Aug. 7, 2002
Continuing to learn and install a new defensive scheme and solidifying the quarterback and tailback positions are among the priorities for Georgia Tech’s first-year head coach Chan Gailey and his Yellow Jacket football team, which begins practice Thursday.
“I think there are numerous challenges as we begin this season,” said Gailey, Tech’s 11th head football coach. “We’ve got to continue to get settled with the new defensive system and we have to gain a comfort level with the quarterback and tailback positions, and we’ve got to continue to get better in all phases of the special teams.”
“I think we have to build on what we did in spring practice. There were some people we didn’t see in the spring, like Jermaine Hatch (Baton Rouge, La.), Ather Brown (Macon, Ga.) and Nate Curry (Miami, Fla.). Obviously we want to find out about those guys as much as we can.”
Hatch, a junior running back, and Curry, a sophomore wide receiver, missed last season with knee injuries and were limited to non-contact in the spring. Hatch is cleared to begin practice, as is Brown, who missed the second half of last season with a foot injury, but Curry had a setback over the summer and will miss at least the preseason.
At quarterback. junior transfer A.J. Suggs (Marietta, Ga.) enters practice as the starter but could be pushed by talented redshirt freshman Damarius Bilbo (Moss Point, Miss.). Both signal callers are expected to play in any event.
At tailback, the frontrunner is junior Tony Hollings (Jeffersonville, Ga.), who moved to offense from safety last spring.
“We’ve got speed and quickness,” noted Gailey. “We’re not as big and strong as I would us to be, especially on the defensive side, but hopefully we can use our speed and quickness to our advantage.”
When asked about goals for this season, Gailey did not hesitate.
“The goal every year is to win the championship,” said Gailey. “That won’t change as long as I’m here. That’s the goal, and every practice, every meeting, everything we do will be geared toward winning a championship. That’s where we start and that’s where we end as far as goals go.”
After a busy offseason filled with the many administrative duties that come with being a major college head coach, Gailey looks forward to concentrating on football.
“It’s been a hectic schedule,” he said. “I wake up every day with a different set of problems, which has been invigorating to a certain extent. This has been a new challenge for me, and I’ve been very pleased with the cooperation that I’ve gotten, but it’s been a challenge.”
Tech, which opens the season by hosting Vanderbilt on Aug. 31 at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, will practice Thursday (9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.), Friday (9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.) and Saturday (5:30 p.m.) and take Sunday off. Monday (9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.) is the first day of full contact.
“Real practice starts Monday; that’s when the full pads go on,” said Gailey.