Hey Coach Richt, thanks for reading!

Mark Richt took issue with a blog about Logan Gray fielding punts. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt took issue with a blog about Logan Gray fielding punts. (Associated Press)

So, first thing when I fire up the computer this morning, there’s an e-mail from my brother Tim saying, “I see in the Athens paper that Mark Richt reads your Blawg, he answered your question about Logan Gray returning punts. …”

And, sure enough, under the headline “Richt takes issue with blogger,” The Athens Banner-Herald reports that after practice Thursday Richt appeared to be criticizing my comments earlier this week about him continuing to use Logan Gray on special teams. I say “appeared,” because he didn’t name which blogger he was disagreeing with, saying only that it was a “media blog,” and I’m not the only one critical of the move (as I noted at the time). But the ABH seemed pretty sure he was talking about me.

Anyway, Richt said: “I usually don’t ever read a blog, but I read a blog about Logan Gray catching punts.” He went on to say he wanted “to try to educate whoever cares that when Logan is back there — I tried to explain it the other day — it’s at a time when our opponent is punting it in. It’s a pooch kick. Our defense — our punt return team — is in punt safe to keep them from faking the punt because their across the 50-yard line.

“All Logan is doing is making a decision whether it should be a fair catch or let the ball hit. The fine gentleman who writes the blog, I don’t think he understood that very much, but I just thought maybe if everybody got educated on that a little bit better, they’d understand why Logan would do that. He was 100 percent last year on making those decisions and never bobbled the ball. I think that’s not a hard thing for him to do and we’re not expecting him to return the punt because those punts don’t get returned. There’s no return set up.”

I thank Richt for saying “fine gentleman” and not “complete tool” or one of the other phrases I’ve had thrown at me here. But I have to point out that, like a master politician, Richt chose to disagree with me on a point I wasn’t making.

I understand completely, and always have, that Gray is in there to either fair catch the ball or let it go and isn’t intended as a returner. And I never questioned his ability to do that.

What I questioned was the wisdom of using one of your quarterbacks for such a job — which not only takes away from his QB preparations (the Georgia coaches noted that two years ago Gray fell behind Joe Cox in practice in part because he was spending time on special teams) but also exposes him to possible injury if an opposing player fails to observe the fair catch signal.

And, secondly, I expressed concern over Richt’s indication that he might continue to use Gray on other special teams, noting I didn’t think Gray looked too sharp in kickoff coverage last year. The coach did not to address that point.

Lastly, I should point out that at times last season Gray was deployed to fair catch the ball when Georgia wasn’t backed up deep in its own territory. So the strategy itself was used inconsistently. And, as the Senator notes in responding to Richt’s comments, on at least a couple of occasions Prince Miller was back there fielding pooch kicks instead of Gray.

As for whether it’s a good thing for everyone in the stadium to know when Gray runs out on the field that Georgia isn’t even thinking of attempting a punt return is a strategy question that can be argued both ways.

Bottom line: As long as Gray is a quarterback, even if he winds up as the backup, there are more reasons for not using him on special teams than there are for doing it.

And, again, thanks for reading, Coach. If you continue to do so, you’ll find that I actually agree with you and support you more often than I don’t.

154 comments Add your comment

first?

March 19th, 2010
10:31 am

wow, this is a good day!

Alan

March 19th, 2010
10:31 am

No offense Bill, but why in the heck is Richt reading blogs? Isn’t this what got Hewitt in trouble?

ATLshirt.com

March 19th, 2010
10:33 am

GO DAWGS !!!!

FinanceBuzz

March 19th, 2010
10:34 am

I am glad Paul Johnson has better things to do with his time than to worry about what a fan blogger (even if on a major newspaper site) thinks about the program. I guarantee that these coaches know more about football in their pinkies than we fans have ever thought we know, so why waste their time addressing it? Just another reason I will take CPJ over CMR any day of the week.

#2 BAMA FAN

March 19th, 2010
10:34 am

Mark Richt is a nice man and good coach but Bill ask Saban and he may have really made you famous with a profanity laced answer!!

Jon Koncak

March 19th, 2010
10:34 am

ugaaccountant

March 19th, 2010
10:34 am

Got to love the second guessing of a wildly successful coach. I guess this is what passes as “news type entertainment” these days. Goes nicely with the earlier blog where you referred to our fans as pigs. Stay classy.

Jon Koncak

March 19th, 2010
10:35 am

RightOn!

