshadowed by a 1-6 record versus other bowl-eligible programs and a seventh straight season of at least five losses.  The rampant mediocrity and inability to solve rival Georgia marked the end of the Chan Gailey era in Atlanta after six uninspired seasons.  Tech made a brief cameo in the Top 25 with routs of Notre Dame and Samford, but struggled all year with an offense that had no passing game to complement RB Tashard Choice.        

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Tashard Choice

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Philip Wheeler

Biggest Surprise: Of course, it became less impressive as the season progressed, but when Tech wrecked Notre Dame, 33-3, on opening night, it raised more than a few eyebrows.  The Yellow Jackets handed the Irish its worst season-opening loss, forcing three fumbles and getting 196 yards and two touchdowns from Choice.

Biggest Disappointment: QB Taylor Bennett.  Bennett’s performance in last year’s Gator Bowl ended up looking like a giant tease.  The junior was erratic all season, managing just seven touchdown passes on 327 pass attempts, production that made some Tech fans pine for the days of Reggie Ball.

Looking Ahead: Tech’s quest to get to the next level has prompted the program to hire Paul Johnson, who was wildly successful in stints with Georgia Southern and Navy.  Expect plenty of roster upheaval from a coach that has leaned heavily in the past on an option offense.         

- 2007 GT Preview
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2006 GT Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-2
2007 Record: 7-6

Sept. 1 at Notre Dame W 33-3
Sept. 8 Samford W 69-14
Sept. 15 Boston College L 24-10
Sept. 22 at Virginia L 28-23
Sept. 29 Clemson W 13-3
Oct. 6 at Maryland L 28-26
Oct. 13 at Miami W 17-14
Oct. 20
Army W 34-10
Nov. 1 Virginia Tech L 27-3
Nov. 10
 at Duke W 41-24
Nov. 17 North Carolina W 27-25
Nov. 24 Georgia L 31-17
Humanitarian Bowl
Dec. 31 Fresno State L 40-28

Dec. 31
2007 Humanitarian Bowl
Fresno State 40 ... Georgia Tech 28

Fresno State gave up a 35-yard touchdown catch to Demaryius Thomas on the opening drive of the game, and then rolled from there with 27 straight points on a 43-yard Clifton Smith run, a six-yard run from Marlon Moore, two Clint Stitser field goals, and a three-yard Drew Lubinsky scoring grab. With star RB Tashard Choice hurt, the Yellow Jackets got production out of Jonathan Dwyer in the third quarter on touchdown runs of 36 and two yards out, but it was hardly enough as Tom Brandstater was too sharp throughout. His 24-yard touchdown dash late in the third put it away, while Smith closed things out with a 32-yard scoring run. The two teams combined to convert 18 of 27 third down chances.
Offensive Player of the Game: Fresno State QB Tom Brandstater completed 23 of 30 passes for 285 yards and a touchdown, and ran three times for 40 yards and a score
Defensive Player of the Game: Fresno State DE Tyler Clutts made seven tackles, two sacks and broke up a pass
Stat Leaders: Fresno State - Passing: Tom Brandstater, 23-30, 285 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Clifton Smith, 18-152, 2 TD. Receiving: Marlon Moore, 7-80
Georgia Tech - Passing: Calvin Booker, 7-15, 116 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Tashard Choice, 12-69. Receiving:
Demaryius Thomas, 4-69, 1 TD
Thoughts & Notes ... Georgia Tech interim head coach Jon Tenuta didn't exactly come through with a strong defensive gameplan against Fresno State. There was little of the pass rush that dominated at times throughout the year, there were too many big plays allowed, and not enough stops on third downs. Fresno State played a better first half and Tech couldn't scramble to get back. The fight appeared to be there as the game went on, but the Bulldogs were too sharp. ... FSU QB Tom Brandstater has been teetering on the verge of greatness, and this game might be the one that makes him the WAC's signature star going into 2008 (if Boise State's Ian Johnson leaves early). The offensive line gave him time and he came through with a brilliant game. ... Even though the coaching situation made Georgia Tech understandably uneven, this was still a bad, bad loss for the ACC. The WAC has been mediocre in the bowl season, and Fresno State is certainly nothing too special, but the Yellow Jackets got their doors blown off. Fresno State outgained Tech 571 yards to 379.

