A head coach having to completely overhaul half his staff might be looked on as a negative development or sign of desperation by some. But as we look ahead to Mark Richt’s 10th season at UGA, I think the fact that there’s a narrative of change, as my son calls it, going on in Athens is a completely positive thing.
Some of the changes haven’t come as quickly as some of us would have liked, and there’ve been more than a few missteps along the way (I’m thinking of how special teams have been botched the past couple of seasons, particularly the mishandling of placekicker Blair Walsh in his freshman season).
But I like the fact that Richt, Mike Bobo and Stacy Searels finally figured out how to get the running game on track this season and didn’t hesitate to throw offensive balance-for-the-sake of balance out the window when it became necessary to come up with a new game plan. They finally settled on the right two running backs and, by all appearances, the Richard Samuel experiment is over and he’ll wind up at linebacker next year, where he actually has star potential.
A little over a week ago, Richt said the Dogs weren’t planning on signing a quarterback in this year’s class, but now amid unconfirmed reports that backup Logan Gray is being moved to wide receiver, the Dogs are in search of a freshman third-stringer to back up Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger next year. The move with Gray should have happened a year ago, but better late than never.
It’s a good time for Richt to undertake wholesale changes in his program. As Eric Zeier noted in his recent talk to the Touchdown Club of Athens, sometimes when you’re successful, you tend to get complacent. I think that’s what we’ve seen with Richt’s tenure in Athens. Fresh blood should mean more fresh thinking, and that’s the best way to rejuvenate a stagnant Georgia program.
While he’s at it, I hope Richt rethinks a few other things. One of my brother Tim’s pet peeves is that Georgia has wasted a coaching position by having separate defensive line and defensive ends coaches, forcing special teams coordinator to be an add-on job. I’d like to see the new defensive staff have one coach in charge of the line and ends and a full-time special teams coach so that one of the weakest and most erratic parts of the Dogs’ game can once again become a strength.
A bit of tough love for the generally undisciplined Georgia players wouldn’t hurt, either. Can we dare hope that Richt’s more aggressive behavior on the sideline of the Tech game, including chewing out Bryan Evans for the premature dumping of the victory tub on the coach, might be a reflection of a change for the better in this area? Perhaps that’s the answer to the turnover and penalty problems that have plagued the Dogs the past couple of years. Richt needs for the players to know he loves them, yeah, but he also needs for them to be at least a little bit afraid of him.
As we embark on a new chapter in the Richt era, what other changes would you like to see the head coach undertake?