New Faces in the 404 | Georgia Tech Spring Game Recap
Photo by Danny Karnik
Written by Brendan Moore (Brendan Moore (@bmoorecfb) / Twitter)
There is no doubt that Geoff Collins had a tough challenge ahead of him when he took over the Georgia Tech job ahead of the 2019 season. He is now entering year 4 & he has made some significant changes this offseason. Fans & college football geeks, not unlike myself, finally got a chance to see what the new squad looked like at their spring game on Thursday evening. Here is what I noticed from the white & gold game.
One of the offseason moves that Geoff Collins made was the hiring of Chip Long as the new offensive coordinator. Long likes to use running backs & tight ends in his offensive scheme. Tech suffered a lot of losses at running back after Jahmyr Gibbs transferred & Jordan Mason declared for the NFL. This has allowed Dontae Smith & Hassan Hall, Louisville transfer, to step up & get first team reps this spring. They will likely be a solid 1-2 punch for Tech this fall. At tight end, Syracuse transfer Luke Benson stood out the most. He should get significant playing time as the tight end group looks to step into a more significant role this season. Nate McCollum only had 13 receptions in 2021 at wideout, but coaches have been raving about him this spring. He proved it in the spring scrimmage, including a nice fingertip grab for a touchdown. Wide receiver James Blackstrain worked really well with Zach Gibson at quarterback. Jamal Haynes, DJ Moore & Malik Rutherford are three other guys who performed well on Thursday.
New QB coach Chris Weinke, 2000 Heisman Trophy winner, worked with Jeff Sims & Zach Gibson throughout the day. Sims was last years’ starter. He has a nice touch downfield and can run, but his decision making needs to be better. Sims also missed a few wide-open receivers during the scrimmage. Consistency will be key for Sims. Akron transfer Zach Gibson should push Sims for the starting job come August. Gibson is a solid pocket passer & he can definitely be a reliable backup. Three-star recruit Zach Pyron is another name to watch. He didn’t practice though. Tech has a number of options at quarterback.
Expect to see a lot more RPO’s in this Chip Long offense. Tech fans should see a more explosive offense this season.
During the scrimmage, the defense did well at forcing field goals. Speaking of field goals Jude Kelley & Gavin Stewart went 5 for 5 of them during the scrimmage. Linebackers Ayinde Eley & Charlie Thomas were super impressive all night. Eley & Thomas have a great combination speed & power. Both guys will be animals all over the field this fall. Georgia Tech was terrible at defending the pass last season. On top of that, they lost their leader in the secondary Tariq Carpenter. Coach Collins did hire former Tech player Travares Tillman as the new Defensive Backs coach. He will take over an improved unit. Kenyatta Watson II was the most impressive of the bunch in the scrimmage. He had an interception on the final play of the scrimmage.
Georgia Tech has 9 bowl teams on their schedule this season. An improvement from last year’s 3-9 record is within the realm of expectation, especially in Geoff Collins’ 4th season.