Geoff Collins looks for red-zone progress against Louisville

Credit: Georgia Tech Athletics

Georgia Tech football coach Geoff Collins addresses game week against Louisville and the team’s progress since his arrival in Atlanta.

Credit: Georgia Tech Athletics

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins held his weekly news conference Monday ahead of the Yellow Jackets’ home game Friday night against Louisville. He gave updates on how his team spent the open date last week and highlighted events going on around Friday’s game.

1. Collins said that coaches have been emphasizing ball security and creating turnovers with the team being minus-2 in per-game turnover margin. He said he tried to drive home the point with players by sharing with them an NFL statistic that, over the past 10 years, teams with a plus-2 turnover margin in a game have won almost 90% of their games, and teams at plus-3 win 95% of the time.

ExploreGeorgia Tech trying to clean up unforced errors

Other points of emphasis are not giving up big plays on defense and finishing in the red zone. On defense, Tech has given up 16 plays of 20 yards or more. On offense, the Jackets have scored on 53.9% of their red-zone trips, third to last in FBS.

“We’ve just got to learn to finish drives not turn the ball over, not hurt ourselves, all of those things, and do that at a high level,” Collins said. “And conversely, when we get put in a situation defensively that we do give up explosives or we do end up in the red zone, we’ve got to find a way to get stops, and we will continue to work on that.”

Tech is tied for 20th nationally in defensive red-zone conversion rate at 75%. Opponents have scored on nine of 12 red-zone opportunities. Eight of the scores have been touchdowns.

2. Among players whom Collins recognized for their performance in Tech’s 37-20 loss to Syracuse was running back Dontae Smith, who had career highs in carries (eight) and rushing yards (75) and also played gunner on the punt team.

“Everybody sees the splash plays and the splash runs that Dontae has had for us — playing at a really high level,” Collins said. “But the thing that really makes me proud is what he’s done in his special-teams role. (It’s) really, really special.”

Others included the offensive line, running back Jahmyr Gibbs, defensive linemen Djimon Brooks and Jordan Domineck and wide receiver Josh Blancato. Scout-team members whom Collins called attention to were tight end Chris Miller, offensive lineman Paula Vaipulu and defensive lineman Josh Tukes.

Credit: Georgia Tech Athletics

Georgia Tech football coach Geoff Collins addresses the team's recent unforced errors.

Credit: Georgia Tech Athletics

3. Collins acknowledged there’s more work to do with the field-goal kicking unit. Thus far, Tech is 1-for-5 on field-goal attempts, with all four misses having been blocked, as well as one extra point.

“The protection piece, we’ve still got to continue to work on that,” he said. “Getting height on our kicks and all those kind of things.”

4. At Friday’s game against Louisville at Bobby Dodd Stadium, the team with celebrate Cape Day with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, the second year in a row that the Jackets have honored CHOA’s “superhero” patients.

Last season, the team made a visit to Egleston Hospital on the day before its game against North Carolina to hand out superhero capes, an event that obviously can’t be repeated this year.

Tech fans have been encouraged to wear official “Cape Day ATL” capes or face coverings, available at the stadium and the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Tech Square. They also can be purchased at choa.org/capeday, although purchases must be picked up in-person. All proceeds benefit CHOA.

Fans also can take part in a “Money Down” fundraiser, making a pledge for every third- and fourth-down stop that the Tech defense makes and every third- and fourth-down conversion made by the offense. Collins has pledged $10 for each. As of Tuesday morning, $8,204 had been pledged.

5. Tech great Morgan Burnett will be honored at the game for his induction into the Tech sports Hall of Fame. Burnett, an All-American safety in 2008, has played 10 NFL seasons, winning a Super Bowl in 2011 with the Green Bay Packers. Burnett played the 2019 season with the Cleveland Browns and is not on a roster this season.

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