Nov 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets head coach Brent Key on the field before a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Georgia Tech to remove interim tag of coach Brent Key

Georgia Tech is finalizing a deal to make interim coach Brent Key the program’s full-time head coach, multiple reports indicated Tuesday.

Key, the program’s assistant head coach, offensive line coach and run game coordinator, was given the interim coach title in September after Georgia Tech fired Geoff Collins amid a 1-3 start.

The Yellow Jackets went 4-4 under Key on their way to finishing 5-7 (4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), including a 21-17 upset of then-No. 13 North Carolina on Nov. 19.

Key, 44, is a Georgia Tech alumnus who played right guard for the program from 1997-2000.

“I’m an alumni from here,” Key told ESPN in October. “I really hold this place in super high regard for the lessons that I learned. But this is not one bit about trying to get a job. This is about doing a great job with the job that we have.”

Georgia Tech vetted a number of external candidates, but ESPN reported that the school’s reluctance to guarantee enough money in the contract turned some candidates off.

Tulane coach Willie Fritz was reported to be among the candidates the Yellow Jackets were interested in. Earlier Tuesday, Tulane announced that Fritz informed the school he was staying put.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA;  Tulane Green Wave head coach Willie Fritz during the first quarter against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Tulane won 27-13. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Georgia Tech close to hiring Tulane’s Willlie Fritz

Georgia Tech is closing in on making Tulane’s Willie Fritz its next head football coach, although a deal was not in place as of Sunday night according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Ken Sugiura.

Fritz, 62, would replace Geoff Collins, who was fired in September along with athletic director Todd Stansbury. Associate head coach Brent Key closed out Georgia Tech’s 5-7 season as the interim coach.

New athletic director J Batt has been searching for the Yellow Jackets’ new coach since being hired last month. Fritz emerged as a strong candidate over the past few weeks, although ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported Sunday night that the school still plans to interview additional candidates this week.

Fritz landed his first head coaching job at Blinn College in 1993, going on to win a pair of junior college national championships while compiling a 39-5-1 record. Fritz spent the next 13 years at Division II Central Missouri, where he went 97-47.

Fritz’s next stop was at Sam Houston State, leading the school to consecutive national title game appearances in 2011-12 before leaving for Georgia Southern. The Eagles reached the first bowl game in school history in 2015, but Fritz was not on the sideline after accepting the Tulane job.

After a pair of losing seasons to begin his tenure at Tulane, the Green Wave went to bowl games in three of the next four seasons. Tulane went 2-10 in 2021 but rebounded in a big way this year, finished the regular season 10-1 and atop the American Athletic Conference following Friday’s 27-24 win at Cincinnati.

Fritz is 41-45 in seven seasons at Tulane and is 195-114 overall.

The Green Wave will play host to Central Florida in the AAC title game on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Jeff Sims (10) warms up before the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech QB Jeff Sims to enter transfer portal

Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims announced Sunday that he plans to enter the transfer portal, which opens Dec. 5.

“It was not an easy decision, however, I believe it is the right decision for me at this point in my career,” Sims wrote on Twitter.

Sims has been a three-year starter for the Yellow Jackets, but he missed the final five games following a sprained foot suffered against Duke and then re-injured against Virginia.

Sims has thrown for 4,464 yards with 30 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in 25 career games for Georgia Tech. That includes completing 58.5 percent of his passes for 1,115 yards, five touchdowns and three picks before being shut down this season, although Sims averaged a career-low 5.9 yards per attempt.

Interim head coach Brent Key announced Nov. 15 that Sims was being shut down from playing other games “indefinitely.”

“Jeff won’t be with the football team, really kind of indefinitely now,” Key said at the time. “We had meetings with Jeff and meetings with the doctors and the medical professionals and came to the determination that it would be best for Jeff to not be in meetings or not be in practice, but to be in treatment and in rehab right now moving forward.

