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Geoff Collins Weekly Press Conference

VIDEO: Georgia Tech head coach discusses win over NC State, Senior Day and Saturday's rivalry game

Georgia Tech Football Head Coach Geoff Collins Weekly Press Conference – 11.26.19

Opening statement:

“So first of all, Happy Thanksgiving. We have our annual Thanksgiving party tonight. It’s a big deal for my wife to make sure we’re able to get together [the] Tuesday night before Thanksgiving as a football family. So, everybody in the organization, all of our wives, all of our kids, all of our players, it’ll be a big deal tonight. So we get to celebrate and honor the seniors. They all get a huge framed jersey with a couple of pictures honoring them. So that’ll be a big deal tonight. Obviously, we’ll honor Brandon Adams while we’re at the event as well. But again, Happy Thanksgiving to all of you guys.

“A lot of you guys saw out at practice that coach Bill Curry was here today. It meant a lot to me, it meant a lot to this program [for him] to be back around. He was in meetings and came out to practice. Obviously, he was a legendary player here, a legendary player in the NFL, was a great coach here obviously, and then went on to have a really good head coaching career at some other spots. But his heart is here with us here at Georgia Tech. Any time we can recognize and bring back legends of The Flats to our program for our guys to see them and meet them, and for him to see firsthand what our culture is all about, get to be around our guys that are some of the most amazing young men in college football, [we] always take the time to do that. So it was good for him to be back around.

“It’s been four days, I guess, if my math is right from when we last played. [It was a] really good win by our football team. We asked them on a short week to start fast, strike first and they did that, came right out of the gate [with a] big pass to Malachi [Carter] and got things going. [We] finished the first half with a caused fumble [and] recovered fumble by Jaytlin Askew, and then a touchdown to send us into halftime up 21-3. The third part of what we talked about all week with them is we needed to finish and finish at a high level and I’m really proud of the guys the way they did that. They trust the process, we were on a short week so they prepared at a high level, got ready to play [against] some unique schemes offensively and defensively. [We had] some new guys playing for us in the rotation that hadn’t had to play much this season. They came out and played admirably. I think what we did between the third and fourth quarter to give us a chance to finish – Leah Thomas, our nutritionist, had a Skittles fest. I don’t know if anybody saw that, to get the guys to finish strong, to make sure [of] their glycogen levels, or whatever big word she uses, so they could finish strong and the guys did that. That was a neat moment.

“Obviously, this Saturday is Senior Day. It’s not lost on me how much these guys mean to this program, to the foundations being set in this culture. And just to see them. I’m trying to enjoy as much of the time as possible with them and cherish every single minute that I get to coach them here in this building. And just know and understand that with this degree that they’re going to get, this experience they’re getting from Georgia Tech, they’re going to go out and be amazing young men. So I just want to mention them real quick. Brad Morgan and Scott Morgan: Obviously Brad’s career ended so he didn’t get to play for us this year but has been just an invaluable member of our program all season long helping out the offensive line. Obviously, his brother, Scott. Omahri Jarrett: So one of our traditions that we have is ‘Best Fridays in Football,’ at the very end of the kick script, the very last play we practice is victory and then OJ and I embrace on Fridays just like its game day. And Thursday night, after the win, the very first thing we do [is] me and OJ hugging at the end. And we’ve already passed that down to somebody else that I’ll keep between us, that tradition moving forward. Brentavious Glanton played defensive line for us and has battled a lot of nagging injuries but just keeps willing himself to come back and contribute. Christian Campbell has played nickel for us, has played safety for us, has done a lot of things, has had a huge special-teams role as a starter on punt team among other things. I’m really proud of his development. [He] had a huge play to basically seal the game for us on Thursday night, and that’s just a culmination of all the effort that he’s put in throughout the course of this year, buying into our culture. Tyler Cooksey, I can’t say enough about him and his impact on special teams, but what he means to the foundation of this program. Just his energy level, his buy-in, his unselfishness every single day when he comes into the program. He’s worn the jersey No. 90 twice this year, which is a huge honor. Being a great teammate is the highest honor you can have in our culture and Tyler will always be remembered that way. Nathan Cottrell hit over 20 mph eight times in a college football game [on Thursday night vs. NC State]. That is hard to do. He hit 22.08 mph in a college football game, which is the fastest we’ve had in three years using the Catapult system. I’m just proud of him, understanding that his offensive role isn’t as large as maybe he would even like, but his unselfish nature and being one of the elite gunners in college football on kickoff and on punt has been special. Jared Southers [and] Tyler Davis: The way they’ve come into this program as grad transfers and just embodied everything that we believe in and passed that on and educated the young guys how to be at an elite program and how to take care of your bodies, handle your business and prepare to play at a high level on Saturdays. [I’m] just really proud of them.

