Kickoffs remain a ‘challenge’ for Dogs

 

Jon Fabris, Mark Richt (Associated Press)

Jon Fabris, Mark Richt (Associated Press)

I was driving home from Athens Saturday night, listening to the “Fifth Quarter Show” on WNGC, and the subject of the Dogs’ terrible kickoff coverage came up.

The frequently asked question since last year has been why Georgia can’t get a kicker to put the ball deep into the end zone for a touchback like so many other teams do. At the end of last season, after too many of Blair Walsh’s directional kicks had sailed out of bounds, Mark Richt indicated he wanted a kicker who could “boom” it and famously said he’d go as far as Poland to find one.

Instead, he looked to California and signed junior college player Brandon Bogotay to a scholarship, ostensibly because of his strong leg. But in preseason competition, it was decided that Walsh should keep the kickoff job as well as handling PATs and field goals. And the Dogs stuck to special teams coach Jon Fabris’ policy of preferring high, shorter kicks directed into the corner.

If you’re wondering what happened, former Georgia players A.J. Bryant and Kelin Johnson, now regulars on the “Fifth Quarter Show,” put it all into perspective. Both of them played on special teams for Fabris, and they said that it wouldn’t matter whether the Dogs had a kicker who could put it in the end zone or not; Fabris likes “the challenge” of directional kicks. That’s just Coach Fab, they said, get used to it.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Fabris would rather his coverage team face “the challenge” of containing a return than get a touchback and have the other team at their own 20. 

Of course, the argument that Richt continues to make in favor of directional kicks is that they have more hang time and allow the coverage team to get downfield and prevent a long return. Theoretically, that is. As the Dogs have shown time and time again, including in Saturday’s Oklahoma State game, that frequently isn’t the case.

Meeting with reporters Tuesday, Richt said of the OSU game, “The fans want the long kick, but the longest kick had the longest return. The kicks that were a little shorter had the better hang times and ball placement. We covered those better.”

It’s worth pointing out, of course, that it’s not just “the fans” who would like to see Georgia kick it into the end zone. Some folks who know a thing or two about kickoffs, including former Bulldog greats Kevin Butler and Rex Robinson, have come out against the directional kicking approach. Why Richt sticks with Fabris’ philosophy, even when it obviously has greater risk than kicking it deep, is a real mystery.

But let’s put aside for now the argument over deep kicks vs. directional kicks, since apparently Fabris is going to go with the latter, no matter what, and Richt shows no sign of doing anything about it.

The bigger problem for several seasons now is that Georgia’s kick coverage is just plain lousy. The first players to reach the kick returner are usually pretty easily eluded — frankly, they fall down a lot — and once a returner gets past the first wave, there’s frequently a wide-open seam running through Georgia’s coverage that produces results like Saturday’s 74-yard return by the Cowboys’ Perrish Cox. 

Richt himself conceded that on the long return by Oklahoma State, “I wouldn’t say that because we kicked it deeper that was the cause. We had a young man who should have contained and forced [Cox] inside to where our coverage teams were. We didn’t do a good job of that. Our second wave didn’t get in position to corral him. There was some great hustle at the end to keep him from going the distance. The guys that were designed to be safeties did their job, so it didn’t become a touchdown at that point. Ultimately that ensuing drive was a touchdown on a short field. We just can’t have it.”

Indeed. 

Richt talked during the preseason about bolstering the coverage by using some of the Dogs’ much-lauded freshman talent, though Fabris apparently wasn’t so enthusiastic about that idea. But that’s not really the problem. The Dogs could load up the coverage team with first-teamers and it wouldn’t matter if they’re not properly coached and if Georgia doesn’t devote the needed time to improving its special teams play.

Bad coaching, or not enough coaching, seems to be the problem. 

Here’s another example: On the other side of the kickoff game, the Dogs had a true freshman, Branden Smith, receive a kick deep in the end zone Saturday and, against all common sense, he tried to return it and got stopped inside his own 10-yard line. OK, chalk that up to a stupid freshman mistake. Surely, he’d get coached up on the sidelines, right? 

Nope, next time he tried the same thing again. 

All of which makes it seem that Richt and company don’t take special teams play seriously enough.

Until they do, it’s likely that Georgia is going to continue to lose the field-position battle. And games.

