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

BIGGATLDAWG

July 28th, 2009
10:04 pm

DOES ANYONE KNOW IF GEATHERS QUALIFIED?

Ashley Schaeffer

July 28th, 2009
10:19 pm

I’m tired of ya’ll makin’ mistakes. Did ya’ll see the memo? I said no ******* clowns.

Ken at kgussports.blogspot.com

July 28th, 2009
10:36 pm

It’s good that we are playing the best players on Special Teams no matter what their clas ranking is. I heard Scott Van Pelt of ESPN say UGA will have a down year. Nonsense!! Check out my article on the Dawgs at kgussports.blogspot.com

Randy Squidbillie

July 28th, 2009
10:55 pm

Oh no. This will not be a down year or rebuilding year for ga but rather the beginning of total collapse for the jawjee football program. CMR will be gone in two years and we will be beggin’ for the Donnan program to return. OKEE State will be ugly. The beginnin’ of the END.

Stevie the Band Teacherq

July 28th, 2009
10:56 pm

HEY! WHO THE **** ARE YOU?????

NO BUNTS!

here we go kenny, here we go!!!

Denver Dog

July 28th, 2009
11:48 pm

Tech Boys, sorry that doing charity work ,which Richt does freely is not good enough for you. Tony, a good spring, does not mean that they had to max out the spring game. There were 4 quartebacks playing, and virutually no offensive line.

I’l take CMR and his staff. He is learning, and when something happens he tries to make it better. I wonder if he will want our team to get rings for beating a team, that is not even in our conference?

UGA Grad '08

July 28th, 2009
11:52 pm

I’m can’t believe I’m getting into this argument with Fools Gold but here I go against my better judgment. According to Fools Gold’s logic any program that plays down to its opponents’ level or loses games it shouldn’t is an underachieving or mediocre program. However, by that logic ALL of CFB’s big programs underachieve. USC always seems to some fluke PAC 10 team they shouldn’t. Oklahoma loses to Texas all the time as well as their BCS bowl game for how many years in a row. The Gators have lost to an SEC West opponent they should have beaten almost EVERY year. In your own example, USC east beat the mighty gators then came within a blocked field goal of doing it again in 2006 when UF won their Nat’l Championship. Texas lost to Texas A&M in “07 and “08. In addition ALL of these teams have escaped from opponents they should have beaten handily. Even the 2001 Miami team got a huge scare from Boston College.
Here’s the reason the above phenomenon happens. A) It’s extremely difficult win more than 10 games in a row in CFB. B) If you’re a good program you will be favored to min most of the games you play. Therefore when you lose, many times it will be a game you are expected to win.
Good programs win large numbers of games year in and year out (10 plus) and annually manage to have wins in big games over quality opponents, which UGA under Richt definitely does. You can see from my previous post that UGA has won many big games EVERY year under Richt. You don’t make 3 BCS bowl and SECCG appearances and have 2 SEC titles in the last eight years without doing something right.

UGA Grad '08

July 29th, 2009
12:12 am

Also to reply to Fools Gold’s original argument, i believe Richt has lost a combined 4 games to USC (2001, 2007),Vandy (2006), Kentucky (2006), Ole MIss (None), Arkansas (none), and Miss. State. Sounds like taking care of busines to me.

god and greyhound

July 29th, 2009
4:25 am

I can’t believe this mutt actually wrote an article on how Rickt entering desperation mode and playing a bunch of true freshmen somehow equates to things “paying off big.” Yes uga fans, the margin between you and a championship has been the lack of true freshmen Rickt has been playing.

god and greyhound

July 29th, 2009
4:32 am

Yes, all you’ve needed is to play more freshmen, and to get rid of that nasty #1 pick QB and your superstar running back. You guys are going to be BETTER this year! More freshmen, less Stafford and Moreno– Rickt’s championship formula.

I mean, Cox is such a great leader! He got like 106 votes for leader from his teammates!

Cuz

July 29th, 2009
7:37 am

god and greyhound, are you jelous of Joe because you were not picked to be hall monitor at your local Wahhabi school?

jerry

July 29th, 2009
7:38 am

UGA grad ‘08: Good argument. Now explain 2-6 vs UF. And right at this very moment where does UGA stand vis a vis UF?

jerry

July 29th, 2009
7:40 am

and I don’t believe you fully addressed those horrendous blowouts.

jerry

July 29th, 2009
7:47 am

and nobody said it was easy to win 10 in a row but some team wins the NC every year and I don’t believe that in 8 years that Richt has even played for it, has he?

Long Dawg

July 29th, 2009
9:17 am

God and greyhound (aka M) Your drival is pretty easy to pick out. Your inferiority complex flashes like lights on a police car “I’m a loser, I’am a loser.” Your jelousy of UGA has no bounds. You obviously have been a GT fan all your life and were picked on as a kid. The Chan Gailey years were excruxiating weren’t they. Poor boy…..

Desperation mode? Playing freshmen that are capable of making a contribution is desperation? Clear thinking people would call it smart. Ever heard of Julio Jones or AJ Green. Wait till you see Branden Smith and Orson Charles and Marlon Brown and Authur Lynch and Rantaveious Wooten. These boys can play and they can play now. You’ll get to see them.

Long Dawg

July 29th, 2009
9:28 am

Jerry,Florida has better talent and is in Georgia’s head that’s why Richt is 2 and 6. We’ve had our chances and just haven’t taken them. Blow outs were caused lack of on field leadership, effective defensive adjustments and turnovers. No one wins NC championships every year. I believe two in a row is the record. That is why, as good as UF is, the odds are they will not win another NC this year. I’d like to see them do it if they win the SEC Championship this year because I always pull for the SEC. Georgia will be better this year than last year. Folks will forget Stafford and Knowshone pretty quick.

JaxDawg

July 29th, 2009
11:12 am

jerry, get off your high horse. in 06, your mighty gators backed into the championship game after WV & USC choked the last week of the season. Anyone with a brain knows that not only do you have to have your team in position to win a NC, but there is a certain amount of luck that goes along with it. If you win a NC championship with 1 loss, chances are you needed some luck along the way to get there.

jerry

July 29th, 2009
2:09 pm

First of all where do you get off that I said anything about being a fan of UF? Secondanly, no one answered my question except excuses, excuses, excuses. Talk about luck in a NC game, how many times do you recover your own kickoff on your opponents 2 yard line? UGA punted more times than they had first downs, were out gained by almost 2-1, and this against a poor offensive team that ND had that scored 3, yes 3 points against of all people Ga. Tech. Of course UGA’s quarterback could have been a Joe T. III’s clone. But you are right about one thing. UGA sure as hell has never won 2 in a row or ever even been in 2 in a row. And why does UF have better talent, better field leadership, defensive adjustments, and force more turnovers? Because they are not willing to just win enough to be content with sellouts.

DawginLex

July 29th, 2009
5:08 pm

The gators have won 3 championships in the past 13 years. Why do the gators act like they won all 13? I’m pretty sure when you list the champions in the other 10 years, they don’t say FLORIDA.

Since Richt’s arrival in 2001, UGA has won the same # of Sec titles as Florida has. You have to win the SEC before you can win anything else. Florida had ZERO football tradition and ZERO titles until the 1990’s. UGA’s tradition goes back 30 years prior to Florida winning anything.

It had been 20 years between SEC titles for UGA when the 2002 title happened. The coach responsible is still in Athens and I expect he will win another one or more. If that happens, the national title is a possibility.

Just save me from the “Florida invented football” crapola.