And so they seem to be writing the latest chapter in the special teams philosophy of the Richt era. There’s the mea culpa from the head coach.
In recent years, Richt shied away from the special teams questions, partially because they only arose in weeks after game-changing special teams errors. Or maybe he’d grown tired of being reminded that he didn’t have a lone special teams coordinator on his staff.
This week, however, he willingly admitted his own shortcomings that might have hindered the special teams units in the past.
“We’re better,” Richt said. “I’ll be honest with you; I learned a lot more about it. I’m understanding it better. I’m able to help our coaches prepare guys better.”
There’s the embrace of shared responsibility, from the coaches…
Richt even, unprompted, mentioned the dreaded special teams coordinator topic. He told the tale of his proposition years ago to make Jon Fabris (now defensive line coach at Indiana) the full-time special teams coordinator — a move that Fabris, who Richt called “one of the best special teams coaches” he has ever been around, suggested might negatively affect the team.
Richt used the adage to justify his coordinator by committee approach.
“Sometimes you give it to one guy and, first of all, it’s too much for one guy. The more you watch it, the more you realize it is too much for one guy,” Richt said. “Because a lot of other people don’t have any ownership because they think, ‘Oh, that’s (his) job. Let him worry about it.’ When you involve more coaches, there is more ownership by everybody.”
(A special teams challenge too much for Jon Fabris? Who’da thunk it?)
… to the players.
“There’s a lot of starters on special teams. We’ve got guys who want to be out there,” linebacker Amarlo Herrera said. “Guys in the past didn’t want do those things. You’ve got guys who want to do it now. And guys have to do it or they won’t be playing.”
Things aren’t perfect. Things aren’t totally fixed. But it’s fair to say this season they’ve managed to reinvent the return game as a weapon. That’s a good start.