Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tech No Longer a Wreck O'Leary Has Jackets Going Right Direction

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tech No Longer a Wreck O'Leary Has Jackets Going Right Direction

Article excerpt

Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary might not be a miracle worker,

but he certainly left a profound impact on the program after his

first full season at the helm.

Just four seasons after O'Leary, then defensive coordinator,

helped the Yellow Jackets gain a share of the 1990 national

championship, he found himself riding out a 1-10 season as their

interim coach.

Three weeks after the Jackets' third consecutive losing season

was in the books, the rugged Irishman from Long Island, N.Y.,

accepted the job of rebuilding what once was a proud program.

In fiery fashion, O'Leary resuscitated the Yellow Jackets by

demanding commitment from his players and pumping energy and

focus into the defense.

The end result was a 6-5 record in 1995, the second-best

turnaround in Division I-A football last season.

Only two points -- a pair of gut-wrenching one-point losses to

Arizona and rival Georgia -- separated the Yellow Jackets from a

postseason berth.

With 16 returning starters, including eight from a young

defense that improved from 94th to fourth in the NCAA against

the run (91.2 yards per game) last season, O'Leary is preparing

his team to take the next step.

"As a team, we've set our goal to win one more game than we won

the year before," O'Leary said. "I think that is very realistic."

Some suggest that goal is a bit cautious, but the Jackets are

woefully thin along the offensive line, where they lost two

starters, including AllAmerican center Michael Cheever to the

Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL Draft. They also must replace

quarterback Donnie Davis, a three-year starter.

However, the Jackets do return a wealth of skill position

players, including junior tailback C.J. Williams, who ran for

1,138 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. …

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