In eight months, Georgia Tech offensive line coach Brent Key has his players doing things they didn’t think was possible, left tackle Zach Quinney said.
Quinney said that Key told the linemen after his hire in January that they would be reading the safeties, corner and linebackers before the snap to diagnose what the defense was doing.
“We were like, what?” Quinney said. “Like, there’s no way we’ll be able to do that. But now after watching film all summer and going through all spring and all the way through camp, it’s like now it’s second nature to us. It’s way easier to read the defense now than it’s ever been. I’m doing things now that last year I didn’t even know were possible. That’s all coach Key.”
Key was hired by coach Geoff Collins from Alabama to return to his alma mater to coach the line. He brought with him a reputation to develop and coach linemen, one that Quinney would evidently confirm.
“Coach Key can read a defense better than anybody I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Guard Jared Southers offered a similar assessment. In saying that the line had become more adept at reading pre-snap tendencies from the defense, Southers said of Key, “he’s like that times 1,000. He sees stuff before any of us can even think of it.”
It’s in line with an observation made by defensive tackle Chris Martin earlier in the preseason: “They pick up on things quick. They can beat us with their minds without even straight physical stuff. So when they put it all together, they’re really dangerous.”
Sophomore lineman Mikey Minihan, Quinney said, is “night and day better” compared to last season. Minihan is in position to play meaningful snaps after playing in two games last year.
“I feel like that’s why we are where we are now, because we’ve looked at ourselves and looked at how we can get each little thing better, and you look at now, we’re 100 times better than we were just in the spring,” Quinney said. “So I feel like that’s really the reason that our confidence is a little bit higher.”
Tech’s line will get a stern challenge Thursday night from Clemson’s defensive front, which isn’t the all-world group that the Tigers had last season, but figures to cause problems.
“We try to look at more of what we’re doing, not where we are or who we’re playing,” Quinney said.