Coach Richt, Logan Gray and (gasp!) bloggers

Well now, here’s something you don’t expect to hear from the head dude:

… [Richt] disagreed with a blogger who criticized plans to use Logan Gray again deep in Georgia’s own territory on punt returns if he doesn’t win the starting quarterback job.

“I usually don’t ever read a blog, but I read the blog about Logan Gray catching punts,” Richt said…

… Richt said 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 (sic) 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.”

First off, kudos to Richt for responding – and responding in a respectful way.  I can think of several of his peers (as well as countless anonymous bloggers/commenters) who wouldn’t have been nearly so decent about that.  And I have long suspected that Richt and the coaches read the blogs more than they let on.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

However, with regard to the substance of his remarks, sorry, but I’m not buying it.  For that all to make complete sense, you’d have to believe that (1) Logan was only deployed as a returner (using the term loosely) in situations when Georgia was flat-out not returning a punt; (2) no other player on the team was as capable of judging whether to field a punt as he was; and (3) that he performed his duties at a level higher than anyone else on the team could.

And the reason you have to believe this gets back to something I said in the comments to my post on this subject.

… 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”?

By electing not to insert your regular return specialist, you limit your options and you make it easier for the other team to defend.  Now maybe you can justify this in terms of risk and reward, which gets back to the three points I raised earlier, but I didn’t see anything in what Richt said that went in that direction.

Maybe that’s because, in reflecting on last season, I question whether he’s got his facts completely straight.  I can recall a game when Gray bobbled a punt.  I also remember the Vanderbilt game (I was there!) when Gray sandwiched a disastrous minus-2 yard return on a punt from the Vandy 31 between two Prince Miller returns of 55 and 40 yards.  And there’s the Auburn game, when, after Georgia got down 14-0, the coaches elected to have Prince Miller field punts twice inside the Georgia 20 (one of those was fair caught, by the way).

It’s hard to see how there was some hard and fast rule about when to send Logan out to field a punt, at least in the context that Richt described.  And it seems apparent that there were circumstances when the coaches were convinced that they could trust Prince Miller as much as Gray.  Given that, it’s hard to justify continuing the same old thing this season.

Again, this isn’t about Logan Gray.  Respectfully speaking, it’s about the tactics.  It’s about being unnecessarily passive.  It’s a mindset Georgia needs to get out from under.

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55 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics, The Blogosphere

55 responses to “Coach Richt, Logan Gray and (gasp!) bloggers

  1. Amen, amen, and amen. The biggest issue I have with this strategy is the fact that you are conceding to the other team that there will definitely not be a return on this punt. You’re taking away one more thing that the other team has to think about, and I can’t see the reward that justifies that.

    Can our first team punt returners not grasp the concept of when to fair catch and when to let one go? I have a hard time believing that.

  2. Brandon

    By going public with this he’s just setting someone up to think Logan will never return one, and then everyone will be surprised when Logan streaks like a bolt of lightning through the huddled masses of defenders to score a winning touchdown. Lane Kiffin isn’t the only one who is crazy like a fox!

    • Charles D.

      It would be nice to believe this is true, and I have often thought, over the last couple of years, that CMR was just being clever with some things he has said.

      Unfortunately, I was wrong. What we have heard is what we have gotten.

      Reminds me of when Billy Knight told everyone in the world that he was going to take Shelden Williams with the 5th pick in the draft.

      First off, Shelden was a terrible, terrible player, but that was not the issue. The issue was that Knight told everybody exactly what was going to happen, even though that was going to take away his leverage and also proved how obtuse he was.

    • Will Q

      I actually kept hoping this was true last season, just like I kept hoping that Gray was only running the ball when he was put in at QB so that we could fake a later opponent out.

      Ah, if only that had been the case.

    • Brandon

      Come on guys, keep a little optimism, last year was part of the set up, we’ve got’em right where we want’em.

