TB P.J. Daniels

2004 Statistics

Coach: Chan Gailey
21-17, 3 years
2004 Record: 7-5
at Clemson WON 28-24
at North Carolina LOST 13-34
at Maryland WON 20-7
at North Carolina State WON 24-14
at Georgia LOST 13-19
vs. Syracuse WON 51-14

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

For nearly a decade, Georgia Tech has been a good team, but has not attained levels with the college football elite. And even though making their eighth bowl trip in as many years matched what only seven current teams have done, at 7-5, their defensive superiority has to be seen as having been squandered. Stellar, commanding defenses are what those rare, national championship-caliber teams are built upon, so the Ramblin' Wreck is lucky to have their superior group (10 of 11 starters) back in force. Good enough again on D to take them all the way, this team will therefore go only as far as the offense can muster. The skill positions are so good they can sting anybody, but they're also so inconsistent they can look bad against anybody, too. Oh, the dichotomy…Gailey has to turn Ball into the mature game manager needed to win, not the free-wheeling improviser who seems to lose as many as his talents win.

2005 has, so far, started out rough, with head coach Chan Gailey suffering a minor heart attack during spring drills. He was back on the field within a week, though, and should be healthy enough to lead Tech into what will again be a tough slate (our Strength of Schedule rated Tech's '04 campaign as the second-toughest). Seven bowl teams again pepper the lineup. Tech went 2-5 against them in '04. Four of the staunchest - Auburn, Virginia Tech, Miami and Virginia - are all on the road. With just one gimme (at Duke, 10/15/05), Georgia Tech will need to go 5-1 or 6-0 at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field to keep its bowl streak alive, but that is unlikely. You just can't ever count a team out with such a phenomenal D, so make sure you keep an eye on how the offense progresses. If it can, you will see the Boys on Bobby Dodd Way really start to haul in more of those valuable in-state recruits, and then the program can find that consistency it has so desperately lacked.

Projected 2005 record: 7-4
QB - 3.5 DL - 4
RB - 4 LB - 4
WR - 3.5 DB - 4
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Reggie Ball, 330-164-18, 2147 yds., 16 TD

Rushing: P.J. Daniels, 154 att., 714 yds., 8 TD

Receiving: Calvin Johnson, 48 rec., 837 yds., 7 TD

Scoring: Travis Bell, 15-17 FG, 31-31 PAT, 76 pts.

Punting: Ben Arndt, 73 punts, 38.5 avg.

Kicking: Travis Bell, 15-17 FG, 31-31 PAT, 76 pts.

Tackles: Gerris Wilkinson, 119 tot., 53 solo

Sacks: Chris Reis, 8 sacks

Interceptions: Reuben Houston, 3 for 16 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Eddie Ivery, 2 ret., 26.5 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns:
Patrick Carter, 26 ret., 8.4 avg., 0 TD


LB Gerris Wilkinson
OFFENSE: Jimmy Dixon-FB, Nate Curry-WR, Levon Thomas-WR, Darius Williams-TE, Leon Robinson-OT, Andy Tidwell-Neal-C, Kyle Wallace-OT
DEFENSE: James Butler-FS, Darryl Richard-DT (injured), Travis Parker-DE (academics)

At times, Reggie Ball is one of the most exciting players in the country, but his play has frustrated Tech fans, and that's why his job wasn't safe heading into spring practice. After starting every game for two years, we know he is just as dangerous running as he is throwing, and his numbers aren't bad. But he threw more INTs than TDs (18:16) and completed only half his passes. The job is still Ball's to lose. Taylor Bennett and Kyle Manley, a pair of redshirt freshman fighting to unseat him, both provide more drop-back skills than mobility. Bennett had the edge in 2004, as he traveled with the team, but Manley made a good impression on coaches while running the scout team. Then there's WR Damarius Bilbo (4.4-sec 40), who has taken about 80 snaps at QB for Tech, and since he is now a starter on the wing, his number will get called when defenses are least expecting it. We expect Ball to hold off all challengers, reduce his mistakes, and have a strong(er) year - as long as he manages games for wins and doesn't try to win them alone.

Running Back
Most teams wish they could have the depth Tech has here. P.J. Daniels is a former ACC rushing champion who had his junior year limited by injuries. This NC.net all-American (Honor Roll) is the epitome of their home-spun term "Ramblin' Wreck" - his compact, solid frame often hurts defenders who are looking to do the same to him. Even injured, Daniels still put up great numbers, showing great toughness against Georgia when, though hurt himself, he came in after his replacement, Grant, went down, too. Accordingly, Chris Woods and Rashaun Grant shone well given their chances. Both are small and speedy, but need to strengthen to give this offense that strong presence Daniels provides between the tackles. Dual-sporting (baseball) Drew Gause has the hands and size-speed combo that will get him reps. At fullback, Mike Cox primarily blocks, while Ajenavi Eziemefe has been plugged in like a tailback in the past, so his presence should send up red flags for opponents (22 touches). The Jackets had a decent year running the ball (ranking 49th in the country), but with so much talent now available, they'll be even better - when they eclipse 2004's 11 ground scores, you'll know they're ramblin'.

