“Since arriving on campus earlier this fall, I have observed Coach Key’s leadership, passion, energy, and genuine care for our student-athletes, our football program, and the Institute, as well as how his players and staff have responded to his leadership and the genuine care they have for him,” Batt said in the press release. “There was strong interest from across the country in to be Georgia Tech’s next head coach, and we conducted an extensive national search.At the beginning and end of the search, it was clear that the best choice for Georgia Tech was Brent Key.
Against then-No. 13 in North Carolina, the Jackets held the Tar Heels’ mighty offense to a season low in scoring and yardage (the latter since eclipsed) in the 21-17 upset. The players have also clearly reacted to his coaching style.
“Him being the head coach here right now, we don’t even see the interim tag because we’ve been so behind Key since the time he became head coach,” wide receiver Malachi Carter said after the game. against Georgia. “The whole team rode behind him. You can see the confidence in him; you can see the confidence he has in us. And because of that, we’re meshing, and you’ve seen a little change throughout. of the season in the team in the way we played and executed.
Although Key has no experience as a head coach, the actions Key has taken as interim head coach, beginning with handing over special teams coordinator duties to the coach of the linebackers Jason Semore, made it clear that he had given a lot of thought to how he wanted to function as the head coach. After taking command, he increased the intensity of practices to more closely simulate playing conditions for players. Penalties have gone from 6.5 per game in the first four games to 5.4 in the last eight games. After four punts were blocked in the first four games, Tech deflected a punt in the last eight, though effective punt coverage remained an issue. The two wins over ranked opponents were one more than Collins had won in his 38-game tenure.
Key’s old-school approach – playing a physical style and limiting errors – is reminiscent of his mentors, former technical coach George O’Leary and Alabama’s Nick Saban. Beyond the betterment of the team, Tech fans rejoiced in the obvious passion Key has for his alma mater and coaching his team.
“To have the chance to be the head coach of my alma mater for the last eight games is very special,” Key said after the game against Georgia. “It’s very special to train a group of young people like that. Doing what those kids did and playing as hard as they played, even until the clock hit zero there (Saturday) is such an honor for the kids and the leadership in that locker room and the leadership throughout the week they give to each other.
By keeping Key, Batt likely won considerable goodwill from the many Tech fans and alumni who backed Key’s candidacy, especially after it was announced on Saturday that Fritz had become a serious contender. It will also likely make a much more palatable financial transaction for Tech. Hiring an outside coach would have required a school buyout of the new coach and potentially a larger contract than Key will order while Tech would also have had to swallow 2023 contracts for several assistant coaches if they weren’t. not retained.
“With no head coaching experience, he was able to focus the team after a 1-3 start and go 4-4 for the last 8 games with two wins against ranked teams,” wrote main contributor Steve Zelnak in an e-mail to the AJC. Monday evening. “We haven’t done anything this good since (coach) Paul Johnson retired. We finished in the middle of the Coastal (Division) after being chosen last. We had a real opportunity to go to the bowl if we had won against Virginie. I think Key impressed the folks at GT with the way he handled the press conferences, and the endorsement from the players when they were interviewed was powerful.
Next steps for Key will include training his coaching staff, who could be shaken up, as well as closing recruiting for the 2023 signing class and keeping the current roster intact. Since the end of the season on Saturday, no less than four players (quarterback Jeff Sims, wide receivers Nate McCollum and Ryan King and kicker Jude Kelley) have announced their decision to go to the transfer portal. Key’s hiring, however, will likely be welcomed by rookies and current players alike.
“The two kids who are there (as part of the recruiting class) love the technology and are thrilled with it,” said North Cobb Christian School coach Matt Jones. Two of his players, offensive lineman Gabriel Fortson and athlete Jacob Cruz, have committed to Tech. “It’s their plan. They love Brent Key, I will say that.
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