I sat down with our new special teams coach so we could get to know the man we're going to be blaming for not having a negative yardage on return coverage (I'm working on a meme called high expectations GT fan) a little better! After getting an extensive tour of the Wardlaw center trying to locate him, I got some of the choice nuggets that follow.
Naturally, there's been a lot of talk this offseason about the special teams and how we might fix some of the problems that have bogged PJ's Georgia Tech teams down. Coach Walk, I discovered, has a pretty simple fix: energy. As some of you may recall, Darren Waller told me earlier in the summer that CDW was up on tables yelling at them and playing music during special teams practice, and that's just one of the many ways he's tried to infuse some mc^2 into our oft-overlooked third phase. Praise is also a key element to his teaching. "[No matter what situation you're in,] you wanna know that you're doing a good job" and so "when [my players] do good, I let 'em know." The biggest player motivator, he says, has to be his passion. "Special teams is just one play, [and I tell my guys] you gotta match my intensity. You have a huddle before you go out, and have a passion for one play. For a kickoff, or a kickoff return, or a punt, and you have this one play where emotion is able to be used." Interesting to think that in a normal game situation, you don't want to let your emotions get the best of you, but on special teams you've only got one shot so you need all the emotion you can get. I think that has been a huge factor in how our guys have gotten amped up for the regular season. Coach Walk brings an energy unseen on the rest of the coaching staff, or I'm willing to bet any coaching staff in the country.
I was also curious about the drills and schemes that CDW implements. As far as schemes go, I was surprised to find out, "Nobody really makes up stuff themselves…There's a lot of things I do that are pieced from a lot of different things that I've seen or learned." Its more about the players and getting them amped up (see a theme?) than it is about the scheme. He also pointed that these are very intelligent players. "I can put a lot in, and they grasp it; they care, which is awesome." Who says academics are an athletic weakness? Drills are another key element in developing those amped players, especially his kickers. They do a lot of core work, that's one of the most important things in kicking because that's where your rotational strength comes from and rotating around the helps the kicker get that extra pop on the ball. They also drill on in-game situations (I imagine this means onside kicks and the like). When I asked about the differences between coaching and scheming in the CFL and GT, He responded with the quote of the interview: "Well, I'm not a Canadian." Following that, he explained how when working with pros you tell them to do something and they get it right the first time. There's no coaching or screw around. Its obviously not like that with rough college amateurs, but that's where he wants the team to get. "We're gonna be pro-level in the mental side of it. I tell ya, lets fix it, lets move on." I love this personally. I've always thought that every GT team I've ever watched wasn't inferior physically, but mentally. The stupid mistakes. Losing to people we're not supposed to. NOT WRAPPING UP WHEN YOU TACKLE. These are among the most common grievances for a Georgia Tech fan, and its coaching like this that we need to fix it.