The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday February 8th

Tech Within Reach of Top of Conference

Assistant SportSaturday Editor

Georgia Tech has its best shot in years to win the ACC title.

But a bowl game and one knee injury later, the Yellow Jackets (9-3 overall, 6-2 in the ACC) almost lost the momentum in 2001 to chase down ACC powerhouse Florida State.

Tech lost last season's Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl game to Louisiana State, and starting quarterback George Godsey hurt his knee in the defeat. He missed spring practice, but he is back and expected to lead the Yellow Jackets again.

"I expect him to be 100 percent and as productive as last year," Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary said. "He under-stands that if he's not, then there are sec-onds and thirds at quarterback."

As a junior, Godsey took over for Georgia Tech superstar Joe Hamilton and silenced critics by tossing for 2,906 yards and 23 touchdowns last season.

The remainder of the Yellow Jackets' offense is unscathed, highlighted by the return of All-ACC wide receiver Kelly Campbell and tailback Joe Burns.

Unlike Hamilton, Godsey has a strong defense to back up his efforts. Two years ago, it ranked at the bottom of the conference in nearly every cate-gory.

Now led by All-ACC defensive ends Greg Gathers and Nick Rogers, Georgia Tech's line ranked 12th in the nation against the run and 20th in scoring defense in 2000.

However, O'Leary is not fully impressed. Especially if his club is to give the Seminoles a run for their money to claim another ACC championship.

"I think we made strides last year as far as the defense was concerned," O'Leary said. "We're not where we need to be yet, but I think we have a lot of young players who can run and enjoy hitting people."

Even with O'Leary's prediction, much preseason buzz remains high for the 2001 Georgia Tech squad.

Most preseason polls place the Ramblin' Wreck as a close second to Florida State.

It remains to be seen if the Yellow Jackets can dethrone the Seminoles, but Godsey is confident that the team can improve last year's mark by the end of 2001.

"This team has a lot of pieces from last year," Godsey said. "If we can stay as focused as we did last year, then we could end up in a Bowl Championship Series game."

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