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Chapel Hill, NC (Sports Network) – Quarterback Joshua Nesbitt totaled 180 yards and two touchdowns as he led the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to a 30-24 victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels in an ACC bout at Kenan Stadium.
Nesbitt, who threw for only 76 yards, also added 104 rushing yards for Georgia Tech (2-1, 1-0 ACC), while Anthony Allen led the ground game with 115 yards on 20 carries.
Johnny White led UNC (0-2, 0-1) on the ground with 113 yards and one touchdown, while T.J. Yates threw for 209 yards and one score on 18-of-24 efficiency.
The Tar Heels took the lead midway through the first quarter, as Casey Barth’s 20-yard field goal capped off a 15-play, 73-yard drive.
However, it did not take Georgia Tech long to respond, as the offense needed just three plays to earned a 7-3 edge. The big play on the quick drive was the 73-yard touchdown scamper by Orwin Smith.
Georgia Tech’s lead did not last long though, as Yates connected with Erik Highsmith for a 52-yard scoring strike.
The back and forth first quarter battled continued, as the Yellow Jackets went ahead 14-10 after Nesbitt hit Roddy Jones with a 23-yard touchdown pass.
North Carolina went back in front early in the second stanza when Yates slipped across the goal line on a one-yard quarterback sneak. The score capped off an impressive, 13-play, 80-yard drive.
The Yellow Jackets were able to send the game into the break tied at 17 apiece when Scott Blair connected on a 22-yard field goal on the last play of the second quarter.
White smashed through Georgia Tech’s defense en route to a four-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
However, once again, the Yellow Jackets were able to even the score, as Nesbitt crossed the goal line on a one-yard run late in the third frame.
In the final quarter all the Yellow Jackets needed to secure a victory was two field goals by Blair, who connected from 46 and 36 yards, respectively.
Today’s score matched the final from Carolina’s opener against LSU, with the Heels suffering the same result.
Joshua Nesbitt opened the half with a 37-yard tackle-shedding haul off tackle, led by Roddy Jones’ blocking. A holding call forced a third-and-17 attempt from Carolina’s 30, with Nesbitt skying a pass out of bounds to a wide-open Embry Peeples on a simple flat route. Peeples may have had a chance to convert, but would’ve certainly put Tech within reasonable field goal position. Scott Blair banged home an unreasonable 46-yarder anyway, his second longest attempt ever.
All day T.J. Yates has done a good job of checking down to his tight ends. Zack Pianalto fumbled after grabbing his fifth catch, with Tech recovering and winning an official’s review.
Scott Blair kicked his third field goal, a 36-yarder (after missing both of his attempts during his last game at UNC). Nesbitt took a shot to the back of the head after scrambling to nearly convert a third-down, and lingered on the ground for a beat.
Butch Davis clearly decided Carolina’s ensuing drive, with about six minutes to go, would decide the game. He attempted a fourth-down conversion from his own 33, with Mario Butler almost preventing UNC’s receiver from converting. Izaan Cross sacked Yates on the next play for an eight-yard loss, but an interference call on Butler moved the chains.
Yates missed a snap after taking a knee to the ribs on a scramble, but returned to fling a stuffed shovel pass on fourth down.
Tech is now 2-1. Carolina starts 0-2. More to come.
Tech worked the middle on its opening drive, going to B-backs Anthony Allen and Preston Lyons until about midfield. Joshua Nesbitt was then faulted for a fumble recovered by Carolina, but Roddy Jones should’ve been there to receive the pitch. Jones had slipped at the snap and wasn’t in position.
Carolina immediately responded to the first non-scoring possession of the day with a touchdown drive of three straight Johnny White runs. White was up to 95 yards on the day after the drive.
Junior A-back Marcus Wright then flubbed a pitch after Tech had again reached midfield, resulting in a big loss that forced Tech’s first punt.
The Jacket defense then managed to force a rare three-and-out after some good-enough pass rushing from Brad Jefferson and others forced a T.J. Yates throwaway and hilarious scramble that featured an amazing, time-of-possession-padding spin move attempt.
Tech stalled at midfield again, as Carolina bottled up an off-tackle Nesbitt keeper on fourth-and-two. Carolina then fumbled a handoff as Yates tripped over his fullback, with Jefferson recovering for the Jackets.
