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Jackets Hold Final Scrimmage

Aug. 21, 2004

ATLANTA–Two weeks before its season opener, the Georgia Tech football team held its final preseason scrimmage Saturday, working on various down-and-distance situations in the two-hour session at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.

“I thought the third-and-short stuff was good, and the goal-line and two-minute segments were okay, but the stuff in between was not very good,” Tech head coach Chan Gailey said of the offense.

“We just had so many breakdowns in protection today. That was the number one problem.”

The Yellow Jackets, who open Sept. 4 against Samford at 1 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, scrimmaged without two key starters on the offensive line in center Andy Tidwell-Neal and guard Brad Honeycutt, both out with minor injuries. With center Kevin Tuminello also sidelined, sophomore walk-on Travis Kelly and redshirt freshman guard Matt Rhodes handled the center position.

I hope that’s the issue,” said Gailey of the injuries on the offensive line. “We obviously don’t have everyone out there. We couldn’t get a snap for a long time. Travis is the only center, and we were trying to give him some breaks by putting Matt Rhodes there, but he’s just not ready.”

The offensive highlights of the scrimmage were a pair of touchdown passes from Reggie Ball, one of them to freshman Calvin Johnson on a fade to the corner and the other to senior Nate Curry, who made a diving catch across the middle of the end zone.

On defense, Tech’s revamped linebacker corps continues to show progress. Junior Chris Reis, the former strong safety now at outside linebacker, had three sacks, causing a fumble on one of them. Junior middle linebacker Gerris Wilkinson, who moved there from defensive end, made a diving interception. Also working with the first team is sophomore KaMichael Hall at outside linebacker.

“All three of them, and T (Tabugbo) Anyansi also, have made a lot of progress,” said Gailey. “We’ve got four guys at linebacker who have made a lot of progress. Gerris is making progress every day, and Chris Reis was in on a ton of plays today, so I think he’s gotten a lot better.”

Tech’s punting situation continues to be unsettled. Gailey described the starting job as “up in the air.” Senior Andy Thomson, who shared the starting job last year but was inconsistent, and junior walk-on Ben Arndt punted Saturday.

“Nobody’s taken the job yet,” said Gailey. “We try to chart everything. We chart `off’ time, distance, hang time, number of shanks. We chart it all, and then when we scrimmage, we use the guys who have charted the best. And nobody has walked out here and been consistent when we put them in scrimmage situations. We’re just going to have to make a choice before the season starts. We’ll just keep charting and make a decision.”

The Jackets will take Sunday off before resuming practice Monday evening at 7:45 p.m. Beginning next Thursday, Aug. 26, Tech’s practices will be closed.

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