New Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins appreciates how loud Death Valley will be on Thursday night. So much so, three times this preseason he took his team over to the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta to try and simulate the atmosphere.
In each occasion, Collins had the people at Mercedes Benz run things through the big ring at the top of the stadium and pumped in noise in hopes to distract his players.
“There is going to be a lot of extra things happening Thursday night,” he said. “Our guys have to stay in the moment, keep communicating and keep talking to their coaches.”
Clemson is expecting around 80,000 for the 8 p.m., kickoff. There will be a lot going on as the top-ranked Tigers’ honor last year’s national championship team with the unveiling of the signage on the South side of Memorial Stadium.
Because of that, Collins knows the Clemson fans will be a little extra jacked up when the Tigers come running down the hill.
Collins describes Thursday’s game as being a surreal moment for him. This is his third stint with the Yellow Jackets. He was a graduate assistant under George O’Leary from 1999-2001 and then came back and was the tight ends coach on Chan Gailey’s staff in 2006.
A metro Atlanta native, Collins always imagined being the head coach at Georgia Tech one day.
“There has been some first as the Georgia Tech head football coach, which I wanted to be for a long time,” he said. “The thing that is going to transcend all of that is us being in the locker room together. Us existing the tunnel together and going to play somebody else.
“We have been doing all of these things internally, but now I am going to be with my guys and going to play somebody else. That is the part that I am most excited about.”
Collins has a great deal of respect for the Clemson program, head coach Dabo Swinney, the coaches and its players, but he feels what ever happens at Death Valley on Thursday will be about his team and what they do in the game.
He says he is not worrying himself about Trevor Lawrence and his many skill players or who the Tigers have to replace on the defensive line.
“We don’t worry about any of that… I don’t know other than what they do schematically and what they schematically on offense and defense,” Collins said. “Here are their blitz patterns. Here is what they do offensively, as far as formations and concepts. That is what we talk about.
“We do not really talk about our opponent much. We have a great deal of respect (for Clemson). We understand what a great job they have done with players, coaches and recruiting and all of those things, but we have to worry about us.”
Clemson has won four straight games overall in the series and six of the last seven. The Yellow Jackets have not won at Death Valley since Swinney’s first game as the interim head coach in 2008.
The Tigers are a 36-point favorite over Georgia Tech in the season-opener.
“This has been a complete transformation of a football program unlike a lot that has happened in a long time,” Collins said. “We just focus every day on being a culture that is built on effort and our guys playing ridiculously hard. Competition is king, whether we are playing pool in the players’ lounge or we are on national TV going against a great team. We are going to compete at every single thing that we do, and we are going to be a family.”
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