121 comments Add your comment

Saint Simons

September 9th, 2009
10:21 am

Get along little Doggies ((((( 24 – 10 )))))) hahahahahahahahahahaha

Paul's Johnson

September 9th, 2009
10:32 am

“Richt talked during the preseason about bolstering the coverage by using some of the Dogs’ much-lauded freshman talent, though Fabris apparently wasn’t so enthusiastic about that idea”.

Who’s the Head Coach of this team?

Richt needs to man up and demand some accountability from these clowns Fabris and Bobo. We are not utilizing the talent on this squad to it’s maximum capacity because Richt, due to loyalty or too much confidence in the coaches is too complacent and will not take control. Until he does this, we will see the same tired play.

Saint Simons

September 9th, 2009
10:36 am

Get along little doggies ((((((((((( 24 – 10 ))))))))) hahahahahahahahahahahaha

L-Dawg

September 9th, 2009
10:40 am

GLORY GLORY TO OLE GEORGIA!!!

SO GOOD TO LOVE MY TEAM AS OPPOSED TO HATE/ENVY ANOTHER!!

GO DAWGS!!!!

4 DAYS TIL HOME/SEC OPENER!!!!!

Daniel#12

September 9th, 2009
10:41 am

Let’s see. The choice is give the other team the ball on their own 20 or face the “challenge” of directional kicking. How many times over the last 2 years have we contained the other team inside the 20? Very very few. Boom it and make them go 80 yards. As for Branden Smith, one stupid mistake calls for severe penaltyies (surely he has been told not to return a kick from deep in the end zone) 2 such mistakes is incomprehensible. Is there no in game coaching for the special teams?

David

September 9th, 2009
10:43 am

Bill,
Coincidentally, the play from our DEs has been terrible for two years, which is coached by Fabris. Yes, we were injured last year, but I don’t think there was much production from them against OK State. Prior to two years ago, UGA was loaded with ubertalented guys who probably didn’t need too much coaching from ol’ Fabris….Howard, Johnson, Pollack…..

It seems like CMR or the coaching staff has lost its edge and plays the games about as conservative as a Puritan! Tressell may be more edgy than our coaching staff these days…….It’s time to take some chances, get those guys out on the field and make some plays……..

One other item of note – UGA’s inability to put away less than opponents in years past has a direct effect on our team today….When you play the teams you pay, you need to blow them out and get game time reps for your backups, ala JOE COX….the ol boy barely got chances to get in the games, and when he did it was spring draw left, sprint draw right, off tackle left, off tackle right….not sold on Joe, but some more game time experience obviously would have been beneficial!

David

September 9th, 2009
10:45 am

I bet if Urban Meyer reads this, he will be laughing for weeks…..Take a lesson from that stain, he prides himself on special teams, plays it smart, and does a heckuva a job at it………….Hello CMR, anyone in there?

GeoffDawg

September 9th, 2009
10:52 am

Sounds like Fabris is viewing special teams as being there for purely his own interest and enjoyment. Personally, I don’t care if we bring back the wing T and play the most boring brand of football on the planet as long as it’s effective. If we have the leg to force them to start on the 20, then do it already. If it means so much to him, let Coach Fabris perfect directional kicking on playstation at home.

Lynn43

September 9th, 2009
11:01 am

Why look to California for a kicker. LaGrange College junior, Josh Stripling, is awsome. What a game on Saturday!

l-dawg lover

September 9th, 2009
11:10 am

L-Dawg = Try selling out a 55k seat stadium = 1-888-TECH-TIX

getthepicturenow

September 9th, 2009
11:10 am

if Walsh was the guy all along, why did we even bring in the kid from california? its almost like the right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing. Football-(yes Joe, i’ve played a down of football) is a marriage between offense-defense&SPECIAL TEAMS. i’m starting to get concerned about this group. that was a dis-heartening read.

CHS

September 9th, 2009
11:12 am

CMR – Check out the Calhoun kicker. He is from Poland and can kick it in the endzone but you will have to wait … he is only a soph. He has never missed a PAT somthing like 60/60 so far.

jdawg

September 9th, 2009
11:12 am

I have posted this before…watching from my seats, Fab, Martinez…all the time are getting at each other…and sometimes CMR will get in the fray. For folks that watch TV only, you are missing a good show, and I will admit I might miss a play…watch the re-run….but don’t you think after a while we could just try it…in the end zone. I just do not understand….my opinion…is that at the end of this year, something is going to change….a def head job…a special teams..def end job….Greg Wilsons article commented that even at a small school in Augusta…kicked the ball out of the end zone twice…..and they were so proud they put it on YouTube…my tube Sat. showed NOTHING….jdawg

BR

September 9th, 2009
11:13 am

All Tech fans do is talk… they sure as he** don’t show up to support their team. They have nothing better to do than to stay on UGA blogs all day. Poor nerds.

