VIDEO: Georgia Tech head coach has weekly chat with media before Heroes Day vs. Virginia Tech
Georgia Tech Football Head Coach Geoff Collins Weekly Press Conference – 11.12.19
“Saturday [at Virginia] the guys played really hard. A couple days have passed. So the process is Sunday we come in, have ‘tell the truth Sunday’. Everything that happened in the game – good, bad – we go through, put it to bed, and then move on. And then I have to come in and do the radio show and talk about it and then do a TV show with Andy Demetra and talk about it. So, as an organization we move on, we learn from it. We had a really good practice out there today. You guys were out there for the team run period and the team force period, and it was as good as a team run, team force, good-on-good period as we’ve had all year. And that’s just a credit to the guys, a credit to the leadership that is in our program. So I’m just proud of them, the way that they’ve embraced the mentality that we have, working to go 1-0 every week. Put the previous game behind us and learn from the bad and move on. We’ve done that, we’re doing that right now.
“Saturday is Heroes Day at Bobby Dodd Stadium at Grant Field. That’s a big deal for us. In our culture, the highest honor that you can have is to be considered a great teammate. And being a great teammate is giving of yourself for the betterment of others. And I think all of the military service veterans, first responders, that’s what they do on a daily basis for all of us. And just the amount of respect that we have in this program for everyone that does those things and plays those roles. We have two workouts in the offseason that we honor. One of them is the ‘Protect and Serve’ workout, and I’m wearing the ‘Protect and Serve’ workout shirt. We have a local fire department come out, and it is a little over two-hour workout. It’s grueling, it’s challenging, but we learn a little bit throughout the hard work and gain a great deal of respect for the men and women that are in the fire department. And then another big part of our program is The Program’ workout. And Eric Kapitulik, who is the CEO of The Program comes in multiple times a year, but does ‘The Program’ workout, and just as a cultural piece to our program, it is as big of a deal as anything we do in the entire year, and the lessons we learn from it. Eric has written a book with his staff that is really, really good, you can get it on Amazon, it’s called, ‘The Program’. And just those kind of things culturally and the foundations that are laid in those things pay huge dividends for us.
“I saw a tweet about nominating a veteran that is a hero and I’d like to nominate my father-in-law, John Haynes, who served in Vietnam and was in the Army. My biological father has passed, my step-father who raised me has passed, and without getting too emotional, the role that he has played in my life is nothing short of special. I’m lucky that he is my father-in-law. So, I honor him the little bit that I can.
“We had some guys who had really good performances last week. James Graham, obviously we’ve talked about it and people have talked about it, just the development of a player – he did not, when we were getting ready to play Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago, self-admittedly, prepare in a way to give him an opportunity to play at a high level. He struggled a little bit, learned from it, which is a positive, came back last week in the week getting ready to play Virginia, against one of the top defenses in the country, and prepared like you’re supposed to prepare. And then he went out there and had success. And I think that’s just another statement piece for everybody in our organization. If you do that and you follow our process, you’re going to have the ability to play well. David Curry, again, has just built on the process that he started and has learned and played really well. And then Tyler Davis was another one. And the cool thing, culturally, for that is that all of them are single-digit guys. And I think that’s a cool deal that they’ve earned the right to wear those numbers and went out there and played at a high level. I talked a lot about [Davis] last night on the radio show. The reasons Tyler chose to come to Georgia Tech was because he wanted to be a part of something where he was building a foundation, was helping establish a culture. Matt Balis is the head strength coach at Notre Dame right now, was one of [Georgia Tech football strength coach] Lewis Caralla’s mentors and one of my dear friends. He had been the head strength coach early in Tyler Davis’s career [at UConn] and [Davis] knew that was the kind of offseason program, that was the kind of developmental program that we were installing here, and he wanted to be a part of that. And I think that’s really cool.
