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Notebook: Gailey deserves credit for Yellow Jackets' turnaround

| Thursday, Oct. 30, 2003

Just one game into the season, it seemed Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey might wind up unemployed at year's end. Now, folks around the Atlantic Coast Conference say the former Steelers assistant might be the league's coach of the year.

It was obvious from the start that Gailey was facing a tough challenge this year. The Yellow Jackets were picked eighth in the ACC preseason poll and lost 10 players because of academic problems in the preseason.

Tech's top pass rusher, Greg Gathers, is too injured to play. The team doesn't have a top-notch tailback or punter, and its secondary is suspect. A true freshman starts at quarterback.

Yet, since losing their opener against BYU, the Jackets (5-3, 3-2) have rebounded. They have a chance to finish as high as second in the ACC and, with games left against Duke and North Carolina, are almost certain to become bowl-eligible.

"We have shocked ourselves," linebacker Keyaron Fox said.

"A lot of good things are happening to this football team right now," Gailey said. "But the character of the football team is the bottom line."

GET MOM A HELMET

When Miami linebacker D.J. Williams was in high school, he had to fill out an application as part of joining the team. He told South Florida Sun-Sentinel writer Omar Kelly that one question on the form was: "What would you do if your mother was catching a kickoff?"

In response, Williams had his mother, Sherri Gonzales, help him make a video to show the coaches.

"I tricked my mother into putting on my uniform and told her it was just a little play and I wasn't going to hit her," Williams said. "So, I kicked the ball off to her, ran down and hit her pretty well."

The ploy worked; the coaches like the video and Williams made the squad. His mom was not totally pleased, though.

"She was a little upset," he said. "I hit her in the face."

FAMILY FEUD

Ohio State junior tailback Lydell Ross had a big day -- again -- against his dad's alma mater.

Ross rushed for a career-high 167 yards and three touchdowns in the Buckeyes' 35-6 romp against Indiana. As a freshman in 2001, Ross rushed for 124 yards against the Hoosiers.

His father, Melvin Ross, played for Indiana in 1959.

"Since my freshman year, I've had memories of that breakout game," Lydell Ross told the Indianapolis Star. "That's been in the back of my head, that I was able to do something special when I came to Bloomington. This is my dad's alma mater. I joke around about it with him a lot -- me getting back at his alma mater."

STATS, STREAKS AND SLUMPS

  • It wasn't until last week -- the eighth game of the season -- that Clemson had a player rush for 100 yards in a game. Duane Coleman got 111 yards on 13 carries against woeful North Carolina.

  • After allowing 597 yards against Mizzou, Texas Tech's defense slipped to the bottom of the NCAA Division I rankings. What's odd is that Tech's offense is ranked No. 1 in the nation. According to NCAA director of statistics Jim Wright, it likely is the first time a team has held first and last place in those two categories at the same time.

  • Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb was named Conference USA's offensive co-player of the week after tying a league record with 578 total yards against TCU.

  • Miami is riding a streak of 14 regular-season victories against ranked teams.

    IF YOU LIKE OFFENSE ...

    ... then be sure to tune in Saturday's Colorado-Texas Tech game, which will feature two of the most porous defenses in the galaxy.

    Tech is dead last in total defense (503.7 yards per game) and 113th out of 117 teams in scoring defense (36.8 points per game). Colorado ranks 111th in total defense (457 ypg) and 116th in scoring defense (39.4 ppg).

    SAY WHAT?

    "At this point, discouraged is putting it lightly.'' -- Illinois linebacker Winston Taylor. The Illini have not beaten a Division I-A team this season, and have lost their quarterback, top two tailbacks and two receivers to injuries.

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