Sept. 26, 2006
—Head Coach Chan Gailey—
On having the extra couple of days of preparation
“More for rest, than anything else. When you’ve played these guys [Virginia Tech] the last couple of years you have a decent idea of what they are going to do. We were able to touch a little bit on them on Sunday to get a jump, but we’ll be back on normal schedule today.”
On the biggest difference with Virginia Tech this year to last year
“The scary part about it is that they don’t look drastically different. They are a really good football team, even with all those guys gone [9 drafted last season], and you look at their depth chart and it’s all redshirt junior, redshirt senior and redshirt sophomore. They have been in the program for three or four years, so they know how to run the offense and defense. They’ve changed a little bit offensively, with [Sean] Glennon being the quarterback as opposed to [Marcus] Vick, but they are still very good. I wish I could sit here and say that there has been a depreciable drop off, but there hasn’t.”
On going back to Blacksburg for the second consecutive season
“No, they told us ahead of time. They told us a year ago that this was going to be the case.”
On doing something different in preparation
“You line up with your guys against their guys, and you find out who is ready to play. That’s what makes the game so great. You don’t throw out the stat books and you don’t throw out the press guides. You don’t throw those out at the 50-yard line and whoever has the best stats, bench press and/or vertical leap is going to win the game. You find out who can play well that day, that’s what makes this game great. You can’t do anything different, you be the best you can be and whatever happens out of that happens.”
On two Hokie starters being suspended
“They rotate quite a few guys through anyway. It’s not like they just play one-deep. They’ve been playing quite a few guys. They may lose a receiver and get one back this week. I’m not feeling sorry for them because they are missing a couple of guys. We have our work cut out for us whoever plays in those positions for them.”
On taking a lot of guys that tasted the 51-7 defeat up there last year
“Yes, but those guys have been to Auburn, to Miami and a lot of places. That’s a loud, tough place to play, but our guys have played in those environments before. In that respect, the young guys you worry about because it’s the first road game. We’re going to have to make sure that they understand what’s going to happen when you run out on that field and they [fans] are not yelling for you, but that other team. For four straight weeks they have been yelling for you, and that’s going to be a shock for them at first.”
On the big play
“If you go in with a mindset of we have to make a big play, or we have to keep them from making a big play, usually you don’t. You have to go in there with the mindset of doing what you need to do on each play to win that play, whether it is offense, defense or special teams. It’s when guys get off on tangents where they think they have to do this special or I have to be some kind of superhero on this play that you get in to trouble. If everybody does their assignment to the best of their ability, I can live with that and I think our team can too.”
“He played solid. He made some mistakes, but he played solid. I thought he improved from the previous week to last Thursday night. Playing as many as snaps that he played, we hope that he will be better this week, which he’ll need to be. He has continued to get better, each team he walks on the field, which everyone needs to do.”
On teams avoiding Kenny Scott in coverage
“It puts a lot of pressure on him [referring to Word-Daniels]. I also understand that Jon Tenuta realizes that and tries to take some pressure of it from time to time, so it doesn’t hit him every time. They just can’t lineup and say there’s one-on-one on both sides, so we’re going to go over here no matter what. Yes it does put a little more pressure on him, but we try to scheme so we take some pressure of him from time to time.”
On Virginia Tech’s defensive philosophy
“Eight-man front, don’t let you run the football and make you throw it to beat them. They also don’t allow you to pick them apart underneath. They are going to force you to throw the ball high and deep, and they have enough skill back there that they feel like they can run with you, jump with you and play with you.”
On your football staff staying together
“It’s a big part of it, probably more so here than up there because you have to learn how to recruit here. You have to understand what Georgia Tech is about, the city of Atlanta, and you have to recruit specially for Georgia Tech.”
On where Virginia Tech ranks as far as noisy stadiums
“It’s pretty loud now. I have a hard time differentiating between Clemson, Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech, they are all pretty loud. They are really loud when we have the ball on third down.”
On last year’s game
“If we make the field goal instead of getting it blocked for a touchdown, it’s 7-3 at the end of the first quarter instead of 14-0, and getting ready to explode into our face. Games are unusual; you never know how they are going to turn out.”
On the implications of this game
“Well, whoever wins this game is leading the division. That’s big, somebody else has to get ahead of you if you win.”
On Calvin Johnson getting more attention after a big game like against Virginia
“Those guys have not been as successful as they have been without realizing what they have to do defensively. Whether he had a big ballgame Thursday night or not, Calvin would have gotten a lot of attention from their secondary and they will make adjustments, they did last year and they will this year.”
On Calvin Johnson being able to make big plays even though being the focal point
“Obviously he is a great athlete and you have to recognize the situations where you get him one on one or in the zone by himself, or whatever the situation might be where you can take advantage of a mismatch and we got a couple of opportunities last week where we got those and we had some big plays. That’s what teams are tying to keep from happening, but Reggie [Ball] made a couple of great throws and Calvin got to the creases and made something happen with the football. If we get one on one, or get in the crease of a zone this week, hopefully the same thing happens.”