“Decisions that are made are like we have said since day one, made in the best interest of the team and Georgia Tech and for the health and safety of our players.”

Sims came to Georgia Tech as a four-star recruit who flipped his commitment from Florida State.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) is tackled by Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets linebacker Charlie Thomas (1) in the first quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Ga. Tech rallies from 17 down to upset No. 13 North Carolina

Georgia Tech put together a pair of second-half touchdown drives and held host No. 13 North Carolina scoreless after halftime to pull off a 21-17 upset Saturday at Chapel Hill, N.C.

Hassan Hall scored what turned out to be the winning touchdown on a 6-yard run with 11:08 remaining.

Georgia Tech (5-6, 4-4 ACC) remained in contention to become bowl eligible, but that would mean stunning top-ranked Georgia on the road in next week’s regular-season finale.

North Carolina (9-2, 6-1) had a six-game winning streak snapped a week after it wrapped up the ACC’s Coastal Division title. Before facing Clemson in the conference championship game, the Tar Heels will have a home date with rival North Carolina State on Friday.

Georgia Tech kept tabs on North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye, who had a rough time by completing 16 of 30 passes for 202 yards and one interception. He was without a touchdown pass for the first time this season.

North Carolina’s Elijah Green ran for 92 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

Georgia Tech didn’t have a lot of offense, but the Yellow Jackets were balanced with 187 yards through the air and 186 yards rushing. Zach Gibson completed 13 of 18 passes for 174 yards.

North Carolina appeared poised to retake the lead late in the game, but receiver Josh Downs couldn’t handle Maye’s fourth-down pass that would have been a 19-yard scoring play with less than five minutes remaining. The Tar Heels never had another possession.

Maye’s top target was Bryson Nesbit, who caught four passes for 85 yards.

The Tar Heels led 17-7 before Georgia Tech put together a nine-play, 68-yard drive capped by Taisun Phommachanh’s 4-yard touchdown run with 7:31 left in the third.

After a Maye interception, the Yellow Jackets went 81 yards on nine plays, with Hall running for go-ahead points.

Green’s 80-yard run opened the scoring on the first play of North Carolina’s first possession.

Noah Burnette extended the lead with a 31-yard field goal more than 15 minutes later.

Green’s 1-yard run helped put North Carolina up 17-0 with 3:13 to play in the half.

However, the Yellow Jackets marched 84 yards on nine plays to score on Dontae Smith’s 2-yard run 48 seconds before halftime.

Green had two touchdowns on four first-half carries.

North Carolina held a 257-171 in total yards in the first half. Even with that, Maye had his least impressive half of the season, with 108 passing yards and 21 rushing yards.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) attempts a pass against the Virginia Cavaliers during the second half at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 North Carolina not looking past Georgia Tech

It’s all lining up so well for No. 13 North Carolina. Now the Tar Heels just need the finishing touches.

It’s a two-game home stretch to finish the regular season, starting Saturday against Georgia Tech in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Tar Heels (9-1, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) already have a spot reserved in the ACC championship game, while redshirt freshman quarterback Drake Maye has emerged as an outside candidate in the Heisman Trophy discussion.

“Probably the best thing about this team is they’re not near satisfied with how they’re playing,” coach Mack Brown said. “They’ve been a team that’s been very receptive to criticism.”

North Carolina is 9-1 for the fourth time since 1980, so this is special territory.

Georgia Tech (4-6, 3-4) must win one of its final two games — against the Tar Heels and No. 1 Georgia — in order to become bowl eligible.

“It’s a big challenge for us this weekend,” interim coach Brent Key said. “We look forward to it.”

The Yellow Jackets are 3-3 under Key. The victories include a road win at then-No. 24 Pittsburgh, so the potential is there.

Georgia Tech is using quarterback Zach Gibson with Jeff Sims, who was huge in last year’s upset of North Carolina, away from the team for the rest of the season due to a foot injury and Zach Pyron also done for the campaign. Pyron sustained a broken clavicle during last weekend’s 35-14 loss to Miami.

