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Gerogia Tech

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

August 25, 2003 The Big Picture Just two years ago, Georgia Tech was expected to challenge Florida State for conference supremacy. How things have changed. Coach Chan Gailey arrived from the NFL last season, hoping to build on the consistent success of George O'Leary. Instead, a torrent of injuries and poor performances left the program in an obvious state of decline. The offseason only made matters worse. In what may have been the worst classroom-related disaster in ACC history, 10 players — including three projected starters — were declared academically ineligible. A handful of others transferred, and a few more had to give up football for medical reasons. The absurd turnover rate put a cloud over the Yellow Jackets' 2003 season … and over Gailey's long-term future as Tech's head coach. The PooP Gailey admitted after the season that his team lacked strength and toughness, mentally and physically. His light practice methods, especially when contrasted with O'Leary's tyrannical leadership style, clearly didn't work. The lax atmosphere even carried over to the classroom, where Gailey wasn't nearly as hands-on as his predecessor. Gailey, who spent most of the last two decades in the pros, said he's learned a lot in his year-and-half at the helm, particularly about the demands of being a college athlete. He promises to make amends this year, though training camp again was soft, most likely because of the team's serious depth concerns. Building Blocks Senior linebackers Daryl Smith and Keyaron Fox, both savvy playmakers, will be forced to make tons of stops. The defensive scheme has been built on their shoulders because of their talents and the lack of experience around them. Defensive end Eric Henderson had a standout freshman season, but without Tony Hargrove (academics) or Greg Gathers (kidney ailment) on the other side, Henderson will see a lot more double-teams. All five starting offensive linemen and tight end John Paul Foschi saw extensive playing time last year. They will have to hold the line as Tech figures out its unstable backfield situation. Coming On Strong Of its 20 true freshmen, Tech likely will play 15. QB Reggie Ball took most of the reps with the first-team offense in mid-August and likely will start the opener. Cornerback Kenny Scott and defensive linemen Mansfield Wrotto and Joe Anoai also impressed during the fall and could be in the starting lineup by midseason. Receiver Nate Curry finally is recovered from a knee injury suffered two years ago. P.J. Daniels, a seventh-stringer at the start of 2002, worked his way to the top of Tech's unsettled running back rotation. Done For Me Lately  

Year

ACC

Overall

Postseason

1993

3-5 (6)

5-6

None

1994

0-8 (9)

1-10

None

1995

5-3 (4)

6-5

None

1996

4-4 (5)

5-6

None

1997

5-3 (3)

7-5

Carquest Bowl (W)

1998

7-1 (1)

10-2

Gator Bowl (W)

1999

5-3 (2)

8-4

Gator Bowl (L)

2000

6-2 (2)

9-3

Peach Bowl (L)

2001

4-4 (4)

8-5

Seattle Bowl (W)

2002

4-4 (5)

7-6

Silicon Valley (L)

ACC: 43-37 (.538); No. 5 in ACC
Overall: 66-52 (.559); No. 6 in ACC Cause For Concern? The defensive line lost two starters and a key backup in last spring's Grades Gate. The few remaining linemen are extremely undersized and will be forced to rely on their speed and quickness. The offensive backfield is a huge question mark, with zero career starts among the projected starters at quarterback, tailback and fullback. Behind a trio of senior linebackers are three true freshmen. Tech also must replace its kicker, punter and kickoff and punt returners. Thanks to small recruiting classes in recent years and the team's academic troubles, the Jackets' depth is shaky at nearly every position. The Whole Truth “I wish we weren't talking about (player departures) right now. I wish it would go away. I'd rather get excited about what we do have rather than commiserate about what we don't have. But it hasn't gone away yet.”

— Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey CHART BY: THE TECH INSIDER