The “C” word

Man, this sends a little chill down my spine.

Ekeler also coaches the Bulldogs’ kickoff coverage team, and he was less pleased with its performance against the Vols. Georgia did not have a touchback, Tennessee averaged 40.6 yards on the field-position swap, Georgia fell to eighth in the league in kickoff coverage (40.3 ypr).

Ekeler took the blame for that as well.

“Last game, we stunk it up,” he said. “I believe in this: As a coach, you don’t point a finger, you point a thumb.”

Vanderbilt features one of the best kickoff returners in the SEC. Sophomore defensive back Darrius Sims already has two returns for touchdowns, both of them coming in the same game against South Carolina.

Ekeler indicated the Bulldogs aren’t planning to pooch or directional kick to counteract Sims’ returns.

“We’ll kick it deep and we’ll challenge ourselves,” he said. “We’re not going to back away from anybody.”

What is it with special teams at Georgia and challenge?  At least Ekeler isn’t going down Fabris’ directional kick road.

35 Comments

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35 responses to “The “C” word

  1. timphd

    Noticed a drop off in coverage when Michel went out. Hes a rock on kick coverage. Think we’ll miss him there as much if not more than in the run game.

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    • Bulldawg Bill

      He’s the single biggest iimprovement to a vastly improved coverage team.

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    • Noticed a drop off in coverage when Michel went out. Hes a rock on kick coverage. Think we’ll miss him there as much if not more than in the run game.

      Very noticeable, wasn’t it? Shows how valuable a lead gunner, who’s also a heckuva football player, can be. Credit goes to the whole unit, especially his fellow gunners, who keep him in position to make plays.

      But yeah, this guy is a player. Hope he heals well.
      ~~~

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  2. What is it about our inability to bust the ball through the end zone consistently? We watch people consistently kick the ball deep against us even into the wind. He wasn’t even getting close on Saturday into the wind and struggled downwind when we had to start holding the ball on the tee.

    Hopefully, that and the loss of Michel don’t end up biting us.

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    • Ben

      If you had to kick the ball off as much as our guy does, your leg would probably get tired, too, right?

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    • gastr1

      I think that’s exactly why Ekeler wants to challenge the return team: you can’t rely on the kicker to get it out of the end zone every time. (In our case, ANY time.)

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    • What is it about our inability to bust the ball through the end zone consistently?

      It’s the $64,000 question. No matter who our kicker is, or how strong his leg, we just haven’t been able to do it. The last one who did it consistently was John Kasay. When they let him, which was often, he drove it out most every time.

      And that has to be part of it. Generally, under Richt, our coaches haven’t allowed our kickers to drive the ball. They wanted hang time. But thankfully, at long last, we changed that this year. You have to be really good at coverage to do it, but they seemed to have fixed that as well.

      We’ve had a few pooches and directional lob kicks, and for the first several games they worked OK. Not great, but OK. But now they’re starting to go bad, as we saw in the Tennessee game. That pooch kick was as big a mistake as Todd Gurley’s penalty. Fortunately it didn’t end up contributing to a loss, and I think it’s likely Ekeler made note of it. He doesn’t seem like the type to let stubbornness affect his judgment.

      IDK how much Morgan’s day was affected by coach’s orders, but I suspect most of it was on him, and he had the clearance to kick away. You have to drive the ball to consistently get touchbacks, and if you get under it just a little, it’s exactly what you don’t want. So maybe it was just a bad day.

      But that’s where great coverage comes in. Having Ekeler is a good feeling.
      ~~~

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  3. uglydawg

    Maybe Ekeler just doesn’t want to admit that we can’t consistently kick it through the EZ. Otherwise, why flirt with disaster? Why play to the other team’s strength. You think Vandy will kick it to Gurley just for the challange?

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    • I’ve seen marshall kick 54 yarders with plenty to spare. It’s not possible he can’t put them deep.

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      • gastr1

        But there is a different trajectory involved. With a FG you’re trying to rifle the ball through the uprights so as to not be subject to the wind or effects of slice and such. With a KO you have to put as much air under it as you can. Straight and hard KOs are not good unless you get ity all the way out of the end zone. If you can’t do that, you have to kick it high. Have to. And that means it may be a little shorter still.

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  4. uglydawg

    BTW…did you see Blair Walch kick a 50 something yard field goal against the Falcons?

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  5. JN

    No so sure about 40.3 ypr. I’m assuming that’s yards per return. In that case it’s incorrect. It should be 21.63.

    http://www.cfbstats.com/2014/team/257/index.html

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  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    “As a coach, you don’t point a finger, you point a thumb.”

    I guess this means get off the field or something, right?

    oh…wait, up or down for living or dying? Whaddaya mean, coach?

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  7. I know it’s not the same technique and whatnot, but it still puzzles me that Morgan probably has the strongest leg in the country on FG’s, yet is somewhat consistently out kicked on kickoffs.

