Grasping at spring practice straws

Given that it’s only the second day of spring practice – following a spring break gap after Day One, to boot – it’s obviously silly to read much of anything into whatever the media was able to observe during its 15-20 stint yesterday.

Then again, this is a Georgia football blog, amirite?  If I don’t at least try to read any tea leaves, what good am I?

So, here are two niblets that caught my eye.

First, it seems that sanity hasn’t completely returned to Georgia’s special teams with Fabris’ departure.

… If Gray doesn’t win the starting QB job, he likely will continue his special-teams role of fielding deep punts, Richt indicated. “In the fall, I think he will either be the guy [at quarterback] or he will be a very strong candidate to do what he did last year on the punt team,” Richt said.

Why?  Is it really the case that there isn’t a single other player on the roster with both sure hands and an ability to actually return a punt?  Or in the alternative, somebody other than your backup quarterback who can waive his arm over his head and cleanly field a punt?  Hell, I’d rather see them deploy eleven guys on the line, go for the block and take their chances with how the ball bounces than go through another year of that passive nonsense.  It’s almost enough in and of itself to make me wish that Gray wins the starting quarterback job.

On the less crazy side of things, I loves hearing about fundamentals.

Defensive backs worked on backpeddling, and breaking once the football is thrown.

Breaking on the ball – what a novel concept.  Seeing at G-Day what steps the defense is taking to get back to the level we’re all hoping for should be fun.

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Grasping at spring practice straws

  1. Scorpio Jones, III

    Fun…well, I hope at the end of the season we can say it was fun.

    Change makee me nervous….Does Medicare do tranquilizers?

  2. baltimore dawg

    incomprehensible (re: gray). who’s heading up punt returns this year? richt needs an intervention.

  3. Mayor of Dawgtown

    What did you expect Richt to say about Gray? That if he doesn’t win the starting QB job he’ll ride the pines all year? He’s the third best QB (maybe fourth best when the true freshman shows up) on the team. The mistake was not moving him to WR and I still think that will happen by fall.

    • How many schools do you know of that have (1) fair catch specialists who are (2) the backup quarterback?

      This has nothing to do with Gray. It has to do with what Mark Richt expects from the special teams.

      • hailtogeorgia

        In his defense (and I don’t know if you saw this or not), Richt wasn’t saying that Gray is going to be the primary punt returner. He said that in situations where the returner has to decide whether to fair catch the ball or allow it to go into the endzone, Gray will most likely be the guy. He said that his decision making in those situations has been top-notch. Given our propensity to cough up the football, as well as the major momentum swing a special teams turnover can facilitate, I have no problem with that at all. For what it’s worth, Carlton Thomas apparently has a very good chance of being the regular punt returner…which sounds great.

        • I realize that Gray won’t be the primary. He wasn’t last year.

          Let’s try this again: Why does Georgia need a designated fair catch specialist at all? What is it about a punt fielded inside its own 20 that makes Richt write off attempting a return? If Carlton Thomas – or whoever wins the primary job – is competent enough to catch the ball on the 40, why not elsewhere if it gives the team a chance at picking up yardage?

          Basically what Richt is doing is conceding to the opponent’s strategy without a fight. How does it make sense to say, “OK, we’ll go ahead and start at our own 10 yard line”?

          If he’s that concerned about turnovers, then either let Gray catch every punt if he’s the most sure-handed… or do away with punt returns altogether. Obviously, I’m not serious about that, but isn’t that the logical extension of this strategy?

          By the way, what do you think happens if Gray does in fact win the starting QB job? Think he’d still be the fair catch specialist? Think anyone else would be?

          Sorry if I sound so sarcastic here, but I really don’t get Richt on this.

          • hailtogeorgia

            If Richt is only using this to get Gray on the field because he “just wants to help the program”, then I’m completely with you. I certainly follow your point regarding the concession to the other team, and honestly, if the only two things we’re going to do in that situation are fair catch the ball or let it roll, then sending 11 guys after the punter and abandoning the return altogether isn’t that bad of an idea.

            Let’s say Richt gives Gray a third option, though. Now he can fair catch the ball, he can let it roll into the endzone, or he can return it if he thinks his chances are good. To me, that’s a good idea. You take a situation where there’s probably the highest possibility for a turnover in the game, limit the chances of that happening with a sure-handed, smart guy, while at the same time still giving your team the possibility to advance the ball and better your position. In my opinion, that’s good coaching…the question is whether or not Richt will give Gray that option.

      • How many points did UGA give up in 2009 by using Gray instead of Miller on these plays?

        My guess: .118 points/game.

        So, yeah, probably better off using Miller. But it’s not as big a deal as some think it is.

  4. Greg

    HailtoGeorgia is correct. Maybe Richt saw Prince Miller catch the ball inside the 10 yard line too many times when he should have let the ball go in the endzone. We don’t need guys standing near our goal line who think they are going to catch the ball over their head and be a hero by returning it 90 yards. The odds are that mentality will only lose us field position and possibly the ball.

    When an opponent is punting us deep into our territory, the majority of the time they are hanging it up so high that the only option is either a fair catch or letting the ball go. So, you need a person in those situations is sure handed and who makes good decisions about when to catch the all and when to let it go. They trust Gray to do that. Let it go.

