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Inside College Football
By Ivan Maisel
Posted: Wed October 21, 1998
The Contrarians | Contemplating Failure | The Badgers Are Looking Rosy
Everything's wrong about Georgia Techexcept its 5-1 record
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 WhiteHamilton's second scoring toss to White in the fourth quartergave 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 this one."
A 5'10" quarterback, by definition, defies conventionif not his coachesand 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 this week.
Based on the results at the halfway point, here's how the Bowl Championship Series might look: FiestaOhio State versus UCLA; RoseNotre Dame versus Wisconsin; SugarKansas State versus Tennessee; OrangeFlorida 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.
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!'"
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.
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 Caland 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.
Amazing Facts about Temple's 28-24 Upset Of Virginia Tech
1. The Owls, losers of eight straight, were 35 1/2-point underdogs.
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 the nation.
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. 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 Stationwhich 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, too.
Florida State (6-1) at Georgia Tech (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 this week.
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.
Issue date: October 26, 1998
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