Although just a sophomore, Calvin Johnson is already one of the nation's top receivers. A first-team all-ACC performer as a freshman in '04, Johnson still has a tremendous amount of upside. With his size and athleticism, he can be dominant (especially deep), which he will (have to) be, because he doesn't have much experience next to him. Damarius Bilbo is the only other wideout with much real-game knowledge. Tech is expecting his size and speed can make him viable underneath and over the middle. Newbie Greg Smith represents a deep, varied cross-section of fast guys who will just need reps to have an impact. Although the receivers are green, Johnson alone makes this group a formidable one, and they'll step up to make life easier on Ball.

Tight End
Michael Matthews is athletic for his huge stature, and if he still lacks in size, he makes up for it with potential. His prep numbers show he is a legitimate deep threat, so we expect he will open things up otherwise by occupying safeties/LBs regularly. Wayne Riles and George Cooper both have to show more consistency, and Riles, though tough and willing to prove it, needs to shake his reputation for being injured. Both are extremely versatile, too, so expect the role here to expand with much capable depth.

Offensive Line
Going into spring practice, head coach Chan Gailey's main concern was the offensive line. Three starters are gone and little experience is left. Brad Honeycutt is the leader of the line, but even he has his work cut out (moves from right guard to right tackle). That will allow him to make better use of his strength and quickness. Mansfield Wrotto, a two-year starter at defensive tackle, will take Honeycutt's old spot at guard. His physical prowess was being wasted weekly by only going 20 reps as a DT, so his impact by being in 60-70 plays per game will maximize the line's push. LG Matt Rhodes will feel the least pressure as he is the only lineman returning to his position. Andrew Gardner gained about 50 pounds while red-shirting, and coaches feel his potential means he is ready to make an impact at the all-important left tackle spot. Ample youth here will slowly catch on, which means that, early on, keeping the play-calling simple will be the key for the entire offense to later be able to effectively shift itself at will.

The potential is there for this side of the ball to be very good, but how much better it gets from a year ago (80th total offense) will go a long way toward defining 2005. There are too many question marks, and only by having one of the nation's top 50 offenses can Tech ultimately produce itself a top 25 result. The development of three new starters on the line and WR-depth is crucial, but more than anything, the Yellow Jackets need Ball to become more consistent and more accurate. His natural talent suggests he can become an electric player, but until he does, the only jackets in Atlanta won't be yellow, but the straight kind. His receivers - other than Calvin Johnson, maturing and developing into threats, will help Ball tremendously. But Ball's inability to deliver means that the running game can be predictably stopped, so his role is essential. He may be able to run (if that happens), but Tech can't hide from the dismal results that will then ensue.


WR Calvin Johnson


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Reggie Ball-Jr (5-11, 195) Taylor Bennett-Fr (6-3, 213)
Kyle Manley-Fr (6-2, 200)
FB Michael Cox-So (6-1, 248) Ajenavi Eziemefe-Sr (6-1, 240)
TB P.J. Daniels-Sr (5-10, 210) Tashard Choice-So (6-1, 205)
Chris Woods-Sr (5-10, 190)
WR Damarius Bilbo-Sr (6-3, 225) Pat Clark-So (5-11, 180)
WR Calvin Johnson-So (6-4, 225) James Johnson-Fr (6-0, 190)
TE Michael Matthews-Jr (6-4, 270) George Cooper-Jr (6-5, 260)
OT Andrew Gardner-Fr (6-6, 280) Jacob Lonowski-Fr (6-5, 280)
OG Matt Rhodes-So (6-3, 280) LeShawn Newberry-So (6-0, 300)
C Nate McManus-So (6-3, 290) Kevin Tuminello-So (6-4, 280)
OG Mansfield Wrotto-Jr (6-3, 310) Salih Besirevic-Sr (6-7, 290)
OT Brad Honeycutt-Sr (6-4, 310) A.J. Smith-Fr (6-7, 265)
K Travis Bell-So (6-0, 210) Kyle Belcher-So (6-4, 210)



Defensive Line
This was one of the strongest D-line units in the country (13th against the run), and just about every key player is back. Eric Henderson and Travis Parker create one of the nation's best pairs of ends. Henderson, a second-team NC.net all-American, is the pass-rush specialist, but saw his production in that area drop significantly in '04 (three sacks, after 11 in '03). He will pick that up again as his controlled burst rarely leads to overpursuit. Parker is the best run-stopper, while junior Joe Anoai's great size and quickness make his efforts in all areas work well. Although Wrotto was moved to offense, replacement Darryl Richard just had a tremendous true freshman year, despite the limited playing time. The reserves are strong as well, so the ability for this group to again reach 38 sacks is there and expected. Here, Georgia Tech is amongst the best - they will again hold foes to around 68 rushing first-downs and a 29% third-down completion rate, and will significantly reduce allowing 13 rushing TDs.

