How many returners does it take to screw in a light bulb?

You know the old saw “if you have two starting quarterbacks, you don’t have one?  Well, after reading this Seth Emerson article and this in particular…

The unresolved issues around the team revolve around who will return punts and kicks. It will be a rotation of three or four names at both spots, with Malcolm Mitchell involved in both. Tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have been mentioned for kickoffs, the question there is whether the team will pull the trigger on that intriguing possibility.

… I’m wondering if the same applies to returners.

I’m not trying to be too snarky here, although, Lord knows, Richt’s recent approach to the punt return game certainly invites sarcasm.  I simply wonder what deploying three or four returners says about Georgia’s special teams options.  Is it a case of too much depth, or not having a guy who can take charge of the position?  Are they looking for a primary guy who gets a little help now and then?  Is Richt still committed to finding a Logan Gray successor come hell or high water?

I can see the benefit of spreading the wealth with regard to spreading the injury risk.  On the other hand, you would think that if chemistry and timing is supposed to develop between a return man and his blockers, using multiple returners would inhibit those.

For what it’s worth, of the top ten punt returners last season, seven handled at least 70% of their team’s returns and none handled less than half.  (Georgia didn’t have anyone ranked in the top 75.)  It was different for kickoff returns, as there weren’t nearly as many among the top ten who handled a high percentage of those.  The average appears to be about half.  (Malcolm Mitchell, who had 50% of Georgia’s kickoff returns, finished 66th nationally.)

Any ideas about what we may find in store for Georgia’s return games this season?

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “How many returners does it take to screw in a light bulb?

  1. sUGArdaddy

    I don’t think the coaches care to tell anyone and I’m cool with that. Why should they? I’m pretty sure they know exactly what their gameplan is.

  2. TennesseeDawg

    If we are just going to send someone back there to faircatch every punt, you might as well deploy Rhett McGowan and avoid any possible injury risk to any of the starters

    • Juan

      That’s exactly what will happen.

      My take – punt returns will be a disaster / fair catch-a-thon.

      KO return will be spectacular…but yield at least 3 TOs by seasons end.

  3. Dawgfan Will

    Dang. I have visions of Keith Marshall running through my head. Fast.

  4. I like Mitchell on kick returns as long as he develops some judgment on when to fair catch, take a knee, etc. He had a couple of returns where he was a step from taking it all the way. The issue is catching punts inside the 10 or trying to run out kickoffs caught in the end zone.

    • RP

      Agreed. Mitchell OK on kick returns. Dont want to see him on a punt. My vote would be JSW on kick returns and Swann or Sheldon Dawson on punts.

      • Joe Schmoe

        Swann and / or Dawson is a terrible idea. Why would we risk injury to our two likely starting corners when we are so thin at DB?

  5. Personally I want Mitchell nowhere near a punt or kickoff return. I’d love to see Marshall and JJ Green handle returns. Next year let Langley do punts, but this year, unless he’s just a badass, he needs to focus on playing corner.

  6. Bright Idea

    Scared of fumbling a punt, scared of an injury, not a good approach. Pick a guy and give him a chance to get good at it.

  7. Pacific plate

    White Lightning

  8. Mayor of Dawgtown

    Georgia needs to make someone the punt return specialist and someone else the kickoff return specialist, then let ‘em play. This shuttling players in and out is not a good idea.

  9. Coastal Dawg

    JSW, JJ Green or Chris Conely. No risk to starters, young guys get experience. All three are dangerous and put pressure on the punt/kicking team.

    I get the have the ball at the end of the play meme. But when we had quality agressive returners like Thomas Flowers and Damien Gary we had the ball at the end of the play and generally in good field position. The only exception to us having the ball afterward was when they ran them back for a score.

    GATA doesn’t only apply to defense. It is a mindset.