Nov. 15, 2005
– HEAD COACH Chan Gailey
On Miami’s Defense:
“They are not the number one defense in the nation for nothing. These guys are good. They have played very, very well. Consistently well throughout the whole season. They have good depth, good players at every position, and returning starters at a lot of positions.
Is Miami quarterback Kyle Wright underappreciated?
“Maybe to John Q. Public, but I don’t think he is to anybody who faces him. He is another one of the pieces of the puzzle that has continually improved as the season has gone on. He has become a good quarterback, a typical Miami quarterback. They got beat the first game, and to me, have really improved from game one to where they are right now.
Is there any anticipation or anxiousness with the game being rescheduled to this week from four weeks ago?
“No, I think it’s about the same. You are coming off a loss instead of a win, so it takes longer to regroup and get ready to go.”
On playing Miami:
“If you are a competitor and you are not excited about playing the No. 3 team in the nation, something is wrong with you. If you are an offensive player and you get a chance to play against the No. 1 defense in the country, if you are any kind of competitor that gets your juices flowing. If you have the right kind of players, they do get excited about playing in this ball game.”
When playing a defense like Miami, is the key to do what you do better than you have done it or is the key to put in some new offensive wrinkles?
“All of the above. If you go out and just do exactly what you have been doing, they can draw a beat on that and they have good athletes that can play the game. If you go out and try too many tricks and don’t do what you have done fairly well, then you get caught up in trying stuff against a very good football team that you haven’t practiced much and don’t have a lot of reps at. There is a balance in both of those in trying to create some offense.”
On teams doubling Calvin Johnson and the evolvement of the other receivers:
“You hope it creates some doubt in the defense’s mind about just concentrating on one thing. If they can expend that much energy stopping one guy, you have to be able to throw it to other people and you have to be able to run it. That’s our other factor. When you have other guys evolving, I’m not sure that it will take away what they are doing, but at least it gives Reggie [Ball] a lot more confidence that he has other places to go with the football. It makes them work to stop everything.”
On being healthier since the original date the game was to be played:
“We’ve got some guys being bet up going into this week. [Tight end] Michael Matthews is a little beat up. Two guys that have surfaced in the last couple days that we have to take a closer look at to see how much they will be able to practice and play in the ball game are [tackle] Brad Honeycutt and [running back] P.J. Daniels. I still think that we are healthier than we would have been had we played them the last time, especially on defense.”
On the emergence of running back Tashard Choice:
“To me, he has been running well for the last three or four games. When he has had his opportunities, he has run very well. He’s a lot more comfortable, a lot more knowledgeable, and he understands exactly what we are trying to do with more confidence. I think he understood before, but the more you do it the more confidence that you gain.”
On Choice being more of a scrambler than Daniels:
“That’s his style. You have to accept that it’s what he does. The first thing that happened when he made all those cuts [at Virginia] and the ball went on the ground and James Johnson got on it, I pulled James over to the sideline and told him to stay on that guy. James hit his guy, and that’s the guy that ended up hitting Tashard and causing him to fumble. James wasn’t used to the ball coming all the way back over there like that. You have to keep everybody alive when Tashard has the ball, because it may come out the back door in a hurry. I think that’s a process that everybody has to get used to a little bit. He’s knows where the ball is supposed to go, but once it’s determined that it’s not exactly where the ball is going to go, he has a very vivid imagination.”
On Reggie Ball’s progress with his decision making:
“Tremendous, in my opinion. He’s improved knowing his role, understanding what we’re trying to do offensively, understanding what the defense is doing and trying to take what they will give us.”
Is this job tougher than you thought it would be?
“First of all, there are no utopia jobs. Not on this Earth. There are positives and negatives in every job that is out there. You all have negatives and positives in your jobs. Every guy that has a job out there, there are positives and negatives. And you get to choose every day that you get up to dwell on the positives or dwell on the negatives. I choose not to dwell on the negatives. We try to work through every issue that we have, don’t gripe and complain about it, and go get better at what you can get better at. Is it tougher than I imagined? I’m not sure I had in mind what it was going to be like. I knew what the school stood for, and I knew what I believed in, and I thought that was a good match.”
On the challenges of recruiting players who fit Georgia Tech’s academic requirements: “They are out there, you’ve got to find them. Guys who are quality enough in the classroom to get a degree from Georgia Tech and quality enough on the football field to help us win a championship.
On choosing to not recruit beyond Georgia Tech’s academic requirements:
“If a guy is not ready for this academically, he’s going to fight for two years to keep his head above water and we’re going to fight to help him keep his head above water for two years. At the end of two years everybody is going to be worn out and he going to be discouraged, disillusioned or leaving to go somewhere else. And that doesn’t help anybody. It’s better to spend the extra time and effort to go find somebody that can do it and work with that guy. And that doesn’t mean that a guy is dumb that we don’t recruit. What it says is that there are some guys whose preparation and background, where they want to be and where they want to go, fit here better.”
On new contract helping in recruiting:
“I think that most anybody is looking for stability. I think 18 and 19 year olds, and especially their families, are looking for that. But we all know that in this business, there are no guarantees. That’s the one thing that we feel like we can do with this new contract, to create some stability.
On the relief of a new contract:
“I’m very pleased, but it’s not like it has been weighing on me. So I can’t say that it’s a relief. I’m glad it happened.”
On the goals of the program:
“I feel like when we walk into a game, we anticipate winning every ball game. Some years that works out that you win a lot, and some years it doesn’t. I plan to win every game every year, and then you deal with what happens. If we do a good job of recruiting and we do a good job of getting young men that fit our program, I don’t know where the limit is.”
