Everything's wrong about Georgia Tech--except its 5-1 record
Georgia Tech spent a gorgeous fall afternoon in Bobby Dodd
Stadium defiling the sacred truths of college football. You win
with defense? Virginia, which came into last Saturday's game
against the Yellow Jackets ranked No. 6 in the country, rang up
600 yards. You must control the ball? Tech had possession a
little more than 22 minutes. You need to keep your quarterback
healthy? The Yellow Jackets' Joe Hamilton played the last 2 1/2
quarters with a strained medial collateral ligament in his right
Without such disdain for the game's verities, the Yellow
Jackets' comeback from a three-touchdown third-quarter deficit
to win 41-38 wouldn't have been nearly so much fun. "Everybody
just fought and fought and fought," said Hamilton afterward, his
uniform covered in grass clippings and stains and his knee
wrapped in ice. His 54-yard touchdown pass with 4:40 to play to
sophomore wideout Dez White--Hamilton's second scoring toss to
White in the fourth quarter--gave the Yellow Jackets the lead.
The victory wasn't secure until a last-gasp, 54-yard field goal
attempt by the Cavaliers' Todd Braverman slipped under the
crossbar, which quickly came down in the postgame frenzy.
Tech entered the game ranked last in the ACC in total defense,
at 375.4 yards per game. Virginia piled up 371 yards by the
half, an astonishing 254 of those coming on first down, and led
31-17. Randy Edsall, the Yellow Jackets' first-year defensive
coordinator, said last Friday that he doesn't much care about
giving up yardage. "We want to keep people out of the end zone,
create turnovers and be a real good third-down team," Edsall
said. "We're not emphasizing, 'Hold them to this many yards
running and passing.'"
No kidding. Against Georgia Tech, Cavaliers quarterback Aaron
Brooks threw for 312 yards, and running back Thomas Jones rushed
for a career-high 207 yards and two touchdowns. So how have the
20th-ranked Yellow Jackets (5-1, 4-0) risen to the top of the
ACC? Turnovers. Linebacker Delaunta Cameron's 34-yard fumble
return for a touchdown with 3:09 left in the third quarter not
only put Tech back in the game at 38-24 but also extended the
defense's streak of games in which it has scored a touchdown to
five. Cameron's run gave new life to the depressed homecoming
crowd and to Hamilton, a 5'10", 189-pound junior from Alvin, S.C.
After the knee injury, which Hamilton suffered as he threw a
69-yard touchdown to White in the second quarter while being
sandwiched by linebacker Byron Thweatt and end Patrick Kerney,
he curtailed his running. Offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen
had asked Hamilton all last week to pull down the ball and take
off more, especially against man coverage. Throughout the second
half last Saturday, Friedgen, unaware of the severity of
Hamilton's injury, kept on asking him to run with the ball.
Hamilton scrambled only on the two-point conversion after
Georgia Tech's final touchdown. "I just got scared," said
Hamilton, who completed 11 of 23 passes for 288 yards and three
touchdowns. "I wasn't about to give Coach Friedgen an honest
answer. If I told him I was worried about my knee, he may have
pulled me. I couldn't afford to even think about coming out of
A 5'10" quarterback, by definition, defies convention--if not
his coaches--and Hamilton is no exception. He turned down
scholarship offers from Nebraska and Penn State to stay close to
home and to help coach George O'Leary turn around the Yellow
Jackets. Georgia Tech went 1-10 in 1994, the year before
Hamilton signed. In the last 11 games, Hamilton has passed for
2,886 yards and 20 touchdowns while throwing just four
interceptions. He has also rushed for seven touchdowns. Tech is
8-3 during that stretch.
Last spring O'Leary coined the Yellow Jackets' slogan for 1998:
It's Sting Time. "If we're not any good, we can always change
the g to a k," he said. The only people sadder than the
Cavaliers are Atlanta print shop owners.
Phil Jackson artfully mixed meditation and Zen techniques into
his basketball coaching, as he detailed in his book Sacred
Hoops. His brother's application of the same teachings to
football is a work in progress.
Joe Jackson, a psychologist in the Charlottesville, Va., area,
led a stress-management seminar for the Virginia coaches last
spring and another for Cavaliers players over the summer.
Virginia's second-half collapse at Georgia Tech is just the sort
of lapse of concentration that has plagued the Cavaliers in the
1990s and that Jackson had hoped to help prevent.
