Notes and comments from Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins’ news conference on Tuesday in advance of the Yellow Jackets’ game Saturday against North Carolina:
1. The developmental players of the week were quarterback Ryan Lantz (offense), linebacker Taylor McCawley (defense) and running back Jamious Griffin (special teams).
McCawley, a freshman walk-on, has “impressed everybody on the coaching staff with his attitude, his work ethic, those things,” Collins said. Griffin was “flying around” and “going really, really hard” this past week on the developmental team (i.e, scout team) for special teams
“He’s doing it the right way,” Collins said of Griffin. “Because in our culture, special teams is the first priority. He took pride in his special-teams performance and it paid off. He got carries, he got touches.”
Griffin got his most significant playing time Saturday after starter Jordan Mason was taken out of the game with an undisclosed injury, getting six carries for 20 yards.
Linebacker Olin Broadway, wide receiver/cornerback Jair Hawkins-Anderson and defensive lineman Kelton Dawson were noted for their provisions of energy and “juice” on the sideline. Dawson “played really good on defense but then during the breaks, he was down there positively affecting the guys, keeping the mood going, making sure everybody knows we have each other’s back, so that was really cool to see,” Collins said.
For their on-field contributions, Collins recognized offensive tackle Zach Quinney (offense), linebacker David Curry (defense) and defensive back Jaytlin Askew (special teams). Askew downed Pressley Harvin’s third-quarter punt on the Temple 1-yard line, leading to the safety for the Jackets’ only points of the game.
Curry tied for the team high in tackles with seven. Quinney protected quarterback Tobias Oliver and James Graham’s blind sides at left tackle and contributed to Tech’s 131 rushing yards. Askew has earned playing time despite having missed spring practice and much of the preseason with shoulder surgery.
“I’ve got to imagine (Quinney) is going to be one of the best linemen in the ACC for years to come,” Collins said.
2. On Tobias Oliver’s role in kick return: “He is one of the most elite athletes I’ve ever been blessed to ever be around or to coach. He’s a relentless competitor. All of those things are special, so we’ll continue to work him in in every phase of our program. However we can get him the ball, we’re going to continue to do that.”
On the progress of the team: “I know exactly what I want to accomplish. I’m committed to it, and I said it (Monday) night on the radio show: I’m either going to find a way or I’m going to make one, and I think I’m surrounded by a coaching staff, I’m surrounded by a group of players in that locker room that’s on the same mission that I am.”
3. Collins said that linebackers Bruce Jordan-Swilling and Charlie Thomas both had “about 42 plays” in the Temple game.
“Zero animosity, zero worries about stats. Charlie knows that, if Bruce is in, Bruce is going to play really hard and then Charlie’s going to come in. Nobody’s going to have to save themselves having to worry about playing 80 plays. You get to play really hard.”
Thomas had seven tackles (tied with Curry and safety Christian Campbell for most on the team) including the safety on a well-timed run blitz. Jordan-Swilling had a season-high six tackles.
4. Comments about the Temple game. He said he tried to avoid talking or thinking about going back to Philadelphia, “but I woke up Sunday morning glad that was over. I had not known – because I try to compartmentalize everything — I didn’t know going into that how emotional it was going to be for me and a lot of members of our coaching staff. Really good football team that we played.”
While turning the ball over three times, the team “battled and competed.” Collins also made a point to note that Temple has had eight players drafted in the past three seasons with four additional players having made teams as undrafted free agents.
“In that same timespan, I think we’ve had a kicker (drafted),” Collins said, referring to Harrison Butker. “So we need to make sure we’re developing, recruiting at a high level at this great institution, so we’re giving our guys chances to play at the highest level, to play on the next level.”
5. After Oliver’s second fumble was run back for a touchdown that gave the Owls a 21-0 lead, Collins had words with the line judge, which he suggested had to do with the play two plays prior to the fumble. On that play, quarterback James Graham was grabbed by the facemask on the play where he injured his hand and briefly left the game.
A facemask call would have given Tech a first-and-10 on the Temple 22 instead of a first-and-10 at the 37.
“Obviously, I can’t talk about officiating, but I think in every game, there’s calls that can have an impact in the game, so I think I’ll leave it at that,” Collins said.
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