Wrapping up Geoff Collins’ news conference

Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins discusses the team's preparations following win at Miami and his appreciation of the Tech fan base ahead of homecoming. (Video courtesy of Georgia Tech Athletics)

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins held his weekly news conference Tuesday at Bobby Dodd Stadium to preview Tech’s game Saturday against Pitt.

Notes from the session.

1. Collins recognized several players for their performances leading to and in the team's 28-21 win over Miami on Oct. 19. The offensive line (left tackle Zach Quinney, left guard Jack DeFoor, center William Lay, right guard Connor Hansen and right tackle Jared Southers), defensive lineman Antwan Owens and linebacker Charlie Thomas (special teams) were honored by Collins for their play.

From the developmental team — tight end Ben Wilhelm, defensive end Antonneous Clayton and running back Spence Massey (special teams). Wilhelm helped give the defense a picture of Miami tight end Brevin Jordan. Clayton, who is sitting out this season after transferring from Florida, is “playing his role at a high level” on the developmental team. Massey did “a masterful job all week,” Collins said.

For their energy and support on the sideline — cornerback Devin Smith, linebacker Demetrius Knight, defensive tackle Brentavious Glanton and running back Nathan Cottrell. Collins called Knight “an absolute pleasure to coach” and said that Glanton has become “a consummate teammate in this program.”

2. Collins also noted the birth of Jack Thacker, the third child of defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker and his wife, Liza, who was born Thursday.

3. Collins called Pitt wide receiver Maurice Ffrench "a dynamic player in all phases, and I think he's one of the top receivers in college football." Ffrench has 64 receptions, second most in FBS, and is averaging 8.4 yards per catch. He also returns punts.

4. Collins' assessment of Pitt: "They're very physical. Obviously, it is an elite defense. They've got elite pass rushers and are stout against the run."

Pitt leads FBS in sacks with 38 and has two defensive linemen, Jaylen Twyman and Patrick Jones, who both have seven sacks, tied for second in the ACC.

Quarterback Kenny Pickett has “a great arm,” Collins said, and has a good feel for the pocket with the ability to escape if necessary. Pickett’s 289 pass attempts and 172 completions lead the ACC, although his 1,748 passing yards rank sixth in the conference. He has an 8/6 touchdown/interception ratio.

5. In response to a question about team goals for the season, Collins illustrated his answer with a moment from the Miami game that he said he'll never forget. After running back Jordan Mason fumbled in the fourth quarter with the score tied at 21-21, leading to a "sudden change" situation for the defense, the Tech defense rushed onto the field, demonstrating the "put the ball down" mindset that Collins and his staff have sought to ingrain.

Miami ran for 42 yards on the first play of the drive and then followed that with a 17-yard pass play to set up first-and-10 from the Tech 18. A pass-interference call gave Miami first-and-goal from the 8. From there, Tech stopped the Hurricanes on three successive plays, leading to a missed field-goal attempt.

“So goals are, whatever, but what you do every single day, who you are in your development, is what matters,” Collins said. “If you have the process, and it’s the right thing, you can accomplish anything. And that’s what we’re setting out to do every single day to be an elite program in college football. And we’re well on our way to doing that.”

6. After referencing his wife and the wives of other coaches on the staff in his opening remarks, Collins was asked about the role that wives play within a team. Collins said that "the resolve that you see every single day in the coaches and how they go about their daily work here in public, our wives and families have that same resolve and care."

Collins’ wife, Jennifer, is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design in New York, which he touted as the “No. 1 fashion-design school in the world.” (He’s in the ballpark. A recent university ranking website rated Parsons No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 3 in the world for art and design. Alumni include noted designers Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs and painter Edward Hopper.)

“So, we talk about giving of yourself in the benefit of others, she gave up her dreams at an early age at an early part of our marriage so that I could chase this dream to be a college football coach and one day be the head coach at Georgia Tech,” Collins said. “Those kind of sacrifices should be valued. And what she does every single day for me, for our daughter, for our family, organizing everything that goes into a college football weekend – she’s absolutely amazing.”

7. Collins said that "every week, we're trying to get better" with the punt unit. Tech gave up a 52-yard punt return in the first quarter against Miami and another for 16. On the first, the ball was re-kicked after offsetting penalties, so both gunners were replaced. On the second kick, Nathan Cottrell missed a tackle and "we had a gunner that hadn't covered a kick in a game" (it was Jaquan Henderson) who took a poor angle and wasn't able to contain returner K.J. Osborn.

“He did a nice job, so just got to keep working on it,” Collins said.

8. Collins said that quarterback James Graham is a "work in progress" in regard to his ability to read defenses and making decisions on what to do with the ball. He said he is also developing as a leader and teammate.

Collins said that quarterbacks always eat last at team meals, a signifier of their roles as servant leaders.

“And we expect a lot from them, but we also expect them to be great teammates, and I think James is really developing that part of his game,” Collins said.

9. Collins said that wives and children of staff will celebrate Halloween with the team after Wednesday's practice. Collins also distributed candy to media members. The loot included a "king-size" Kit Kat bar and similarly sized Snickers, Hershey and Twix bars.

In Other News