Getting special about special teams

A determined sounding Mark Richt on special teams personnel:

Richt also reiterated that veterans and starters are expected to contribute on special teams.

“In the past we’d say: If your heart’s not in it, don’t get on the team,” Richt said. “You want guys whose heart’s in it. But this year, we’re saying: You change your heart. If you don’t want to be on the special team, you change your heart.”

You think that says more about players’ current attitudes… or Richt’s past one?

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35 Comments

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35 responses to “Getting special about special teams

  1. BMan

    Sounds like it’s a shift to less of what the player wants and more of what the team needs. I can get behind a saying like, “if your heart’s not in it, change your heart.” I predict my kids will be sick of it by the end of the school year.

  2. Joe

    You couldn’t get me OFF the field when I played.

    Dove for lose basketballs in pickup games in the gym for fun.

    Let me in coach, I’m ready to play. I may be old, but I’m slow!!! LOL

  3. fuelk2

    Side note, I read where Jarvis is participating in the punt block unit. I love his unselfishness, but that just drives me crazy. That’s only slightly better than having Murray play on special teams. We CANNOT afford an injury to Jarvis, and I personally would rather see him limited to his highest and best use of playing scrimmage downs on defense. But maybe I’m wrong.

    • David

      Agreed. Why is using can’t lose first teamers the alternative to walk-ons on our special teams. How about using 2nd team linebackers and DB’s. (well maybe not DB’s. I don’t think we have a 2nd team.)

      • Dave

        DBs….yes….speed….especially safeties. LBs and a few specialists like gunners.

        • baddawg

          Last time I remember us blocking a punt it wasn’t BC of an olb…. it was two speedy guys on the edge and only one got blocked. And the game I’m remembering is 2007 blackout. Put auburn out of commision

    • Joe Schmoe

      After all of the underachieving by the dawgs in recent years, I say to hell with it. We all complain about Richt and Bobo playing not to lose, but then want to complain about them putting starters on special teams. I say we just go all out this year and play our best players all of the time. If guys get hurt, that’s just the luck of the draw. After all, players can get hurt on any particular play (or wrecking a scooter for that matter). I for one am glad to see us abandon the “try not to lose” mentality and lay it on the line. I bet if Jarvis does play on the punt coverage team he comes up with more than one major play during the course of the season (e.g., fumble recovery, cause a fumble with a huge hit, etc.). I would be good money the honey badger wouldn’t have had all those long returns against us in the dome last year.

      • Cojones

        Agree, Joe. Jarvis would be more apt to get injured when a 300lb lineman falls on his ankle when he attacks the line. The only logic to be applied here would be the chance from injury occurring due to increased number of plays. Wouldn’t think that will affect a sterling athlete like Jarvis. Besides, he enjoys the hits and fun naturally without the increased pressure to make a splash on the sports page by trying to tear someone’s head off.

        SIC’EM DAWGS!!

    • Joe Schmoe

      One other thing I would add on this topic. We should be strategic about when we play starters on special teams. If we are playing a crappy team (Buffalo, FL Atlantic, etc.) or way ahead, we should put mostly second stringers and walk-ons out there. If it is a major opponent (USCe, FL, Missouri) or the game is close, we should use the starters.

      • dawgfan17

        They need live action though to get ready for those big games. Should Jones be covering punts in the 4th quarter against Buffalo, no. But if he is going to be on the punt coverage team against Missouri in week 2 he should be covering at least a couple against Buffalo. It is a risk but if we want to play for a title we need to do this.

    • Dog in Fla

      CMR Special Teams Rule #1: I’ll always remember and never forget the time I changed Fred’s heart: “Fred Gibson got hurt returning a kickoff in 2003 and missed several games, notably the September game against LSU…”

      http://blogs.ajc.com/junkyard-blawg/2010/03/25/thoughts-on-keeping-defensive-dogs-hungry-and-a-j-green-returning-punts/?cxntfid=blogs_junkyard_blawg

      • Joe Schmoe

        From my perspective, you are a lot more likely to get hurt as the guy returning the kicks than anyone else involved in special teams. So even though I am a proponent of using starters on special teams, I would not put Malcolm Mitchell returning punts or kickoffs.

    • Bulldog Joe

      “We can’t fix our past roster management issues today, so get your heart in it or get your @$$ out of here. Boss Bailey came back from a freak special teams injury and went right back to special teams. His blocked kicks contributed to an SEC championship.”