Coaches in the ACC know all about Gerris Wilkinson, who shifted from defensive end to middle linebacker and flourished. The second-leading tackler in the conference, Wilkinson has speed, strength and size, and he will be even better. KaMichael Hall moves from weak to strongside, and although he's small for a strongside backer, his speed is exceptional and he's one of the top pass rushers on the team. The one hole is at the weakside spot (as Reis moves to safety), where Philip Wheeler (Shaw/Columbus, Ga.) is the leading candidate here. This is a strong group of athletes who won't have to compensate for another weak unit, so, along with the D-line, this corps will form one of the best run stopping efforts in the nation.

Defensive Back
Five former starters and 10 letter winners return. That includes Chris Reis, a former-LB who is moving back to his original position at strong safety after leading the team in sacks. Reis' size is better suited for safety, and he'll be a great backfield mate with free safety Dawan Landry, who himself moves over from the strong side. Landry is a big play-maker and a powerful hitter. CBs Reuben Houston and Kenny Scott started every game last campaign; these solid cover-corners were big reasons the pass defense was so good (ranking 24th). Dennis Davis is also back after a shoulder injury. His starting experience, along with nickel guy Jamal Lewis, round out a well-sized crew - each can go one-on-one in coverage and/or open-field tackling. With such talent in the front seven, more chances will be taken so that 2004's total of 10 INTs is eclipsed.

The Yellow Jacket's 21st-ranked scoring D held six opponents to 14 points or less, but then Miami, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech - all bowl teams - scored an average of 31+. Now that we've shown you weakness here, realize how it is only found when conjuring the past. Lessons will be learned. With only one starter leaving and experience throughout the three-deep, we think this defense can again be leaned upon by the offense to win games no matter how that other side of the ball looks. There are few weaknesses on this defense, but with so many top teams on the schedule in '05, Tech is sure to give up a few points sometime. Still, speed and size coexist in the entire unit, so watch all 11 Yellow Jackets swarm to the ball no matter where the play may go.


DE Eric Henderson


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Eric Henderson-Sr (6-3, 265) Darrell Robertson-So (6-5, 220)
DT Elris Anyaibe-Fr (6-3, 265) Travis Rogers-So (6-2, 230)
DT Joe Anoai-Jr (6-3, 270) David Brown-Fr (6-2, 260)
DE Adamm Oliver-So (6-4, 260) Michael Johnson-Fr (6-7, 215)
OLB KaMichael Hall-Jr (6-0, 225) Gary Guyton-So (6-3, 230)
MLB Gerris Wilkinson-Sr (6-4, 230) Travis Chambers-So (5-11, 220)
OLB Philip Wheeler-So (6-2, 221) Eric Williams-Fr (6-3, 210)
CB Reuben Houston-Sr (6-0, 190) (susp.) Jamal Lewis-So (6-0, 185)
CB Kenny Scott-Jr (6-2, 185) Dennis Davis-Sr (6-0, 185)
SS Chris Reis-Sr (6-1, 215) Joe Gaston-Jr (5-11, 190)
FS Dawan Landry-Sr (6-2, 215) Djay Jones-So (6-1, 190)
P Ben Arndt-Sr (6-0, 180) Kyle Belcher-So (6-4, 210)




One year after going into the season unsure of its kicking game, Tech now has no worries. Travis Bell missed the first and last field goals of his freshman year. In between, he was 15-for-15 and was perfect inside 45 yards. The one concern could be with his leg strength, but that will get better as he matures. As a bonus, the Jackets blocked seven kicks. As good as Bell was, the kickoff coverage unit was terrible (102nd nationally), putting pressure on kickoff-specialist Kyle Belcher to improve.

Ben Arndt was inconsistent, and, because of his 38+ average, he'll have to fight off Belcher to keep his starting position. One thing that helped Arndt was the team's efforts in net results (ranked 11th), while not allowing any TDs or any of Arndt's punts to be blocked. The Tech defense, meanwhile, blocked four punts (returning two for touchdowns).

Return Game
Both return units lost their primary ball handlers from last year, so competition is wide open. Rueben Houston, Pat Clark, James Johnson, Kenny Scott, Chris Dunlap and Chris Woods are all auditioning for these important roles, and it's too early to predict impact here. But speed and desperation (by reserves to see reps) will cause both areas to improve as candidates vie for the spots.