The new strategy for the Heels, aggressively crashing on Nesbitt with three bodies on every option, is working to prevent long gains on pitches — or even pitch attempts. Several times Nesbitt has looked confused and hesitant. Nesbitt scrambled to convert a third-and-11 pass to Roddy Jones and soon followed with his 31st career touchdown run.
Carolina worked up another three-and-out that again featured delightful Yates playmaking inspired by Tech’s decent pass rush — a third-and-long impromptu one-armed shovel pass, as Yates is just having fun out there.
T.J. Yates burrowed for a one-yard score to cap a 13-play, 80-yard drive, giving the Heels the lead and a 15:30-to-3:49 time of possession advantage.
Offended by this, Tech responded with a field goal after a 20-play, 87-yarder that lasted about five thousand years and involved Lucas Cox shoving Joshua Nesbitt for a fourth-down conversion at some point as kings were born, wars were won, and humanity discovered time travel, which is the only reason I can think of for a drive lasting so long.
Tech’s defense looks great on first and second downs; Carolina is an absurd five of six on third-down conversions.
Lanky Tech receiver Stephen Hill has come alive, dragging a pile for twelve yards after a smoke screen and breaking an end-around through traffic for another 16.
Carolina’s defense had made a point of taking away Nesbitt’s running, but that’s changed. They forced a pitch on every outside run until about halfway through this drive. The typically stoic Nesbitt hopped up from his longest run jawing with Carolina linebacker Bruce Carter as a referee nagged.
Tech has 203 yards rushing, and Carolina has 158 yards passing.
At one point Carter took advantage of Anthony Allen’s high-shouldered, haters-gonna-hate running style, getting low and forcing Allen out on what should’ve been a first down. Allen converted on the following play, a dive.
Al Groh’s defensive crew gave up a score on its opening drive, but at least they made the Heels work for it. Halfback Johnny White led Carolina on a 15-play field goal drive that lasted almost eight minutes.
Tech A-back Orwin Smith peeled off the longest run of his career, a 73-yard misdirection pitch behind excellent wide receiver blocking.
Heels receiver Erik Highsmith immediately responded, taking advantage of true freshman safety Isaiah Johnson on a wide open 52-yarder.
Joshua Nesbitt attempted his first and only pass of the quarter on the next drive, a 23-yard scoring loft to Roddy Jones.
T.J. Yates has continued his Chick Fil A Kickoff Game lightning dangerman tradition, completing nine of 11 for 122 yards and looking more evasive in the pocket than he probably should. He’s gotten six different receivers involved already.
The option is finally in regular season form, with four rushers combining for 120 yards. Outside blocking looks much improved — Jones leveled a cornerback on a long run by Embry Peeples. Nesbitt has yet to run any keepers.
Steven Sylvester continues to provide Tech’s only serious pass rush. Run defense doesn’t look quite as terrible as the past two weeks. Defensive tackle T.J. Barnes has made a handful of appearances in the backfield and stuffed the third-down run that forced UNC’s opening-drive field goal.
(Sports Network) – The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets begin defense of their ACC title, as they travel to Chapel Hill this weekend to take on the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets would like nothing better than to get out to a fast start in league play, but must shake off last week’s stunning 28-25 setback at Kansas. The loss dropped Tech out of the top-25 and leaves the team with questions, considering the Jayhawks’ poor play in their season-opener.
Butch Davis also must rally the troops following a season-opening loss to LSU. The 30-24 setback to the Tigers was particularly disappointing considering that Davis was forced to use a skeleton crew due to numerous suspensions to begin the year.
Georgia Tech holds a 24-18-3 advantage in the all-time series and has won four of the last five meetings, including a 24-7 decision in Atlanta last year.
After two games, the Yellow Jackets are putting up 33.0 ppg. However, the offense is one-dimensional, with 331.5 yards of its total 395.5 coming on the ground. A number of players have the ability to move the chains for Tech, but it is QB Joshua Nesbitt that poses the biggest threat to defenses. Nesbitt is averaging 5.3 yards per carry in the early going and is responsible for five of the team’s eight rushing scores to date. Tailbacks Anthony Allen (6.9 ypc) and Roddy Jones (7.5 ypc, two TDs) provide more than enough depth in the backfield. The real problem for this offense is the lack of a passing game. In years past Tech was able to overcome their run-heavy offense with the threat of a passing game. However, standout WRs like Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas are long gone and there doesn’t seem to be a go-to-guy on the outside any more.
