A fresh approach could pay off big

Too often in recent years, Georgia’s special teams, especially on kickoff coverage, have been, well, not special enough. Too many walk-ons, not enough truly special athletes on the field. And that tendency was exacerbated last year by the rash of injuries that reduced the pool of available players.

This year, Mark Richt is taking a step in the right direction. He told the Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club last night that he doesn’t plan on redshirting any incoming freshman skill players, with the exception of quarterback, and that he plans on giving those freshmen early playing experience on special teams.

The idea is that this will have a twofold benefit: The special teams get the “runners” and “hitters” that they need, and the freshmen learn what they’re supposed to do. “They’ll help us on special teams, and they will grow as players at their positions, too,” Richt said.

Putting more Grade A talent, even if it’s green talent, into our kickoff coverage sounds like a great idea. And as Richt said in the Athens Banner-Herald, some of these kids have the potential to be starters before the season is over. “Sometimes you’re two weeks in and you’re like, ‘They’re not ready, they’re not ready.’ Two more weeks, he probably is ready. Two more weeks after that, he may be your starter.”

This freshmen-will-play edict also means Washaun Ealey will get a crack at tailback. And Richt said it includes defensive backs and linebackers, though the need in those areas is not as pressing. I still think Branden Smith is unlikely to get much playing time in the secondary, though he could be a big contributor on special teams (possibly returning kicks) and probably will get a look at receiver in special packages, since he wants to play both ways. But the Dogs are so loaded at linebacker that, barring injuries, you wouldn’t expect to see freshmen Mike Gilliard and Chase Vasser in the mix.  

BULLDOG BITES: Richt told the Banner-Herald that he signed junior college kicker Brandon Bogotay on the basis of film study alone and said, “Even if he doesn’t become the kickoff guy, I think he’ll create the competition to make us better.” … Richt also told the ABH he hopes offensive lineman Josh Davis, recovering from surgery on both shoulders, will be able to play by midseason. … The Macon Telegraph takes a detailed look at how the injury problem spurred Richt to lessen the intensity of practices last year and how he says that hurt the Dogs, particularly on defense. … ESPN.com’s Chris Low, noting that the SEC has renewed its deal with the Georgia Dome for another five years, wonders why the conference doesn’t just make Atlanta the game’s permanent home. “Few events in college football have been as successful or have generated the electric atmosphere that the SEC Championship Game has in Atlanta,” Low says. “Anybody who has been to the game knows what an event it is every December in the Georgia Dome. It’s the closest thing to the BCS Championship Game that I’ve witnessed, and the Georgia Dome is the perfect venue.”

119 comments Add your comment

L-Dawg

July 28th, 2009
11:02 am

((((7 – 1))) hahahahahahahahahahahaha

Try selling out a 55,000 seat stadium......

July 28th, 2009
11:03 am

(((38 – 3))) hahahahahahahahahaha

Class of '98

July 28th, 2009
11:23 am

Yeah our special teams sucked last year. The frustration was compounded by how awesome the Gators were at special teams, with Urban Meyer coaching the squad himself.

I had begun to wonder if UGA’s staff understood that special teams are one-third of the game. It appears they do understand that. Great news, Bill.

getthepicturenow

July 28th, 2009
11:52 am

another thing playing our young guys will do is show the HS kids that UGA plays freshman. by most accounts, that was the selling point for guys like Marlon Brown, Orson Charles, and even Da’Rick Rogers in this class. love the idea, i don’t think CMR will ever fully get over redshirting knowshon. come to think of it, i may never get over it either!!

saint simons

July 28th, 2009
11:57 am

Why are you guys so mean to me. Not only are you being mean but now my mom won’t let me leave the basement to go to the Star Wars Convention.

Ali Akbar Allah

July 28th, 2009
11:59 am

No matter what happens in history, Tech own scoreboard this year. Johnson will own the State in recruiting and head to hear.

BIGBOY

July 28th, 2009
12:00 pm

Man I’m ready for camp to start!!!!!

