ATLANTA SPORTS MEDIA PASS – It was a week ago today that Georgia Tech opened its season with a 52-14 loss to the defending champion, Clemson Tigers. With it the Geoff Collins era officially began. On Saturday, that era will see its first game on The Flats, as the Yellow Jackets hosting the South Florida Bulls play their home opener of the season.
Last week’s game provided some glimpses of the new look offense and defense, but it doesn’t necessarily mean things will be the same this week. In their weekly pregame press conference, head coach Collins and his coordinators discussed what Tech will need to do.
Keys to Success For Tech: Special Teams and Doing Your Job
Georgia Tech is a young team. There are only 11 seniors on the roster. In last week’s season opener, a good portion of the players were freshmen in their first year of action. The team will have to be prepared to face a fast South Florida team. Last year, the Bulls returned back-to-back kickoff returns for touchdowns. It played a crucial part in their 49-38 victory over the Yellow Jackets.
In his press conference, Collins said of his team, “We’ve made a huge emphasis on special teams ever since we got here.” For this game, kickoff coverage will be crucial and the Yellow Jackets cannot allow USF’s speed to get the best of them.
Equally important will be Tech’s ability to play clean and not make mistakes. One positive aspect from last week’s game is penalties. Tech only had two in the entire game. However, Collins pointed out that small mistakes were costly against Clemson. Plays where one or two players tried to overcompensate and do more than they needed to. Each man will have to focus on his job and trust that his teammate will do the same.
As part of the team’s endless effort to get better, it has been focused on improving its fundamentals, communication, and technique. The team will continue to play to its strengths.
What to Expect on Defense and Offense
As mentioned before, USF is a fast team. One mistake and what should be a short gain can turn into a 90-yard run. (Just watch footage of last season’s match-up against USF). Tech defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker emphasized that stopping the run will be important.
Regardless of the final score, Tech’s defense didn’t play too badly considering how talented a team Clemson is. Despite its mistakes, the defense played respectfully. If they can stop the run and pressure the Bulls’ talented quarterback, they can give the offense the opportunities it needs.
In last week’s game, Tobias Oliver saw a majority of snaps at quarterback. Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude implied this was to catch Clemson off guard. As he explained, Clemson likely prepared for different scenarios. So there was naturally an emphasis on running the ball, which plays to Oliver’s strengths.
As a team, playing to its strengths is what Tech did last week. What will they do this week? A lot of that depends on the improvements the team has made over the course of a week. Coach Collins said the team is working on improving its pass protection. “We’re going to play to our strengths as we continue to develop,” said Collins. Last week, that meant running the ball. As the team improves, and the whole offensive picture comes together, will there be more passing in store? We’ll know soon enough.
Saturday’s game with feature the Yellow Jackets annual Whiteout game. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. from Bobby Dodd Stadium. The game will be televised by the ACC Network.