Opponent's Take- Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey will be the first to admit that his ballclub hasn't faced a team quite like West Virginia this season.

Gailey, in his fifth year as the Yellow Jackets head coach, does see plenty of positives in facing the Mountaineers. One big positive is that there is extra time to prepare for the unorthodox schemes the Mountaineers play on both sides of the ball.

"The one good thing is that you have more than one week to get ready for them," said Gailey. "I can see where you could have trouble preparing for them in a week. They create a lot of challenges for you on both sides of the ball because they do run some unique schemes, and they run them well."

Both teams are getting back into the groove of game preparations after a week off last week for final exams.

"Today was the first day that we've gone out and worked on some kind of game plan," said Gailey. "With a week's break in-between, you're just trying to get back into it."

Gailey was asked if he sees any similarities between the Mountaineers and Tech's last opponent, ACC champion Wake Forest. Both West Virginia and the Demon Deacons run versions of the spread offense, but Gailey doesn't necessarily see anything exactly alike with the two teams.

"The thing that you see is the speed outside," he said. "This quarterback (West Virginia's Patrick White) runs it a ton, whereas Wake's quarterback did not. (The Mountaineers) have the speed to hit you outside, if you're not careful."

In preparing his game plan for West Virginia, Gailey must toe a fine line. Throughout the season, West Virginia's secondary has been very susceptible to giving up big plays through the air. One would think that with Biletnikoff Award winner Calvin Johnson being the game's best receiver, the Georgia Tech offense would rare back and throw the ball all over the lot. While Johnson will almost certainly be a big part of the gameplan, Gailey says he'd like to control the ball, thus keeping the powerful offense of West Virginia off the field.

"You don't want to go out there and take too many shots, because on of the keys to beating them is keeping their offense off of the field," said the former Dallas Cowboys head coach. "You want to take some shots, but you want to control the ball too."

The Yellow Jackets certainly won't be the first team that wants to keep White, Steve Slaton and company off the field. Seemingly every opponent has tried to do that to West Virginia this season. Few have succeeded, and even some of the teams that did so ended up losing the game anyways.

When the Tech defense is on the field, Gailey says that they must to a good job of staying at home.

"They do such a good job of execution and faking the ball that you're going to get out of position," he admitted. "Recovery speed is a key. To me, that's what our defense does well. They recover well. They can get back to the ball and keep it from being a big play. That's going to be a big key for us, and that's something that (Yellow Jacket linebacker Phillip Wheeler) does really well."

This will not be the first meeting between Gailey and West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez. The pair squared off in 1993 when Rodriguez was coaching at tiny Glenville State, and Gailey was leading the Samford Bulldogs. West Virginia's offense is much different from those throw-it-all-over-the-lot Glenville teams, but the idea of tinkering the scheme to fit his personnel still remains.

"It's innovative, but what he has done is he has taken his personnel and put them in a position to be very successful," explained Gailey. "He's got the big fullback (Owen Schmitt), and he uses that guy very well. He's got Slaton and White, and he uses them very well. He may not have those guys in two years, but I bet you that whatever he's got he'll put them in a position to be successful.

"A lot of guys won't do that, because they want to be known as a certain type of offense. The first time I ever faced him, he was in the run and shoot."

The thing about the Mountaineer offense that separates it from anything else the Yellow Jackets have faced is the speed of White and Slaton. During his meeting with reporters on Monday, Gailey was asked about West Virginia's speed.

"You might as well talk about it, because you can't see them," he said. "They run so fast, and they do a great job. They've got two great running backs, one of them just happens to be able to throw it well too."

While West Virginia's offense gets all the headlines, Gailey says the defense is just as unique. No, the Mountaineer defense doesn't have the same impressive statistics of its offensive counterpart, but Gailey says that it is just as hard to prepare for.

"I wish they played a more traditional defense, because they give you a lot of looks and it gives you a lot of indecision for the blockers," said the former Florida quarterback. "That's the key: it creates indecision. They just have a lot of different look. They base out of the 3-3, and it really creates identification problems."

With the game now just two weeks away, both teams will be buckling down to finish up their game plans before heading to Jacksonville. Gailey, a 33 year coaching veteran, notes that neither team will completely know what's going to work and what won't until after the ball is kicked on New Year's Day.

"It will be a little bit of a chess match early, to see who has to adjust," he said. "We'll just have to see what will be the best way to attack them. We have a plan going in, but if they change then we have to change too."

NOTE: This will be the third meeting between West Virginia and Georgia Tech, who leads the all-time series 2-0. Ironically, the previous two meetings both came in bowl games. The first meeting between the two schools came in the 1954 Sugar Bowl, when Pepper Rodgers led the Yellow Jackets to a 42-19 victory over Art "Pappy" Lewis's Mountaineers.

This will be the fifth straight season that West Virginia has gone to a bowl, and the third time in that stretch that the Mountaineers will play in the Gator Bowl.

Georgia Tech has now been to a bowl game for ten straight seasons, a streak that started with a 35-30 win over West Virginia in the 1997 Carquest Bowl.

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