Class of '98

July 28th, 2009
12:01 pm

Akbar, have you seen UGA’s committment list? We are absolutely cleaning up. I don’t know where you get your recruiting info, but you may want to check alternate sources.

Btw, Tech can have the 3-stars from Atlanta. We’ll just have to settle for the 5-stars from Florida.

Oh well.

RxDawg

July 28th, 2009
12:01 pm

I agree completely. It really seems like a no brainer…to the extent that I kind of already thought they did this. The only drawback I see is that special teams is always the kind of place you let the blue colar players get some face time. The kind that have worked hard and paid their dues to get some kind of playing time so their family in the stands get to see their son’s jersey on the field. I know you have to do whats better for the team. To a small extent getting those type of guys in there, even briefly, is good for the team.

RxDawg

July 28th, 2009
12:03 pm

er…collar*

RxDawg

July 28th, 2009
12:03 pm

Want to buy an edit button.

Peachtree John

July 28th, 2009
12:07 pm

The season for the Dawgs will be interesting. Hopefully the freshman running back will be another Hershel Walker and will be allowed to prove same.
So why not allow one, or both, of the freshman quarterbacks playing time? Chances are the “red head” will not do anything outstanding in the coming year—-hope I’m wrong on that one.
It’s good to see the coach changing his tune on freshmen playing and on the importance of practicing hard. It will be a long time before we can forget the missed tackles by the defense last year.
Go Dawgs.

St. Bernard

July 28th, 2009
12:25 pm

Something tells me that Richt doesn’t want to make the mistake with Ealey that he made with Moreno. I think this is the root of it all.

dap01

July 28th, 2009
12:33 pm

Tech is a great school. But those unemployed Tech fans that hover around to comment on every UGA blog are simply losers.

Get a life, get a girlfriend!

Gatorzone

July 28th, 2009
12:34 pm

Um, Richt…. Way to clue in that special teams are an important part of the game and should not be relegated to scrubs. Looks like you are learning a thing or two from Urban.

vadawg

July 28th, 2009
12:37 pm

I kind of wish these newspapers would focus on the year to come, and forget about last year. Last year is done with, let’s move on. Let’s hope UGA thrives in the role they’ve been given.

Dooley's Cardiologist

July 28th, 2009
12:39 pm

Yeah freshman will play, because he has no upperclassman worth their scholarship to fill the voids.

uuugh.

July 28th, 2009
12:48 pm

RXDawg…Let the Blue Collar kids come in when we are up by 30. A true walk on with no scholly knows the drill. There was only one Rudy.

DAWG

July 28th, 2009
12:51 pm

Ali Akbar Allah is a terrorist walking around the thug campus.

Saint Simons

July 28th, 2009
1:04 pm

just a reminder (((((( 45 42 )))))) hahahahhahhahahahahaha

Ron Mexico

July 28th, 2009
1:05 pm

Wow DAWG….that was an impressive retort.

athensdawg

July 28th, 2009
1:12 pm

unfortunately, the days of loading up the redshirt roster with highly touted recruits are over. maybe you could do that in a lesser conference….but not the sec…you need your best talent week in and week out to survive. let the cream rise to the top and GATA!

Harry Dawg 73

July 28th, 2009
1:12 pm

At tailback we have three very decent SEC backs. Carlton Thomas is very small but he can fly and can keep em on D off balance in certain situations. I see him gaining 300- 400 yards rushing and another 300 running after a little toss pass to the flats. He is a huge add on for UGA this season. Sat out last year, when we had more backs w/ “experience.” Florida kid and he can really play big and fast.

Also, the new Frosh kid Ealey will be a huge boost. He can carry about 30%-35% of the load as a running back and then, Caleb and Richard Samuels, can carry the additional 40% of it. The fullbacks are gonna be very, very active this year with rushing AND receiving the pig skin. Between the fullbacks and Carlton Thomas, I see a renewed emphasis on smash mouth football with QB tossing them out wide to a Carlton T. or over the middle to the fullbacks after peeling off of a block, for a 38 yard gainer time and time again. Up the middle with a Richard Samuels and then hit Carlton in the flats and let hism SCOOT or hit the big fullbacks that will be wide open coming off of a block. Chains will be moving.

