Nov. 14, 2006
Head Coach Chan Gailey
How important is this week to heal up and gain momentum toward the following two weeks?
“The objective is to win the game. You always want to get better at what you’re doing on offensive, defense and special teams, but the objective is to win the game. That’s what is most important. Sometimes if you make a lot of yards and are very efficient and don’t win the game, it doesn’t mean a lick.”
What were your reasons for not trying anyone else at quarterback (at North Carolina) when Reggie was having trouble completing passes?
“Because he’s our quarterback. I don’t believe in that.”
When the offense struggles in a game, do you change anything in practice the next week, or keep the same routine?
“We keep the same routine. If it’s a persistent problem, then you change things. If it’s a one-time deal, then no. The week before we scored 31 points. If we didn’t do anything for four straight games, we might change something. I’m not going to jump out there and change something because one time things didn’t go as planned.”
If Reggie’s leg was bothering him and you were to get a cushion this week, would you want to get him some rest?
“I can’t think in those terms, but if Duke would cooperate by not playing, then that would be great. We could get some rest. But I think they’re going to come in and play pretty hard and try to win the game. So, we’re going to have to play our best.”
Do you think Reggie’s injury has significantly affected the way he plays?
“No, not significantly. I think it has had an impact, but I don’t think it’s significant.”
Has it had any effect on his confidence?
“No, I don’t think so.”
Has it affected Patrick Nix’s play-calling?
“It has a little bit. We’re probably not as quick to call him running the ball as much.”
Is it something you anticipate getting better?
“Every day, it gets better.”
Has there been a time when he aggravated that injury that he suffered against Maryland when he called the timeout, or have there been other things happen?
“I would not say it’s just one thing. He’s beat up more than just one leg, that’s for sure.”
Your defense has not allowed a touchdown in the last two weeks. Have they just gotten better, or has there been something they’re doing that has resulted in that?
“There’s a confidence level. You always hope for that, and I think our guys are starting to get that now. That seems to really gear up the closer to the end zone somebody gets. Our third-down defense has really helped us, too. [North Carolina] was 2-of-13 last week, and when you can keep somebody from continuing drives like that, it really helps you.
“There were several third-and-shorts the last two weeks where we stopped people. We only had one sack last week, so it wasn’t like we were creating third-and-longs like we did in previous games. They’ve just been good on third downs.”
Has not getting as many sacks been a result of other teams max-protecting against you?
“That’s what a lot of people are doing. They’re locking up pretty good, sending a couple of people out and trying to throw one-on-ones outside. It creates a little bit of a problem because we love to get pressure on the quarterback. But, you’re limiting the number of guys they’re getting out, too, so there’s a trade-off. You just have to hold up outside.
“Even though they max-protect, they still have to block them all. The quarterback feels all those bodies coming, and he’s got to get the ball out.”
Is it perplexing that your team does such a good job of covering punts but struggles to cover kickoffs well?
“That’s like comparing apples and oranges, I really do. It’s a totally different deal. Durant (Brooks, Tech punter) gets great hang-time as well as kicking it a long way. He’s put it right on the sideline a lot of times where there’s not a lot of room to run the football. There’s a lot of reasons why our coverage teams on punts are better than our coverage teams on kickoffs right now.”
Would you describe Brooks as a directional punter?
“He can be. We ask him to do it sometimes, but it’s not something we go out and work on hard every day. We talk about having a general direction so you know where to send your coverage team.”
It’s your last home game for 10 seniors. Is there anything special about them that you keep in your memory?
“These guys have been through a lot of ups and downs. I’m proud of them, because they’re mentally tough. Not only are they physically tough, they’re mentally tough.”
On Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis
“You look at (his) statistics, and you don’t get too bent out of shape. But you watch him on film, and they’ve got something for the future in him. He’s going to be a very good football player before it’s over with. He reminds me a lot of Reggie when Reggie was a freshman. He does some great things and some bad things, but you see the potential there.
“They’ve got a young line and a young quarterback. They’ve got a chance to be a good football team before it’s over with. He can make some things happen. I’m impressed with his standing in there and making a throw when you don’t think he should.”
Is John Talley a good enough corner that you would throw away from him?
Do you think Duke will try and single-cover Calvin Johnson at all because he’s that good and because they’ve had so much trouble stopping the run so far?
“That’s the question of the week every week we walk into a game. How are people going to try and defend Calvin? It’s the $64,000 question.”
Jamal Lewis, SAFETY
On picking up play
“We just have to go out there and fine tune our offense, defense and special teams to be able to move from game to game and step to step.”
On the team being down before UNC game
“I knew that North Carolina had a lot of formations and they’re going to try and pound the ball and catch you off guard. I wasn’t surprised, they were a good offensive team and we were in a dog fight the entire game.”
On picking up the slack
“It’s just like a family. We try and pick them up and encourage them in every step that we can. It’s just like a family, if one part of the family goes down, the other part helps and picks up the slack.”
On not looking ahead
“It’s not that difficult, because our coaches tell us to take it game-by-game, step-by-step. We try not to look so far ahead. We don’t care who we are playing.”
On the defensive scheme changing on personnel
“We just go out there and read our keys, because we are all taught the same thing. Play the game and have fun.”
On liking cornerback or safety better
“I love both of them, so I just love to go out there, be on the field and play. It really doesn’t matter to me.”
On more assignments for one position versus another
“Not really. You have to think fast when you are at corner or safety, because everything happens so fast.”
On being able to play both positions
“It really helps on both ends, because sometimes when I am in Nickel they might run the ball, or run a sweep, so I have to come up and make a tackle just like when I am at safety.”
On going two games without allowing a touchdown
“I really wasn’t aware of it. We just go out there and work on our fundamentals and try not to have so many missed tackles. We really don’t pay attention to statistics.”
On what he has improved on the most
“Being able to see routes and know what is going on.
KaMichael Hall, LINEBACKER
On the defense going two full games without allowing an offensive touchdown
“It’s a goal, but I don’t really pay much attention to it. I try to stay out of the stats.”
On getting up for the next game
“Every game you have a different thing to get you up for the game. Last week we had to win to clinch the Coastal division, this week and next week is to finish strong. Especially this week, after what happened last week, we need to come out and play the way we are supposed to. The following week is easy, because it’s never hard to get up for that game (Georgia).”
On what Georgia did last week
“We’re not really worried about that. That game happened last week. From day-to-day, week-to-week, teams can win big and or lose big. It’s not the week of Thanksgiving, it’s not the last week and we have a game before that game so we will worry about that next week. This week we have Duke.”
On the emotions of playing final home game
“It hasn’t really hit me yet. I have a lot of family coming here for the game, but I am just taking it as another game right now.”
On Calvin Johnson and what he has meant to this program
“He’s a huge part of this program. There are a lot of plays that he has made throughout his career at Tech that if he did not make them, I don’t think we would have won the game. Everyone knows that he is the key factor on our team and you just can’t say anymore about him.”
“His publicity is more for him, than us. He’s done it. It’s his talent, he uses it to the best of his ability and that’s all you can ask from him. If he gets the attention, he gets the attention, he’s earned it. I don’t think it necessarily goes for the rest of us, and the only reason I say that is because he has on a Yellow Jacket uniform.”
On Calvin being a role model
“Usually a guy with Calvin’s type of abilities is real cocky and flaps his gums. That does make a statement (on him staying low key) and that’s everything that coach [Chan] Gailey wants us to stand for. That’s anybody’s ideal player. You would never know that he’s that good just seeing him on the street.”
“I hope they have (on younger players learning from Calvin’s demeanor). If you are going to watch anybody, Calvin would be the one to watch.”
On the Orange Bowl being the only bowl on Tech’s sights
“That’s the only thing we have had on our mind since last year. Come in and win the ACC title and get the automatic bid to the Orange Bowl. In order to do that we have to come out and continue to win. If you don’t win, then you can’t get to where you want to go.”
On the recruiting class he came in with
“We said that when we all came in we were going to do something big our senior year. The only thing I can think about is that everybody still had the same mindset coming into our senior year, we have been here together, most everyone hangs out together, so that bond and chemistry that we have built up over the years has allowed us to do what we’ve done this year and lead our team.”
On recent struggles for the team
“That’s really not my area to talk about. All we do is try our best to keep people off the scoreboard. If we don’t get any points on the board, that tends to happen throughout the course of the season. There are not too many teams that can consistently put up points on the board, you have your ups and downs. The most important thing is regardless if we score seven, six or three points, as long as we keep people from scoring then we will win the game. It doesn’t count anymore for the amount of points you have at the end, as long as you are in front and win the game. We’ve lost games by one point, and it’s still a loss. It doesn’t matter how big you win or lose a game.”