Virginia Tech has lost five straight games, but it’s not arguable that Georgia Tech has had the more tumultuous 2022 season.
The head coach coming into the season, Geoff Collins, was fired after a 1-3 start, and the interim coach, Brent Key, led the Yellow Jackets to two straight wins, before a return to mean with back-to-back losses to UVA and Florida State.
The team has been playing better since the coaching change, though, according to first-year Virginia Tech coach Brent Pry.
“They are not making as many mistakes. They were shooting themselves in the foot. They had several kicks blocked. Things have kind of settled down. They have simplified things,” Pry told reporters at his weekly press conference on Monday.
Pry particularly likes what he has seen from starting QB Jeff Sims, a dual-threat guy who is the team’s second-leading rusher.
“If he’s healthy, he’s certainly tough to defend. He throws the ball fast, well enough and he’s tough,” said Pry, noting the health issue with Sims, who went down to an ankle injury in the loss to UVA, then missed the FSU game, with third-string QB Zach Pyron 18-of-28 for 198 yards and a TD in the 41-16 loss.
Sims returned to practice this week, and Key told reporters on Tuesday that Sims should be a full go for Georgia Tech on Saturday.
The mood in the Hokies locker room
It can be tough to keep focused when you’re at the tail end of what has been a most disappointing season, but tight end Drake De Iulius said the Virginia Tech locker room “is as strong as it has been in my time here.”
“The record doesn’t show what we want it to be. We still have four games that we can win to get us bowl-eligible. Nobody is quitting on this team. There’s still so much fight and many good things are coming,” said De Iulius, who has three catches on three targets for 14 yards on 163 offensive snaps in 2022.
Defensive lineman Cole Nelson echoes that sentiment, adding that he feels like in “every game we have played, we have shown bits and pieces of what kind of team we can be, we just have to finish.”
“We are always talking about how close we are every single game. For me personally, and as a team, I think we are just tired of hearing that we’re just so close, but we can’t finish,” said Nelson, who has 14 tackles, two sacks and eight QB pressures on 260 defensive snaps in 2022.