This is the portion of the interview from coach Paul Johnson’s Monday post-practice media session that dealt with special-teams coaching. I’m not sure how it reads, but I’d say his voice reflected agitation but he was pretty calm throughout. I’m about to head to the Tuesday news conference. I’ll have notes posted about 12:30. Thanks.
On the call for a special-teams coach:
The whole thing is ridiculous. Guys calling for special teams coordinators don’t have any idea. You know how many teams in the ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Big Ten have special teams coordinators that don’t coach another position?
Six. You know who it is in our league? Boston College – which is helping them a lot – and N.C. State. And the Big Ten, it’s Purdue. In the Big 12, it’s Kansas State. I think it’s Coach (Bill) Snyder’s son. Most staffs are set up the same as ours.
Coach (Charles) Kelly is quote-unquote the special teams coordinator, which means he collects and puts things together for the book. He has the punt team (and) punt return team. Other coaches are assigned areas of special teams. It’s been that way everywhere I’ve ever coached for 32 years. Sometimes, you’re better than others. It’s like Coach Kelly. I asked him today: Are you coaching the punt team any different than you did with (2007 second-team All-American punter) Durant Brooks? (Kelly’s response) No, coaching ‘em the same.
On his track record:
We’ve had good special teams before. If I was sitting there and evaluating the tape and I’m looking at the schemes and I’m looking at what we’re doing and it’s totally screwed up, then you’ve got problems. But you can look at it: We’re doing the same stuff that everybody is.
In fact, this summer, we went up to the Falcons. Mike (Smith) and I are pretty good friends. He gave us access to their special teams coach and we went up there and spent two days. We’re doing the same stuff they’re doing. It’s the same schemes, it’s the same stuff. It’s like, if you want to be negative, you can find stuff to be negative about no matter what you want. It’s just the nature of the beast.
On the problem being related to the specialists:
I’m hesitant to say that because that’d be throwing somebody under the bus.
I don’t think there’s very many people in college who are coaching the punter. The guy either punts it or he doesn’t. The guy hits one 52 yards and the next one 13. Nobody’s saying, ‘Hit it 13 yards.’ Kickoff, you kick one four yards deep in the end zone the next one you hit belt high.
On if it’s not a matter of coaching:
It is what it is. I promise you nobody told him to try to pick the ball up inside the 10. It happens. That’s why they play the game. Do we have to get better at it? Yeah, you bet. I mean I’m frustrated we’re not better at it because we practice it every day and what we’re doing is sound. We’ve just got to be better at it. I think if you asked the kids, they’d be the first to tell you it’s important. We talk about it, we practice it.
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog