Oct. 2, 2007
Georgia Tech Football Weekly Press Conference Quotes
October 2, 2007
HEAD COACH Chan Gailey
Why did you have your ones go against your ones in practice last week? How much did you do that?
“We just were trying to simulate the speed of the game a little bit. You don’t do it live. You do it for the speed more than the hitting part. That’s why we did it. We did 12 or 15 plays last week.”
You look at Lattimore and Ball, Davis and Spiller. You’ve got three guys in Choice, Dwyer and Grant. Everybody you play has more than one back. Does it take that kind of depth to get through a game?
“I think you do. It’s hard for a guy to go out there, especially if you’re winning and you expect to run it 40-something times a game. I think it takes more than one to get you through a game, and more than two sometimes to get you through a season.”
Maryland seems to be similar to Virginia in that they have a strong running game and inexperienced quarterback play. What will make the difference between this week and two weeks ago?
“It’s a totally different game. Two different teams, two different times of the year. They’ve got things that make them special that we’ll have to deal with. Hopefully we’re a little bit different, too. I hope we’re better in some areas. The similarities are probably more statistical than they are reality.”
You said Saturday the defense was playing so well, you wanted to play more conservatively and run the ball. How much input do you give John Bond during the course of a game?
“I’ll tell him, run the football or let’s start pounding them. I think we’re controlling it. You lose the feel of the game from the box, because I’ve been there. On the sideline, you’ve got a feel for the game and who’s controlling the line of scrimmage. Sometimes you lose that perspective from the box. So I’ll say let’s pound them a little while or think about the next series.
“I talk to him between series more than I talk to him during series. Sometimes I’ll tell him, hey, it’s two-down territory if it’s third down, and it may make a difference in what he calls on third down if he knows he’s got fourth down.
“Every now and then he says, `What do you think?’ So I give him my opinion. If there’s a timeout, and it’s a third-and-3 play, he’ll say, `What do you think?’ But during the sequence of events, I don’t say very much.”
How difficult is it to be away from (play-calling)? Has that been a difficult transition for you?
“A little bit, yeah. You like that part of it, you really do. There’s just not enough time to do all the preparation you need to do. To say it’s more fun not calling then, no, that’s not true. It’s more fun calling it, but it’s something that needed to be done.”
Do you ever think of specific plays in certain situations?
“Sure. But I try not to do that. I try to spend more time during the week. John asks my opinion more than Patrick (Nix) did during the course of the game. So I spend a little bit more time in the meeting room with the offense this year. When he asks my opinion, I can give him something that has some sense of correctness to it.”
How do you describe the job he’s done so far, with game-planning and play-calling and all of it?
“He’s done a good job. He’s done a fine job. He’s been great. There have been no issues.”
What are your thoughts on how the offensive line has been playing?
“I think we’re doing an excellent job. I think we’ve [allowed] the fewest sacks in the conference, and we’re running the ball at a pretty good clip. They’ve done a really nice job. They’ve got great communication and great camaraderie in that group. They’re playing very well together right now. Even through we’re having to interchange our right tackle quite a bit, we’ve got a pretty good unit there right now.”
What’s your evaluation of Cord Howard (right tackle)?
“Cord’s played OK. He hasn’t played great yet. He’s got great potential, but I think the lack of work in preseason, coming off an injury, all of those things go into him not being able to play to his best ability right now. He’s trying to play catch-up a little bit.
“We’re taking two players (Howard and A.J. Smith) right now and trying to make one. Earlier in the season we took Jacob Lonowski, who was coming off surgery, and A.J. and tried to make one. When we got Cord, Lonowski went down and we’re trying to do it with these two. Hopefully, at some point, we’ll have them all healthy and ready to go, but I don’t know if that’ll happen.”
This is the third time you’ve had to prepare for two quarterbacks. You have a little bit of tape on the No. 2 Maryland quarterback. What’s the difference between him and Steffy?
“There’s not the big difference between these two that you found at Virginia and you found at Notre Dame. These are more similar quarterbacks here.”
How have the special teams improved this year?
“Charles Kelly has done an outstanding job for us (as special teams coach). Last year was his first year as a special teams coach, per se. He’d done parts of it before, but never had done it all. He was feeling his way through, and I thought he did a great job of evaluating what we did well last year, what we didn’t do well. Then he set out to improve what we didn’t do well. We’re seeing the dividends of that right now. We’ve got a bunch of guys that fight their rear ends off every time. They play hard. You’ve got to have a group of guys that want it, and they’re doing a super job right now. They’re very coachable.”
You’ve got a hot kicker right now who has been streaky the last couple of years. Is this like a pitcher who is pitching real well and the coach lets him be? How do you deal with a kicker who’s on a hot streak?
“Coach Kelly handles those guys during practice, and does their repetitions and coaching. What I know about them, it’s better if I don’t say anything. It’s s good situation. They have a good work schedule, and we know how much to kick them, and how much to back off so they have a fresh leg on Saturday. They’ve handled that part of it extremely well, better than last year, even.”
You have a great punter who can pin a team back, and a kicker who can kick from long range. How much of a difference does that make when you’re in a fourth-down situation?
