Notes from Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins’ weekly news conference Tuesday:
1. Collins said that situational football and attention to detail were much better than in the Clemson game. Tech was penalized twice against South Florida. With four penalties in two games, the Jackets are tied for third nationally in penalties per game.
2. There were 27 players who got snaps on both offense and defense, especially important on a day with temperatures in the 90’s.
“It goes back to the (Above The Line) philosophy that we have, a bunch of guys playing and a bunch of guys earning their reps,” Collins said.
3. Collins highlighted the work of dietitian Leah Thomas and assistant Chandler Knox for their work in putting together a plan to hydrate the team. The process began Thursday morning and was executed “really, really well,” Collins said. No players were lost to cramps or other heat-related issues, Collins said.
4. Five walk-ons played against South Florida – defensive tackle Djimon Brooks, center William Lay (who subbed for Kenny Cooper and played the final three quarters), slot receiver Josh Blancato, freshman tight end Dylan Leonard and defensive back Richie Stanzione, who played on the kickoff, kickoff return and punt-return units and was the “quarterback” on two of the units and “did a really nice job.”
6. Collins also named the various players of the game.
7. In response to a question about Tech’s five takeaways thus far (tied for 14th nationally), Collins said that “they come in waves.” He commended defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker and his staff for emphasizing the importance of takeaways and pointed out that Tech could have had two more against South Florida (one on a fumbled punt and the other on a sack/forced fumble of quarterback Blake Barnett by linebacker Charlie Thomas.
“The ones I’m most proud of are the caused fumbles, the effort plays to get to the ball, to recover the ball,” he said. “But I’m really proud of the way the defense is doing that, flying around.”
8. He praised again the goal-line stand against South Florida and also the effort plays by safety Tariq Carpenter and defensive end Jaquan Henderson to tackle tight end Mitchell Wilcox just shy of the goal line after he ran free through the secondary on a busted coverage.
Three plays later, defensive tackle T.K. Chimedza forced and recovered a fumble to end the Bulls’ threat to take the lead.
“But I think it’s a mindset that every single day, we ingrain in our program that, guys buy into it, they take pride in it, they stay together,” Collins said. “Nobody panics. They just come together and just find a way to get another stop.”
9. Collins was asked about how Sunday practice is organized. (Previously, the team was off Sunday and began practice Monday.) Collins said that the Sunday practice is typically not long and fairly simple.
“It’s base runs vs. base coverage, base concepts on offense vs. (the opponent’s) base looks,” he said.
There is also 7-on-7 and then a “fastball” period of 11-on-11 at hurry-up pace.
“Then the coaches have a full Monday to get ready and fully dive into the opponent,” Collins said. “It’s been a really good schedule for us the last two years, and the process – we talk about how we do our game plan, how we do our weekly prep – the guys are getting a flow with it and are understanding how we do things, but it’s been really good for us.”
10. Collins on The Citadel: “This is a really good football team coming in here. They have an elite special-teams unit.”
The Citadel blocked two punts in a 35-28 loss to Elon on Saturday and also pulled off a blooped onside kick. The Bulldogs are 0-2, having also lost to Towson.
“They’re really well-coached, they do a really nice job and they have really good players, so we understand that there’s a good challenge and we’re working every single day to be ready for that challenge on Saturday,” Collins said.
11. Collins said that linebacker Charlie Thomas has natural instincts and really good speed and has developed into a sound tackler. Thomas also has long arms and legs, physical traits that are highly important to Collins. He gave as an example the tackle that Thomas made on the goal line in the fourth quarter on quarterback Jordan McCloud.
“We misfitted on the perimeter, and (the ball) got bounced out and (McCloud) had a chance (to score), but Charlie accelerated to the ball with great effort,” Collins said. “He wrapped and squeezed, just like coach Thacker stresses every day in practice, got him down on the 1-yard line with great technique.”