It’s the time of year in college football when all teams are undefeated, most fans are optimistic, and coaches talk a lot of ideas designed to get those fans excited (though in many cases they never pan out). There might have been some of that in a few of Mark Richt’s comments to reporters Thursday, but I still found a lot to like in what he said.
Richt sounded a lot more flexible in terms of shaking things up and making the best use of Georgia’s talent base with position switches and two-way players than he has at times in the past.
Malcolm Mitchell playing offense and defense?
“Quite frankly, we’re going to experiment with that a bit,” Richt said.
Same with Richard Samuel possibly playing fullback. And there’s not a lot of difference in Todd Grantham’s defense between Ray Drew playing outside linebacker and defensive end, he said. Versatility is a hallmark of defensive players under Grantham, Richt noted. “A guy who at one time might be standing up as a linebacker, the next play he’s got his hand on the ground rushing the passer.”
Also, while incoming freshman linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons isn’t likely to play safety, as had been rumored, Richt said he probably can stay in the game when the defense is in a nickel package, and “he’s also got some offensive skills and he may be just the right guy to throw the ball to in the red zone. So whether he can handle all that as a true freshman, I don’t know. But before his career is over we’ll definitely give him an opportunity to do some things offensively as well.”
Of course, chances are not all of those changes will stick in the long run past spring drills. But I like the way Richt is viewing his talent base.
And while I’m not thrilled that he isn’t budging on not naming a special teams coordinator, he did again emphasize that change is coming in that department.
As the head coach put it: “If that means a guy playing both ways or two positions on defense or if that means we have to put the entire starting lineup on offense and defense playing special teams, I don’t care what it is, we have to do whatever we have to do to get the best players on the field. … We may have to stretch guys a little bit here and there from a learning standpoint and from getting more reps. … [Most] guys are going to play some special teams at one time or another. So we’ve got to get all hands on deck. We’re going to make sure everybody understands how crucial they are and how special teams are just as important as playing first down on defense or offense.”
Sounds like Richt has gotten religion, so to speak, when it comes to improving the Dogs’ special teams play.
I also liked the fact that he reminded the defense that while they were highly ranked last season and return most of their starters, “The one thing they all want to do a better job of is finish. We could’ve finished better in our last two ballgames as a team, not just defensively. Our defense knows, at the moment of truth, when we’ve got to get a stop, we’ve got to get a stop. Same thing offensively; when we’ve got to score, we’ve got to score.”
Sounds like Richt wasn’t satisfied with just getting back to a 10-win season. Like I said, sometimes these offseason chats are simply the coach playing to the fans. But I get the feeling Richt is serious about making the moves necessary to get his program back to the next level.
What did you think of Richt’s comments?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg