“How can we find a way to get over that hump?” Collins said. “Obviously, recruiting, development, but just having the situational awareness to make sure we find a way to get that edge.”
Another thrust will take place in the weight room and training table. Collins said that he told players last week leading to the season-ending loss to Georgia that he wanted them to gain 10 pounds of weight per player, on average.
“Because we were outweighed, outmatched at a lot of positions,” Collins said. “And we’re going to increase the size with recruiting. We’re going to bring in a really good class. I’m excited about it.”
According to data collected by SportSource Analystics, the average weight of Tech’s 2018 team, which finished 7-6 in former coach Paul Johnson’s final season, was 115th in FBS. Collins praised the work of strength-and-conditioning coach Lewis Caralla in developing the team’s strength and said that members of the developmental squad (scout team) lifted four times a week during the season.
“They look significantly different than when they got here,” Collins said. “So we have to, per man, gain 10 pounds, and that’s on the aggregate. So some guys will gain a little bit more, some guys won’t. But we have to do that.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the offensive line will be on the “little bit more” side. The starting five against Georgia averaged 302 pounds. Four of the five arrived at Tech during Johnson’s tenure, which often successfully used lighter offensive linemen in his option scheme. Collins’ spread offense, however, has larger size standards.
The differences weren’t only on offense. Tech redshirt freshman defensive end Jordan Domineck, who was recruited to Tech as a linebacker, is listed at 225 pounds. The average weight of the six defensive ends who were named this week to the All-ACC team was 257 pounds, although one was an identical 225 pounds.
Bolstering both the offensive and defensive lines is another. The Jackets were thin on both sides and smaller than Collins would have liked. Tech has six offensive linemen (following Trent Howard of Birmingham, Ala., decommitting on Thursday) and four defensive linemen committed to the 2020 signing class. The early signing period begins Dec. 18.
The defensive line also will add defensive end Antonneous Clayton, who sat out this year as a transfer from Florida. It would not be a surprise if the Jackets look again to the transfer market.
Collins said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the talent he inherited at wide receiver and in the secondary, and the depth at running back, with All-ACC running back Jordan Mason ahead of Jerry Howard and Jamious Griffin, speaks for itself. Linebacker needs depth, also, but the lines are a focus.
“The big thing is offensive and defensive lines on the whole,” Collins said. “I can’t talk specifically about recruiting, but we’re excited about the pieces that are in place, and (we’ll) try to close on a couple of more. But those two positions, because the production across everywhere else is pretty good, we’re going to add some elite players to it. But just the offensive and defensive lines, especially in this signing class, are going to be vital for us.”