VIDEO: Yellow Jackets' head coach recaps bye week, looks ahead to Temple
Georgia Tech Football Head Coach Geoff Collins Weekly Press Conference – 9.24.19
“[We had a] really good off week. We had three really good developmental practices, which we needed. The guys came out with a great attitude. We opened the practice for [media] to be able to see how hard the guys worked. The energy, the positivity, the coaching that existed in the program for those three days was really good.
“Obviously, in the city of Atlanta we want to give thoughts and prayers to [Atlanta Falcons defensive back] Keanu Neal [due to] how much he means to me personally when I coached him at the University of Florida, 17th pick in the draft here. And to see him go down and all that he invests, the hard work that he does. He means a lot to me and I know he means a lot to that organization and to this city.
“Internally, I don’t really talk about injuries much but Jahaziel [Lee] won’t play the rest of the season, so we will greatly miss him. He was playing offensive line for us, he was playing defensive line for us. But the nice thing is he does have the redshirt, having the redshirt rule, being able to play four games or less, and he still had one available. So, he’ll be returning to play for us another year. So it’s obviously bad news in the short term, but in the long term, it’s going to be nice to have him back for another year.
“The nice thing about the bye week [is that we] really got to invest in the things we need to improve on. We’re still in the infancy stages of one of the most historic complete transformations of a program. The guys have been unbelievable and just getting better every single day. I’ve got a lot of confidence, and I even mentioned in the press conference after the last game, I easily and clearly see the vision of this program. And the hard work that these guys put in, the work ethic, the attitude they bring every day, the energy level, the recruiting that we’re putting in, the development with [strength and conditioning coach] Lewis Caralla and his strength staff, is second to none. So, I understand very clearly what this place is going to be, and we’re just going through it every single day.
“The results matter, and everything is a results-based thing, but we have to make sure our processes are in place. So the thing that we’ve been very critical of and are educating our players are, what flaws happen in the process that we need to improve on to be able to play at a high level? And the guys understand that and they really got at it. We got a lot of confidence over the last couple years [at Temple]. We won four out of the last five my first year, eight out of the last 10 the second year, and we have a mentality that we’re trying to get better every single day, every single phase of our program. And the guys have bought into it and have done a really, really nice job with that.”
On whether there’s familiarity in the Temple roster after being the coach there previously:
“The entire two-deep either played for us for the last two years or we recruited them. And first of all, let me say that this game is not about me. I know there is going to be a lot of questions leading up to ‘Temple versus me’. That is not what this is. This is the Georgia Tech football program versus the Temple University football program. Obviously, I love the players that we’re coaching now, and I love the players that I was blessed to coach and recruit the two years that I was there. I have a lot of strong feelings for those people in that organization. They mean a lot to me. When you go through two years at a place and we invest a lot. You guys have seen us. You’ve seen how we invest in these players. We did the same thing at the previous place to get to know them in every way, shape and form. The mat drills that we do, the offseason workouts, the Bon Voyage workouts, the Protect the Linc, the Broad Street Bully workouts, red dot/green dot, all of those things that we do form bonds that are going to last for a long time. So I think the world of those guys.
“So, I’m watching the [Temple] game on Saturday on TV, and my 3-year-old daughter is sitting there and she is running around singing the fight song. Singing the Temple University fight song. So, every time I leave a place, I have strong affection for the guys that I coached. I cheer for them; I root for them. I want to see them have success. Obviously, we have to compete against them on Saturday, but that doesn’t change the strong feelings that I have for those guys individually. But it is time to compete and we do that. When they have success, I take great pride in it. Any time that they don’t, you feel for them. But we’ve got to put the ball down on Saturday and play a football game.
“I think after two weeks ago when they beat Maryland, Shaun Bradley, the middle linebacker, talked about a lot of things that he had heard us say for the previous two years – ‘put the ball down,’ ‘those situations you’ve got to do those things’ – so you hear those things and you’re proud that you had some kind of influence on them to play at a high level. I think the world of those guys.”
On feelings about going back to Philadelphia and playing against his former team:
“There’s a lot of similarities. There’s a lot of returning starters on both sides of the ball. The interesting thing is, when we go to the production meeting Friday with the TV people, we’re probably going to have to schedule double time because I know those guys so well. Invariably, we’ll end up wanting to talk to them about those guys as well. But, schematically, there’s a lot of similarities from what they did at Northern Illinois [under new Temple head coach Rod Carey], but then taking what the guys on that roster do well and using that to their advantage and to their strengths. There’s a lot of really, really good players that we were blessed to recruit, and a lot of really good players that we were able to develop. And you turn on the tape and you see that.”
On what the biggest challenge this week has been:
“We have to focus on ourselves. That is the focus every single week. What is our process, what do we do on a Tuesday practice? Here’s what we do – we do team run, we do team fours, we do good-on-good, seven-on-seven, we do team run versus development, we go short yardage, we go goal line, we go team blitz, and that is our process. Then this afternoon, we’ll come back, put the film to bed, come back in the morning, put the red-zone and third-down game plan in. So, we have to focus on ourselves to be ready to play at a high level. We very rarely talk about the opponent, and I know this week I’m going to get asked a lot about the opponent. I understand that. But we spend a lot of time on here’s what the opponent we’re playing does schematically, here’s the things that we’re going to do to counteract that, and that’s across the board – offense, defense and special teams.”
