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Yellow Jackets Arrive in Jacksonville

Dec. 26, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Georgia Tech football team arrived in Jacksonville, Fla., on Tuesday and headed to Dave and Buster’s for some entertainment and autographs.

GALLERY

The Jackets held their first practice Wednesday at Jacksonville University, and following the two-hour workout, Tech players and coaches met with the media. Read quotes from running back Tashard Choice, quarterback Taylor Bennett and head coach Chan Gailey.

RB Tashard Choice

[On going against WVU RB Steve Slaton] “I really like Steve Slaton’s game. I really respect him as a running back. I’ve watched his game for the last two years, and I really like him.

“Taylor has been there before, so I think the offense will pretty much be the same. If my role picks up, I’ll take the load. I hope so. I want to put the team on my back. I’m a leader, but Taylor is the quarterback, so everything goes through him.

“He’s always one of the first guys to show up and one of the last guys to leave the field. He works really hard in the offseason, and he knows the offense, so he has the trust of everybody.

QB Taylor Bennett

“We all prepare every week to play every game because you never know what’s going to happen.

“They’re a very good team. They play hard, they play fast. They’re ranked No. 12 for a reason.

“I don’t know that I’m a running quarterback. I wouldn’t say I’m as athletic as Reggie. But we have an offense, and the quarterback is going to run the offense regardless of who it is.

“Whether we’re playing in the middle of nowhere or in Alltel Stadium, it’s still the same game, still 11 guys on each side of the ball. So the fans, the crowd, the TV – I try to eliminate all that from my mind.

“We have a very tight team, and we have confidence in everyone – whether it’s the third-string guy or whoever. It’s our team.

[How you ended up at Georgia Tech from Missouri] “Georgia Tech has so much to offer – being in Atlanta, playing in the ACC and playing for Coach Gailey. And the Georgia Tech degree means so much.

“I talk to Reggie every day. He’s still a part of this team, even though he can’t be here. Everyone looked up to Reggie as a leader because of the way he plays and we still do.”

HEAD COACH Chan Gailey

“Whenever you use a player, whether it’s injury, suspension or academics, as a coach the first thing you do is have empathy for that person. The second thing is that you see it as opportunity for the next guy.

“Taylor has practiced very well for the last five weeks of the season. He started practicing a lot better the last half of the season. He’s got a lot of intangibles. You can see his arm strength when you walk on the practice field, but you can also see his understanding of the game and the way he handles himself with the offense. Those are things that we know about, but we don’t know about. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.

“A little bit. We had some special things in there that Reggie could, so we’ve had to adjust a little bit. But you can’t drastically because you’re always one play away from losing Reggie anyway, so you can’t design everything around him. You have to be able to adjust no matter what. If Reggie had gone out there and gotten hurt the first play of the game, you have to have enough gameplan in there that Taylor can go in and win the game. I think we had planned on playing him some anyway.

“Anytime you lose a big game it hurts. If it doesn’t hurt, you’ve got the wrong guys. It takes a little while to get over losses. But once you put things in perspective, everybody’s excited about coming down here to Jacksonville and to the Gator Bowl. The historical quality to the Gator Bowl, playing on Jan. 1, playing close to home, playing a great team – there’s a lot of things that are great for our football team. Once guys got over the hurt, they’re all very excited about coming here, and hopefully we’ve got something to prove when we walk out on that field Monday.

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