Tech, Geoff Collins continue competition to find answer at placekicker

Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins reacts during the second half of the Notre Dame game. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins reacts during the second half of the Notre Dame game. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Under the supervision of coach Geoff Collins, competition continues at placekicker to find a solution at a position that has experienced considerable difficulty. Collins said Tuesday that “we’ve got a really good competition going” as Georgia Tech emerges from its second open date and prepares for its home game Saturday night against Pittsburgh.

Tech kicker Jude Kelley is 1-for-5 and Gavin Stewart is 0-for-1 for a combined 1-for-6, which is the lowest accuracy rate in FBS (16.7%) among teams that have played more than one game. Four of the five misses by the two freshmen have been blocked. (The one make was substantial, a game-winner by Kelley from 32 yards against Florida State.) Collins said that the competition is week to week.

“The last, probably, five games, it’s even become a game-time decision for those roles and for those duties,” Collins said.

The Jackets had placekicking issues last year, as well. Brenton King was 3-for-7 and Wesley Wells was 0-for-1. Tech’s 3-for-8 total (37.5%) was last in FBS a year after Wells was 9-for-9 on field goals (and 39-for-39 on point-after tries).

At Temple during Collins' two-year tenure there (2017-18), Owls kickers were 31-for-46 (67.4%).

Collins was asked if the difficulties had caused him to consider reevaluating methods of coaching or recruiting kickers.

“Every single decision that we make, every single position that we have, we always try to make sure we’re elevating every player in our program, with coaching, with developing, making sure all the things that they need (are) provided,” he said. “We do those things, and will continue to get better at every single position, including (kicker).”

Collins also made note of the performance of kickoff specialist Austin Kent, a grad transfer from UCLA. Kent has nine touchbacks in 23 kickoffs, a marked improvement on the three touchbacks in 37 kickoffs last season.

“The amount of touchbacks and the amount of placement of the ball and letting our guys cover at a high level has been impressive,” Collins said. “So really been proud of Austin in the kickoff game.”

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