Just playin’ those mind games, together.

William Ham doesn’t think much of Kirby Smart’s motivational tactics.

Asked if he’d still be at Georgia if Blankenship had not beaten out for the starting kicking job, Ham said, “that’s a great question.” But clearly he doesn’t miss all the mind games.

“After Missouri, I didn’t really get a chance from the coaches at all,” said Ham, who fiished his career 3-for-7 on field goals and 10-of-10 on PATs. “Even when I got into practice Ole Miss week, I kicked with the 1s all week. To be honest with you, Rodrigo nor I knew who was going to start against Ole Miss on field goals. Rodrigo thought I was going to start field goals until five minutes before the first kickoff. The coaches weren’t being transparent with us. We didn’t have a clue who was going to start. They just put Rod in.”

Ham didn’t attempt a placement kick again the rest of the season. He did handle some kickoffs the final two games of the season.

“Things happen,” Ham said. “The past is the past. So, honestly, just the combination of Rod’s good performance and the coaches not giving me another live chance, there just was no reason to go anymore. I had other opportunities, so I pursued that.”

Sour grapes?  Maybe.  Ham does acknowledge that Rodrigo played well after being given the lead role by Smart.  But for a coach who prides himself on being honest, an accusation of a lack of transparency isn’t a good look.  I wonder if Smart will have a response for that (internally, that is — I’d be surprised if he discussed this in public).

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28 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

28 responses to “Just playin’ those mind games, together.

  1. Uglydawg

    I would hope that our coaches treat these young men as people and not pawns. Mind games are for small minded “leaders”.

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    • 79DawgatWork

      Agree. Unfortunately, with all the machinations the last year and a half, Kirby definitely seems like a “mind games” kind of guy.
      How hard is to man-up and tell two guys, “whichever of you does best in practice this week is gonna get first shot during the game, and it’ll then be yours to lose”, and let them duke it out, make a decision, and inform them of the decision? This passive-aggressive chickensh*t is destructive for all involved…

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  2. CPark58

    I think he must’ve been the only one who didn’t know who the starter was going to be after the Missouri game. Not knocking the kid, its a tough position on a big time team with a struggling offense, but it was clear the moment defined him on more than one occasion.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Biggen

    His record of 3-7 FGs speaks volume. He wasnt a good enough kicker. Not sorry he got his feelings hurt. He better grow thicker skin if he plans on getting through life without keeping a napkin near him to dry his eyes everyone “does wrong” by him…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. At #93KDay, I knew who the kicker should be. When Ham didn’t get it over the line one time without a rush, Smart should have named Hot Rod the kicker right then.

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    • Macallanlover

      I agree, some of Ham’s kicks at GDay, before and during, looked like we were giving some big donor’s kid a shot he was obviously not prepared for. Concerned me a little, but I was sure I had seen the last of him, when he was actually allowed to dress out and kick early in the season I was very concerned about what was going on with the staff. And these comments from Ham give me even greater concern about Kirby’s way of interacting with folks, is he really trying to be the dick Saban is with both players, media, and assistants? He didn’t seem to have the ego or arrogance problem coming into the job, but this is a strange way to manage/motivate players. And the decision making on this kicking job last year, he still didn’t know that late in the season?

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  5. Jared S.

    Jack Welch is right when he harps about how important candor is to being an effective leader. Great leaders are open and honest with their employees and very candid about what they are doing well and what they are doing poorly. (Whoops, I referred to players as employees….)

    Having said that, we weren’t there so we don’t know what happened or did not happen or what was said or not said. Maybe the coaching staff sent messages they thought were clear enough without actually saying, “Look kid. You’ve sucked. You’re not starting this game,” so Ham was clueless and it was his own fault.

    I think many of us have probably walked out of a meeting and talked to a coworker only to find that they didn’t get the message that we thought was made perfectly clear…..if, maybe, in an indirect way.

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  6. Is it posssible that they felt Rodrigo would perform better if he didn’t have to think about things for too long before being sent out there?

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  7. “To be honest with you, Rodrigo nor I knew who was going to start against Ole Miss on field goals. Rodrigo thought I was going to start field goals until five minutes before the first kickoff. The coaches weren’t being transparent with us. We didn’t have a clue who was going to start. They just put Rod in.”

    Re-read the quote. where are the “mind games”?

    By Ham’s standards, a coach is required to give players a dynamic depth chart at all times. That is absurd. He had performed inconsistently (at best) since Kirby’s arrival. What did Ham expect a coach to say and do? “Keep kicking William and sooner or later they will go in” and keep letting him miss FGs.

    Perhaps the coaching staff wanted to see who looked better in warmups. The culture that is being instilled is not about mind games with players. It is about making sure each and every player is competing to get better at all times. For some positions that means that a couple of players will be in a constant battle for playing time. If that is a “mind game”, so be it.

    Ironically, PK is one of the least likely positions to have an ongoing position battle given the limited number of plays available. Nonetheless, we were forced to have a position battle because neither Blankenship NOR Hamm demonstrated early in the season that they deserved the job. We made a change, and Hamm lost his opportunity to win the job. Hard to find fault with his coach for doing what he did.

