ATLANTA — Mike Cox knows a little about sacrifice.
Cox, Georgia Tech’s senior fullback, has only one carry for seven yards since 2004. Cox’s blocks, though often overlooked, are a big reason Tashard Choice is leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing for the second straight year.
Cox has recognized a different standard for sacrifice on Saturday when Georgia Tech will play Army.
Cox said he can’t help thinking that the players he will line up against on Saturday could be sent to Iraq or another dangerous combat location.
Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey, who was an assistant coach at Air Force from 1979-82, said he has talked to his players about the discipline of players at service academies.
"The character, the class, their commitment, the discipline that they have is unbelievable," Gailey said, adding the average person has no idea of the routine of soldiers in training.
"Their summer is not like our guys’ summer," Gailey said. "They do some pretty unusual things in the summertime."
Gailey said his Air Force players endured a grueling search, evasion and rescue training session.
"They would go out and lose 25 pounds because they were out doing these maneuvers," Gailey said. "I never found out exactly what they were, but I just knew they came back 15, 20, 25 pounds lighter for having gone through this. Those kinds of challenges, our guys don’t understand, don’t know about."
Cox, who had his only carry since 2004 against Samford this year, takes his satisfaction from seeing Choice break long runs.
Cox enjoyed one of his best blocking games in last week’s win over Miami, and after his blocks he was animated as he shook his fist in celebration of big plays. Choice set career highs with 37 carries for 204 yards rushing.
"I like to go out and have fun during the games," Cox said. "If you watch, if I have a good block and I see Tashard breaking it, I like to show my excitement.
"That’s what we like to see. We know that we love to run the ball. Pass blocking is all right, but I prefer run blocking. If he does good, that means I’m doing my job good. And if he’s getting 37 carries then I think he is doing a great job."
Pass of fail
No pass defense, no wins.
In each of its four wins, Georgia Tech has held its opponent to less than 200 yards passing. But the Yellow Jackets have lost each of the three games in which they have allowed more than 200 yards passing.
After holding Miami to only 56 yards through the air last week, Tech safety Djay Jones said the defensive backs won’t be satisfied until they show more consistency.
"We’re too up and down," Jones said.
"We didn’t do too well against Boston College, but played our top game against Miami. We just have to keep watching game film to better ourselves."
On Saturday, Georgia Tech will face Army quarterback Carson Williams, who averages 165.5 yards passing game.
Jones sees the upcoming game as an opportunity to work on improving their communication in coverage.
"We have to talk more," he said. "That was something we as a secondary focused on before the Miami game. So, we just have to do it again."
Darryl Richard had the game last week he has been waiting for all year.
The junior defensive lineman recorded five tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack in the win. He said not being doubled-teamed too much by blockers freed him up to make more plays.
"It was the first time that happened," he said. "I was finally getting singled up. Believe me, it sure enough made my job a whole lot easier. I hope that I ntinue to get the same treatment in the future."
A salute to Georgia
Georgia Tech associate athletic director Wayne Hogan said the school has encouraged area military bases to take advantage of the opportunity to see the game.
"It is a tremendous honor to host the United States Military Academy to our campus," Hogan said. "We have been in communication with many of our area military bases encouraging involvement."
Fort Benning is sending 200 trainees and 44 Airborne troops to the game. Also, 33 disabled veterans from Augusta’s Veterans Hospital are expected to attend the game.
Georgia Tech has donated 250 tickets to the USO for the game. The USO will use 100 tickets for patients at military hospitals in Georgia. The remainder of the tickets will go to soldiers from Fort Benning, Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem.
"We are proud to work with the USO to say thanks to these brave men and women who have given so much to ensure our freedom and safety," Hogan said.