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Georgia Tech Weekly Press Conference

Sept. 18, 2006

HEAD COACH Chan Gailey

Has the throwback helmet and uniform been a fun thing to look forward to?
“No. It’s a uniform. We’ve got a job to do, and a game to play. It’s fun for the fans and for marketing, but fun is not the word I would use (for us). We’ve got make sure it’s not a distraction.”

On the Saturday-Thursday turnaround
“We’re having to practice on Monday, which we normally never do. Monday is a big lab day at Tech, which is why we don’t practice. We`ll miss quite a few players in practice today, and then we can’t do a lot of the things like film study because of late labs. We put together sack lunches for the players so they can go straight from practice to late labs. It’s a little bit of a stress to practice on Mondays.”

On the state of the ACC this year based on early results
“There are good teams everywhere. You can lose if you don’t get your team ready to play week in and week out. That’s just the way it goes. There are good football players all over the country. There are good football coaches all over the country. You have to be ready to play. I know some of these programs are breaking in new quarterbacks, breaking in players at other positions. That can’t be easy. It wasn’t for us four years ago.”

On the differences between Virginia’s three quarterbacks
“The first two that played the other day are somewhat similar. The freshman (Jameel Sneed) that they brought in is a run-around, bootleg, great with his legs type of a player. He can hurt you with his legs as easily as he can hurt you with his arm.

“It makes it tough to prepare both ways because you have different types of guys. It would be like us playing Taylor (Bennett) and Reggie (Ball) in the same game. You’d have one game plan for Taylor and one game plan for Reggie.”

On the danger of players seeing an opportunity with other conference teams losing early
“Only if you let it affect your play. There is nothing wrong with being confident and excited, as long as you don’t get lackadaisical in your preparation or believe this isn’t a hard week. It’s a hard week every week in this conference, no matter who you play. And it’s a division game for us on top of being a conference game, and that’s big.”

Do people understand the magnitude of playing a division game?
“I think that as people continue to see how this works, they understand more and more. I think people understand it a lot better this year than last year, and I think they’ll understand it a lot better next year. Somewhere there is going to be a tie-breaker situation in a division that will end up disappointing lots of fans, and it will get a lot of attention, which will make people understand moreso.”

Do you see an opportunity with Miami having lost a couple that it might be Tech’s year to compete for the ACC title?
“I always think that we’ll compete for the title. I thought so last year, and I think so today. If I don’t, how can I ever expect a player to. The key is to win. If you win your conference games, it doesn’t matter what everybody else does. You ride a roller coaster if you’re not careful. Take care of yourself, that’s the key.”

On what Tech’s offense has become with Reggie Ball at the controls
“Here’s a senior in his fourth year, he understands the game. He doesn’t get rattled on the field. He’s going to make good decisions to get your team in a position to have a successful play. Then, we tried to not make it so complicated that it becomes burdensome. If you get him thinking too much, then you paralyze him to a certain extent.”

Is playing on Thursday night still a special event?
“Big time. I told the players last night … national TV, everybody’s watching. You get a chance to go prove what kind of team we are. It still is (the college version of Monday Night Football, I still believe that. The ACC has about six or seven games on, and that’s great for the conference.”

On Calvin Johnson
“We’ll see how he does today, and we’ll make a decision as to what he can do and can’t do, and go from there.”

On the challenge of Virginia’s defense
“They’re a 3-4 (alignment) which is always a challenge. You have different blocking rules and different coverage reads because the linebackers can drop into coverage so much quicker. The great thing is, Reggie’s been looking at it for three years and has a much better understanding of it.”

Were you given an option on when to play this game?
“They throw certain scenarios at you. You have to understand that the ACC wants to play these Thursday night games, and ESPN wants us, so you have to work within the system. Nobody gets exactly what they want, so you just look to make sure it’s even. I wouldn’t have played this one if Virginia hadn’t played last Saturday.”

On facing a struggling offense in Virginia’s
“If it’s somebody you don’t know, [overconfidence] can be a tendency sometimes. But when it’s a conference game and a division game, and somebody you haven’t beaten in a while, I don’t think our guys take anybody lightly that falls into that category.”

Mike Cox, FB

On quarterback Reggie Ball being an effective runner
“For a quarterback, I think he could make it as a running back because he has good vision. He is very fast, extremely strong and he will not run out of bounds, just lower his shoulder and run over the defensive back or linebacker that is trying to tackle him.”

On Ball avoiding hits
“Reggie is very shifty and elusive so he uses that to his advantage. A guy coming head on, he will give him a little move that causes them to hit one side or the other, which prevents him from getting injured and keep him healthy the whole game.”

On looking at scores
“I keep tabs on some of the scores of teams that I have friends on, in northeast Pennsylvania, Penn State and Pittsburgh because I have a lot of friends on those teams. I have the ESPN Gameplan on my phone, so I always check on who wins and loses.”

“It shows that every game there is going to be a good battle. With the talent that everybody has, if you show up and come to play, you will probably win.”

On goals in the beginning of the season
“To be in the ACC Championship game in Jacksonville, Fla., and we take one game at a time. We want to win every game and go undefeated and go to a big bowl game.”

On that opportunity coming to fruition
“We definitely believe with the talent we have on our team we have a chance. With no one dominant team in the conference, we feel like this is our year.”

