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Jackets on the Defensive

Aug. 10, 2004

ATLANTA–With the Georgia Tech football team six days into preseason practice, the Rambling Wreck defense appears ahead of the offense in “team” drills, but that is to be expected, says head coach Chan Gailey.

“The defense is ahead right now, which is normally the case,” said Gailey after Tuesday’s morning workout on Tech’s first day of two-a-days. “It takes a while for your offense to get in sync. That’s happened every year.”

Tech’s defense returns seven starters, including a pair of preseason all-Americas in free safety James Butler and defensive end Eric Henderson.

Contributing to the situation are a couple of minor injuries on the offensive line to center Kevin Tuminello and left tackle Kyle Wallace. Neither is expected to miss more than a week, but in the mean time, the Tech coaches have moved some lineman around to seek the best combination and build depth.

“The positive is that people are getting experience at some other spots and we’re able to evaluate that,” said Gailey. “The negative is that you have no continuity, and therefore the execution goes down.”

Senior Leon Robinson has been working at left tackle in place of Wallace, while senior Andy Tidwell-Neal moved from guard to center in place of Tuminello. In addition to returning starter Brad Honeycutt at guard, also working with the first unit are Salih Besirevic at guard and Kenton Johnson at right tackle.

“Leon has been very comfortable at tackle and has done some good things,” said Gailey. “We have something there that looks like a positive. If it is a positive, then you can think about moving Kyle back to right tackle. Then what do you with Salih, who has shown he can play, so we’re looking at him at guard maybe.

“There are tons of scenarios. Thank goodness we have a while until we play.”

Tech will work out again Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. The only other two-a-day is Thursday, with practices at 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

“We’ll look to see how they respond,” said Gailey. “How do they respond when they’re tired. Do they come out and feel sorry for themselves or do they come out with a purpose.”

Tech will hold its annual Fan Photo Day Sunday from 1-3 p.m. in the north concourse of Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field. The entire team and coach Gailey will be available for photos and autographs, and free Georgia Tech football posters will be distributed. Admission is free, and fans should enter at Bobby Dodd Stadium Gate 5.

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