NCAA Football: Alcorn State at Georgia Tech

Sep 1, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets linebacker Quez Jackson (44) dives into a pile against the Alcorn State Braves during the second half at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins doesn’t like to talk about starters.

Whether it’s the quarterback or the safety, Collins doesn’t want to put his players in a box or give them a label. If they’re on the “above the line” list, they’ll probably play – and perhaps start.

“We don’t worry about who the starters are. We don’t talk about starters in this program,” Collins said. “We talk about guys who are going to contribute at a high level. When we come in and evaluate the tape, there will probably be upwards of six safeties that played and played at a high level.

“We shouldn’t be worried about who starts or anything like that. We worry about guys that are great teammates who will play at high level for this program.”

Collins said his team has shown a remarkable ability to shake off adversity to move forward. There is more resolve than many teams that might be in the middle of a 2-6 season.

“The guys are amazing, how they can regroup and buy into the believe system they have and what we do and how they just go out there,” Collins said. “Every single thing we do, as we’ve been building this program, we can’t waste in the process. We’ll take the opportunity to learn from today, move forward to tomorrow to get better and try to increase the margin of error.”

One of the players who may have had a breakthrough last weekend for Georgia Tech was Quez Jackson, the sophomore from Peach County High School.

Jackson has been playing middle linebacker all season, working primarily behind junior David Curry. But he was asked to move to the outside when Bruce Jordan-Swilling suffered a season-ending injury and when Charlie Thomas, who had played most of the snaps there, was hurt and played limited snaps.

That meant Jackson had to move to play outside linebacker against Pittsburgh. He was in the starting lineup and didn’t miss a beat.

The Fort Valley native acquitted himself well. Jackson had two tackles and two assists, giving him four total tackles. Earlier this season he set a career-best with nine total tackles. He has 34 total tackles this season.

“Quez came in after all year playing Mike (middle) linebacker and did admirably well,” coach Geoff Collins said. “He’s a really good player and he’s going to get better.”

Much was expected from Jackson, who played in 13 games as a true freshman in 2018 and registered 15 tackles, primarily as a reserve. All 15 tackles came over the final eight games of the season.

Jackson, the cousin of former NFL Pro Bowler Greg Lloyd, was rated as the nation’s No. 25 inside linebacker prospect when he came out of high school. He was a two-time all-state selection and helped Peach County reach the state championship game in 2017.

“He’s going to get better because he’s a really good player,” Collins said. “I’m just really proud of him and how he handled things.”