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Players' Press Conference Transcript

Aug. 29, 2006

Tashard Choice, RB

On waiting for his opportunity

“Coming out of high school you have a dream of getting a chance of being out there and being a starter. So having a chance to wait can sometimes be hard for you, especially when you feel like you really want to be on the field helping your teammates out, but it can also be a learning experience. You can watch them train and work in that spotlight to show you how to become your own back and help the team in your own way.”

On the different state of mind going in as a starter

“It’s a different feeling because now I understand I have more responsibility for me, my coaches and my teammates. I was a leader when I came in and off the field, but this year I have to set more of an example, get out there and make plays and this is a dream for me. I’m ready to accept this, and you have to go out and practice that way and understand that you are going to be counted on for 12 games.”

On the amount of carries desired

“If I could get the ball every play I would, because I love running the ball. It’s something that I have been doing since I was little. If I get the chance to carry the ball until my legs fall off, I’m going to do it. I’m hungry. I’m ready to eat and ready to have fun out there on the football field and being a part of Georgia Tech. It’s going to be fun and I’m really excited.”

“I I really like the ball in my hands, but I also understand that football is a game about doing things without the ball. Blocking, understanding certain things of the offense and being the all-around back and doing other things is just as important as running the ball. I’m a running back so I have to learn to do all that and make plays.”

On himself as a running back

“On the field, I change when I get out there. I talk a lot. I get my team riled up. I’m a slasher and I make big plays. I like to think of myself as making big plays for the offense and having for the coaches to count on me in big situations. I’m bigger than most backs, I’m pretty fast and I like to think I can make the big plays out on the field.”

On getting whatever is needed

“As a running back you have to take what they give you. Sometimes you only get two or three yards, but on the same play you might bust one open. Sticking my head in there sometimes is what the situation calls for. You have to get what is needed to keep the chains moving.”

On the offense having something to prove

“This year we understand that we want to pick up and improve from last year. We had opportunities in the red zone where we did not pick up points that we should have. You have to continue to get better from year-to-year. This year we’re focused on capitalizing on mistakes made by the defense so we put points on the board, allowing us to rely on our defense and special teams.”

On Notre Dame

“We respect Notre Dame’s offense and they have a great defense. We have to play close to a perfect game and they are going to be a great team. We have to go out there and give them our best shot.”

On how many points the offense needs to score to win

“I can’t tell you that. The score could be 2-0. I really don’t know, but I know we have to play well on the offensive side of the ball and we know that it’s going to come down to one play here or one play there.”

On playing a prestigious team like Notre Dame

“We understand the hype around the game, but you also have to keep your emotions under control. It’s a football game, and if you think about the hype, you might tire yourself out before the game. We understand what’s at stake, not just to knock off Notre Dame, but to get a win under our belt and start the season with a win.”

On Tech rising to the occasion for a big first game

“When you know who your opponent is for the first game of the season, you have a lot of time to think about the game, prepare for it, and it’s a lot of focus on that first game and getting a win. It’s key to start the season off with a win. We understand what our goals are and one of them is to win our first game. You have to start with game number one. We put so much emphasis in that first game, I guess we have the spirit and team comraderie to go out and get that first game.”

On when this game first got mentioned

“When we found out when we were playing Notre Dame. Before the schedule comes around, over the summer you start feeling the excitement then. People start talking to you saying, `you going to get a chance to play Notre Dame.’ So you understand then.”

On backing up two talented backs in OU’s Adrian Peterson and GT’s P.J. Daniels

“AD [Adrian Peterson] and I were real cool. He really taught me how you practice day in and day out really hard. He showed me what it took to go for an entire season with the amount of carries and how to take care of your body, how to make big plays and how to come through in the clutch.

“P.J. [Daniels] showed me how to work real hard. He was one of the hardest working backs I have ever been around. He had great talent, but his work ethic was something that nobody could deny and that was the first thing I noticed.”

On the previous team’s failure at being consistent

“That’s the biggest thing, winning the games you feel like you should win. Working in the offseason, you have to understand that every week you have to continue to work hard. You have to prepare every game like it’s the Notre Dame game, or Auburn, and we have to prepare like that. Every game is going to bring different challenges and bring other things to the table.”

On Reggie Ball’s improvement

“Reggie is working real hard. He’s real focused this year. There’s a lot of knock about Reggie, but I love him. He’s a great competitor on the field and he’s going to go out and play hard. He’s really confident right now and he understands what’s at stake in his senior year.”

On Calvin Johnson being vocal on field

“Calvin is a real laid back on the field. He can get emotional on the field at times, but he’s more laid back. Most of the talking is really up to [Reggie] Ball and I. He will tell you if he sees something, but he’s just really laid back.”

KaMichael Hall, LB

On Notre Dame possibly having the top offense in the country

“It’s a pretty big stage. It’s a great opportunity to go out there and show what type of defense we have, what type of offense, special teams, and our team as a whole. This is a great opportunity for this Georgia Tech team.”

On who stands out in Notre Dame’s offense

“They can go to a couple of different guys and still hurt you. It’s not one person there or one person there like you have on some teams.”

On blitzing a team with multiple offensive weapons

“I don’t think so. Miami has a lot of weapons, Auburn had a lot of weapons, and we still came after them. Everyone knows what we are going to do, they just have to figure out a way to stop it.”

On what part of the offense is most important to slow down

“You want to make any team pass. If you stop the running game it opens up the window for the pass, even though you have a great passing team in Notre Dame. If they were able to run the ball, then why would they even need to pass?”

On how long Tech has looked forward to this game

“Since the ride home from San Francisco. We as a team discussed what happened in that game, but given that last performance and what Coach Tenuta always says, `the most important play is the next play’, and this is the next time we get to perform. So it’s been on our minds since we played Utah in the Emerald Bowl.”

On discussing the game with fans and family

“More from fans than family. Family tries to stay out of it knowing me. Fans are pretty much the same, always saying its Notre Dame, a big game, are you going to win? The same things over and over again.”

On Tech’s success in the opening game

“With camp and spring practice, you get a little fed up with hitting your own teammates. It’s the excitement of being able to go out there and hit somebody else and show everyone the preparation you’ve put in. The things that you have been going through to get to where you are now to show off your talents.”

On Tenuta scheming against top offensive coordinators

“Knowing coach he loves it. In his head, just like in ours, he knows he’s the best. His great defense against another great offense and being able to see what it does against the offense. It’s a good feeling if you handle business.”

On Tech’s secondary

“I wouldn’t say that the guys are new with the exception of two of them. Which the two of them play the same position. With Djay [Jones] and Jamal [Lewis] they both played last year, maybe not to the extent of everyone else, but they have a little game time under their belt. They know what it takes to be successful and to know what we are trying to do on defense.

“The confidence with Kenny [Scott] out there with the other corners is great. He is out there trying to teach them what to do. His confidence is rubbing off on them and having a player of his caliber back there is good.”

On coach Tenuta’s style of defense

“We’re very aggressive. I’m a very aggressive football player and I like the fact that he does not change too much of anything. He’s going to come after you. I think that’s the way to play defense, you have to be very aggressive and not too laid back. If you’re laid back I think you take the punishment instead of dishing it out.”

On that style coming back to bite you

“When you are bringing somebody, regardless from where they are coming from, there’s a hole in the defense. It’s the fact of you covering it up and disguising where it is. Making the offense try and figure out where that whole is. Sometimes it bites you in the butt, but sometimes it pays off big. Can’t be perfect so that happens, but the point of it is to try and prevent that from happening is frequently as possible.”

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