Nov. 24
Georgia 31 ... Georgia Tech 17
Matthew Stafford ran for a 31-yard touchdown and hit Mo Massaquoi for a nine-yard score in the second quarter o give the Bulldogs control of the game, but it wasn't until Thomas Brown tore off a 32-yard touchdown run early in the fourth before they could relax a bit. Georgia Tech played tough with a 12-yard Tashard Choice touchdown run and a 17-yard Colin McPeek catch, but the offense couldn't get going in the second half.
Player of the game: Georgia RB Thomas Brown ran 17 times for 139 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Georgia - Passing: Matthew Stafford, 14-29, 214 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Thomas Brown, 17-139, 1 TD. Receiving: Mo Massaquoi, 6-74,1 TD
Georgia Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 9-27, 137 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing:
Tashard Choice, 25-134, 1 TD. Receiving: Greg Smith, 3-49

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After yet another loss to Georgia, and with a disappointing season that many felt should've ended with an ACC title, it'll be interesting to see what kind of a hot seat Chan Gailey is on. He has put together a nice program, but when you don't beat your arch-rival since 2000, alumni tend to get very, very cranky. Tashard Choice finished off his regular season like a warrior, but he didn't get any help from the passing game. Taylor Bennett shows just enough talent to suggest he could grow into a major player, but he's way, way too inconsistent and doesn't have an accurate enough arm at the moment.

Nov. 17
Georgia Tech 27 ... North Carolina 25
Georgia Tech PK Travis Bell overcame an earlier miss to nail a 27-yard field goal with 16 seconds to play for the win. The Yellow Jackets lost four fumbles, but the defense more often than not bent without breaking as UNC settled for four Connor Barth field goals and got into the end zone on a 14-yard Hakeem Nicks catch and a one-yard Anthony Elzy run. Greg Smith caught touchdown passes from 40 and 47 yards out for Tech, while RB Tashard Choice, who ran for 142 yards, threw a 17-yard scoring pass to QB Taylor Bennett. UNC finished converting just one of 13 third down chances.
Player of the game: Georgia Tech WR Greg Smith caught six passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Georgia Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 13-24, 196 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Tashard Choice, 33-142. Receiving: Greg Smith, 6-155, 2 TD
North Carolina - Passing: T.J. Yates, 21-35, 283 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Greg Little, 24-89. Receiving: Hakeem Nicks, 7-162, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Georgia Tech can breathe a huge sigh of relief after getting the late field goal and escaping with a win over North Carolina. For all the problems and all the issues the Yellow Jackets have had, they've won four of their last five games to turn the season around and be in a position for a nice bowl. Getting to seven wins is nice, but beating Georgia would suddenly make the season potentially special. Closing out strong is a must, and to beat the Bulldogs, the offense has to get hot early.

Nov. 10
Georgia Tech 41 ... Duke 24
Tashard Choice ran for 170 yards with touchdown runs from one and 16 yards out, and Taylor Bennett ran for a one-yard score and connected with Correy Earls for a 38-yard touchdown as Georgia Tech got by Duke. The Blue Devils stayed alive on a 64-yard Eron Riley touchdown catch, an 11-yard Requan Boyette run, and a 24-yard Leon Wright fumble recovery for a score, but the Yellow Jacket defense, and the running of Choice, helped put the game away. Tech outgained Duke 477 yards to 146.
Player of the game: Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice ran 24 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Georgia Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 11-23, 218 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Tashard Choice, 24-170, 2 TD. Receiving: Correy Earls, 5-86, 1 TD
Duke - Passing: Thaddeus Lewis, 12-29, 122 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Re'quan Boyette, 13-51, 1 TD. Receiving: Eron Riley, 3-74, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Getting a huge day from Tashard Choice, and eight sacks, against Duke helped the Yellow Jackets get by what should've been an easy win, but the passing of Taylor Bennett once again proved to be a problem. He's not Reggie Ball quite yet, but he's not improving and he's not taking advantage of the attention paid to the running game. He made enough big throws to beat Duke, but he has to be consistent to beat Georgia in two weeks, and mistake-free to prevent an upset against North Carolina next week.