Life long Dawg

September 9th, 2009
11:22 am

I can guarantee that if Georgia kicked the ball out of the end zone the opponent would start on the 20 yard line every time. Can Fabris guarantee that with directional kicking the opponent would start on or inside the 20 yard line every time?

GeoffDawg

September 9th, 2009
11:22 am

“we could just try it…in the end zone”

I’ve tried that with girlfriends in the past jdawg. They usually don’t go for it either.

andrew horne

September 9th, 2009
11:24 am

Lets face it Mark Richt is just too much of a “nice guy” to be a great coach, you know what they say nice guys ,they finish last! He does not have the killer instinct to get his team fired up enough to come out and dominate a game from start to finish. Don’t get me wrong since he has been at UGA he has done and good job, but the program is still not were fans what it. I also think Bobo is not that great of a coach either. There is no reason that UGA should not lose more than 1 or 2 games a year with the talent they get. Last year, i did not know which UGA would show up, sometimes they come out fired up, then other times they come out flat….like most games. This last game, they came out fired up, then went flat.
Far as the kicking game goes, kick it deep in the end zone. The directional kicks do not work, a team that does not give the other team a chance to run it back will win. Make them go 80 yards every time! Fabris needs go!!!!! If he does not understand that, then he does not understand football.

What???

September 9th, 2009
11:27 am

Is Fabris really my ex-wife? That biatch was stubborn toooo! Kick it in the endzone like OSU did Saturday and maybe we can find another Freshman that wasn’t told not to run it out from 8 yds deep while backpeddling.

Mac

September 9th, 2009
11:28 am

Kick it through the end zone, a la Robinson and Butler and make ‘em start on the 20, otherwise you risk creating a challenge for the defense, Coach Fabrege. Martinez might put a boot up your bum one of these days and get cheered for it, fancy egg man.

Bradley G

September 9th, 2009
11:30 am

BK, don’t forget Branden Smith’s attempt to outjump Prince Miller for the ball on OK State’s 1-yard line on a punt. The result? First and Ten at the 20! I think Prince Miller should have been flagged for a penalty, b/c he SHOULD HAVE went all LaGarrette Brown on Branden right then and there.

GeoffDawg

September 9th, 2009
11:30 am

But my boyfriends really liked it. Hey, let’s get our own tickle pile.

LaGrange College coach

September 9th, 2009
11:32 am

Hey, we’re not a junior college. Quit trying to get our players to transfer.

Disappointed

September 9th, 2009
11:36 am

It doesn’t matter how high you kick it if it comes down at the 10-15 yard line, the returner is going to get past the 20 yard line regardless of your coverage team. All he has to do is take 2-4 steps and he’s past the 20. A line drive kick out of the end zone can NEVER get past the 20. WTF? The long return on Saturday was a big reason GA lost. It set the tome for the 2nd half and was basically over once they scored.

coach smith

September 9th, 2009
11:36 am

Saint Simons

what a SAD person you are…I pity you….

how miserable must your life be for you to live for the moment that a new UGA blog is posted so you can run in and laugh about your team’s ONE WIN over Georgia in about a DECADE…

and now it has gotten worse becasue you are having to live vicariously through other team’s success

just go and enjoy whatever good fortune your team has

What a sad loser of an individual you are

Blog cop

September 9th, 2009
11:36 am

If you’re the LaGrange College coach, what’s your name?

mightyKC

September 9th, 2009
11:38 am

but can the kicker really kick it in the endzone? does anyone know that? I know UF’s coaches prefer the same kick, but, quite frankly, their kickers of late don’t seem to have the leg to go endzone anyway.

mightyKC

September 9th, 2009
11:39 am

it’s not like the old days of kicking from the 35 (or was it 40?)…moving the ball back 5 yds a few years ago has made the touchback a rarity

shards1967

September 9th, 2009
11:40 am

Let’s all face the facts …………..finally, our sub standard performance vs. a so called top 9 team has revealed some major issues ……….lack of MO, poor play calling, no hustle, not playing smart ball, goofy calls, pass drops and not playing the skill kids like M. Brown and R. Wooten and their position coach not having a clue about them missing action.

