Originally created 11/24/03

Tech's hopes for a Florida bowl trip turn sour



ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech had its hopes for a bowl game in Florida all but wiped out by Saturday's loss to Virginia, leaving Coach Chan Gailey's Yellow Jackets hoping to at least stay in the South for the holidays.

Thanks to Saturday's 23-7 loss, Georgia Tech (6-5 overall, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) is a longshot at best for the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando. It probably is left to hope for an invitation to the Dec. 27 Tire Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., or the Jan. 3 Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

Though it could improve its bowl standing by taking an upset victory over No. 5 Georgia in next Saturday's final regular season game, Georgia Tech may not have many bowl choices.

Gailey at first indicated he had no preference between Charlotte and Boise, but he admitted "I'd rather stay close to home."

Added Gailey: "More of our fans and more of our family could get to Charlotte."

Tech still may have "an outside shot" for the Tangerine Bowl, according to Gailey. But Dylan Thomas, director of administration and ticketing for the Tangerine Bowl, said Saturday his selection committee would consider Maryland, North Carolina State, Clemson and the Tech-Virginia winner.

Considering that few observers considered Tech to be a bowl-worthy team before the season, any postseason bid will be appreciated.

"We're just happy to get in a bowl," said Tech receiver Jonathan Smith. "You can't be choosy."

For this week, Tech's fans will focus on Saturday's 1 p.m. game against Georgia.

One year ago, Georgia humiliated the Yellow Jackets, 51-7, in Athens.

"It never leaves the back of your mind," said Gailey of last year's loss to the Bulldogs. "It never will, probably as long as I live."

Gailey said there is no one part of last year's loss to Georgia that is the most painful memory.

"All of it," he said, adding "The final score."

Georgia may be able to clinch a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game with a win over Tech. That leaves the Yellow Jackets in the unusual position of being able to play for bragging rights in the state while also denying Georgia a chance at a conference championship.

Even so, Gailey said he wouldn't use Georgia's SEC title hopes as motivation for his team.

"I don't ever talk about how to hurt somebody else," he said. "I just talk about how to help ourselves."

NOTES: For the first time in Tech history, the team has a 1,000-yard rusher and a 1,000-yard receiver in the same season. Jonathan Smith is only the third receiver in Tech history to pass the 1,000-yard mark. With 91 yards receiving against Virginia, he pushed his season total to 1,016. P.J. Daniels has 1,110 yards rushing, including 76 yards on 18 carries Saturday. ... Gailey said cornerback Reuben Houston, fullback Johnathan Jackson and Daniels could miss practice time this week with injuries.