Nov. 20, 2001
ATLANTA – George O’Leary is not known for liberally handing out compliments, but as 19th-ranked Georgia Tech prepares for Saturday’s annual showdown with Georgia, the Yellow Jacket head coach praised his quarterback, George Godsey, before the senior’s final home game.
Tech (7-3, 4-3 ACC) and the 23rd-ranked Bulldogs (6-3, 5-3 SEC) kick off at 7:45 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN and over the air throughout the state of Georgia on WSB-TV.
“I don’t think enough can be said about George Godsey and what he’s done for our program,” said O’Leary at his weekly press conference. “I think he’s just an exceptional, exceptional player. If you look at what athletes are supposed to do as far as using all their potential and being productive, he couldn’t have done that any better.”
One of 14 Tech seniors, Godsey has answered every challenge, last season replacing Heisman Trophy runnerup Joe Hamilton and this year recovering from off-season knee surgery. The Tampa, Fla. native leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in passing, averaging 263.1 yards per game, and has completed 65.9 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns passing and four touchdowns rushing in 10 games.
“He’s very, very well respected by our football team, and I think by the rest of the conference,” continued O’Leary. “He’s just a warrior. I have great respect for him. “He’s had an outstanding two-year career, and then to do what he’s done academically, graduating in four years in engineering and now going to graduate school, you couldn’t ask for any more.”
With two games to play, Godsey ranks third in Georgia Tech history in virtually every statistical category for quarterbacks, behind only a pair of four-year starters in his former teammate Joe Hamilton (1996-99) and Shawn Jones (1989-92).
In addition to passing for 5,683 yards and 40 touchdowns, Godsey has the third highest career passing efficiency rating in Atlantic Coast Conference history at 147.0, trailing only Hamilton and former Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke.
When asked if Godsey is the smartest player that O’Leary has coached, O’Leary replied, “Two kids come to mind, George and Tim Green, a Rhodes Scholar, who I had at Syracuse. You say something once, and they figure out the rest of it. George is a coach on the field.”
Turning his attention to the Bulldogs, O’Leary said he sees some similarities between Georgia’s offense and what Tech has faced at Florida State the last few years.
“I think Georgia is a very talented football with a lot of good athletes and good overall team speed,” said O’Leary. “They have good skill personnel and an offensive line that is big and can move the line of scrimmage.
“I think their quarterback, David Greene, is a lot like Godsey. He’s only getting better. He’s a very heady player, you can see that on tape. He’s not making bad decisions. “Defensively, they have good skilled athletes who play very physical. Any time a new coach comes in, there’s always a transition, but they’re a very talented team.”
O’Leary downplayed Tech’s three-game winning streak in the long-time rivalry.
“I never bring that up because every team is different,” he said. “I’m more interested in making sure that they know the game plan and know what it takes to win this game. Whether you’ve beaten them three times in a row or lost to them, that’s not important to me. What this team thinks about this game coming up is what’s important.”