Gailey adjusting to low-key role on offense

ATLANTA - Chan Gailey stopped calling Georgia Tech's offensive plays before the start of last season.

Now that he's five games into his second year of giving his coordinator freedom to run the show, Gailey has fewer concerns.

At least that's his viewpoint during the week. If he's standing on the sideline Saturday and the Yellow Jackets (3-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast conference) are struggling at Maryland (3-2, 0-1), Gailey acknowledges that he might have second thoughts.

After all, Gailey bears the burden of responsibility as Tech's head coach, but when the offense is running smoothly, he backs off and takes a long-range view.

Such was the case in last week's upset of Clemson. It was clear that the Tigers' offense couldn't handle Tech's defense, so once the Jackets built a lead, they had the luxury of running down the clock.

'I'll tell (offensive coordinator John Bond), 'Run the football or let's start pounding them. I think we're controlling it,'" Gailey said. 'You lose the feel of the game from the box, because I've been there. On the sideline, you've got a feel for the game and who's controlling the line of scrimmage. Sometimes you lose that perspective from the box. So I'll say, 'Let's pound them a little while or think about the next series.'"

Bond agrees with Gailey's understanding of being so close to watch the line of scrimmage and to hear the grunts of colliding players, but he also likes the detached part of being away from the emotion of the field.

What's more important to Bond is having a boss with 34 years of experience against whom he can bounce off ideas.

'My last several years at Northern (Illinois), there were times you kind of felt like you were on an island, so to speak,' Bond said. 'I just have a great comfort level with coach Gailey because he is really, really sharp with his football.'

Last year, as he tried to grow accustomed to letting coordinator Patrick Nix call plays, Gailey had to stop himself from giving suggestions. That's not the case with Bond.

'John asks my opinion more than Patrick did during the course of the game, so I spend a little bit more time in the meeting room with the offense this year,' Gailey said. 'When he asks my opinion, I can give him something that has some sense of correctness to it.'

Gailey has spent most his career on offense. He worked two years as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, overseeing eventual Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin; running back Emmitt Smith was on his way to becoming the NFL's career-learing rusher.

Stints as a coordinator have included stops with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who won the AFC title in 1996, and the Miami Dolphins, a playoff team in Gailey's final season, 2001.

Gailey took charge at Tech the following season, but his success-failure rate was tied the last four years to mercurial quarterback Reggie Ball, who would play well one week and terribly the next. The Jackets have also never beaten arch-rival Georgia since Gailey's arrival.

With new quarterback Taylor Bennett, Tech has the ACC's 14th-rated passer in a 12-team league, but at least the offense does a solid job of protection; the Jackets have allowed an ACC-low four sacks.

Tech, which leads the league in rushing, also has a consistent ground attack when Tashard Choice is healthy.

The tone of Gailey's conversations with Bond against Maryland will depend, like every week, on the success-failure rate. It's no secret that the Terrapins are much better against the pass, ranking second in the league, than they are against the run, a category in which they've allowed a 148.2-yard average to rank eighth.

'I talk to him between series more than I talk to him during series,' Gailey said. 'Sometimes I'll tell him, 'Hey, it's two-down territory if it's third down,' and it may make a difference in what he calls on third down if he knows he's got fourth down.'

SideBar: Georgia Tech at Maryland

When: Saturday, noon

Where: College Park, Md.

TV/Radio: WUPA/790-AM