Though it certainly won’t look the same as it has in the past and there are many questions still unanswered, college football is back for a 2020 season.
With new guidelines in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during practice, Georgia Tech head coach Geoff Collins has changed the format of his practices to ensure safety for his players and staff.
Since the Yellow Jackets started preseason camp, they have been holding two practices to reduce the number of players on the field at a time.
“We have gone to great lengths to control what we can control in our building and in our organization," Collins said. "With our coaching staff and with our players, our complete focus is on what we need to do every single day to provide the safest environment and let our guys develop in an environment that follows all of the protocols.”
To ensure social distancing between drills, for instance, players are asked to stand in “safety loops,” small circles painted on the field distanced from each other. Players are also wearing masks during drills that don’t require helmets.
“This is not business as usual,” Collins said. “This is not a typical camp and we spent a long time talking in position meetings last night that I hopped on to go in detail why we’re doing it. They guys appreciated it and understood.”
One of the toughest changes Collins has seen this year is his schedule, which is yet to be released by the ACC. Instead of using the summer months to prepare for the first few teams on the Jackets’ schedule, he has been left to guess which teams Georgia Tech will play first.
“Normally in the summer and even in the spring, you break down all of the teams that you’re going to play," Collins said. "As we’ve been going later in the summer and we’ve heard of the different possibilities, we’ve started breaking down Florida State and teams that are in relatively close proximity to us. We’re excited for when they release the schedule so that we know who we’re preparing for for the first game. The mentality we have in this program is to focus on ourselves, focus on the internal, and be the best team we can be.”
Another shocking change for the Jackets was finding out they wouldn’t be playing the in-state rival Georgia Bulldogs. The last time the two didn’t face off in a season was in 1924.
“That was one of the biggest pieces and one of the first things that crossed my mind that I hate that the seniors that have laid the foundation of this program and all of the success that we’re going to have aren’t going to get to play our in-state rival and so, I hate it for them,” Collins said. “I have confidence in the way that we’re going to go about our business and get better every day and when we do play them in the future, the team that they see is not going to be the team they saw back in November after Thanksgiving.”
As the college football season continues to change more as the season draws nearer, Collins and his team will continue to prepare for any and every scenario.
“The teams that can be innovative, creative, and can think outside of the box will be successful. That’s what we’re trying to do every single day,” he said.