Then, once UGA is in the desired rhythem, we hit an AJ or a Marlon Bown or a M Moore or an Orson Charles for the big one. TD !!! Rontavious Wooten will also be a big, big boost for UGA. Do not forget that we have the young man from N Georgia (Tavarres King) that was highly, highly regarded. I see him a a posseiong type of receiver. He caught a slant in the bowl game and took off for a huge gainer. He is gonna be really good.

This will be a fun year with all new stars and that is why I love the Dawgs. Anyone to belly ache about UGA is just jealous. Let the Gators have their NC. My family are all from that state and left it. Says it all.

Harry Dawg-73

AltamahaDawg

July 28th, 2009
1:20 pm

Um gatorzone, care to look and see where Urban’s special teams have ranked in the SEC over the past 3 years. Lets just say this, below UGA more often than not.

DawgJax

July 28th, 2009
1:29 pm

Looks like Ealey will be wearing Knowshon’s #24

Saint Simons

July 28th, 2009
1:31 pm

I bet that was one hell of a tickle pile yall had after last years game. Did you get the head fluffer job for the team this year?

DawgFan1

July 28th, 2009
1:33 pm

Amen Harry Dawg 73! I lived in that armpit of a state for 5 years! Couldn’t wait to get out

[...] won’t redshirt many freshmen A fresh approach could pay off big | The Junkyard Blawg Richt says he will start using incoming freshmen skill players on special teams so they can gain [...]

JaxDawg

July 28th, 2009
1:42 pm

Like what I’m hearing. This is definitely a good move, and something F.Beamer has done for years in putting some of the best athletes on sp. teams. Great way to get the youngsters used to the speed of the game as well.

The QBs should be redshirted. The shirt can always be pulled should Cox or Gray get hurt. I know everyone is anxious to see Murray in action, but to think he can come in and be better than Cox or Gray is just not realistic. I’m not sure Murray beats L.Gray out next year. That being said I believe he’s a great talent, but he will get on the field when it’s his time. I think J.Cox is going to pleasantly surprise a lot of folks this fall.

Go Dawgs!

Mobile Dawg

July 28th, 2009
1:56 pm

Harry Dawg, as much as I hate to be negative, can Richt promote, and stay with a smash mouth offensive style? “One” of my philosophical disagreements on running a football program with CMR is he seems locked in the style and glitz method of offensive football. He grew up with and promoted it with Florida State.

We were competetive with Alabama early when we were running the ball, playing them jaw to jaw, as well as the Gators. Second and four early agaisnt Bama after a Knowshon run of 6 yards, then pass, pass, pass. Bama’s rush ate us up. Getting cute in the red zone early against the Gators. I’m all for a balanced offense but IMO, CMR likes the HR’s to much. And with Willie’s defense last year, the last thing you want is to give the ball to the opposition. This isn’t a recent trend, this goes back years, the most prolific example I can give is in 05, I still believe we lost the AU game because we threw 3 straight times in the 4th quarter, took no time off the clock, and gave the ball back, then the lightening strike for AU on 4th and ten.

Hope this year goes a little better. I’ve kept my mouth pretty much shut out of respect to the UGA nation but I’m about to burst, I can’t take much more of the total breakdowns. Top level programs don’t do that. I believe this is a big year for the Richt program. More letdowns like Bama, and UF, and unfortuately Richt will be on the hot seat. I’m an eternal optimist but I’m also a realist. Living in Mobile, I get a little different perspective on what the world thinks of Richt as a coach.

OZZFEST

July 28th, 2009
2:01 pm

Richt may never live down Knowshon’s REDSHIRT year ~ 2006. Ugh.

Fools Gold

July 28th, 2009
2:02 pm

Hype Hype Hype. Will you people ever learn? UGA hasn’t done jack squat until they prove it on the football field and until they do its same ole same ole. Nothing but mere fools gold.

