Putting the special back in special teams

The more I read about the realignment of staff duties with regard to special teams, the more I’m convinced that it’s not the reshuffling of coaches that may make a difference this season.  It’s the renewed focus on paying attention to special teams in practice that may.

No matter the coaches, Georgia did invest more practice time this past spring into special teams.

The Bulldogs typically spent two full periods, splitting them up into early and middle portions of practice “Which in some ways is kind of nice, because that’s how it is in the game,” Lilly said.
Richt said it was more this spring than Georgia had done in previous springs.

“Part of it is just to find who the special teamers are and who can do what but also to try to perfect some skills that they have to have to be good in the fall,” Richt said.

“We got a lot done,” Ekeler said, “and really it was just creating a profile on each one of these guys and seeing what their strengths are and what they can do. The schematics and all that, we’ll get that in fall camp. We know the guys right now who we’re targeting to be on those teams.”

It starts with no longer treating special teams like a bastard stepchild.  Evaluating personnel to see who best fits instead of sticking athletic freshmen and walk-ons there and spending valuable time honing skills is a good place to start.  Now if the staff can convince Richt to ditch the Logan Gray strategy for punt returns…

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Putting the special back in special teams

  1. Bulldog Joe

    Time will tell if this coaching staff uses special teams as a competitive advantage or continues to use it as a means to appease players and families with playing time.

  2. Keese

    Who knew that the missing ingredient is a special teams player profile. We’ve had em in the wrong positions!

  3. Rp

    Do not tarnish the ST legacy of Logan Gray.

  4. AthensHomerDawg

    Logan Gray went on to have 17 receptions at Colorado for 300 yards. Maybe he was out of position. In 2009 he had 10 PR for -2 yards with 9 FC. The other memory about 2009 was that Georgia starting a 3star 5th year senior quarterback. We also had concerns about special team play. I hope I never see this again.

    I hope Mason has a stellar year cause if he doesn’t he will certainly have to deal with irate fans. When Bobo was struggling as a qb the boo birds made it hard to enjoy a game. If it gets to that point I will give my tickets to my son. He will be a Double G dog and his place in the ticket line is now a lot closer to the end of the line than it should be. And Will Friend is on the hot seat. I know I read it on a blog. I guess that makes it a meme now?

  5. Macallanlover

    I read how much time we spent on ST’s a few years ago and agree that it was so minimal that it was obvious not an area we took seriously enough. That message must have filtered down to the players. Glad to see more emphasis. I have no problem with sharing the responsibility among the coaches, seems the best way, but I would like to see CMR take ownership of it. That has worked for other HCs and allows him to resolve which players are used without some being “protected” by a coordinator.

    • W Cobb Dawg

      Have to respectively disagree Mac. It doesn’t appear CMR wants to coach STs or cares that much about them considering the attention paid to them over the past few years. He defended the fair catch approach and directional kicking for a long time. I’ve never heard him say he wanted to change those aspects of STs. I think it’s best he give responsibility to assistants who are gonna give STs the attention they deserve.

      • Macallanlover

        You may be right, but he strikes me as the kind of man/competitor who would do the job well if he assumed the role of ST coach. You can make the point he already is as HC since he is ultimately responsible, but I think it would be different if he said “this is mine”. Automatically the amount of practice time would increase. I don’t really care how it gets done, but we cannot continue to spot other teams points on STs.

  6. I don’t know if assistants didn’t take their special teams responsibility seriously or what, but special teams performance has clearly dropped off since 2005. Here’s my assessment of where special teams stands:
    Kick-off coverage – pretty solid but we need to let Morgan kick the ball through the end zone rather than playing around with pinning teams inside the 20
    Kick-off return – pretty awful right now, but the loss of Mitchell hurt last year. Teams consistently kicked through the end zone against us.
    Punt coverage – other than the snapping issues last year, we were pretty good covering punts. Barber was good until he got his head knocked off in Knoxville
    Punt return/block – this is the unit that has gone to pot since 2005. We go punt safe and then muff punts. We don’t go for blocks like we used to. Hopefully, Ekeler gets this team fixed.
    Field goal & block – Other than the bad snap at Clemson, this unit was spectacular. Hopefully, Morgan builds on last year’s success. With the change in the rules, field goal blocks are purely luck now.

  7. CannonDawg

    I see no attempt to tarnish Logan Gray’s play on special teams. Logan did exactly what he was asked to do, and with efficiency. Rather, it’s the idea that we’re needlessly forfeiting first downs. Thomas Flowers (’04-’07) averaged almost 15 yards per punt return over his career. He could also take one the distance on occasion. Surely we’ve got somebody on the roster who can do more than fair catch a punt. Give Hutson and the O a 15 yard head start with every punt exchange, and good things will happen.

    • Bulldog Joe

      Settling on one primary returner would be a good start for 2014.

      Last-minute decisions trying to make everyone happy cost us two games last year.

    • Rp

      Definitely kidding on that one. I find it funny how we all remember Logan Gray for that. I guess it’s better to be remembered for something than forgotten.

      • CannonDawg

        Yes, but wouldn’t it be timely if a punt returner would emerge this year who we’d end up remembering more like Jake Scott than Logan Gray (yep, I’m showing my age, but all Dawg faithful should be familiar with ole #13).