ATLANTA — Like to follow Georgia Tech on the road? Well, start contacting booking agents now, because the Yellow Jackets have a few more away trips added to their upcoming schedules.
The Institute on Monday announced that it had agreed to a four-year deal with Brigham Young to play the Cougars in a pair of home-and-home series beginning in 2012.
That year, the Yellow Jackets will host BYU at Bobby Dodd Stadium, before traveling to Provo, Utah the following year. In 2014, the series returns to Atlanta, then takes two seasons off before resuming at BYU in 2017.
“The addition of Brigham Young to our future football schedules helps ensure that Georgia Tech will continue to play quality non-conference opponents,” Georgia Tech athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a news release. “With its strong tradition and history, BYU is a good fit for us.”
With the Cougars added to the Yellow Jackets’ home schedule for the 2012 season, that likely means Georgia Tech will not be part of the season-opening Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in the next couple of seasons. The organizers of the annual game held at the Georgia Dome have tried to get the Yellow Jackets into a situation where such a contest could exist. The 2012 season was one scenario that was still being explored, but now that the slot is filled, the Yellow Jackets likely will not be candidates for the game until 2013.
Excluding 2013, all of Georgia Tech’s non-conference dates have now been filled through the 2015 season.
The addition of BYU to the home schedule starting in 2012 also helps the Yellow Jackets take care of the finances of their unbalanced even-numbered seasons. During even years like 2010 and 2012, Georgia Tech plays most of its biggest rivals and big-game opponents on the road. As a result, revenue from home games is often greater during odd seasons when Georgia, Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia Tech are among the regularly scheduled conference and non-conference teams that visit Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Georgia Tech also announced Monday that it had finalized a deal with Alabama to resume a longtime series with the Crimson Tide.
After postponing the series this spring, the teams said they had reached a two-year deal to play each other in 2019 and 2020.
The Yellow Jackets are 1-1 all-time against BYU, winning in 2002 at home, and losing the following year in Utah. Against Alabama, they are 21-28-3. The 2019 meeting will be their first against the Crimson Tide since a 16-6 win in 1984.
Getting a do-over
Thanks to rest and time off his hurt ankle last week, Yellow Jackets offensive tackle Phil Smith has a chance at some sort of poetic justice this week, when he returns just in time to face Clemson.
Last December, it was against the Tigers when the then-redshirt freshman watched his year come to a screeching halt, as he suffered a fracture in his ankle early in the ACC championship game. But that wasn’t the thing that hurt most about the injury.
“The game was in Tampa, and I was really upset more so because it was in Tampa,” Smith, a Tampa native, said Monday afternoon. “At that point, all I could really do was cheer on the team. Luckily they won.”
The Yellow Jackets beat the Tigers 39-34, vaulting them to the Orange Bowl.
Against Virginia two weeks ago, Smith once again left a game with an ankle injury, and it was so bad that he was held out of last Saturday’s contest against Middle Tennessee State. He said Monday that he felt much better after the day’s conditioning workout and that he was ready for a big road test this weekend.
“Everything’s good. It’s still a little tender, but that’ll get worked out by Saturday,” Smith said.
Smith likely will be matched up against Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, who ranks among the Tigers leaders in tackles with 37. He also is among the national leaders with 9.0 sacks, averaging a nation-leading 1.5 per game.
“I have not watched film (yet), but I know how good he is,” Smith said. “Watching him two times last year, two times in 2008, and knowing how highly-accoladed he was in high school. The dude’s just a monster. He’s NFL caliber for sure and it’s going to be fun playing against him.”
Smith had some experience facing Bowers last year, successfully blocking him on a pair of passing plays during the Yellow Jackets’ and Tigers’ regular season meeting. During the conference championship, before his injury, Smith was matched up with former tough Clemson defensive end Rickey Sapp.
Yellow Jackets head coach Paul Johnson said defensive end Jason Peters was held out of practice Monday and likely would be on Tuesday, as well.
During his teleconference Sunday night, Johnson said the junior had a sprain but declined to specify what he sprained.
Peters left last Saturday’s game after colliding hard with Middle Tennessee State quarterback Dwight Dasher on a quarterback keeper up the middle of the field. After being tended to for a moment on the field, Peters was taken to the sidelines where team doctors appeared to be evaluating near a shoulder and his chest.
Receiver Quentin Sims also was held out of practice after getting banged up Saturday, but he should return to practice this week.
No word on McCoy
Johnson on Monday was also asked about true freshman defensive lineman Denzel McCoy, who has missed all of the season with an undisclosed injury of his own.
The coach said he was unaware of any recent changes in McCoy’s status.
McCoy missed all of the preseason and has dressed in a red, injured/no-contact jersey during the regular season.
“I don’t think we’ll see him play this year,” Johnson said.
The 270-pound lineman was a high school standout at Northview, and was expected to be a potential starter this season.
Nessbitt gets game ball
When he was leaving Bobby Dodd Stadium on Monday afternoon, Yellow Jackets starting quarterback Joshua Nesbitt had a brown and white leathered ball tucked underneath his arms.
It was an offensive game ball from Saturday, he said, and his name and number were written in black and gold ink on one of the white portions of the football.
The senior rushed for 106 yards and sits just 44 yards shy of passing former Clemson quarterback Woodrow Dantzler for first on the ACC’s all-time quarterback’s rushing list.