Whew, a lot to digest from the fount of information spewing out of the media briefings held this week at Butts-Mehre.
We learned who’s going to line up where on defense, at least initially, and that the DL will be anchored by the “nose,” not nose tackle or nose guard. The outside linebackers will be primarily pass rushers while the more athletic inside linebackers will have more pass coverage responsibilty.
We were told that in the new defensive scheme cornerbacks won’t be as much involved in run support as in the past (which led to Bryan Evans getting badly beaten time after time) and that new secondary coach Scott Lakatos is teaching his players completely different, NFL-style footwork from what Willie Martinez taught them. (Now if he can just get them to turn their heads to see where the ball is.)
We found out who’ll be coaching what on special teams, including that kickoff coverage — the area in which the Dogs most drastically need improvement — will be handled by Warren Belin, whose Vandy kick coverage team ranked second in the SEC and 29th nationally last year. (UGA was last in the conference and 117th nationally.)
And we learned that Mark Richt has been open to suggestions from his new staff members, resulting in a reworking of the practice and meetings schedule, but that he still doesn’t think there’s any change needed in Georgia’s strength and conditioning program.
Speaking of which, this year’s mat drills supposedly have been the toughest ever but more A grades than ever are being given. The boys are really getting after it, Richt says. The team is really into it this offseason. There’s a lot of excitement. They’re working harder than ever, harder even than last year when we were told they were really into it and excited and working harder than ever.
Though now we’re hearing that not everyone was working all that hard, at least according to A.J. Green, who said “we thought things were just going to be handed to us and didn’t work as hard as we should.”
Well, that sounds familiar, too. Wasn’t that supposedly the reason the 2008 team didn’t handle its preseason No. 1 ranking all that well?
Said Bobo: “The thing about this kid is, all he’s ever wanted to do is help Georgia and play and compete. And that’s what he wants to do this spring at quarterback.”
Which sounds way too close to what we heard in the past about Joe Tereshinski and Joe Cox to suit some folks, including former Georgia football player Ben Dukes, who blogs at The Dawg’s View.
Says Dukes: “You know what? When I was at Georgia, all I ever wanted to do was help my team win … and the coaches decided THAT would be best accomplished by keeping me on the sidelines. I don’t disagree. I wasn’t the biggest, strongest or fastest player … but I had a great deal of heart. My grit and determination earned me the respect of my peers, sparse playing time, a Varsity Letter, and a pair of awards. THAT’S ALL. NEVER would you have heard Jim Donnan say, ‘We’re gonna start Dukes at defensive end because all he’s ever wanted was to help this team.’”
Dukes says the QB competition should be about who has the tools to lead Georgia to an SEC championship. “It shouldn’t be about who has the most time in the system. It shouldn’t be about who ‘really wants to help the University of Georgia’.”
He raises an interesting question. Bobo’s comments have strongly indicated, though he won’t come right out and say it, that Gray stands a much better chance of playing at some position other than QB. And yet the coaching staff has let the player decide where he will spend spring practice. Which means if and when he eventually moves elsewhere, he will have missed a spring learning that position. It also means a bunch of reps in practice with the first-team offense will have been wasted — reps that could have gone to the eventual starter and his backup.
On the other hand, there are valid arguments that there’s value in having the only quarterback on the team who’s taken snaps in a real game participating in the spring QB competition, and that having to beat out Gray will make Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger a better signal-caller.
What do you think? Should the coaches have let Gray decide where he’ll play this spring or simply told him where they want him? Is letting him compete for the starting QB job the best use of what we’re told are his considerable athletic abilities? Should being a loyal Dog with several years in the program trump superior but inexperienced talent when Georgia chooses a starter at any position?
Feel free to vote in the poll, comment or have it both ways.