Sept. 8, 2004
Georgia Tech vs. Clemson September 7, 2004 Head Coach Chan Gailey
What did Clemson do last year that took you by surprise?
They changed a couple of positions where people played. That created some issues for us as far as identifying blocking assignments. They created problems for us. They did a good job.
Seeing the Clemson/Wake Forest game and your game [Samford], how did that help you prepare for this week?
There are some similarities for what they do scheme-wise offensively and defensively. I’m talking about how Samford is similar to Clemson. Wake Forest, they don’t do some of the same things defensively that we would do, but they do some things offensively that are similar to what we would do. We are a little bit different in our approaches, but there are some formations that were similar and some personnel groupings that were similar.
How many unknowns do you still have?
There are a lot. I think we have a feel for our scheme, for our players that have been around the scheme. It is really for the new people that are playing now that haven’t played that position before, especially in a big ballgame. On the offensive line, [Brad] Brezina and Salih [Besirevic] have not played in a game like this yet. They’re new people lining up, so we will have to see how they handle it. The freshmen that have played and will play, Calvin Johnson, Darrell Robertson, Darryl Richard, those guys are going to have to contribute and be a part of it like they were last week. There are some guys that have to go prove. We saw a glimpse of what can happen, but you have to go out and prove it for it to be classified as a known rather than an unknown. But I think it’s more in individuals rather than schemes.
Is the step up in competition more of a shock for the younger guys than the older guys?
Yeah, it will be. The whole atmosphere will be a change for them.
Opening up your ACC schedule at Clemson, is there anything you have to do to keep your players focused?
This is really not one of those games where you have to do special things like bring out a visual aid to get them to focus. This isn’t one of those games. They will focus on this one.
Clemson is the one team that has seemed to success against your defense, how do you account for that?
I think it is a combination of things. That first year, they returned a punt on us. Thats how they scored 21 on us the first yearIt was because of a punt return. It’s not like they lit it up. Last year they scored points because we didn’t get anything going offensively and then they hit two big plays, and that hurt us. We lost any kind of momentum that we had. If you lose momentum, your fighting an uphill battle when you get way behind. Then you take chances to get back in it, that’s when you fall further behind.
How prepared do you think Reggie [Ball] is for a game like this?
He played in some big games last year. I think there is not any awe factor for him anymore. I think he is beyond that. I think its now focus on `what my job is’, `what I have to do’ and understanding the magnitude of the game and then go play it. I think he is much better prepared this year than he was last year to play in games like this.
How often will you use the shotgun and did you implement it to help Reggie with the pressure?
I think you use it to when it’s to your advantage. And those percentages will fluctuate week-to-week depending on what we think is good for our team and the way to use it. I have used the shotgun everywhere I have been. I have used it for 20-year vets. No, I never coached a 20-year vet. I have used it for guys that have been in the league a long time. So it’s not like it’s specifically for him for something he can’t do. To me, it’s an advantage when you can use it and use it to benefit your team in that game. Some games we will use it more than others. So it is really game plan more than anything.
Are you happy with the way the offensive line played this past weekend?
Coaches are never happy and I fall into that category of coach. I’m not happy about that. We made progress, but we have a ways to go. I think maybe Tuesday was probably the first day we had our starting line on the field in tact the whole summer. I think they did pretty well under the circumstances, but we have to get better.
Can you talk about Leroy Hill?
You better know where he is, because that guy can find the football. He is really good.
What did you think of the play of Chris Reis?
Chris did a really nice job considering it was his first ballgame. He will learn so much from watching that tape and walking into the next game. It’s not even funny. I think guys that are new at a position and play it for the first time live for about fifty snaps learn so much knowledge and are able to go into the next game being much more effective. He is the type of guy that will watch that film critically. He won’t pat himself on the back for the tackles he made. He will look at it critically and say `how can I get better?’. He will continue to get better. He is around the football now. That guy is going to be around the football. He’s not the biggest and the strongest or the fastest, but he is going to be around the football.
Is he a quick study?
Very quick. Gerris [Wilkinson] is too. That’s the thing about both those guys. They are highly intelligent. They can learn in a hurry. They have had to. To get where they are now, they have had to.
What is it about Clemson that makes them so effective?
They spread the field out very well. They put their guys in positions to be successful. They use all their weapons, Coleman, Stuckey, Curry. They spread them out, give you different formations. And [Charlie] Whitehurst is able to handle it. That’s the best thing. He is able to figure out where they all belong and throw it to the guy that is open. You can put in a ton of plays, and if your guys can’t execute them it’s not going to do any good.
Is their personnel as interchangeable as it looks?
