ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Tech opened practice Monday for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game without leading rusher Orwin Smith, but the senior provided an optimistic outlook for the week.
Smith said he "definitely" plans to practice on Tuesday and hopes to play in Saturday night's game against No. 13 Florida State.
"It's still to be determined," Smith said when asked about his status. "I think I will play. We'll just see how it goes day by day."
Smith missed last week's 42-10 loss to No. 3 Georgia with a sprained right ankle.
"It's definitely feeling a lot better than last week," he said.
The running back's absence was felt, as the Yellow Jackets were held to a season-low in scoring after averaging 47.7 points in three straight wins.
Quarterback Tevin Washington said he hopes Smith can help the offense bounce back.
"Orwin has made a lot of plays in his career," Washington said Monday. "I feel like not having him, it was a vacant spot there. He's a senior, he's a leader also on the team. We have young guys ready to step up and make plays too. I think we have a host of guys ready to step up and make plays. I just feel like going forward with him there it gives us a better chance at being successful."
Georgia Tech (6-6) is a two-touchdown underdog and will need its spread-option offense to be at full strength against Florida State's tough defense.
In a matchup of strengths, Georgia Tech is No. 3 in the nation in rushing, and Florida State ranks fourth against the run.
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said Sunday he didn't know if Smith would return this week.
"He didn't play Saturday, so I wouldn't have any reason to think there's any change in him," Johnson said before adding "We'll know Monday."
Johnson said it was not his decision to hold Smith out against Georgia.
"I never decided on Orwin," Johnson said after the game. "I thought he was going to try it today. He didn't dress and try it. I guess with the trainers they decided he couldn't go."
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