  3. baltimore dawg

    i’m in total agreement with everything you’ve said on this matter. it was my impression (and, no, i can’t bear to go back and watch every game right now) that gray was inserted in punt return situations in a mostly haphazard way and that the results were very sketchy, whatever the intentions might have been. thanks for recalling a few occasions that illustrate this.

    i’m floored that cmr would respond to a blog publicly. or maybe this is richt’s way of issuing a fatwa against the senator. seriously, coach–you’re an uncommon gentleman, but no good can come of this.

    • 69Dawg

      We put him in anytime we were going into a defensive punt coverage. The other team could be punting from their 40 if we were afraid it might be a fake then LG was back because we were not going to return it. It just lets the other team game us.

  4. Aaron Murray

    Another problem with Logan being out there last year and possibly this year is risking your backup QB getting leveled. We have all seen on several occasions when a player calls for a fair catch but some moron takes him out anyway. Do we really want to risk that?

    • JC in Powder Springs

      Was it Mikey Henderson who got leveled in the Sugar Bowl by the Hawaii thug? Considering Gray was the Dawgs only backup QB with any game experience last season, placing him in that situation would have been considered pretty damn stupid if Cox got hurt. I agree with Sen B – using Gray in that situation wasn’t a wise policy considering the facts from last season and potential injury problems that CMR fortunately didn’t have to deal with.

  5. Fldawg

    YOU ARE CORRECT, SIR.
    please read:

    CLARION CALL FOR ALL BULLDAWG FAITHFUL
    All eyes are on Athens this summer. We are watching.

    I don’t want to fire CMR, but I believe 2010 is the make or break year for the current coaches and leadership of the football and athletics programs.
    We love the Univ of Georgia, and believe we CAN win conference and national championships.
    UGA has everything necessary (and more) to get there…..Except the right leadership.
    We CAN compete consistently in the Top 5, which is required for nc game.
    We CAN do it.
    Damon Evans talks often about competing for championships. Does anyone think he is talking only about the conference?
    The players talk about the national championship.
    If the AD and the players expect it and dream it, why can’t the fans?
    YES SIR, we do expect conf and national championships.
    Middle of the SEC east will not be tolerated.

    Have you forgotten the tsunami of discontent which began 2 years ago?
    This groundswell grew even larger and louder last year, beginning with the sickening OKST loss to begin the year. Only a handful of plays saved us from 5-7 last year.
    Please do not delude yourself that this groundswell has ended.
    UGA fans have been distracted with the holidays and are now digging out of the cruel winter.
    Believe me, the groundswell of discontent with CMR and CMB (Mike Bobo) is still here.
    And now there are rumblings about Damon Evans.
    We love CMR and CMB and DE, but the Univ of Georgia comes first, before any personalities.
    Does anyone think a few new defensive coaches will solve and repair all the other leadership problems?
    I cannot believe what I have heard quoted by CMR and DE over the last few days.
    And now, CMR is picking a public fight with the media! Not smart, not professional.
    We still have a culture of leadership confusion, complacency, and deficiency.

    I can remind you of dozens of specific examples, but lets remember just one: Richard Samuel.
    Have you forgotten this monumental coaching catastrophe?
    Please name any other D-1 powers who list an unproven unknown fumble-prone linebacker as their starting tailback to begin the season?
    Excuse me, but this is the Univ of Georgia, Tailback U.
    We have a gloried, storied tradition of exceptional running backs who honored and distinguished themselves and the university.
    The brilliant decision to start Samuel at tailback sullied and tarnished the memory of all the greats who brought glory to the running game and fame to our program.
    Please don’t get me wrong, I like Richard Samuel, I am not criticizing Samuel, I am sure he is a wonderful kid who might be able to earn his scholarship and help us.
    Our current coaches created this humiliating disaster, and the whole world wonders just what is going on in Athens.
    Want more?

    What is holding us back?….only the fears and limitations within our own minds.
    All I hear are those who defend why we CANNOT win.
    Don’t throw in with those who continue to cry and say we cant do it this year or next, we need many more years….
    Does every kid on our roster know this is THE most important summer of their lives?