“Some guys that really stood out in the sidelines, and it is interesting, three of the four were injured. Chris Martin did not get to play but we took him on the trip because he has such an impact in the defensive line room in particular. Defensively, and then just as an entire team, the impact that Chris Martin has is truly, truly special. Lucas Johnson wasn’t able to play as well, but his impact in helping James Graham prepare throughout the week, and then staying with him throughout the game and helping him through it was really cool. And then Connor Hansen has played a ton of football for us the last three weeks. I think he played in maybe 15 percent of the snaps on Saturday, and just the teammate he was for Mikey Minihan, who is in there playing the most in his stead. Their contributions were really cool.
“Last point I wanted to make, there’s been a lot written about the number of walk-ons that we took to the Virginia game. You’re allowed to take 72 players on the travel roster and there’s 85 scholarship players that we have on the team. Fourteen of the 72, I didn’t even know this until somebody wrote about it, were walk-ons. William Lay started for us and has done a really good job. Djimon Brooks started for us and played at a really high level, and up front having guys who are able to step up and play is a testament to coaching, a testament to their work ethic, a testament to how we run this program. That everybody gets reps, that everybody is developing in this program so they can play at a high level. And I just wanted to make sure these young men have named. They are not just walk-ons in this program. We don’t even think about that, ever. We are blessed to coach every player that we have, whether they are scholarship or walk-on. Josh Blancato has played a bunch of football for us this year at receiver and punt returner. Cade Long – the only thing we ever talk about on this team for starters is on the punt team, and Cade has played every single snap on the punt team and played at a high level. Taylor McCawley, a true freshman walk-on linebacker, played three goal line snaps on defense as a true freshman. Dylan Leonard starts on punts and does a great job for us. Devin Smith is one of our special teams guys, he plays on special teams for us. Chet Legod and Hamp Gibbs, Hinson Fowler, Spence Massey – whose dad played here – Liam Byrne, Olin Broadway and Jack Coco. So just wanted to make sure we recognized that those men who we are blessed to coach have names and we recognize their effort and their contribution to this team is really cool and we’re proud of them.”
On the upcoming turnaround from playing Saturday (vs. VT) to playing Thursday (NC State) changes the way Georgia Tech will approach Saturday’s game:
“That is part of our process. We had one of these situations last year [at Temple]. So we just started our schedule for a 12-day plan instead of a 14-day plan. So we’ve already started instituting that plan in the work up to play two games in [six] days, three games in 13 days, however you want to look at it. So, there is not a detail that is left unchecked. Pat Boyle, who is our strategic analyst, does a great job with all of those things in concert with Ryan Horton, our director of applied sciences. So we already had this plan set up. We did it last year, worked out the things we felt like we needed to improve from last year’s process, and already had a plan going into the season of how we were going to manage this 12-day window.”
On how the relationship has grown between QB James Graham and TE Tyler Davis:
“[Davis is] a big target. Everybody in this organization trusts him, has faith in him. If there was a book to ever be written on how to be a graduate transfer, all you have to look at is Tyler and Jared Southers. How they’ve come into this program, how they’ve established themselves within the culture and really helped even lead the culture, it’s really cool to see. But Tyler is a big-time player. He was the best player on his previous team the last two years, and we’re lucky that we have him. In every phase of what he does and what he means to us as a football program, along with being a really good tight end and pass catcher and a threat on every down.”
On Virginia Tech’s current hot streak (winners of 5-of-6):
“They’re playing really well in all phases. Obviously really good players, really good coaches. And then you just saw on Saturday the heightened sense of emotion you could see honoring Coach [Bud] Foster, who is a legendary defensive coordinator in this game. I still remember as a young coach going up there and visiting and trying to gain some insight on how to hopefully be a future big-time ball coach watching him. And you can tell that they had a sense of pride to represent him at a high level. But they’re playing really good football.”