I’m not sure if interchangeable is the right word, but they are very multiple. Their guys will line up in a lot of different spots. It may look like the same formation but you have a back playing at a wide out spot and a wide out playing at a back spot. It’s interchangeable in that respect, but they are so multiple you have to play attention to where everyone is lining up or you will get confused easily. If you get confused, that’s where you give up the big play. They do a good job of moving their guys around to create mismatches and create indecision.
Can you give us an evaluation of Brad Brezina and how he only had a week to work with the offensive line?
He did very well considering the circumstances. We graded him out, and he graded out a little above average. But considering he hasn’t played there but a week, you have to say `wait a minute, that’s pretty good’. I think everybody has high hopes, for what Brad can be when he gets more work. You hope a guy can go to another position when he needs to for the team and go make something happen. And he certainly did that.
P.J. Daniels, Junior Tailback:
(On thinking about last year’s Clemson game) “I don’t really think about it at all. They beat us and that was it. You get beat up and you have to come back and fight another day. It’s a new day and we get another opportunity to play Clemson and we need to take advantage of this.”
“I was angry, I feel like we didn’t have any energy going into the game. We were demoralized at the beginning of the game and after that we really couldn’t pick our spirits back up.”
“I was angry for one minute but the next minute I have to be happy again and look forward to the next game. This is a different year.”
(On LeRoy Hill, Clemson linebacker) “He’s a great player. He was All-ACC last year, I got the chance to meet him, and he is a good person too. I got a chance to catch him on film and he looked good. He is the same LeRoy and I’m ready for the challenge.”
(On approaching each game) “This year our motto is approach every game like it’s a playoff game. This game we have to prepare like it’s a playoff game and remember what happened last year against Clemson.”
“This is my first time going to Death Valley. A lot of people have told me that it gets loud there and you can’t hear anything. I enjoy pressure. I got out and play my hardest no matter what. I’m ready for this game.”
(On Reggie Ball) “As a quarterback grows he gets more comfortable with his offense.”
(On his own accomplishments over his career) “My career is not over. Records always get broken so that’s not my main focus. After my career is over I’ll probably pull out the old books, blow the dust off, and show it to my kids. For right now I just want to play with my teammates and enjoy myself.”
(On getting ready for a night game) “I don’t know why but I like the night games. The atmosphere is different. During the day the fans are kind of like “it’s hot.” At night the lights go on and the fans go crazy. The die-hard fans are loud, shouting, and going crazy.”
Chris Reis, Junior Linebacker:
(On his memories of last year’s Clemson Game) “I was hurt that game and I was out with a concussion. I don’t remember much about that game. I do remember that we got killed and that’s all that matters.”
“We want to try to put a lot of pressure on Charlie Whitehurst. He is the leader of their team and the leader of their offense. He is either going to make or break the game so we really want to put some pressure on him.”
“We aren’t going to sit back and let him just pick apart our defense. He is a good enough quarterback that he can do that. We’re definitely going to try to get some pressure on him. That’s nothing we’re trying to keep a secret, that we want to get pressure on the quarterback. It’s going to be tough but we’re ready to accept that challenge.
“They have extremely good offensive linemen and the challenge is going to be how we are going to scheme those guys so we can confuse them up front. Also getting pressure from our linebackers and getting good coverage. There is a lot of challenges that’s why we have to break down every aspect of what they do.”
(On Clemson’s success against the Georgia Tech defense) “I just think they’re a good offense. They run and execute plays against us well. They get the job done. I don’t think it’s a certain aspect here or there that they have us beat every year. They come out and play and they’re just a good team.”
(On going into Death Valley) “I think its great. My freshman year I played there and it’s one of the loudest places in the ACC and one of the toughest places to play. I’m really excited to play. I think it’s going to be a packed house, an ABC game at night, you can’t help but to get juiced for this game.”
(On the Georgia Tech Defense against Clemson) “They run similar offense as Samford, so it gives us a good look as to what we’ll see from Clemson. They have better athletes than Samford, so they try to throw the deep ball a lot more. They try to keep you honest, and they run a lot more routes than Samford. Charlie is a great quarterback and we’re just going to try to do the best we can.”
(On preparing for a player like Chansi Stuckey) “You definitely have to prepare for him because you can’t overlook the fact that he can pass and throw the ball. He has that double threat.
(On night games) “I like playing night games because it’s on TV and under the lights. There is something about being under the lights and being at night. It seems like the fans are a lot more into the games. The down side is, I don’t like sitting around the hotel for six hours passing time. I want to play the game and get going because I’m anxious and excited.”
(On Clemson being Georgia Tech’s biggest rivalry) “The ACC set up the divisions for a reason. Clemson is one of our biggest rivals and I think everyone knows that. We’re excited that we get to play them every year and that they are our cross-divisional rivals.”