Nov. 6, 2007
– GEORGIA TECH HEAD COACH Chan Gailey
Is Tashard Choice a go?
“It looks like it. He’s going to practice, limited, today, and try to increase each day. That’s what it looks like.”
How difficult was it Thursday night when he came out dressed for the coin toss? Was there any last-minute lobbying for him to play?
“No. We all were on the same page there. He wanted to be a part of it. Just because he was not playing, he did not want to shirk his other duties, which are leadership and being a captain. You have to appreciate a guy for that.”
What indications do you have to have for him to play?
“There are two things. One, he has to look good in practice. Two, he has to say he feels good enough to play. We’ve got that kind of relationship that he will be honest. He knows the importance of this game, the importance of the rest of the games, and then his future. We’ve got to think about all of it.”
What has he been able to do physically so far?
“Just jog and run some. Things like that. He ran a little bit Sunday. I don’t think he did anything yesterday. He’ll practice today.”
Will you give Josh Nesbitt more snaps, or will it still be mostly a change-of-pace thing with him?
“It’ll be a change-of-pace deal. We’ll continue to give him a package, and if it looks like there’s a spot where he can get more than that, then we’ll take that opportunity.”
Josh said he takes a step forward every week. He does something better every week. Is that an on-schedule development?
“It all depends on him. You can’t push him to fast. It’s not fair to him or the team. But at the same time, you don’t want to take him too slow. There is that balance that you’re always searching for as a football coach – how fast do you bring guys like that along? He does improve. He gets better. But, to do everything is going to take some time. But he is getting better. He’s not hit a wall, which is good.”
How much of that getting better includes the passing side of the game?
“That’s a lot of things you have to experience on Saturdays. It’s not just one-on-one. It’s a lot of different coverages, a lot of different reads. That’s a lot to ask a guy to do along with everything else it takes to play quarterback. You just make sure he understands everything it takes.”
You have said you can do a better job of getting Taylor Bennett prepared for games. Can you elaborate on that?
“Just reading, making sure of his reads, making sure he understands about taking care of the football. Making sure he understands what it takes for our team to win. Overall game management is the best way to term it without getting too specific.”
Taylor said he had never had a game where he had four interceptions, not even a high school season. Did that change his confidence level?
“Not really, but we haven’t been on the practice field either. He’s pretty strong mentally. He’s tough. If you’re doing to play Division I quarterback, you’d better be tough. You’ve got to handle the good times, and you’ve got to handle the bad times. We’ll watch him come back this week, I believe.”
What are your thoughts on the level of play where Michael Johnson is now?
“He is playing extremely well. We have to play more and more nickel, and he’s getting more and more reps. The more reps he gets, the better he gets. I’m pleased with where he is, and where he can be in the future. He can rush the passer. He’s really good at rushing the passer. He’s hard to handle off an edge.”
What concerns do you have about Duke’s passing game?
“I’ve got a lot of concerns about Duke’s passing game. First of all, what are they going to line up in? They might line up in traditional two-back, two-wideout, and they might lineup in five wides. They played the whole game, almost, against FSU in empty (an empty backfield). They’re showing you a lot of different looks. They can throw the ball downfield. They can take the short throws. Thaddeus Lewis has done an excellent job. He’s taken a lot of hits. He’s taken one in the chops, then got up and made an excellent throw. He can buy time. He can scramble around, and he’s a good enough athlete to buy some time and get the ball down the field. Their main two wideouts have done a good job for them this year.”
Do you spy him? Is he that much of a threat?
“There are times you’re going to have to do that, because they can get you so spread out that they get you looking outside at #81 and #15, but you can never forget him. He’s not going to run for 75 yards, but on third-and-six, he can get 10. On third-and-12, he can get 14. He’s that good of an athlete. You have to be aware of situations and make sure he’s accounted for.”
“I thought they did OK. Dwyer has a few more openings than Jamaal did. He had some bigger runs, ran over a guy one time, and that’s encouraging for the future. They’re learning what do. They’re learning how to play the game at this level. They did a pretty good job. Jamaal did a pretty good job in pass protection, just because he knows more of what to do.”
Will it give the others a boost to see Tashard out there doing more and more?
“I think so. Anytime you have the leading rusher in the conference back on the field, it helps the psyche of your team. He’s one of your emotional leaders as well.”
After Thursday’s game you talked about how much there still is to play for this season. Do you think it was important to say something about that to your team going into this week?
“Oh, sure. You need to remind everybody, but I do that every week. I remind them where we are, where we want to be, and what it’s going to take to get there. I do that every week. What’s at stake at this point in time … I talk about that … bowl opportunities, standing in the conference, all those kinds of things.”
How much would you use as motivation not wanting to lose to a team that has lost 23 straight conference games?
“That’s not a big thing to me. I think you build on your own positives of where you want to go, rather than building on someone else’s negatives.”
Colin Peek, Sophomore Tight End
Are you guys itching to get back out there after a game like Thursday?
“You are always ready to bounce back after a loss especially when you are against a rival and had a chance for getting back to the ACC Championship. You just want to get back out there and get the monkey off your back. Letting the offense roll again and let the defense get back out there and play. Make a statement that that wasn’t the team that showed up on Thursday night.”
Coach said that you still have a lot to play for this season, is that something that has been discussed?
“At least the way we look at it, if we win these last three games, go to a good bowl game, win that game, we will have a 9-4 record which is better than the record we had last year which was 9-5. You never give up and you always have a lot on the line, especially with pride. We are looking forward to finishing .500 in the ACC. That’s a big thing for us. I think the past fifteen years we never finished below 500. So hopefully we get those two wins and get a little momentum. Then we’ve got Georgia at home.”
What is the mood of the team after Thursday going into the game this week?
“There is always a sense of being upset after a loss, but I think a lot of players were really upset after this one. We thought that we had a good game plan, and we thought that we were ready for them, we had a good practice. But unfortunately when you step out on that field things don’t go your way sometimes. So I think we were upset about the loss but eager to get back out on the field again.”
Kevin Tuminello, Senior Center
Does it give you a peace of mind knowing that Tashard could be back?
“Tashard is a great running back, and he adds a lot to our offense. We have a lot of great players here that he will definitely add to the scheme of things and be a bonus to our game plan.”
Does playing two quarterbacks change your preparation?
“We have different game plans for different games. We have two great quarterbacks, and we can do a lot of different things. Coach tries to maximize their potential and do different schemes with them to try to give our offense a different look and hopefully give us an edge.”
Josh Nesbitt averages 7 yards a game and is getting a reputation of a running quarterback. What have you seen more of in practice?
“He’s a great talent running and throwing the ball. He has not received the chance to throw the ball that much, but he really has an arm. He is definitely a dual-threat quarterback.”
Michael Johnson, Junior – Defensive End
Has Coach Gailey talked about refocusing of goals?
“Knowing that we are not going to win the ACC Championship, our goal is to win the next game.”
After the last game there was some second guessing criticism, on if Tech is too committed to a blitzing scheme, what is your?
“Well anytime you lose a game, there is going to be criticism.”
Do you prepare any differently when you have a quarterback such as Duke’s, with that type of mobility?
“We are an attacking defense, so we try to make people adjust to what we do.”