Nov. 4, 2004
Georgia Tech Press Conference, Tech vs. NC State
Head Coach Chan Gailey
Do you have an update on P.J. Daniels status?
He will be out for this ballgame. Hopefully it is one game, short term.
Is there a psychological hit when P.J. is not in the game?
I think that anytime you have a proven player that has been on the field, and he is such a great competitor, it hurts you. How much, I don’t know. It’s not that Rashaun [Grant] and Chris [Woods] aren’t capable; they are capable, it’s just everybody knows P.J. has done it. Also, the longer he goes in a game normally the stronger he gets. You have to understand that you are missing a little bit of those intangibles until Chris and Rashaun have played enough to fill the void in that respect too.
Chris seems to play well when given the chance. How has he developed since he transferred here?
Since he got here he has improved tremendously. He was an average to below average blocker his first year. He has improved that since last fall through spring practice and through this year. Rashaun Grant is just now getting back to full speed in my opinion from an injury he sustained at the end of his high school career.
You have talked in the past about getting Rashaun more touches. Is this the opportunity?
They will both play in the ballgame this weekend. It will not be just Chris. It will be both of them.
What is your thought process on rotating punt returners?
Mark Logan has caught quite a few punts. If you notice, when we are backed up, that’s when he catches them. When you have field to play with, that’s when Pat Carter returns punts. So you don’t have to catch a ball on the 10-yard line with that kind of pressure on a guy that has just caught punts for three weeks. That’s what we are trying to do.
Do you have to treat college players differently than NFL players after a loss?
I think it’s individual. I don’t think it’s collective. Some guys take it harder than others on both levels, in the NFL and on the college level. I think it’s each individual person’s makeup. That’s what the assistant coaches are for, to make sure you deal with each kid. You know that kid better than the head coach. The head coach deals with them collectively and the assistant coach is the one who deals with them individually. They will work them back into it or get on them to get them back into it. They will pat them on the back because they are harder on themselves. Try to get them to understand how important this is, that every play is. It’s individual. You can’t make a generic comment on it.
How do you have to deal with players after you let one slip away rather than getting beaten from the start?
I think if you go out and get beat 31-0 and you lose one in the last five minutes of the game, those are totally different losses. You have a lot of positives you can build on if you go out and play good for a while. If you don’t play good at all, you are struggling to look for anything positive. You are trying to find some positives in everything you are doing so you can build on that. There were some positives in the ballgame. You learn from that and now, what do we have to do to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Have you noticed that after a loss or even after a win that there is a lingering effect?
I think that is always something you deal with as a coach, the lingering effect. That’s why I continually talk about the 24-hour rule. Within 24-hours you have to get over it and get ready for the next one, win or lose. That’s how I have dealt with it all my years, not just here.
How do you try to deal with turnovers week in and week out?
I think you have a plan going in about how you are going to deal with it. If that doesn’t work, you go to plan B, and if that doesn’t work you go to plan C to try to solve the problem. Our two turnovers in early in the ballgame the other day, that just doesn’t happen. P.J. doesn’t put the ball on the ground. I don’t know the specific numbers of how many carries and how many fumbles over the past two years, but I am going to say it is a really low percentage. Our biggest issue has been with interceptions.
Is there anything in particular the defense does to force turnovers?
You work on stripping the ball in practice. You work on interception drills all the time. Everybody does that. I think that the pressure you can put on a team, not on an offense, not blitz, I don’t mean that, I am talking about pressure on a team to make plays to try to win the ballgame. That’s when you can get turnovers. If a team knows they are going to have to fight to try to score and win the ballgame, when they know every possession is power packed, that’s when you get turnovers.
You talk about not mentioning turnovers some weeks and talking a lot about them some weeks. Where are you this week?
I am one of those. I don’t like to talk about what exactly I say to the team, but we try to deal with it. I say the turnovers you look at are the ones that happen in the first three quarters of a ballgame. The last one the other day was big because could have driven down the field, scored a touchdown and tied the game. But normally the ones that are big are the ones that happen in the first three quarters. They set up what happens at the end of a ballgame.
Last year NC State had great offensive weapons such as Philip Rivers. Have they changed the personality of their offensive football team?