Key said it will be imperative that the Yellow Jackets find ways to run the ball against the Tar Heels.

North Carolina has been involved in numerous close games. Too many, according to Brown.

“We just can’t put our foot on the gas and put somebody away,” he said. “And then it’s like we go to sleep for a while. I don’t know. It’s something that can get you beat.”

Gaining a killer instinct is something that could benefit North Carolina. With all the passing success for Maye, there are elements lacking with the rushing attack.

“There’s a certain toughness you’ve got to have in the red-zone run game,” Brown said.

This game ought to have the Tar Heels’ attention considering Georgia Tech’s stunning 45-22 victory in last year’s meeting in Atlanta.

“I looked at it (Monday) morning and it made me throw up,” Brown said of reviewing last year’s game.

There is plenty of motivation for the Yellow Jackets.

“They’re still in contention for a bowl bid, so they’re going to come in here and give us the best shot they’ve got,” Brown said.

Maye threw for a season-best 448 yards last week at Wake Forest. He also led the Tar Heels in rushing for the fifth time this year.

North Carolina receiver Josh Downs set an ACC record for a three-game stretch by catching 37 passes. He could be busier than normal depending on the status of receiver Antoine Green, who’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

“They put him in different spots to get those matchups with him,” Key said of Downs. “He’s a dynamic guy.”

North Carolina linebacker Cedric Gray leads the ACC with 10.8 tackles per game.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Zach Pyron (14) throws a pass against the Miami Hurricanes in the first quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech QB Zach Pyron (clavicle) out for season

Georgia Tech quarterback Zach Pyron will miss the rest of the season after sustaining a broken clavicle during last weekend’s 35-14 loss to Miami.

Pyron fell hard on his left shoulder after running for 19 yards late in the third quarter. He was intercepted on the following play and didn’t return to the contest.

Pyron completed 12 of 22 passes for 114 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and also rushed for 66 yards against Miami in his second career start. He completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 565 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in three games.

The Yellow Jackets previously lost starter Jeff Sims to a foot injury against Virginia on Oct. 20. The party line was that Sims was available in an emergency, but now with Georgia Tech in dire need, coach Brent Key says Sims is unavailable.

“In regards to Jeff, Jeff won’t be with the football team, really kind of indefinitely now,” Key said in Tuesday’s press conference. “We had meetings with Jeff and meetings with the doctors and the medical professionals and came to the determination that it would be best for Jeff to not be in meetings or not be in practice, but to be in treatment and in rehab right now moving forward.

“Decisions that are made are, like we have said since Day One, made in the best interest of the team and Georgia Tech and for the health and safety of our players.”

Sims passed for 1,115 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions in seven games this season.

Zach Gibson finished up against the Hurricanes and is 25-for-51 passing for 224 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions this season. Gibson started a 41-16 loss to Florida State on Oct. 29 and was 2-of-3 passing for 0 yards before being replaced by Pyron.

Georgia Tech (4-6, 3-4 ACC) visits No. 13 North Carolina on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Tallahassee, Florida, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Zach Pyron (14) looks to throw during the second half against the Florida State Seminoles  at Doak S. Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

After lopsided loss, Miami to meet Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech, which is 3-2 since Geoff Collins was fired as coach, will host Miami on Saturday in an Atlantic Coast Conference game at Atlanta.

The Yellow Jackets (4-5, 3-3 ACC) are favored against the disappointing Hurricanes (4-5, 2-3), who are coming off a 45-3 home loss to Florida State.

While the Hurricanes no doubt are feeling embarrassed by the lopsided score against their rivals, the Yellow Jackets have some momentum.

Zach Pyron, the team’s true freshman quarterback, made his first career start last week and led the Jackets to a 28-27 win at Virginia Tech.