    Also, is it just me, or did there seem to be more of the walk-on type guys on kickoff coverage against UT? We seemed to be really focused on having our top guys on coverage the first couple of games, but seem to be trending away from that now. I didn’t specifically count out the guys on coverage during the game, there just seemed to be more unfamiliar numbers running down the field than in previous games.

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    • Scorpio Jones, III

      Kickoffs are usually longer than field goals, thus wind, etc have more effect on the trajectory of the thing there. And since it’s longer, the slightest misstep, fade, hook is magnified at the end of the trajectory.

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      • Scorpio Jones, III

        anyway…most kicking coaches say hang time is as important as length, all things being equal.

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        • Russ

          I think this is the key. To kick it deep, you have to drive the ball, meaning less time for your coverage to get there. If the kicker mishits even a little it’s a short low kick prime for the return.

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          • there’s zero return chance if you line drive one through the EZ. i think that’s the issue that everyone has. does MM not have the strength to punch one under the wind, out kick the coverage, and blast it through the endzone?

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        • awreed79

          That’s what she said.

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        • Again, I understand all that. But that all applies equally to every kicker. So again, I just can’t wrap my head around MM having so much more distance on one type of kick, but then often times less on the other, when being compared to the same competition in both scenarios. The other kicker doesn’t have any less need to get hang time and so forth, yet also seems to consistently get more distance. When UT had to kick to start the 2nd half after a 15 yard penalty, the kicker, drove all the way to the 5 yard line…….in other words, without the penalty, that would have landed on line at the back of the endzone. Helluva kick, and not one I would expect MM to make, even though I would take MM attempting a 55+ yard FG over the UT kicker any day of the week. Honestly, I’m just talking out loud, and showing my own ignorance of kicking technique. It just doesn’t make sense to me tho. 🙂

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          • JN

            I don’t know if this is the reason or not, but it may be. This is just something I’ve noticed over the years.

            When a kicker is kicking off, they approach the ball much quicker and they will actually jump after kicking the ball due to the amount of momentum they have going through the ball. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX-woF26Z5Y

            When a kicker kicks a field goal, they plant their non-kicking foot and essentially press against that foot while kicking through the ball. I guess technically they do this for both kicks, but not near the momentum as a kickoff. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX-PLRvAzeA

            Like I said, I don’t know if this has anything to do with it or not. Maybe Morgan uses a hybrid of the two on kickoff’s. I don’t know, I’ve never paid attention.

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            • Good point, and maybe it’s just as simple as being more comfortable with the technique required to do one than the other. Like 2 pitchers with equal arm strength, but one is just better at throwing curveballs and the other is more comfortable throwing a slider or fastball. Like I noted above, I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to kicking techniques. Clearly there’s more to it than just leg strength.

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  8. Kickoff coverage is my only complaint because our outside contain guys keep looking and crashing down inside. One of the worst I’ve EVER seen was against USC. Dude was looking so much inside that the returner team right by. That’s as fundamental as it gets and should be very obvious to any coach with eyes. Certainly we’ve got a couple guys with better discipline. I can kinda forgive the outside contain on one of those UT returns because the return man ran across the faces of our entire return team.

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    • If you and I are thinking of the same one against SC, that was JJ who had outside contain, and yeah he kept looking inside for some reason, it was really noticeable on the replay, and by the time he finally looked at the return guy, it was too late.

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      • That’s the one. Crazy thing is that return man was right in front of him. I guess he was more concerned with locating the blockers than maintaining his lane and fundamentals. I don’t know if he’s been back out there but that’s enough for me to pull him seeing as how that is the most basic of fundamentals. Your outside contain guys are some of the most important.

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  9. Macallanlover

    I have been most impressed at the number of times Michel was down first, and made the correct play on punt and kickoff returns. He is definitely missed in this role as well as his offensive talent. Need him back quickly, young man is a difference maker. And I thought after the Clemson game he would have trouble slipping by Chubb…what a freshman twosome to have for at least two more years. Following the Gurshall success, that is like winning the lottery on consecutive ticket buys.

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  10. W Cobb Dawg

    At least Ekeler is stepping up and taking responsibility. He inherited a mess, so it’ll take time to fix it. I think its a positive sign when we place blame where it belongs – on the coaching.

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    • I think its a positive sign when we place blame where it belongs – on the coaching.

      Agree. And our defensive staff seems to all be that way. I hope it soon rubs off on the offensive staff, just think it’s much healthier for everybody concerned. Especially the team.

      It’s not always the coaches fault. And when it isn’t, they shouldn’t coach-speak that it is. But when it is, it’s in their best interest to say so, IMO. When they don’t, it gets blown up and drags out unnecessarily as an issue. We saw a good example of that 2 weeks ago.
      ~~~

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