QUARTERBACK – Ga. Tech
Brock Berlin used his opportunity against a weak Houston team to pad his stats and improve his…oh…what’s that? He played worse than usual? He threw for a whopping 99 yards, got sacked five times, and fumbled once? What does Berlin have to do before that short leash leads him to the bench
Reggie Ball, named the ACC Rookie of the Year after last season, has unquestionable skills, throwing seven touchdowns in just three games this season. However, Ball, like most young quarterbacks, struggles at times, as evidenced by his three-interception performance during a loss to UNC.
RUNNING BACK – Even
Tyrone Moss made up for Berlin’s ineptitude against Houston by rushing for a career high 148 yards on 19 carries. Despite Moss’ skills, the ‘Canes need a healthy Frank Gore, who ran just six times for nine yards after leaving the Houston game with a sore knee.
P.J. Daniels ran for 1,447 yards last season on his way to All-ACC honors. He leads the ACC in rushing this season with 324 yards in Tech’s first three games. Daniels’ only touchdowns this season came against Samford. Samford is not good at football.
WIDE RECEIVER – Ga. Tech
Why the UM receivers have looked so bad this season is up for debate. Whether the fault lies with Berlin or the receivers is an enigma. The ‘Canes need a superstar receiver and with Ryan Moore injured, freshman Lance Leggett could become that guy very soon. Tight ends Kevin Everett and Greg Olson have provided a rare bright spot on offense.
Freshman Calvin Johnson is a lanky, 6’4″ star in the making. Johnson caught three touchdowns, including the game-winner, against Clemson, and he will pose serious problems against the ‘Canes’ shorter cornerbacks. Nate Curry, a Miami native, provides GT’s other receiving threat.
OFFENSIVE LINE – UM
If starting right tackle, Rashad Butler, returns from injury, the line will get a huge boost. Butler’s return would enable Chris Myers to shift back to his regular position at right guard. The line needs to improve its pass blocking after surrendering seven sacks to Houston.
Back-up right tackle Salih Besirevic is from Bosnia. It gets pretty cold there in the winter. Besirevic went to high school in Colorado, which also gets pretty cold during certain parts of the year. He probably won’t enjoy Atlanta’s weather, but it doesn’t really matter because he is the back-up right tackle. The starters have size and experience.
DEFENSIVE LINE – UM
The d-line lived up to expectations last week by holding FSU to 57 yards on the ground and sacking Chris Rix three times. Soft-spoken end Baraka Atkins showed a mean streak by ferociously body slamming several players and causing Rix to fumble.
Eric Henderson missed Tech’s first three games due to injury, but the preseason All-American defensive end will make his 2004 debut this Saturday. Henderson led the ACC with 11 sacks last season, and he will prey on Berlin if he stands in the pocket all day.
LINEBACKERS – UM
Roger McIntosh and Tavares Gooden are wreaking havoc all over the field, and they rank second and third on the team in tackles. Gooden scored his first career TD against Houston after recovering a blocked punt. Jon Beason has played well as a replacement at middle linebacker for the broken-handed Leon Williams
After last season, the Ramblin’ Wreck sent two linebackers to the big leagues. That left a huge hole in the defense, which the coaches filled by moving Gerris Wilkinson from his starting spot at defensive end to middle linebacker. The move worked well for Wilkinson, who leads the ACC in tackles with 31.
SECONDARY – UM
Antrel Rolle’s name is popping up on Heisman watch lists due to his incredible playmaking ability, but he has had trouble hanging on to the football, dropping two sure interceptions. Greg Threat is a silent killer, racking up 17 tackles against Houston without much fanfare. Freshman safety Anthony Reddick was named ACC Rookie of the Week after the Houston game.
Safety James Butler is Tech’s defensive leader and a preseason All-American. Butler snagged five interceptions last season, and he is from Climax, Ga. Strong safety Dawan Landry is the other star of Tech’s secondary, and he has three career interceptions.
SPECIAL TEAMS – UM
Devin Hester looked like Midas against Louisiana Tech, returning two punts for touchdowns. Brian Monroe looks like a completely different punter compared to his dismal freshman year. He pinned Houston inside 20-yards on four of his five punts. Kicker Jon Peattie continues to play through a slight groin tear.
Fresh faces take over kicking and punting duties this season at GT. Junior transfer Ben Arndt has averaged 41 yards per punt and freshman kicker Travis Bell has hit two-of-three field goal attempts and has yet to miss an extra point.