VIDEO: Georgia Tech head coach meets with media to recap Miami and bye week, look ahead to Pitt
Georgia Tech Football Head Coach Geoff Collins Weekly Press Conference – 10.29.19
“Happy Halloween. We’re having our big Halloween party [Wednesday]. The coaches’ wives and kids come out at the end of practice [Wednesday] and we’ll have our Halloween celebration at the post-practice.
Welcome to the family, Jack Thacker. Coach [Andrew] Thacker and his beautiful wife had a brand new baby boy last week. Welcome to the family. We’re really excited about that, and Brooks and Bear will have a little guy to chase around. I think I talked about it on the radio show last night, but just a shout-out to all of the coaches’ wives that do an unbelievable job making Georgia Tech football what it is and doing so much for our families. It truly means a lot to me and all the rest of the coaches. I got a first-hand experience on Saturday. It was me and my 3-year-old daughter all by ourselves for the first time this weekend. I thought a Tuesday practice was hard. That was something else. We had a blast. But we just truly appreciate all that our wives and families do.
“I know it’s been a week-and-a-half since the win down in Miami, [but] we haven’t talked about some awards. I know J.P. [Jordan] Mason had a career-high day, but he’d be the first one to tell you that the offensive line played a huge role in that. They’ve gotten better every single week. He put up a season-high against a really good run defense, and a lot of credit goes to the offensive line and Coach [Brent] Key and how hard they work.”
“Defensively, Antwan Owens had a really, really good game. Everybody’s going to want to talk about the blocked field goal, that was a huge play to send it into overtime. But just play-in and play-out, the entire game, he just was focused, had a great week of practice that led to him playing at a high level. Charlie Thomas on special teams. Obviously, everybody sees what he does in defense, he’s a dynamic playmaker. But on the punt team and kickoff team, Charlie Thomas did an unbelievable job affecting the game.”
“We had some developmental guys – Ben Wilhelm was the tight end on the scout team, he did a really good job because [Miami’s] tight end is a really, really good player. Tariq Carpenter had to shadow him, and you saw Tariq made the huge fourth-down play to win the game, and a lot of that had to do with Ben’s contribution during the week. Antonneous Clayton, playing defensive end for us on the developmental team, is playing his role at a high level. He’s very unselfish, doing it for the team, getting better every single day. He helped the offensive line prepare for the game. And special teams, Spence Massey, as a walk-on here, his dad played here. He did a masterful job all week. Great effort, great energy, great attitude.
“And then there’s a huge emphasis in this program on energy, giving the team a boost and being a positive teammate. And some guys who really stood out on the sideline – Devin Smith, who plays corner and special teams for us. Jack Coco. Demetrius Knight, who had the huge third-down strip sack and caused fumble, and then Ja’Quon Griffin got the recovery for the touchdown. But [Demtrius’] presence on the sideline, he starts on kickoffs, starts on kickoff return, starts on punt block, and just is such a positive ball of energy at all times. He’s just an absolute pleasure to coach as a true freshman. And then one of the young men that I’m very, very proud of – his development since he’s gotten here, and how he’s become a consummate teammate in this program – is Brentavious Glanton. Just his presence on the sideline, keeping everybody engaged, positively effecting everybody, because even though we won the game, it was a tough, physical game in a hostile environment, and he kept us in it and did a great job. Nate Cottrell, obviously, he does a great job for us on special teams, and got a touchdown as a reward on our fake punt, with a great throw by Pressley Harvin.
“And even though we have a really small senior class, the content of character in those eight young men that are playing for us is really, really high. And for them to be able to go with a complete culture change, buy in, set the tone in the locker room throughout the season, regardless of any setbacks that we’ve had as we’re in the process of building this thing, the senior class has been absolutely amazing. I’m just really, really proud of them. One of my favorite things of the week that we do, we have our Focus Friday workout out here where we go through the kick script and basically rehearse the game the day before the game. And one of my favorite moments that our young guys are doing, is they’ll trade jerseys. So the two Dylans [Deveney and Leonard] will grab the two Tylers’ [Davis and Cooksey] jerseys and wear them for those Friday practices. And you’ll see other young guys wearing the seniors’ jerseys with pride just to honor them. I think those are cool moments.
“I know it is homecoming on Saturday. I’m really excited to see the Georgia Tech fan base and the alumni come out and support these guys, because they fight so hard. They have such great attitudes, the do things the right way in the classroom, off the field, and on the field as well. So they deserve every bit of support, energy and enthusiasm that we could possibly give them, and I’m excited to see that on Saturday.”
On Pitt WR/RS Maurice Ffrench:
“He’s a dynamic player in all phases, and I think he’s one of the top receivers in college football. He’s a really good player. He plays really, really hard as well as being an elite talent. So that’s something that we’re focused on since day one, the special-teams emphasis. When we start our team meetings, there’s a graphic we put up: ‘Special teams is the first priority.’ We reinforce that every single day and take pride in that performance and that phase of the game.”
