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Everything From Brent Key After Day One of Spring Practice

Georgia Tech began spring practice today and here is everything from the Yellow Jackets' head coach

There was football in the air today at Georgia Tech. 

The Yellow Jackets opened up spring practice today and they are coming off of a successful 7-6 season that ended in a bowl game victory. There are hopes for a return trip to a bowl game and maybe more this year on The Flats. 

After practice, Brent Key spoke with the media and here is everything he had to say:

Opening Statement

"It's always great to get back out there, get out of the office. And things have changed a little bit than they were several years ago, because you have that extended time with them in the month of February when we get off the road. So there's a little bit of a-- there's a-- they know what to do, you know, the players, they have a little bit more experience as far as with installation with those things. But, you know, the whole thing is really how to practice. And, you know, we got 25 newcomers out there, 25 new guys, 15 of them freshmen, 10 transfers. Today was the first day going through practice, the way we practice, going through the structure of it, you know, really the expectations of it. And the whole part of spring. spring ball is we want the players to be able to feel the reward of improvemet. We want them to be able to go out there improve every day, get better every day, but also feel the reward for it, not feel anxious and get up tight and stressed out about having to go to practice. You know, practices are hard and you know they're meant to be hard and that's that's how you build a build a football team is going through, you know, challenging situations and tough practices. I mean, we're not in pads yet, so they'll continue to get harder and harder. But we want the guys to also fill the reward for going out and in practice and seeing the improvement that they make each day.

Really, the thing that we're preaching to them right now is that having the right mindset, come out to practice of the attitude and the toughness that we practice with, that we play with, the frame of mind that we come out to the field with, that's more important than anything else right now. And getting the guys to understand how to run to the football. how to pursue on defense. From the start of practice, it should look the same at the end of practice. How to run to the ball on offense, how to secure a catch, make a tight turn, get north and south. Basic fundamentals at the lines of scrimmage. And really, it all comes back to the attitude that they have coming out, the toughness they play with, and being able to challenge these guys with installation. But at the same time, they're the most important. important things right now are the basic fundamentals of the game and the mindset that they come out with.

So exciting to be back out there, exciting to see a lot of the new faces, excited to see a lot of the new coaches out there. First time on the field in a practice. So all in all, it was a good start for us with a lot of new things going on. But at the same time, we got a long way to go. You know, the expectation that we have as coaches and that I have as the head coach, we're not close to being there yet. We've got 15 days to get better this spring, leading into the summer, so we've got to take advantage of each one of them."

1. On the new coaches that were hired this offseason...

"Yeah, so when I made the decision to make some adjustments and changes on that side of the football, talked to a lot of people, talked to a lot of people in reference of guys, talked to a lot of people as far as the interviews go. wanted to make sure that we got this right. You know I think the offensive staff really set a bar high as far as and look I'm not talking about the outcome on the field on game day that's inevitably what a good what the outcome becomes when you put a good staff together but just the way that you and then the way that room really fits together. So that was really the standard that we're looking at, know buster goes about the,  you know managing the people in the room, putting things together, the organization, the detail that's coached, the progression, the teaching progression, all of those things.

And then the way that room really fits together. So that was really the standard that we're looking at. And you go through the process of talking to people for different spots. And really lucky to be able to hire Tyler as the defense coordinator. You know, he's wise a lot, you know, wise past his years. You forget a lot of times what his age actually is, especially when you see him, the energy he coaches with, but the detail he coaches with, the toughness that he coaches with. He's been around really good. good coaches in his career. And the outstanding thing about him when you look at what he's been able to do and what he did at the last place he was at was he had a group of guys that really played, they played cohesive, they played together. Yeah, they were good statistically, but that's because of the way that you could tell that they were coached and that the expectation and the demands to the expectation they had on that side of the football, so exciting. So excited to get him. And Jess (Simpson) is a guy that I've known a long time. He's as respected as anyone that is out there as a defensive line coach. But what people probably don't know about him is just the relationships that he's able to have with those guys, the players in the room. And when you have those relationships, you're able to push them and able to do a lot of things with them and really push them out of their comfort zones. and I thought that's what we needed but he's also a very detailed coach he's very technique driven to be strong technicians he's coached at every level and had success at every level he's coached so you know excited with him.

Then you know, Kyle Pope was somebody that he was a graduate assistant in Tuscaloosa with us and just the the energy that he had at a young age then then. Energy as a coach on the field, as a recruiter, the relationships he had with those guys over there at that time. And again, the way he goes about every day, the recruiting part of it is huge as we all know. He had proven then to be a very successful recruiter, then goes on. and you know works at a couple different places and then and proved that you know what he was doing as a GA You know six seven years ago You know was able to develop that and become an even better coach and really excited you know having him and You know working with the ends and the outside backers if we you know go into a 3-4 type mold. But you know him and Jess working together a really good pairing, really good pairing, um, feed off each other and, uh, really expect big things out of those two guys and, and, and, and, you know, how our guys are coached and how they, uh, and how they play. 

