Who doesn’t like a challenge?

One thing to keep an eye on this Saturday night is the kicking game – for both Georgia and South Carolina.  You’ll never quite know what to expect.

Get ready for another round of adventure on kickoffs, Dawg fans.  It’s just how Jon Fabris rolls.

… If you’re wondering what happened, former Georgia players A.J. Bryant and Kelin Johnson, now regulars on the “Fifth Quarter Show,” put it all into perspective. Both of them played on special teams for Fabris, and they said that it wouldn’t matter whether the Dogs had a kicker who could put it in the end zone or not; Fabris likes “the challenge” of directional kicks. That’s just Coach Fab, they said, get used to it.

Evidently, Georgia isn’t man enough to cover kickoffs consistently.

Oh, and about that return game and letting a freshman run out kicks eight yards deep?  Evidently that was a collaborative decision:

Freshman kick returner Branden Smith took some heat from fans for twice deciding to return kicks from deep in his own end zone, but Tony Ball said it wasn’t Smith’s decision.

“It’s on (Shaun) Chapas,” Ball said. “The returner can sometimes get disoriented trying to field that type of kick, especially a young player like Branden. And I told (Chapas) if you have to, you go in the end zone and grab him and don’t let him come out. Those are the trials and tribulations, but they’re not issues that can’t be fixed.”

Chapas, who works as the upback, was told to make the decision on whether to return the kick or take a knee in the end zone for a touchback, but the angle of the kick made the choice difficult.

“My initial thought was Chapas should have kept him in the end zone,” Ball said. “After asking Chapas about it, he felt like it being a line-drive kick, that threw things off. There was some dynamics there where he had to make some decisions, but Chapas has done it for a couple of years, so I trust him.

Note to South Carolina special teams:  don’t even think about kicking line drives this week.

On the other hand, at least Blair Walsh nailed his opening field goal attempt, which is more than you can say for his Gamecock counterpart.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “Who doesn’t like a challenge?

  1. baltimore dawg

    ah, now i get it: fabris lives in milledgeville, and they let him out on the weekends to coach football.

  2. BeerMoney

    Gotta love the bonus, unnecessary challenge to our kickoff team. It’s getting to the point where I wish Walsh would just turn sideways and kick it directly out of bounds. At least then we know there is no threat of them returning it to OUR 20. It makes about as much sense as Fabris’ strategy.

    And how ’bout this simple idea on returning kickoffs, if you look down and see endzone paint surrounding you (last weekend it was a sea of neon orange so it wasn’t exactly hard to miss), take a knee. If you see green grass, then run. Why do we need other players to help make this decision for the return man?

    • Jordan

      @ BeerMoney

      Because if it is a hard kick without much air under it the coverage team hasn’t had time to get downfield and get into their lanes. This would allow the return team to take advantage of them being out of position and still upfield.

      The return man has his eyes on the ball and is focus on fielding it clearly, so he’s not going to know if the opportunity has presented itself to take advantage of the coverage’s team situation. That’s why it is up to the person in Chapas’ position to judge accordingly.

  3. Jordan

    If this is true, what is wrong with our coaches? Aren’t coaches supposed to play to a team’s strengths? If we’re having trouble covering directional kicks (which we’ve proven we’ve had trouble with) shouldn’t we try a tactic we’re good at?

    That’d be like Michael Phelps saying, “You know what… I don’t care about winning races, I like the challenge of racing while wearing 30 lbs. weights tied to my waist.” While I applaud that to an extent, you’re going to be quickly out of the job if that is your approach.

  4. BeerMoney

    Jordan,

    Thank you for the reply. I was more just thinking in layman’s terms here and understand your point. I hope we don’t see this critical mistake on Saturday no matter who is returning kicks.

    Speaking of that, I am also having a hard time why they are putting Smith, a freshman, back there to return kickoffs by himself. Why not put another speedster back there as well. Early in Richt’s career we saw Terrence Edwards and Fred Gibson back there..both had speed and experience. This could be another way to let AJ get the ball in his hands.

    • Jordan

      Well considering AJ, Moore, etc. are playing 55 snaps a game already, perhaps they don’t want him gassed? I’d prefer if they didn’t have him returning kicks considering he’s our only proven playmaker right now (and risk injury).

      Smith wanted to make a play, I can forgive that transgression. It is up to Chapas and others to make sure he knows to stay back in the endzone if lanes aren’t available.

      • HVL Dawg

        AJ isn’t an all around playmaker. He’s a great ball catcher. Just because you saw Dez (a real playmaker) returning kicks doesn’t mean we should have AJ returning kicks. Have you every seen AJ juke in the open field or blaze someone with speed?

  5. UGAfan

    The “kick it in the endzone” versus the “kick it high” debate is a meaningless exercise. The problem is we do not cover kickoffs well. The way we cover kickoffs a returner who fields the kickoff 5 yards deep in the endzone would be a fool not to return it anyway, and we would still have to defend a return of a kick with a low hang time.

    If we did start kicking 75 yard kickoffs don’t think we would be getting touchbacks. We would have to have darned near 80 yard kickoffs (from a 1 inch tee) to get touchbacks and avoid returns, as long as we defend returns poorly.

    So as long as our kickoff return defense is poor, we will invite the opposition to return kickoffs from the endzone and still risk long returns.

    This, “Just kick it into the endzone, dammit!” attitude assumes that a kickoff into the endzone will automatically be downed, and that is not a valid assumption.

    The key to our kick coverage woes is having the right personnel on the field to not allow long returns.

  6. D.N. Nation

    “It’s on (Shaun) Chapas,” Ball said. “The returner can sometimes get disoriented trying to field that type of kick, especially a young player like Branden. And I told (Chapas) if you have to, you go in the end zone and grab him and don’t let him come out. Those are the trials and tribulations, but they’re not issues that can’t be fixed.”

    Chapas, who works as the upback, was told to make the decision on whether to return the kick or take a knee in the end zone for a touchback, but the angle of the kick made the choice difficult.

    “My initial thought was Chapas should have kept him in the end zone,” Ball said. “After asking Chapas about it, he felt like it being a line-drive kick, that threw things off. There was some dynamics there where he had to make some decisions, but Chapas has done it for a couple of years, so I trust him.

    How about THIS:

    The next time this decision is made- which is the wrong one- run his ass up and down the stairs up to the 600 level.

    Problem. Solved.

  7. pup

    Man our special teams are so special. I wonder why URBAN takes on the coaching of his special teams? Think they might have an advantage. How long would FABRIS last at FL.

    • Dog in Fla

      I think he would get a pay raise and some mysterious title words like associate to the assistant or assistant to the associate added after his name and be there a long time. With Urban, it’s all about the family of assistant coaches and it’s the loyalty, not the results, that matter in keeping the family happy and content. Just like it is in the private sector.

  8. Hobnail_Boot

    What we have here is ANOTHER example of our coaches publicly throwing players under the bus. Hey Coach Ball, instead of worrying about Chapas, maybe you might want to start keeping track of which WR’s have and have not been in the game. I know it’s tough, seeing as how there’s so many of them to keep track of.

    /sick of the b.s. coming from Butts-Mehre

  9. pup

    Dog in FL. MY mistake.

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