Nov. 15, 2003
Georgia Tech Head Coach Chan Gailey Georgia Tech 41, North Carolina 24 November 15, 2003
Comment on P.J. Daniels
He is a tough, tough runner. I’m telling you now, he is strong as a Mac truck running north-south. It is very impressive to watch him run the football. I mean, you hand it to him on second-and-four and you think that if he can get part of it to get the third down…and he gets four and a half or five, or whatever. He’s a strong young man, he’s very impressive. His heart’s as big as Atlanta.
Getting the sixth win.
You don’t like to talk too much about that kind of stuff. We’ve still got two games to play, and a lot of things can happen in those two ballgames. This group did something that no one in this room, outside of my family and Larry and myself thought could happen. To me, that talks a lot about the character of this football team and I’ve talked about it before. This group is a very special group. When it comes to how they play the game, together as a football team, and how they improve. Have we had bumps in the road? Yes, we’ve had them. We know that, you know that, everybody knows that. But they’ve responded pretty well. I’m impressed with the character of the football team.
Comment on special teams.
I tell you what, our kickoff coverage team…that was one of the keys to the game: us covering kicks or punts. We had to do a good job of covering kicks, and I thought that we did an outstanding job of doing that, after the first one we did an outstanding job. Maybe David Jordan is giving us a little more something, he kicked one out of the end zone, and two with the penalty. It gave us a little bit of something there, our guys covered like we needed to cover, we didn’t do anything fancy, we just said go get them, and they did.
Comment on Jonathan Smith.
He did a lot of big things today. He throws for a touchdown, he catches a touchdown, returns a punt for a touchdown. He’s a special young man, a special player. I was very impressed with his effort today. But if the line doesn’t protect, he can’t do his job. If they don’t set up the block to fake the reverse, he’s not open. That’s the thing, it takes everybody to get it done. We can talk about individual efforts all we want, and the great efforts, but it takes a lot of people to make something happen like that.
Comment on the reverse play.
Actually, it was Buddy Geis’ suggestion at that point in the game. We had talked about it all game, and we’d run the reverse before and we were looking for a spot to run it and Buddy was the one who actually brought it to our attention at that point in the game.
Comment on halftime speech.
I just told them that we had to go fight for 30 minutes. You go on the field and you learn to win in the second half. Sometimes you’re ahead, and sometimes you’re behind, just like you said, so you just keep fighting. So that’s what I told them: go execute. I told our offense that we probably had to score three times to win the ballgame in the second half, and it probably actually would have taken…well, I really don’t know what it would have taken. I told them three, and I think that we got five.
Comment on offensive line.
The line dominated, from about the second series on, I thought that our line dominated the game. And that includes J.P Foschi in that group. We GEORGIA TECH PLAYER QUOTES
Reggie Ball On the play of PJ Daniels: “He (Daniels) was a work-horse today. When you run the ball well, you aren’t going to lose too many games.
“Today we weren’t even thinking about bowls. We just had to bounce back from last week. We were on a roll before, then we had a big let down last week, so we were just trying to get back on track.”
“In the second half we came out with a couple of real good drives. The first drive we got a touchdown so that gave us a little boost.”
Jonathan Smith: When was the last time you threw a touchdown pass? “It was in high school my senior year. We were trying to set that play up the whole game. The end was rushing up, so the reverse wasn’t working. I knew he was going to be there, but I didn’t know he (the defensive end) was going to be that close so I just threw it up and Nate just went up and caught it. They told me if there was someone in my face, to just try and make a move and run it, but I saw Nate leave his man so I just threw it up. The first day we ran that play in practice, I underthrew it to make sure it was complete so the coaches wouldn’t throw it out of our playbook. The next day when we practiced it, I threw it pretty good so they kept it in.
On the play of PJ Daniels: “He works really hard so he deserves everything he gets. He really ran hard and he kept sustaining drives for us. He was a workhorse for us today. I’ve never seen anybody get that many yards the way he did in a game. He doesn’t mind getting hit and I just like him as a running back.