Nov. 1
Virginia Tech 27 ... Georgia Tech 3
Virginia Tech's Sean Glennon overcame the loss of his jersey, wearing a modified Georgia Tech jersey, to throw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Justin Harper and a 71-yard pass to Josh Morgan. The day belonged to the Hokie defense that forced six turnovers, including five interceptions, and held the Yellow Jacket offense to 271 yards and a 24-yard Travis Bell field goal. Georgia Tech had one big chance to get back in the game, but a trick play just missed on a sure touchdown pass just out of reach for WR James Johnson.
Player of the game: Virginia Tech QB Sean Glennon completed 22 of 32 passes for 296 yards and two touchdowns
Stat Leaders: Georgia Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 11-26, 157 yds, 4 INT
Rushing: Jonathan Dwyer, 10-68. Receiving: James Johnson, 7-136
Virginia Tech - Passing: Sean Glennon, 22-32, 296 yds, 2 TD
Rushing:
Branden Ore, 19-86. Receiving: Josh Morgan, 6-103, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Georgia Tech offensive line couldn't handle the fearsome Virginia Tech defensive line, and couldn't give Taylor Bennett time. It wasn't all the O line's fault that GT QBs threw five interceptions, and while the loss of the top running backs to injury two weeks ago can't be blamed considering Jonathan Dwyer ran well. Nothing clicked after getting up 3-0, and nothing on offense worked. With Duke and North Carolina ahead, there's still a good shot at a nice record and a good bowl, while beating Georgia at the end of the year would mean almost as much to many as a division title. In other words, there's still a lot to play for.

Oct. 20
Georgia Tech 34 ... Army 10
Georgia Tech had few problems with Army, cranking out 510 yards of total offense, getting past a 10-10 first half tie to score the final 24 points of the game, but top running back Tashard Choice, who scored on a one-yard run in the first half, was lost to a knee injury. The rest of the offense picked up the slack, with Rashaun Grant running for a 24-yard score and Jonathan Dwyer and Jamaal Evans each running for short scores. Army got its touchdown on a 27-yard Jeremy Trimble catch.
Player of the game: Georgia Tech RB Rashaun Grant ran 11 times for 119 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Georgia Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 13-24, 207 yds
Rushing: Rashaun Grant, 11-119, 1 TD. Receiving: Greg Smith, 4-61
Army - Passing: Carson Williams, 9-23, 124 yds, 1 TD, 3 INT
Rushing:
Patrick Mealy, 18-86. Receiving: Jeremy Trimble, 4-83, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... You don't get better by losing a player like Tashard Choice, who went down with a knee injury against Army, but Georgia Tech always finds productive tailbacks. Rashaun Grant stepped in and ran well as part of a gaggle of backs who saw work. If Choice is out for an appreciable length of time, the pressure will be on QB Taylor Bennett to start producing more down the stretch. With two weeks off, the coaching staff will have a lot of work to do before the date with Virginia Tech.

Oct. 13
Georgia Tech 17 ... Miami 14
Taylor Bennett ran for two third quarter touchdowns and Tashard Choice ran for 204 yards as Georgia Tech held on to beat Miami. Tied at 14 midway though the fourth, Travis Bell hit a 39-yard field goal to give Tech the lead for good. Miami never came close again. The Canes got a 39-yard touchdown dash from Shawnbrey McNeal on fourth down in the first quarter, and Sam Shield caught a three-yard touchdown pass in the fourth, but they only gained 223 yards of total offense and got 12 first downs.
Player of the game: Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice ran 37 times for 204 yards, and caught one pass for 13 yards
Stat Leaders: Georgia Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 11-28, 114 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Tashard Choice, 37-204. Receiving: Demaryius Thomas, 3-35
Miami - Passing: Kyle Wright,  8-17, 56 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Graig Cooper, 12-66. Receiving: Sam Shields, 4-22, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The formula continues to be the same for the Yellow Jackets. If the defense is a brick wall, like it was against Miami, and if Tashard Choice is running well, this is a nasty team to beat regardless of what Taylor Bennett does. It would be nice to have more from the passing game, but if Choice is on, everything else falls into place. While the ACC title dreams are long gone, this can still be a strong end of the year with Army, Duke and North Carolina still on the schedule, along with Virginia Tech and Georgia at home.

