Geoff Collins taking larger role in coaching Georgia Tech defense

Head coach Geoff Collins talks with players during the first day of spring practice for Georgia Tech football at Alexander Rose Bowl Field in Atlanta, GA., on Thursday, February 24, 2022. (Photo Jenn Finch)

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Head coach Geoff Collins talks with players during the first day of spring practice for Georgia Tech football at Alexander Rose Bowl Field in Atlanta, GA., on Thursday, February 24, 2022. (Photo Jenn Finch)

After Georgia Tech struggled to its third consecutive three-win season, coach Geoff Collins made it clear that he intended to devote more of his time to working with the defensive coaches and players this offseason and going forward.

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As defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker described the arrangement Tuesday, Collins has made “a concerted effort to make sure that he is available more than he’s ever been for the defensive (meeting) room.”

On Friday, after the team’s sixth workout of spring practice, defensive-line coach Larry Knight and defensive tackle T.K. Chimedza attested that the planned change has come to pass.

Said Chimedza, “Every unit meeting, he’s there.”

The change makes sense on a few fronts, one being that the defense really could use the help. The Yellow Jackets defense was expected to be a strength last season but was ineffective, and then lost eight of the team’s top 11 tacklers to graduation and the transfer portal. Further, throughout his career, Collins has coached the defense. Before his two seasons as head coach at Temple, Collins was defensive coordinator at Florida, where the Gators were in the top 10 in total defense in 2015 and 2016.

On Friday, Knight said that Collins has been active in giving input to assistant coaches on schematic and technical matters. Another value he has provided has been his assessment of the players on the Yellow Jackets defense.

“When he recognizes a player that may have a certain skillset that matches up with a guy that had a skill set (that he coached) in the past and how he utilized that skill set, that expertise has been really good,” Knight said.

“So we know, ‘All right, when we want to run this type of package and run these type of plays, this guy fits based on what I had when I was here running this and that.’ It’s been a good deal for us having him in there a lot more than what he’s been in the past.”

Collins has said that he previously gave more time to the offense and to matters like the branding of the team, as that was where he felt his presence was needed. After the team finished 3-9 last season and lost its last two games by a combined 100-0, Collins determined that he had to devote more of himself to the actual coaching of the team. As he put it in December on the first day of the signing period, “less worrying about culture, more worried about ball.”

This spring, Chimedza said he has seen more of Collins, and him more inclined to leave the offense in the hands of new offensive coordinator Chip Long.

“We’re actually starting to see the defensive mind of coach Collins,” Chimedza said. “Because we’ve all known that he’s a defensive coach. He’s (previously) been more with the offensive side of the ball. Now this year, he’s basically hands on with defense. He’s giving coach Long the reins of the offense, so it’s definitely noticeable, him being in the room.”