Originally created 10/15/02

Georgia Tech braces for second game against Friedgen



ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey doesn't know Ralph Friedgen as well as most of his players, but Gailey did bump into the Maryland coach several times during the summer.

"I met him in the offseason at quite a few functions," Gailey said Monday. "When you're coach of the year, you get to go to all of those, and he was at all of them."

Friedgen, the former offensive coordinator for the Yellow Jackets, was the consensus national coach of the year in 2001, leading the Terrapins to a 10-2 record, just the fifth 10-win season in school history. They won their first Atlantic Coast Conference title since 1985.

Along the way, Friedgen beat his old team, too, when Maryland upset Georgia Tech 20-17 in overtime.

It's a loss cornerback Jonathan Cox remembers well.

"When you lose any game, it's hard to get over it," he said. "When you start winning again, you can forget about it, but you never really get over it."

Even though Friedgen coached under the since-departed George O'Leary, Thursday's game is a little more special.

"The upperclassmen that were around when coach Friedgen were around, of course, want to beat him a little bit more than everybody else," Cox said. "We're well prepared for him."

The Terrapins and Yellow Jackets should be well-prepared by the time they meet Saturday because they use the same basic offense.

In practices, Cox and the rest of the defense have worked against the No. 1 offense much more than usual, which helps them get a truer feel for the pace of play.

"You get the speed work as well as similar plays," Cox said.

Georgia Tech still runs Friedgen's offensive schemes. When Gailey was hired, he and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien - a holdover from O'Leary's staff - retooled some portions of the offense, but about 90 percent remains the way Friedgen left it.

Most of the changes have been minor, even though Gailey was an offensive coordinator for several years in the NFL.

"Contrary to popular belief, there's only x-number of ways to run the football," Gailey said. "It's not like we were at opposite ends of the spectrum. We've adjusted some of the things in the passing game, ... but not a ton."

Gailey used some of the same principles when he coached at Division II Troy State in the early 1980s, and during his time in the NFL.

"There were some similarities to what we were doing at the professional level, too," he said. "When you've got five receivers, they can only go in certain spots at certain times. How well you execute and how well you keep the defense off-balance are more important than what play you call."

That's something Gailey learned several years ago while he was the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He and then-defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, now the coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, met every day during the offseason.

They discussed ways to make opponents uncomfortable, and they decided the best way to confuse a defense is with consistent change.

"If you can keep changing personnel on a team that likes to match up, all of the sudden they're running guys on, running guys off - it creates a lack of continuity on defense," Gailey said. "All of those things that you can do create indecision."