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Heel Tough Blog: Geoff Collins Press Conference Takeaways- 1/15

Inside Carolina

New defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was officially introduced on Monday and got the chance to speak with the media. He talked through what to expect from his defenses and plenty more as he looks to set the stage for a major turnaround on that side of the ball. Here are the biggest takeaways from what Collins said earlier this week.

Collins is Hungry After This Year Off

The former Georgia Tech head coach took a year off after being fired towards the end of the 2022 regular season, but it was obvious almost immediately that he wanted to get back into coaching as soon as possible. Collins said his wife saw the “look in his eye” when he was on the field in Week 1 supporting some friends in the coaching world and knew it wouldn’t be long before he was back on a college sideline. The fact that he sat and watched film throughout the season and immediately began studying the film on the Tar Heels when the opportunity presented itself shows just how eager he is to prove that he can coach the defensive side of the football as well as he did in his stops at Florida and Mississippi State before this. There is no guarantee that this hire will work, but it is clear that there is more fire and more knowledge of what it takes to succeed in the modern era of college football than there was for Gene Chizik.

Playing A Lot of Guys and Creating Chaos Without Being Chaotic Are the Cornerstones of His Defense

One of the first things that Collins did on Monday was lay out the three things that people should be looking for from his defense in Chapel Hill. One of the main things that he talked about throughout the day was playing more players, something this Tar Heel team has failed to do so far in the Mack Brown era. Collins said that he realizes that one of the main reasons the team has struggled late in the season defensively is because guys are simply getting worn down, something we as fans have been talking about for years. His other main focus on defense is to have his group create chaos without being chaotic. If we remember back to Gene Chizik’s introductory press conference, the thing we heard him talk about was limiting explosives. It was at that point that we should have realized that wasn’t going to be a defense that attacked and played aggressively, even if he tried to tell us it would. Collins seems like he will bring more creativity and aggressiveness, something that this defense desperately needs if they want to actually make strides defensively.

Four Principles Are Needed to Have a Successful Defense

One of the biggest things that the year off for Collins allowed him to do was study defenses around the country and there were four elements that he said stuck out that are principles to having a good defense. Number one is being strong up the middle, something the Tar Heels have failed at since Aaron Crawford and Jason Strowbridge left town. The bodies have been there in that room, but they simply haven’t been able to get the push they need to help this defense succeed.  The second principle is being able to set edges, another area where the team has struggled, primarily in the run game. Too often in the Mack Brown era you have seen this team be washed out way too much on the edge leading to a lot of big gains for running backs and quarterbacks on the ground. The third principle is yet another thing the defense has failed to do since early in the Larry Fedora era: not allow easy access throws. While you certainly don’t want to give up the big plays down the field, allowing teams to move the football so consistently and eventually wear this defense out. The final principle is the key to being able to slow down opposing passing and that is by affecting the quarterback. In the past three years, the team simply hasn’t been aggressive enough with their blitzes and hasn’t won their one-on-one battles consistently enough up front to be able to cause problems for opposing quarterbacks. These are all areas that Collins will hope to improve the Tar Heel in with his more aggressive and creative scheme than what we have seen recently.

Defensive Line is the Key to This Being Successful

This feels like an obvious statement because we have been saying it so much over the last few years, but Collins made sure that he stressed this team being able to win up front is the key to success. He said that he really likes the talent that is in the room, a notion that was backed up by defensive line coach Ted Monachino just moments later. As Monachino said, it is important to put the members of this group in the right position to succeed. Collins backed up the notion that the right bodies are there, which is something that we have always thought, but Monachino needs to be able to get the most out of this group on a more consistent basis than Tim Cross did in his five seasons on campus.

Relationship With Patrick Suddes Will Go A Long Way In Recruiting

Recruiting will be a big part of what Collins will have to do in Chapel Hill, even as the defensive coordinator. One of the big advantages that the team has already is Patrick Suddes, the team’s general manager. Suddes oversees recruiting prospect evaluations for the Tar Heels, a role that he held at Georgia Tech for three years while Collins was the head coach. That familiarity will make it easy for Suddes to identify the types of players that the new defensive coordinator wants out of the high school and transfer ranks and should allow them to build what he wants pretty quickly.


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