Yeah they have. They are running the ball more now. They are not as elaborate in their passing game, but they are much more elaborate in their formation and personnel game to create running creases. They have done a nice job of that. Jay Davis does a great job, but he is not Philip Rivers. They are not doing the same things with him that they were doing with Philip. They may get there one day, but they are not there right now. Their whole setup, the way they become elaborate now like they were in the passing game, they become elaborate in their formations and personnel groupings to create running creases.
Is it fair to say that both teams struggle when they do not have their premier player in the game?
I think anytime you lose a great player at any position, although its more evident at quarterback and running back position, it has an effect on your team. I don’t care what you say. I think that if you want to become a good football team, you learn to overcome that and deal with that and find ways to win when you don’t have him or have him full speed.
Is it similar for the defense to have a short memory especially after giving up a big play?
Oh sure. You go back to the Clemson game where we gave up two long runs but stopped them on second and third and six inches. You have to that. You have to put it out of your mind and move on to the next one.
You talked about expanding your playbook earlier this season. When the offense is struggling, do you curtailing that?
Yeah, we do that. We are never going to line up in two tight and one wide and curtail it like that. You try to hone in on the few things that you need to accomplish as an offense. What you base your offense on has got to be there week in and week out. Are you still going to have some empty sets, some different things that you do, the option, just the different things that you do. You have to have them to keep the defense off balance. You can’t just bring it in, bring it in, bring it in just to eliminate turnovers. You have to learn to do both. You have to learn to keep a broad variety of offense, but at the same time hone in on the base things that you believe in and you do to make sure you don’t mess up there. If you mess up on a couple of new things, okay, just don’t mess it up bad. Learn as we go with the new things. We have expanded at times and we have brought it back in. The offensive line has been a struggle there because we have had new faces there all year it seems like. I think we have had the same offensive line on the field now for two or three weeks. It’s everybody that is involved, not just a back or a quarterback or a receiver or whoever.
You won two big games on the road against tough crowds, what can you draw from those wins?
I think that is one of the things you talk about with your team. There where a lot of guys there in the team meeting on Sunday night that were there two years ago when we won. Our guys feel like they can go on the road and win, which is a big thing. You need to feel like you can. You don’t need to feel like you struggle on the road.
Super. He is a consummate team player. He just wants to win. He wants to be great and have great games. He is like every receiver I have ever known and wants the ball every play, but he is not one of these loud mouth, jump on the table type of guys who seem to get a lot of the TV time and recognition. He is a guy who goes out and does his job to the best of his ability and is a wonderful football player for our football team.
How important is a guy like that here at Georgia Tech?
I don’t know why you said here. To me it’s important everywhere. That’s what I believe in. You do your job. You do your job well. If you do it well enough, you will get recognized. If you don’t, that’s okay too. You don’t do it for the recognition. You are doing it because you want to play and perform and have a great experience and if I can go and make a living at it, that’s great too. If you are doing it for the recognition, then that is somewhat shallow.
Taking confidence out of the equation, do you think Travis Bell has been as consistent as you though he could be?
First of all, I don’t see how you take confidence out of the equation because so much of being a kicker is confidence and mindset. The guy that comes to mind to me is the guy that Auburn had a couple of years ago that was just unbelievable. Then he missed a couple and then all of a sudden he couldn’t hit anything. Damon Duval, he was one of the most outstanding kickers around his junior year. He missed a couple and then all of a sudden his senior year he couldn’t hit anything. Confidence is so much a part of it. To me you have to give credit to Andrew Economos and Andy Thomson because that is a clean process for Travis to be able to do his job. He has certainly done an outstanding job. If we have to go kick one with the game on the line, I don’t care if he is a freshman, I would trust him to go out there and make it.
Junior Linebacker Gerris Wilkinson
On the Virginia Tech loss:
“We try to let it go. Starting today there won’t be anymore talk about the Virginia Tech game we’ll be moving onto the NC State game. It was hard to watch football on Saturday after that game but there is nothing we can do about it now.”
On the importance of not giving up big plays on defense:
“It is very important. Coach Tenuta stresses that a lot in meetings. In our preparation for games we know that we can’t give up big plays. That’s one of the things we allowed in the second half of Thursday’s game and it cost us the game. We need to do a better job of preventing that for the rest of the season.”
