Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Biggest Problem With UGA's Coaching Staff

The first thing I'd like to say is that this will not be an essay on why I believe Mark Richt should stay or go. It also won't be on Cam Newton because, well, that horse has been beaten, drowned, burned, crushed, and beaten some more. While I'm on the subject of Newton, in my opinion there's probably something to this but I don't know if it was Cam's fault or if he received any benefits. As far as anyone else is concerned, if you watched ESPN's "30 for 30" special tonight on Marcus Dupree, you'll get it (Possibly the best documentary I've ever seen). But let's not let that hijack my thoughts on Richt.

I re-tweeted a message last night from Seth Emerson at Bulldogs Blog that said "Richt says they did recruit Newton out of high school, but had him "pegged" as more of a tight end prospect." That provoked one of our readers @Wombat9195*, to comment on my re-tweet. This began the exchange and also started to get the wheels turning a bit.

While I have been utterly disappointed in a lot of things over the past several years, most of it happens to other teams as well. Losses occur, coaching blunders, poor playcalling, sub-par recruiting, etc., but the point is, we're not alone in experiencing disappointment here. I think pretty much any team can point to a time in the last year where a questionable decision was made at an important time.

An area that we seem to be constantly alone in is player evaluation and utilization. I can't tell you how many times I've been completely puzzled by personnel decisions over the past few years. One of the biggest ones, which Wombat pointed out, was Richard Samuel's experiment at running back. That situation had to be the biggest Doh! moment for any coaching staff ever. The fans could tell he wasn't suited for running the ball, as could the media and everyone else except for Richt, Bobo, and McClendon. Richard is one of my favorite players and I couldn't get over why they were essentially wasting years of his eligibility at running back. I will say that I can't be more excited about a players future than Richie. You don't see a lot of linebackers returning kicks. But I digress.

Samuel is number one on the laundry list of players who don't seem to fit at the position they're in now or those that have been shuffled around in the past. Branden Smith looks like a guy that should be in the slot and Kiante Tripp, I just feel sorry for him. Let me be clear, I'm not piling on the players here. It's not their fault that they're such good athletes that the coaches can't find a place for them to fit, even though it's their job.

Add in past players like Mikey Henderson and Brandon Miller to go with current guys like Justin Anderson, Tripp, Samuel, Smith, and Nick Williams and it looks like there is a lot of talent getting left in the wash. For whatever reason Florida, LSU, and Alabama don't have these problems with personnel. I can say for sure that not one of those teams would have let Brandon Miller go through their program like he did UGA's. What a monumental fail on by the coaching staff.

I'm sure this, like Richt's timeout issues, will bug me until he gets run off. I can't understand how a coach that sees these guys play every day can place them in a position where they look unnatural and expect them to succeed, all the while it looks obvious to every other person watching that they don't fit. If you have a really fast guy who can outrun everyone and can catch and run the ball, put him on offense. If there's a guy who is big, fast, and can obliterate offensive tackles, yet is a little slow to be a linebacker, put him at defensive end and throw biscuits and gravy at him.

Can it be that hard?


  1. Brandon rufused to go to DE until his senior year. Richard was only one of 2 running backs ready to play and handle the position. With King's injury history we were one play away from Chapas being our starting RB. Smith has constantly told everyone he wants to be a DB who gets touches on O. He grew up wanting to be Champ Bailey.
    Tripp got shuffled around due to lack of depth, and I hate it for him. But without moving him to OL for a few games we really had no one else to play. Tripp got screwed b/c he was an athlete.
    Now N Williams is a different story. He is in limbo and not one person knows where he would be best.

  2. One thing we don't see, is how these players participate in practice. If a guy loafs in practice he doesn't deserve to play on Saturday's. Brandon Miller rarely if EVER impressed me on Saturday's. I think this was a case where the guy had the physical tools to be great, but didn't have the mental fortitude to take what he was given and turn it up to a level that was expected of him. Word on Bean is that he's the same way. In other words his elevator doesn't reach the top floor.

    Having said the above, I too wonder why we don't play certain players more and why we play guys that are clearly not performing. I think Grantham has done a better job with the D than Willie did. If you don't perform on the field Grantham won't play you. For example, Willie stuck with Prince Miller and Bryan Evans in spite of the fact they were two of the worst DB's in the league. This year Vance Cuff wasn't performing and Grantham replaced him.

  3. 9:59,

    The problem you identified is self-evident. Brandon "refused" and Smith "wants to be a DB". It's classic square peg stuff. Because the peg wants to go somewhere, does that necessarily mean you should keep forcing it? We all know what the definition of insanity is.

    I can agree somewhat on the Samuel and Tripp arguments, as their moves where somewhat out of necessity.

  4. 10:33,

    You're spot on with these two, but isn't it on the coaches to motivate them? I don't want to sound like a "Fire" so and so type, but at some point they should be on the hook for this.

    Bean has had issues with acclimating to a college offense, but it occurs to me that if you've got a guy who's 6'5- 320, strong as an ox, extremely fast off the ball, and can't figure out the blocking scheme, you say, "Hey, switch sides and get after the QB."

    To their credit, they did make the switch. But only after Bean has almost exhausted his eligibility.

    Good point about Grantham. His willingness to not accept mediocrity because of seniority has won major points with me.

  5. Could it have been that certain coaches did not want to fool with certain players? Personality conflicts maybe? Most, but not all, of those coaches are gone.

  6. the article says it all, good players out of position with no developement