Despite Georgia's disappointing season, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said his team will not be overconfident for Saturday's 8 p.m. game at Bobby Dodd Stadium, the 105th meeting between the two teams.
The No. 7 Yellow Jackets (10-1) were off this week, while the Bulldogs (6-5) were defeated by Kentucky 34-27 in Sanford Stadium.
Johnson pointed out how deceiving the score was. Georgia led 20-6 at halftime, and totaled more than 480 yards in offense. But four turnovers in the second half helped the Wildcats post their first win in Athens since 1977.
"All you have to do is turn the tape on," Johnson said. "They've got some great players, just had some turnovers that cost them the game. If not for the turnovers, they would have won going away."
Johnson praised Georgia's receivers and said the running game has come into its own.
As for the rivalry, Johnson has experienced a few intense, competitive series in his career at Georgia Southern and at Navy.
"It's neat to have a rival," Johnson said. "One thing about the game being exciting is hopefully they are competitive. Last year's game certainly was. I figure this year's game will be as well."
Last year's game between the two schools was similar to the Bulldogs' loss to Kentucky on Saturday. Georgia got ahead 28-12 at halftime, only to see Tech score 26 points in the third quarter to eventually win 45-42 and snap a seven-game losing streak in the series.
Juniors and NFL
Johnson said he will sit down with juniors this week who are trying to gauge whether they should make themselves eligible for the NFL draft in April.
Among the juniors who could leave are defensive end Derrick Morgan, B-back Jonathan Dwyer and safety Morgan Burnett. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is a redshirt junior who could also leave early.
Morgan is fourth in the nation in sacks (12.5), Dwyer has already rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season, Thomas has the size (6-foot-3) and hands that would seem to attract an NFL team, and Burnett has 14 interceptions in the past three seasons.
Johnson said he will sit down with each player and go through a list of criteria that could help them make their decision.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper listed Dwyer as the top running back in the country before the season started, as well as the most NFL ready. Nationalfootballpost.com recently listed Dwyer as the eighth-best prospect and second-best running back.
Kiper has Morgan listed No. 17 on his board (he's 16 on nationalfootballpost), Burnett as the second-best safety and Thomas as the fourth-best receiver.
"If a guy's going to be a top-10 pick or top-12 pick, they're probably going to go," Johnson said. "It'd be hard to advise them not to."
Johnson said there wasn't a lot of lead-in, nor any rumors, that led to the one-year contract extension he agreed to last Friday.
He said athletics director Dan Radakovich told him a week or two ago that he wanted to take the deal through 2016. No other terms in the deal changed.
"Not any work to it really," Johnson said.
Several coaches on Tech's staff have ties to Georgia Southern because they were assistants when Johnson coached there from 1997 to 2001.
Giff Smith (who also played there), Mike Sewak (who was head coach there for four seasons after Johnson left for Navy), Jeff Monken and Brian Bohannon spent time on the sidelines in Statesboro.
Eagles coach Chris Hatcher was fired on Saturday after three seasons and an 18-15 record.
Johnson said he wouldn't be worried should Southern have in interest in one of them being its next coach.
"If it happens for them, that'll be great. If that's what they want to do," Johnson said.