On whether timing of the bye week was fortuitous:
“Here’s the way I operate – I don’t ‘rather’ anything. Here’s the situation that’s placed in front of me. I’m probably over-the-top positive and find the way to see the best in every single opportunity. A lot of people try to find difficulties in every opportunity, I try to find opportunity. So this is the opportunity that’s in front of us. This is what we have to do to get better. So, I don’t worry about if this is better or that’s better. He is the situation we’re in, and this is how we’re going to attack it and get better in every single phase.”
On where the closest Waffle House to Temple is:
“There was one an hour and 17 minutes away. I have gone to it and had a great meal there. It’s on YouTube if anybody wants to watch it – ‘Cheesesteaks with Coach,’ Season Two, Episode One – is when we went to that Delaware Waffle House.”
On what the Temple experience did for his coaching career and development:
“It was my first head coaching job. Matt Rhule had been the coach for that four years prior and had actually coached there for a total of ten years. He and I had been together at Division III Albright College for two years, at Western Carolina for four years – I was the defensive coordinator, he was the linebackers coach. So I had an intimate knowledge of how that culture was, the things that were really special about that place. So that transition flowed fairly seamlessly because I understood and knew and it kind of resembled a lot of the things that we do. It’s a special place and the young men in that organization, I can’t speak highly enough about them. All the things that we went through, I mean, we took eight of them out to Japan for nine days two summers ago, and five of those guys are still on the roster. You form bonds that will last a lifetime. So, it was a special place and a special time and I’m blessed to have had that opportunity.
“And I think the players understand better there how important Atlanta is to me. I’ve made no bones about how much I loved Atlanta while I was up there or really any spot that I’ve been at. And then just being back home – my grandmother, she’s 88 years old now – in the first three weeks of this season, she’s seen me coach more football games than she had in the previous 11 years of my coaching career. She’s seen my 3-year-old daughter more in the last three months than she had in the previous three years. And as you get older in your coaching profession, those things matter.
“And being back down here and having family around doesn’t discount how special I think my experience was there. The fondness that I have for those young men that are in that program. And it was a special time and it was the right time for us to be there. And then coming back home, and I’ve always had an affection for this place, and had a grand vision of what I know this place can be. And obviously I’m wearing the Joe Hamilton t-shirt today, and I was just talking to our players out there that he finished second in the Heisman Trophy. He was one of the elite players in college football, and that is the standard that we’re trying to get this place back to. Great players, great leaders, great teammates, having the expectation to play on the national stage, those kind of things.”
On whether the players at Georgia Tech recognize the significance of him playing against Temple:
“You would have to ask them. I try to make it all about our process. We’re still learning every single day how we improve our process, how we perfect our process, so, that’s a question for them.”
On how he selects between kickers:
“It’s the same thing we do at every single positon. We have metrics and chart every single kick. We chart every single throw. We have a win-loss column in the DB room every single day at the point of attack, what’s your percentage of wins, what’s your percentage of losses when you’re at the point of attack. So, we do that for every single position. And then the data has shown who is going to kick and that’s going to change every single week throughout the season because they’re both really good. Two weeks ago on Wednesday, we stopped practice and put them in between the hashes and just kept moving the ball around, almost like a game of H-O-R-S-E. And we charted every single kick that they kicked, just like every single throw that we throw is charted, just like every single one-on-one route is charted. So, it’s the same process we use for every single position.”
On how they addressed the uncharacteristic up-tick in penalties in the last game:
“Five [of the] penalties that we had – the penalties in and of themselves we don’t want to have happen. But we talked about, what is the result from us getting that. So the process of us getting a penalty and allow ourselves to make a poor decision in the heat of the moment, how did it affect the team? So it affected the team with 19 minutes and one second more of possession time. So they allowed, on one drive, three first downs that should have been stops, that added, I think, eight minutes to the clock … The penalty in and of itself was bad, we coached it, we don’t want to make these decisions to put ourselves in harm’s way, but let’s look at how it impacted every single person in this organization. Nineteen minutes and one second of possession time, 10 points and four first downs. The yardage part was 140 extra yards on those drives. But the time of possession – and I’m sure everyone in this room was well-versed in how important that is when you’re playing that kind of offense – and that was the key to the game. Big plays, we had the edge. Turnovers, we had the edge. There were a lot of things that we had the edge in that game, but penalties had a direct influence on time of possession, and to play at a high level, you can’t do those things. You can’t have self-inflicted wounds. And I think it was very glaring when our guys saw it, and we spent a lot of time going over it and reviewing it just to educate them to make really good decisions in the heat of the moment to enable yourself to win a football game.”
VIDEO: Defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker (pre-Temple)
VIDEO: Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude (pre-Temple)