“And then, obviously, Brandon Adams. We’ll honor him on Saturday just like we do every single day in our program. One of the cool things about this weekend, the athletic department had a Brandon Adams clothing drive [recently] that all of the student-athletes across all the sports got involved in and were engaged in. Saturday morning, we had recruits in, obviously I can’t talk about that. Me and my daughter came in here early on Saturday and there were already a bunch of our guys in the building on one of their few Saturdays off, getting ready and getting prepared to take the clothes and donate the clothes. And that’s special. That doesn’t happen at a lot of places but it happens here. I just thought that was a special moment and I’m just really proud of the guys.”

On Georgia:

“Obviously the first thing that jumps off the tape is really, really, really good players. They’ve got a strong roster, size, length, speed, athleticism. The coaching staff has them playing really hard. They’re sound fundamentally. [They’re] big, physical, tough, and obviously they’ve got elite playmakers on both sides of the ball. So the recruiting piece, obviously they’ve done that at a high level. And then they get them in there and develop the guys. It’s a big challenge but [it’s] the same as every week. We’ve got to focus on us and just get ourselves in the right mindset [and] framework gameplan-wise to be ready to play at a high level against a really, really good team.”

On his memories of the Georgia Tech-Georgia rivalry:

“I’m a product of Georgia high school football. [I was] born and raised to love this rivalry. I still remember sitting up in the stands over there on Thanksgiving morning watching the old Georgia Tech vs. Georgia JV football games, watching them, cheering on, and then we’d go and have Thanksgiving dinner at my grandma’s house in Conyers. And then we’d go out in the back yard and have the Turkey Bowl. I think I still have the trophy, a little wooden block with a wishbone sitting on there, for the MVP of the Turkey Bowl [at] 13 years old. Special, special memories. But it’s a great game, great rivalry. And the thing I’ve talked a lot about is getting this game back on the national stage that it deserves to be [on]. You look at just the high school coaching and the high school talent that’s in the state of Georgia is really second to none. Patrick Suddes, our general manager, did a study of the number of Power Five players that go on and sign scholarships from the different states. Georgia has the fourth-most players in America going on to play Power Five, Division I scholarship football. But if you put that relative to the number of Power Five programs in the state, Georgia is actually No. 1 because they are two Power Five programs in the state, us and Georgia. And the level of talent, the level of coaching, the commitment to playing football at a high level, loving football, football being a priority, sets this game up, sets these programs up to be the elite in college football. Obviously, recruiting matters and we’re going to make that a priority. We’ve made it a priority and we’ll continue to do so [because] we want to make sure that we’re building the program the right way. And to have such a backyard of elite high school players and elite high school coaching and development really means a lot to us.”

 On what the seniors have done to lay the foundation for the program:

“I thought Andy [Demetra] wrote a great article about Tyler Davis, who was voted one of our permanent captains, and just what this experience has meant to him. You talk to Jared Southers, the same way. Nathan Cottrell, Tyler Cooksey, just ask those guys the meaningful experiences, the meaningful relationships that were developed. They understand what they’re setting up for this program to be. I think they take a lot of pride in that. There’s so many young guys playing and playing at a really high level, but they’re freshmen and sophomores. The ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week is a redshirt freshman, Jordan Domineck. The Rookie of the Week on offense was James Graham, he’s a redshirt freshman. I think 98 percent of our passing yards, 94 percent of our rushing yards, are either freshmen or sophomores. We’ve got 92 percent of the tackles returning, 92 percent of the tackles for loss returning, 94 percent of the sacks, 100 percent of the turnovers are returning. So they understand that with a small senior class, their impact has been to lay the foundation for the future success of this program. And we honor them every single day, we talk about their contributions, which are great, and they will be greatly missed. But the lessons that we’ve learned together and the way they’ve bought in to everything that we do and continued every single week to get better as an organization. It’s palpable, you can see it, and [I’m] just really proud of them and know that they’re going to leave this place feeling really good about their experience.