      It would be a good message for our fans, too.

      • David

        Boss Bailey missed an entire season covering kick offs against Georgia Southern in the season opener. I say keep your superstars out of special teams duty.

        • AthensHomerDawg

          You need to let that go. Special teams is so much more than an after thought …get it done so we can play the game. It is the game. See LSU. or See the game against uSC. Get your best players on the field every time the ball is snapped.
          My work here is done.

          I hope. By the way Lattimore wasn’t playing on special teams when he got his knee blown.
          just sayin’

          • Hackerdog

            Exactly. Guys can get hurt on every play. If you’re worried about Mitchell running kicks, then maybe we should stop him from covering receivers or running routes, too. He can’t get hurt on the bench, right?

  4. Always Someone Else's Fault

    We also cannot afford to see a first round defensive lineman take a fake punt 70 yards for a touchdown. At some point, special teams comes down to the same thing offense and defense does – the quality of athletes on the field. “Great” special teams coaches are usually guys who can convince the starters to get on the field and see those plays as game-changing opportunities.

  5. Smitty

    ^^^^what he said^^^^

  6. Will Trane

    Is Coach Richt saying we use to let the players who wanted to be on special teams be on those special teams. But after we were embarrased a few times like in the South Carolina game we realized our “philosophy” was not good. When you see one of the top defensive players in the country take it to the house, did you turn around and look at the players on your side line and see if their “heart” was in special teams play. Or Coach did you see the 6 points your team allowed to be rung up and said…so much with “hearts” less reshuffle the deck and find a few aces rather than jokers on the field because this is no way to play in the SEC.

    Coach, I’d prefer you find per a game plan each week and a core set of players who can get it done based on skill, technique, zones, and etc…to hell with how they feel. I would dare say no one on the sidelines felt good after that play. Coach I’m no philosopher, but some times it does not matter about your heart or feelings…sometimes you have to strap your ass to the sled and roll…regardless of the speed, whether it rolls overs, crashes…stay on the sled until you get to the end of the line…it is in your mind…you will yourself there…and you make yourself make the play…after awhile it becomes fun. How do you think South Carolina felt after that play.

  7. tbia

    Rhett McGowan returning punts…..gonna make us forget Logan Gray, imo.

  8. The other Doug

    Isn’t this a bit like the “getting on the bus” crap from last year?

  9. W Cobb Dawg

    This was a really absurd statement from CMR. I just can’t imagine any football coach giving players the option of playing STs ‘if their hearts not in it’. Imagine what would have happened if a player responded in the same way to Vince Lombardi and said: ‘Coach, my heart’s not into special teams duty.’ I doubt that player would’ve ever been heard from again.

    • Dog in Fla

      While it is an enigma wrapped in a riddle inside a mystery, the way I took was that CMR in his own loving kind of way is saying that season – unlike past seasons – he isn’t looking for volunteers. If he tells you that you are going to be on special teams, you are going to be on special teams. Whether you like it or not. Now, if you are one of the chosen ones, get it right in your heart.

  10. Todd

    I thought the same thing W Cobb. I know all the off field issues are present everywhere, but doesn’t that comment make you feel like Richt doesn’t have control. How in the world does it get to that point, and what kind of player doesn’t want to contribute? A selfish one that says there is no “I” in TEAM, but there is a “ME”.

    Everything about that comment points to a pu$$y. Playing not to lose instead of playing to win is his M.O..
    Saban would have their ass washing cars in a suburb of Demopolis.

    Good thing is there is a change.

  11. Todd

    Fake punt in Sugar Bowl against WV still haunts me. Everybody saw it coming except Fabris. No doubt in my mind Georgia would have driven down the field and won it. Another example of being out-coached. A team with lesser talent beating a more talented Georgia team.

    That very comment solidifies my opinion that Mark Richt. Nice guy, but will never develop a program to MNC greatness.

    • The Bruce

      We wouldn’t have needed to drive down field to win if the defense hadn’t been completely helpless in the first half.
      Martinez is gone. Fabris is gone. Our special teams philosophy has changed. Our Freshman of the Year tailback is gone because he effed up. But Mark Richt “doesn’t have control” and is too nice to win…? Some people are never satisfied.
      Get over 2008. It ain’t coming back.
      Go Dawgs!