Richt does not impsire them nor do any of his subordinate coaches inspire and THAT is why we lose games like to OSU, WVA, to a faltering U of T twice in three years. Awful we were and Cox needs to sit down and let the future QBs play. I am not so sure that they ( frosh QBs) are what they are supposed to be, however. Joe Cox we were told could play and now? Um, ahh, well, um he was um sick. he is only worroed about fans complaning about him because he knows that he too is Joe The Plumber aka Joe T.

This season will get very,very ugly and it has to happen for us to have a new coaching staff with a kick butt mentality come in for next year. This season is toast gang.

UGA class of 73

coach smith

September 9th, 2009
11:40 am

By the way, I was a WALK ON at UGA in 2004 and 2005 and I can tell you

Coach Fabris is CRAZY

You did not want to get in his way or argue with him if you were a player and it was sooooo easy for him to GO OFF that if another coach confronted him it would end up in a shouting match…NO MATTER where it was (on field in the locker room or wherever)

LaGrange College coach

September 9th, 2009
11:40 am

Er, Smitty … Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen.

coach smith

September 9th, 2009
11:41 am

and before you ask….NO I am not telling you my name. I did not travel with the team, I never got into a game, I was just a part of the program and did what I could to help UGA get better

coach smith

September 9th, 2009
11:43 am

also out of the 180 minutes of practice…there is very little if any special teams work

Yellow Fuzz

September 9th, 2009
11:47 am

To the dawg nation:

Like I’ve been telling you azzholes, “real world reality” is about to set in when South Carolina delivers a Major League Beat Down between the hedges on Saturday. If you thought the 26-0 Third quarter thrashing we gave you in last year’s Georgia Bowl was bad, wait until you see what’s going to happen on Saturday. Deer season will certainly start early and these boards are going to absolutely explode when all you koolaid drinking, Walmart shoppers begin to really realize “maybe yellow fuzz was right all along”. Even coach Richt (who I have great respect for) was serving up some Koolaid yesterday-

“Richt said Vince Vance will start at left tackle this week and added that the team is “anxiously awaiting” the return of tackle Josh Davis from shoulder surgeries perhaps next week”.

I usually just attack the ignorant georgia fans like
Sugar Hill Dawg
Mountain dawg
Habersham Dawg
1eyedjack
Kendawg
WTF?!?!?
Reservoir dawg
Altamaha dawg
MiltonDawg
Reality Check
SECrules
Jax Dawg
Miami Dawg
DirtyDawg
NC Dawg
PTC DAWG
G Dawg
CLTDawg
GeoffDawg
Bugkiller
SimpleDawg
CUZ
RxDawg
DawginLex
ToccoaDawg
L-Dawg
Pumpdawg
Denver Dog
45ACP
and not the players but take it from this ex-offensive lineman, Joe Cox better watch his blind side Saturday because Vince Vance is a guard and Josh Davis hasn’t blocked anyone the entire time he’s been there. Good luck to both but expect to get bitch slapped and beat down royally by SC. I’m talking 30 points or more if you turn the ball over 3 + times like I predict.

You heard it here first (6 months ago). Tech has passed Georgia in every sport except gymnastics and has always maintained a substantial lead in the classroom (and always will). You fit the mold. We make it.

Hahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DW

September 9th, 2009
11:48 am

Branden Smith must be really talented, because he sure as hell made a lot of bone-headed plays. That leap in front of Prince Miller was just idiotic– he should have been sat down on a bench and reamed by somebody. And the two attempted returns from deep in the end zone… what the hell?

As far as Fabris and directional kicks. Fire his ass. These are college kids, not pros, and more than half the time, they’re not going to place the ball where it needs to be when they’re under pressure from a good defense.

Here’s another complaint: what ever happened to our team rushing the opposing team’s kicker? I seem to remember quite a few dramatic plays earlier this decade (Champ Bailey, Pollack), where a punt was altered or blocked or the punter just freaked out and hit a terrible punt due to pressure. Doesn’t seem like our guys ever do that anymore. And clearly, based on our returns, they’re not working out a great blocking scheme. So there seems to have been no benefit gleaned from laying off the pressure. Who made that decision? Fabris? Again, I say fire his ass.

