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Jackets' Defense Showing Progress as Tech Travels to Duke

Coach O’Leary’s Comments [RealAudio]: File1 | File2

ATLANTA (Oct. 12) – While admitting that his squad was lucky to escape with a victory last Saturday, Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary was pleased to see his young defense make key plays late in the game.

The eighth-ranked Yellow Jackets (4-1, 2-1 ACC) play at Duke (1-4, 1-1 ACC) this Saturday in a 12 noon kickoff at Wallace Wade Stadiium in Durham, N.C. The game will be regionally televised on the Jefferson-Pilot ACC network (Fox Sports Net South in Atlanta).

“When you turn the ball over that many times, you’re normally at the back end of that game and we were fortunate to come out with a win,” said O’Leary. “I think that we have improved in some areas defensively and some areas we need to keep improving. I do think that they made stops when they had to make them and were put in some tough situations out there. I was pleased that they came out there and made some plays.”

Tech’s defense forced North Carolina to go three-and-out on its final four possessions of the game, setting the stage for the game-tying heroics on offense.

“I think the defensive staff is working extremely hard,” continued O’Leary. “A lot of the missed tackles are over aggressiveness, over-running things. I think we can correct that. What I’m concerned about on the defense is guys getting off blocks. Missed tackles really aren’t glorified unless there is just one guy there to miss it. I think we need to get some other guys off blocks so that we can get some gang tackles.

“Fundamentally, we need to work on running through people and not just to them. Obviously it is something we discuss all the time, and it’s something that they work on in drills every day in practice and they’re getting better at it.”

Tech faces a Duke squad that is also coming off an overtime game. The Blue Devils earned their first victory of the season with a dramatic victory over Virginia last week.

“Duke has 16 starters back, and if you watched them last year, they were really only a play or two away from getting some things done,” said O’Leary, who is 4-0 against the Blue Devils as a head coach. “They are a little stouter on defense. The experience on defense shows.

“I think offensively, they are finally getting back to where they are healthy at the quarterback position. Spencer Romine had a good game against Virginia. He didn’t turn it over and he got things done, and I thought Duke played very well as a team. I think they have two good receivers outside in Scottie Montgomery and Richmond Flowers. They have enough running backs to keep you honest in the running game.

“They had a good win against Virginia. They went out there and bowed up on defense played well. Offensively, they got their opportunities and took advantage of them. I think they are very well coached.”

Montgomery, this week’s ACC Offensive Back of the Week, caught eight passes for 172 yards and returned three kickoffs for 78 yards against the Cavaliers and threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Flowers with just six seconds left to force the overtime.

While Tech has been plagued by 10 turnovers in its last two games, Duke has intercepted seven passes in the last three contests.

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