5 things Geoff Collins had to say in his media availability

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins happily talked about two young defensive ends, didn’t share much about his quarterbacks and had no thoughts about the potential for ACC games to reach a wider audience because of the fact that only three power conferences are planning to play this year.

In his weekly videoconference Wednesday, Collins said of the last matter that he was so consumed with his team and staff that “I don’t have time to think about those things.”

Of the more substantive answers that he provided, the following are five of the more newsworthy items.

1. Ten players on his mind

In his opening remarks, Collins ladled out praise to 10 players for their work in the preseason – cornerbacks Jaytlin Askew, Tobias Oliver and Tre Swilling, safeties Tariq Carpenter and Juanyeh Thomas, wide receivers Ahmarean Brown and Jalen Camp, linebackers David Curry and Jerry Howard and defensive tackle Djimon Brooks.

Among the plaudits handed out: Oliver, who switched to cornerback in the spring, has a mindset and movement patterns that are reminiscent of many of the defensive backs that Collins has coached who went on to be first- and second-round picks. Howard has made “tremendous leaps” and improves daily since moving to linebacker from running back in the spring. Askew is a consummate special-teams player in his selflessness and team-first approach. Curry’s game “has become so much more refined” working with defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Andrew Thacker.

Collins said he thought Camp has “won every 50-50 ball this entire preseason.” Brooks “comes to work every single day.”

Perhaps not by coincidence, all 10 players whom Collins named wear single-digit jerseys, Collins’ emblem for players who are great leaders and teammates. The only single-digit player whom he left out was quarterback James Graham. Collins has repeatedly made clear he would rather put attention on positions other than quarterback.

2. From the scrimmage

Tech scrimmaged Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium, its first of the preseason. Collins said both offense and defense played base schemes.

“We just wanted to see who could line up, communicate, execute at a high level, run the ball, block, tackle, fly to the football, have great energy, have great juice,” Collins said.

Collins said that Howard “made a ton of plays Saturday” at linebacker.

“I thought the offensive line looked good,” he said. “I don’t want to tell too many details about how we’re moving people around and doing those kind of things, but the first two drives, (we) definitely were able to sustain drives, move the ball down the field, were able to run, were able to protect at a high level.”

Collins said that he tried to simulate game conditions, such as playing music between plays, piping in crowd noise and running the video board.

The team will scrimmage again Friday night in the stadium, which will be an opportunity to test the new LED lighting system. Collins said he hoped the installation of a new speaker system will be completed by the scrimmage, too.

3. Turning to the Seminoles

Collins said that starting Saturday after the Friday scrimmage, the team will begin preparing for the Sept. 12 season opener at Florida State. Collins said it’s his standard process to focus on team development in the preseason up until two weeks before the opener, then start dialing in on the first opponent.

Florida State was not on Tech’s original schedule, but was added in the version changed because of the coronavirus. Over the summer, as word of the possibility of a new schedule spread, Collins’ staff began breaking down additional opponents, including Florida State, to cover their bases.

The Seminoles are coached by Mike Norvell, in his first season with FSU after a successful tenure at Memphis. In his two years at Temple, Collins didn’t coach against Memphis in the American Athletic Conference, “but got to see them a lot on crossover tape,” he said. “Schematically, physicality, culturally impressed with what they do as an organization.”

4. Quarterback competition

Collins declined to shed much light on the competition for the No. 1 quarterback job. Incumbent starter James Graham, redshirt freshman Jordan Yates and incoming freshmen Tucker Gleason and Jeff Sims are competing.

“It’s been a really good competition,” Collins said. “They’re friends in the (meeting) room, and when they come out here, they compete really, really hard.”

Collins said the competition has ebbed and flowed throughout the preseason.

“We don’t worry about who the starter is, we just worry about who’s going to contribute, how we can package things for their success and our team’s success,” Collins said.

5. Defensive ends on rise

Collins touted the development of two sophomore defensive ends, Curtis Ryans and Jordan Domineck. Ryans, who was listed at 240 pounds last season, is now at 258 and is “moving much better than he did when we first got here,” Collins said. Collins said his progress was a tribute to the work he did with the strength-and-conditioning staff and defensive ends coach Marco Coleman.

“His development is through the roof,” Collins said of Ryans, who played in seven games last season, starting two late in the season.

Domineck’s listed weight last season was 225 pounds; Collins said he actually was between 218 and 220 pounds and is up to 248 “and even faster, even more powerful.” Collins said that Domineck, who started the final three games of the season, has become more mature, detail-oriented and played with better effort.

Defensive end is a key spot for the Jackets, who last season tied for 111th in FBS in sacks per game (1.42).