March 19th, 2010
10:37 am

First of all….FIRST! Secondly, you’re right on the money Bill. Ever thought about being a head coach someday? Those are some good observations and ones that head coaches of major universities should already know. I mean, isn’t that why they’re paid $2.5 mill + in salary? To see what we mortal fans with no experience in coaching see?

RightOn!

March 19th, 2010
10:38 am

Oh well, thought I was first. Next!

Tim

March 19th, 2010
10:40 am

I highly doubt Richt himself actually read this blog. My guess is that someone in the athletic deptartment came across this one (and some of the others talking about gray and special teams) and brought it up to Richt. Maybe at that point he went and read it, but I just can’t see him having the time to be perusing these blogs. He probably felt the need to address it before it blew up any bigger.

Dave Roberts

March 19th, 2010
10:41 am

The fact that you get readers is amazing. I wouldn’t complain who is reading your blog. Last time I checked Coach Richt can read whatever he wants…I don’t think that’s part of his contract. There’s a reason you’re the semi-amateur blogger and he is the coach. Your lack of quality of work amazes me as I read your column to see how far you continue to sink the art of journalism.

JGMacTown

March 19th, 2010
10:41 am

Logan is never going to play QB at UGA. Let him return kicks all day.

Goldtimer

March 19th, 2010
10:44 am

I’m surprised that the coach can even read – GO JACKETS!

Big AT Dawg

March 19th, 2010
10:44 am

Hey FinanceBuzz – 30-24 buddy.

Tree Rollins

March 19th, 2010
10:44 am

15th with a bullet!

Chris

March 19th, 2010
10:45 am

Bill -

If you’re not on the sidelines and in practice every day, you cannot even begin to understand what decisions are made on a play-by-play basis. Why argue with one of the best coaches in all of NCAA football? I think he knows quite a bit more about what to do with his team than you do.

Coach Paul Johnson's Waddle

March 19th, 2010
10:49 am

FinanceBuzz, thanks for backing up my host, Coach Paul Johnson. I chose to become his waddle, rather than CMR’s because I know he won’t take any bs from a blogger and have it affect him, just like you know that about CPJ. Tech is so lucky to have a coach like my host, because he is a man, not a wishy washy blog-reader like CMR. I know for a fact in the waddle circuit, CMR cannot get a waddle. This comes mostly from CMR being clean-cut, and only real coaches let themselves go, making the perfect situation for a top-notch waddle. Many of you don’t know, but I am sure you do, FinanceBuzz, that I was named Celebrity Waddle of the Year by the Academy of International Waddle Writers.

Thanks for giving such a good reason for people to back my host, FinanceBuzz, you are a true football fan.

AceDawg

March 19th, 2010
10:49 am

My biggest issue is that Gray should be returning punts too, not just fair catching, because I got the impression in 2008 that he is actually good at it. No I wouldn’t have him do it as a starting QB, but if he loses the starting job and somehow remained an official backup QB, I’d be find having him out there because UGA should be able to have an additional capable QB with Murray, Mettenberger, and Mason coming on board. Please play Logan SOMEWHERE, anywhere, before he has graduated.

RealDawg

March 19th, 2010
10:51 am

Logan did do a good job of fielding the ball last year. There is little risk in what he does. Probably less risky than warm ups. However, is it such a good idea to tell the other team that you have no plans of returning the punt?

Bryan G.

March 19th, 2010
10:52 am

You’re right, Bill. I’m not sure Richt understands why it makes us fans scratch our heads so much.

By the way, up to this point, the whole “Logran Gray is super athletic thing” is completely hearsay. I have seen nothing from him that proves that statement I keep hearing.

BurningRedBleedingBlack

March 19th, 2010
10:53 am

I’m sure theres no hard feeling Bill keep up with the good writting. GO DAWGS!!!!!

RightOn!

March 19th, 2010
10:53 am

Hey Oldtimer who posted on 10:44 am, why are you even here? Stinks to lose to UGA in football and basketball this year, huh? Just say anything that you feel may hurt UGA fans’ feelings to make you feel better. Take some cheap verbal shots here and there will make your pain go away. 30-24!!!!!!!! 70-66!!!!!

SOUTH GA DAWG

March 19th, 2010
10:55 am

SHUT UP BILL AND LET THE MAN AND HIS STAFF DO THEIR JOB!!

