Getting special on special teams

I really try hard not to drink the preseason Kool-Aid, but when Kirby pushes a cold glass of tasty beverage into my hand, it’s hard to resist sometimes.

Here’s what he had to say about special teams at yesterday’s post-practice presser (say that three times in a row, fast).

In terms of special teams coverage units, what are you looking for to shore up those areas this year?

‘’Number one, is a great kick because the best way to shore up your areas of coverage is to kick the ball where it’s supposed to be, how high it’s supposed to be with what hang time it’s supposed to be done with.  We’ve improved first and foremost in that area.  Rodrigo (Blankenship) did a great job of kicking off in Saturday’s scrimmage.  He had some of the best hang times we’ve had.  David (Marvin) did as well, but Rod had a little better hang time.  Punting, Cam (Nizialek) got great placement and hang time.  But, the number one thing, coverages have fast, big guys.  We’ve got a lot of starters playing on our punt team.  We’re still assembling the kickoff team.  The goal is to have guys buy in and realize the importance of it.  It’s not a down off.  So we have a lot of competition.  That’s the biggest difference I noticed from last year.  There’s a lot of guys fighting for spots on special teams because they know that if they don’t get those spots, they might not make that travel roster.  So we’re looking for fast guys that make good decisions.’’

How many of the true freshmen do you think might make these units?

‘’I don’t know an amount.  I mean, Swift was showing up.  Mark Webb was showing up.  Walter Grant is showing up. Several guys…Nate McBride is showing up.  There are a lot of guys that are showing up.  They’re all in the mix, and I think after Saturday’s scrimmage we’ll know more of the 2-deep on the special teams.  And there’s some real good competition.  But that’s where those guys are going to make their waves early.’’

Down, boy.

Seriously, what’s not to like there?  He knows what he wants, mechanically speaking.  He’s aware that the talent level on the coverage units has to improve. And it sounds like he’s found the lever to motivate guys to want to participate.  I don’t know about you, but that checks all my boxes.

If there’s one area that can improve rapidly based on recent recruiting success, it’s special teams.  Sure, there are always going to be a few super subs who make their marks there, but generally speaking, it’s just like any other area in that greater athleticism likely leads to better results.  Lord knows after last season, they could sure stand for some improvement there.

17 Comments

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17 responses to “Getting special on special teams

  1. Uglydawg

    So we don’t have to remove the statue of Rodrigo just yet?

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  2. Uglydawg

    Sorry about that silliness..
    It is truly encouraging to see CKS concerned about details that may have been considered small things in the past.
    Small things add up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I could be very, very wrong, but I think we’re going to see OUR kinda football team out there this year. I think we’re salty, talented and prepared. The days of sleepwalking through games and/or getting manhandled will be in the past.

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    • ApalachDawg

      Damn I hope you are right. I just feel like we are about to curb stomp some folks. I’m hoping that the tickle, two hand touch football is gone from the red and black mindset.

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    • dawgman3000

      God I hope you’re right Derek. I’m as optimistic about the upcoming season as anyone, but between Eason’s accuracy issues and our o-line woes, the closer to kickoff we get, the more my optimism dwindles.

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      • Eason was good enough last year. Even if he made no progress we should be ok as compared to the competition in the East. The line must be better. I don’t think they need to be dominant, just competent. Three keys to me are: a competent line, Chubb is ready to be a 8 ypc work horse and we’ve got receivers who can get separation. Arguably, Chubb was fine last year its just that the line was that bad. Perhaps. If so, there’s only two keys.

        The defense is going to be very good. Good enough that if we can put up 30+ against anybody, and with the above formula I think we can, we’ll be pretty good.

        The concern I’ve got is how good some of the qb’s we’ll be facing are going to be this year. If any of USC, MSU, UF and Auburn have qb’s who run and pass really well, that’s always going to be tough. That’s where you’ve just have to put up points and force the other guy to be one dimensional to catch up.

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        • Uglydawg

          I tend to similar optimism with a couple of negative shards. !. The way Ole’ Miss handled Georgia last year was worse than anything I would have imagined..so that’s a nagging thought…2. Offensive game day schemes.
          The first is a nightmare that I pray won’b be recurring…so is the second.
          But Eason will be better if only marginally…same with the line, receivers and coaching. Defense will be Junkyardish…ST’s much better. Adds up to good thoughts mostly.

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  4. dawgtired

    “The goal is to have guys buy in and realize the importance of it. It’s not a down off.”

    This is the statement I like. I was one of those guys some years ago that thought of kickoffs and punts as that play that you just get it over and done with so you can move on to football. It was the play that gave you a chance to let scrubs play. Being involved in a little soccer and softball coaching I realized EVERY play is an opportunity for success. And in football it’s an opportunity to create ‘MO’. I love this mentality and hope it pays off in the end. Pass the Kool-Aid, I’m having some.

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  5. Rp

    I am anxious to see McBride on kickoff coverage. He’s 6-2, 230 and has a personal best of 10.61 in the 100m. That’s faster than Gurley.

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  6. georgiajeepn

    Are you saying all college teams do not game plan to kick the ball into the corner at the 10 yard line?

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  7. Greg

    Hear that McBride is laying the wood out there……..

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  8. Irwin R. Fletcher

    There is no one on that squad that wants to miss the trip to Notre Dame…motivating, indeed.

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  9. Texas Dawg

    Our “special teams” have been anything but for the longest. Atrocious would be a description that comes to mind. If they can just improve to average, that would be a massive upgrade. With the depth of talent that Kirby is stockpiling, along with his emphasis on special teams, this should be an easily obtainable goal. Now if they can become truly “special” then look out!!

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  10. 69Dawg

    Special teams and maintaining your lanes remind me of something I heard a coach say one time (can’t remember his name I’m too old) Fast is great as long as you are going where you are suppose to go, if your not your just taking yourself out of the play faster. How many time have we watched our guys just run without being in control and take themselves right out of the play. It happens more than I care to see on our pass rush. We run right by the QB and then get burned when he takes off for 10+ yards.

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  11. Will Trane

    Now why did not CMR think of that. Or his oft mentioned special teams coach or committee.
    CMR did get McKenzie for returns.

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  12. AusDawg85

    Tom Herman has said only starters will play on his special teams at Texas. I think errbody needs to be on deck…even Nick for KO returns if he looks good handling them. Smart needs the wins. UGA needs the wins. No taking anymore “off” years.

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