Um, you know, as far as on the defensive backfield, you know, Corey (Peoples), who was right down the road, again, another one who was one of the first people I talked to at that position. Um, and, you know,, the relationships that he had with people in the area, you know, when you talk to people, whether it be local high school coaches, former players that he's coached, everything was-- it was super positive when it comes to Corey and what he was able to do with a lot of the guys that he brought into the last place he was at the relationships he had with high school coaches in the area, which I thought was a very important thing for us to address with that hire. And then Ricky (Brunfield), who's been here for a year already, coaching special teams, add in the corners with him. Again, it allows him to be able to affect in a different way another position group and be able to use his recruiting skills even more than we were able to last year with that.

And then the last one's Trent (McKnight), Trent who we hired, really. two weeks ago, I believe, you know, be able to see him out there for the first time, really, with those guys. And I'll be excited to watch him as well. But, you know, again, it goes back to, you know, the people you talk to in the process of hiring guys. You don't just talk to that person, you know, which kind of narrow it down and you get to the, you know, two or three people you're looking at, you know, and then you start to talk to, you know, people they've worked with, people they've worked for, you know, high schools, you know, people they've worked with, you know, high schools. where they've recruited in the past and just really to vet them out and I'm excited about the guys we're able to bring on. Excited about those guys out there on the field today and excited what they'll do with their position groups."

2. On if there is a difference between this spring and last spring with the momentum that was created last season...

"Yeah, that ended at the end of the bowl game. I mean, now it's over. I mean, there's this is a totally new team. Success is not continuous. Momentum is not continuous. If our guys didn't learn anything. I mean, look at the first game of the year last year. I mean, we had momentum in that game and it stopped. That's what happens. Momentum stops. Momentum comes in waves. You know, a continuation of building a program, a continuation of building a football team the right way. And those guys believe. believing in believing in what you're giving them really believing in what you're coaching and teaching them, you having a standard that they that they strive to get to every single day. Does that help when you have success? Yeah, it helps. All right, but a lot of those guys from that team are gone There's like I said, there's 25 new guys out there today that have you know, they don't have any have history with Georgia Tech football. 

So, you know it's a, it's a rebuild every year. When you look at it like that, you know, you can, you, you learn from what you've done. You know, you learn from the things that were done well in the past, the things that weren't done well and, and, and what the outcome ends up being. You know, yeah, you learned to, you know, if you get in a hole, you, you can't, you know, fold the tent. You got to, you know, continue to fight and scratch and claw. And yeah, you use those as references, but as far as a continuation, I don't believe in that. I believe that each team is built new each year, otherwise, every team would win the same amount of games every year, so this is a constant process that we're in the midst of, and we want to continue to take the steps forward and not backward in that."

3. On new wide receivers coach Trent McNight also being a coordinator and if he will bring new ideas to the offense...

"No, I'm just looking for him to coach the receivers at a high level, develop the receivers and to be able to recruit his area and his position at a high level as well. That's what I'll expect out of every position coach. You know, we talk about it every day in staff. meeting. We talked about it with the team before practice today. Everyone is responsible for doing their job. If everyone will just do their job and worry about being the best, they can possibly be at doing what they're supposed to do. Then we have a chance to have a really good staff and a really good football team. But when people start worrying about doing other jobs, people start worrying about looking around and what I need to do over here, what I need to do over there. And you look at them and you're like, well, then all of a sudden, their position group's the worst. position group on the field or you know the lack of detail that comes with them you know just do your job that's that's the key that's what we want that's what I really demand out of the coaches and the players each and every day and you know it sounds it's easy to say that's one the hardest things in the world to do this is you know let's say what stay in your lane. I mean we've got we've got a lot of really good ideas smart people on the offensive side of the football collectively, everyone has a part in the game plan each week. But I'm not worried about any game plan right now. I'm just worried about those guys being able to-- each person, each coach being able to develop their position group as best possible.

4. On Leo Blackburn and how he is progressing from his injury...

"Yeah, I mean, how many months ago was it? And d he's back, he was full speed, full go. I was down at 1 -0 -1s today with the O -line D -line and turned around one time and saw Leo with a nice catch across the middle. And I just looked up, wow, man, it's good to see. Good job, Leo. Good job."