On his improvement from high school until now
“He recognizes defenses better and he understands how physical the game is. He was so much bigger, stronger and faster than everybody he went up against in high school, it was a total mismatch. Now you have people trying to jam him and keep him from getting off the line, roughing him up as he is crossing on a deeper pattern, things like that, so he’s learned how physical the game is, and how physical he has to play and he has become more knowledgeable about route running. Plus he is about 20 pounds heavier since he came out of high school.”
On figuring out when to go to Calvin Johnson and not wearing him out
“That’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question every week. Do you lead him where he is and try to guess when they are going to single cover him, or do you move him around and not know what you are going to get from a down in down out basis because they have some type special coverage for him and it confuses your quarterback more than it clears things up. That’s always the dilemma, so you try and do a little bit of both and hopefully you take an experienced quarterback and he can find him when he is inside, outside and exploit those weaknesses.”
—Darryl Richard, DT—
Where were you last year during the Virginia Tech game? Were you by yourself?
“I was at home in the room watching it. I was by myself. Initially I felt pretty good watching it, but as the game went on, I started to get a little upset and a little bit angry. We knew what we should have done. I was text (messaging) some of the guys during the game, telling them that they’d have to answer me when they got back. The biggest thing that happened in that game was a snowball effect. We didn’t have people step up to try to stop it from escalating, because 51-7 was not an indication of either one of the teams that day, so it shouldn’t have gotten to that point.”
Is this a game that you have been somewhat waiting on all year?
“Definitely. Those guys won our division last year, and if we want to get to Jacksonville, and if we want to prove anything in this conference, it goes through Virginia Tech because they are the reigning Coastal Division champions.”
People usually don’t think of a September game possibly deciding the end of the season, but it sounds like this is one of those types of games.
“Definitely. And it’s not overlooking future divisional opponents or future conference opponents, but that team won our division last year and they only lost one game in conference. So first we have to look at them as being our next divisional opponent and our next conference opponent. We get a win, and that’s one win for Georgia Tech and it brings Virginia Tech down one, in case of terms of tiebreakers and other things, so it’s definitely a big game.”
Is it easier to get into a rhythm after playing Notre Dame to open the season and then Virginia in a Thursday night game this past week?
“Oh definitely. We feel comfortable. We shouldn’t be shell-shocked. Everyone knows what Lane Stadium is like. We have guys that have been there before. I haven’t been there before, so maybe I’ll be the new face, and I should be the one that’s most worried about the atmosphere. But our guys ought to now feel prepared to go into any situation and be successful.”
What did the guys say was their biggest impression of playing at Virginia Tech?
“From (Reggie) Ball to Calvin (Johnson) to Joe (Anoai), they all say crowd noise. You need to deal with the crowd noise, and even do something to get that crowd noise down, but crowd noise is the 12th man that Virginia Tech has.”
What makes Lane Stadium so loud with just 60,000 fans?
“I guess being at Georgia Tech, an engineering school, you can see that numbers don’t really matter. When you talk about stadium design, that noise just comes down and sits on you. It’s not like some of the Big Ten stadiums where the noise can escape. The way that their stadium is constructed, it’s going to sit down, and the sound waves are basically going to compress you.”
Is it louder than (Georgia’s) Sanford Stadium?
“From what the guys said, they said it was. I wasn’t at Lane (Stadium) last year, but I played at Sanford Stadium as a freshman, and they said it was that type of experience. That’s pretty tough.”
Do you think it is up to you guys to keep the Virginia Tech noise down? Or is that oversimplifying it?
“I don’t think it’s oversimplifying it. We prefer to keep it simple. When you think about last week’s game; I watched the Cincinnati game last weekend and it seemed like that as Cincinnati played with them, the crowd got lower and lower in sound. So basically what we have to do is go out and execute early and stop the big play. The game turned last year when they blocked a field goal, which was huge for them. So we have to stop the crowd from getting into the game by going out and executing. Even if we have to be methodical, we have to go out and execute. “
What makes Virginia Tech so effective on offense?
“Their ability to run the football. That makes any offense effective. When you can run the football, you can control the clock. When you can control the clock, you can be pretty victorious. So their ability to run the football helps them out a lot.”
“It’s great. When you have guys like that behind you, you don’t mind taking two. I would mind taking two if the guys behind you were not making plays, but me getting another guy off them and watching some of the things that they do on film is pretty amazing. I think they are one of the best duos in the conference. They may not have the name recognition of some other players, but those guys produce. So trust me, any day you ask me to take two for them, I will.”
Tech has had several great tandems of quarterbacks in the past, including Keith Brooking and Ron Rogers, as well as Key Fox and Darryl Smith…are Philip and KaMichael destined to be mentioned in the same breath as those great Georgia Tech tandems?
“Hopefully, because their production has definitely helped us. I know that last year alone, I think that Philip had like four (interceptions) and they are going to get the tackles for losses because of the schemes that we have, so those guys are very productive.”
Are KaMichael and Philip the same off the field as they are on?
