Short of taking his football team to the tarmac of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and subjecting them to such intense noise, there is little first-year Georgia Tech Geoff Collins can do to simulate the mega-decibel circumstances expected when they open the season at Clemson on Thursday.
But he’s trying.
Collins understands the Yellow Jackets will be walking into a crazy setting when they play at Death Valley. The place is always one of the loudest venues in college football and the volume needle will be maxed out when the defending national champions and No. 1-ranked Tigers come out for their debut on national television.
So, Georgia Tech is trying to prepare for the noise in the best way possible, just without all the orange.
“We had all the crowd noise going, closed all the doors to the indoor (facility) and we cranked the sound system up to 11 to get it as loud as humanly possible for the offense and understand the environment we’re going into on Thursday night,” Collins said.
Amid all the noise and preparation, Collins did find time to finalize the Above The Line group — there’s that ATL branding again — that will make the trip to Clemson. There were 66 names on the first list and the team can take as many as 72, which gives another handful of players another day or so to make their case.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to play over 15 or 20 plays, but they’re the guys that we feel confident getting in the rotation going forward,” Collins said. “I think there are 11 seniors on that list and I think it’s the third-lowest in the country. But those seniors have done a great job for us in the transition of the coaching staffs, buying into the culture, buying into the work ethic. I’m really proud of those 11 guys.”
The Above the Line list puts players in numerical order, not in order of who will start, so those questions remain unanswered until Thursday night. There are three quarterbacks on the ATL list — Lucas Johnson, Warner Robins’ Tobias Oliver and Fitzgerald’s James Graham. Johnson is expected to start, but all three could play.
Other Middle Georgia players listed Above the Line are junior linebacker Quez Jackson from Fort Valley and junior defensive tackle Djimon Brooks from Sandersville.
There are 10 true freshmen on the list, including running back Jamious Griffin, the 2018 Georgia High School Player of the Year, wide receiver Ahmarean Brown and cornerback Jordan Huff. Jahaziel Lee is listed on the offensive and defensive line, as the staff rewards players who are versatile enough to be used at multiple positions.
There will be little transition time to get the youngsters ready for the large stage against the preseason ACC favorites. Meanwhile, Collins is focused on his team, not the opposition.
“Great deal of respect for Clemson,” Collins said. “But we don’t worry about any of that. All we worry about is us. We don’t talk about our opponent much. We’re just completely focused every day on being a culture that’s built on effort and our guys playing ridiculously hard.”