Q: About going against a defense like Miami.
“Being a freshman, I haven’t had the chance to go up against Miami yet but I do know what it’s like to go against Virginia Tech. They’re another very highly touted defense and are very athletic. It’s a challenge but I enjoy it when we do well. If you don’t execute properly, then they’ll take advantage of your mistakes and things can get ugly really fast. Especially against a defense like Miami, you have to minimize mistakes at all positions.”
Q: About what he learned from playing Virginia Tech.
“I guess I’ve learned not to get flustered when things go poorly. Against Virginia Tech, we got down early and I think we got lost in the fact that we were down 14-0 and let the game get away from us. I think we have to settle down and get back in the game like we did against Virginia.”
Q: About the morale of the team.
“I would say it’s pretty good because we could still have a good season and have something to be proud of. It was definitely disappointing not to come away with a win at Virginia and still be in the ACC hunt. We could still be 9-3 at the end of the season and that’s still good. Getting wins against Miami and our rival Georgia would be huge around here. I think everybody’s pumped up for the Miami game and ready to go prove that we have a really good team.”
Q: On his thoughts from the Virginia Tech-Miami game.
“When I was watching the game, I definitely saw what can happen when you allow yourself to get flustered. The pressure definitely got to Marcus Vick and they forced him to play unlike himself. He really wasn’t on like he usually is and they (Miami’s defense) were forcing him to throw bad passes and causing fumbles. I thought that those are the types of things that you have to avoid when playing against Miami. You can’t make mistakes on offense and allow their defense to score or their offense to have a short field. If you do that, you have very little chance of competing.”
Q: On if there is an intimidation factor, playing in Miami.
“I get pretty excited to be able to play a team like Miami. If we want to prove that we’re a good team, I feel that we have to play against the best and if we have a chance to do that this week by playing the No. 3 team in the country at their place. I’m looking forward to playing in the Orange Bowl.”
Q: On Eric Winston and what he does so well.
“In studying other defenses, I had the chance to watch him on film and also against a very good defensive line in the Virginia Tech-Miami game. He’s definitely a very good left tackle and he did a good job in the Virginia Tech game of shutting down some very good defensive ends, especially against Darryl Tapp. I’m impressed with how he plays and I hope to be able to play at that type of level when I’m his age. I think his pass protection is what puts him in that top level of tackles at the college level, especially when you’re able to shut down good defensive ends. They’ll find a place for you on a professional roster when you shut down another team’s sack man.””
Q: On what it would mean having the same coaching staff his entire collegiate career.
“I would love for the whole staff to be here during my entire career. I’ve build a lot of good relationships with my position coach and the other coaches, and I’d like to have the opportunity to play and win for the staff that brought me in. We’ve definitely had a difficult schedule and I think we’re really close to being at the top level of the ACC. We’ve had a couple of close losses in the NC State and Virginia games, otherwise we’d be a one-loss team. I think our staff does a really good job, especially on the offensive side where we haven’t given up many sacks on Reggie (Ball) and we try to give him a chance to find a way to get the ball to our very talented wide receiving corps.”
Q: On the senior leadership.
“Obviously, I’ve had a lot more interaction with the seniors this year because as a redshirt last year, I didn’t get a chance to experience the leadership, especially on trips. The leadership on this team has been very good, from Brad Honeycutt on the offensive line, and P.J. Daniels at running back to Damarius Bilbo at wide receiver. On defense, we have Chris Reis, Gerris Wilkinson, and Eric Henderson. They’re the older players who will keep everybody in line and remind us of how hard we work during the summer to get through the season. I think that helps our team out the entire year.”
Q: On where his name comes from.
“My dad was at home one day and as his friend Michael was getting ready to leave, Michael said `bye’ and my dad said `ok Michael’ but the `o’ didn’t really come out so he thought that was a pretty nice name and that’s how I got it.”
Q: On if it feels like he’s been prepared for a while for this game.
“These are the types of games that you come to college for. We had one day of practice last time before the game got postponed, and everyone was excited about the game so we’re definitely ready to play.”
Q: On if it was tough, delaying the game.
“I wish we could have known a little earlier so we could have made other plans but you have the take the cards that are dealt to you.”
Q: On if it helped, having another day to prepare for Miami.
“Not really. We’ve had three or four other games since then, so as you go over the film, you remember things that you’d gone over before. It didn’t hurt us at all.”
Q: On what it is about Miami that brings the emotion.
“The history of their school. You grow up watching the Florida States and Miamis so being able to go up and play against them, not too many people get the opportunity to play against top-ranked teams like them. It brings out something that you might not get from paying another school. “
Q: On if he’s inspired playing a team that has one of the best defenses in the country.
“We think of our defense as being one of the best, and obviously we’ll be playing against one of the top defenses. I guess it could be about bragging rights and the team that holds the opponent to the least amount of points could say that they have the best defense, at least for that day.”
Q: On if the defense is healthier now than it was four weeks ago.
“Yes. That week off helped us a lot to rest some players and cure some injuries that we had in order to get some guys back.”
Q: On the Miami quarterback and what he’s doing better.
“I really haven’t watched any film just yet but from the games I’ve seen on TV, he’s made a big improvement from the first game to where he is now. I think he’s just gotten comfortable. When you’re first given a plan, you have a lot of nervous energy in you and you’re worried about coming in and impressing the coaches and picking up where the last guy left off. It takes a little bit of getting used to and I’m sure he’s pretty comfortable where he is now.”