MiltonDawg

July 28th, 2009
2:05 pm

Fools Gold: you should take advice from yourself and your postings. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!!

aztec

July 28th, 2009
2:15 pm

what ever happened to kevin butlers kid???

I Pity the Fools

July 28th, 2009
2:17 pm

Fools, what pray tell perfect team might you represent? is it a school with quite a few 10 win seasons as of late?

I graduated from UGA that is why I am on these blogs.
Where is your degree from? –yes, as you can tell—I take it personal.

Saint Augustine

July 28th, 2009
2:21 pm

just a reminder (((((( 49 10 )))))) hahahahhahhahahahahaha

L-Dawg

July 28th, 2009
2:23 pm

39 days til kickoff. 7 days til practice.

Savannah Dawg

July 28th, 2009
2:26 pm

The freshmen will help us “wipe the smiles off of Tech fans’ faces.” Right Bill?

Hunting Dawg

July 28th, 2009
2:29 pm

Hey RxDawg – is that you Chris???

T'ville Dawg

July 28th, 2009
2:30 pm

Ali Akbar have you not learned english enough yet? I know learning to speak english after speaking arabic all your life must be very difficult. BY THE WAY HOW DID YOU GET IN HERE ANY WAY?

Saint Simons II

July 28th, 2009
2:36 pm

Just another reminder (((((38 – 3 ))))))) Chicken Bowl hahahahahahahahaha Fluke offense EXPOSED for all to see!!!!!!!!!!

Aj

July 28th, 2009
2:42 pm

I really don’t know how to feel about this team. We do have a lot of guys coming back from injuries, Owens, TS, and some of the DE that were hurt last year. The O-line will be really good if we keep them healthy and that will help the running game. Need a good #2 Reciever to help out AJ this year. I want to see how we start out with ok state, we win that game and i will feel alot better.

Saint Simons II

July 28th, 2009
2:44 pm

Just another reminder ((((((38 3))))) Chicken Bowl hahahahahahahahaha

Mr. Herbert

July 28th, 2009
2:48 pm

Hey young fella, you like popsicles?

2 Dawg

July 28th, 2009
3:12 pm

I think Gilliard is going to get some looks at the #2 D at SAM ‘backer. He gets to the ball quickly and in a bad mood!

DirtyDawg

July 28th, 2009
3:14 pm

Thought Bradley’s take in response to a poster that underscored my contention that both of UGA’s offensive and defensive lines have the potential to be better than any given team on any given Saturday this year. Specifically, he, Bradley, said he saw Georgia as a ‘finesse’ team – I assume on both sides of the ball. If he means that we haven’t resorted to ’smash-mouth’ football over the past couple of years, e.g., line it up and drive it down the field, he may be right. With a Matthew Stafford and receivers like MM and company, why would you…and even Moreno worked better in the open and relied on his own, personal, ’smash-mouth’ to gain extra yards.

With a line of scrimmage that can dominate, it’s a no-brainer to simply defeat your man and make tackles or gain yards. I don’t think lines that average 300+ lbs. are much on ‘finesse’, and with a stable of running backs and a couple of superior full backs, along with, potentially, an all-star tight end, we’ll see about that ‘f’ thing.

RAMBLE ON!!!

July 28th, 2009
3:19 pm

Poor Kapt. Kangaroo, wrong Beatles song.

“I’m a Loser” is what you ment to say.

St. Mobile

July 28th, 2009
3:22 pm

(41-30) hahahahahahahahahahhahahhahahahahahaha.

MiamiDawg

July 28th, 2009
3:24 pm

Georgia’s signing so many stud recruits, florida and the SEC will not be able to stay on the field with the dawgs. 2010-2012 could be title years. Florida’s run will be over soon!!!!

UGASlobberknocker

July 28th, 2009
3:27 pm

Call this the “Knowshon Revelation”..that being the good players are only going to be here three years..so play em right off the bat