Ga. Tech notes: Sun Bowl appearance ‘a big deal'

EL PASO, Texas — Georgia Tech’s players will give themselves a chance in the Sun Bowl.

The Yellow Jackets have shown enthusiasm about playing Utah in the Sun Bowl and being in El Paso, which will give them more of an opportunity to end their bowl-game losing streak, now at six games, than they ever had last year.

Tech went in the tank last year against Air Force in the Independence Bowl. Coming at the end of a disappointing season, players conceded their mindset was poor in the 14-7 loss. Coach Paul Johnson has acknowledged on multiple occasions that the Jackets should have beaten Air Force, the sort of admission he doesn’t make regularly.

“I think this year, obviously, we’re disappointed with the way we finished, but I think overall we’ve had a pretty good season,” A-back Roddy Jones said. “We have a chance to be a nine-win team and that’s not something people do on a regular basis. It’s a big deal.”

Johnson said that players have worked hard in bowl practices.

“I feel good where we are,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re good enough, but we’ll find out.”

On the field

The Jackets had their first on-site practice Tuesday morning at Burges High School in El Paso. The team practiced in full pads.

“It was OK,” Johnson said. “You hope it’s going to get better each day, but there’s a seven-day layoff, too.”

The team later visited children at a local hospital and had a bowling competition with Utah players.

“It’s been great,” Jones said. “The people have been awesome.”

Sleeping soundly

Players were raving about the team hotel’s Sleep Number beds, which are adjustable for firmness.

The “bed’s actually pretty nice, I won’t lie,” defensive end Jason Peters said. “I slept pretty good.”

Jones still was looking for his Number.

“Whatever I slept on [Monday] night wasn’t it,” he said. “As long as I’m good by Friday night.”

Small turnout

About 5,000 out-of-town visitors are expected for the game. That will be one of the lowest visitor turnouts for the Sun Bowl in several years, the El Paso Times reported Tuesday. The game had one of its top visitor showings last year, when an estimated 16,000 fans traveled to El Paso for the Notre Dame-Miami game.

“Overall, we’ll be very happy with 5,000,” said Veronica Castro, an official with the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Talented lineman

Redshirting offensive lineman Errin Joe brought down the house at a talent show with both teams Monday night. Along with wide receiver Stephen Hill, Joe delivered an R&B medley.

“He’s a showstopper,” wide receiver Tyler Melton said. “He has that P. Diddy flavor swag with Ruben [Studdard’s] voice and the performance of an Usher.”

Not surprisingly, Melton offered to become Joe’s promoter.

Johnson’s review: “Next year, Errin Joe’s going to be juggling chainsaws.”

Ramblin’ to El Paso

The Ramblin’ Wreck left Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon for El Paso. Driver Mike Macmillan and three other Reck Club members were going to split the roughly 1,400-mile drive to El Paso, with a scheduled stop Wednesday in Dallas. The car will make the trip in a box trailer and will lead the team on to the field Saturday. It will be the final drive for Macmillan, who graduated earlier this month with a degree in aerospace engineering. He’ll be replaced by club member Stephen Webber.