Nov. 20, 2007
HEAD COACH Chan Gailey
How do you avoid the big play by Georgia?
“The easy thing to say is to cover the receivers, but really, if you can put some pressure on the passer, if you can throw off their timing a little bit, if you can keep the receivers off-balance, then your chances increase in keeping the big play from happening.”
Georgia’s offensive line includes multiple first-year starters. Is this an advantage for Tech’s defense?
“As of right now, they are only two games from being second-year starters. They’ve played a lot of football. Watching the film from the first of the year to now, they’ve gotten a lot better. We won’t treat them different than anybody else that we’ve played. We’ll try to keep them off-balance just like we do every offensive line.”
How much has Matthew Stafford grown from the game vs. Georgia a year ago until now?
“You’re probably asking the wrong coach that question. They can give you a better answer, but he’s obviously gotten a lot better. He’s playing extremely well and leading his team to victory. That’s the name of the game for a quarterback.”
Do you have to prepare for him differently this year? Have things changed a lot with him?
“Everything has changed. (Knowshon) Moreno has changed their running game. Bailey and Massaquoi are both playing a lot better this year than they did last year. Is that part because of him, or because of them? I don’t know. But everything seems to be in sync a little bit better this year.”
To what extent do you think rivalry games actually define a program?
“I don’t know that I have the answer for that question. I think that rivalry games are huge games. They are big games, whether they are in-state or like Ohio State-Michigan or Texas-Oklahoma, they are huge games. Everybody puts a lot of weight on them and everyone takes a lot of pride in winning them, and it hurts when you lose them. When you don’t win, it makes you feel bad and everyone around you feels bad. When you win them, everyone feels good about them. You live with it for 365 days and you have to go try again the next year.”
Philip Wheeler said that you were within a stop, here or there, of winning in Athens last year. Does that give you something to hold on to?
“Rivalry games are those games where you look at statistics and records and sometimes everything doesn’t fall into place the way that people think they should. There is so much emotion in those ballgames that a lot of things can happen. I don’t think that our guys are looking at last year as a plus or a minus. They take this year for the game that it is and what we believe we are capable of doing.”
With this being the last home game for Tech’s seniors, what stands out about this class?
“They are obviously a great group of guys. We have a really good senior class this year – a lot of good football players and a lot of great young men. They are special, but to say they are more special than last year or they will be more special than next year’s, I can’t say. Which one of your children do you love the most? You can’t say that. But they are a great group. They’ve been great leaders, and it’s been fun to coach them.”
The class is somewhat different in that you had Tashard Choice transfer in, and Durant Brooks coming here the hard way. Regardless, the leadership of this team is good collectively. Did that surprise you?
“We have some redshirt guys, we have some four-year guys, and we have some late arrivals, but it’s been a very unique group. The hard part is to see those guys coming to the end. That’s the hard part for a coach. Not only because they are great players, and it’s hard to see great players leave, but because you’ve been around them four and five years. Even Durant and Tashard – they have become one of us. That’s enjoyable for a coach – to see that group come together and the special bond that they have acquired through the years. It leaves a void in a lot of different ways when you have a group like that leaving.”
Can this be an emotional game, not only because of the opposition but also because it’s the senior’s last game at Bobby Dodd Stadium?
“I think all of it wells up. That’s part of it, and playing in the last game of the year, all of it wells up for those guys.”
How does Taylor Bennett do in emotional games such as this?
“He hasn’t been in it yet, so I’ll let you know around 7:30 on Saturday. We’ve been in some big ballgames, but one with the emotion like this – he hasn’t been in that one yet.”
As close as he was to Reggie (Ball), and being on the sideline for the last three games (against Georgia), does he at least have a sense of what it’s like?
“He can get some. If you don’t get some standing on the sideline, you aren’t in the game at all. You’re just missing in the game. But there is nothing like being out there.”
Do you have to coach the younger guys differently this week?
“Not if they are from the state of Georgia, I don’t. If they are from out of state, you have to get those guys to maybe understand a little bit. But I think our players have done a good job of conveying that to this point.”
How much better is Gary Guyton than he was last year?
“The one thing about him is that he’s moved around and he’s had to go play inside (linebacker) when he’s used to playing outside. So he’s a lot better now than he was earlier in the year. He’s a lot more comfortable now, playing inside. Playing inside linebacker and outside linebacker are like comparing apples and oranges. For him to go in and learn what he’s had to learn to play inside and for him to play comfortably there, he is a lot different football player today than he was the first three games of the season.”
“They have to make a decision now, which side are they going to go to. We hope they guess wrong and they hope they guess right.”
“Not really because KaMichael was quick and fast and made plays differently than Gary. Gary is a bigger, physical player than KaMichael. KaMichael used his quickness and kind of slithered through there whereas Gary charges through there and goes through people.”
Philip Wheeler, Sr., LB
How has Gary Guyton improved the last few games?
“He has gotten better ever since he started this year and towards the end of last year, going into the summer he has gotten better.”
Is there one disappointment in your career that stands out more than anything else?
“Probably in the ACC Championship Game last year when I dropped an interception. I dropped the interception and could have changed the field position. We could have had a better field position and maybe we could have won that game because we only lost by three points.”
When did you realize that the Georgia vs. Georgia Tech game was a big deal?
“Ever since I was little I used to watch this game. I remember watching Darryl Smith play when I was in high school. I saw how he played. I always watched Georgia Tech/Georgia. Everybody knew about that game.”
Taylor Bennett, Jr., QB
How much would beating Georgia make you forget about the losses experienced this season?
“That would pretty much allow us to forget about everything bad that has happened in the past six years. A win this Saturday would mean something to a lot of people on a competition level and personal level. Anytime you can get a win over your rival an instate rival like this one, it’s incomparable.”
In preparing for this game, do you treat it differently?
“We have a mature team, so we treat this like another game. We are playing a very good team so you have to prepare well for it. In practice we are not thinking about what will happen if we win or what will happen if we lose. We are going out there, as we prepared, and work our hardest and give it our best shot as we do every week.”
Georgia has been playing well defensively the last four games. Are you guys looking to make the big play or sustain the long drive?
“Sustaining the long drive, keeping the defense off the field, and putting up points. They are not going to give up big plays, so we are going to have to keep chopping and trying ways to move the ball and put up points. If we do that and we keep our defense rested, and they can go out there and do their thing, we should be in pretty good shape.”
Durant Brooks, Sr., P
Was the North Carolina your best game?
“Yes, as far as average, definitely. I didn’t get a chance to pooch it that many times, but as far as averages that was definitely my best. And I got to stretch out my leg a little bit that game. I felt in the zone, the ball was hitting perfectly off my foot every time.”
Do punters get into the motion of the game or is that hard to do since you are showing up only four times?
“It is easy to get into the motion, especially after you get a good punt. I get up the most when I am down inside the five yard line and our defense has a chance to stuff them right there. Mike Cox, whenever I have a good punt, is always the first one on the sideline to give a little chest bump. I try to stay calm until after the punt because you have to be calm and collected to be able to punt or you might end up shanking it. After that, I can definitely get excited.”
As a senior what is the added significance of this game?
“You want to go out on a win, especially on senior day, the last game we will play at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Even though I have only played two years here, it’s still in me, that old-fashioned hate of Georgia. It just puts extra emphasis on winning the game.
How about being a finalist for the Ray Guy Award?
“This award is great, but as soon as I get out to practice, I am turning that off and getting my mindset on Georgia, hopefully coming out on top.”