Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
August 25, 2003
- In the recent history of ACC football, there may be no better example of the limitations of glossy preseason magazines than the 2003 Georgia Tech football team. If you bought one heck, we like them, too tear out any pages that have anything to do with the Yellow Jackets. Those publications have very early deadlines, and thanks to Tech's crazy summer and surprise-filled preseason camp, literally half of the Wreck-related information in them is woefully outdated.
- The biggest gridiron news out of Atlanta didn't come until well after the conclusion of spring practice. In May, 10 players were declared academically ineligible. Among those lost: star tailback Tony Hollings, standout defensive end Tony Hargrove, starting defensive tackle Alfred Malone and key reserve Terron Pullen. Tech fans, already angry about the way the 2002 season ended, fumed about the academic troubles. A significant segment of the Yellow Jackets' faithful may be able to handle a few bad win-loss records, but tarnishing the school's academic reputation is something else entirely. Coach Chan Gailey laid low during the summer, even holding back his remarks at alumni meetings if reporters were present.
- After spending all of spring practice and the beginning of preseason camp as Tech's starting quarterback, Damarius Bilbo may not take a single snap at the position in 2003. A backup to Tennessee transfer A.J. Suggs last season, Bilbo ran the majority of repetitions all along and seemed likely to supplant Suggs, now a senior, this fall. But Gailey surprisingly pulled the plug on Bilbo in early August, moving him first to running back and then to wide receiver. After considering a transfer, Bilbo said he would stay at Tech and at receiver. Bilbo struggled in learning the offense last year, but he said Gailey's new system implemented after coordinator Bill O'Brien left to join his mentor, Ralph Friedgen, at Maryland suited him well. Everyone praised Bilbo's maturity and his increased confidence in the offseason. Then, bam, he was gone, leaving the uninspiring Suggs and true freshman Reggie Ball in the running at the most important position on the field. Ball had the upper hand as the season opener neared. He was a highly recruited player out of high school, but many schools saw his future somewhere other than quarterback. The 5-11 that's what the media guide says, but it may be exaggerating by an inch or more Ball had problems with tipped passes in practice, so Tech will roll him out and move the pocket to compensate.
- Gailey, who said last year he'd never be both a head coach and an offensive coordinator again, will be handling exactly that double-duty this season. Running game coordinator Patrick Nix and new passing game coordinator Buddy Geis, a Gailey assistant from their days in Dallas, are handling the paperwork and film study associated with the coordinator position. Importantly, however, Gailey will call the plays on game day.
- Defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta also has additional duties, as he'll coach the defensive backs this year. The early indications are that Tenuta, an aggressive coach by nature, will employ even more blitzing in 2003 to compensate for a weak and undersized line. Expect to see people coming from all angles, including some zone blitzing with linemen dropping back into coverage, to take advantage of the linebackers who will be forced to play close to the line of scrimmage.