After leading the team for two months last season as interim coach, Georgia Tech coach Brent Key has spring practice to put his imprint on the Yellow Jackets. Key’s vision for spring practice, which begins in mid-March, has less to do with changes in tactics than something more fundamental.

“Toughness,” Key said while appearing on ACC Network. “That’s it. I’ve told both sides of the ball, ‘I don’t care if we have four calls on defense and four runs on offense and four route concepts.’ This is about learning how to get your hands inside and block on the perimeter, block interior, get off a block, execute your assignment. Understand, really, not just what to do but how to do it and why you’re doing it of everything and really become good football players.”

It called to mind Key raising practice intensity when he became the interim coach four games into last season, instituting more “good on good” practice periods (where starters lined up against starters as opposed to the scout team). In placing a priority on simulating game conditions in practice in speed and level of contact, players were more prepared to play in games and commit fewer mistakes. Key’s emphasis on the basics of the game is set against the fact that he has a new offensive coordinator in Buster Faulkner, who will teach his unit a new scheme.

“This is base, Day 1 fundamentals that you can go to any junior high, high school across America and watch,” Key continued. “Because that’s what the name of the game is. The schemes and X’s and O’s and all those things, the time for that comes in the summer and when the season gets here.”

Key’s emphasis on limiting mistakes could be seen in the Jackets’ per-game penalty average. Tech averaged 8.9 flags per game in 2020 and 6.1 in 2021 per game with former coach Geoff Collins, and then 6.5 in the first four games of the 2022 season before his dismissal. In Key’s eight games as interim, the average was 5.4.

He went on to say that spring practice will be the time for the team to determine its identity. Key said he already had an idea, returning again to tenets fundamental play.

“Quarterbacks delivering the ball on time and taking good drops,” he said. “Ball security. Developing a physical toughness in the way that we can stop the run and run the ball and cover kicks. That’s what I want to see coming out of spring.”

Tech can practice 15 times during the spring. The spring game will be held April 15.

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