The Hokies led 27-16 in the fourth quarter, but Pyron engineered two late touchdown drives.

“(Pyron) has ice in his veins for a young kid, whether it’s making a throw or lowering his shoulder to get a first down,” said Jackets interim coach Brent Key, who replaced Collins in September.

Georgia Tech starting QB Jeff Sims, who is out with a foot injury, could be ready for the Miami game. But that doesn’t mean Key will use Sims, who has completed 58.5 percent of his passes this season. Sims hasn’t improved much as a passer in his three years with the Jackets, completing 57.5 percent in 25 games.

Pyron, who has completed 61.7 percent of his throws, has a better QB rating than Sims. Pyron has thrown for 451 yards, and his average yards per attempt is 7.5, which is superior to Sims’ figure of 5.9 this season.

Meanwhile, Miami has had problems at quarterback. Starter Tyler Van Dyke left the Florida State game in the second quarter after he appeared to injure his passing shoulder again, and backup Jake Garcia has averaged one interception per every 20.5 throws (compared with Van Dyke’s 61.3 number).

Third-string QB Jacurri Brown is strong as a runner but has struggled at times as a passer, bouncing or sailing throws.

In addition, Miami’s offensive line is without left tackle Zion Nelson, an NFL prospect who has yet to play this season because of injury, while left guard Jalen Rivers was injured Saturday.

“There’s no sugar-coating it,” Miami coach Mario Cristobal said. “We have a lot of work to do.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 27, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Grant Wells (6) runs for a touchdown during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.  The Wolfpack won 22-21. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech meet amid fading bowl hopes

The battle of the Techs in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Coastal Division often has had championship implications.

But those days are in the past.

On Saturday, when Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3 ACC) travels to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech (2-6, 1-4), the only stakes are the flickering bowl hopes of the struggling teams.

While Georgia Tech enters the game on a two-game skid, Virginia Tech has dropped five in a row in its longest losing streak in 30 seasons.

With two games left vs. ACC teams who have losing records, and another against Liberty, Hokies coach Brent Pry is looking for a “reboot,” as he called it Tuesday.

“We have four games left, a good chance to go 4-0, achieve a lot of objectives and finish this thing on a good note,” Pry said.

The Hokies are coming off a 22-21 loss at North Carolina State in which they incurred a staggering 10 false-start penalties.

Virginia Tech quarterback Grant Wells ran for two touchdowns and threw for a score in a dizzying span of 8:49 in the third quarter. The splurge put the Hokies up 21-3 late in the third quarter. But over the final 17 minutes, Tech surrendered three touchdown passes by Wolfpack true freshman quarterback MJ Morris.

The Yellow Jackets had their moments this year. Since Geoff Collins was fired as head coach, interim coach Brent Key has guided the team to an upset of then-24th-ranked Pitt, 26-21, followed by a 23-20 victory in overtime against Duke.

But last week’s 41-16 loss at Florida State was a humbling reality check. On a day when the Yellow Jackets’ defense surrendered 642 yards, their offense gained only 24 in the first half.

In his first college start, freshman Zach Pyron recovered in the second half to finish 18-of-28 passing for 198 yards and a touchdown.

Pyron will be back on the bench this week because starter Jeff Sims will return from a sprained foot. Key declared Sims good to go on Tuesday, explaining that his running ability forces opposing teams to defend more of the field, which can open Tech’s running attack.

“Creating those lanes and creating those spaces with Jeff is obviously a huge advantage for us,” Key said.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State scuffling but is big favorite against Georgia Tech

After a bye week and mired in a three-game losing streak, Florida State will be healthy and ready to get back to work in the Atlantic Coast Conference when it hosts Georgia Tech on Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Seminoles (4-3, 2-3), who have lost to three ranked teams by a combined 18 points, have dropped two straight to Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-2). The last one, a 16-13 home defeat in 2020, featured the collegiate debut of Yellow Jackets quarterback Jeff Sims, a former FSU commit who may not play this week due to a knee injury.