Richt needs to can some of these inferior coaches and get some better instructors in there.

Yellow Fuzz

September 9th, 2009
11:50 am

The kicking game is the least of your worries. Unless of course you are refering to kicking azz or in georgia’s case getting their azz kicked. That’s a different story. That is a very big concern this week (and next).

RAMBLE ON!!!

September 9th, 2009
11:51 am

Hello mutts, I’ve been away for a bit.

Lot’s to catch up on…where do I start?

hmm, how bout 24-10.

Yellow Fuzz

September 9th, 2009
11:52 am

Please contine to enter your lame excuses here

Yellow Fuzz

September 9th, 2009
11:53 am

I’d rather be a nerd than the 2009 queen bitch of the SEC

uuugh...

September 9th, 2009
11:55 am

You know what…our special teams have been awful for at least 2 years now. It ain’t magic folks. If the atheletes are good, then the coaching must be horrendous for the Special Teams to look as bad as they have. I am sick of it. Urban Meyer sees the importance of Special Teams and plays the starters. He will be competing for his 3rd national championship this year at seasons end…while we will be begging for better coordinators again at years end. When Thomas Brown got hurt on Special Teams, I think that ruined any chance we had of seeing our best players on Special teams. The other teams are all doing it and we are getting further and further behind. It is really a shame. If Special Teams are as bad this Saturday as they were last weekend, Fabris should be hunting a job come Sunday morning. If we still can’t get anything out of our DE’s Fabris should be hunting a job. The problem is you can’t chang horses mid season so we are likely stuck with an underperforming team for another year. Get it together Richt.

David

September 9th, 2009
11:55 am

Look at that picture…its freakin Skeletor…he looks like a wack job….and unfortunately he is too far gone for his own good anymore…

uuugh...

September 9th, 2009
11:56 am

Tech Fans and Florida Fans…the only fans in the country that revel in another teams loss than their own victories. Way to go guys–keep it classy as usual!

Yellow Fuzz

September 9th, 2009
12:01 pm

Uuugh,

believe me I will because you guys deserve every last jab you get.

georgia fans are number one in the NCAA when you factor the arrogance to ignorance ratio.

Yellow Fuzz

September 9th, 2009
12:03 pm

Coach Smith,

Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?

uuugh...

September 9th, 2009
12:09 pm

…still can’t find my stupidity filter. Fuzz taking away from the exchange as usual. Thanks AJC. Does any one know if there is a pay site with a UGA blog that keeps the idiots out? If not we should look into it.

MoDawg

September 9th, 2009
12:10 pm

Yellow Fuzz, please add my name to your list.

coach smith

September 9th, 2009
12:10 pm

Yellow Fuzz

Those comments I gave to Saint Simons go for you as well

How miserable must your life be that getting on here to take shots is all you have to make you happy

I feel sorry for you

Go to your blog and enjoy whatever your team does

But you just can’t can you? That inferiority complex is just too strong

Yellow Fuzz

September 9th, 2009
12:11 pm

Have not heard much yapping from the following big dawgs over the last four days. Anyone seen them? You won’t because most have already changed their handles. Some will even be wearing paper bags on their heads by the Kentucky game.

Sugar Hill Dawg
Mountain dawg
Habersham Dawg
1eyedjack
Kendawg
WTF?!?!?
Reservoir dawg
Altamaha dawg
MiltonDawg
Reality Check
SECrules
Jax Dawg
Miami Dawg
DirtyDawg
NC Dawg
PTC DAWG
G Dawg
CLTDawg
GeoffDawg
Bugkiller
SimpleDawg
CUZ
RxDawg
DawginLex
ToccoaDawg
L-Dawg
Pumpdawg
Denver Dog
45ACP

Yellow Fuzz

September 9th, 2009
12:13 pm

You georgia fans can sure dish it out, but you can’t take it. You are famous for that!

Yellow Fuzz

September 9th, 2009
12:18 pm

coach smith,
Those comments I gave to Saint Simons go for you as well
Don’t feel sorry for me. A lot of other things make me happy coach. I just like giving you guys a taste of your own medicine.
And believe me, there is no inferiority complex in the Tech Nation after 45-42 (26-0 3rd qtr)!

Life is good up here where we are.

Yellow Fuzz

September 9th, 2009
12:18 pm

MoDawg,

You’re not a big enough azzhole