Collins, the current head coach for the Yellow Jackets, spent the last two seasons at Temple before accepting the job in Atlanta prior to the Owls bowl game a year ago.
Josh Brundage of From the Rumble Seat, SB Nation’s home for Georgia Tech, answered a few questions about the Owls matchup against the Yellow Jackets.
Joe Serpico: Temple fans will recognize much of the coaching staff on the opposing sidelines this week. What were your initial thoughts on the hiring of Geoff Collins, and has it changed after the first month of the season?
Josh Brundage: My initial thought was, “Thank God we didn’t hire Ken Whisenhunt,” because that was almost a thing. In all, I’m generally happy with the Collins hire. I can’t tell you why we didn’t go after Neal Brown or Scott Satterfield given the opportunity, but I do think Collins is a good hire following 11 years of Paul Johnson. The program was largely stagnant in funds, recruiting, on-field success, etc… so I think Collins’ energy and over-the-top rebrand have been exactly what Tech needed. However, having an internet meme for a head coach who is all sunshine and rainbows and doesn’t speak with any candor is going to get old if we keep losing.
JS: The Owls were able to shut down Maryland’s ground game, but then struggled with Buffalo running the football as they threw just 15 passes. Do you expect Dave Patenaude to try a similar approach as the Bulls? Despite the move away from the option, one would assume Georgia Tech’s rushing attack is still their biggest strength on offense.
JB: Rushing and option plays are still our biggest strong suit, and you would think you would see more of that, since it’s usually successful on the field, but OC Patenaude and Collins seem so committed to “rebranding” that they put our QBs and O-Line in passing situations that they can’t handle and we go backwards.
I was going to pull my hair out during the Citadel game because he would put Oliver in at QB and we would keep the ball on the ground with some slick running plays and move the ball effortlessly. However, he would sub in Johnson at QB mid-drive for some reason and call like 3 straight passing plays which would go backwards and kill the drive. It honestly makes no sense to me so far… like, successful plays be damned, let’s sub in a different QB and call a 5 step drop with a weak O-Line now that we moved the ball.
JS: Collins has made a name for himself for fielding terrific defenses. Have you noticed a difference on that side of the ball and who will the Owls have to focus on defensively?
JB: The biggest difference has been our secondary playing press coverage, which has been a welcome change from the 7-10 yard pad we were accustomed to seeing for the last decade. Our secondary is easily the most talented group on defense, so it has been nice to see the staff be more aggressive with them and force the QBs to make good throws instead of just giving them the short pass the length of the field.
Tech is fairly thin in the trenches though, so sometimes that puts our secondary in a bad position. I do think the defense is on the right track, and I’m excited to see how they progress this season.
JS: One of my favorite things about Collins was his unique approach to recruiting, and I think it should be noted that he’s landed in another major city to pluck players from. Have you seen any results on the recruiting trail yet?
JB: So far we’ve been in the mix for guys we usually wouldn’t be, but as far as rankings go, we’re not much different than where Paul Johnson usually was. Johnson was also hamstrung by the previous AD in funds for basically everything as a passive way to force him out, so with Collins’ recruiting prowess and the uptick in funding, I’m excited to see what the ceiling is for Tech on the recruiting trail. With our academic restrictions, Tech will never be like a consistently top-10 team in recruiting, but if we could hover somewhere around 20, that would be a big upgrade.
JS: I’m curious what are your thoughts on the AAC and their Power Six movement? Does a Temple win over GT help the cause?
JB: There’s a real argument to be made that the AAC is just as good as P5 conferences, especially with the garbage state of the ACC and PAC-12 lately. I don’t think a win over this dumpster fire of a GT team will help the cause though, unfortunately for you guys… I mean, we lost to The Citadel last week. Sadly, a win over Georgia Tech on Saturday won’t do much for your resume.