A full notebook from today's game... There are a couple of notes here you won't be able to find in tomorrow's Telegraph. Also, we'll have about three other stories in the paper and here online starting in the a.m. Wall-to-wall coverage coming for YOU!
ATLANTA — Joshua Nesbitt’s legs looked fine.
But his right arm? The jury remains hung in that decision.
On Saturday against South Carolina State, Nesbitt, Georgia Tech’s Heisman Trophy hopeful, enjoyed one of the more prolific games of his career running the football. When it came to throwing, however, he never seemed to get into a good rhythm, into a flow.
Completing just one pass on six attempts, Nesbitt struggled passing the football to his receivers in ways that initially resurrected memories of the problems he had the past two seasons. But head coach Paul Johnson, who favors passer efficiency ratings over completion percentages anyway, contended that his quarterback just simply never had an opportunity to prove his arm had improved during the offseason.
“He didn’t throw the ball particularly well and we didn’t throw it a lot,” Johnson said. “He did have the one drop, and then a pass interference call on another throw.”
Not to mention, Johnson also added, he had an interception that resulted from a receiver misplaying the sharp throw and letting the ball bounce up and off his chest pads and into the hands of a Bulldogs defender.
So that’s three passes that, if the laws of the universe had been in Nesbitt’s favor, could have gone his way. As it stood, however, Nesbitt enjoyed one of the least productive passing games of his four-year tenure on the Flats. The only games that were even less productive were those his true freshman year, when he didn’t pass; he entered games to run only.
As far as his running Saturday, the senior rushed for 130-yards and three touchdowns. That’s a stat line any tailback across the nation would love to see in a newspaper when waking up Sunday.
“I did alright, but I can do a whole lot better,” Nesbitt said. “I just have to make sure … I do what I have to do to win. And (Saturday), I did what the team needed me to do.”
As was reported in last Sunday’s Telegraph, Saturday’s game marked the first time Georgia Tech had ever taken on an historically black university in football.
There are, of course, no definitive, published, quantifiable reasons as to why such a game had not been previously played, but the speculations are vast.
Encompassing historical, social and traditional theories, the hypothesis about why 2010 was the first year the Yellow Jackets met such a program are varied.
“For us to break barriers like that and do stuff that’s never been done is awesome and I’m glad to be a part of it,” A-back Roddy Jones told The Telegraph for last week’s story.
As is the case with most historically black programs, South Carolina State also boasts a large marching band and entertainment team. At halftime, the group performed on Grant Field ahead of Georgia Tech’s band. At the conclusion of their show, South Carolina State’s band and dancers performed a tribute to late pop-icon Michael Jackson that brought about a standing ovation.
The game came with a bit of a price for Georgia Tech’s offensive line.
Early in the first half, redshirt freshman Will Jackson, a guard from Knoxville, Tenn., went down with a left knee injury after a Yellow Jackets rush.
According to Johnson, the injury appears to just be a sprain, and should not be too serious. After further evaluations this weekend, Johnson said he should know more about Jackson’s prognosis either Sunday night or Monday morning.
After being tended to on the field, he was helped to the sidelines and evaluated there. The training staff later announced that he would be held out the remainder of the game.
His replacement, who played much of the rest of the game, was former Dublin standout Nick McRae. Jackson and McRae had been in a stiff competition battle for the starting left guard position that ended less than two weeks before the season-opening contest.
Other Jackson returns
While Will Jackson missed much of the game due to injury, inside linebacker Kyle Jackson was glad to just be back out on a football field.
In the 2009 spring game, the latter went down with a foot injury he thought would heal in time for the subsequent season. As it turned out, however, the dislocated lisfranc joint didn’t heal properly right away, and he was held out the entire campaign until a surgery finally fixed him in time to rehab this offseason.
Coming away with four total tackles Saturday, including being credited with a 0.5 tackle-for-loss, it seemed clear Kyle Jackson felt like he was back where he belonged.
“For myself personally, I had first-game nerves — I’ve been out for a year-and-a-half, so it was nice to be able to come back and to be able to play with my teammates again,” Kyle Jackson said.
Rogers family honored
The family of the late Nick Rogers, a former Georgia Tech defensive end, was honored before and during the game.
Rogers died May 3 in an apparent single-car accident in suburban Atlanta.
The former All-ACC defender was a sack specialist for the Yellow Jackets, ranking among the conferences’ leaders throughout his tenure.
During the pregame coin toss, his family — including his widow, whom he married just two weeks before the accident — was on hand as honorary game captains.
At halftime, South Carolina State’s “Marching 101” band paid tribute to Rogers by dedicating its first song to him. The band also spelled his first name out as they played.
Rogers had a cousin who played in the Marching 101.
Georgia Tech’s lone number-retiree, Clint Castleberry, has been more formally honored this season.
On a wall in the northeast corner of Bobby Dodd Stadium, Georgia Tech has placed a sign bearing Castleberry’s likeness — he holds a football while in his No. 19 uniform. It is located on the back side of the Edge Athletic Center.
A former running back, Castleberry played just one year at Georgia Tech — 1942. That season, he finished third in Heisman Trophy voting while enjoying strong performances against Navy and Notre Dame.
Following an appearance in the Cotton Bowl, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and on Nov. 7, 1944, his plan disappeared. It was presumed he died in World War II, and the Institute immediately retired his number.
Dwyer in attendance
The Yellow Jackets had a guest on the sidelines Saturday.
Former B-back Jonathan Dwyer, who was named ACC player of the year two seasons ago and helped Georgia Tech win a conference championship last year, joined his former teammates just after learning good news of his own.
On Friday, he was told he had made the Pittsburgh Steelers 53-man roster.
Another former Yellow Jackets player, defensive lineman Vance Walker, also made the Atlanta Falcons squad this weekend. Dwyer was a sixth-round selection in this year’s draft, while Walker went in the seventh last year.
Packin' em in
Saturday's announced crowd was 51,668. While still some 4,000 short of a sellout, the number was much greater than the crowd that saw the 2009 home opener (46,131).
Trouble packin' em in
There was trouble getting fans into Bobby Dodd Stadium in a relatively timely fashion, athletic director Dan Radakovich noted.
According some fan tweets, there appeared to be thousands of specators waiting outside the gates trying to get in as the teams were beginning to run onto the field for the start of the game.
In a statement to fans issued post-game, Radakovich said the following: "We apologize that some of our fans had trouble entering the stadium (Saturday). A late-arriving crowd, copuled with our new security company and increased security measures resulted in a delay getting through the gates and into their seats. We feel confident this issue has been addressed and will be rectified for all future games."