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    • Macallanlover

      Seriously, you don’t find that unusual for a player to not know their status five minutes before kickoff? Not sure at what point you quit playing competitive sports but when you get above pee wee level, most athletes have an excellent idea of their status, and usually directly from the position coach, or head coach. It isn’t a guaranteed commitment for a lengthy period of time, but I do find it very unorthodox unless an injury was involved (or a kickers leg strength or handling weather conditions that specific day, and even that is generally cleared up in pre-game warmups). Before coming out of the locker room players will always know. And I accept that, for some reason, the coaches were still wrestling with that decision due to lack of consistency but they watch those guys all week, and have performance to date info. My opinion is this is a staff red flag, but you obviously don’t.

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      • Only the worst coach in history would do that at kicker much less the most important position on the field: http://www.al.com/alabamafootball/index.ssf/2015/09/why_nick_sabans_plan_to_surpri.html

        “Saban said he didn’t understand the need to make a declarative statement about whom his starter would be.

        “My question is, is it just like a known fact that you have to do this a certain way, that if you don’t have a starting quarterback that means you can’t get ready to play well, [that] if you play more than one guy…that we can’t play good?,” Saban said. “I don’t know.””

        What would we do without your certain wisdom? Other than be collectively smarter?

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        • I’m not sure citing Nick Saban’s handling of place kickers is the best argument.

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          • Its Saban’s handling of his qbs that is being referenced. He didn’t name a starting qb until minutes before the 2015 Ole Miss game and hadn’t named a starter in general at QB until after that game. They did lose that game but they also won the whole thing that year. So yeah, he’s a blathering fool. Like Kirby.

            Apparently, this strategy is a “staff red flag” for Mac. Its always good to know that we’ve got someone around here who is better equipped at handling football decisions than coaches with multiple natties. Maybe we should fire Kirby and hire Mac? Or maybe Alabama has Mac in mind when Saban hangs it up? After all, he played past pee wee league and knows that nobody worth their salt would wait until practically KO to name a starter at any position ever.

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            • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

              “They did lose that game” – says it all right there.
              If coaches are infallible, then why do they get fired or lose games? Leadership decisions affect how people perform. having competition for a starting spot is good. Keep the people involved in the dark up until kickoff seems needlessly secretive.

              Kickers are notoriously fragile with their psyche, which makes sense, given their task.

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              • Meanwhile, we knew who would start at QB vs. Alabama and we got our asses beat. Simple cause and effect.

                For fucks sake can we focus on the POINT which is that both Nick Saban and Kirby Smart decided that on a particular occasion that announcing a starter wasn’t the right thing to do AND that we probably are in no position to second guess that by calling it a “staff red flag” because we played past pee wee league football?

                In the grand scheme of things BOTH of these worked out didn’t they? Coker was undefeated as a starter (and a SEC and National Champion) and Blakenship was a Freshman all-sec. Clear poor position management by those coaches.

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                • JarvisCrowell

                  You’re absolutely right derek. This might be the strongest point you’ve ever made. It’s crazy to see how many of the commenter here live and breathe the Georgia way. Every time Kirby does something to anybody that isn’t hugs and butterflies it’s some sort of scandal. It scares me to see this type of mental weakness extending past the administration and into the fanbase.

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                • Snoop Dawgy Dawg

                  correlation =/= causation.

                  I had forgotten how much of a hard on you have for coaches being infallible creatures whose every decision was beyond the critique of us unwashed masses.

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                  • Please re-read what I was responding to. It wasn’t criticism. What I respenonded to was a blanket assertion that no reasonable coach would do what was done with Ham and Blankenship and that anyone who played past pee wee football would know it. I simply sought to prove that assertion to be fucktarded. Because it was.

                    I critique coaches all the time. I try to do so while maintaining some connection with reality.

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  8. Sherlock

    But clearly he doesn’t miss all the mind games.
    Here we go again. Chip Towers might not know shit about football, but he sure does know how to troll the UGA fanbase. Watch as “mind games” becomes the new meme run amok.

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    • Sherlock

      That post should read as:

      But clearly he doesn’t miss all the mind games.

      Here we go again. Chip Towers might not know shit about football, but he sure does know how to troll the UGA fanbase. Watch as “mind games” becomes the new meme run amok.

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  9. PTCDAWG

    We had two kickers..neither of them great..what’s to see here?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. steve

    ‘Three sides to everything’, Hoss.

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  11. ApalachDawg

    where has common sense and good manners gone

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  12. Bulldog Joe

    We did the same thing with our returners a few years ago, with disastrous results.

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  13. BMan

    Based on some of the games I saw over the last 10-plus years (especially the Grantham years), it didn’t look like the team knew who was supposed to be on the field plays as the snap was pending, so five minutes before kickoff might be trending upward.

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  14. Seattle Dawg

    Is playing a mind game, if that’s what was going on*, such a bad strategy for a position with a large mental component? If this affects a kicker negatively, it could be a red flag. For other positions, consider the role of injuries and suspensions. Practice the same way day in day out.

    *Does Kirby strike you as clever? Not me.

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