On Georgia Tech’s ability to create turnovers against NC State:
“We go out every game trying to force and it won’t be any different against NC State. We had a few turnovers last game and we need to continue that in order to help the offense and to keep our defense fresh. We work on turnovers every week but it’s not as much about creating the turnovers as it is being in the right place at the right time.”
On P.J. Daniel’s status affecting the defense’s preparation:
“We have other tail backs that can step up and play well. We don’t see it as more pressure on us. We have faith in Chris Woods and Rashaun Grant that they can get the job done just as well as P.J. Daniels.”
On pressuring the QB to cause turnovers:
“Coach Tenuta has great blitzing schemes that allow us to go into every game pressuring the quarterback. Most of the quarterbacks in the ACC if you let them sit back in the pocket they’ll pick you apart. Getting pressure to the quarterback is always a factor in causing turnovers.”
On his personal development at middle line backer:
“I’ve gotten more comfortable every week and playing alongside Chris Reis and the great defensive line makes things a lot easier. Being second in tackles is not just me but a testament to the hard work of all the players around me.”
“I played defensive end last year and it took me a while to get used to the speed of the game at middle linebackers.”
On playing his third position in a year and a half:
“It’s been interesting. Although it has been difficult to learn different positions so frequently I think it has helped. Now I feel I have more knowledge of the entire defensive scheme.”
On the physical punishment of playing defensive end versus linebacker:
“I think I’m able to deal out more physical punishment rather than receiving it like I did last year playing defensive end. So from a physical a standpoint I like line backer a lot more than defensive end.
On why he chose to go attend Georgia Tech:
“My dad’s side of the family is from Atlanta and they never got to see me play in high school. I used to come to Atlanta for the holidays and I just liked the city a lot. I also like Georgia Tech because of the balance of athletics and academics.”
Other schools that recruited him:
“I was recruited by all the Pac-10 schools, Notre Dame, and Miami.”
On the benefit of having a family support system in Atlanta:
“It’s been important. My dad and I were close when I was growing up but it was more so over the phone and not in person. He can come to all the games.”
On the possibility of bowl game
s: “It’s always a goal to get to the best bowl as possible but as far as now that’s not really on my mind. I’m focused on these last four games and if we win and do well the bowl situation will work itself out.”
Senior Wide Receiver Nate Curry:
Rating his senior season:
“I think I’ve gotten off to a slow start. I am more concerned with the team than myself and that’s the way it should be. When you’re concerned more about yourself it takes away from the team. Worrying about personal stats doesn’t win games. If other people get all the stats and all the glory and we win I’m happy. I feel I had a good season last year and I’ve gotten off to a slow start but there are four games left and I’m looking to go out on a winning note.”
On whether there is added pressure on the wide receivers when Reggie Ball struggles:
“Is our job to get open and the quarterback’s job to get us the ball. We can’t control where the ball is thrown so it wouldn’t be smart to put pressure on ourselves. We just try to go out and do what we need to do.”
“I would love to have better stats right now but I’m happy for Calvin Johnson and Levon Thomas. I’m splitting time with Levon and we’re all rotating so I don’t play as much as I did last year, and right now our coaches feel that’s best. I’m going to keep working hard and when my opportunity comes I’ll make the catches.”
“This year I’ve made key plays on third down conversions that may not look like big plays to the crowd but they are important. As far as the big plays they have gone to Calvin and Levon and that’s fine.”
On P.J. Daniel’s status and how it affects the offense:
“We have a great group of running backs with Chris Woods and Rashaun Grant and I’m sure they can pick up the slack. That’s not to say we won’t miss P.J , because anytime you lose on of the ACC’s leading rushers, you will miss him. If everyone continues to do their job we will be alright.”
On life after football:
“There are a lot of metaphors in life and football is the best thing that can prepare you for life as far as the camaraderie and all the life lessons learned.”
On giving Calvin Johnson advice:
“Calvin came in as a good player and he gets better every week. When I can help him I do but most of the time he is doing the right things. Whenever he does have a question I’m able to help him and he can watch me or Levon. That’s how our team is, the younger guys look up the older guys. There are a lot of younger guys playing and they are forced into the fire. I feel they learn quicker that way.”
On playing NC State in Raleigh, NC:
“Going up to NC State is hard. They always have a great team and their crowd keeps them in the game. The lat time we went up there we never gave up and the plays went our way. It will be a great like it always is up there.”