“Going for it, or you’ve got two downs, doesn’t happen as often as it may have before when you’re kicker is pretty solid.”
How do you contain a guy as dynamic as Darrius Heyward-Bey?
“You hope you can do several things. He’s got to see a lot of different looks. You’ve got to make him not want to come over the middle again if he does one time. If you can bang him off his routes, keep his timing off and discourage him from going places he likes to go, then maybe you can slow him down. You may not stop him, but maybe you can slow him down.”
You said Saturday that you’d like to get Josh Nesbitt in more if the situation availed itself. Is the goal moving forward to get Josh into more situations?
“Yes. His package of what he practices each week grows and grows.”
How did you like the play of Anthony Barnes in his first start?
“He did some good things. He’s very talented, big and strong and fast. He’s got a little bit of a temper about him on the field. Those are good qualities to have. He is lost at times on the field, but experience will allow him to get better and better. The great thing about him is he’ll work at it. He’s making a ton of plays on natural ability right now. As soon as he gets everything down pat, he’ll get even more dangerous. He’s prototypical outside guy, size and speed and all that.”
Was anyone surprised to see some of the blocks Rashaun Grant threw Saturday?
“He did an excellent job of blocking and running. I’m really happy for him. That’s the best overall game, maybe, he’s played since he’s been here. He rushed for 100-and-something against NC State (last year), but I’m talking about doing everything. He really played great the other day.”
Did you get a sense with the BostonCollege game and the first quarter against Virginia that the defense’s pride was wounded a little bit?
“Yes. If you are any kind of competitor, and you don’t do well, your pride had better be bruised, or you’re going to be hurting a lot. So I do think they were bruised, and they wanted to come out (against Clemson) and prove who they thought they were. They thought they were better than they’d shown, but they had to go prove it.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have very consistent play, and hopefully that can continue.”
When a weekend like last weekend happens – seven of the top 15 get beat – is that a good example of the parity coaches talk about?
“Probably so. I hate to point to any one event as a trend. Last year I said you’re going to have to get used to not seeing the same two teams, or the same two or four teams, contending for the ACC championship. I think you’re going to find as time goes on in college football, there will be new people hanging around the top year-in and year-out.”
You said last week you might get Jacob Lonowski back. Do you know yet?
“He’s going to practice today. To what extent, I don’t know. But he’s going to be out there and have his pads on, and we’ll see.”
When you come off a game like that when guys played with extra emotion, what can a coach do to try and have that carry over to the next week?
“You keep trying to explain that it doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it. You have to create it. I’m not going to come in here and talk about what a Clemson player said in the paper or make up something (to fire them up). All that wears away in about three minutes after the ball’s kicked off. Guys better understand what has to be done for 60 minutes, not for the first three. Hopefully maturity and the seniors will continue to set that example, and the young guys will follow.”
Anthony “A.T.” Barnes
What is it like for your confidence to have a game like that (13-3 win vs. Clemson) on Saturday?
“We’ve had confidence, we are just finally getting our swagger back. We’ve been a dominating defense, we just have not been playing like it lately. And for us to come out and dominate two great backs like that and a great offense, we’re just coming back to being us.”
What got you back to where you were able to do that?
“Our backs were against the wall. We had no choice but to come out a play like we used to play and be able to dominate. That just helped us out a lot.”
How much are you (personally) seeing progress from game to game?
“It’s been major progress. I feel more comfortable playing linebacker and just being out there on the field and knowing different situations, what’s going to happen. More experience has helped me out more than anything else.”
Senior Defensive End
What did you fix on the defense against Clemson?
“We were a little more high-tempo. Instead of ones (starters) versus the scout team, we changed it up a little. It was more ones versus ones. We picked up the tempo and competition.”
Is this (ones vs. ones) the sort of thing you guys can do every week, or is there a limit on how much you can do?
“I think this is something you can do every week. It’s just something you have to do. Since the season started we have been going against ones every once in a while, but not like we did last week. I think in past years we did a little bit more of ones vs. ones on the inside, which is just run.”
What is the key to success against teams that have beaten you the previous year? Clemson and Notre Dame, for example.
“Just like last week we are always going to try to stop the run first. We can’t let people beat us on the ground. If we can’t stop the run then the other team is going to win. And from there, they are going to pass the ball. They might get a few completions here and there, but we just need to make things happen like last week. Get turnovers. It’s hard to totally shut down an offense but, like last week when they get down towards the 20-yard line we have to make sure they don’t come away with a touchdown. Three points or less.”
Where are you mentally now compared to where you were a week ago?
“We have to mentally prepare like the way we prepared last week. As a team we want to be prepared mentally and physically.”
From an emotional stand point, what’s it like this week compared to coming off two losses in a row?
“We’re still going to be hungry and motivated. We know we still have to work to get where we are trying to go as a team.”
How do you prepare for a guy who is as dynamic as Darrius Heyward-Bey? “We need to prepare our defense to just go in there and prepare like we do every week, to try to stop the run. Just work hard as a team.”
What’s it like to get an interception off a quarterback who had not thrown one (Clemson’s Cullen Harper)?
“It feels real good. I did not know that when it first happened, but now that I know, it makes me feel even better.”