On his recollections of the 1999 Georgia Tech-Georgia game:

“I remember being here with Coach [George] O’Leary. It was the last game of the season and it had implications every single year that I was here with them. He had built it and built a really good team, a really good roster. I was lucky to coach under him and learn how to be a coach by the relentless nature that he had every single day to get better and improve, uncover every little advantage you can possibly get. But the last game here in this stadium, it was 48-48, [overtime], it’s third down, George Godsey is the holder. We decide to kick the first goal on third down, and as a young GA, I’m sitting there saying, ‘What are we doing? Why are we kicking on third down with 30 seconds left?’ And Georgia blocks it, gets tipped back into George Godsey’s hands, George Godsey actually has the presence of mind to center the ball, and then we get a fourth-down kick with no time left to win the game. And as a young coach, I watched that, and just the presence of mind by Coach O’Leary, and just the coaching and the way that we attacked and all of those things were really, really special. So, that was a really, really good memory being there. I didn’t know that part of it, that it was the last time [Georgia Tech has beaten Georgia at Bobby Dodd Stadium].”

On the second half against NC State:

“This is a thing I’ve talked to the guys about and I’ve had this conversation over and over and over. There’s been a tendency in this program to, when you have some success, to relax a little bit. And we are constantly trying to fight that urge, constantly showing examples that we can’t do that in this program. You go back to the Virginia game, we’re going up at halftime with 30 seconds left to take the lead in a hostile environment, and we relax. You cannot relax in big-time college football. And we spend an inordinate amount of time making sure we point out those things to our guys and try and educate them that regardless of what kind of success that you have, you still have to apply pressure and you still have to perform at a high level. That’s the challenge. Just take the example of Jordan Domineck and James Graham. They get recognized by the ACC, and rightfully so, as players of the week. How are they going to handle that? And we spend a lot of time educating them: ‘Here’s how you have to handle success, here’s how you have to handle setbacks,’ and apply it in the same framework, mindset, that every day all you’re focused on is getting better. Don’t worry about the results, just focus on the task at hand and constantly try to improve and constantly try to perform your best at all times regardless of what people say about you, positively or negatively, what the result was, positively or negatively. You’ve just got to put the ball down and play and compete and do your very best at all times regardless of any outside circumstances. And that’s the constant challenge that we’re trying to get to with this program being in the first year. Just the learning experiences and examples are important to have. And we’ve had plenty, and the guys are learning how that matters.”

On if anything can be taken away from Texas A&M’s performance against Georgia:

“I thought they had a good plan. They’ve got a very talented roster and it was a good football game [between] two really good teams. [We] are looking at what other teams are doing schematically and relative to similar body types and similar schemes … we have to see what things we can apply. So we do that throughout the year. We go back and watch every single play of every single game to find different things that we can implement within our package to help our players play at a high level. So part of my process is, one of the first things I do on Sundays after put the film to bed is I watch the explosive runs and the explosive passes tape for the opposing defense. I had to call the GAs in when I watched the explosive runs against Georgia’s defense, and I’m like, ‘Where’s the rest of them? There’s only eight. Aren’t there supposed to be …,’ ‘No coach, that’s accurate, there’s eight.’ So credit to their players and their coaches. They’re a really, really good run defense and so that’s part of our process.”

On managing emotions heading into a rivalry game:

“We’re completely focused on ourselves. We understand the program that we’re going against. Great players, great coaches in a great venue, but it’s all about us and getting ourselves wired and ready to go. And that’s every week. That’s what we’re completely focused on, is getting ourselves to Saturday with the right mindset, with the right plan, being prepared to execute the plan in a physical manner against a really good team.”

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