You can certainly take parts of this “10 things we’ve learned” piece on Smart with a grain of salt – Lord knows, I do – but this story intrigues me, even if not to the point of breaking out the
Broadcast game copies of each turnover created that week in NFL games led every Alabama meeting. The Crimson Tide handed out a wrestling championship replica belt to the player who created the most turnovers in practice each day. The same applies to the offensive side of the ball. What are those guys doing each day to prevent turnovers? That will be emphasized, too.
Players will be trained to avoid turnovers with more than old school strip drills. The new model is creating adverse game simulations. Chase drills. Challenge drills. Managers will be swatting quarterbacks with a bag to simulate the chaos of a collapsed pocket. A defender in a drill will be assigned to make the tackle. Another will be tasked with trying to punch the ball out. Players that show the tip of the ball to a defense are regarded as “tip violators.” When Alabama learned from Garrett that a large percentage of fumbles by backs came in the midst of a stiff arm or the player putting his hand on the ground, they practiced those situations.
“You have to simulate the act that causes the fumble,” Smart said.
That’s not the only emphasis that should follow Smart to UGA.
When interceptions occur, Smart’s teams will be coached how to set up a big return. Run to the sideline? Meh. The new model is getting to the numbers and tasking the rest of the unit to block high away from the return and give an athlete the space for a big return. “Find blocks and don’t watch,” Smart said.
Would I like to see some obsessive attention paid to little details like those? You betcha.
Maybe Trevor Lawrence is on to something.
“Coach Smart kind of has that Nick Saban side to him and a Mark Richt side to him,” Five-star quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence said. “He seems like a mixture of both men. Nick Saban can be a little intimidating sometimes, but you know Coach Richt was real nice and down to Earth. He’s just kind of a mixture of both of that. It makes him real easy to talk to, but I can see how he could have that Nick Saban side where he stresses every single little thing as a coach.”
Be still, mine heart.