Oct. 6
Maryland 28 ... Georgia Tech 26
Georgia Tech's Travis Bell missed a 52-yard field goal in the final minute as Maryland held on to pull off the win. The Terps got three touchdown runs from Lance Ball, including a one-yarder late in the third, for a 28-17 lead, but Georgia Tech fought back with a 37-yard field goal and a 39-yard touchdown catch from Demaryius Thomas, but the two-point conversion was stuffed. Tech was down 21-3 before getting things going with a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Darrell Robertson, and started off the scoring in the second half with a one-yard Tashard Choice scoring run, but the Terps answered with an 11-play drive, finishing up with Ball's third score for all the points they'd need. Tech outgained Maryland 484 yards to 343.
Player of the game: Maryland RB Lance Ball ran for 86 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.
Stat Leaders: Georgia Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 22-34, 309 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Tashard Choice, 32-135, 1 TD. Receiving: Demaryius Thomas, 9-139, 1 TD
Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 10-17, 255 yds, 1 TD
Rushing:
Lance Ball, 16-86, 3 TDs. Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 4-109
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Georgia Tech outplayed Maryland for about 45 minutes, but couldn't overcome the early deficit to pull off the win. The defensive line did its job, Taylor Bennett threw well, and Tashard Choice ran like he normally does. It controlled the ball for 11:40 of the fourth quarter, dominated the third, but couldn't get the job done. Now the season has become a tremendous disappointment, losing three of the last four games with a trip to Miami ahead. The team is better than this.

Sept. 29
Georgia Tech 13 ... Clemson 3
Georgia Tech got a two-yard Tashard Choice touchdown run and two Travis Bell field goals, but this game belonged to the defense, with a little help from the poor play of the Clemson special teams. Clemson PK Mark Buchholz missed four field goals, while the vaunted Tiger running game was held to just 34 yards. The Tech defense came up with six sacks, with Philip Wheeler combing up with 2.5, and kept the Tigers off the board for almost 59 minutes after Buchholz hit a 48-yard field goal just over a minute into the game.
Player of the game: Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice rushed 32 times for 145 yards and a score.
Stat Leaders: Clemson - Passing: Cullen Harper, 17-39, 194 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: James Davis, 12-60. Receiving: Aaron Kelly, 6-53
Georgia Tech - Passing: Taylor Bennett, 7-15, 67 yds, 1 INT
Rushing:
Tashard Choice, 32-145, 1 TD. Receiving: James Johnson, 2-40
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... So that's going to be Georgia Tech football this year. Hope the defense rocks, get an All-America caliber performance from Tashard Choice, and get whatever it can from QB Taylor Bennett. After the last two weeks, the lines appeared to be ready for a challenge against Clemson, and they dominated. There's no margin for error now with road games against Maryland and Miami, but if the Yellow Jackets can pull off those wins, they'll be back in the ACC title hunt.

Sept. 22
Virginia 28 ... Georgia Tech 23
Virginia answered a 66-yard Demaryius Thomas touchdown catch with 21 straight first quarter points on four-yard runs from Cedric Peerman and Jameel Sewell, and a 25-yard Jeffrey Fitzgerald interception return for a touchdown. Georgia Tech came back with 16 straight points, with a 21-yard Jonathan Dwyer scoring run and three Travis Bell field goals on the way to a 23-21 lead, but the Cavaliers took the lead for good on a 26-yard Stanton Jobe touchdown catch. The Yellow Jackets had one last shot, but the drive stalled thanks to two holding penalties. 
Player of the game: Virginia DE Chris Long made nine tackles, a sack, and two broken up passes
Stat Leaders: Virginia
- Passing: Jameel Sewell, 16-25, 177 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Cedric Peerman, 28-138, 1 TD. Receiving: Jonathan Stupar, 6-48
Georgia Tech
- Passing: Taylor Bennett, 17-40, 230 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Jonathan Dwyer, 15-75, 1 TD. Receiving: Greg Smith, 5-79
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Even with a big touchdown pass to start the Virginia game, it seemed like there was a hangover from the Boston College game, at least defensively. Then the Notre Dame game kicked in, when QB Taylor Bennett couldn't quite click with his receivers, and good drives stalled with field goals needed in place of possible touchdowns. The defense is far better than it played this week, and again, almost appeared to be worn down from BC. The line has to start playing up to its capabilities again next week against Clemson, or it won't be pretty.