“That’s a good question. The funny thing about them is the way they play on the football field is not the way they are as people. Philip is one of the easiest people. And when I say easiest, I mean that he’s a great person to get a long with and he just lives life. He’s just an easy-going guy. KaMichael is not as vocal at all off the football field. He’s one of those laid-back guys. But when they get on the field, KaMichael turns it on and Philip, he may not be talking much, but you know that he’s going to be flying around somewhere so you’d better be prepared because there is a missile somewhere around you. So it’s pretty funny dealing with those guys off the football field and then going on the football field with them.”
Do you razz them about the difference in their personalities on and off the field?
“Definitely. You kind of wonder sometimes. Like Dr. Jekyll? That’s how it is. They turn it on to another level. All players should want to get to that point where they can just cut it on when you’re on the football field like that. That’s one of the things that you have to admire about both of them as players.”
What would people say about you off the field?
“I think that my personality is somewhat more consistent because I talk off the field and on the field I’m talking. So probably just analyzing a lot of things, trying to figure out what people are doing and how we’re going to do something about it. That’s the way we are in the film room and even at practice, we converse.”
When are people going to get to see you with tackles for loss and/or sacks this season?
“Every guy is supposed to be out there producing because the bottom line is production. I should have maybe two right now, but I need to maybe refine some of those skills that I have lost over time. But basically I just need to go out there and play loose and make things happen, and the sacks will come.”
How has it been for you readjusting after being out for a year?
“The biggest thing about it is quick, or on-field reaction, that’s one of the things that I may have to work on. I played my freshman year, so it’s pretty much there, it’s just going out there and really just hanging loose.”
Are there advantages with playing at Lane Stadium last year that makes it easier to go back the second year in a row?
“I think it does, because if we hadn’t been there last year, we wouldn’t personally know what the experience is about. But having been in that type of environment already, we are ready to go back in there, and this year, compete. So I’d rather have that experience that we have beforehand, and you have to play with the schedule that you’ve been given, so it’s going to help us out. We have to make it a positive, no matter what situation we have.”
Did you watch the Monday night game between the Falcons and Saints?
“I did, and I was definitely surprised with what the Saints did to the Falcons, but things happen.”
As a guy from that area, how did it make you feel?
“The biggest thing about it was the way that the people packed the Superdome and the support that they gave the Saints team. For many years when I was in Louisiana, the Saints were not the biggest thing going on. At one time they were the `Aint’s,’ so to see the type of support that they give their team, and the support that the team gives New Orleans, it was great to see because it’s been almost two years since they played in the Superdome.”
—Calvin Johnson, WR—
What do you remember about last year’s Virginia Tech game?
“We went up there and the crowd got to the team was the biggest thing. We lost focus, lost concentration, and things just kind of went bad for us.”
Does playing there in back-to-back seasons help prepare you a little better?
“I’m sure it helps a little bit. We know what to expect when we go up there, we know the crowd is going to be in the game, and we know that to get to where we need to go, we need to take the crowd out of the game early.”
Is this a more mature team, and do you think this team is better able to handle that situation?
“I believe so.”
When you saw the schedule, did you wonder why you were going back (to Virginia Tech) again this season?
“I did. I can’t lie about that. I did, but it’s just something that we have to deal with.”
How is your injury?
“It’s fine. A little treatment here and there.”
Did you tighten up after the game?
“Not too much”
What is the importance of winning this game, as far as your goal of getting to Jacksonville this season?
“It’s real important. Everybody is expecting them to be in the ACC Championship so it would be good for us to go up there and knock them off so that we’d be in the driver’s seat.”
Reaching the status of Virginia Tech’s success…Would that be something you’d like to accomplish before leaving Georgia Tech?
“That would be real big for us. We have a real tough (division) over here on our side, so being able to run the table the rest of the season would be real big for us, with all the great teams in the ACC.”
Did you talk about the ACC before the season started?
“I can’t really say that we have. We’ve all talked about the ACC being one of the toughest conferences, and we’ve got a real tough schedule, but I can’t say that we’ve really sat down and talk about it.”
How much have you guys looked back on last year’s game?
“I don’t think that we really have to look back to it. I think that everyone knows what happened, so everyone has a little chip on their shoulder because of what happened.”
How has Virginia Tech defended against you the last two years?
“There is a lot of the same coverage. We are watching film right now and seeing what they are doing this year.”
You have to assume that Virginia Tech will cover you differently after losing Jimmy Williams to the draft.
“We don’t make any assumptions, we just go off of what we see on film.”
How did it make you feel to hear Jimmy Williams say, when he was drafted, that you were one of the top wide receivers that he’d ever played against?
“It makes you feel good. That’s one of the top DB’s in the nation that you’re going up against, so it’s a real honor to get him to say that.”
What was your expectation for this season and how has it progressed?
“My expectations were just to exceed what I did last year, and I’m on track for that right now. We’ve only played a third of the season so far, so we have quite a few games to go. We’ll see how it turns out.”
Do you feel like there has been success in getting you the ball this season?
“Yeah, it’s a different offense. You have to know the whole offense. Coach can put me anywhere at any time, so there are definitely a lot of opportunities out there.”
Do you like Saturday better than Tuesday’s?