Geoff Collins: ‘That one hurt’

Following Georgia Tech’s 22-21 loss to Northern Illinois Saturday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium, coach Geoff Collins spoke with media. Some of his comments:

Opening statement:

“I apologize for taking a little longer than normal (to arrive to the news conference), but that one hurt. There’s a lot of guys that played really, really hard in that locker room and I owe it to them to make sure I’m around them, make sure (they know) how much we appreciate them, love them and appreciate how hard they fought and how hard they played. Hats off to Northern Illinois. Played a really good football game and beat us.

“Also sad to see the kid Devin Lafayette get hurt. So obviously, thoughts and prayers are with him. The story of the game and I just told the team this – first half, we crossed the 50, I think almost every time. First quarter, got to come away with points, got to finish. And then defensively, I think (team spokesman Mike Flynn) said there was four offensive series where they were able to get a first down (out of 11 non-kneeldown possessions). But three of those ended up with scores.

“And I thought the last drive, have to find a way to get a stop in a two-minute situation. Obviously, a lot of you guys are out at practice throughout the spring, throughout preseason, see how much we work on situational football. Still have to improve in that area. But I appreciate how hard our kids fought, how hard our kids played. And got to regroup, and big game next Saturday.”

Credit: ACC

Georgia Tech allowed a last-minute scoring drive by Northern Illinois to record their third-straight season opening loss.

On improving:

“We’ve got another game next week, so we’re at a position, how we’ve built this program to position ourselves to win football games, and we’ve just got to continue to get better and improve. There’s still a lot of young players that played, but proud of the way they fought and competed, but can’t have lapses in situational football, coaches included, myself included, myself most of all. And continue to go to work.”

On Jeff Sims and Jordan Yates:

“He’s with the doctors right now. Jeff is a big-time player in this program. And then Jordan Yates, I thought he came in and competed really, really hard, provided a spark. Knows where to go with the football and he was scrambling, he was fighting for every single yard, and just proud of him and the way he handled that situation with Jeff going down early in the second quarter and to come in and provide a spark for us.”

On the timeout prior to the fourth-and-goal pass from Yates to Kyric McGowan that was ruled an incompletion, and whether he used fourth-down charts to determine the optimal decision:

“We do (use charts). It was saying that we could go for it. Sent (kicker Brent Cimaglia) in early and then I thought we had the (pass) play wired and I think we missed it by that much (Collins held up his fingers). It was a good play, good throw. We just were that far from having a touchdown.”

On miscommunication in the secondary on Northern Illinois’ game-winning touchdown drive:

“A little miscommunication. Just got to keep our poise, keep our composure in those kind of critical situations. but I thought the defense played really, really well other than, really, three drives. Two of the drives were against a unique package that we finally settled down and got it under control. But it was a lot of unique motions, a lot of unique shifts, a lot of unique plays that we hadn’t really seen before.

“But once we had time to get to the sideline, make those adjustments, we had those things covered. But I thought the secondary for the most part did a really nice job throughout the game in run support and pass defense, all of those things. Just, we have to finish the game. And I know our guys will come back and go to work and work to do that.

On whether Cimaglia’s two field-goal misses impacted his decision to go for it on fourth-and-goal rather than kick a field goal:

“There’s a lot of factors that come into every decision that we make. But I’ve seen Brent, Gavin Stewart, Jude Kelley make tremendous strides this entire year. I felt really comfortable (with them kicking), I still feel really comfortable.”

On his confidence in his ability to take Tech where he wants it to go:

“100 percent. It’s not if, it’s when. And we’ve just got to continue to build and continue to grow. The strides that we’ve made, you can see them. The improvements on defense, the improvements on offense. We’ve just got to score when we cross the 50. And we can’t have lapses in crucial times in the game.

“But I still feel very confident in the direction of this program, the guys in that locker room, the coaches that are coaching these guys. So it is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. And we’re just going to keep fighting, keep building, keep working and it’s going to click and it’s going to take over and when it does, it’s going to be really good.”