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Tech Looks to Build on Season-Opening Win

Sept. 3, 2002

With a convincing win over Vanderbilt under its belt, Georgia Tech heads to Storrs, Conn., Saturday for a noon meeting with the UConn Huskies, who gave Big East power Boston College all it could handle in its season opener August 31.

The game will be televised regionally, and Jacket fans in the Atlanta area can catch the action on Fox Sports Net South.

“I thought that they played very hard and very smart against BC,” Tech head coach Chan Gailey said. “Their schemes are very good to give them an opportunity to win football games. They have some guys, especially on the defensive side of the ball, which impressed me with how hard they played. They are relentless every snap and that speaks highly of their team and of their coaching staff.”

Many Tech fans should be familiar with the Husky coaching staff, as UConn head coach Randy Edsall served as Tech’s defensive coordinator during the 1998 season. That season the Jackets posted a 10-2 record and defeated Notre Dame in the Toyota Gator Bowl.

Edsall has the Huskies headed in the right direction in their third season of Division I-A competition. After a 2-9 season a year ago, Connecticut played well against the Eagles, holding a 16-10 lead at the half before falling, 24-16, on the road in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

UConn quarterback Dan Orlovsky was 24-of-37 for 201 yards and a score against Boston College, as he hit eight different receivers. Matt Cutaia’s five catches for 41 yards paced the team, while running back Terry Caulley led the Husky ground attack with 67 yards on 17 carries.

Overall, Gailey is impressed with what he has seen of this young program.

“They are still spreading it out quite a bit and using three wides,” said Tech head coach Chan Gailey. “They had a super opening drive against Boston College, and took it right down the field. To me, I think Randy is doing an excellent job with that football team. For them to make the jump from where they were three or four years ago to what they’re heading into in the next few years, I think he’s doing exactly what he needs to do on offense and defense to give them an opportunity to win.”

Defensively, linebacker Alfred Fincher led the Huskies with 15 tackles (7 unassisted) against the Eagles.

“Their defensive fronts make you execute because they are not going to give you anything, and offensively they are playing pretty smart and giving themselves every opportunity to be successful there, without taking undue chances,” said Gailey.

However, against Tech, Connecticut may need to take some chances against a defense that allowed Vanderbilt just 225 yards and nine first downs. Tech defeated the Commodores, 45-3, as Gailey won his debut in Atlanta.

Offensively, the Jackets are led by running back Tony Hollings, who ran for 153 yards and two scores against Vandy. His rushing total was the most by a Tech back in his debut at the position. In another first appearance in the Old Gold and White, quarterback A.J. Suggs completed 10-of-13 passes for 132 yards and three touchdowns. Entering the matchup with the Commodores, this duo was concerned about making the jump from practice to game speed. Hollings is a converted defensive back, while Suggs, a junior transfer from Tennessee, was making his first collegiate start in two years.

“I think everyone wondered how A.J. and Tony Hollings were going to do and was the speed on defense something that we just talked about, or was it something that was going to happen,” Gailey said. “I thought some of those things were good for us. We got to see a lot of situations that you can not manufacture in practice, which was good for us. We were able to work on some things and see how our players would react in those areas.”

Most of the Jackets reacted just fine, especially the senior wideout tandem of Will Glover and Kerry Watkins. Glover posted five grabs for 54 yards and two touchdowns, while Watkins added 70 yards and a score on three catches.

The Tech offense should receive a boost from the return of senior tailback Sidney Ford and wide receiver Jonathan Smith after both missed the opener due to injury. Both should return to practice Tuesday and be available this week, Gailey said.

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