Richt explains special teams coach philosophy

semerson@macon.comNovember 3, 2011 

ATHENS -- Georgia’s special teams struggles still aren’t making head coach Mark Richt change his mind about not having one assistant coach oversee all of those units.

The NCAA limits FBS football programs to having just nine full-time assistants. So Richt has always divvied up the special teams responsibilities among other assistants, not wanting to take away from an offensive or defensive position. Florida State handled it the same way when Richt was a longtime assistant there.

“It’s kind of what I was used to,” Richt said. “I think more people do it the way we do, but I’m not sure of that.”

A quick survey shows that other teams actually do it the other way:

Eight other SEC teams have a special teams coordinator, although most of those also coach another position. For instance South Carolina’s John Butler is the special teams coach but also coaches the spur (linebacker) position. Auburn’s Jay Boulware is in charge of special teams and tight ends.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen oversees the special teams himself.

Boise State, which defeated Georgia in the opener, has a special teams coach who also coaches nickel backs.

Oklahoma does spread out the special teams among assistants, and the Sooners are also having their special-teams struggles this season.

Richt said he considered hiring a special teams coach two years ago, when he had a number of defensive coaching openings.

“I looked at it. What happens is if you have a guy and all he does is special teams, then all of a sudden you’re robbing that position from either the offense or the defense,” he said. “And our offensive staff was already intact. And if I was gonna hire, we had (Todd) Grantham, (Rodney) Garner and (Scott) Lakatos, we kind of knew first. And then we were down to one more, and if I had gone with strictly a special-teams guy they would have been short-handed.”

Jones hobbled

Star outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who leads the SEC with eight sacks, has a mild MCL sprain. Richt said Jones injured his knee early in the game against Florida.

Jones was on an exercise bike during the early portion of Wednesday’s practice, when the team was practicing special teams.

“He’s been limping around a little bit,” Richt said. “It’s been getting better on a daily basis. And my guess it’ll get better (Thursday) and the next day, and then you get a little adrenaline. My guess is he’ll play.”

Richt defends suspension timing

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the three tailback suspensions -- for Isaiah Crowell, Ken Malcome and Carlton Thomas -- stemmed from drug tests administered Oct. 26. The AP report said the positive tests came to Georgia’s attention Tuesday.

But Right said after practice that the coaching staff found out they would be without the players Monday evening.

In any case, Richt twice Wednesday defended the timing of the suspensions, against questions about the players not being pulled out for the game against Florida.

On the SEC teleconference, Richt said that he could “prove 100 percent that they’re wrong, but I don’t have the time to do that.”

Later, Richt was asked if he was bothered by the questions.

“It doesn’t because first of all I know the truth,” he said. “Everything I’ve done since I’ve been here has been with the most utmost integrity. That’s how I wanted to start out and that’s how I want to finish coaching. I know exactly what happened and I know exactly what the time line was, so I know in my spirit and my heart exactly what happened. And we did exactly what our policies call for. It’d bother me if I felt like we did that. I’d have a pretty guilty conscience and wouldn’t be able to live with it very easily.”

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