Category Archives: Georgia Football

The risk/reward ratio of Isaiah McKenzie

Question for you, Shane Beamer.

McKenzie is the main punt returner, barring injury (and he’s had a few) or something else. The 5-foot-8 (in high tops) speedster is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, and owns four career punt return touchdowns. He also has a kick return touchdown, as a freshman, so why did he only return four kickoffs last year? And why isn’t he back there for every single punt return? It’s worth pointing out that Davis brought back a punt for a touchdown last year too, and averaged a not-too-shabby 23.2 yards per kick return. But his longest kickoff return was only 39 yards last year. It’ll be interesting to see where Smart and Beamer go here: Get McKenzie, their most dynamic return option, back there as much as possible? Or do they end up with the same worries the previous staff had about McKenzie’s decision-making and ball control?

Okay, questions.  One of which I discount – if it’s a choice between Davis and McKenzie, decision-making and ball control is a wash.

Honestly, if coaching is all about getting your best players on the field, it’s hard to see how you can justify keeping a home run threat like McKenzie on the sidelines (assuming he’s healthy, of course).  And I say that knowing there are others, like Godwin and Michel, who have potential, but potential ain’t the same thing as five career touchdown returns in two seasons.

Hell, if you’re trying to hedge your bets a little, use a twin-returner formation on kickoffs.  But get Isaiah on the field.

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The X factor’s X factor

I know I’ll probably get some pushback on this, but as much as I’d like to point to all sorts of things being the key to Georgia’s success in the SEC this season, I can’t help but think it really boils down to one item:  Nick Chubb’s health.

Here’s something ESPN’s Alex Scarborough wrote:

When identifying the biggest X factor in the SEC, you could simply say “Georgia” and be done with it. With a new coaching staff, a deep well of talent and a relatively easy road in the East, the Bulldogs have a chance to shake up the conference. But to be more specific, there are two X factors to consider: Jacob Eason and Nick Chubb. We’ll start with Chubb. Before Leonard Fournette came along and Chubb went down with a knee injury against Tennessee, Chubb was the best back in the league. If he can get anywhere close to 100 percent, he and fellow running back Sony Michel could form the most dynamic backfield in college football. If they do, Eason’s role could get interesting…

That’s putting it mildly.  You can talk about the lines, size on defense, depth, attitude and anything else you want, but a healthy Chubb makes his teammates on both sides of the ball better, makes his coaches smarter and makes that margin for error just a little larger.

Scarborough’s right in the specifics, too.  With Chubb as your number one back, Chaney’s got far more flexibility in how he deploys Sony Michel.  Remember what even Schottenheimer was able to do in that department before the Tennessee game.

And, yes, a fully loaded backfield takes tons of pressure off both Eason and the coaches, if they decide he’s earned the starting job.  (Eason’s most important immediate task may very well be mastering the art of selling the play action pass.)  It almost goes without saying that the more productive and dangerous Georgia’s offense is, the better Georgia’s defense will be.

All of which isn’t to say Georgia won’t win a few games without Chubb’s services.  But…

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Old habits die hard.

While on ESPN’s Championship Drive podcast, Kirby Smart had a few things to say about his new team’s mindset that weren’t exactly flattering.

“I don’t think our players realize how hard they have to work to be great,” Smart said. “I think pushing them to do that and pushing them harder and making them realize they can do more is a big part of our job as coaches. They’ve got to understand they can work harder than they’re currently working and they can take more reps and they can do the reps the right way at a high rate.

“Obviously, we’ve got to improve the overall talent level and depth, but more important than that, it’s gonna be whether or not these guys push through the ceiling and go through what they think they can and take the roof off it and go work a little bit harder. We start up June 1 with our entire team. It’s important to have good summer workouts and meet the demands of the program.”

So much to wonder about in those two paragraphs.  I sure would love for someone to ask Rocker and Sherrer to compare and contrast the approach of the coaching staffs in 2016 and 2015, except Smart doesn’t allow the assistant coaches to speak with the media.  Maybe some of the players will be asked about it at SEC Media Days, but I doubt they’d say much in response.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see what shows up on the field to get any idea.

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“Our concern is how are we going to hold up at the point with big people?”

We all know Kirby wants a lot more size on the d-line than he inherited, but, honestly, I’m a little surprised at the math:

As we speak – on campus today – the Bulldogs only have four defensive linemen who check in at over 300 pounds – Trenton Thompson, John Atkins, DaQuan Hawkins and Julian Rochester, whose status for the opener remain unclear following his arrest in April on a felony charge of having a weapon on campus (a bb gun) and destruction of property.”

While that number will increase by two when Michail Carter and Tyler Clark arrive with the rest of Georgia’s freshman class on June 1, that’s not going to do much to alleviate Smart’s fears until the Bulldogs can add more depth via recruiting.

If you’d have asked me before I read that how many 300+ pounders Rocker would be coaching this season, I’d have said half that.  Granted, three of those are true freshmen.  What’s the over/under on how many of them redshirt?

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You can’t improve upon perfection.

This sounds about like what you’d expect.

A couple of readers have asked whether anything will be done before this season to improve the restrooms at Sanford Stadium and better amplify the Redcoat Band during games. One of them, Jay Unger, writes: A couple of questions about the game day experience. First, any hope in my lifetime (I’m 60) for the level 300 bathrooms? They have been abysmal for years — too small, single-door entry. You miss most of a quarter of play just trying to get into and out of one if the need arises. Secondly, any chance we can hear more from the Redcoat Band and less over-volumized canned music this season? Or at minimum, consider the demographics of those who pay the bills in selecting the playlist? Some hip-hop, OK, I get it. But a steady diet of it? Please throw us baby boomers a bone or two. How ’bout mix in a little country and classic rock as well! Other stadiums in the SEC and beyond do that. Why not us? “Baba O’Riley” (aka “out here in the fields, teenage wasteland”) is cool at the beginning but can only carry you so far. Getting back to the playing field and on a more upbeat note, thrilled about Kirby Smart and what he brings to UGA football. Go Dawgs!

I asked the UGA Athletic Association this week whether there was anything to report on either bathroom renovations or sound improvements and the response was … [crickets]. So I’m not too hopeful on either point for this fall.

Maybe they thought Bill was making an Open Records request.

By the way, to his reader who hopes for an expansion to Sanford Stadium taking attendance into six figures:  you’re insane, buddy.  They can’t handle what they’ve got now.

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What does Phil Steele know that we don’t?

How many Georgia fans do you figure share his optimistic take on the offensive line?

Let me just say that if turns out that Georgia indeed has one of college football’s ten best o-lines this season, I could get used to that.

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Fast times at the Georgia Dome

Admittedly, this guy is talking so fast and trying to jam so much into this clip, it’s as if somebody told him they only had seven more minutes of battery life when they starting recording, but if you’re looking for some rapid fire information about Georgia’s opener, you might want to give this a listen.

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