    If Bama can do it, UGA can.
    Bama went UNDEFEATED during the regular season 2 years in a row!
    If OK can play in several nc games, we can.
    If OHIOST can play in several nc games, we can.
    If LSU can win 2 nc, we can.
    If the hated Gators can do it, we can.

    Beware the poverty of lame excuses.
    Beware the cancer of complacency.
    Count the costs of indecision.

    UGA can and must win championships. Now.
    NO MORE EXCUSES.
    We must play in the conf champ game Dec 4. Period.
    We can and must fight our way back to the Top 5.
    This begins now, March 2010, with the focus on an undefeated season.
    NO MORE EXCUSES.
    YES SIR, we do expect a national championship.
    NO EXCUSES.
    We have the talent on our roster to win national championships.
    We are watching and waiting for leadership excellence.

    • Reptillicide

      Take a freaking xanex.

    • Prov

      “I don’t want to fire CMR”

      Damon?

      • Puffdawg

        Definitely TB. Copying and pasting as usual only this time with a polite precursor of “Please read:”

        Priceless.

    • Macallanlover

      FlDawg/TB, we were also only 4-5 plays from being 10-2 as well so your logic is asinine. You have a serious agenda here with comments like these. There is no tsunami brewing in the Dawg ocean, but we do expect a better finish the next two years. After that, everyone can re-evaluate their position. Until then it is silly to pretend CMR is on a hot seat with either the majority of fans or the adminsitration.

      I have less concern about the Gray punt return issue than many here, but feel there are other avenues to explore regarding that. I will assume the collective coaching staff at UGA is in a much better position to make that decision than those commenting here. On a priority list of things for discussion, how to handle the “safe punt” situation isn’t even a blip on the horizon to me.

      • Prov

        Your paragraphs and capitalization are much too uniformed for him to comprehend.

        • Macallanlover

          I don’t TB ever stays around after he posts his epistles, just stirs everyone up and rolls on down the road. Can’t recall him ever responding to the firestorm he leaves each visit.

          • Champ

            Just get a job, it will help with all that off time you obviously got……

            • Macallanlover

              Assume this was misdirected and intended for FlDawg/TB. I can’t seem to find enough time, and damn sure don’t want a job.

  6. keith

    Thanks Aaron for pointing out something that have pointed out soooo many times.
    Also, CMR would be wrong on when they send Logan out there. I have seen him field a punt at our 40 and several other times outside the 20. I would LOVE to ask two things of CMR:
    1-Has he thought at all about the possiblity of his QB getting leveled as the coverage team runs thru the fair catch. (once again, it has happened to one of his own before)
    2- Coach, are you trying to tell me that the only time you have sent Logan in was on a pooch situation, because respectfully sir, thats just not the case. Can you address this?

    • Puffdawg

      Keith, well said. I’ll take it a step further and say I know this sounds crazy, but if you are the opposing coach and the other team puts their 2nd string QB in the game to fair catch a punt, would it be that far out of the realm of possibility to not pooch it and force a return. Not saying you want your players to intentionally hurt him, but you can basically get a kill shot on the backup. Now, if the 1st string guy goes down, game over, because 2nd string QB is either going to be hurt or looking over his shoulder a bit more cautiously.

  7. The Realist

    Wasn’t Tereshinski used as the protector for the punter a couple of years?

    With all due respect to Logan Gray, I think this has more to do with getting the kid on the field in any capacity because 1) he has talent and 2)he’s a good kid who deserves to see the field of play that he likely won’t get much of at his current position.

    Odds are that he won’t be harmed. When they insert Gray back there, they are in punt safe (which I think is counter productive… like the prevent defense, but I digress), though not necessarily in pooch punting situations as the Good Senator pointed out.

    If Gray is not going to be the answer at quarterback, then this isn’t that big of a deal. Gray is not the issue here. It’s the punt safe that the fans have a problem with. It’s conceding field position and allowing the opponent an advantage by giving away your strategy.

    If Gray is going to be more than just a novelty act situational type at QB, then this is one of the most befuddling decisions Richt could make.

