Aug. 17, 2002
Solid individual efforts by quarterback A.J. Suggs, tailbacks Tony Hollings and Sidney Ford, and receivers Will Glover and Kerry Watkins highlighted Georgia Tech’s preseason scrimmage Saturday, but head coach Chan Gailey was disappointed in the sloppy play, including penalties.
“We made some individual plays, but we’re not crisp and we’re not where we need to be,” said Gailey following the scrimmage at Rose Bowl Field. “Too much bad and not enough good. Bad snaps, ball on the ground, penalties, those were the biggest things.”
Suggs, the junior from Powder Springs, Ga., worked with the first team offense against the second defense and completed 12 of 20 passes for 133 yards. He tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Will Heller (Dunwoody, Ga.) but also threw an interception to linebacker Tabugbo Anyansi (Austell, Ga.).
“A.J. threw the ball fairly well today,” said Gailey. “But he threw the ball up for grabs in the red zone one time, and we can’t have that happen.
“He is firmly the number one guy. [Damarius Bilbo] will still play, but A.J. is firmly entrenched.”
Bilbo, the talented redshirt freshman from Moss Point, Miss., directed the second-team offense against the first-team defense and was 4-for-11 for 37 yards.
Battling for the starting job at tailback, Hollings (Jeffersonville, Ga.) and Ford (Lindale, Ga.) both showed positive signs. Hollings carried the ball 12 times for 53 yards and scored five touchdowns, four of them in the goal-line segment. His longest run of the day was a 22-yard burst around the right end.
“Tony had been trying to work really hard on sticking it inside and not bouncing everything, and finally, he’s getting a balance between the two rather than trying to force it inside all,” said Gailey. “We saw a little bit more of the natural Tony today, and Sidney did some nice things, too.”
Ford rushed for 60 yards on just seven carries, highlighted by a 23-yard gain and an eight-yard touchdown run.
Watkins (LaPlace, La.) and Glover (Tampa, Fla.) a pair of seniors who are Tech’s top receiving threats, combined for nine receptions for 123 yards. Watkins had four catches for 77 yards, while Glover caught five balls for 46 yards.
Gailey said that the defensive performance was “average” but acknowledged that five starters were held out of the scrimmage in defensive end Greg Gathers (LaPlace, La.), linebackers Daryl Smith (Albany, Ga.) and Keyaron Fox (Atlanta, Ga.), cornerback Marvious Hester (Atlanta, Ga.) and defensive tackle Gary Johnson (LaGrange, Ga.).
“It’s real hard to get continuity, but you might have to play games like that,” said Gailey. “You have to be good with other people on the field. There are no excuses. It doesn’t matter who’s in there, we’ve got to play well. If you get an opportunity to play and you don’t do the job, then we’ve got to look for somebody else.”
The Yellow Jackets open the season in two weeks, hosting Vanderbilt Aug. 31 at 6 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. Tech will not practice Sunday and then return to the practice field Monday afternoon, the same day that fall semester classes begin.