Sept. 15
Boston College 24 ... Georgia Tech 10
Boston College dominated on both sides of the ball, outgaining the Yellow Jackets 527 yards to 267 while not allowing any points until a two-yard Jonathan Dwyer touchdown run in the fourth quarter. BC jumped out to a 21-0 lead on a one-yard L.V. Whitworth touchdown run, a 39-yard scoring grab from Brandon Robinson, and a 16-yard Whitworth run. The BC defense kept Tech star RB Tashard Choice to 31 yards, helped by 12 tackles from LB JoLonn Dunbar.
Player of the game: Boston College QB Matt Ryan completed 30 of 44 passes for 435 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: Boston College
- Passing: Matt Ryan, 30-44, 435 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Andre Callender, 17-54. Receiving: Kevin Challenger, 7-88
Georgia Tech
- Passing: Taylor Bennett, 20-39, 204 yds
Rushing: Tashard Choice, 15-31. Receiving: Demaryius Thomas, 5-68
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... While the dream of dreams might be over after the loss to BC, Tech has to maintain its focus, beat Virginia, and try to get goal one, an ACC title. This might not be the last time the Yellow Jackets face BC, but to have any chance, there has to be more of a pass rush than shown this week, and the mistakes have to stop. Ten penalties for 100 yards are too many, and only converting two of 14 third down conversions put too much stress on the D. While the defense did a fine job against the run, it faced a buzzsaw in Matt Ryan. He'll bomb away against just about everyone.

Sept. 8
Georgia Tech 69 ... Samford 14
Georgia Tech got out to a 45-0 halftime lead as Tashard Choice ripped off touchdown runs from nine and 73 yards out and Jonathan Dwyer ran for two of his three touchdown runs. His 66-yarder late in the third made it 62-0 before Samford finally got on the board with a  four-yard Alex Barnett run. The Yellow Jackets finished with 404 rushing yards while the quarterback completed ten of 12 passes.
Player of the game: Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice rushed 11 times for 110 yards and two scores, and had a reception for 17 yards.
Stat Leaders: Samford
- Passing: Jefferson Adcock, 15-29, 156 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Chris Evans, 12-49. Receiving: Jeff Moore, 6-90, 1 TD
Georgia Tech
- Passing: Taylor Bennett, 8-9, 85 yds
Rushing: Jonathan Dwyer, 9-138, 3 TDs. Receiving: D.J. Donley, 2-18
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Don't dismiss a blowout win over a team like Samford, even if it was expected. Coming off the high of the Notre Dame blasting, the team appears to have extreme confidence that things are humming as well as possible before diving into the ACC season. Basically, the coaching staff asked the offense to get off to a fast start, it did, and the Tech offensive line dominated from there. It would've been nice to have seen Taylor Bennett throw the ball more than nine times, just to get more work in before facing Boston College, but that's nitpicking.

