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Tech practice carries on without Gailey

ATLANTA - Still in the hospital and recovering from surgery to clear a blocked heart artery, Georgia Tech head coach Chan Gailey concluded practice must go on.

So the Yellow Jackets resumed spring practice Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Gailey was moved from intensive care to his own room at Atlanta's Piedmont

Hospital.

"He'd have been out here today, I have a feeling, if his wife (Laurie) hadn't been at the door," offensive coordinator Patrick Nix said after practice.

Gailey, 53, suffered a heart attack Monday morning while playing racquetball on campus. Doctors discovered a completely blocked artery, and Gailey underwent an angioplasty to remove the blockage.

Gailey did not take visitors until Tuesday night, but several coaches spoke with him on the telephone. Gailey will have to remain hospitalized for "a couple more days," Tech director of athletics Dave Braine said Tuesday night.

"His spirits are good. He's doing well," Braine said.

Without Gailey on the field, the Yellow Jackets worked out in pads for the first time this spring for nearly two hours.

Assistant head coach Buddy Geis delivered a short pre-practice speech - "Keep it short and tell them what you think," was Gailey's advice to Geis - and practice went on in accordance with Gailey's long-since scripted schedule. Geis did not mention Gailey in the speech.

"We're trying to carry on as usual, but it's a little bit different without the leader of the team out there," linebacker Gerris Wilkinson said. "It's a different vibe."

Said Nix, "I missed him. It's nice to have him out there."

The Yellow Jackets were not sharp during the workout, something coaches and players attributed more to it being the first practice in pads than Gailey's absence.

There were several fumbled center-quarterback exchanges, a pet peeve of Gailey's. Geis said he would not mention the fumbles when he visited the hospital Tuesday night.

"I can assure you he's looking forward to seeing the practice," Nix said. "We're not looking forward to him seeing it."

The Yellow Jackets will practice Friday and Saturday before stopping for spring break next week. It is uncertain when Gailey will return to the sidelines.

"As long as he's healthy and his surgery went well and he's in good shape, we've got to go on and he knows that," defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta said. "We'll be him abreast of what we're doing."

Not wanting to disrupt the team's practice schedule, despite knowing that the NCAA had granted Tech a waiver to extend spring practice, Gailey told director of football operations Butch Brooks that practice should continue around 9 a.m. Tuesday. Brooks then informed the staff.