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Jackets Can Relish Last Day Off Before BYU

Aug. 20, 2003

With the season opener just a week away, the Georgia Tech football team looks forward to a much-needed day off Thursday before diving into game-week preparations for the Aug. 28 contest at Brigham Young.

Tech and the Cougars play one of the season’s first college football games with a nationally-televised (ESPN2) contest next Thursday in Provo, Utah.

“We were slow today,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey after Wednesday’s practice. “These guys are dead tired. We’ve had four hot days in a row, and school has started. They’re trying, but we’re just slow right now.”

Tech graduated record-setting placekicker Luke Manget and dependable punters Dan Dyke and Chris Morehouse, but the despite those losses, the Jackets’ kicking game is taking shape.

Senior placekicker Dan Burnett has solidified the starting position with a very consistent summer.

“Dan Burnett has stepped up and done an excellent job,” said Gailey. “It makes it a lot easier when you have two-thirds of that combination still around, and [snapper] Andrew Economos and [holder] Hal Higgins are very good at what they do. That makes it easier on whoever kicks. Dan has come in and done an excellent job, but he hasn’t done it in a game yet. He’s done it well in practice, but he’s got to go do it in the game.”

Burnett is a perfect 5-for-5 on extra points in his career, filling in for Manget last year against North Carolina and in 2000 versus Virginia, but he has yet to make his first field goal. He actually hit one against the Tar Heels, but there was a penalty on the play and Tech elected to for a touchdown, which it converted.

Higgins is also vying for the starting punting role, competing with junior Andy Thomson, but neither has punted in a college game.

“Hal’s a little bit ahead right now,” said Gailey. “If we had to play tomorrow, that’s who we’d punt, but they’re both punting well.”

Higgins is the rare sixth-year senior who was granted an extra year of eligibility after battling Hodkgin’s disease in 1999-2000. He has already earned his degree and is now pursuing an MBA.

“They talk about Hal being around here so long that they’re going to name a building after him,” joked Gailey.

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