On WR Malachi Carter:
“You guys aren’t in the team meetings, I know you’ve been in there a little bit, but every single day that we have a team meeting it is building a culture, it is creating a mindset, it is going over and over and over what it means to play at a high level in this organization and at this Institution. So the catch that Malachi made on Saturday, which was a great catch and even went viral in the Georgia Tech fan base. It was a really, really, really good catch. My proudest thing about Malachi is he went two weeks [without a catch] but that didn’t change his thought process, it didn’t change his mindset, it didn’t change his work habits. It elevated even maybe his preparation habits and these are empirical numbers that he is going hard and elevating his game every week. And in that moment, it paid off, just stick to the process and good things are going to come, is the message and the mindset. And Malachi is living it and breathing it, and then he had success and it is going to continue to come for him. We’ve got a lot of really good receivers in that room, Coach [Kerry] Dixon does a great job coaching them. And even just look at the development of Tobias Oliver. At three to four weeks at that position full-time, his development, his growth, reading the coverage concepts from a different position rather than just quarterback, it takes time. But he’s bought into it and I thought Tobias played at a really high level as well and it’s cool to see.”
On what he shows players to continue to drive home the preparation piece of the process:
“Part of the process is showing them other examples. So this morning in the team meeting, I spent a long time talking about Dak Prescott and who he was when I was blessed to be around him for three, four years at Mississippi State. I know he had a video that went viral of his pregame, but that is his process and that is his base fundamentals throwing and he works on it and it’s repetitive. He never wastes a rep any time. Then I talked about Rock Ya-Sin and how he was to go from [someone] who didn’t even have a Rivals or a Scout/247 profile picture, had two stars just because he ended up playing at a good FCS school, didn’t have a lot of offers, didn’t have a lot of things, and then four years later, he is the first pick in the second round. But it was a daily process, a daily grind, learning how to be a big-time player. So we’re constantly showing them examples of what that looks like and what that is and teaching them. And then when David Curry has games like he has and the result of the process we’re teaching them, then more guys start to do it. And you see the pure and simple example of James Graham, self-admittedly not preparing to play the game at as high a level as he wanted to, then turning around a week later and diving into the process and investing in the process, and then having success as a result of it. Then it shines a light on [it], and more and more guys are doing it and doing it at a high level. At first it’s hard to learn. Those aren’t examples that are tangible within the organization that you can see, ‘Oh that’s how it’s done,’ but the more and more and more it happens, there’s more evidence and more data that supports if you this, this, this and this, you’re going to get to college football Saturday and play at a high level. Collectively, that’s happening more and more. I talked about Tre [Swilling] and Zamari [Walton]. So then they’re starting to play really, really well, per the expectation. So then Myles Sims, Jaytlin Askew and the young guys Kenan Johnson and Jordan Huff, then they learn to do those things at a high level. And collectively, when you have a travel roster of 72 that are all functioning at that level, really good things happen. These are the building blocks of what it takes to be an elite program, collectively play at a very high level on Saturdays.”
On Grant Field and playing at Bobby Dodd Stadium:
“[Georgia Tech director of athletic grounds] Chris May and his staff – that surface has got to be arguably one of the best surfaces in college football at Grant Field. And the investment that our administration puts in to making sure our guys have a safe surface, a fast surface, is pretty cool. It’s pretty special to see that level of investment, especially in this day and age of player safety, that that [field maintenance] out there is happening right now.
“We’re playing three home games at Bobby Dodd, and the challenge I said on the radio show last night, the challenge to our fan base is to replicate the energy and enthusiasm and the investment that they had the last time we were in this stadium [versus Pitt]. Because these young men work so hard and the fight, they compete, with character, with class and all of the things that we expect form our students-athletes. They do and then they come out there and they play with energy and excitement. It was really cool to see how much investment from our student body, our band, our fan base showed throughout the last home game and it is going to be awesome to see that for the next three home contests as well.”
On Virginia Tech’s offense:
“Very multiple, and the pictures change a bunch but, especially the last two weeks, we’ve seen that. Pittsburgh’s offense did that, UVA’s offense did that and so Virginia Tech is good at doing those things as well. They’re very multiple, but it starts and ends with they’ve got very good players and obviously coaches who are getting their guys in good positions and matchups and those kind of things. But the thing we always focus on is us. Setting edges, building walls, running to the ball, leveraging everything, tackling at a high level and flying around and making sure we’re trying to create turnovers.”
VIDEO: Defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker (pre-Virginia Tech)
VIDEO: Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude (pre-Virginia Tech)