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Season Opener Nears

Aug. 22, 2001

ATLANTA– – “We’re ready to see a different face and a different uniform, and we’ll see that on Sunday,” said Georgia Tech head coach George O’Leary as his 10th-ranked Yellow Jackets continue to prepare for their season opener.

“Everybody, probably Syracuse included, is tired of hitting each other.”

Sunday’s Kickoff Classic pits Tech and the Orangemen in a 2 p.m. nationally televised (ABC-TV) contest at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

“You always go into the first game a little apprehensive that you haven’t covered everything you need to cover,” said O’Leary, “but normally it’s base offense and defense that you have to do well in early games, so that’s what we’re concentrating on.

“We’re still concerned about sustaining blocks and tackling, the things that any early game would bring some doubt about.”

Recalling the bizarre happenings surrounding Tech’s preseason game a year ago, when the scheduled game at Virginia Tech was cancelled due to lightning, O’Leary joked that he had not checked out Sunday’s weather forecast.

“I don’t even know what the weather forecast is for today,” he said. “I hope it’s not like last year, but we’re going to show up and play.

“That was awfully hard last year. The kids were still getting over that game on Wednesday. You spend all that time preparing, and then you come as close as you possibly can to playing the game. The whistle was ready to blow. I thought that was tough to come back from.”

O’Leary’s Syracuse roots have been well-documented, but Tech and the Orangemen are meeting for the first time in football. The two schools are also scheduled to play in basketball this year as Syracuse visits Atlanta for a Dec. 16 game at Philips Arena.

“What I’ve been impressed about Syracuse is that I think they do a great job of game-planning,” said O’Leary. “Whether they’ve won or lost, you can see that they’ve had a good gameplan. They made the opponent play a little bit left-handed on offense, and on defense, they took away the things they needed to take away.

“They return a lot of key players. They lost some players, but they return a lot, too, especially on offense. And Paul [Pasqualoni] has enough athletes to keep a lot of speed on the field on defense.”

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