Logan Gray, we hardly knew ye.

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.



Filed under Georgia Football

42 responses to “Logan Gray, we hardly knew ye.

  1. William

    I still cringe a bit when they run up to field a punt. I have a bit more faith, but there is still that flash from Vandy last year when Davis muffed the punt return. I hope to see some plays like that return vs Troy.


  2. CannonDawg

    It’s great seeing punts being returned for positive yardage. It’s been a good while since we’ve been this assertive. Heck, we’re so aggressive now we’ll call for a fair catch and still run it back. 🙂


  3. W Cobb Dawg

    “…I learned a lot more about it. I’m understanding it better. I’m able to help our coaches prepare guys better.”

    I like CMR, but the mea culpa’s are little more than ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuses. Maybe we shoulda given STs more emphasis. And maybe we shoulda given the ball to Gurley. Redshirting Moreno was really dumb. Maybe we shoulda signed more recruits. Clock management, S&C, etc., etc.

    The guy has always had more resources available to him than the vast majority of coaches. And these aspects of the program aren’t rocket science, they’re basic management functions. Truth is, the flaw in management hurts himself as much or more than anyone else – he’d likely have a mnc trophy or two if he’d paid attention to details (not really details are they) over the past 13+ years.


    • CannonDawg

      I’ve wondered for some time what keeps CMR from being at the very top of the college coaching profession. What is it that’s missing that would give him that additional edge to separate from the rest? What would keep the small things from suddenly becoming big things and costing GA a game that it shoulda/coulda won? And close attention to detail would seem to me to be the most likely culprit. Saban and Belichick are detail-intensive to an extent that others seemingly aren’t. Likewise, Lombardi had a similar reputation. I don’t know CMR and I can’t say with any certainty that this issue is his achilles heel, but based on the way his teams have played in the past I’d say it’s not a dominant managerial trait. And it probably should be.


      • Normaltown Mike

        Not banging on the guy, but he is slow to examine his premises. He
        1. redshirted Knowshon (no good RB has since then)
        2. didn’t offer scholarship to Jasper & Casper Brinkley b/c they didn’t want to do a package deal (Ogletree bros. changed that)
        3. didn’t offer scholarships to punt return specialist b/c it’s a waste of scholly (until McKenzie)
        4. offered scholly’s early and didn’t look at late developing players

        because that’s the way he had always done it at FSU and early at Georgia. No doubt he was successful at FSU and early at Georgia. But the game is constantly evolving and he seems slow to changes (though not bull-headed).


        • The other Doug

          I agree with what you posted, except for the punt returner. McKenzie looks to be a great PR, but he also looks to be a very serviceable WR. So, it’s not that he went out and recruited a specialist as much as he went out and recruited a player who could help in that area. I know it might seem like splitting hairs, but it looks like he is realizing that you can’t just find your PR during the 2nd week of practice. On the other hand, McKenzie was a last minute offer, so maybe he hasn’t really changed.


        • GaskillDawg

          The “He redshirted Knowshon!!!! How stupid!!!!!!” meme has been around a while. In 2006 UGA had three upperclassmen RBs, each of whom were good enough to play in the NFL, to wit, Danny Ware, Kraig Lumpkin and Thomas Brown. Moreno was a true freshman.

          You saw Moreno after a year in the weightroom and a year of college level practice. You do not know if a Moreno a few months removed from HS would have performed as well as an older, stronger Moreno.

          Richt was not taking carries away from a 2008 Moreno to give to a 2006 Danny Ware. Instead, in your view, he should have taken carries away from three NFL quality older, stronger, more experienced players to give to a kid a few months out of high school.

          If Moreno was a true freshman in 2003 I will bet he would have played a lot, or in 2004. But I understand that the coaches, having seen Moreno in fall practice as a true freshman, decided to give all the carries to the three future NFL backs.