Letterman2004

March 19th, 2010
10:55 am

Bill-

Bottom line… you were never a coach… assistant coach… player… letterman… manager… trainer… or water girl for the Red and Black. You are not at practice every day and your salary is not dependent on the decisions made on that football field (or is it). Please concede this argument to a hired professional that is arguably the most successful coach the Dawgs have ever had… that’s right, I said it.

I find it embarrassing that you’re even calling out Richt by writing this follow-up. Fact of the matter is that he is going to make decisions that he truly believes are best for the success of his team for the benefit of the seniors and his own job security. With as many turnovers as we had last year (and as few as we had on special teams), is it such a bad idea to concede the job to someone that is sure-handed and confident in his punt receiving capabilities?

Take a lap…

Dale

March 19th, 2010
10:57 am

Great. Now Bill thinks he has CMR’s ear. I hope coach doesn’t waste any more time explaining himself.

dougdawg

March 19th, 2010
10:58 am

amazing how coaches at major universities are so often flamed for not listening to the voices of so-called fans. then, when one does listen and POLITELY responds, he gets dissed. amazing. and kind of sick.

coachgb

March 19th, 2010
10:59 am

What’s so hard to understand about a coach that wants to put the most surehanded player on the team back to make fair catches? Games are won and lost with dropped punts deep in your own territory!

Hendu

March 19th, 2010
11:00 am

So he is telling us that we can’t fully trust our regular return guy. If I didn’t do anything else all year I would teach that #1 Smith how to return punts. Guaranteed 3 scores for season. That will be the first thing they will do with him in the NFL.

Now can we get him to explain why for the first eight years he was convinced that having your kickoff man boot the ball out of the endzone was a really BAD move. Me and 143 NCAA head football coaches are all anxious to see why we are wrong and he is the only coach in history that is right. Then he can explain why we went all the way to California to get a JUCO kicker (only kicked 33% in endzone, most good highschoolers are about 50-65%) that will never set foot on the field because we already had a upcoming sophomore that is one of the top 5 kickers in the nation. All the way to San Diego to flush a scholarship down the drain. Drew Butler should be more than adequate as a backup, he was a fine kicker for the Ridge.

After that see if he can educate us on getting two punts blocked in the same game.

If Mark Richt’s knowledge of special teams was GAS, UGA would not have enough to run an ant’s motorscooter around a BB one revolution.

Letterman2004

March 19th, 2010
11:01 am

You’ve lost at least one reader here… Goodbye Junkyard Blawg…

DawgsForever

March 19th, 2010
11:05 am

Richt was trying to be nice. He knows like we all do that Gray is not going to be the QB but can’t say that openly because Gray would get upset. Act like Gray has a chance to be the starting QB by giving him some reps this Spring and then inform him later…say August…that he is second or third team and that he could earn playing time by playing Wide Receiver and Special Teams if Gray would rather do that. Taaaadddddaaaahhhhh! We get Gray playing where we really want him and keep team harmony to boot!! No Way Gray is the starting QB this season. We always hear coaches evaluate high school by looking at game film….We know Gray is not the QB by game film and the fact he could not even beat out Joe Cox!!!

1eyedJack

March 19th, 2010
11:06 am

“I thank Richt for saying “fine gentleman” and not “complete tool” or one of the other phrases I’ve had thrown at me here. But I have to point out that, like a master politician, Richt chose to disagree with me on a point I wasn’t making.”

Bill, take that how you like but diplomacy is the art of saying “nice dawggie” until you can find a rock. Watch out.

ct

March 19th, 2010
11:09 am

What I have issue with is the fact everyone now knows he won’t return it. The other team can now set a corner to kick to and Logan can’t fool them by running away from the kick. This happened at a game last yr, the team kicked to one corner, Logan ran to the other, and their cover guys downed in the corner it was actually kicked, need to get used to seeing that I guess

big g dawg

March 19th, 2010
11:10 am

FinanceBuzz

90 wins in 9 seasons, don’t believe johnson’s on pace. hope you’re better at finance than you are math.

RxDawg

March 19th, 2010
11:12 am

Eh, small matters honestly. I’m really not too concerned for Logan getting injured back there. But heck, I’m one of those that thinks the QB’s should get hit in practice just like everyone else. Maybe tell the lineman/linebackers to keep from taking their heads off. If Logan is the best man on the team to field punts in that situation, then that’s fine with me. I’ve always thought it was kind of cool that our QB returns punts. Takes you back to the old days and gives Logan some “man points” for doing it. Adds a certain toughness level to the QB that this dawg fan likes.