"Worry is about the future or the past," Jackson says. "You're
not living in the moment. Let go of what happened and get back
in the game." Earlier in the season, Jackson's teachings seemed
to work. "Maryland zipped down the field on us at the beginning
of the game," said defensive coordinator Rick Lantz last week.
"I started to get upset. Then I said, 'Everybody take a deep
breath.' I think the guys thought, 'Maybe the old fart is buying
into it.' I told them, 'Let's not worry about what already
happened.'" The Cavaliers won 31-19.
Jackson acknowledges that the nature of football doesn't lend
itself to meditation. "You're in a very aggressive sport," he
says, "and what you're trying to teach in yoga and meditation is
calm. I tell them it's all right to be calm. In any peak
experience, you shut down the noise."
Virginia head coach George Welsh, as old school as Jackson is
New Age, sounded a Zen-like note after the loss to the Yellow
Jackets. "When you make a bad play, you have to put it behind
you," he said. "Then you play the next one. You do the same for
the next week. You just have to put this game behind you."
Jackson could be working with the Cavaliers again as early as
Bowl Championship Series
THE BADGERS ARE LOOKING ROSY
Based on the results at the halfway point, here's how the Bowl
Championship Series might look: Fiesta--Ohio State versus UCLA;
Rose--Notre Dame versus Wisconsin; Sugar--Kansas State versus
Tennessee; Orange--Florida State versus Syracuse.
As things stand now, after the Fiesta Bowl matchup is set, the
Rose would have the first two picks among remaining teams
because it would lose both its so-called home teams, the Big Ten
champion Buckeyes and the Pac-10 champion Bruins. Sorry, Kansas
State and Oregon: The people in Pasadena would take the Badgers
and their ticket-crazed fans to play the Irish.
HE TOOK TWO FOR THE TEAM
Among the top 10 worst celebrations in modern sports history,
you must now include that of Andrew Gallucci, 19, one of
Alabama's student trainers. When Crimson Tide kicker Ryan
Pflugner made a game-winning field goal in overtime against Ole
Miss on Oct. 10, Gallucci went bonkers. He screamed, he whooped,
he leaped over the team bench. He cleared it, but somehow his
feet got a little too far apart. When his 5'11", 240-pound body
hit the ground, his knees gave way. He ripped the anterior
cruciate ligaments in both of them. "They teach us," says
Gallucci, "that when a player tells you he heard a pop, you know
he's torn his ACL. And I knew."
It took a moment for those around him to understand what had
happened to Gallucci, but pretty soon fellow trainers were
wheeling him off in one of the very carts he makes sure are
ready every game. Gallucci underwent double surgery two days
later, and last Saturday he was resting uncomfortably at his
Tuscaloosa apartment, listening to the radio call of Alabama's
23-22 nail-biter over East Carolina.
Somehow he sees something positive in his accident. "Later on,
when I'm back out there, somebody's going to blow out a knee,"
he says, "and I'm going to have to rehab him, and when he
complains, I'm going to be able to look at him and say, 'Suck it
up, you big baby. I busted two!'" --Rick Reilly
The Joy of Playoffs
THE SECOND TIME AROUND
Division I-A coaches tell their teams, "Win and watch the
scoreboard." In I-AA, the coach says, "Win and we'll get a
second chance." When then No. 3 Appalachian State lost to then
No. 2 Georgia Southern 37-24, Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore
said he planned to motivate his players by pushing them toward a
rematch with the 7-0 Eagles in the playoffs. "[Georgia Southern
coach] Paul Johnson and I are really good friends," Moore said.
"We talked after the game, and I told him, 'Maybe we can do this
again.' He said, 'Man, that would be great.' That would be a
crowd pleaser in Chattanooga"--the site of the I-AA title game
on Dec. 19.
TAKE THAT, HORNED FROGS!
Nice piece of revenge by SMU, which got its second win of the
season by upsetting then 4-1 TCU, 10-6. Last year the Mustangs
lost a bid to the Independence Bowl when the Horned Frogs, 0-10
coming in, beat them 21-18. SMU's seizure of the Iron Skillet, a
trophy passed between the two schools, prompted coach Mike
Cavan, whose Mustangs had lost five of their first six games, to
say, "We jumped from the fire into the frying pan."... Colorado
State (6-2) is showing signs of life now that one of its two
injured star running backs is healthy. Damon Washington, who had
missed two games with a sprained left ankle, ran 72 yards for a
touchdown in the Rams' 47-28 victory over New Mexico State....