5. On his goals of building a championship team and how much closer the team is to that goal...

"I could care less about tomorrow. I'm worried about doing the best job we can do today to build this football team to be the best team they can be today, right? You start worrying about the outcome and you're not process driven and you're not process oriented and everything you go about, then you've got zero chance. I mean, to have a championship mindset, yeah, we talk about that all the time. We talk about having a championship mindset. Well, that means be doing the best you possibly can every single day, regardless of how you feel, right? Having the right attitude every single day, regardless of how you feel. of how you feel. Coming out and playing the game the right way regardless of how you feel. Ability to affect others on the field and have those guys rise up and play to the expectation each and every day. But look, I was fortunate enough to be part of one of the greatest runs in college football. And in my time working for Coach Saban, and not one time did he talk about a championship. 

Not one time did he talk about what we're going to do right now. win. That just doesn't happen. People are talking to that in those terms, and they're focused on the outcome of things. You're not going to get what you want. We're worried about each and every day being the best team we can possibly be, improving every single day and playing the game the right way."

6. On the health of Sylvain Yondjouen and Keylan Rutledge...

"Yeah, so we-- pretty healthy right now, actually really healthy going into spring. Sylvain is-- he looks like a statue out there. I mean, the way he's built, and seeing him run around. And I mean, you see how well he's moving and doing things. I mean, I wish I could get him out there, but we're not going to rush anything with anybody when it comes to those-- things. And then, so he won't be around in the spring, but he won't be practicing the spring, but he's well on course to be full go when summer camp gets here. And Keylan had the unfortunate, when he had the car accident, the unfortunate injury there, and every two weeks he goes to the doctor. And the last checkup's been very good, very promising. So, again, we're going to continue to take it. really week by week with him and make sure that everything heals up and it's done the right way so we can have him back for summer as well."

7. On the tight end group heading into the spring...

"Yeah, I mean, again, obviously we'd like to be in utilize the tight ends. It's something that you can provide mismatches when you're playing offensive football based on what the defense has in the game. Right now, those guys are learning, really learning our system, learning what to do, and they're gonna get a lot of reps this spring. So we're in underwear out there today, so it's hard to tell anything other than. then you know guys running around and you know getting used to new numbers. I mean these guys change numbers all the time Yeah, it's like yeah, somebody asked me if we can you put it something out with the new numbers. So the fans... I was like I don't even know them yet. I don't know what the numbers are They're like changing. I want these single digits and everything So there it's all over the place for these numbers I mean I need to have like a roster myself out there Mike to help help me know or put like names on the back There how much or something. 

8. On how valuable it is for the offense to have a quarterback return who had so much production...

"Yeah, I mean, anytime, it's the most valued position on the field for a reason. I mean, you look at the National Football League, it commands 20 % of the salary gap. I mean, that's for a reason. And he's got a lot of things he's got to work on. He's got to continue to improve on. He knows that. He's worked all offseason on those things to be the best player that he can possibly be. But the thing about Haynes that you can't go without saying is just his leadership and the leadership role that he's really put himself into throughout the season last year,  but also through this offseason and being the leader of the team, you know, having command, having presence and people believing in him. I think I talked about this last year where,  you know, you can't always just, you know, put all the faith and trust in one single person to win football games for you. I mean, it takes, takes everyone's on the field at one time, all 11 on the field on, you know, in all three phases to go out there.  

So, you know, everyone's got to take it personally to be able to elevate their game individually, you know for us to improve collectively to be able to win those without having to look at one singular person every time to go win a game for you.  Now if it happens, we're not going to turn it down. But now I've been really pleased with him. Pleased with just his development, like I said, as a leader, but as a young man.  And a lot of really good conversations with him over this offseason and just kind of one -on -one talks. And he's really put himself in a position to be one of the best leaders I've seen at that position."

9. On the things he is looking for on defense this spring...

"Stop the run. affect the quarterback, don't let the ball behind you and give up explosives. We do those three things, we'll be a much better football team. 

10. On if he has set goals for this team...

"Never, this is what we want to accomplish today. today. Uh, people think I'm crazy when I say that but I really do. I mean, there's, you know, expectations, they just set you up for failure. And, you know, everyone was like last year, but everyone asks, How many games you think you're going to win? I'm like, Well, I mean, you could just say, how many games you think you're going to lose? Like, it's, it's crazy. Now I do take a little note card at the beginning of the year after the last scrimmage of summer, and I write a number on it, and I put an envelope and put it in my desk. It was something I got from years ago from Coach O 'Leary and put that in my desk, and I opened it up at the end of the year and see. But as far as expectations to the team, our expectations are to be the absolute best player you can be and improve every single year, day. When you start putting numerical, statistical expectations on a team that's totally different than the previous year, that plays a totally different schedule than the previous year, it doesn't make sense to me how you can try to compare the two. 

So, you know, internally, do you have wishes and hopes that you want to reach? yeah every single person does but you know as we said this morning in our team meeting I mean it's easy to say words it's hard to show the actions every single day you know to carry out that championship mindset that we want everybody to have.