Style points? Style points? Mark Richt don’t need no stinkin’ style points.

If you want to understand the essence of Mark Richt’s coaching philosophy, he’s happy to lay it out for you.

“… There’s something about our league that’s special. If you win the Southeastern Conference, you’ve really done something special, and if you win the East, you’ve done something special in my opinion. I think our fans really understand that and embrace that. When I came from Florida State to Georgia, that’s one of the things that I learned. Every victory is precious in this league, and the style points don’t really matter all that much. Just win. Whereas before when I was at Florida State, we were wanting to win, but we wanted to win with a certain flair or a certain style. At Georgia I realized really fast that it doesn’t matter if you have style points or not. Just win. This league is so competitive on all levels, so it’s just fun to be a part of.”

And that’s how you get to this year’s approach to special teams.

“My goal this year was for us to be solid on our special teams. My goal wasn’t to try to lead the nation in any one category. I wanted to make sure that every time we force them to punt, I want to make sure we have the ball. If someone makes a fair catch, that’s okay with me. At the end of the kickoff, I want to make sure we have the ball in our hand. Let’s have a good, solid return, secure the football, and do well. Of course when you punt, you have to make sure you protect. My goal is just to kick that sucker high and have the least amount of big plays in that situation. We did have the one returned for a touchdown, but other than that, we’ve given up very few return yards. Now is our net punt quite as high as Alabama’s, which is almost 44 (yards)? No, but even if it’s 38 or 39 yards and it’s got good hang time and we fair catch it, we can then move the ball for four downs and get a good play out of it. My goal was for a really solid kicking unit this year, and I think we are solid. In the kickoff return, Malcolm (Mitchell) returns it back to the 50. It’s not like we’re not trying to get a touchdown. We had Todd Gurley return one for a touchdown, and we blocked a couple punts this year. We’ve done some good things in there, but the big thing is to make sure that they don’t become a huge momentum play for the other team.”

I still think Richt settles for too little on punt returns and has for some time now – **cough**Logan Gray** cough** – but they’re in the Dome on Saturday, and as Richt says, that’s all that really matters.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Style points? Style points? Mark Richt don’t need no stinkin’ style points.

  1. I haven’t done any number crunching but it does seem our special teams play is lightyears ahead of where it was at this time last year.

    I’m ok at not leading the nation in any statistical category in special teams either. So long we we don’t make bonehead mistakes I’ll take it! It’s often the PAT’s the get me nervous.

    • gastr1

      It is in exactly the sense that Richt talks about. There have been few breakdowns. Last year we had one of the best defenses in the country but allowed more PPG primarily because of the breakdowns in special teams.

  2. Seeing as how the ENTIRE momentum of the LSU game last year swung on a punt return, I think Richt drew the correct conclusion. This team is too talented to lose games due to special teams…though one could argue the ONE MAJOR special teams gaffe this year was a big factor in that loss. I think the reason we are not putting Branden Smith on punt return duty is the coaching staff does not trust his ball security.

    In an ideal world, we make having great return men a priority again in 2013. Between guys like Sheldon Dawson and some of the incoming frosh/jucos, we should have a deeper pool of talent to find guys with the hands, judgement, and toughness to handle the position.

  3. charlottedawg

    we’ve had a major play on special teams in every SECCG, hope Saturday is no different. My one gripe is this: if you’re going to have a fair catch specialist on ST, why not just go for the block?

    • HVL Dawg

      I wonder what the ratio is between attempted blocks and roughing the kicker. Richt explained why he doesn’t want to go for the block too often. Because he just wants to end the play with our offense taking the field.

    • HahiraDawg

      yes, this, this is my thought hundred times over

  4. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Other teams that return punts get lots of block in the back penalties. UGA used to also. A fair catch practically eliminates that from happening and that ain’t all bad–particularly when you have an O like ours.

  5. JasonC

    I think having 2 freshmen kicking the ball also caused Richt to be a little more conservative.
    My biggest problem is our decision making on returns. As another Dog fan put it last night: We need to ask Malcome if he would rather be given $25 for free or work for $21 with the potential that he might get $50 every once in a while or as little as $12.
    If you catch it a yard in or deeper, the new rules don’t give you any incentive to bring it out.

  6. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Alabama keeps putting the ball on the field, and their punt returners have been half the problem. I’m betting a Bama fumble swings the game late.

    • AlphaDawg

      I’m betting the fumble is because of JJ or Rambo stripping the ball. Yeldon has given up a few in the las few weeks.