I presume most of you have seen the write ups of last night’s meeting of the Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club in the AJ-C and AB-H. The quote of Mark Richt’s that seems to have gotten the most attention is this one:
“We have declared that every skill guy we have, not counting quarterbacks, will play,” Bulldogs coach Mark Richt told an audience of about 1,000 at the Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club Monday night at the Cobb Galleria.
That means freshman tailback Washaun Ealey will be thrown into the mix even with four other tailbacks on scholarship.
“This year it’s like ‘We’re going to play them,’ ” Richt said. “Get them ready for special teams. Get them ready for scrimmage downs.”
And Richt went on after the meeting to let the reporters know that he’s defining “skill guy” broadly.
… Richt said in an interview after the event, that he’s including defensive backs and linebackers as well – that would include defensive backs Branden Smith, Jordan Love and Shawn Williams and linebackers Mike Gilliard and Chase Vasser.
“When you talk about special teams, you want your runners, your hitters,” Richt said. “You’re trying to decide whether these guys play or not play. We’re starting out saying ‘Hey, let’s play these guys. Let’s get them on special teams and teach them what to do.’ They’ll help us on special teams, and they’ll also be growing as players at their positions, too.
“Sometimes you’re two weeks in and you’re like ‘They’re not ready, they’re not ready.’ Two more weeks, he probably is ready. Two more weeks after that, he may be your starter.”
Now I’m not quite sure I take the man literally on this. As David Hale pointed out, does Richt really plan on deploying upwards of twelve linebackers this season? Unlikely. But I do think he’s reached the point where he’s serious about committing to playing true freshmen far more than he used to.
… Georgia coach Mark Richt says redshirting the players has preserved the team’s future. “The assistant coaches were wanting to let some of these guys play and allow them to work on special teams and get reps and that kind of thing,” Richt said. “I tried to look at the big picture and see if we could hold off from doing it. There are certainly guys that could be helping us right now, there is no doubt.”
I think some of that may be due to the way other coaches, like Urban Meyer, recruit and sell their programs.
“We’ve taken a new attitude. Every freshman, in my opinion, will play next year. Obviously, that won’t happen, but we’re taking that approach. It used to be more, ‘We’d like to save this guy.’ I’ve learned my lesson, and that’s over. Everybody’s playing. We’re going to let you go play and we’ll worry about your fourth year down the road. If it’s in the best interest of the young player, we’ll hold him and redshirt him, but we’re going to play him.”
And I think some of it stems from redshirting Moreno. I know that Richt has at times kidded about the subject and has at times felt that it might have helped shield Moreno a little bit, but still, you’ve got to wonder how the 2007 season would have played out (in particular, how the South Carolina game that year would have played out) if Moreno had seen the field and made his bones in 2006.
Of course, we’ve heard some of this before, too. So a degree of skepticism is warranted here. But I think a change is coming.