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Geoff Collins Weekly Press Conference

VIDEO: Georgia Tech head coach speaks with media ahead of Saturday's game at Miami

Georgia Tech Football Head Coach Geoff Collins Weekly Press Conference – 10.15.19

Opening Statement

“I appreciate you guys coming out today, we’re on [fall] break, so we’ve moved practice back a little bit, so I’m glad you guys got to come in. We’re still building the culture and building the processes that we go through … Some superlatives from the game, just some individual things, Jordan Mason got over 100 [rushing] yards for the first time in his career. I really appreciate the way he plays; the way he takes care of his business. He’s developing into a really, really good player. I’m proud of Coach [Tashard] Choice and how he’s brought him along. He is teaching him exactly the right things to be a big-time player in this program and it’s good to see it pay off with, obviously, the help of the offensive line.

“Djimon Brooks, it’s no secret that we’ve played a lot of walk-ons this year in critical roles, and he played a ton for us at defensive tackle. He’s out there wearing a cast but he’s battling and those kinds of things are rewarded around here. And then on special teams, Jerry Howard. Great first touchdown [Saturday against Duke]. It was really nice to get an opening drive and go for a touchdown to start the game with Jerry on the wheel route out of the backfield. Just his contribution to special teams, his unselfish attitude, the way he attacks everything. His Catapult [analytical] numbers were through the roof for the entire game, so just playing really, really hard, and getting his time to shine at running back as well is really special.

“Some of the young guys throughout the week last week getting ready to play – Christian Malloy at running back did a really nice job for us. Wesley Walker, one of our DBs, did a really nice job. And then for the third-straight week, the special teams developmental player of the week had to step into the game and have a big game for us, and that was Quez Jackson. I think he led the team in tackles, and after David Curry having to leave the game, Quez came in and played a really nice game, was covering on kickoffs as well. He was flying around making plays for us, so, really proud of him.”

On how many players play on the offensive line:

“We’re still developing that position, that’s no secret. I think we’ll see more guys play this week, that’s already part of the plan, because those guys the last two weeks there’s been a steady five that played the entire game and are in there battling. William Lay, the walk-on center, is in there competing really, really hard. Connor Hansen has been out all of spring, all of preseason, was out the first four games, and then has come in the last two and has played every play and he is a really tough young man. So, we’ll start working some more guys in. And I know we won’t talk details, but if you just look out there today, you saw more guys running and playing together with multiple units. Coach [Brent] Key is doing a great job with that group. Even though it’s been piecemealed a lot at times, the guys are working and trying to play a really physical brand of football.”

On assessing all aspects of the team midway through the season:

“Every week we’ve gotten much, much better. I hate that the scoreboard doesn’t show it, I hate that the results don’t show it in the win-loss column. But you never can discount the effort that these guys are putting forward. We’ve gotten better in every single phase, and we’ve just got to understand that in critical moments, we can’t have setbacks. And the story of the [Duke] game was the second quarter. Some significant things happened to us in a negative way, we couldn’t overcome them and the score got out of hand really quickly. And then we went in and regrouped at halftime and came back out. And to these kids’ credit, we talk about the buy-in factor and you guys ask about it all the time, I don’t think anything signifies it as much as the way they’ve come out every game in the second half and competed regardless of the circumstances and continue, week in and week out, to improve.

“Everything we’re asking them to do, they’ve never done before with our processes and how we go about our business week to week, and they are getting better every single week. Film-study habits are improving; their Catapult numbers are improving. All of those things fundamentally are improving, so they’re doing the right things and they’re having the right attitude. I know one thing, our processes work. We’ve won a ton of games doing it this way and were going to continue to teach our guys how to do it. Not doing it this way is guaranteed not to work. And conversely, us being negative is guaranteed not to work. Us being positive and building these guys up as we develop this program is guaranteed to work. So we’re going to stick to our process. We’re going to stick to building these guys up and recruiting at a very, very high level moving forward.”

On his thoughts about his former team, Temple, entering the Top 25:

“When we got [to Temple] the first year, they had just graduated a ton of guys that had won a bunch of games and went on to the NFL. It was the youngest roster in college football. And three years of us developing them, building the mindset, teaching them the process of how we do things, and recruiting at a very high level, they are now in the Top 25. And I said this a ton when I first got here and when we were getting ready to play them, that is an 11-win roster. The way we developed them, the way that we recruited them and coached them. So, obviously very proud of them.”

On if he sees Baylor as a potential roadmap for the transformation at Georgia Tech:

“[Baylor head coach] Matt [Rhule] and I are really close. I was the defensive coordinator at Albright College, he was the linebackers coach for two years. I go to Western Carolina for four years as the defensive coordinator, he’s the linebackers coach there. And then he went to Temple for 11 years, being the head coach the last four, and I followed him there. So a lot of the things that we believe in are the things that we do here and the things he’s doing at Baylor. He came down and visited during spring practice to watch how we do things and to take some things back there. And the big thing with him is, even though they struggled the first year, the things they were doing to build the foundation of that culture were the right things. And just stick to the process, stick to your beliefs, teach those to the players you are blessed to coach and good things are going to happen, so, that’s what we’re doing.”

