“I’m not saying that I wouldn’t do that.”

Kirby Smart gets asked if he’d consider the hiring of a dedicated special teams coach for his staff and tosses this out in response:

“I obviously, philosophically, believe in having that,” Smart said. “But I’m not limiting myself to not breaking it up. Until I get that position filled and feel comfortable with it with the person I hire, I’m not ready to say that yet.”

Giant nothing burger, that.  Although it sounds better than “um… I don’t know.”

The reality is that Smart is up against the same numbers issue that Mark Richt faced.  You can only have so many assistants on the staff; if you name a special teams coach, you’re giving up a spot for someone else.  The only way that really works is if your head coach also takes on the duties of a position coach or coordinator, too.

Is Smart prepared to do that?  (Ironically, Richt started out that way, but didn’t hire a special teams coach when he was calling plays.)  Um… I don’t know.  I would guess it depends on how much bang for the buck he can get for making that kind of hire, as well as how confident he feels stretching himself personally that way.  Not to mention how much tugging he’s going to get to apply his time to non-coaching matters, as Richt did…

21 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

21 responses to ““I’m not saying that I wouldn’t do that.”

  1. bulldogbry

    I’ve been wondering, does Kirby run a 4-3 or a 3-4 defense? I’m not in the arena, but it seems like with a 4-3, you have a coach for the DL and one for the LB’s. I would think that would free up a spot for ST if you’re not having to have a OLB AND ILB coach. I can’t remember that far back before Grantham what we did.

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  2. South FL Dawg

    It sounds to me like if he could find a special teams coach worth his salt he would hire the person, and if not he’ll distribute out the duties. Either way he’s in a profession where people stretch themselves, but I’m optimistic that Kirby will be “smart” in how he handles everything.

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  3. DawgPhan

    Why no go out and hire a special teams coach to be part of the analyst/support/S&C staff so they don’t count as a coach. Those guys also get a lot more access to the team.

    So while it is true Smart will have the same limits as Richt, he also watched as Saban was a good as anyone at working around those limits and cramming guys in the booth.

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    • Why no go out and hire a special teams coach to be part of the analyst/support/S&C staff so they don’t count as a coach.

      As I understand it, those guys are not allowed to do actual on-field coaching during practice. I don’t know how closely those things are monitored, though.

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  4. Dolly Llama

    If he doesn’t hire an ST coach, I’ll be disappointed. Is it just me, or is special teams becoming an ever-more-important part of the modern game? I mean, think of all the huge, pivotal, play-them-over-and-over-on-TV plays from the last three years or so that have been on special teams.

    Of course, it may just seem like special teams is a more critical part of the game because Georgia’s have had so much, uh, drama over that same span.

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    • I think it’s the latter. Special teams gaffes get magnified because they are typically game-changing plays especially considering momentum. Think about the Bama game. Henry scores the TD to go up 10-3. Bama kicks off and we get an illegal block penalty to put us inside the 10. We proceed to go 3 and out in an ugly fashion. Punt blocked for a TD … Game over. 2 mistakes on STs led directly to points.

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  5. dudemankind

    Neither Alabama, Florida or Ohio State have a dedicated coach for special teams this year. I am just guessing here, but maybe the problem wasn’t so much not having someone dedicated to special teams as much as the overall time and emphasis which was paid towards it?

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    • I thought I read somewhere that Bobby Williams is the dedicated ST coach for Bama? He also coaches tight ends, but the article I read said he was the man when it comes to their special teams.

      I do think having a single “special teams coach” is a bit overrated. Even if you have one, the other coaches still have to chip in, it’s too much for one guy to totally handle (in my opinion). Think about the wide variety of responsibilities between all the different special teams units. It has to be a collaborative effort among the coaching staff. Having a ST coach just gives you somebody to point the finger at. And as has been shown, coaches who have any clue on how to help kickers/punters get better are few and far between, and if they are that good at helping kickers, they’ve probably been snatched up on an NFL staff.

      I actually liked how Richt had it divided most recently, with two primary guys, allowing them to focus on specific units of the special teams. Granted, it worked better in 2014 than 2015, but I felt like both years were an improvement over how it was done before.

