Excuse my heresy – and, yes, I know that much of Georgia’s special teams play could stand any sort of improvement – but are we making a little too much out of Beamer Ball? Read carefully what its namesake had to say about his son’s position in Athens.
Now Georgia has one coach with a special teams coordinator title.
“I think it makes a statement,” said Frank Beamer, who was at UGA for a coaching clinic on Friday. “You’re going to have an offensive coordinator, you’re going to have a defensive coordinator and now if it’s one-third of the game, you probably should have a special teams coordinator. I think that, No. 1, makes a statement to your team, and No. 2, if someone is concentrating in that area, you’re concentrating on a third of the ballgame. Generally, that’s the quickest way to win and the quickest way to lose.”
Virginia Tech and Beamer Ball became known for special teams play. The Hokies blocked 67 punts, 41 field goals and 28 extra points under Beamer dating back to 1987 and scored 55 special teams touchdowns including a 67-yard punt return in his final game as coach.
“At a time when we were having a lot of success blocking kicks and returning kicks and so forth, I think it became a time when things changed within college football,” Frank Beamer said. “Ten years, 12 years ago, I think you could outcoach people in special teams. I don’t think you can anymore. Most people have taken a different look.” [Emphasis added.]
Those diminishing returns in special teams coaching are reflected in some of the Hokies’ stats.
Between 2000-08, Virginia Tech blocked an average of 4.9 kicks a year. Between 2009-15, the Hokies blocked an average of 1.9 per year.
Now, again, I’m not trying to toss out a lot of cold water here. Special teams appeared to be a real hit-or-miss proposition over the past few seasons, so an upgraded level of attention and organization certainly can’t hurt.
Reading between the lines, though, the times appear to have caught up with Beamer Ball to some extent, at least in part, probably because of the emphasis on upgrading special teams personnel that we’ve seen from coaches like Urban Meyer. And as we saw from the past couple of seasons, upgrading personnel was an idea that Mark Richt had begun to adopt, albeit belatedly. That makes me wonder how much of an improvement we should expect to see out of changes in tactics.