Meanwhile, Florida State is expected to get back wide receiver Ja’Khi Douglas and defensive tackle Fabien Lovett.

“I think that having those few extra days is going to be able to help,” said Seminoles coach Mike Norvell. “It was good seeing Fabien move around, very hopeful for what that’s going to look like this week. But all in all, I think it was a very positive time for us with a bye week.”

Georgia Tech appeared to have magically righted its sinking ship after firing coach Geoff Collins following a loss to UCF on Sept. 24. With interim coach Brent Key calling the shots, the Yellow Jackets reeled off a pair of solid wins — 26-21 at defending ACC champion Pitt and 23-20 in overtime against Duke.

However, the enthusiasm of those two victories was tempered greatly by last week’s ugly 16-9 home loss to a struggling Virginia squad that came to Atlanta with a 2-4 mark and a three-game skid.

With the sophomore Sims questionable for Saturday and the offense sputtering, the Seminoles opened as a heavy 20 1/2-point favorites against the Yellow Jackets.

Backup Zach Gibson, a transfer from Akron, went 10 for 25 for 99 yards and was sacked seven times in relief as the offensive line was porous against Virginia.

“With Zach being the quarterback, we have to go back to the drawing board and find what gives him the best chance to run the offense and gives us a chance to win,” Key said.

Across 26 games in a series that dates to 1952, the Seminoles are 14-11-1 overall – 0-7-1 in the first eight matchups – and are 6-2 on their home turf.

–Field Level Media

Oct 20, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Virginia Cavaliers running back Xavier Brown (20) is tackled by Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets defensive back Clayton Powell-Lee (29) in the first half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Brennan Armstrong sets Virginia’s TD-pass mark in win over Ga. Tech

Brennan Armstrong became Virginia’s career passing touchdowns leader and he ran for another score to lead the Cavaliers to a 16-9 victory over Georgia Tech on Thursday in Atlanta.

Armstrong, who completed 20 of 35 passes for 255 yards, threw his school-record 57th career touchdown pass with a 44-yard strike to Dontayvion Wicks midway through the second quarter. The score gave Virginia (3-4, 1-3 ACC) a 13-6 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Armstrong, who also threw two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, eclipsed the mark set by Matt Schaub from 2000-03.

Armstrong rushed for a game-high 91 yards and a score on 13 carries for the Cavaliers, who outgained Georgia Tech 226-41 in the second half and 410-201 for the game.

Keytaon Thompson had seven receptions for 89 yards for Virginia, while Wicks had four receptions for 99 yards.

Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-2) lost its starting quarterback, Jeff Sims, midway through the second quarter due to the lingering effects of a leg injury he sustained against Duke on Oct. 8. Sims went 6-for-11 passing for 47 yards and interception before he was replaced by Zach Gibson, who finished 11-for-26 for 99 yards.

Nate McCollum had five receptions for 62 yards for the Yellow Jackets, while Malachi Carter had four catches for 43 yards. Hassan Hall ran for 42 yards on 12 carries.

Leading 13-6 at halftime, the Cavaliers pushed their advantage to 16-9 on Will Bettridge’s 28-yard field goal with 6:21 left in the third quarter for the only score of the second half.

LaMiles Brooks gave Georgia Tech a 6-0 lead when he returned an interception off a deflection 37 yards for a touchdown. Gavin Stewart missed the extra-point with 6:51 left in the opening quarter.

The lead wouldn’t last long. Armstrong’s 1-yard sneak capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive to give the Cavaliers a 7-6 lead with 2:01 left in the first quarter.

After Armstrong’s record-setting touchdown pass to Wicks, Bettridge missed the extra point with 7:24 left in the first half.

Georgia Tech pulled within 13-9 ahead of halftime on Stewart’s 25-yard field goal with 24 seconds to go.

–Field Level Media