As Georgia Tech’s spring-practice scrimmage Saturday morning drew to an end, coach Geoff Collins liked what he saw.
Even at the end of the practice, held on a damp and cool morning, players on the sidelines were at full throat chanting for their teammates on the field. The energy that Collins has sought to inject into his team was on full display.
And also, the team was scrimmaging in an overtime setting, giving the Yellow Jackets the opportunity to develop awareness for how to respond should they actually go past regulation next season.
“A couple guys, we had to educate them – here’s what you do when you win the toss, here’s what you do when you lose the loss,” Collins said after the practice, the team’s 12th of 15.
Practicing overtime or two-minute drills hardly distinguishes Collins – a coach would be negligent if he didn’t do it – but he has been keenly focused in his first spring leading the Jackets on developing what he calls “situational awareness.” In a team meeting that was opened to media earlier this month, Collins told the team that it would be practicing two-minute offense and defense that morning, and then showed players a graphic highlighting how effective Temple had been in both two-minute offense and two-minute defense in his two seasons coaching the Owls.
“We will practice that all the time,” he said in the meeting.
On Wednesday, Collins said, he led a staff meeting to go over the various situations that he wanted to be sure to hit before spring practice closes with the spring game April 26.
“Last plays, our Hail Mary, all of the things that are end-of-game scenarios – we’ve got to make sure that they’ve heard and are introduced, so we’re doing that at every phase,” Collins said. “All of the special-teams phases, every little thing that we need to at least introduce. We’ve got a big checklist, so next Tuesday and Thursday will be a lot of situational things, make sure we’re educating the guys on how to do those things.”
Collins has liked the energy that the team has displayed, citing the yelling that accompanied the final overtime drill.
“There’s a lot of juice, a lot of positivity and they carried it all the way through, even to the very end,” he said.
He was anticipating the spring game, to begin at 7:29 p.m., a start time meant to point to the season opener on Aug. 29, at Clemson.
Collins said he wants to break the Tech spring-game attendance record, which apparently was set in 2012 at 18,125. (That was the year that the athletic department switched the spring game to a Friday night from Saturday afternoon.)
To help with attendance, Collins made sure to note that the first 2,000 students will receive a Tech Adidas shirt (which Collins was modeling) and the first 5,000 fans will receive a Tech football wristband (he was wearing that, too) and poster.
Asked about the importance of attendance at the exhibition, Collins broke into a smile.
“It’s a huge deal for us,” Collins said. “These young men have worked so hard, and I just think that this place is special. I don’t think there’s a better venue than Bobby Dodd (Stadium) at night, and just excited to be back in this atmosphere, and hopefully it’s a record-breaking night.”
The potential benefit for recruiting is most certainly not lost on Collins, who had secured seven commitments for the 2020 class as of Saturday night and likely will host a number of prospects at the game Friday night. After touting the experience of a night game at Grant Field, Collins presumably would like to offer recruits a glimpse of it.