UNC @ Georgia Tech - Sept. 10
2004 RECORD: 7-5 overall, 4-4 ACC (T-6th).
HEAD COACH: Chan Gailey, 45-28 in overall in six seasons; 21-17 in three seasons at Georgia Tech.
KEY ADDITIONS: S Anthony Barnes, CB Tony Clark, QB Jonathan Garner, WR Greg Smith.
KEY LOSSES: FS James Butler, DT Darryl Richard, C Andy Tidwell-Neal, OT Leon Robinson, WR Nate Curry.
OFFENSE: Junior quarterback Reggie Ball, who has started every game of his college career and who has been sporadic at best, needs to find the consistency his coach and teammates are counting on. Ball has one of the best targets in the country in sophomore Calvin Johnson, as well as a proven running back in P.J. Daniels. If Ball doesn’t make the mistakes he’s made in the past, then the Jackets will be much improved. However, even if Ball comes around, the inexperienced offensive line could be the team’s downfall.
DEFENSE: With seven starters returning, the defense should be solid, especially with the return of defensive end Eric Henderson and linebacker Gerris Wilkinson. The Jackets are currently without star corner Rueben Houston, who was suspended from the team after felony charges of conspiring to distribute and possess 94 pounds of marijuana valued at $60,000 in June. Houston would have joined fellow cornerbacks Dennis Davis and Kenny Scott, and safties Dawan Landry and Chris Reis to form one of the best secondaries in the ACC. Still, the entire defense should rank as one of the nation’s best, which may be enough to help lead the Yellow Jackets atop their division.
BY THE NUMBERS: 15 – Number of consecutive field goals Travis Bell made as a freshman last year.
WHAT TO WATCH: Whether Gailey survives should the team win only six games.
QB Reggie Ball
RB P.J. Daniels
WR Calvin Johnson