ACC: Ryan Perrilloux

Georgia Tech's defensive line leading the way

September, 11, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Georgia Tech sophomore defensive end Derrick Morgan has no problem playing in the shadows of a senior-laden defensive line that includes Michael Johnson, Vance Walker and Darryl Richard.

The attention on them is the very thing that has allowed Morgan to shine.

"You know how good a player Michael Johnson is, so they're just double teaming him which is going to leave me with some one-on-one battles," Morgan said. "It frees me up a lot more in the pass rush and all the attention and focus has been on Mike and the other d-linemen because they already know about them. It's definitely been helpful."

Morgan enters Saturday's game at Virginia Tech leading the ACC in sacks (2.5) and has one fumble recovery. Richard leads in tackles for loss (four), and Walker earned the Yellow Jackets' first safety since 2004 last weekend when he tackled Boston College quarterback Chris Crane in the end zone.

"If there is a strength of our football team," coach Paul Johnson said, "it's probably the front four."

Georgia Tech's pressure on former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and Crane contributed to its 2-0 start and rising expectations. Regardless of who takes more snaps for Virginia Tech on Saturday -- Sean Glennon or Tyrod Taylor -- more of the same can be expected.

"I'm very impressed with Georgia Tech, that front four," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said, rattling off their jersey numbers. "I mean they're good up front. They're very, very good up front."

"They're not afraid to blitz," he said. "They come all out. They're not shy about that."

The defense doesn't zone blitz as much as it did under former defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, and can rush more and get pressure on the quarterback while keeping seven in coverage instead of six.

"This is more diverse," Beamer said. "You get more fronts and coming at you out of all the fronts. I think this is tough."

In the Yellow Jackets' 19-16 win against the Eagles, it was four-man pressure most of the time, sometimes five. Very seldom do they bring six or seven. Not only is this arguably the best defensive line in the ACC, it's also one of the most experienced. Richard, who graduated in three years, should have his master's by the end of the season. Their leadership has had a trickle-down effect on the rest of the team.

"You've got to have senior leadership and I think he puts that on the defensive line that they've got to be leaders when they're out there," defensive line coach Giff Smith said. "I think the difference in us right now is we play together as a team. Everybody believes in each other whether you're a senior or a true freshman, you've got GT on your helmet and everybody has to carry their own load."

Walker has been a consistently good player for the Yellow Jackets, and Johnson, an extremely gifted athlete, is still adjusting to his new role. He was a pass-rush specialist and special teams contributor last year. Now he is in his first season as a starter and playing more than 20 snaps a game. Richard might have been the most impressive of the group at Boston College, but Morgan has the most sacks.

"Derrick, he can hold his own in any situation," Smith said.

Morgan said he's learned a lot from playing alongside his veteran teammates, watching game film with them and discussing Xs and Os in the locker room.

"I feel privileged," Morgan said. "We like to think we're one of the best in the nation but we've got to go out there and prove it."

Former LSU QB Perrilloux 'frustrated' with debut

August, 29, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

ATLANTA, Ga. -- Former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and the Football Championship Subdivision aren't exactly comfortable with each other yet.

"We looked like a bunch of guys who never played with each other before," said Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe. "We've got a long way to go. We really had a lot of players out there making a lot of mistakes."

And Perrilloux was one of them.

He completed 22-of-37 passes for 136 yards, two interceptions and two touchdowns. He was sacked four times. It was the first time in Perrilloux's career that he threw more than one interception in a game. Jacksonville State didn't get a first down until about three minutes into the second quarter.

"I thought Ryan had a lot of things go wrong around him," Crowe said. "He made some mistakes. There was no real comfort for him in what was going on.

"I'm just trying to keep him from turning on himself, really. He wasn't blaming anybody, but he was extremely frustrated. He was making individual plays, but we ran the wrong plays sometimes. It's communication. Ryan miscalled some things ... terribly uncomfortable with each other."

There were times when Perrilloux made something out of nothing -- like his 16-yard completion on third down in the second quarter, and his 15-yard scamper on second-and-10 in the third quarter.

"He made us look bad times scrambling," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said.

There were also times when Perrilloux hit one of his receivers in the numbers for an incomplete pass.

