ATLANTA — The statistics can be deceiving, as can the records.
But the Virginia Cavaliers offer a serious threat. At least, that’s the way Georgia Tech sees it.
“They have some good players,” Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson said. “We have to play as well as we can play and see if we’re good enough. I tell our guys that all the time, ‘Go play your game and see if you’re good enough. The best way to win the game is not to lose it. So don’t give them away and make them beat you. You pose quite the challenge.’ ”
The 11th-ranked Yellow Jackets hope to be a formidable foe Saturday when they take on a team that has won three straight games and has rolled over Georgia Tech for four wins in the past five meetings.
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With injuries hitting Virginia recently, as well as key changes in offensive philosophy, the Cavaliers have been as hot as any team in the ACC. Blowing out Indiana on the road two weeks ago, sandwiched by road wins over North Carolina and Maryland, the Cavaliers are currently atop the Coastal Division standings with a 2-0 record in conference play.
The Yellow Jackets (6-1, 4-1) are in second place. There’s another reason Georgia Tech doesn’t plan on overlooking Virginia. It has to do with history. With a 6-1 record late in October last year, the Yellow Jackets were primed for a potential run at the conference championship game.
But a late Cavaliers comeback at Bobby Dodd Stadium helped stall those hopes. Not to mention, Virginia is 10-1 the past three seasons in the month of October.
Cavaliers head coach Al Groh doesn’t want those statistics to register with his team.
“We are unconcerned and unimpressed with anything that happened in 2007, 2008 or in the previous three weeks,” he said matter-of-factly, beginning his comments on Wednesday’s ACC coaches teleconference.
While he may not want to acknowledge his team’s successes in this month and specifically over Georgia Tech — the Cavaliers lead the all-time series 16-14-1 — Johnson does.
“I don’t remember much about the week leading up. But I remember that in the game, we had a zillion chances to win,” Johnson said. “We had a lot of turnovers.”
The Yellow Jackets had two interceptions and a fumble in the second half.
Keeping last year’s performance fresh in mind, Johnson wants his players to stay hungry for revenge.
“They came and hit us in the mouth last year,” Johnson said. “So we know what we’re walking into. It’s going to be a tough, physical game.”