On his heritage
“Coach [Butch] Brooks and I have Native American backgrounds. In my bloodline there is Apache from my great grandmother who still lives in New Mexico near the reservation. So Coach Brooks and I share that in common. We always talk on the side about it and it’s nice to know other people that share the same heritage.”

On being raised by Three Mile Island
“I’ve lived there since I was little, so I am sort of used to it. The Susquehanna River runs right beside where Three Mile Island is, an island in the river, we have a boat and go fishing right beside the power plant right there.

“I don’t like seafood, but you catch the biggest fish right near the towers.”

On the effect of Three Mile Island
“I learned it when I was in school, the 1979 scare. I got a little scared once I was old enough to know what actually went on. We actually practiced little things in school in case anything went wrong with TMI, we would go through our emergency plan.”

On Thursday night not being kind to Georgia Tech lately
“My first Thursday night experience was my freshman year and it was my first start against Virginia Tech, so I was very excited. You can always count on Thursday night games being a great game because the fans are going to be there and both teams, no matter if you are home or away, are going to be ready to play because it is the national game that night. Everybody in the nation will be watching it because both teams will come ready to play.”

On being comfortable in the new offense
“We definitely have come along way. We have a greater understanding of it and the no huddle has come very far. We are comfortable in it now and I am confident in how it is going to be run.

“We had some miscommunications during the [Notre Dame] game and we don’t have that problem now. The receivers and lineman are all on the same page. It caused some incompletions and penalties during that first game, and we don’t have those problems now.”

On the timeouts in the first half last game
“People were not lining up in the right place or the play was called on the wrong side where we did not have the run setup that way. We have it all figured out now.”

On understanding the new offense
“We worked on this new offense all summer when we had seven-on-sevens when we would all get together. We ran it in the spring so we would all have an idea when we came back this fall. I never doubted the new offense because I have complete faith in Coach [Patrick] Nix, and the offensive coordinators. I never worried about it.”

On losing the Thursday night game last year to NC State
“It definitely hurt, losing in the last seconds of the game. It kept us from getting to a bigger bowl game. A lot of guys played their hearts out that game and to come out with a loss really hurt. I took it as we just needed to work harder. That inspired me to work harder so we could get better.”

On getting the opportunity to make some plays
“I take every chance I can get to have the ball in my hands and get on TV a little bit. People don’t look at the fullbacks and/or lineman doing our jobs. It definitely felt really good.”

On facing Virginia’s 3-4 defense
“We have to spend extra time in meetings. The 3-4 defense is different than what most collegiate teams run. With only a short week to prepare for them makes it difficult as well, but we actually spent three practices in the preseason preparing for Virginia.”

Adamm Oliver, LB

On Tech dropping four of its last five Thursday night games
“I was not aware of the four out of five, so I can’t say that it’s lost its luster. I know that our team is ready. We are going to come out this week excited and we look forward to it. I would expect there to be a lot of luster in this one.”

On what he remembers of Virginia from last season
“They are a real big team. Big offensive line and the biggest we go up against. They like to run power football, more than the teams we have faced this year. Two tight ends, one back, and run that powerhouse offense right at you. It’s a little bit of a change from Troy, Samford and even Notre Dame, this team is different. We have struggled with them over the last three years I have been here, and our focus is we have to really stop the run. It’s really important that we step up and stop the run.”

On the ACC dropping games out of conference
“Miami losing to Louisville was a large loss to them and Troy playing a great game against FSU surprised most of us. That kind of motivated us. We said, `Look at this, they almost beet FSU, we can’t take this team lightly.’ That helped us to really focus, because FSU is a good team and Troy played with them until the end. We will look at scores more for motivation, maybe say we beat this team by this, why are we not ranked. But that is not what is important to us, it’s more about wins and losses and it does not matter whether you are ranked at the beginning of the season, only at the end.”

On not having a dominant team in the ACC
“It’s obvious that we have the opportunity this year. We can’t lay down and say that we are playing good football and some other guys might not be playing to their potential, because this is the ACC and whenever it is an ACC game, division game, it brings a little more fire out of team. We have to win this week, because it will give them a loss in the division and us a win.”

On Michael Johnson
“He really helps in the rotation. It means a lot for me and Robo (Darrell Robertson) to have somebody who can come in and give us a break, especially on those long drives. He is a good player and had a great game last week and it’s really nice to work him in the rotation. We want to keep fresh and go all out on every play. Michael Johnson is going to come in and give it everything he’s got; he is just that type of guy.”

On the defense at this point
“Our defense is performing well, but we expect that. That’s something that we expect every year, a top 25 defense. Week in and week out we are trying to get better. I’m not going to say we are great and where we need to be, because I feel that we can do even better. We prepare that way each week and expect that we can get better and that is what we strive for.”

On the defense noticing the offense
“They can be out there longer and put points on the board, and that might take a little bit of the pressure off of us.”

On the Throwback White Helmets
“I like the white helmets, something different to spice it up. And we got black cleats.”

On preparing for an unknown quarterback with Virginia
“It does not make it too difficult. Yes there are three different quarterbacks, but with our defense it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is. We know what our job is. Yes they might have different plays for the different quarterbacks, and that is something that we may notice and alert us to which one is in, but we go after every quarterback, no matter who is back there. Call the play and everyone do their job.”

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