Punt returns were an up and down thing last season for the Dogs.
While Prince Miller was always a threat to break a long one and did just that a few times, Georgia spent a good portion of the season not even trying to return punts, sometimes even sending backup quarterback Logan Gray in to fair catch when he wasn’t backed up deep in his own territory. And everyone in the stadium knew Gray wasn’t going to even attempt a return.
Will we see improvement in that aspect of the game in 2010? Hard to tell from the way Mark Richt was talking Tuesday as spring practice resumed in Athens.
On the one hand, Richt indicated that speedy but undersized Carlton Thomas, who is working No. 3 at tailback behind Caleb King and Washaun Ealey, is likely to be used on both kickoff and punt returns. That sounds like a great move, as Thomas is most dangerous in open space.
But at the same time, Richt said that if Gray doesn’t win the starting QB job, he’ll likely be back there again fair-catching punts. “When we’re backed up and you’ve got a guy at his heels on the 10-yard line to decide should I field it or let it go, he did a very good job of that last year, and that’s kind of a hard thing to teach,” Richt told reporters.
As Seth Meyers might say, really, Mark Richt? Really!?!
I’m with the Senator on this. There isn’t anyone else on the roster other than one of your quarterbacks who can judge when to catch a punt and when to let it roll? Or wave his hands over his head and cleanly catch the ball?
On top of that, Richt said of Gray: “I’m not counting him out for any other special teams, either. Just depends on how this QB race goes.”
That should be a troubling thought to anyone who paid attention to Gray acting as the safety on the Dogs’ woeful kickoff return team last season. When the other guys were breaking a long one, as happened all too often, Gray was usually well out of the play. Which is just as well as he didn’t show much in the way of tackling skills. Not that you’d expect him to. He’s a quarterback!
Even with Jon Fabris gone, the thinking still seems kinda fuzzy in Athens when it comes to special teams.