Georgia Tech tries to stay focused after back-to-back postponements

Geoff Collins' Georgia Tech team has not played since October 31.  (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Geoff Collins' Georgia Tech team has not played since October 31. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Instead of preparing for Miami, Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins has redirected some of his time this week into recruiting and preparing for a kickball tournament.

And rather than a regular season that ends Dec. 5, as planned, Collins and the Yellow Jackets are now scheduled to finish up Dec. 19 thanks to having two consecutive games postponed for COVID-related reasons. Collins spoke with media Tuesday via videoconference a day after the second of those postponements, the delay of Tech’s game at Miami from Saturday to Dec. 19.

Tuesday, with their most recent game having taken place on Halloween and the next one not for another week and a half, the Jackets conducted a light practice without full pads.

“There’s no book to go back to and say, ‘How do you handle coming off a bye week and coming off of two games getting canceled?’ ” Collins said. “'What is that practice schedule supposed to look like?' ”

In a season where the course has sometimes changed on a daily basis, Tech has now gained ample experience in negotiating sudden shifts. Less than a week ago, Collins was readying his team to host Pittsburgh for its eighth game of the season with a trip to Miami scheduled for this Saturday.

With both games now postponed and Tech’s next game not until Nov. 28, at home against Duke, Collins and his staff are trying to keep their players healthy, safe and focused on the season remaining.

This week, starting with Tuesday’s practice, Collins planned to conduct practices without full pads, going instead with helmets and “spider” pads (foam shoulder pads), with a mind towards keeping players fresh and healthy as the season extends.

“It’s basically, we’re having another training camp within the season,” Collins said. “So we’re just trying to manage it the best way we can, get some really good speed work, stay in good condition and stay sharp and crisp and get the guys moving around at a high level.”

As the Jackets will now go three consecutive Saturdays without a game (an open date preceded the two postponements), keeping them engaged is also part of the challenge. Last week, Collins had players' parents send in photos of their sons from their youth-football days, which were given to them on Friday and then displayed on the television screens in the locker room on Tuesday in hopes of rekindling memories of their days playing purely for the joy and love of the game.

Collins said he also planned for the team to play kickball and dodgeball and have a home-run derby this week as a diversion.

“Even though we’re doing all the safety things that we need to do, those little bonding experiences – we need to make sure we’re doing those, as well,” he said.

Collins said he spent time on Monday watching video of about 25 prospects in the 2021 and 2022 classes, and even younger than that. Perhaps not by coincidence, on the same day, Harrison High freshman quarterback Jaylen Bester tweeted out a scholarship offer from Tech.

“That’s always paramount to what we do,” Collins said.

Collins also said that Tech’s inability to play against Pitt was due to players being unavailable because of injury, quarantining from contact tracing (both from exposure to teammates and others outside of the team) and “a small group of positives at a certain position.”

However, the Jackets are in a better position from a health standpoint and would have been able to play Miami this Saturday, he said.

“You guys know we never talk about injuries, but we feel like we’re in a really good position with guys coming back and the guys that have come back,” Collins said.

Now they just need a game to play. While four more games are scheduled, the Jackets know as well as anyone that that’s hardly a guarantee.

“Whatever happens, it’s going to happen, one way or the other, and we’re going to have the positive framework to use it to our advantage,” Collins said.

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