What Geoff Collins said after Georgia Tech’s loss to Virginia

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins at a post-game news conference at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va.,  following his team's loss to Virginia November 9, 2019. (AJC photo by Ken Sugiura)

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins at a post-game news conference at Scott Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., following his team's loss to Virginia November 9, 2019. (AJC photo by Ken Sugiura)

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins’ comments following his team’s 33-28 loss at Virginia Saturday:

Opening statement:

“I’ve been coaching a long time. As a coach, at times you can distance yourself from the emotion and be very pragmatic in what’s going on, but this one, the way those guys invested, believe in what we’re doing, believe in each other, compete and fight and do everything that we ask, and to come out and play at a really high level and then fall short is painful.

I hurt for them, I hurt for the coaching staff because we’ve got some special young men in that locker room that, really, regardless of circumstances, regardless of who’s out, regardless of who’s injured, it doesn’t matter. They just come out and play and compete and fight over and over and over and over and over.

And I do not take that for granted and I hope nobody in the Georgia Tech fan base takes that for granted, because it ain’t easy to do what they did. They fight and they battle, regardless of the circumstance. It’s an example for how to lead your life and how to handle adversity.

Twenty-four hours from now, we’ll put the ball down again and get ready for another good ACC opponent at home in Bobby Dodd, and I trust that our fan base, just like they did the last time we were at home, will come out and support these guys, because they’re really, really close. We talked about last week being three inches away, and I think it was probably that as well today. We’re really, really, really close, and that doesn’t end up on the record book. But I know what they’re doing and how they’re doing it and they’re doing it the right way, and now we’ve just go to make sure we finish and finish strong in games and the last three regular-season games of the season.”

On James Graham’s improvement from the Pitt game:

“We have a process. He’s learning our process. He had a setback in the first half a week ago. Didn’t play his best, would like to have some throws back, but the culture that we are building, we are putting in place prepares them to handle adversities, it prepares them to handle setbacks. And we coach them through it and we’re there for them. They know how much we care about them they know how much we love them.

We teach them to attack success, to go out there and make plays, and if you don’t, if you have a bad day, you know what? We still love you and we still support you and we know how good you are. You had a bad half. We know you’re a really good player. Here’s some things you can do better so you can play better and play at a high level, and James did that.

He trusts the coaching, believes in what we’re doing and came out, had a really good week of practice, he had a really good week in preparation. The things that he might have left on the table last week in preparation, he didn’t do that. He’s learning how to be a big-time college football player. We are teaching him how to do that at a high level. And then he came back here, responded, players rallied around him. He played really well. Really proud of him.”

On injuries to the defensive side:

“Chris Martin didn’t play, Antwan Owens is out for the season. Bruce Jordan-Swilling is out for the season. A ‘next man up’ mentality. Whoever’s out, we’re going to rally, we’re going to put the ball down and we’re going to play and we’re going to support each other and battle and fight. And the way we practice – you (media) guys, I’m glad you guys come out there to witness it every day – the way we practice, the reps that we get, across the board, prepare us for times like this. They fought, they battled, they stayed together, all those things against a really good football team.”

On the squib kick at the end of the first half:

“There was one play today if we could have back, I think as an entire organization, I thought we relaxed on the squib kick right before half. Learning experience. You’re building a culture.

You cannot relax at any point in the game, especially against a team that’s as explosive as they are, have the returners that they have and then having a quarterback like they do. You cannot relax for a single second. I thought we relaxed.

We talked about it at halftime, and we’ve got to learn culturally and as a program that, the margin of error, the bigger the games get, the smaller the margin of error is. And one relaxation, one play that we’re not just all in, it can hurt you.

And I thought that one play was really the difference in the game. We lost by one score. We were up going into halftime, we relaxed on the squib and it hurt us. And that’s on me as the head coach to make sure that doesn’t happen. But we will continue to educate our entire program on how to do things at a high level all the time.”

On the play of the offensive line:

“(William Lay) is in there playing center for us, which is essentially the quarterback of the offensive line. He makes everything go with the mike (linebacker) ID’s and the run game set and the protections, getting us going as an offense. They’re getting better every single week and it’s two back to back weeks where it’s an elite defensive line, and they just went out there and battled and we had some really good plays and some really good success throughout the game against a really good defense.”

On Juanyeh Thomas fair catching a punt at the 2-yard line:

“That was completely on me. That was not on Juanyeh. That was all my fault. I told him that, I told the offense that, that it was completely on me. And Pressley Harvin and our punt team came out and flipped the field. And that’s awesome. “