On bye week:
“It’s two-fold. I think our strength staff and our training staff to an amazing job with a care and development of our players. We’re able to get some guys back a little healthier because it is a long season, and some of the guys were able to get a lot of rehab done. We lost a young man for the season, Chico Bennett, a true freshman defensive end who has played in every game for us. He’s played at a high level. He is going to be a big-time player for a long time at this institution. [I’m] excited about him. But a lot of work on the developmental squad. So we would basically take the first half of practice and do an [Above The Line] practice, and then the second half of practice, they would go lift and then we would basically get three extra spring practices in for the developmental guys. All the true freshmen stayed out there regardless of whether they’re playing a lot or not, so it was a lot of really good-on-good work just to get better.”
On his takeaways from last Saturday’s Pitt-Miami game:
“[Pitt] play[s] very hard. They’re very physical. Obviously, it is an elite defense. They’ve got elite pass rushers and are really stout against the run. Offensively, physical again. And the quarterback has a great arm, he’s throwing the ball a ton and throws it really well. And then he has a really nice feel and can escape the pocket when he needs to. So, obviously, we’ve got to be sound in coverage, and then whenever we do have them covered and he starts scrambling, we have to have our rules in place in the rush and in the coverage. But [Pitt has] a very multiple offense as well.”
On whether he sets goals for the team and, if so, what the goals are for the remainder of the season:
“We have an ultimate vision for what we want to look like when we play. We have standards around here. We talk about being a culture built on effort, so we incentivize that. We get empirical data to support what great effort looks like, and constantly reinforce that all the time with our guys. Competition is king. We compete at everything that we do.
“One of my favorite moments in the Miami game – it was tied up in the fourth quarter, we had a good drive going on offense, Jamious Griffin runs for a touchdown and it gets called back because they said he stepped out of bounds. One or two plays later, we fumble the football. Late in the game, its tied, in a hostile environment, and the mindset we’ve been trying to build since we got here, is a ‘put the ball down’ mindset. And if you go back and watch the TV copy, I’ll never forget this image, every single defensive player ran out to the field talking about ‘put the ball down.’ The situation does not matter, we’re going to put the ball down and have a correct response, and that is cultural thing that we’ve been trying to engrain over and over and over, and you see it in those moments. And the best thing that happened was that very next play, after we said to put the ball down, they get an explosive play on us. And we still went out there and had the mental resolve and toughness to go out there make a stop and deny points. And I think those kind of significant moments are special as you’re building program, so that you can lean back and embrace. When we went to overtime, the energy, the enthusiasm, the mentality was real, and they were ready to just put the ball down and play both sides of the ball. Whatever happens, whatever the situation, we’re building the ability to have the right response in those kind of situations. So, goals are whatever, but what you do every single day, who you are in your development, is what matters. If you have the process and it’s the right thing, you can accomplish anything. And that’s what we’re setting out to do every single day to be an elite program in college football. And we’re well on our way to doing that.”
On the importance of coaches’ and staff’s wives:
“I don’t know if I’ve got enough time to answer that, seriously. They are some amazing women that we’re blessed to be around every single day. The resolve that you see every single day in the coaches and how they go about their daily work here in public, our wives and families have that same resolve and care. My wife is an amazing person. I don’t talk about it enough, but she has a fashion design degree from Parsons School of Design in New York City, which is the No. 1 fashion design school in the world. So, we talk about giving of yourself in the benefit of others, she gave up her dreams at an early age at an early part of our marriage so that I could chase this dream to be a college football coach and one day be the head coach at Georgia Tech. Those kind of sacrifices should be valued. And what she does every single day for me, for our daughter, for our family, organizing everything that goes into a college football weekend. She’s absolutely amazing. She tells me the truth, she keeps me in check. There’s a lot of things that I’ll go home and talk with her about, whatever the case may be, and she gives me wise counsel and helps me through some things. Her role in all of this is amazing, and I think every single one of our coaches would say the same thing about their wives and their families. But I don’t have enough time right now to talk about all of the virtues of our coaches’ wives.”
On how James Graham’s development:
“It’s still a work in progress in every phase of it, from reading the field, going through his progressions, making the decision to hit the check-down or to scramble. All of those things he’s still developing at a high level. But the biggest thing I’ve been proud of is how he’s becoming a great teammate, really communicating well with his offensive linemen and being a servant leader. Our quarterbacks always eat last when we go to team meals. And we expect a lot from them, but we also expect them to be great teammates, and I think James is really developing that part of his game. So the guys will rally around him and he does a really nice job. He’s got a live arm, he’s a tremendous athlete, a great human being, but all of those things he’s developing at a high level. I’m really proud of him.”
VIDEO: Defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker (pre-Pitt)
VIDEO: Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude (pre-Pitt)