        • Paul
          1. The fact we can harp on 1 big red shirting mistake in 14 years says a lot. Plus we had aware, Brown, and Lumpkin. It’s not like the cupboard was bare. Plus we were not winning anything big with Joe T and a true freshman QB.
          2. They couldn’t get Casper in period. Blame somebody else on that.
          3. We did offer Mikey Henderson a 2 star guy. Go back to 2000-2008 and look at the number of punt returns and compare it to 2009-2913. Almost nobody returns punts anymore. If we could’ve gotten Ace Sanders in I think we would’ve offered.
          4. Everyone did this and still does. What u hated was the slow play and late offers on in state kids. We waited way too long to fix that.

          My point is I know this blog is always working the anti CMR angle and I certainly have my criticisms as I would anyone who was around 15 years but the above stuff is just nit picking.

          I think we are obviously dealing with lack of talent issues now but my biggest issue is our commitment to all out winning from the President down through the AD and even fans. And sadly I don’t see it getting much better.


      • GaskillDawg

        What did Richt do wrong to not get a MNC in 2002? He did not prepare Purdue or whomever it was from letting Ohio State complete that 4th down pass to enable it to have a come from behind win. Had OSU lost there would have been just one undefeated BCS conference champion and we would have played for BCS championship.

        What did Richt do wrong in 2007. The consensus on every Georgia Bulldog message board after the conference championship games was that number 3 UGA should move up to 2 or 1 and play in the BCS championship game, and the consensus was we were the best team in the country by that point in the season. But, damn fool Richt, he made Vandy miss a game winning field goal against UT and had Kentucky miss a game winning field goal in overtime against UT. Otherwise we would have beaten LSU in the SEC CG and beaten OSU in New Orleans.

        By contrast Urban Meyer had magic Richt lacks in 2006. UF made the BCS Championship game because, while he was coaching in the SEC CG, he made UCLA block USC’s extra point so UF could replace USC as #2.


    • Husky Jeans

      “he’d likely have a mnc trophy or two if he’d paid attention to details”

      You realize that the “M” in “MNC” stands for mythical, don’t you? And it was given that name because there are numerous factors outside of a coach’s control that determine who wins the MNC. Richt could’ve easily had a couple if certain things had gone our way–things that were completely out of our control.

      The obsession of today’s fan with the national championship sets everyone up for disappointment at the outset. We are a winning program and Richt is widely respected in the profession. We consistently compete for the SEC championship and are consistently in the national conversation for being a top team. What more do we want?

      CannonDawg below wonders “what keeps CMR from being at the very top of the college coaching profession.” Who is at the top of the profession? Saban and who else? I’ll grant that Saban is a better head coach than Richt. What are we looking for here? Hell, go look at the revered Vince Dooley’s record–it is littered with 3, 4 and 5 loss seasons. He has a losing record in bowl games (8-10-2).

      What head coach is better in the Pac 12? What coach is better in the Big 10? Big 12? ACC? SEC? What proves that they’re better and “at the very top of the coaching profession”?


      • Mayor.

        What head coach is better in the PAC 12? Well, let’s see. There’s RichRod, David Shaw, Chris Petersen and Jim Mora. In the Big 10, there’s Urban Meyer and Mark D’Antonio. Big 12, there’s Bob Stoops, Art Briles, Bill Snyder Mike Gundy, Gary Patterson and Charlie Strong. The ACC has Jimbo Fisher, Frank Beamer and, even though he doesn’t have all that high a winning percentage based on where he has coached, I would argue David Cutcliff. Of course in the SEC damn near every coach in the SEC West is better, plus Spurrier in the East, and maybe Gary Pinkel, too. Does that answer your question sufficiently?


      • W Cobb Dawg

        “You realize that the “M” in “MNC” stands for mythical, don’t you?”

        I think we all understand I’m referring to the coach who hoists the glass trophy in the air after the last CFB game of the season. That’s not a myth.

        “What proves that they’re better and “at the very top of the coaching profession?”

        Owning that glass trophy is proof. But like I said originally, I like CMR. I’ve seen so many of these mea culpas that I’m desensitized to them.


