Dec. 16, 2004
ATLANTA--The Georgia Tech football team concluded the Atlanta portion of its bowl preparations Thursday and now heads to Orlando, Fla., for the Champs Sports Bowl.
Playing in its eighth straight bowl game, Tech (6-5, 4-4 ACC) faces Big East co-champion Syracuse (6-5, 4-2 Big East), Dec. 21 at 7:45 p.m. at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Tech players and coaches concluded practice Thursday morning in Atlanta and then will assemble in Orlando Friday. The Yellow Jackets have practices scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday in preparation for Tuesday's game.
Tech and Syracuse are meeting for just the second time, following the Yellow Jackets' 13-7 victory in the 2001 Kickoff Classic at East Rutherford, N.J. Three current Yellow Jackets played in that game, though none significantly, in free safety James Butler, fullback Johnathan Jackson and wide receiver Levon Thomas.
Tech head coach Chan Gailey said that the extra practice time is particularly helpful in preparing for Syracuse's option attack. The Orange rank 23rd in the nation in rushing, averaging 190.4 yards per game.
"It really makes a big difference," said Gailey. "The option is assignment football. Somebody's got to take the dive, somebody's got to take the quarterback, and somebody's got to take the pitch. You really are challenged in that respect.
"And they've got a power running game, too. It's not like they're all option."
Tech did not face an option team this season. In the ACC, Wake Forest is the closest thing, but Tech did not face the Demon Deacons this year. One of the challenges of preparing for the option is simulating it in practice.
"We put Mark Logan at quarterback some," said Gailey of his versatile senior backup. "He was an option quarterback in high school, so we put him out there to let the defense see what an option quarterback looks like."
Along with preparing for the game, the Tech coaching staff has spent time working with the younger players, who have scrimmaged each day following practice. Gailey estimated that the youngsters have had approximately 180 plays of live scrimmage during these sessions. Those participating range from freshmen who are redshirting, such as quarterbacks Taylor Bennett and Kyle Manley and offensive linemen Andrew Gardner and Jacob Lonowski, to others who have played limited roles on special teams or as backups, such as linebacker Gary Guyton and safety Djay Jones.
Tech hopes to have tailback P.J. Daniels healthy for the Champs Sports Bowl.