Extra Preparation Key To Secondary's Success
One of the major parts of the culture change instilled by first year head coach Geoff Collins, is an emphasis on the preparation that goes on off the gridiron. 8 games into his tenure at Georgia Tech, one of the areas of his squad that has paid the most dividends is in the secondary. In practice, a point of emphasis has been creating turnovers, and after a 3 turnover performance against the Pitt Panthers last week, it shows. As of this point in the season, Tech has the 20th ranked passing defense in the nation and the second best in the ACC behind Clemson.
Defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker was pleased not only with his defense's effort, but their ability to capitalize on key moments. He called junior safety Tariq Carpenter "opportunistic" when he caught the ball that slipped through the hands of the Pittsburgh tight end, good for his first interception of the season. But if you ask Carpenter, there's a reason he was there to make that play in the first place. "Just watch more film," he said in the weekly post-practice player's press conference.
He's not the only Yellow Jackets defensive back that shares that sentiment either, as cornerback Tre Swilling has also developed a reputation for living in film room. However, his mentality of putting in the effort for extra preparation was instilled way before setting foot on campus. His father Pat Swilling, the 1991 NFL Defensive Player of the Year who still holds the Georgia Tech record for most sacks in a single season with 15, was primarily responsible for that. Growing up around the sport, the redshirt sophomore said that his dad would always tell him "This is how you be a pro, and that film study is crucial. "There's always going to be someone faster than you, bigger and stronger," he said. "You have to find another edge."
His efforts off the field have most assuredly not gone unnoticed from Coach Collins and the rest of the coaching staff. Before the homecoming game against Pitt last weekend, Collins noticed Swilling and fellow starting cornerback Zamari Walton sitting on the defensive bench going through their tips and reminders nearly two hours before kickoff. This has now become part of a routine for Swilling & Walton and Coach Collins called it "one of the coolest things" he saw on homecoming Saturday.
Both Tariq Carpenter & Tre Swilling will most certainly have their hands full this upcoming Saturday, as Virginia QB Bryce Perkins has the second most passing yardage in the ACC and the 4th best completion percentage in the conference. But with all the habits the duo and the rest of the secondary has established, one thing is for sure in that they will put forth all the effort necessary both on and off the field to stop him.
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