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Geoff Collins Weekly Press Conference

VIDEO: Georgia Tech head coach meets with media ahead of Thursday's matchup with NC State

Georgia Tech Football Head Coach Geoff Collins Weekly Press Conference – 11.19.19

Opening Statement:

“So just part of the process, today is physically Tuesday, but in our world it’s more of a Thursday. So this is right in the middle of our chicken tender fiasco that we’re having right now, so it’s sitting there waiting on me. Some grilled ones, some fried ones, some cheese dip, a little honey mustard, so we’ll get back to that. And then our game-planning meetings, ‘playing the players,’ ‘playing to win,’ kick script, all the things we do on a Thursday, we’ll have that going on the rest of this afternoon so I’m going to get to that.

“First of all, it’s my wife’s birthday today, so, I don’t know how much I’ll see her today but, happy birthday. Excited for Thursday night, excited to be back. I always dreamed about being the head coach here and dreamed about Georgia Tech, and invariably the images and the visions of being in those moments always came back to playing under the lights in Bobby Dodd. And I think arguably this is one of the greatest backdrops for a night game in college football. Obviously, we need to get back to being in a positon to playing in those games more and more and more every single year, and that’s what we’re actively in the process of doing. But just excited for the fan base, excited for our players to be in that kind of environment, that kind of atmosphere on Thursday night under the lights in downtown Atlanta. I think it’s a special, special thing. I’ve been really pleased with the fan base and the way the energy and the atmosphere is in Bobby Dodd Stadium as of late. [It] has been really good and we’re going to continue to match that at a high level with how we play.

“As an organization, being reflective, I don’t know if we played our brand of football on Saturday. Our brand of football is to come out and give unbelievable effort in every single phase, on every single play, compete at the highest level on every single snap, play with unbelievable energy and excitement and enthusiasm and play together. That’s on me as a coach and those are things that, we had ‘tell the truth Sunday,’ it was done by 10 a.m. and we were moving on to get ready on a short week. The guys have handled it, they’ve handled the messaging and we think the world of these young men that we’re blessed to coach. They’re committed to continuing to get better every single day and [I’m] excited to see them play Thursday night.”

On if the pressure and emotions of the three games leading up to it (vs. Miami, Pitt and Virginia) had an effect on last Saturday’s performance vs. Virginia Tech:

“When you’re doing it right and we have everything clicking and every phase of our development is instilled, it is just who you are and what you do. We talked about it this week, just being able to stay in the moment and not worry about the past, not worry about the future, just be right here in the moment in every single thing that you do. That’s part of the process that we’re making sure our guys understand. But to your point, they did play some really good football, they were investing so much, and when they do it every single day, we just have to make sure we’re putting it together. Because to be successful for us, we have to be playing our brand of football, executing at a high level, playing together to have a chance against really, really good teams. We’ve got make sure we’re doing that every single day in practice, and then once we get to college football Thursdays or college football Saturdays, be able to make sure we’re establishing that brand of football that we need to have.”

On Curtis Ryans:

“He’s come a long way. I still remember the first time I saw Curtis. Curtis is every bit of 6-foot-5. He was thin, underdeveloped when we first got here. And even through spring ball, didn’t really know what he was going to be able to play. Was he twitchy enough to be a defensive end? Was he going to have the growth potential to add the mass to be an inside guy? So throughout the spring, just trying to feel our way through what he would be able to play for us. After the summer development with Coach [Lewis] Caralla and our strength staff, you could see him getting a little stronger and improving his flexibility.  Had a good preseason camp, was starting to do some things defensive end-wise that we were leaning toward maybe he is a defensive end instead of moving him inside and putting on another 30 or 40 pounds. But he just kept getting better and I don’t think he has been on the Above the Line chart all year until he got his first start. That was his first real significant action. But I just think that goes to the development of a player. For the first seven weeks of the season, he’s on the developmental team, and I’m not sure if you guys were out there, but I’m down there coaching the developmental defense every single day. So I’m coaching and getting those guys better and better and better. They play our defense, our schemes, our terminologies. So the development of a player, the same thing with [defensive lineman] Michael Lockhart, is able to accelerate because they’re doing our thing and doing our defense all year round, and is finally in a position to contribute. Sadly, we had a lot of guys go down on the defensive line, five of the guys who have played significant reps all season aren’t playing anymore. That affords Curtis an opportunity, Sylvain [Yondjouen] an opportunity to get much more playing time, Jordan Domineck, who wasn’t playing for the first part of the season, is starting to play and contribute a lot more. But we’re excited about their future. [Curtis] is still a redshirt freshman, Jordan Domineck is still a redshirt freshman, Sylvain is a true freshman, and they’re playing significant snaps for us in the ACC at defensive end and getting better every single day, every single rep. I think with those guys, the future is really, really bright. And for now, we need the present to be really bright as well and they’re working hard to make that happen.”

On how the team has responded to their self-admitted “low energy and focus” last Saturday:

“It’s a resilient group. You guys are out there at practice; the guys go hard. We chart every single thing with empirical data on effort and how we’re going to manage player loads to make sure that they’re able to execute at a high level once it gets to game time. So all of those things are in place. Any deficiencies from an effort standpoint with an individual are brought up, are corrected. We’re very honest with our guys in our evaluation. And the cool thing about having the Catapult system, we’re not making it up based on feelings. It’s real, actionable data. You’re usually running at 18.4 miles per hour throughout practices, you were at 15.7, you need to pick it up or we’ve got to do something to help you perform better. So those kind of things, those kind of discussions happen every single day so that we can get them play at their highest level come Saturdays or even Thursdays. In the shortened week, a big part of our process is the recovery piece and making sure that at all times we’re educating them. We’ve got one of the nicest locker rooms and training facilities in all of college football and we spend an inordinate amount of time educating them on the ice tub, the hot tub, the contrast, roll stretch, all the kinds of things you need to do to get ready to play at a high level. The guys are still learning how to do that, but it’ll continue to get better.”

