Originally created 11/10/99

Tech looks to bounce back once again



ATLANTA -- Seven weeks ago, Georgia Tech had to bounce back after a tough 41-35 loss at No. 1 Florida State.

This week, the Yellow Jackets, who dropped six spots to No. 13 after last Saturday's disappointing 45-38 loss at Virginia, have to bounce back again.

However, Central Florida - just a couple of seasons removed from Division I-AA - was the opponent following the Seminoles. This time around, it's Clemson that comes calling (Noon, Jefferson Pilot).

Tech coach George O'Leary has sold his team on the philosophy that each week is a separate season. That was to keep them from looking ahead.

Now, in a way, he wants them to look forward to what is still left to accomplish this season.

"We need to regroup and understand that there's a lot riding on the rest of the season," O'Leary said. "Each and every ball game is important, and we've got to play with the same intensity for the whole game.

"Clemson is playing very well right now," he continued. "They've got a wide-open offense, and they've always been very stingy on defense. Defensively, they do a good job of mixing things up and making you play left-handed. Their offense and defense complement each other very well."

Tech will be facing a Clemson team that statistically is better than Virginia. That doesn't bode well for a young Yellow Jacket defensive unit that is reeling after giving up 493 yards to an offense led by a seldom-used backup quarterback.

In his first collegiate start, David Rivers completed 18-of-30 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. That wasn't expected.

But Tech knew it would get a steady diet of the nation's leading rusher, Thomas Jones, and he still ran for 213 yards and two touchdowns.

O'Leary said he was disappointed with the results last week, but he is still encouraged by the effort of his defense, which now features five freshmen.

"Concentration and reaction are acquired skills, and with about seven minutes left, I thought experience on the offensive line took over," O'Leary said. "Our players seemed a half step behind and we just didn't finish plays off.

"Injuries and depth have a lot to do with it. But the guys you put out there have to line up and play."

That will definitely be the case on Saturday. After a disappointing loss in the season opener to Marshall - which has turned out not to be such a bad loss at all, considering the Thundering Herd is undefeated and ranked No. 12 - Clemson can lock up second place in the ACC with a victory at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

The Tigers are a well-balanced club under first-year coach Tommy Bowden. They are ranked third in the ACC in offense and in total defense, 35th and 33rd nationally, respectively. Clemson has come the closest to beating FSU, losing to the Seminoles 17-14 on Oct. 23.

"This is a different type of Clemson team. They're wide open," O'Leary said. "They do a good job of scheming, spreading you out, and they've played well defensively.

"I'm happy with the way the kids have approached practice this week," O'Leary said. "We'll have to play well."