  4. Vindex

    Ten to twelve years later, it’s easy to forget that once upon a time STs,including of course the return game were actually pretty good during the first part of CMR’s time. Who can forget Damien Gary’s punt return at Tennessee 2001 which got us back into the game and ultimately made the Hobnail Boot possible? Or Sean Jones’ return at Auburn which set up good field position for the game winning drive? Even as late as 2005, it was a PR for TD that broke open the game in Knoxville, and Mikey Henderson had the two (one invalidated by his error) in the 2006 opener.
    Not sure what exactly happened with the STs, but their decay in the latter 00s decade was of a piece with the downfall of our D, and symptomatic of the dry rot that settled in or our program. CMR gets the blame for allowing that,just as he gets the credit for turning things around when the seat got hotter. The rebirth of a return game in Athens is a beautiful thing. Now, if ONLY whoever was responsible for that stupid pooch kick at start of the Vols’ final TD drive last weekend will kindly remove his head from where the sun don’t shine and turn Morgan loose with instruction to bang it out of the EZ…..


  5. I’ve enjoyed (and sometimes not) watching Richt’s coaching philosophy mature over the years. This may very well be the one that completes it.


  6. “And guys have to do it or they won’t be playing.”

    Just another reason Herrera is one of my favorite Dawg LBs. Plays the position the easy it’s meant, good teammate and is supposed to be intelligent on and off the field.

    ST have definitely been better this year.


  7. Spike

    What a breath of fresh air. Better late than never.


  8. Cojones

    Didn’t Richt and another coach visit Va Tech some years ago for the very reason of improving our STs? It was a big part of VTs game then, but not as much now. Has there been a stat crunch that said that STs are outmoded? If not, why did Richt and staff search around for more than one summer?

    There was big interest in STs several yrs ago. What the hell happened?


  9. Scorpio Jones, III

    John Fabris…defensive line at …….INDIANA….What did I just read about Indiana?


  10. Refreshing. That was, and is, the word that always comes to mind when I think about this year’s ST’s, to date.

    From the get-go, we could see it was all different. I’m pleased that we actually put in the time and effort to look into it, and then actually thought about it.

    I understand you have to be careful when you’re being creative on ST’s, otherwise it’ll backfire and cause a disaster. But everything we’re doing seems to be well thought out. I’m concerned now about the personnel losses (gunners) on our coverage teams, but hopeful we can find a few guys who’ll at least keep us solid.

    So it’s great to see the intelligent concepts, attention to detail, personnel, and all the rest. Refreshing.


  11. JCDAWG83

    Maybe Richt will return some of his pay from the past few years where he claimed to be the special teams coach and that he was paying a lot more attention to it. Apparently, he didn’t really understand that part of the game but I’m sure he never told his boss, the AD, “sorry, I really don’t understand much about the special teams aspect of football”. Hearing all the mea culpas over and over every year from Richt gets a little old. He is an absolute master at admitting he made poor coaching decisions. At $3.5 million a year, maybe he should stop making poor decisions or start giving some money back?


    • Rocket Dawg

      Because I am sure you make the right decision EVERY SINGLE TIME at your job and haven’t evolved at all since you started there. I wish some of you arm chair Head Coaches and Coordinators had that amount of scrutiny at your job.


      • JCDAWG83

        If I continued to make bonehead decisions over and over and if I was paid millions of dollars a year, my employer would have a lot less tolerance of my job performance than Richt experiences. If Richt were one of the lowest paid coaches in the country and/or had little talent or resources, I would give him a lot more leeway. Every season, there is a loss that goes directly to coaching. Richt gets paid a whole lot of money to coach. By taking the big money, he accepts the big responsibility. Luckily for Richt, no one really enforces that responsibility.

        If I was making seven figures to do my job, I would expect a lot of scrutiny.


        • Husky Jeans

          And I’m sure you’d give your boss some of your salary back when you fail to achieve perfection.


        • TuckerDawg

          How much employer scrutiny does it take to spend as much time as you do on UGA blog message boards and how is that reflected in your salary?


        • ! Fred Russo

          He has the best job in college football. No one cares if he wins or loses. Just keep the seats full.


  12. El Dawgo in Evans

    I am glad that Richt’s philosophy as a head coach is still growing and evolving. We can all see issues looking in the rear view over his tenure, but his humility in admitting issues and bringing in coaches to help shore up deficiencies is a great thing. Just this year we have observed special teams and recruiting philosophy change drastically. This to me proves that he wants to win and is as competitive as us rabid fans.