Tech’s defense has already had its ups and downs this season and while the team has been stellar against the pass (136.5 ypg), the run defense (159.5 ypg) has been lacking. The squad has been very active, with eight defenders already in double digits in tackles, led by freshman safety Isaiah Johnson’s 15. Sophomore end Izaan Cross (13 tackles, 2.5 TFLs) and junior linebacker Steven Sylvester (12 tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 2.0 sacks) have made plays as well. This defense will need its veteran leaders to step up in conference play if Tech is to make a real bid at a second straight league title. The likely candidates are senior cornerback Mario Butler (12 tackles) and senior linebacker Brad Jefferson (12 tackles, 1.5 TFLs).
The North Carolina offense was missing its top two tailbacks and its top wide receiver in the opener against LSU, but still managed to put up 436 yards of offense. Quarterback T.J. Yates was outstanding in defeat, completing 28-of-46 passes for 412 yards and three TDs. Although wideout Greg Little was not in uniform, youngster Jheranie Boyd picked up the slack, hauling in six balls, for 221 yards and one score. Tight end Zack Pianalto also had a big game, with eight receptions, for 74 yards. The ground game managed just 11 yards, but the hope is that the return of veteran tailback Shaun Draughn, who was reinstated this week, will improve the ground game.
The North Carolina defense is one of the scariest units in the country, but that was not apparent in the loss to LSU, as the Tigers rumbled for 162 yards on the ground. Of course, UNC’s lack of production on this side of the football had a lot to do with the fact that at least four All-American candidates were missing from the lineup due to suspensions. Although standout LBs Quan Sturdivant and Bruce Carter played in the opener, they are both questionable for this contest (disciplinary reasons). Without the likes of star end Robert Quinn and star tackle Marvin Austin up front last week, North Carolina struggled to end LSU drives early. Quinn is questionable for this week, while Austin is suspended indefinitely. In addition, the absence of players like Kendric Burney, Charles Brown and Deunta Williams further crippled the UNC defense. All three are listed as questionable this weekend.
Both teams figure to be players in the ACC’s Coastal Division this year. Tech is a one-trick pony on offense and while the Yellow Jackets will get their yards, UNC’s passing game will counter. Go with the hometown Tar Heels in this one, with or without their star power on defense.
Let’s rewind just a couple weeks. When last we had seen North Carolina quarterback and Marietta native T.J. Yates, he was throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. He was the squeaking, grinding, and sparking third wheel of the Tar Heel attack, the first two fully functioning wheels being the left side of the defense and the right side of the defense.
Morgan Burnett picked him off twice in his last game against Tech. He was going to be the one thing that would hold Carolina’s first-round defense back from an ACC Coastal title this year. The conference was really, really looking forward to facing Yates.
Now look at us.
In his most recent game against LSU in the Chick Fil A Kickoff, Yates lacerated the Tigers’ speedy defense in public for 412 yards, more than doubling the yardage he compiled in seventeen of his career starts. T.J. freaking Yates led a comeback from 20 points down in basically hostile territory against a bigger, faster team without his best receiver or two best running backs. As Barrel Of Rum puts it, “what the f*** happened to T.J. Yates?”
After only one decent half and one astounding half, he’s quite possibly the ACC’s least embarrassing player thus far. How did this happen?
Paul Johnson has a theory:
“He had a depleted offensive line,” Johnson said. “They had a hard time getting anything going here last year, but when you look at them on tape it’s not the same team.”
Of course, with Tech’s superhighway run defense, Yates might not need to duplicate his Georgia Dome performance. Still, here we are. Look at us. We’re afraid of T.J. Yates. One month ago, who could’ve thought that would ever happen?
Doug Roberson had to split his haul of Paul Johnson quotes into two portions just so he could get his arms around. The highlights of part one:
You can’t play that way at Georgia Tech. I’ve never coached anywhere where you could play that way and win. Where you could just punch the clock. There might be a couple of teams out there that can do that. We can’t.
Sometimes, too, you just get beat. The other team has 85 on scholarship too.
Anybody can stand up on the plane and say ‘Guys, we’re coming this week,’ until you get hit in the mouth the first time. Let’s see what happens on Saturday.
[On paying close attention to upcoming opponent personnel:] You’ve got to match up, but whoever they play at receiver is going to be a good player. It’s not like they’ve got a first-round draft choice here and the guy that replaces him is a walk on.
And part two:
[On changing Anthony Allen's position to improve his blocking]: He’s had plenty of opportunities to block where he’s lined up. He needs to do better where he’s at blocking. If there was all of a sudden a magic wand and you can say ‘OK, we’ll put this guy out there and now they’ll block.’