    • Puffdawg

      What is befuddling, and I said this yesterday, is that if indeed Gray is fair catching punts because he is not going to be the guy at QB, why are we wasting snaps on him with 1st string O? Our coaches frequently get hung up in no man’s land likes this and it is maddening.

      I also mentioned yesterday that we heard last off season Gray had not focused on learning the O because he had spent time on special teams. If that was true, what is he doing dicking around with ST now? If it wasn’t true and was a cover up for him not being able to grasp the offense, then why are we wasting reps on him with 1st team. Just seems like our coaches try to be too nice sometimes and it winds up being counterproductive.

      • Dog in Fla

        “why are we wasting snaps on him with 1st string O?…dicking around…”

        To present the other side of the story on practice and dicking around, let’s hear from this guest expert…

  8. Rob

    He lost me at “fine gentleman.”

  9. AthensHomerDawg

    fladawg,
    I’m not sure firing Richt or Bobo is anywhere near the right answer. I’m still not certain how the Hillbillies fire their D coordinator and he ends up with a fat paycheck at LSU and then is courted by UGA. And they fired the Pumpkin King and well ..you know the rest of that story. Last year’s rb’s battled injuries in the spring, Cox had the flu right before the OkSt debacle. I ran the Peachtree following a summer cold once …my girlfriend beat me that day. I told her it was only because of the cold. Excuses yeah, and we all get tired of them. We’ll all agree that it takes a little luck to win a NC. There was a time when a lot of fans thought Mr. #34 might be a LB including Papa Dooley. Now we’ll get a look at Samuel there. I’m hoping he is a success because he’s a great kid and deserves. How long after Mack Brown arrived at Texas did it take to win a NC.? Plenty of fans were clamoring for his head. How long did it take Coach Dooley?

  10. 318 Dawg

    We’re definitely putting the special in special teams in a negative way. Does any other school in 1-A have a designated fair catch punt returner who also happens to be a QB? Is CMR right and every other coach wrong?

    I totally agree that being passive and showing your hand in that situation gives our opponent an upper hand. What it breaks down to me is it appears playing not to lose rather than playing to win. Personally, I’d rather see an aggressive mistake occasionally than sitting on our cans game after game and waiting for the other team to make a play to beat us.

  11. Hogbody Spradlin

    Hey Blutarsky, you got Coach to respond to you. Next thing you know you’ll get a press pass.

    • Weiszer thinks Richt was responding to Bill King’s blog in the AJ-C, but King gave me a nod in his post, so I’ll settle for partial credit. ;)

      • Puffdawg

        Next thing you know CMR will be bringing in a fair catch specialist from the NFL to prepare our players for the draft in an apparent PR move… all because of SB.

  12. keith

    Odds are that he won’t be harmed.

    Boy should make him feel better.

    And whether or not he is the answer at QB is actually irrelevant, although he will be # 2 in the fall until Mett gets off restriction and then he is a play away from being #1, just like last year. And if he is a play away from being #1, then we are a play away from a true freshman being the starting QB.

    But even without the injury possibility, you are telling the other team that we are giving up that play and are content with starting out on our own 10 yd line. Hell, like I posted above, he also fair catches inside our 40 yd line before. What does that tell the other team?

    • The Realist

      I’m assuming you are responding to me…

      The points I was trying to make are thus:

      1) If Gray does have some hypothetical debilitating injury, UGA would also need the starter to have a hypothetical debilitating injury to even feel a consequence. The likelihood of Gray having this hypothetical debilitating injury is very slim considering he only fair catches punts (with one noted exception). If the starter does go down, I’m pretty sure Gray would stop being the fair catch guy if he were thrust into the QB role. The likelihood of both the starter going down and Gray going down as a result of a fair catch gone awry is akin to winning the lottery.

      Even though UGA is just a play away from needing Gray, they are three plays away from not having a single scholarship quarterback available, so though all possibilities exist, some possibilities are more likely than others.