Sept. 1
Georgia Tech 33 ... Notre Dame 3
Georgia Tech blew out Notre Dame in a game that wasn't even as close as the ugly final score might indicate. The Yellow Jacket defense held the Irish to -8 rushing yards thanks to nine sacks, while the offense got two Tashard Choice touchdown runs, including a 22-yarder off a direct snap. Travis Bell connected on four field goals for Tech. Notre Dame's only points came late in the third quarter on a 24-yard Brandon Walker field goal.
Player of the game ... Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice ran for 196 yards and Jonathan Dwyer two touchdowns on 26 carries, and added three receptions for 22 yards.
Stat Leaders: Georgia Tech- Passing: Taylor Bennett, 11-23, 121 yds
Rushing: Tashard Choice, 26-196, 2 TDs  Receiving: Greg Smith, 3-31
Notre Dame - Passing: Evan Sharpley, 10-13, 92 yds
Rushing:
Demetrius Jones, 12-28  Receiving: Robby Parris, 3-30
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The win over the Irish shouldn't be a surprise, and the ease with which it happened can't come as a shocker considering how good the defense is coming into the year. What was a surprise, in a bad way, was how off the passing game was. Taylor Bennett struggled with his accuracy as he failed to end the game in the first 20 minutes with a few misfires forcing Tech to go for field goals instead of touchdowns. It should've been 28-0 at halftime instead of 16-0, but things will click with a little more time. The receivers were open, and Bennett should use the Samford game to find them. Tashard Choice was tremendous behind a strong game from the line.

Sept. 1 – at Notre Dame
Offense: Yeah, Charlie Weis is a great offensive coach, but there's some serious rebuilding needing to be done. There are good prospects, but there are several major concerns and no proven production. Can the line be better despite losing three starters? Will the skill players be remotely close to as good as the Brady Quinn, Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight and Darius Walker foursome of last year? Are the quarterbacks ready? The quarterbacks appear to be fine, the running backs will be solid in a combination, and the receivers are fast and decent. The line will be a plus by the end of the year, but it'll be a problem early on.
Defense: Charlie Weis is trying to improve a defense that was fine against the mediocre, but lousy when it came to stopping the better offenses. Gone is defensive coordinator Rick Minter, and in comes Corwin Brown, who installed a 3-4 scheme to try to generate more big plays and get more speed and athleticism on the field. The line will be the issue early on as two steady starters are needed to help out Trevor Laws. Maurice Crum leads a promising linebacking corps that should shine in the new defense. The big problem could again be the secondary. It has experience, but it won't get as much help from the pass rush, like it did last year, and needs the young corner prospects to push the unspectacular veterans for time.

Sept. 8 - Samford

Sept. 15 - Boston College
Offense: It's Matt Ryan's offense and everyone is just playing in it. The new coaching staff will install a new zone blocking scheme, putting a premium on quick, flashy runners, but the line might not be suited for the system. The receiving corps is decent, but nothing special, and the tight ends are promising. It all comes down to Ryan, who'll have more control in the attack, able to change things up a bit on the fly, and he should be tremendous now that he's healthy. He was the best quarterback in the ACC last year, and that was with a broken foot.
Defense: Is it time to start giving the BC defense a little love? It allowed 17 points per game in 2004, 15.92 in 2005, and 15.69 last year. With defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani back, it should be even better with nine starters returning including the entire front seven if linebacker Brian Toal is back from a shoulder problem. The monster tackles, B.J. Raji and Ron Brace, will gum up everything inside, while the deep linebacking corps will quietly be among the ACC's best. DeJuan Tribble is one of the league's best shutdown corners, and Jamie Silva is a top free safety. The problem? There isn't a reliable second corner, and strong safety is a question mark.

Sept. 22 – at Virginia
Offense: Until the receivers prove they can play, it'll be run, run and run some more with mobile quarterback Jameel Sewell and decent backs Cedric Peerman and Keith Payne working behind a much improved, veteran line. The tight ends are excellent, but the receiving corps suffered a nasty blow when it lost leading receiver Kevin Ogletree with a knee injury. Now it'll be up to Sewell, a rising star but an inconsistent passer, to make everyone around him better. Don't expect anything flashy for a while.
Defense: Somewhat quietly, the Virginia defense had a terrific year finishing 17th in the nation in total D and 22nd in scoring D. It should be even better with ten starters returning, including top linemen Chris Long and Jeffrey Fitzgerald to anchor the front three. All four starting linebackers are back to form a solid group that doesn't make a whole bunch of mistakes. This might not be the most athletic defense, but it's aggressive and is always around the ball.

