“I knew about Frank Beamer.”

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.


Filed under Georgia Football

27 responses to ““I knew about Frank Beamer.”

  1. sniffer

    Since programs are emphasizing special teams more these days, it makes sense to have a strategy (that is effective) and practice, practice, practice! If you can’t outcoach them anymore, you’d better be on par with them. In the past, we often weren’t.


  2. merk

    Well, Richt may have changed his stance on ST play the last few years, but that did not stop periods of WTF, such as shuffling PR around or having someone returning punts who could not figure out when to or not to field a punt.


  3. More attention to Special Teams is certainly a contributor. But I also think there were other factors. Consider:

    You can no longer jump up and land on anyone. There goes 6+ Boss Baily blocks from 2002 alone.
    Many teams employ alternate punt formations/styles, like ruby punting. This appears to have contributed to a reduction in punt blocks, though I lack hard numbers (except to say blocks are down, though there are so few from one year to the next that it’s hard to gauge it. E.g. 2008-2015 the SEC leader in blocks was always between 3 and 8. I believe we’d see higher numbers going back to the start of the decade. But not, you know, several dozen. Double digits/possibly low teens.

    Both of these things have reduced blocks.

    Here’s what I am looking for:

    More overall consistency in kickoff/punt/return philosophy. To a degree how we perform on return units is entirely out of our hands. We do know there’s potential there, though, so we should get some results. Related to #1:
    Don’t attempt to fix problems by doing the same things over and over without properly addressing this in practice.
    Possibly cleaner punt fielding.

    Whatever blocks we get is gravy. Otherwise, I’m looking for us to try and get a field position edge, and any truly big plays are gravy. There is talent there to make them, to be sure.


    • Yep, well said. Fundamentally sound special teams are a field position weapon. You hit on a huge point regarding rule changes and kicking changes that reduce the number of blocked kicks.

      Kickoff/return – kick the ball into the end zone consistently. Unless you’re Todd Gurley, don’t attempt returns on balls kicked into the end zone.

      Punt/return – make sure the punter is protected (we probably should go back to the traditional pro-style punt protection rather than the wide splits) before heading down field. Catch the ball consistently.

      Field goal/block – make the kicks and don’t get fooled by gadget plays. FG blocks are pure luck. If you get penetration, you still won’t likely get the block.


  4. I’m not convinced that we’re all of a sudden going to become VT of the Beamer Ball era for the reasons cited above. I want us to be more aggressive on special teams even if that means taking some calculated risks. More than anything else, Kirby has one throat to choke when something bad happens in the kicking game.


  5. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    We need to upgrade ourselves to “as good as everyone else”, and hopefully an ST coordinator is a big step in that direction.


    • I think about the 2012 championship game. We thoroughly outplayed Bama in the kicking game. They attempted a fake punt that we stopped. We pulled off a great fake punt that led to our first TD. Of course, Tree is still running with the blocked FG that should have been the difference in the game.


  6. MGW

    Take lots of chances if we’ve got the players to do it. Thats my philosophy. You’re welcome coach beamer.


    • Ben

      I remember a while back when Richt and UGA used Beamer Ball to beat the Hokies. Was that a Peach Bowl?

      Those were the good ole days of the Richt era.


  7. lakedawg

    His record sort of bears out what he said above, averaged 8 wins a year, but pretty bad the last four.


  8. JCDAWG83

    I look at special teams as an aspect of the game that, while it won’t win a lot of games for you if you are good at it, it will certainly lose games for you if you’re bad.


  9. paul

    For us,any improvement is a huge improvement. Special teams have been anything but special at Georgia for a while. We’ve had some good kickers but that’s about it.


  10. merk

    Beamer has a few jobs with that have very little to do with the other teams:
    -Figure out how to get the ball into the endzone on kick offs
    -Find a serviceable punter
    -Find a serviceable FG kicker, who can at least hit a 40-50 yard FG
    -Make the KR team and PR team a bit better on tackling/limiting big returns
    -Find another guy to go with iMac who can catch a punt and knows when to fair catch/let it bounce

    If he can make those things consistent, we will be doing pretty good. The biggest issue during the RIcht era, was that we had all of those things, but at different times. When we had an all-american kicker and punter, we also had an all-american fair catcher. When we had an all-american kicker, someone kept not letting him put it into the stands on every kickoff. Also we were very hit and miss on recognizing when the other team was going to pull a fake punt (Spurrier is still grinning thinking about that damn D linemen run 50 yards for a TD vs us.)


    • Gaskilldawg

      Just putting a kickoff into the end zone does not solve kick coverage problems. The rules allow a returner to catch the kickoff in the end zone and return it out. At that point what counts is ability to cover and tackle.

      Is there any fan who thinks that a punt team courts disaster if it out punts its coverage? Why are kickoffs any different? If we kick into the end zone shallow enough for the returner to run it out we are at risk. The challenge is to find a kicker who can CONSISTENTLY hit a kickoff 75 yards, and that is not easy.


  11. DawgPhan

    never punt, always go for 2.


  12. 3rdandGrantham

    I’d submit that the talent drop off over that same period is at least partly (if not mostly) to blame for the reduced ST stats. Since moving to Virginia in early 2010, my many VT friends/colleagues have been griping about Beamer, with a fair majority outwardly hoping he’d retire. They’ve averaged something like 6 losses over the past 4-5 years, which is a far cry from the days when an 11-2 type records they were accustomed to previously.

    They simply haven’t had the same talent to dominate in ST play; the overall schemes are just fine.


  13. Tom Slicker

    The biggest reason for the decline…VT’s recruiting declined. And yes I blame Saban he started getting the best player or two from DC and VA that used to go to Tech.


  14. PharmDawg

    What’s the point of this discussion? We argued for and now we want to doubt why we did that? We didn’t have a single ST coach in charge before and now we do. I’m not making too much or to little out of it, I’m just glad someone that is qualified is responsible for ST. I don’t think having this takes away from the other 2/3 of the game and certainly can make that 1/3 more competent due to at least better decision making.


  15. W Cobb Dawg

    I think it would be a leap forward to simply play the percentages, rather than by gut intuitions. That and improving fundamentals. For every big play on STs, we probably had 3 head scratching ‘WTF is going on’ moments. Show me fundamentally solid ST play and I’ll show you a team with one foot in the sec championship game.


  16. 80dawg

    Any yet, special teams play was the difference in the National Championship.