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      • Macallanlover

        I agree, way too many things to handle/keep track of for one person alone, responsibilities have to be split among several coaches. But it does give you someone to blame when there are mistakes. I think a ST oversee, along with some position coaching responsibilities, is the right approach. Always felt the HC should be that ST “coordinator” to insure talent is not withheld by OC and DC, and that it gets enough allotted practice time.

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  6. Scorpio Jones, III

    Awbun folks seem to think Bammer has some special teams issues from time to time….maybe its just part of the process. If Kirby learned special teams coaching from Nick, the kick return guy better get ready for reprocessing on the sideline following a mistake.

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    • Russ

      Bama’s special teams aren’t great. Kick 6, we blocked a punt for a TD against them, terrible at field goals, and it goes on. They are so strong in other areas, they overcome it.

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  7. georgiajeepn

    Would be an interesting study to see just how many Power 5 teams have hired a dedicated special teams coach. Do you hire a guy who is an expert on punters and field goal kickers? Maybe a former kicker himself? Or do you get a guy who can concentrate on kick returners? Punt returners? It is a huge difference between what the kickers do and what the returners do. Then there would be the guys who run up and down the field sacrificing their bodies on every kick to try and make a tackle. You would have to be able to coach them up also. Not an easy task to find a guy who excels in all these areas.
    Seems to me at times we have had great kickers without a special teams coach but now it seems the kickers at Georgia are not all that good and dependable. Maybe we need to step up our recruiting efforts in the kicking area.

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    • Yep, that’s exactly what I was getting at above. The scope of skill sets required on special teams units is EXTREMELY wide. To think one guy is gonna be great at coaching all areas is a stretch, surely even teams who have a dedicated special teams coach are still getting significant contributions on special teams from other members of the coaching staff.

      In other words, I think the reality is that all teams probably do it somewhat similarly, with responsibilities assigned to various members of the coaching staff. Whether one guy is designated as THE special teams coach or not is probably more a formality than anything.

      I’ll admit this is speculation on my part though, I’ve never seen the inside operations of any teams. I’d be curious for someone like Ben Dukes to weigh in on this, someone who has been “in the arena”, if my guesses are correct.

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  8. RC

    Coupla points/thoughts…I will never for the life of me understand why there is any need to break out or split up the coaching duties among the LB corp (inside and outside) or the DL (among Ends and Tackles,) scheme be damned. It seems like that is a fairly recent phenomenon, quite honestly. (But then again, I am pretty sure the ACL was invented sometime in the early 80’s…) I really don’t recall responsibilities being broken out like that until the last decade or so.

    I get it re: OL and TE’s coach, given that the TE is a much more hybrid/specialized role than a DE. But that in and of itself makes a larger point- given that coordinators also coach a position, almost without exception- it would seem ideal to find a TE’s coach that could also serve as ST coach, or vice-versa, given that they typically will have 5 or 6 players- at most- among their unit. For that reason alone it is one of life’s great mysteries why Richt never just named John Lilly the ST coordinator in addition to his duties as TE’s coach if for no other reason than to just give his critics one less thing to bitch about…

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    • W Cobb Dawg

      Agree. Since we all think of the game in 3 areas – offense, defense, and STs, it seems appropriate to have a ST Coordinator on staff. Having a dedicated TE coach seems to elevate the position to an odd level – on par with a QB coach, particularly when you count the number of players at the position.

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  9. 69Dawg

    In the games I have watched this year involving Alabama, their Special Teams are not that special. They have fumbled multiple times on kick returns and punt returns (see Ole Miss). They do tackle well on ST’s but their blocking seems suspect. The problem with not having a special teams coach is they are really hard to fine. Most of the good ones are in the pro’s. Richt’s problem was holding his special teams coordinators accountable, at least in public. We seem to recruit good kickers only to see them get worst as time goes by. If he could get a kicking coach on staff to analysis the tape of the kickers in both games and practice, he could tell the ST coordinator what the heck is wrong and how to fix it. It took the ST coach from Minnesota 15 seconds to fix Blair Walsh’s problem. I think that could have been done second handed. Hire Butler on staff.

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  10. Dolly Llama

    You know, I Googled the hell out of “Jon Fabris” to make a “Jon Fabris” is available” joke this morning, and I think that man may have fallen off the edge of the earth. Walking down Memory Lane with the old articles that popped up was sadly funny, though.

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