Football beat writer Jack Duffey discussed Georgia’s upcoming matchup against Georgia Tech with Jack Purdy, assistant sports editor at The Technique, Georgia Tech’s student newspaper. The following story has been edited lightly for clarity.
Jack Duffey: The Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry took a year off last year due to the pandemic, so these teams haven’t played in almost two years. What is the general feeling around the Georgia Tech football program about this game, and does it mean more given that the teams haven’t played in so long?
Jack Purdy: I think we're all excited to finally get this game. Especially for me, I pushed my timetable from a four year graduation to five years. So getting one more of these games than I otherwise thought of has been really exciting. And I think for a number of us just the fifth years and those that just didn't have normal football years, like, okay, we're getting this game at least. We're aware that this is now going to very likely be another three-win year, we're not lost on how bad that is. Basically, we're very good at marketing this team, but actually playing football and being creative on the field and putting out consistently good games, we just haven't had that. Granted the team's obnoxiously young, like we have two freshmen quarterbacks, so there's only so much you can do. But at the same time, you would think against the schedule like ours, which has some cake walks, we would do more winning.
Duffey: Geoff Collins is in his third year as Georgia Tech’s head coach, but he has yet to finish a season with more than three wins. How does the Georgia Tech fanbase view Collins and is there any noticeable progress with him at the helm?
Purdy: His guys like playing for him. That I know. I mean, I texted some people after a Notre Dame game. I'm like, ‘alright, what do you change here? Like, do you change Geoff?’ And I got both ‘get rid of Geoff’ and ‘get rid of everybody but Geoff.’ So I mean, there's, there's no clear answer, there's only so much you can do. I mean, in a way, this is a massive rebuild, because we had to switch from Paul Johnson's triple option scheme, which requires a completely different set of players and skill sets than a pro style offense requires. I will say yeah, there has been noticeable progress. The fact we still beat North Carolina was something. Well, that was a weird game. We played in Mercedes-Benz [Stadium], we didn't play in Bobby Dodd. So, it was a different atmosphere. Just everything was a little bit different about that. But that at least showed we have the ability to pop off. But you would think you'd pop off a second time. And we didn't pop off a second time.
Duffey: What are the Yellow Jackets’ biggest strengths this season, and what are some of their weaknesses?
Purdy: Biggest strength is Jahmyr Gibbs number one in all-purpose yards in the ACC. That man, he's young, but he's gonna be the guy that carries us the next couple years. He's still a freshman. I think at this point he’s a COVID freshman, we have a lot of COVID freshmen that have been here more than one year. But yeah, he can do everything. He can catch out of the backfield and he runs really well. I think we've used him on return instances. But yeah, our biggest strength is absolutely Gibbs. Weakness is the kicking game. Ever since the losses of Harrison Butker and Pressley Harvin. Our punting is okay, and we can't kick field goals at all. Last week at Notre Dame we had one field goal attempt from 40 yards out which was makeable for our guy Brent Cimaglia get blocked. But kicking has never been a strength of ours, and it used to be our weird little kind of lifesaver at times, but now it’s completely switched.
Duffey: How can Georgia Tech pull off an upset?
Purdy: I don't know. I mean as much as I want to be as cheerful as I can for my last home game as a student and I want to rush the field at least once in my life, just to say we've done it. Last week was a very good telltale sign of how we face up against an actual top-10 team, someone who could be in the playoffs, and we crippled under pressure. This year has been our worst home attendance since 1989. But yeah, if we're going to pull this off, it's gonna require some horrible coaching decisions on Kirby's part, which won't happen. Because I mean, I know your quarterback situation has been fluid, but at least enough to keep you alive because you've got that rock solid defense. It's probably going to take something where we can get stops, it's going to take three turnovers and it's going to take a lot of good fortune Just random little things that just keep adding up and keep adding up and keep adding up. I mean, it's David versus Goliath, just in a massive way.
Duffey: Who do you think wins this game, and what is your score prediction?
Purdy: If it's anything like last week, I would expect y'all to get ahead early, and quick. You’ll put in the backups because I know y'all do not want to get a single person hurt before you basically come back to Atlanta next week for the title game against Alabama. So trying to think of the other big teams we’ve faced. Clemson last year with Trevor we lost 73-7 in that game, and then lost 55-0 last week. So let's meet in the middle and say Georgia wins 60-10.