Sweatin’ the small stuff

To reiterate a point made in a post the other day,

What has changed, according to players, is the intensity of teaching.

“Definitely stressing more fundamental-wise and trying to focus on some of the little things,” said senior Kosta Vavlas, a special teams standout. “I mean prior (to this year) we kind of just jumped in, going all the way through without breaking each phase of each game down.”

Defensive players, especially in the secondary, have talked often about the detailed coaching that they’re getting from first-year coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, and receiver Reggie Davis made it sound like that was happening — from all coaches — on special teams.

“Coaches are definitely paying attention to details this year,” Davis said, adding for emphasis, “Small, small details.”

Davis muffed three punts last year.

“They’re really cracking down on just looking the ball all the way in, especially because of what I did last year,” Davis said.

Sure, a lot of that can be characterized as happy talk.  And who’s to say it’s going to pay off in a big way this season?  But tolerating that kind of stuff sure goes a long way towards explaining the many moments of special teams epic fail, 2013 version.



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21 responses to “Sweatin’ the small stuff

  1. CannonDawg

    “And who’s to say it’s going to pay off in a big way this season?”

    You’re right, there is no guarantee that paying attention to the smallest details will bring about a markedly improved performance. But if the example of coaches/teachers like Saban, Bryant, Belichick, Lombardi, et al, who convinced their players that winning was conditioned upon striving to master the details, then we’re drinking from the right cup. Maybe we see our “luck” change because we’re slightly better prepared than before, enough so that we avoid a mental or physical error that would have doomed us previously. The margins are slight in this league, and every advantage counts. And I see this improved preparation as a distinct advantage. Go Dawgs!


    • Maybe we see our “luck” change because we’re slightly better prepared than before, enough so that we avoid a mental or physical error that would have doomed us previously.

      You mean we may just break the habit of beating ourselves? What an idea! LOL. It’s a great point, Cannon, and well put. That’s exactly the deal.

      The last time we were a solid team was when BVG was DC. And what was VanGorder’s mantra? The thing that made him successful here, and separated him from other DC’s? According to him, “preparation. It’s all about preparation.”


      • AthensHomerDawg

        I think we might have caught Brian in his prime and he certainly had a cupboard stocked with football players.
        On the flip side he made a mess of a fine program at Georgia Southern and played musical chairs across the coaching landscape. I honestly don’t see the value in him now but yeah there were some good years there. Everyone was young and fresh and eager when he was hired. Fun times. That was before college football went $emi-pro. We are not the same now as we were then.


  2. Question: if Davis or another returner drops a punt, what then? Was this just happy talk? Two punts? If they swap returners and the second kid drops one?

    I’m not trying to be a contrarian, but you didn’t point out from the article that there’s still really a committee approach and several of the coaches will be the same as last year. McClendon is still coaching punt returns, where so much of your gripe seems to stem from.

    I love the happy talk, but there will be mistakes made this year. What’ll you say then?


    • Hogbody Spradlin

      Well, obviously you’ll say ‘oops.’


      • CannonDawg

        Or other four-letter words, as needed.


        • sUGArdaddy

          The bottom line is kids have to perform. You can’t get away from it. You can be perfectly coached, but the coach can’t catch the punt for you. That’s been my gripe with the griping. I mean, do we really have to work on Collin Barber catching the snap? Gracious, 9th grade punters know you have to catch the snap first, and Collin dropped two last year. We’ll still have snafus. Both Clemson and LSU fumbled critical punts against us. LSU’s cost them the game and Clemson’s would have if Murray hadn’t thrown a pick right back to them. Stuff happens. What I believe coaching can do is minimize that stuff. Saban’s teams still do stupid stuff because they’re 20 year-olds. What we want is to fumble 1 or 2 less times or make 2 or 3 more plays in a season. That may seem small, but it can be the difference between 9-3 and 11-1, which is the difference in a good season and a great season.


          • Scorpio Jones, III



          • I agree. I also think having confidence in a kid and telling him it’s ok if he messss up once or twice helps them not mess up. Tell someone before their golf swing “don’t think about slicing the ball” and see what happens. Same if you tell a kid “no matter what catch this and if you mess up you’re on the bench forever.”

            But I’m not a coach so what do I know.


            • There are going to be mistakes. Every team makes them, no matter how well-coached or well prepared. But the better prepared teams don’t make very many. They may make a few, but that’s it. And THAT is the main difference.

              IDK the best psychology to use, though no good coach is going to tolerate too many mental mistakes. And generally, they don’t have to because a well-coached and well-prepared player isn’t going to make too many. But if they do, you have to do something, IMO.

              We’ll see how Davis handles it this year, being better prepared. If he’s different, if he drops one. And how McKenzie does. IDK if Davis really what it takes to field punts – he may – but Isaiah does, we have film on that. I feel pretty good about both of them, because I know how good preparation makes you feel. It’s a good feeling.


            • AthensHomerDawg

              WHOA! One of the guys I play with is always telling me not to think about slicing the ball.



  3. W Cobb Dawg

    I think the shake-up in the coaching staff, and departure of some players shows everybody who remains that there are consequences when your performance is substandard. Are we gonna go from some of the worst STs to best? Probably not. But we should at least be competent, and that would be a big improvement. Just being average might have won us a couple more games last year.


  4. Bulldog Joe

    Good to see the same level of detail and effort being put into special teams.


  5. Turd Ferguson

    To be honest, I’m having a little troubling meshing narratives here. On the one hand, when Pruitt arrived, the narrative seemed to be that Grantham’s scheme was too detailed, i.e., that his three-ring binders were so thick because there were so many details in them for players to learn … which they, perhaps understandably, struggled to do. And Pruitt’s philosophy was to simplify, simplify, simplify, break things down into the most basic of concepts, etc. But on the other hand, it seems like all we’ve been hearing over the past few months is that the main difference between Grantham and Pruitt is how detail-oriented Pruitt is.

    I guess the answer is something like: “Pruitt is detail-oriented … when it comes to fundamentals.” But still, if the basic problem was that Grantham was giving them too much to think about, why think that things are going to be improved this year, if they’ve only got a different set of details bouncing around in their heads during games?


    • BenG

      You work on the details until you’ve mastered them. They become automatic, and you don’t think about them. You can only master so much in the amount of time these guys have. Simpler scheme, fewer details, greater mastery. At least that’s how I see it.


    • W Cobb Dawg

      Since we’re talking simplification, I’ll take a shot at explaining it as follows. CTG playbook was too fat, and it was unrealistic to expect players to absorb so much. CJP playbook is much leaner, and the emphasis is on knowing it well.

      Players have limited time to devote. So the volume of what can be taught is limited. Under CTG, I think players had to sacrifice learning fundamentals in pursuit of learning the plays. Many was the time commentors on this site decried the complexity of CTG’s D.


    • AthensHomerDawg

      I’m having a little troubling meshing narratives here.
      I’ve heard my attorney say that? 😉


  6. More music to these ears.

    But tolerating that kind of stuff sure goes a long way towards explaining the many moments of special teams epic fail, 2013 version.

    Without a doubt.


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