Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins talks about the team's continued improvement and intent on positive motivation. (Video courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics)

5 things learned at Geoff Collins’ news conference ahead of Miami

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins met with media Tuesday for his weekly news conference. Among the highlights:

1. Collins acknowledged three players for their performance in the loss at Duke — running back Jordan Mason (offense), defensive tackle Djimon Brooks (defense) and running back Jerry Howard (special teams).

Mason, who collected his first 100-yard rushing game of his career, is “developing into a really, really good player,” Collins said. Brooks, a walk-on, had a career-high five tackles while playing with a cast on his hand.

“Those kinds of things are rewarded around here,” Collins said.

Howard blocked the first punt of his career in the game. Collins praised his unselfishness and “the way he attacks everything.”

He also recognized three players from the developmental team, running back Christian Malloy (offense), defensive back Wesley Walker (defense) and linebacker Quez Jackson (special teams).

2. Temple moved into the USA Today coaches poll this week (at No. 25) by defeating No. 23 Memphis 30-28 on Saturday. The Owls are 5-1, including their 24-2 win over Tech in Philadelphia on Sept. 28.

It’s the first time that the Owls have been ranked since they were in the College Football Playoff rankings in December 2016.

Collins said that when he took over at Temple going into the 2017 season the Owls had the youngest roster in FBS. After two years of coaching, developing and recruiting, he said, Temple had become what he considered “an 11-win roster” for 2019.

“So, obviously, very proud of them,” he said. 

3. Collins gave a lengthy explanation of how he and his staff keep track of the team’s academic progress. Every Thursday, he said, he, along with chief of staff Vince Sinagra, offensive analyst Joe Battaglia and operations director Scott Wallace, meets with the academic support staff and go every player on the roster.

“Everything they have coming up academically, every paper that they’ve done, every exam that they’ve done, what they have coming up the next week in detail,” he said.

He then has a staff meeting in which all players who are in need of academic help are discussed.

“Because I don’t want any secrets in our organization,” he said. “I want every single person that is on our staff, whether it be recruiting, whether it be equipment, whether it be in the training room, I want them to be all in on the development of our players. I want them to be all in on the academic success for our players.”

Collins’ Thursday meeting with academic staff, he took time to note, follows a weekly tradition — a feast of chicken tenders for the coaching staff. “Probably 24 difference sauces, (and) fried-chicken tenders, grilled-chicken tenders, keto-chicken tenders.”

Collins brought the tradition from UCF, where it was a staple for former Tech coach George O’Leary. It’s catered by Huey Magoo’s, which is based in Florida but has a franchise in Loganville.

“It is a beautiful event that we do,” Collins said.

4. Freshman quarterback Jordan Yates went into the Duke game for a two-point conversion try in the fourth quarter after starter James Graham was shaken up on the previous play (a touchdown run by wide receiver Tobias Oliver) because “he was the next man up,” Collins said. It was Yates’ first game action of his career.

While quarterback Lucas Johnson was dressed, he was not available to play. Johnson, who suffered an upper-body injury in the loss to The Citadel, is “getting close to being back,” Collins said.

It was one of four games that Yates can play and still preserve his redshirt. The play did not go particularly well. The snap was to his right because he was supposed to roll right, but he did not handle the ball and it fell to the ground, throwing off the timing of the play.

“So he’ll learn from that, and he’ll get better,” Collins said.

Collins shared a story about Yates, who a few weeks ago requested to have a visor inserted into his helmet. Collins told him that he could have one once he played in a game and soon forgot about his deal.

At practice on Monday, as the team was stretching and Collins was weaving among the players, “Jordan looks at me, and he’s like, ‘Hey, Coach, can I get that visor now please?’” Collins said. “And I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

5. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who was at Mississippi State when Collins was defensive coordinator, is someone whom Collins holds up as a model of leadership. He told players about him again Tuesday at the start of practice.

“There was no job that was too small for Dak Prescott, whatever it was,” Collins said. “He was the first one in the building, he was the last one to leave. He would take responsibility for everything, even if it had nothing to do with him or being his fault. He would jump on and jump in front of it and say, ‘Coach, that’s on me. I’ll get it fixed.’ ”

He brought up Prescott to answer a question about Graham’s development, saying that he “is starting to develop that process, so that he can be a big-time player for us.”

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