"We had a lot of opportunities to make big plays but we had a lot of missed assignments on my part, on everybody's part," Perrilloux said. "We just have to get back to the drawing board and get this thing right. It was definitely frustrating to see bad things happen, but I like the way the team came back from it and kept working."

Something all of them are going to have to continue doing.

Georgia Tech 3Q update

August, 28, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

ATLANTA -- Well, it's 34-7 and backup quarterback Jaybo Shaw is running the show for the Yellow Jackets. He completed one pass for 11 yards.

Darryl Richard was called for a late hit, as he tackled Ryan Perrilloux into the Yellow Jackets' sideline, costing his team 15 yards. Scott Blair missed a 38-yard field goal.

Perrilloux has completed 18 of 29 passes for 92 yards and one touchdown and he's been sacked twice.

LB Shane Bowen (quad), DT T.J. Barnes (wrist) and OL Joseph Gilbert (neck) are injured and not returning to this game.

Georgia Tech halftime update

August, 28, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Georgia Tech is up 27-0 at the half. Keeping in mind that this is happening against Jacksonville State, if the Yellow Jackets are getting off to a "slow start" in this "new offense," I'm not seeing it.

And the Tech defense -- safety Morgan Burnett in particular -- is making former LSU star Ryan Perrilloux look rather average. Burnett has intercepted Perrilloux twice, and the first time it led to a score. As for Georgia Tech QB Josh Nesbitt? He's gonna be good.

Here are a few key moments that stood out from the first half:

-- Nesbitt is making good decisions. At one point he threw it away instead of trying to make something out of nothing.

-- An amazing run by Nesbitt in the second quarter on third and 12. It probably should've been a loss -- he was running east and west, but got some good blocks from his teammates and turned it into a 34-yard run. One play later, Jonathan Dwyer scored on a 29-yard run.

-- One fumble. It didn't happen until about 19 seconds left in the half. It cost the Yellow Jackets an 11-yard loss.

-- Perrilloux didn't get a first down until about three minutes into the second quarter, but some of his receivers are having trouble holding onto the ball. He's also made some big plays, which was to be expected.

-- Dwyer already has 111 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.

-- Nesbitt has out-thrown and outrun Perrilloux. He can thank his defense for part of that later.

-- Nesbitt and Dwyer have accounted for all of Tech's points so far.

-- Kicker Scott Blair missed one extra point attempt.

Bottom line? Georgia Tech has made both big pass plays and big run plays, and the crowd seems to be enjoying every minute of it. However, there are too many empty seats.

Georgia Tech 1Q update

August, 28, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

ATLANTA -- Paul Johnson's offense is moving. The Yellow Jackets are up 14-0 heading into the second quarter. They scored on a possession off a Ryan Perrilloux turnover for the 7-0 lead. Safety Morgan Burnett had the pick that landed Georgia Tech on Jax State's 27-yard line. Jonathan Dwyer scored on a 21-yard run. He's got five carries for 68 yards.

The quarterback shining here is Josh Nesbitt. I've seen a 29-yard pass. A 39-yard pass. He completed 4 of 7 for 82 yards in the first quarter. And they're ready to score again here in the second ...

Week 1 ACC predictions

August, 28, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Well, here it is. Warning: I have a tendency to be either dead-on for these things or waaay off. Let's rock.

Miami 34, Charleston Southern 10: Despite the suspensions and a freshman starting at quarterback, Miami will have the upper hand against this small school that went 5-6 in the Big South Conference last year. The Buccaneers do have more experience at quarterback, though, as former Clemson backup Tribble Reese attempted 11 passes with the Tigers.

Georgia Tech 41, Jacksonville State 17: JSU might be favored to win the Ohio Valley Conference, but not this game. With three sophomores on the offensive line, the Yellow Jackets' defensive line will be too much even for Ryan Perrilloux to overcome.

Wake Forest 31, Baylor 14: Who will start at quarterback for Baylor is a mystery, and it could be Miami transfer Kirby Freeman. Regardless, the Demon Deacons have the edge at quarterback. Four starters return to Baylor's offensive line, but that's not necessarily a good thing considering the Bears ranked 113th in the nation in rushing last year with 77 yards per game.

Clemson 24, Alabama 21: In a game of experience versus youth, the Tigers have the edge. Alabama has only five starters returning on defense and its receiving corps took a hit. Third-year starter John Parker Wilson was a record-setter last year, and they've got the more experienced offensive line, but Tommy Bowden has the veteran team.

