Georgia Tech running back David Sims (7) celebrates his touchdown with teammates Ray Beno (64) and Embry Peeples (24) during the second half of their NCAA college football game against Kansas at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011. Georgia Tech won the game 66-24. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
ATLANTA -- After beating up on an FCS team (Western Carolina) and a Sun Belt Conference team (Middle Tennessee State) in its first two games, Saturday's game against Big 12 member Kansas was supposed to be Georgia Tech's first real test of the 2011 season.
Based on the results, consider that test passed with flying colors, particularly the Yellow Jackets' offense, which piled up a school-record 768 yards of total offense to avenge last year's embarrassing loss to the Jayhawks, with a 66-24 victory Saturday before 42,025 fans at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
"I was really proud of our guys," Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "I think they came out in the third quarter and asserted themselves the way we should have.
"A lot of big plays. The skill guys, the A-backs, had a big day. It was fun. Especially after last year, it was fun."
Orwin Smith was the biggest hammer wielded by the Jackets (3-0) and put up ridiculous numbers on the day by amassing 317 all-purpose yards and scoring two touchdowns for the Yellow Jackets.
The 6-foot, 202-pound junior ran for 157 yards on just five carries, caught two passes for 108 more yards and rolled up 49 return yards.
"I'm just doing the same thing I've been doing -- just trying to get better," Smith said. "I feel personally, if I can get better, I can make the team better. And I think everyone should feel that way."
But Smith's numbers weren't the only eye-popping figures for Tech on the day.
Among the Jackets' record yardage total were six scoring plays of 19 yards or more, including four of 52 yards or more, 621 yards on the ground -- including 110 from Embry Peeples and a combine 143 from Roddy Jones and David Sims -- and 196 yards of total offense from quarterback Tevin Washington.
And while the offense was rambling, the defense was wrecking -- at least, in the second half, when Kansas was held to just 116 yards and seven points.
"We tackled better, and I think we played some dime (package)," Johnson said of the difference in the defense in the second half. "But I think the guys just kind of turned it up a notch. I don't think we did a whole lot (different)."
The defense needed a boost after the closing seconds of the first half, when Kansas drove 65 yards in just 37 seconds before Alex Mueller's 28-yard field goal with 2 seconds left sent the Jackets into intermission with just a 24-17 lead.
That quick strike ended a half in which the Jayhawks rolled up 246 yard of their own, including 141 by quarterback Jordan Webb on 9 of 13 passing.
But the Tech offense gave the defense that momentum it needed early in the second half.
A 29-yard return by Smith set up another long burst from his fellow A-back Peeples -- this time, a 63-yard scoring run off an option pitch -- to push the Jackets' lead back to two possessions at 31-17.
"It was momentum," junior cornerback Rod Sweeting, who posted six combined tackles and assists, including one for a loss, on the day, said of the quick score in the third quarter. "It got the crowd (back) into it, and we fed off their energy."
The defense used that energy to its advantage, holding Kansas (2-1) to only a touchdown that came against Tech's reserves with just 2:24 to play with the outcome no longer in doubt.
And the offense continued to build even more energy, following a pair of defensive stops with Washington hooking up with Smith on a 67-yard scoring strike and Jones on a 52-yard TD completion to balloon the lead to 45-17 with 6:55 left in the third quarter.
The only question after that was how high Tech's offensive total would reach.
The Jackets didn't quite get to the 800 mark that the student section kept calling for late, but it was still a satisfying afternoon, especially in the wake of last year's 28-25 loss in Lawrence, Kan., that in some ways defined Tech's 6-7 season.
"They beat us last year, so I guess they thought coming off the win, they could stop us again," said Washington, who was 4 of 7 for 164 yards and two TDs. "I definitely don't think we were as prepared to go out and play (last year). coming into this year, we wanted to make sure we were ready to play.
The Jackets seemed quite ready to play from the onset.
For the third straight game, Tech's offense got started with a bang.
On its first play from scrimmage after taking a punt from his own 5-yard line, Smith swept around the right end, took advantage of a big block by right tackle Phil Smith to break free and followed another block by receiver Tyler Melton downfield to finish off a 95-yard touchdown run.
It was the longest run in Tech history, breaking the old record of 88 yards by Jonathan Dwyer just three years ago.
It also marked the third straight game the Jackets scored on their first snap of the game, and gave them a 7-0 lead just 2:27 after the opening kickoff.
The score turned out to be just the opening salvo in the Jackets offensive assault.