Bill King

March 19th, 2010
11:14 am

Dougdawg:

I don’t believe I dissed Coach Richt today. I simply replied to him. He respectfully disagreed with me and I respectfully disagreed with him.

Bill King

March 19th, 2010
11:16 am

Letterman2004:

Using your reasoning, there’s be no need for sports columnists or bloggers because no matter what happened, we’d all just say, “Well, he’s the coach. He knows best.” What a boring place college football would be in that case. Discussing the pros and cons of what the coaches do is half the fun.

KJ

March 19th, 2010
11:16 am

“I am glad Paul Johnson has better things to do with his time”

What exactly DOES Johnson do with his time…. except claim that all of his losses were in games that “didn’t really matter”?

Dawg85

March 19th, 2010
11:16 am

This is a non-issue that has gotten way too much traction from both you and the senator, Richt said it depended on HOW THE QB RACE TURNED OUT. Besides that punts from inside the fifty are rarely returned. The coverage guys only have to run thirty yards of so and frequently will get there ahead of the ball. If Logan’s the best man — so be it. There is a huge difference in getting the ball at the 12 and getting the ball at the two. Richt was talking about using Gray in a very specific situation. You can complain about how he used Logan last year but that has nothing to do with how he plans to use him this year.Ii, frankly, am amazed at how many people have gotten their panties in a wad over a pretty innocuous statement.

30-24 Dawgs, We Run This State!

March 19th, 2010
11:17 am

CPJ has bigger fish to fry than reading UGA blogs.

Athens TD Club Dawg

March 19th, 2010
11:17 am

Hey Bill, I’m sure Coach Richt is no fan of yours since you intentionally wrote a blog after an Athens TD Club meeting last year and told everyone things that CMR specifically asked NOT to be repeated in the media. As I’m sure you remember, he called you out at the following meeting and told everyone that he would not be commenting anymore on certain topics b/c of you….so from all Athens Touchdown Club members, let me “thank you” for that….jerk. Traditionally, the ATDC has been a place where our Coaches and speakers could be candid with the audience and not have to worry about stuff being put in the media. But thanks to you, that has changed.

So, I was not surprised at all to hear him call you out again and I’m glad he did.

Pope UGA XXIII

March 19th, 2010
11:18 am

This one really doesn’t have much relevance for UGA’s
upcoming season. Bill, if you would like to talk about
something of relevance, start a blog about these booger
eating tech nerds, such as Goldtimer, who probably ate
too much nuclear waste in his various lab courses.

Bill King

March 19th, 2010
11:19 am

Dave Roberts:

Where on earth did you get the notion that I was complaining about Richt reading the Blawg??!!

1eyedJack

March 19th, 2010
11:20 am

KJ, Coach Johnson is taking sword fighting lessons, and getting a technical certificate in gerontology so he can keep his D coordinator alive and awake.

Mike

March 19th, 2010
11:21 am

No answer other than “No Bill, YOU’RE RIGHT, you’re absolutely right. I relinquish my head coaching job. From now on the team will be coached by a senate of superfans, and you sir will hold the gavel” will placate Whiney Bill, a bigger fan of his own opinion than of the Bulldogs. The brat who has to take the last word.

Bill King

March 19th, 2010
11:21 am

ugaaccountant:

The “pigs” I referred to are the folks who leave their garbage behind and urinate in public. Not UGA fans in general, I assure you.

Biff Pocaroba

March 19th, 2010
11:21 am

Glad to see Letterman2004 gone. His “how dare you criticize because you didn’t play or coach” attitude is pathetic. Bill is King.

Roll Tide

March 19th, 2010
11:22 am

Hey Coach, thanks for the info, now we know if Logan is back for the punt, he is going to fair catch or let it go.

BobDog

March 19th, 2010
11:23 am

First!!!!

Actually, first in the 2nd eleven.

I enjoyed hearing CMR’s explanation on how they use Logan. I don’t see a lot of risk in that, but would not do it if he’s the starter.

Mike

March 19th, 2010
11:27 am

Seems like there’s lots of people drinking the CMR kool-aid. Yawn, when the love fest stops, wake me. This coming season, we will all see how “changed” the defense will be, and we will see that the offense will continue to be stagnent. The stats will tell the story.