ATLANTA - Fights happen often enough in preseason football practices that most coaches designate certain staff members to break them up.
Yet even Georgia Tech's brawl busters - strength coach Eric Ciano and his assistants - were caught off guard Saturday when quarterback Taylor Bennett touched off an end-of-practice melee.
Bennett, the only experienced quarterback on the roster, closed a scrimmage at Bobby Dodd Stadium by first throwing an interception and then getting into a scrap with defensive end Darrell Robertson during the return.
Bennett, who wears a green jersey that designates him a non-contact practice participant, took exception to Robertson blocking him on the play. Bennett broke Robertson's hold by hip-tossing the defensive end to the ground. The two continued to wrestle while teammates joined the fray.
Ciano and company needed close to a minute to break up the scrap.
"That's something no one wants to get into - it shouldn't have happened," Bennett said. "Sometimes emotions can get the best of us. I'll move on from it and we'll put it behind us."
Seeing Bennett at the bottom of the pile distressed head coach Chan Gailey and offensive coordinator John Bond. Fourth-string quarterback Kyle Manley is the only quarterback other than Bennett to take snaps in a college game.
Bennett getting hurt in such an avoidable situation is a coach's nightmare.
"Do you tell a guy not to compete? I have a hard time with that," Gailey said. "Do you tell a guy to compete but be smart? Yeah, you know we'll tell him that. I'll talk to him about how to handle those situations and how to be smart."
The final play marred what was otherwise a fine day for Bennett. He looked much like the quarterback who threw for 326 yards in last season's Gator Bowl, completing 13 of 19 passes - including his first nine in a row - for 156 yards.
NOTES: True freshman tailback Jonathan Dwyer showed why he was such a highly regarded recruit by rushing for 40 yards on nine carries. ... True freshman quarterback Josh Nesbitt impressed, at least with his running ability. Nesbitt carried five times for 52 yards. ... Redshirt freshman quarterback Byron Ingram will transfer.
Reach Adam Van Brimmer at (404) 589-8424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.