On what he’s looking for in the second half of the season:

“The thing that we talk about here all the time is how we play. The attention to detail, the level of effort, the level of care, the level of competitiveness that we are going to play with. The standard of this college football program. And we are going to play to that level every single week. We are going to expect to play to that level. We don’t worry about the scoreboard; we just worry about making every single play matter. I think that helped us in the second half [at Duke]. Don’t worry about the scoreboard, the scoreboard is going to take care of itself, just find a way each individual play, to make a difference and that’s how we try to approach every single game. Every single play matters, every practice that we do matters, every walk-through matters, and eventually when you have that mindset, it is going to pay off. It is the same mindset that Coach [Nick] Saban has had at Alabama. Even the first year when we were there, we struggled. But the belief system and the processes that are supposed to be in place, doing it the right way, are what we’re going to do. And the results are going to eventually take care of themselves through the process, throughout doing the things that we are going to do to be an elite program.”

On the first half of last Saturday’s game at Duke:

“When we had our first team meeting to recap the game, I put up the second quarter. Every single thing that happened to this football team in the second quarter in detail so we can learn from those things. We had five drives and four of them were three-and-outs. One ended when we went for it on fourth down and did not get it. We gave them a short field for a touchdown. The next drive was a three-and-out. We had a blocked punt for a touchdown. So as bad a series of events that could happen to you, they happened. And then you just have to find a way to regroup and move forward. We can’t do anything about what just happened to us, we have to move forward with it. The six games are what they are. What can we learn from every game to improve on and get better so that the result is going to be a positive one. But if you don’t fix the process and the reasons why you struggle or the reasons why you don’t have success, then it is not going to matter. So we focus on what we can control every single day.”

On what he does on a weekly basis to help ensure the student-athletes academic success:

“[Every Thursday] I go and watch practice with the defensive staff and the second I’m done with the defensive staff meeting, I go into an academic meeting with every member of our academic staff and we talk about the academics of every player on our roster. So, it’s Thursday, about 12:45ish, every single player of our roster in detail. We start with the hot list, the guys we’re concerned about, and we go through every young man that’s on the roster, every class, everything that he needs. Then once we get through the hot list we go by position. Everything they have coming up academically, every paper that they’ve done, every exam that they’ve done, what they have coming up the next week in detail. And then we do every one of the walk-ons, because they are highly valuable to us, obviously. Then we go to a staff meeting, and then I go around the room with every single player that needs to be helped, addressed, with what they have coming up, what the concerns are.”

“I don’t want any secrets in our organization. I want every single person that is on our staff, whether it be recruiting, equipment, in the training room, I want them to be all in on the development of our players. I want them to be all in on the academic success of our players. So we spend a lot of time making sure everybody understands where every player in our program is academically, because that is why we’re in this thing to begin with, for the student-athlete. So if we go over that such-in-such has a huge test the following Monday, and our head equipment guy mentions that to him, that moves the needle. That ‘Every single person in the organization cares about my academics, that must mean that they care about me,’ which we do. So that’s what we do – we hold them accountable.”

“On Sunday, every coach on our staff gets a list of every single thing that his position players have to do academically that week so they can follow up to make sure they’re on top of it. I don’t like procrastination in this program, I want to be ahead of everything. We’re going to do academics at a high level because how you do anything is how you do everything. So that’s our process and that’s what we do. They are on text message threads with our awesome academic staff, so any issues or upcoming assignments, we’re all over in real time so we can help them.”

On what he sees in the development of James Graham:

I think James Graham is just developing every single day. You can see his growth and his maturity every single day. I usually talk to him after stretch and I did that today, but the biggest point I was trying to make was the leadership point. The building of the culture, the developing of a player. And I referenced Dak Prescott, who I was blessed to coach for four years at Mississippi State, who he was as a leader, who he was as a man. This is an entitlement-free program and there was no job that was too small for Dak Prescott. Whatever it was, he was the first one in the building, he was the last one to leave. He would take responsibility for everything, even if it had nothing to do with him, or being his fault, he would jump in front of it and say, coach that is on me, I’ll get that fixed. And I see James making those steps. I see a lot of the guys in this program making those steps, being great teammates, which is the highest honor in this program. And consequently you’ll end up being a great leader. But James, in that aspect, other than just throwing the ball, reading the field, going through with his progressions, making good decisions with the football, all of those things matter, but being a great leader and a great teammate is highly valued around here and I’ve seen the steps that he’s made to do that. The film study, getting in here extra with Coach [Dave] Patenaude, he’s doing that. So for this entire program, James Graham is starting to develop that process so that he can be a big-time player for us.”

VIDEO: Defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker (pre-Miami)

VIDEO: Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude (pre-Miami)

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