      This is why Gray is not the issue here…

      2) You really have a problem with punt safe. Sure, Gray being back there gives away your strategy. So does three guys bailing before the snap. So does the white flags that the coaches wave. So does the universal groan from the UGA fan base that is heard through the cosmos. Admittedly, this is a concession. I don’t like it. You don’t like it. Nobody likes it… except Richt. Punt safe is the issue. Let’s start a grassroots campaign to end Punt Safe.

      • Puffdawg

        What happens if Gray goes down but the starter does not? Don’t you think the gameplan becomes a lot more conservative? It almost HAS to. Remember the beautiful zone read play against Tech a few years ago when Stafford kept it a jaunted 40 yards for TD? That play does not happen without a #2 QB.

  13. Hogbody Spradlin

    Shades of Vince:

    In a pregame interview this fall an opposing coach will say “Georgia has the finest pooch punt returner we’ve faced all year.”

  14. lefty

    how about logan fair catching late in the LSU game when they were punting out of their end zone (or at least very deep) and we had a chance to hammer them with a block or good return, instead we fair catch on our forty something and didn’t capitalize.

    • 69Dawg

      CMR is a fan of Rugby. In rugby they kick and play for field position like the early days of CFB. We show by our actions that we are in safe and we also have our deep blockers sell out early and give the punter time to see that only one guy is covering. That is why we still have had a large number of rather heartbreaking fake punt plays against us.

  15. keith

    Well, actually its not that far fetched and I guess I should have played the lottery the day that we had not one but two lineman get injured in the same game. I have watched the 3rd string QB be thrust into a game due to injury. (not at UGA)
    If indeed Murray were to go down CMR is telling us that Gray is okay to be the starter cause we are actually, contrary to what you believe, one play away from Gray being the QB in that first game.
    And you are wrong, its not just the punt safe that I have a problem with.

    • The Realist

      It is also the reply button… I kid.

      QB’s getting hurt and linemen getting hurt are completely different. Linemen get hurt with a fair amount of regularity. Returners getting hurt on a fair catch are extremely rare.

      I’ve seen Georgia knock two different QB’s out of games, so I’m not saying it is not possible. What I am saying is it is very unlikely to happen that Gray gets injured on one of the three or four fair catches he might make (or decline to make) in a game AND the starter gets hurt. You should be far more worried about injuries in practice or in an automobile around campus. More pedestrians are struck by UGA buses than fair catchers injured in the act. Seriously.

      And, if you are willing to read between the lines, Gray isn’t the guy. From many accounts, Murray would have gotten some playing time last year had he not been injured, and Gray wasn’t injured. Gray is a career backup. If the punt safe is not what you have a problem with, then what is it? Getting a guy some minimal playing time in an insignificant role?

      • Puffdawg

        Odds aside, is Gray more likely to be injured standing on the sideline, or fielding live game punts? Which brings us back to one of the original questions: is Gray that much more talented at catching punts than any other guy on the team (I think SB answered that with his examples outlined in the post)?

        QB is the least interchangable position on the field (save maybe kicker). Why would you increase the chances of your backup being injured? If he’s an all american returner like Terry Hoage, ok. But just for fair catches? Come on…

  16. Scorpio Jones, III

    +2 Hogbody

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  19. Dawgaholic

    On the Gray issue, noone seems to acknowledge the fact that Gray is one of the faster guys on the team.

    Having watched him at G-day from the stands, his speed really stands out. He’s faster than many of our defensive backs.

    We may have other guys that could catch the ball and make the right decision but we probably have few guys if any that can do that as well as take it to the house if the other team makes a huge mistake in coverage or hits a line drive to the returner.

    • keith

      Did you miss something dawgaholic? Gray is not in there to return it, only make a decision to fair catch it or let it roll into the end zone.

    • Puffdawg

      Please refer back to SB’s post…

      “…when Gray sandwiched a disastrous minus-2 yard return on a punt from the Vandy 31 between two Prince Miller returns of 55 and 40 yards”

      • keith

        “All Logan is doing is making a decision whether it should be a fair catch or let the ball hit.”

        That is a direct CMR quote. I am not saying that he hasn’t returned one. Just repeating what Grays job is according to his coach.