Sept. 29 - Clemson
Offense: Clemson had the ACC's best offense last season, but it didn't get nearly enough from the passing game. Expect more of the same. The 1-2 rushing punch of James Davis and C.J. Spiller is among the best in the country, and while the line loses four starters, there's enough experience and talent up front to pave the way for a big rushing year. The receiving corps has potential, but a quarterback has to emerge to consistently produce. Cullen Harper has the job to start the year, but superstar recruit Willy Korn will likely take over at the first opportunity. No matter who's under center, and despite all the bells, whistles and formations of the Rob Spence offense, it'll be all about the running game.
Defense: As long as the corners are fine, this will be one of the nation's best defenses. The line, even without Gaines Adams, will be amazing, thanks to the emergence of Ricky Sapp and a great rotation of tackles. Assuming Tramaine Billie (broken ankle) and Antonio Clay (family tragedy) are back, the linebacking corps will fly around and make plays all over the filed. The safety situation is one of the ACC's best with Chris Clemons, Michael Hamlin (broken foot and all) and DeAndre McDaniel all potential all-stars, and the corners should be decent, at worst.

Oct. 6 – at Maryland
Offense: It's all there for the Terps to be steady, explosive and very, very productive as long as everyone plays as well as they should. This will be one of the four best offenses in the league as long as injuries don't strike up front. The line is full of veterans and should be a rock, but there's no depth. The receiving corps might be the fastest in the ACC and Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore form a tremendous 1-2 rushing punch. It's all there for a big season, but that's what everyone said last year and the Terps were merely average.
Defense:
The defense didn't exactly work last season, but it didn't seem to matter. No one stopped the run, the secondary was average, there weren't enough takeaways, and the 3-4 that was supposed to generate a serious pass rush wasn't even close. The Terps still won nine games helped be the defense coming through when it absolutely had to. This year's group won't be so fortunate and has to be better. The defensive line should be better with end Jeremy Navarre and tackle Dre Moore good enough to hope for All-ACC honors. Erin Henderson leads an athletic linebacking corps that needs experience, but should be good in time. The secondary is a concern, especially the corners hoping for Isaiah Gardner to become a shut-down defender after returning from a shoulder injury.


Oct. 13 – at Miami
Offense: After a miserably inconsistent year finishing 87th in the nation in both total and scoring offense, the attack needs to play up to its talent level. The backfield will be amazing with Javarris James and true freshman Graig Cooper each good enough star for just about anyone in the country. The line has potential with two good tackles in Jason Fox and Reggie Youngblood to work around, and now the passing game has to be far better. The Kyle Wright vs. Kirby Freeman quarterback battle will be an ongoing debate, and the receiving corps has to step up and be better. Lance Leggett emerging as a true number one target would be a start.
Defense: The defense finished seventh in the nation last year despite not getting any help from the offense. The starting 11 should be good enough to shut everyone down, but there will be early concerns with the depth on the defensive line and the secondary. Safety Kenny Phillips and end Calais Campbell might be the two best defensive players in the nation, and everything will revolve around them; they must stay healthy. The linebacking corps might not have name stars, but it'll be a rock against the run with a good rotation of talents.


Oct. 20 - Army
Offense: Last year, Army used a veteran offensive line to work the running game behind while the passing game struggled. Now it has to be the other way around. The backfield, while banged up in spring ball, is solid, the line will be a work in progress. The passing game needs to improve hoping for top-prospect Carson Williams to turn into the leader and playmaker everyone's expecting him to become, or else David Pevoto has to take over the reins and be consistent. No matter who's under center, the interceptions have to slow down. Jeremy Trimble leads a potentially strong receiving corps.
Defense:
The defense has spent most of its time trying to survive. Now it has to start making big plays in all areas after coming up with just 11 sacks, four interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Everyone at every spot can tackle, motor and toughness is never a problem, talent is always the issue. There's good experience and size up front, Caleb Campbell, when he returns from a knee injury, will be one of the nation's most productive safeties leading a decent secondary, and the linebacking corps, in time, will put up plenty of big tackling numbers once new starters Brian Chmura and Frank Scappaticci get comfortable. Overall, the defense has to do a better job of dictating the action instead of letting things happen and trying to make the play.


