Nov. 25, 2003
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech hosts in-state rival and fifth-ranked Georgia in the traditional season ending game Saturday at 1 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Historic Grant Field. The contest will be regionally televised on ABC.
“If you had nothing on the line, this would be a big ballgame,” said head coach Chan Gailey. “It doesn’t matter what they have on the line for this one, it doesn’t matter what we have on the line, it’s a giant ballgame because of who it is. Not because of when it is, or what conference you’re in, or where people sit in the conference standings.”
Georgia Tech (6-5, 4-4 ACC) is eligibile for a school-record seventh straight bowl game, but its destination likely will not be determined until after this weekend’s games.
The Bulldogs (9-2, ) enter the game with a spot in the Southeastern Conference Championship game on the line. The Dogs rank second in the nation in total defense (249.3 yards per game) and scoring defense (11.4 points per game). Leading the UGA defense is all-America defensive end David Pollack, who has been named as one of four finalist for the Lombardi Award given to the best defensive lineman/linebacker in the country.
“On film, they look to be the best defensive team we have played thus far,” said Gailey. “They create a lot of problems for you, not only athletically, but scheme wise too. This year I see the secondary doing a lot. Safeties are making plays everywhere on the field. Those big defensive tackles are hard to move and when they go to nickel packages, they get stronger. They had some good players last year and they were strong last year, but I don’t think they are any less strong this year than last year.
“He’s [David Pollack] playing like a wild man. Playing great. To me, he is the most impressive football player on the field. You better do something special on him.
“I have not really seen anyone quite like Pollack,” said Gailey. “Kevin Greene had a pretty good motor. I was around him when I was at the Steelers. He was relentless getting after it. This guy, Pollack, dominates his side of the ball. If he is to our right, he dominates that side of the ball. If he is on our left, he dominates that side of the ball. You have to pay particular attention to where he is.”
Also having another great season for Georgia is junior quarterback David Greene. Greene is 30-7 as a starter for the Bulldogs and guided them to an SEC championship last year. The Snellville, Ga., native is 11-1 on the road and has five fourth quarter comebacks in his career. In 2003, Greene has thrown for over 2,500 yards and eight touchdown passes.
“I’ve seen David on film quite a few times over the course of the last two years,” said Gailey. “It’s funny, because we’ll watch them play somebody else that we’re playing on film, and Patrick Nix and I have commented on how good we think this guy is. He’s really a smooth operator. There’s nothing flashy about him except he completes passes and moves his football team down the field. That is a good qualification to have if you’re going to play quarterback”
The Georgia Tech defense will try and slow down one of the SEC’s top offensive teams in Georgia. Leading the Yellow Jackets will be linebacker Keyaron Fox, free safety James Butler and defensive end Eric Henderson, who were all named to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first team on past Monday. Also making the grade for the Jackets on defense were linebacker Daryl Smith and defensive tackle Travis Parker, who snagged honorable mention honors.
“There are a lot of keys to trying to stop them,” said Gailey. “You have to stop the run first of all. If you are going to beat Georgia you have to stop the run initially. Then after you stop the run, they have all those young big wide receivers that play so well. You have to find a way to stop them. They have a pretty good two-prong attack that compliments one another very well.”
Having their efforts acknowledged on offense was center Hugh Reilly, tailback P.J. Daniels, wideout Jonathan Smith and tight end John Paul Foshi. Reilly has done a great job protecting quarterback Reggie Ball all season and was selected to the first team. Daniels leads the ACC in rushing heading into the final regular season game averaging 100.9 yards per game as he was selected to the first team. Garnering second team honors was Smith who ranked second in the ACC in receiving yards per game (92.4) and receptions per game (6). Foshi earned honorable mention honors for Tech for his blocking, and most recently, his receptions at tight end. Of his 20 catches, 10 have been for first downs or touchdowns.
“I was very happy for our players,” said Gailey. “I really was. It’s one of those honors that obviously not a lot of people get. We were fortunate to get a couple of guys on there.”
The Georgia Tech-Georgia game is the biggest game of the season, and according to Gailey, great ball players need to play at their best.
“In big games, your great players have to play great,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. They have to line up and play and play very well to give you the opportunity to win. And that is every week. It’s not just this week. It’s every week, but in big games, it’s especially so.”