[In response to the question "How do you coach better?"]: Coach better ... From the looks of the game, I can certainly motivate better. But you know what my experience has been in 31 years? That’s movie, tv crap. You’d better be able to motivate yourself. I’m not going to motivate you 12 Saturdays a year. Anybody that thinks you’re going to go into the locker room and somebody’s going to punch the locker, or cave in the blackboard or head butt somebody and everybody’s going to go ‘AAAAAAAAHHHH!’ It’s make believe. It doesn’t happen.
Those guys all decide how much they play. I don’t. They decide. If you earn your playing time in practice and you really want to play in the game, I’d stand by me. Because when I’m sending plays in, it might be the best way to get in because I’m not going to come look for you.
A reporter should ask Paul Johnson: "Coach, why do you think reporters are stupid?" That seems like the perfectly arranged Paul Johnson interview question for maximum annoyed dismissiveness.
The battered and startled Jackets look to recover from their road loss against a basketball school coming off a close week-one loss by hitting the road to see a … yep.
Comparing resumes: Tech looked about as bad in its opener as a 31-point winner can look; South Carolina State ran up the middle with little caution (Tech fans blamed Joshua Nesbitt's wide receivers), and Kansas further exploited the Gold and White's double-stuf interior while displaying disciplined defense. North Carolina turned in a (pardon the next word) inspiring performance against LSU, during which the Heels fell behind by 20 at halftime after sliding half its special teams onto its starting defense and ended up a fingertip away from victory.
Series history: The teams have split during Paul Johnson's two-year tenure, with Butch Davis chipping in another Tar Heel loss during his first year. If Davis wins again, he'll become the first UNC coach to beat Tech twice since Mack Brown. In 1990 Carolina tied Tech 13-13, the only blemish on an otherwise perfect national championship season. Colorado can make the same claim, of course, if you sub Carolina out for Tennessee, Illinois, and Missouri and change two of those to losses.
Last meeting: Tech pulled off a round-the-clocker, winning 24-7 in Atlanta. Tech also [calling for information joke], piling up 411 yards. Nesbitt's completion percentage bested T.J. Yates' by 21.3 percent, but Morgan Burnett won't be around to harass Yates this time.
Tar Heels to watch: The ones on the sideline studying the University of North Carolina course catalog, Dodd willing. If Carolina gets some good news in the next four days, then the Heel assemblage to watch will be the entire defense as it stones the flexbone.
Fun fact: As retweeted by one-third of sports Twitter:
Also monitoring: The status of those twelve currently suspended Tar Heels and any media members who ask Paul Johnson if his offense only works against teams from mountainous regions, after losses to Iowa and Kansas.
How we feel about all this:This stream began even before the stream about Tech’s opening-day opponent, due to North Carolina’s exciting scholarly summer endeavors. If you’d like to see what abstract concepts like naivete and presumptuousness look like when presented in text and HTML, click here. If Carolina wins after its bye, we'll be treated to another round of the week-to-prepare-for-Johnson meme, as charted by FTRS here.
Vegas says: Even, believe it or not.
I'd like to add a poll for this one, but we're already mid-stream. Thus, leave your predictions in the comments. Tech by 3? Carolina by 10? Marvin Austin for class president?
One of Carolina’s suspended players, senior tailback Shaun Draughn, is good to go this Saturday. That’s one down, twelve to go, and it’s only Monday.
Draughn has averaged 74.5 yards from scrimmage per game in his collegiate career. In his two games against Tech he’s turned in 118 and 28.
Heels coach Butch Davis, via Doug Roberson:
“Shaun has been cleared and will be able to join the team this week as an active participant,” Coach Butch Davis of UNC said this morning at his weekly press briefing at the Kenan Football Center. “As far as Shaun’s role, certainly we’ll try to get him back into the flow of things.”
Atlanta, GA (Sports Network) – T.J. Yates led 18th-ranked North Carolina to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns and nearly a third on the final play of the game, but it wasn’t enough for the short-handed Tar Heels, as No. 21 LSU barely held on for a 30-24 win at the Georgia Dome.
The Heels were without 13 players for the season-opener. Seven of those were for violations of school or NCAA rules and six others were kept out while the investigation continues into possible violations of North Carolina law involving sports agents.