On Tyler Davis and Jared Southers:

“I don’t think I have enough time in this press conference to say all the virtues of those two … When you look back at the development of this program a couple years from now, the impact that Tyler Davis and Jared Southers had, [they] might be two of the most impactful people in the development and baseline of this program, the foundation of this program. Our process throughout the season is, we’ll have four different captains all throughout the year. Then on Senior Day, the seniors won’t be able to be captains because they’ll be getting recognized. The game before the last game, we announce our permanent captains. On Sunday, as part of our ‘tell the truth Sunday,’ every single player on the team voted for the four leaders and the four best teammates, and I compile those numbers and put one through four for the permanent captains for this season. It’s really cool that two guys who came in as grad transfers were voted by their peers as permanent captains. So Jared Southers, Tyler Davis, Nathan Cottrell and David Curry were the four guys that our organization, our team voted as the permanent captains. I think that’s really cool. It’s no secret that there were only six seniors that we inherited, and then brought in two, and just the impact that those guys have made has been really special and it has meant a lot to me. The outside world might look at the season or the things that have happened to us in a certain way, but the pride that I have in that senior class and their contributions and [in] those two in particular is very, very special, and has laid a good foundation for what we’re going to be doing going forward.”

On NC State:

“Obviously, they’ve got good players and good coaches. But you can tell they’re tough, they’re physical, they’re resilient, they play really, really hard. They do a lot of unique things schematically that we’ve not seen in the [last] couple of weeks on defense. So just those cumulative reps, the unique schemes, for the most part it’s a 3-3 stack, some form of an odd stack, that not a lot of teams play, so just cumulative reps of attacking that and the blocking schemes and the blitz pickup and the MIKE IDs, and all of those things will be unique. And on a short week, really trying to get those down pat in an accelerated manner. And then offensively, they’re very multiple. In this day and age of college football that you need to be. But they’ve got some really, really good players and they play really, really hard.”

On his relationship with current Baylor head coach and friend Matt Rhule:

“Absolutely. When you have a 20-plus-year real relationship with somebody and you have the same mindset and the same mentality, and [how] you see football and the processes of developing players, building relationships, helping guys set up for life after football – whether that be in the NFL or that be in the business world – and having lasting, long-term relationships, what you love about football is very similar, the work ethic you have is very similar … so the closest friends that you have in life probably have the similar mindset and the same thought processes and want to be high achievers. One of the things that we talk about all the time – me and Matt, me and [offensive line coach] Brent Key, me and Ed Manowitz, who is one of my dear friends – is any time that we talk about bringing somebody into the organization, a coach or a staff member, and Matt and I have had this conversation for 20 years, is, ‘Are they one of us?’ Do they have the same belief system, work ethic, positive attitude, those kind of things that enable you in tough times to have success? So we always have those conversations, we’ve shared ideas for 20 years at the different places that we’ve been. Ways to get better at every single thing that we do. And I still remember my first year as the head coach at Temple, Matt and them weren’t doing great, weren’t having a great season [at Baylor]. They were setting the foundation for their future success, and they just had College Gameday at Baylor against Oklahoma this past weekend. But I still remember, Coach [Vince] Sinagra, Morpheus [brand manager Santino Stancato] were with us. We get bowl eligible against Tulsa, and the second we get done with the game, I told Scott Wallace, our director of operations, [to] FaceTime Matt, get Matt on the phone. And we go into that locker room, I give my little speech, whatever I said, I don’t know, and I pulled out the phone, and [said] ‘Matt, you’re here with us. You helped this and we believe in you and the future is going to be bright where you’re at, at Baylor,’ and I think that was a special moment. We beat Navy on a Thursday night game that first year, and I still remember him after the game, I had like five texts from him and [Baylor associate A.D. for football operations] Sean Padden, who was with us at Albright College too, just that they felt like they had won the game too because they were so engaged and so proud of us. And I think those kind of experiences, when you have somebody you share such a close bond with, and at times when they might be struggling while they’re building something that’s going to be special, to be able to know that somebody is in your corner, that they care about you, and I always try to do that for Matt. Even when we were having a lot of success, and then Matt’s having, obviously, with us as we’re building this thing. It’s pretty cool to have friends like that.”

On the challenges of a short week:

“Just the thing we’ve talked about since Sunday, we accelerated our process. Normally our ‘tell the truth Sunday’ piece happens later in the afternoon, [but] we accelerated it to 9 a.m. on Sunday. And everything that we’ve done, we’ve had to accelerate. But the thing that we’ve been stressing the entire time is that, even though we’re accelerating, we have to stay in the moment while we’re in that moment. We’ve got to stay in the moment while you’re preparing, whether we’re in chair drill or a walkthrough, stay in the moment during those, even though we’re having to accelerate it on just a five-day week, we can’t be in such a hurry to get to the next thing that we’re not focused on the task at hand. And in building a program and a culture, those are things that are educational pieces that our coaching staff is doing a really good job and our players are handling at a high level.”

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