Nov. 1 - Virginia Tech
Offense: Can Tech win a national title with a mediocre offense? It was 99th in the nation in total offense, but it did a great job of taking advantage of all the breaks generated by the defense. Eight starters return, led by ACC Player of the Year candidate Branden Ore at running back, but he needs the line to be healthy for a full season, and better. The passing game has good pieces, but it has to be far more consistent considering there are four talented senior receivers returning. Quarterback Sean Glennon had a good off-season, and now it has to translate into better production.
Defense:
For two years in a row, Tech has led the nation in total defense, and last season, was number one in scoring defense allowing 11 points per game. There's no reason the D can't be even better with eight starters returning led by the 1-2 linebacking punch of Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi. Corner Brandon Flowers is emerging as one of the best in the nation, "Macho" Harris is a good defender on the other side, and the line is loaded with size, quickness, depth and experience. As good as things were, and will be, it's not like the D played a who's who of offensive machines, so the overall numbers might be a tad bit overrated, but make no mistake about it; this is a special defense.

Nov. 10 – at Duke
Offense: Eleven starters return to an offense that lived through the growing pains of a youth movement in an attempt to take a giant leap forward. New offensive coordinator Peter Vaas, who comes over from Notre Dame, should help make quarterback Thaddeus Lewis more consistent. Helping the overall cause even more is a veteran line that needs to be far better after doing next to nothing well throughout last year. It'll be tailback by committee with several different options to see carries, while the overall strength will be at receiver with several young, big, good-looking targets for Lewis to use to push the ball deeper.
Defense: The defense is still not going to be a rock, but there's promise with several good young players to revolve around. Top prospects Vince Oghobaase and Ayanga Okpokowuruk are rising stars on the line, while Patrick Bailey is a playmaker who'll be one of the ACC's better pass rushers. Michael Tauiliili is a playmaker at middle linebacker, but the outside linebackers are question marks. Safeties Chris Davis and Adrian Aye-Darko are good, and they'll need to be with major concerns at corner.

Nov. 17 - North Carolina
Offense: The offense only cranked out 293 yards and 18 points per game with fits of wild inconsistency. Expect a bit more of the same with a young team still trying to figure out who the starters are going to be, but the overall production should be better. Step one is to determine who the quarterback will be to handle the passing game that'll run three and four wide sets. T.J. Yates was the star of spring ball, but he'll have to hold off star freshman Mike Paulus. There are plenty of good, inexperienced running backs to work with, and Hakeem Nicks is a potential star number one receiver. However, there aren't any certainties in the depth chart quite yet. The line will be serviceable, but nothing special.
Defense:
It might take a year to turn things around after a disastrous 2006, but the young talent is there to get really, really excited. The defensive line has a slew of great prospects to work with, while the back seven has athleticism and quickness by design with a smallish linebacking corps. The return of Trimaine Goddard at safety will be a big help for the secondary, while the hopeful emergence of more pass rushing help for end Hilee Taylor should help the coaching staff implement it's attacking, aggressive style.


Nov. 24 - Georgia
Offense: The offense was a disaster at times throughout an inconsistent season, but that was to be expected with a true freshman at quarterback, at times, injury problems at running back, and the team's best receiver out. Now, sophomore QB Matthew Stafford appears on the verge of being the superstar he's supposed to be, Thomas Brown is expected to be back at some point to help out the running game, after missing the second half of last year with a knee injury, and Sean Bailey should be the number one target now that he's back from his knee injury. The offense, at least early on, will revolve around big Kregg Lumpkin and the running game, but the line needs to produce as well as it did this spring. A mega-concern going into the off-season, now the front five appears to be a strength.
Defense: Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez has his work cut out for him. After losing star corner Paul Oliver to academic ineligibility, the defense is woefully short on sure-thing veteran stars with only three returning starters. There's plenty of potential, speed, and athleticism, but several things have to happen for this to be nearly as good as the number eight defense it was last year. The pass rush should be there in time, but it might take the wheels of outside linebackers Darius Dewberry and Dannell Ellerbe to generate some consistent pressure early on. The secondary needs to unearth more big play options, and a number one corner has to quickly emerge. While undersized, the line is tough and should grow into a rock as the year goes on. This will be a far, far better defense after a few games. By then the coaching staff will have the right combination.

 
  

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