Jackets take good with the bad about injuries

Associated Press
Virginia's Mike Parker broke up a pass intended for Georgia Tech's Demaryius Thomas during the Cavaliers' upset of the Yellow Jackets on Saturday. The loss was the Jackets' second in ACC play.

ATLANTA - From a life standpoint, Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey delivered good injury news Sunday.


Wide receiver Correy Earls walked out of a Virginia hospital Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after being wheeled off the Scott Stadium field on a stretcher with his head and neck immobilized.

Several exams - X-ray, MRI and CT-scan - failed to reveal any serious damage to his neck or spine.

"All the tests were as positive as they could be at this point," Gailey said of Earls, who was hurt while blocking late in the Yellow Jackets' 28-23 loss to Virginia. "He's out for a while. We don't know how long. But he's going to be all right."

From a football standpoint, Gailey's injury news wasn't nearly as encouraging. He listed four starters as questionable for the Yellow Jackets' next game, Saturday against No. 13 Clemson.

Injuries to tailback Tashard Choice (hamstring), linebacker Shane Bowen (shoulder), safety Djay Jones (shoulder) and offensive tackle Jacob Lonowski (shoulder) will be evaluated throughout the week.

Bowen and Jones suffered their injuries in the Virginia loss, while Choice aggravated a hamstring strain vs. the Cavaliers and Lonowski went down a week earlier against Boston College.

The rash of injuries hurts Georgia Tech from an experience standpoint. Gailey and his staff signed smaller-than-normal recruiting classes the past three years as part of the program's NCAA probation penalties, making depth an issue.

"We like our talent at those positions, the problem is experience," Gailey said.

"The guys who have to go in and play just don't have a lot of experience."

True freshmen Jonathan Dwyer and Morgan Burnett stepped in for Choice and Jones, respectively, on Saturday and would likely do so again this week, if necessary. Bowen's backup is a red-shirt freshman, Anthony Barnes.

Lonowski has two experienced backups, but both A.J. Smith and Cord Howard are "banged up," Gailey said.

Guard Matt Rhodes moved to right tackle for the last series against Virginia because of minor injuries to Smith and Howard.

"Right now, it's taking all three of them to play the position because none of them are 100 percent," Gailey said of Lonowski, Smith and Howard.

"It wouldn't shock me to see all three of them play right tackle this week. That hurts the continuity, but that's what we're having to do."

The injury plague comes at the worst possible time for the Yellow Jackets. They slipped to 0-2 in Atlantic Coast Conference play with the Virginia loss and face Clemson, Maryland and Miami - the last two on the road - in the next three weeks.

The injuries could hurt psychologically, too. Georgia Tech went almost injury-free a year ago. The Yellow Jackets went on to post an ACC-best 7-1 league record.

Reach Adam Van Brimmer at (404) 589-8424 adam.vanbrimmer@morris.com.



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