On the punt return: “We were expecting them to try something as the game was winding down. I guess they sent their defense to the right and all my blockers went to the left. The guys made big blocks. Eric Henderson blocked the punter and it was pretty much over.”
Nate Curry “Obviously after last week’s loss, we had to come back and rebound and put that out of our heads. We needed to get that sixth win to become bowl eligible most of all. The first drive of the third quarter really set the tone and that dictated the rest of the second half. We played a good first half, but not a great first half, but in the second half we took over.”
PJ Daniels “I can believe it (the statistics) but I can’t take the credit. My offensive line did a great job, I can’t name everybody, but they all did a great job. This was not a PJ game, it was a Georgia Tech game. I’m happy that I got 1,000 yards, but I didn’t get it, my offensive line got it, we got it together. I don’t look at record books and I don’t take all the credit. My offensive line and my fullbacks paved the way for me today. I’m not tired, not at all. I enjoy playing the game, and I enjoy running behind those boys (offensive line)
found some creases in there that P.J. Daniels had great vision all day and ran tough, but our line really, to me, had control of the ballgame.
Comment on ability to work reserves into the game.
We rotated them, they were dead tired on the offensive line. I think we rotated three extra guys in there for a total of eight extra guys to be able to get some rest for those guys. Those guys played well too, I’ll have to watch the film.
Comment on the long drive.
We caught passes, Reggie bootlegged out, 17 plays, 15 runs, and we just ran the ball. So if they’re not going to take him, then we’ll let him run the ball.
Comment on P.J. looking tired.
Nop, we talked about it at the end and if we were to get the ball back, if we would put him in. And before we returned the punt that series, we probably would have left him in because he was still going strong. We made a decision once we crossed the 50 as to what we would have done.
Comment on big plays.
Every play is a big play when you play a tight ballgame for three and a half quarters. There are no insignificant plays. Some games you get them, some games you don’t.
POST-GAME QUOTES – GEORGIA TECH 41, NORTH CAROLINA 24 November 15, 2003 – Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field
NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH JOHN BUNTING
“It was a very competitive football game. Offensively and on special teams, with the exception of that punt return, we outplayed them. We weren’t very good in the second half on defense, we all know that. We couldn’t stop any of their runs, whether they were perimeter runs or inside runs. They had a lot of third-and-shorts, and were able to convert them.
“We had an opportunity to make a play or two, and that’s when we’ve got to do it, particularly with a young defense. We’ve got to get to the hole, hit the runner quickly and make a big play, cause a fumble, and we miss. We can’t afford to do that. We’re not good enough; we’re not mature enough to handle some of those things. Certainly [the defense] spent a lot of time on the field in the third quarter.
[On Tech’s long drives in the second half] “Our offense had no chance in those situations where our defense just stays out there, stays out there and they grind us up. Once again, we’re playing some young players out there. Give credit to Georgia Tech’s offensive line. They got the best of our front seven, and they made some plays on our corners with some of their fades.
“It’s a team effort. Right now, we know where our problems are. They are maturity, strength and stamina. We’ve just got to keep trying to get those young kids better and play better this next week against Duke.
[On the two UNC turnovers] “We had a time when the ball should have been caught, and unfortunately we may have tried to run before we caught the ball. Then we have a time when we’ve gained a first down, and then we put it on the ground. You can’t afford to do that in any game, especially in a game that was tight for so long.
“Hopefully our kids will learn from this. They certainly competed very hard, particularly on the offense and special teams side. We’ll learn to be more competitive, learn to be stronger, learn exactly how to fit plays and take on people. We can’t stunt blitzes every time. We’ve got to be able to take some people on and maintain our gap control, stop big runs and get after the quarterback on the perimeter.
[Why did you kick the ball away on the play where Smith returned the punt for a touchdown] “I wanted to see if we could go out there and stop them on a long field and get the ball back.”