Originally created 11/06/02

Suggs back in control of Georgia Tech offense



ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech quarterback A.J. Suggs is playing so well even his mistakes turn into big plays, and his improvement is the main reason the Yellow Jackets have won two straight.

Their latest victory was an upset of previously undefeated North Carolina State last weekend, marking the fifth time in the past six attempts that they have beaten a ranked opponent away from home.

"I'm definitely proud of the way I've played," Suggs said Tuesday. "Obviously, we've won two in a row, and my numbers have definitely improved. I think I've picked up some of the slack."

In his past give games, the transfer from Tennessee has thrown for 1,047 yards and five touchdowns, completing 61 percent of his passes. He's been intercepted just three times in that stretch, helping Georgia Tech (6-3, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) become bowl eligible for the sixth straight year.

One of Suggs' best moments against the Wolfpack came late in the third quarter, with the Yellow Jackets trailing 17-9. Facing third-and-19 from Georgia Tech's 11-yard line, he found Jonathan Smith on the left sideline for a 28-yard gain.

It was a beautifully thrown pass - only it wasn't the play called on the sideline. Suggs misread the hand signals from offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien and ran a different play, leaving the coaching staff befuddled.

"There were about six guys in unison saying, 'What did he call?"' head coach Chan Gailey said. "We knew that wasn't the right formation. Thank goodness he called what he did. It worked out just right."

And Suggs doesn't have to worry about being punished for missing the sign.

"Not when it works," Gailey said with a smile.

Later that drive, Suggs threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Paul Foschi, then connected with Smith again for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 17. Georgia Tech later went ahead on a 14-yard TD run by Gordon Clinkscale.

The turnaround for Suggs actually started during the second half of a 34-10 loss to Maryland, the Yellow Jackets' worst performance of the season. With the game nearly out of reach, they spread the field with four wide receivers and put Suggs back in the shotgun.

Running the no-huddle offense, Georgia Tech had little trouble moving the ball, and Gailey decided to use the scheme more frequently. The result is the short winning streak and more confidence for Suggs.

"That's more the type of quarterback I am," he said. "Spreading it out, in the shotgun, trying to distribute the ball around to different guys and let those guys make the plays."

A third straight victory won't be easy. The Yellow Jackets host No. 17 Florida State on Saturday, a team they haven't beaten in 10 games since the Seminoles joined the ACC.

"It seems like it's always been a good game in the past," Suggs said. "It usually comes down to the fourth quarter it seems like, so hopefully it'll be a great game again and playing at home will be an advantage for us."