Crowton Brainstorms for Georgia Tech Opener

Game time is exactly two days away and BYU head football coach Gary Crowton is watching his "Ps" and "Qs" when he talks about Georgia Tech, a BCS school he once coached at.

"Georgia Tech is a team that I coached with at one time… It is a very good program, has a rich tradition, an outstanding head football coach and have some outstanding players," said Crowton. "We have great respect for their program, their school and their coaching staff and players. It's going to be real nice to host them up here at the beginning of this 2003 football season. I think it's going to be a great game."

With that out of the way, he shared some morsels of meat to an assembled group of news media types looking for the "beef."

"What we want to do is come out very confident, very aggressive and get after it. In doing so, hopefully we'll get them on their heels early... We've prepared well. Our team has prepared well. I think we're in good condition. We have it at home, so I think that's a good way to get started."

Crowton and his coaches "were doing a game plan today, going over our top calls and went through our game play on both sides of the ball and special teams. As far as keys to winning, we need to take good care of the ball on offense and we need to cause turnovers on defense and not give up big plays. Those are a given, especially for an early game."

Thinking and redefining game plans will continue and Crowton is not taking anything for granted – even if the season opener is against true freshman quarterback Reggie Ball..

"The thing about playing a true freshman, the way I'm looking at it is, they have a senior (A.J. Suggs) who's been a three-year starter, so this true freshman must have been pretty good or they would have gone with the senior (rather than) bring the true freshman in," Crowton noted.

"We've seen high school film on him (Ball). Our coaches have recruited at that same high school. He can make big plays with his arm and his feet cause he's very quick. He avoids tackles very well. He's got a strong arm when he gets out of the pocket, so what we're seeing is, they have a very good offensive line."

In preparing for such a talent, Crowton has factored every angle he can think of for Georgia Tech to be successful. He understands it begins up front with their veteran and powerful offensive line.

"Lots of people have said they have the best offensive line in the ACC and I know it's arguable. They're probably going to do some things to power up the middle and then get him (Reggie Ball) to the outside, whether it's sprint out or play action and get him to make plays. I've read some articles about them. I know he's making some big plays outside the pocket, so I think that's why they're going to do it."

Crowton hopes they can cause Ball to make freshman or rookie mistakes, but he is not counting on it.

"He might make some mistakes, but according to Chan Gaily, I think that he is making enough big plays that they are much more comfortable with him than they are the other guys who have all the experience," Crowton continued, adding that "we have to contain him and confuse him. I think we can confuse him it's just containing him is the problem. If you confuse a guy that's got great feet, they get away, scramble outside and make a play and so we just got keep him in that pocket and contain the plays."

During the fall, Crowton and his staff weren't quite sure who they were going to be up against at the quarterback position for Georgia Tech. To cover all their angles, the coaches prepared for both Suggs and Ball.

"In preparation defensively, when I talked with coach Mendenhall, he wasn't sure who they were going to start. We suspected and heard through the media they were leaning towards Ball. We know what Suggs can do. Bronco was kind of waiting to see in his game plan, and he kind of had some ideas. It's not to say Suggs won't play either. If something happens, they can always bring in a guy that's a veteran, and he's probably mad anyway and he'll probably be ready to go. So we had to think about that in the game plan as we prepared for it."

On a separate front, Crowton and assistant Paul Tidwell have also prepared extensively for improved special teams play.

"We need to get as much field position as we can in our kick returns and get up the field so we have a short field and try and keep them pinned back. We have the ability to do that with Matt Payne," Crowton added.

In his punt return game, Crowton is looking at some dependable players who've manned the position in the past, plus some new ones he's pretty excited about.

"I'm pretty excited about our returners. David Christensen has been a very good punt returner. He's very sure-handed and he has some speed. Toby Christensen is a very sure-handed guy; not quite as much speed, but he's doing a good job of being aggressive to the ball in punts. He'll be the back-up with Nate Soelberg out there. We're still training him (Soelberg) and, at some point, he may return some.

Crowton is looking to put some new faces in to return kicks this season. "We've got our running backs Rey Brathwaite and Thomas Stancil who will probably be our two starting kick returners early in the year." Both Brathwaite and Stancil will play on the special teams unit.

With his coaching staff all on the same page, Crowton is confident all the cogs have been put into motion. "I think we have a good plan on both sides of the ball. I talked to Bronco (Mendenhall) about some of his calls today and he was ready… Robbie (Bosco) and Todd (Bradford) were talking; they're ready. It's going to be fun. I can't wait."

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