Originally created 10/06/01

Georgia Tech looks ahead after loss to Clemson



DURHAM, N.C. - As soon as the Georgia Tech football team finished watching the video tape of last Saturday's 47-44 overtime loss to Clemson, the team reached an understanding: Conversation on the loss was closed.

The players and coaches decided anything said beyond their team meeting would focus on the future, including this afternoon's game at Duke. While the loss, which included a litany of failed opportunities, ended the team's chances of winning a national championship, it did nothing to impede the immediate goal of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Although the Yellow Jackets are 0-1 in the conference and 3-1 overall, they still can win the conference title as long as they don't lose again. The Blue Devils (0-4 overall and 0-2 in the ACC) should be a perfect springboard, especially since Georgia Tech has won 10 of the last 11 meetings. Kickoff at Wallace Wade Stadium for the non-televised game is 1 p.m.

"The first thing we did was set goals," said fullback Ross Mitchell. "We haven't hurt any of those goals. We can still win the ACC, and we can still go to a good bowl game.

"Whenever you slip, you look to make sure it doesn't happen again. We thought we were going to win (against Clemson). We had a false confidence. We might have relaxed for a minute or two. It won't happen again. We won't turn it off again."

The Yellow Jackets' offense should have no trouble scoring against a Duke defense that's allowed 36.3 points a game. The biggest questions for Georgia Tech is its defense.

In the first three games - all against teams that were decided underdogs - the Yellow Jackets gave up only seven points and 220.3 yards a game. Against the Tigers, however, the defense was ripped for 47 points and 502 total yards. More important, Clemson was 15 of 22 on third- and fourth-down conversions.

"We want to be the defense from the Syracuse game, The Citadel game and the Navy game," said defensive tackle Merrix Watson. "What happened (against Clemson) will leave a scar, but we started with goals and we can still reach those goals. That's what pushes you forward."

Georgia Tech will make an adjustment to its lineup this week. Middle linebacker Daryl Smith dislocated his elbow against Clemson and will be out for a month. Ather Brown will move from outside to the middle linebacker's spot and Keyaron Fox will move into Brown's old spot for his first starting assignment in his college career.

The terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania forced the postponement of Tech's Sept. 15 game at Florida State. The Yellow Jackets then were scheduled for a bye week on Sept. 22, which means Georgia Tech went three weeks between games.

The inactivity was apparent in the Clemson loss, but coach George O'Leary refused to use the unusual layoff as an excuse.

"I don't want to alibi for them," O'Leary said. "We needed to make plays and we didn't. "What we have to do is keep good chemistry. I told the players I wouldn't bring up the game again after we watched the tape. All the goals we set are attainable."

The Yellow Jackets went three weeks between games, now they face a stretch that includes three games in 11 days, including a home game on Thursday night against Maryland.

"We have to have people step up and play over their heads," Mitchell said. "If we do, (losing) won't happen again."

And as far as Georgia Tech is concerned, that's all that needs to be said.