        • Puffdawg

          I was replying to dawgaholic and agreeing with you, keith. trying to point out to dawgaholic that last year there was at least one guy on the team “…that can do that as well as take it to the house if the other team makes a huge mistake in coverage or hits a line drive to the returner.

          • Dawgaholic

            You’ve got to be kidding if you think that he is told do not return it under any circumstance. If the coaches thought like that, we would have a great hands, no speed, very football smart walk-on returning in punt safe. I’m sure we’ve had guys that met those qualifications every year of the Richt era.

            Logan is “eligible” to return punts because of his speed. His football smarts are why he is the punt safe returner. His position as back-up QB and the fact he does not have as much wiggle as guys like Carlton Thomas and Prince Miller is why he is not the every down returner.

            • keith

              Dawg…
              CMR says that is exactly what Gray is being told and I have seen him fair catch punts with seemingly all day to run so that proves that. Just on the off chance that Gray gets hurt fielding a punt and is then needed at QB and yet we have someone on the bench that meets those same qualifications used in punt safe, well then CMR is not smart enough to be a head football coach any longer, no matter how great a man is is or how much we all like him.

  20. JC in Powder Springs

    After considering the facts, I have to agree using Gray as a punt returner is not a smart idea. It’s just one more area of the game where Dawgs coaching makes you shake your head and wonder wtf are they thinking. And, CMR’s response makes me wonder if he’s ever going to wise up to these little things that make the difference between a national champ and an also-ran. You don’t see Saban, Meyer, Spurrier, Miles, Paterno, Bowden, etc. putting their #2 QB on punt return teams – in any situation. It’s a dumb idea, and calling it ice cream with a cherry on top isn’t going to make it a good idea.

  21. Hoshney

    I guess it shows how easily annoyed he is at just about anyone who questions some of his idiotic decisions.

    Using Gray as a returner is idiotic when he is our backup QB

  22. Thomas Brown

    You missed the whole entire point, again, as you always do.

    The point is that Coach Richt is supposed to be concerning himself about the Average Number # 96 NCAA Rank for UGA in Penalties the last 4 consecutive years and counting, now.

    CMR is supposed to be concerning himself about the 21 fumbles a year UGA has averaged for the last 4 consecutive years and counting, now.

    CMR is supposed to be concerning himself about the 14 interceptions a year UGA has averaged for the last 4 consecutive years and counting, now.

    Instead of concerning himself about what Bill King writes in his idiotic blog. Now you can delete my free speach.

  23. Joe

    Am I the only one who saw Logan Gray play QB last year? Let’s put this in perspective. We’re not exactly talking about Steve Young backing up Joe Montana in the late ’80s. I’m sure Logan is a great kid, but he is not a very good QB, to put it nicely. Whether that’s because he’s a bust or because the coaches failed him, I don’t know. But, I don’t underdstand all of the hand wringing, worrying about Logan Gray possibly getting hurt. I completely understand the concern regarding Richt’s “punt safe” philosophy and am in total agreement on that point, but Logan Gray MAYBE getting hurt on a fair catch isn’t exactly keeping me awake at night. If we’re counting on Logan for potentially significant playing time at QB this year, well then, we’re probably not going to have a very good season.

    In fact, I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that Logan Gray will be our 3rd string QB, not 2nd string. Mettenberger will probably be suspended for the Louisiana-Lafayette game, so I guess Logan will be 2nd string for that game, but, damn, I sure hope the Ragin Cajuns aren’t pinning us deep very often. And if they are, I say “what the hell, let’s roll the dice and put Carlton Thomas at the 10, see how he does.” If he bobbles it and they score, I’m pretty sure we can overcome it.

    I guess the bottom line for me is that, while there are definitely valid points being made in criticizing Richt’s philosophy here, I just don’t see it as that big of a deal. There are no perfect coaches, but I promise you this: if at the end of the regular season our biggest complaint is having Logan Gray fair catch punts, then I’ll be seeing you guys at the Dome the first weekend in December.