“I’m never comfortable. The only comfort is becoming uncomfortable,” he said. “We talk to our team about that. We talk to our team about being comfortable being uncomfortable. You have to do uncomfortable things to callous your mind, to build mental toughness. To find a comfort level in anything is not what this program’s about. And that starts with me as the head coach and the comfort level of the team. There’s no comfort.
“We want to constantly be uncomfortable. We want to constantly be expanding our boundaries of what comfort is. Step out of that bubble and expand it, make it bigger. That’s where excellence comes from. That’s where champions are made. It’s not about doing the easy thing. It’s about doing what’s hard.”
These past three weeks have certainly not been easy for the Jackets. The team has practiced in the afternoons, mainly on Rose Bowl Field, dealing with heat indexes often reaching triple digits.
Saturday was a bit more temperate than that, and the Jackets wrapped up their 17th preseason workout a bit earlier than expected. Key said his players will be back at the facility Sunday for meetings and then have workouts and meetings Monday, but no practices until Tuesday. Tech’s first day of classes is Monday.
Tech’s coaching staff, meanwhile, will be buried in film and notes study trying to formulate the first depth chart of the season.
“Everyone in the program needs to know where they stand,” Key said. “That’s the No. 1 thing with being a football coach, whether it be the head coach or any assistant coach. If you’re playing, you better know why you’re playing. If you’re not playing, you better know why you’re not playing. There’s no gray area in this program. That’s my job is to eliminate gray.
“Now when it comes down to who is the starter, who is not the starter, that will be determined once we continue to go through our evaluation just like we have like since Jan. 6 of what’s best for the football team. When we find out what’s best for this football team, we will make a decision and then you guys will know after that.”
One key ongoing competition will determine the starting quarterback for the season opener. Zach Pyron, Haynes King and Zach Gibson are competing for the job.
Key said he will begin to do some early preparation on Louisville, Tech’s first foe, Tuesday afternoon and evening before introducing the Cardinals to Tech players Wednesday. Louisville is coming off an 8-5 season and win over Cincinnati in the Fenway Bowl, but also has a first-year coach in Jeff Brohm.
Until then, the former Tech offensive lineman Key said he is ready to start building the next phase of his team.
“A lot of things got accomplished these past three weeks. Went by really fast for myself and I know the coaches. I don’t know if that’s quite echoed the same for the players,” Key said. “We got a lot accomplished. And a lot we were seeking out to accomplish and find out about the football team I thought we got done.”