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Gailey wary of hype as Tech takes midseason break

ATLANTA - Beware the hype, says Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey.

For Gailey, almost everything about this off weekend for his No. 13 Yellow Jackets is good. At 5-1, Tech is halfway through its schedule, and the break provides extra practice days for next Saturday's visit to No. 12 Clemson.

The off weekend also gives Tech's players, including quarterback Reggie Ball, time to recover from injuries. Gailey said Ball would have been a game-day decision if Tech had played this weekend. Ball had ice packs on an ankle and a knee after last week's 27-23 win over Maryland.

All that is good. But the off weekend also gives Tech's players more time to hear and read about their success. There will be much praise heaped on players who go home for the long weekend, and there may be time for some to hear their names mentioned in awards talk.

Tech receiver Calvin Johnson is listed fifth on ESPN's Heisman Trophy watch, though traditionally it is difficult for a receiver to earn votes ahead of top quarterbacks and running backs.

Other players, including Ball, may start to receive attention for Atlantic Coast Conference honors.

Meanwhile, the open date also provides more time to build up the game against Clemson as a possible preview of the ACC championship game in Jacksonville.

Hence Gailey's caution about hype, including the possibility of more Heisman talk for Johnson, who halfway through the season already has eight touchdown catches.

''The objective is for him and us to play as good as we can play,'' Gailey said. ''All that stuff will take care of itself. If you spend too much time worrying about that, you forget the real goals of what we're trying to accomplish this season.''

Gailey says he does not want to downplay the chances for Johnson or any player to be considered individual awards.

''It'd be great, it'd be wonderful for him to be mentioned in that,'' Gailey said. ''It'd be a great for any of our players to be mentioned in any of those individual awards and honors. I think this team has a mind-set of where they'd like to be as a football team.''

Added Gailey: ''It's not a problem with Calvin. We've got to make sure we don't get involved in the hype as a football team.''

That includes hype about the visit to Clemson.

Tech leads the ACC's Coastal Division at 3-0. It has wins and tiebreaker advantages over two of the three teams in the division with one loss - Virginia Tech and Virginia.

Tech plays host to Miami, the other division team with one conference loss, on Oct. 28.

No matter the outcome of Tech's game at Clemson, the home date against Miami will be billed as the most important game to the Yellow Jackets' conference championship hopes.

Then again, Tech already has played at least two games - the season-opening loss to Notre Dame and the Sept. 30 win at Virginia Tech - that carried similar big-game hype.

Gailey's concern is that his players keep perspective on the Clemson game.

''I think our guys have played enough big games that they understand that this isn't the only game,'' Gailey said. ''It's a big game but it's not the only game. There have been six prior to it and they'll be five after it. We have to keep it in perspective.

''We've been in a bunch of big ballgames. The one last week had those ramifications. The one two weeks before had ramifications. The objective is to try to win the next one.''

Gailey directed practices Tuesday through Thursday before giving his team three days off.

''For us three weeks off in the middle of the season is like a two-week vacation,'' said offensive tackle Andrew Gardner. ''I think everybody will be nice and rested and ready to go to get ready for Clemson.''

Gardner is part of an offensive line that has cleared the way for two straight 100-yard rushing games by Tashard Choice. Ball set a Tech record for quarterbacks by rushing for 130 yards against Troy on Sept. 16.

With Choice now established as another big threat in the offense, Gardner said it'll be all the more difficult for defenses to prepare a game plan for Tech's offense.

''When a running back can put up big yards, it always opens up things for an offense,'' Gardner said. ''I don't think a defense can key on one thing and try to stop it.

''I know a lot of people try to stop Calvin, because he's obviously one of the best players in the country. But if you stop Calvin, then you've got to try to stop Reggie. If you stop Reggie, then Choice can run, and if you somehow manage to stop all three then there are other wide receivers out there. That's tough to deal with.''

Choice set a career high with 133 yards rushing against Maryland.

He rushed for two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.

Choice says hype won't be a problem for Tech this week.

''It's exciting, the big picture and the chance to play in the ACC championship game,'' Choice said. ''But you've really got to stay focused. We have to be ready every week. There's always the next step.''