    • Puffdawg

      I gotta go with SB on this one. Out of 85 scholarship guys, we can’t find a different one who can fair catch AND return punts? This whole theory jives with the way our program has operated in recent (disappointing) years, and SB said it best: “Basically what Richt is doing is conceding to the opponent’s strategy without a fight.” We have let our opponents be way too comfortable last couple of years (which is why the 3-4 implementation is a little exciting, at least on the surface). But then we go right back to this crap.

      And how many times did you see LG line up and fair catch at the 50? This incomprehensible statregy was not limited to Gray fair catching inside the 20.

  5. Pingback: Logan Gray still might be fielding punts? Really!?! | The Junkyard Blawg

  6. keith

    Letting Gray field punts is one of the most idiotic coaching moves we have been engaged in lately.
    1- Fair catches do not preempt your back-up QB from getting drilled by an over aggressive defender.(anybody remember Mikey Henderson’s bowl game getting cut short by the Hawaii guy running through a fair catch?)
    2- If you can’t get in a players ear hole as a coach when he decides to field a punt inside the 10 yd line and pull him if need be, then you don’t need to be a coach.
    3- I have seen some tremendous 90 yd punt returns that turn momentum.
    4- That fair catching strategy was also inexplicably employed on several punts where Gray fielded the ball outside the 30 yd line.
    I would have to wager that above 80% of all punts are fielded inside of the 30 yd line. A turnover there is critical anyway, so hell, just let Gray do them all if you don’t trust your regular returner to catch a punt.

  7. Dboy

    I see both sides. But why can’t the regular punt return man be disciplined enough to catch the ball reliably and know when to fair catch or let it go? Is this only a skill that one person can learn? At least with the speedy guy, the opposition has to worry that there is a dangerous return man that they have to account for… In case he takes off.

  8. 69Dawg

    CMR has just said either 1 No other fast player on our team is smart enough to trust in this situation or 2. Our coaches are not capable of teaching a fast player to be smart enough to tell the difference. Plus why would he fire Fab if he is the reason this stupid stuff is continued. If he advocates this is he really going to let the KO team have the fastest/best D players to cover or will he continue the Fab approach of slow white walkons backed up by a few 1st team D’s backed up by the QB and the Kicker. This borders on insanity.

  9. Sounds like Richt has given a strong, strong hint as to what the coaches think of Gray as a QB. I’m not in the (large) camp of fans who have just automatically given Murray the job at QB next season, but this implies to me that the coaches DO NOT expect Logan to be the number 1 guy. If, on any level, they did, this would never be an option. If, on any level, they even expected him to be a backup to a red-shirt freshman QB, this would never be an option.

    Richt has tipped his hat on where Gray falls in the QB rotation chances.

  10. Chuck

    Perhaps there is someone that make as good a decision as Gray about whether to catch it, let it go into the end zone, try to break a run, etc., but I have not been at practice and have no basis for making the judgment, and I doubt any one else here has been at practice and has a basis for making the judgment. It sounds to me like the reasoning is that if were to be the #1, then he wouldn’t do it regardless because they wouldn’t want to risk injury/fatigue. But if he is a #2 QB and is doing a good job of it, why shouldn’t he. The arguments against it sound a lot more like “you just shouldn’t do that” than being grounded in some factual reason.

    • keith

      How about if he is the #2 QB, then he is one play away from being the #1?
      That a factual enough reason for you.
      How about if he gets drilled waiting on a fair catch and Murray gets drilled and out in the 1st game, we then have a true freshman taking snaps?
      That another factual enough reason for you.

    • Puffdawg

      The theme going into last year was that Gray wasn’t going to be considered to start at QB because he had spent so much time on special teams and hadn’t truly focused on learning the offense. Either that was true, or he just wasn’t good enough to play QB. I’m still willing to give him a shot to play QB because I remember (wrongly) being so down on Shock after the 04 season. But if he’s good enough to get a shot, forget this fair catch thing. If he isn’t good enough to play QB, let him fair catch and don’t waste good reps for new QB. Can they not tell, after seeing him for 3 years already, if he is good enough to be the man? This is the same type of middling judgement our coaches have used to waste the talents of Kiante Tripp, Brandon Miller, et al. Just seems like sometimes they can’t make up their dang minds!!!

  11. Except for the kickoff coverage team, the Dawgs have been solid under CMR. That will be rectified this year & our special teams will be “Special” from now own. Having someone special to field punts inside the 10 also makes sense to me. Who will be the real punt returner now is the biggest special teams question in my opinion. Other than that we are indeed solid.

  12. NRBQ

    “Inside the 10?”

    Wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard you never field a punt inside the ten. Let it bounce.

  13. I fielded ? a few inside of the 10. Height, coverage, Etc. come into play. Better to have it on the 10 than on the 1 or 2.. That is the decision for Logan,.

    • Puffdawg

      Inside the 10 is different than “on the ten.” In that situation, the rule is put your heels on the ten and absolutely do NOT take a step back. The only case where this may not apply is if the opposing punter hits a low lining 70 yarder and DRASTICALLY outkicks coverage.

  14. Pingback: Hey Coach Richt, thanks for reading! | The Junkyard Blawg