What Geoff Collins said following the loss to No. 1 Clemson

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins' comments following the Yellow Jackets' 73-7 loss to No. 1 Clemson Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium:

Opening comments:

“First of all, hats off to Clemson. They’re the No. 1 team in the country for a reason. Really good players, really good coaches so just a lot of respect for that program, that team. The margin of error when you’re playing a team of that caliber is razor thin, and I don’t think we close the margin as much as I had hoped. We’d shown really strong glimpses of what we can be eight nights ago against Louisville Friday night with a big conference win.

"We prepared really, really well. This week, going into this game, with the margin of error, when we have turnovers at inopportune times, and they’re able to capitalize on it, you cannot do that against great football teams. So, just, hats off to them. And obviously, we’ve got to get a lot better. Got to make corrections from this game, put them to bed because in seven days, we’ve got another ACC match on the road that we’ve got to get ready for.”

On the defensive game plan:

“(We) loaded up to stop the run, and I thought we did that at times, but in doing that, there were some times that we were overcommitting, and (Clemson) had some really explosive plays. And the quarterback is really good. So we’ve got some things to clean up, and we will.”

On responding to the win over Louisville:

“We’ve got to learn how to handle success. We’re well versed, and I’ve said it a bunch, we are well versed in handling setbacks. We are well versed in learning from mistakes and building on them. But we’ve got to get better at handling success, handling accolades, handling the pats on the back that you get when you win by three scores in an ACC game eight days ago. You’ve got to wipe those away. Those are things with a young football team that we’ve got to learn and we’ve got to learn very quickly. The vision and the goal and the growth and development of this program is happening. Obviously, I don’t think it was represented the way it needed to be today.”

On third-down defense:

“It was the same thing the previous week. I thought we had some things (i.e., effective plans). A) Got to give credit to them, first and foremost. (The problem was) just some matchup things, but (the problem was also in) just making sure that we understand the situation, understand what we need to be doing within the scheme. And I do think they had some good things, obviously, offensively as well. But when we get in third down, we have to get off the field, and on the other side of the ball on third downs, we weren’t good on that end, as well.”

On Clemson playing aggressively in the fourth quarter:

“I can’t worry about that. I’ve heard coaches in the past complain about the other side doing whatever. I’m not going to be one of those guys. It is our job, regardless of who’s in the game, regardless of the situation, to get stops. So we’re not going to worry about that, we’re not going to complain about that. Whatever another coaching staff needs to do, that’s on them. We’ve got to worry about us. That’s all I’m going to concern myself with is those kind of things. But it’s a good point.”

On how well Clemson played:

"They’re 11 years into their development. We’re still in the infancy stages, but I think we have what we need in that locker room to be highly competitive. That is the expectation, that is the goal. Obviously, we’re playing a lot of young guys. There’s going to be growing pains when you do that. But they’ve still got to go out there and execute.

"Excited about the direction, excited about the guys and the building blocks that we do have. But the expectation is to go out there and play at a very high level regardless of who we’re playing, regardless of where they’re ranked, regardless of their records or what they’ve done in the league for the last five years, whatever that is. We have to play at a high level every single week. That is the expectation, regardless if we’re playing with a lot of old guys or playing with a lot of young guys.

“But there’s some really good players in our locker room that are continuing to get better. And I’m excited about the future, even though this is a tough day. This is a tough experience as a coach. It’s a tough experience for a lot of our players. The excitement and the building blocks are there for us to come back tomorrow and have a good practice and learn from our mistakes. And you see what it’s supposed to look like when you play the No. 1 team in the country, and we’re committed to getting to that level sooner rather than later.”

On facing Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence:

He really is a great player, and, obviously, he’s got some tremendous weapons to distribute the ball to. Knew where to go with the ball knew where to read the progressions, all of those kind of things. But there were slight communication pieces, whether it be on top or whatever the case may be, that we’ve all got to be on the same page.

“And then there were some balls that he threw in there, there were some windows and some running lanes that were really thin, that they were making plays through, and we’ve just got to continue to close that gap, decrease the margin for error in every single phase, whether that be through execution, whether that be through fundamentals and techniques, length, speed whatever the case may be. As we evolve and develop, those margins have to decrease.”