Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Dawg-Like Preview: Putting It All Together With Special Teams

Let's be frank, we all know that UGA has the best combo of punter and kicker in the nation. It's really no contest. With a Ray Guy award winner in Drew Butler and Blair Walsh, a Lou Groza finalist last year and watch lister this year, I don't have to do a lot to make someone realize these guys are good.

What has been a concern is DIRECTIONAL KICKING (Great post from Westerdawg). When I say concern, I actually mean words like calamity, cataclysm, catastrophe, tragedy, debacle, holocaust, and EPIC FAIL. Should you need more examples, take the time to observe a few below.

This type of kicking and coverage is not a recent phenomenon. Over the past six years, teams have averaged 22.7 more return yards per game than the Dawgs. This is partly because teams have averaged about 14 more returns per year than we have. That is 1.167 more returns per game. If we extrapolate the math, teams are actually starting out about .25 yards better than UGA is on average. This is laughable considering that we have at least two games per year where we completely outclass the competition at every position. Just those games alone should skew the numbers significantly toward the Dawgs. I'll relent, however, as I'm beating a post-mortem equine.

On a very positive note, we had a stringer at the Athens Bulldog Club last night give us some insight on Richt's philosophy this year. I think you'll be happy with what he said. From what I was told, Richt's words were something like, "Well I told Belin to let that kid kick it as far as he could. If its a line drive and the other guys return it for a TD it's on you guys (meaning the crowd) from then on."

Apparently John Fabris and his band of seers and mystics thought it was a good idea to put tons of walk-ons on the coverage team and kick it to the opposition's corner on the 5 yard line. This allowed the other team, which had 1st-teamers on the return squad, to return it to the 45 every time. It was AUTOMATIC and DROVE ME BONKERS. I'm all for letting guys play, but how bout doing that when you've beaten the other guys to a pulp? I don't think we'll see that any more.

The most important part of the kick team is coverage. If you read my last two posts (here and here) on special teams and their value to the team, you know we can't get much worse in those departments. With a new coach and philosophy (and perhaps faster players), I think we will see a large improvement here.

If, and when, you see the direction kicking again, you will know I'm in the stadium because my head will EXPLODE. I really hope I don't have to go through that, as I'm thoroughly looking forward to watching the Dawgs crack skulls this season.

That about does it for previewing this years teams by position. Just in case you have missed any of the other installments of "A Dawg-Like Preview" find them below. GO DAWGS!

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