Clemson closed out its visits to Tallahassee in the 1990s
without scoring a touchdown there. With their 48-0 loss to
Florida State, the Tigers were outscored 156-3 in their four
games at Doak Campbell Stadium in this decade....
The performance of the week? Washington's Joe Jarzynka returned
a punt 91 yards for a second-quarter touchdown against Cal--and
then kicked the extra point. Jarzynka, a junior H-back and
return man who was pressed into kicking duties on Oct. 10 to
salvage the Huskies' struggling kicking game, booted three PATs
against the Bears and set a school record for punt-return yards,
with 166 on seven runbacks, in the Huskies' 21-13 win....
Death Valley, R.I.P.: After its 39-36 loss to Kentucky, LSU is
a very ordinary 6-5 in its last 11 games at home.
Read more from Ivan Maisel and cast your vote in our Top 25 fans'
poll at www.cnnsi.com.
COLOR PHOTO: AL TIELEMANS After trailing Virginia by 21 points, White and the Yellow Jackets rallied for 24 in the second half. [Dez White catching pass]
COLOR PHOTO: GENE DALTON/ROANOKE TIMES/AP [Lamont Pegues with football being pursued by defender]
COLOR PHOTO: KARIM SHAMSI-BASHA Gallucci can now speak from experience when he works on the Crimson Tide injured. [Andrew Gallucci with knees wrapped on crutches]
Amazing Facts about Temple's 28-24 Upset Of Virginia Tech
1. The Owls, losers of eight straight, were 35 1/2-point
2. Temple was 0-26 alltime in Big East road games and winless in
its last 26 games against ranked opponents.
3. The Hokies had won 15 of their last 16 at home, entered the
game 5-0 and ranked No. 14, and had the fourth-ranked defense in
4. The Owls, who lost to Division I-AA William & Mary 45-38 on
Oct. 3, played 20 first-year players.
5. Temple freshman quarterback Devin Scott was making his first
start, after injuries sidelined the Owls' top two quarterbacks.
Scott threw touchdown passes of 67 and 80 yards and scored the
game-winner on a one-yard run with 6:04 left.
6. In its five previous games, Virginia Tech had given up 30
points, fewest in the nation. The Hokies led Temple 17-0 with
2:08 remaining in the first half.
7. On their first six possessions the Owls scored no points and
gained 24 yards and one first down. On their final eight they
racked up 28 points, 11 first downs and 328 yards.
8. Entering the game Virginia Tech hadn't allowed a rushing
touchdown and had held opponents to 411 rushing yards. Temple
rushed for 202 yards and two touchdowns.
9. Hokies tailback Lamont Pegues had a career-high 169 rushing
yards before a fourth-and-two play from the Owls' three-yard
line with 19 seconds left (above). He was stopped for a
three-yard loss, sealing Temple's victory.
10. With Rutgers's 25-21 win at Pitt and Northern Illinois's
16-6 victory over Central Michigan, Saturday marked the first
time since Sept. 22, 1984, that the Owls, Scarlet Knights and
Huskies won in the same day.
--Texas Tech (6-1) at Texas A&M (6-1)
One of the game's most underappreciated rivalries is renewed in
College Station--which is a good thing for the Aggies, who have
lost six of the last 10 times they've played in Lubbock. Texas
A&M leaped another hurdle last Saturday by pounding Baylor 35-14
one week after upsetting Nebraska. The Aggies proved they can
handle success. They have the speed to handle the Red Raiders,
--Florida State (6-1) at Georgia Tech (5-1)
--North Carolina State (4-2) at Virginia (5-1)
If the Yellow Jackets win, the ACC race is all but over because
Tech will have beaten the other three teams listed above. That's
not going to happen, mind you. The Yellow Jackets used up all of
their good fortune last Saturday against the Cavaliers.
Seminoles sophomore Chris Weinke is fulfilling normal
expectations for a Florida State quarterback, instead of the
outsized ones he generated before his six-interception debacle
against N.C. State.
The Virginia team that played the first half at Georgia Tech can
beat the Wolfpack by two touchdowns. That ought to be a big
enough cushion in case the Virginia team that played the second
half against the Yellow Jackets shows up after the intermission
--Army (2-4) at Notre Dame (4-1)
The game's best rivalry a half-century ago never gets old, even
if the Cadets have lost all 11 meetings since 1958.