Yates had over 400 yards passing, with over half of that being reeled in by Jheranie Boyd, but the Tigers (1-0) were able to thwart final pass to the end zone.
It all seemed lost for the Tar Heels (0-1) after Yates was sacked from the blind side by Tyrann Mathieu, and the Tigers recovered at the UNC 39 with 1 1/2 minutes left. But Stevan Ridley fumbled the ball away on third down, giving UNC life again.
Boyd made a key 21-yard catch, and Yates followed that with a 20-yarder to the sideline for Joshua Adams. A nine-yard connection to senior tight end Zack Pianalto put the ball at the six with six seconds left. The two tried hooking up again in the back of the end zone, but Pianalto couldn’t hold on.
That gave Yates a last try with two seconds left. He looked for Pianalto over the middle, just over the goal line, but the pass fell incomplete as linebacker Stefoin Francois impeded the tight end’s progress with his left hand. Yates motioned for a penalty flag, but none came and LSU coach Les Miles breathed a sigh of relief.
Beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday on ESPNU and 10 a.m. on ESPN, College Gameday (featuring Erin Andrews) will be broadcasting from the Georgia Dome.
Branding has commenced. Via the Georgia Dome’s Twitter:
Also, LSU’s team semi truck:
We would show North Carolina’s vehicular transport, but after recent roster adjustments they only needed a minivan to haul the team down.
North Carolina is going to lose to LSU tomorrow night at the Dome. The NCAA probe damage is worse than expected. Whatever the series of code words I’m allowed to use in order to encourage you to place a wager on a game may be, assume I’ve inserted them here. Heather Dinich reports:
Six North Carolina starters — defensive tackle Marvin Austin, cornerback Charles Brown, cornerback Kendric Burney, wide receiver Greg Little, defensive end Michael McAdoo and defensive end Robert Quinn — have been declared ineligible for Saturday’s season-opening game against No. 21 LSU for “violating school and/or NCAA rules,” the university announced Friday.
Six other players also will be withheld from the game while the NCAA’s two-pronged investigation continues. Those six are: tailback Shaun Draughn, defensive end Linwan Euwell, safety Brian Gupton, tailback Ryan Houston, safety Da’Norris Searcy and safety Jonathan Smith.
LSU, meanwhile, is dealing with hardships of its own: the school’s baseball stadium has seen its last game. No, listen, that will have a major impact on Saturday’s game.
UPDATE: PodKATT, managing editor of SB Nation's tremendous LSU community, corrects my college baseball misstep:
According to links shared by Dr. Saturday:
As Doc Sat puts it, “as of Thursday, the UNC scout team is now the most talented amateur defense in America.”
The University of North Carolina's football program has really stepped in it heel first. Already being investigated for star defensive tackle Marvin Austin's alleged balleracious behavior, UNC has self-reported academic infractions and moved nine players onto the practice squad.
According to Joe Schad, those players include Austin, linebacker Bruce Carter, and defensive end Robert Quinn. Losing any one of these players would damper UNC's Coastal Division hopes, but all three? In addition to highly rated starting cornerbacks Charles Brown and Kendrick Burney, recently dismissed for various murky who-knows-what?
Scouts, Inc. ranks Quinn as the nation's second best player, with Austin at 13th. College football information firehose Phil Steele ranks each of the three the best in the nation at his respective position. The book on the Tar Heels this year is that their blue-chip defense would more than make up for their mortifying offense, which scored almost a point per game less than freaking Duke last year. That's simply not going to be the case if they wind up having to play without these three players. And we don't even yet know who the other six players are.
This could set Georgia Tech up very nicely. The Coastal Division has been billed as a four-way shootout, like a game of GoldenEye 007, and we all know how easy it was to survive those while remaining in contention for a BCS title. Tech plays North Carolina early -- the trip to Chapel Hill was supposed to be the Jackets' only real early-season test. If UNC were to lose key defenders, Tech would be heavily favored in their first seven games, giving Al Groh's new 3-4 defense time to settle in before Tech faces four likely ranked teams in its final five. Coastal Division co-favorites Miami and Virginia Tech are included in that last batch, facing each other during the same span as well.
Continuing the hypothetical. Virginia Tech and Miami both face tough conference games before the late-season Survivor Series. VPI travels to Boston College early, and the Canes welcome Florida State and play in Clemson. Tech could very well be in the driver's seat by the time especially consequential conference games begin.
UNC held a press conference tonight at 7:30 and didn't offer much new information.
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