Duke 26, James Madison 17: JMU has 15 starters back from its 8-4 playoff season, and is 37-13 over the past four seasons under coach Mickey Matthews. There are no guaranteed wins for a team that won one game last year, but Duke has a new energy this season and home field advantage, not to mention one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC. I say Duke will beat the Dukes.

Maryland 23, Delaware 10: This is not Joe Flacco's Delaware team. Still, Maryland has a tendency to underperform in these types of games and keep things interesting. The Terps have a better offensive line and are stacked at linebacker. Jordan Steffy should have a successful comeback.

UNC 38, McNeese State 10: Brandon Take, Hakeem Nicks and T.J. Yates (not to mention Greg Little and Deunta Williams) are reason alone to pick the Tar Heels. With expectations soaring in Chapel Hill this year and a sold-out home crowd for this game, there's no question UNC will take care of business.

South Carolina 20, NCSU 10: These teams have enough in common it should be close. Both teams have an inexperienced quarterback, a starting running back out, and both were terrible against the run last year. I'm going with the home team. The program has a .775 winning percentage in home season openers.

USC 42, Virginia 21: There's a reason the Trojans are the favorite in the Pac-10. Starting at quarterback, the Trojans win this game, even if Pete Carroll goes with backup Aaron Corp. USC's defense is loaded, and should be just as good as it was last year, when it ranked second in the country.

Virginia Tech 21, East Carolina 17: This shouldn't be much different from last year. If there was an upset watch this week, this would be it. Both teams have named their starting quarterbacks but Sean Glennon is the more experienced of the two, and East Carolina lost its top running back, Dominique Lindsay.

Boston College 24, Kent State 17: The Eagles are eager to prove the naysayers wrong, and BC's defense will carry will this team through the first few games. There is no doubt, though, that Kent State running back Eugene Jarvis will get his yards on these guys.

FSU is off.

ACC in the morning: Time to 'Wake' up

August, 28, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

ATLANTA -- A belated good morning, ACC fans. Sorry for the late start, but there's one thing you need to know before this season officially gets started: If I know I'm going to be in a press box until at least midnight (as is the case tonight), there ain't no way, no how I'm starting my work day at 5:30 a.m.

Speaking of being a-Wake, let's check in on those Demon Deacons ...

Jim Grobe put them through one of the two toughest training camps since he's been there, and it should pay off tonight in Waco, Texas. They can be confident in their quarterback, but the preseason expectation and hype surrounding this program has the players a little uneasy.

At least they don't have to worry about a redshirt freshman making his debut at quarterback. We'll know much more about Russell Wilson and NC State tonight, too. Is there an upset brewing?

We already know plenty about the quarterback I'll be watching. I'm excited to be here for the start of the Paul Johnson era, which begins tonight against former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and Jacksonville State.

I'll be keeping an eye on every ACC game, even though I'm in Atlanta. (Good times last night at a place called Six Feet Under, by the way. Nice view of the Dome from the roof).

Miami also opens its season tonight, and it's time for a fresh start, in a new stadium with a brand new quarterback. Don't get too excited, though, Greg Cote says. Better days in Coral Gables aren't here quite yet. The players at Charleston Southern aren't thinking any less of the Canes, though.

Unfortunate news out of Tallahassee last night, as projected starting defensive lineman Emmanuel Dunbar was taken to the hospital with a back injury. I'll check in with FSU for an update on that today.

Elsewhere in the ACC, keep an eye on this "son of a gun" at Maryland. Defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre has been such a force this summer coach Ralph Friedgen was worried he'd hurt the confidence of the offensive lineman. How's that for a compliment?

Maryland quarterback Jordan Steffy has endured more criticism than praise during his career in College Park. Can he change that this season?

Virginia is looking to silence some doubters this season, too.

Meanwhile, Duke coach David Cutcliffe is working to change attitudes inside and out of his program. The seniors on the roster are still hoping to be part of the turnaround in Durham.

Way up north, Boston College right guard Thomas Claiborne had to shed some major weight in order to get on the field. His efforts have paid off.

On a more serious note, Victor Harris was a little shaken up about his recent testimony in court.