Richt skeptical of safety reasons for 10-second rule

semerson@macon.comFebruary 20, 2014 

ATHENS - Mark Richt first ran a hurry-up no-huddle offense more than two decades ago. So not surprisingly, the Georgia head coach doesn't sound crazy about the rules proposal that has engulfed college football the past few weeks.

The proposal, passed by a rules committee after lobbying from Alabama's Nick Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema, would require the offense to wait 10 seconds between plays to snap the ball. The idea has been met with fierce opposition and downright derision by many other coaches.

Richt got his first chance to weigh in publicly on Thursday. He was skeptical of the proposal, especially of the safety reasons. Proponents have said that the no-huddle hurry-up offense leaves defenders on the field too long, and also increases the amount of plays per game, causing more injuries.

That doesn't hold much water for Richt.

"I feel like if you can train offensive players to play five or six plays in a row, you can train defensive players to play that many plays in a row too," Richt said. "I personally don't think it's a health issue deal. But if there's some evidence otherwise, it'd be interesting to see it. ...

"I think it's somebody's assumption. I don't think there's any hard evidence of it."

Then there's whether requiring teams to wait 10 seconds (except the final two minutes of each half) will work. Richt doesn't think so.

"I don't know how many teams snap the ball shorter than 10 seconds," Richt said. "When I saw that, my immediate reaction was I'm curious to see how many teams snap it before 10. And even to look at our situation, would it really affect us in a negative way."

Richt was the offensive coordinator at Florida State when it started running the hurry-up in 1992. But Richt had slow down his offense when he got to Georgia a nine years later because SEC officials, he said, weren't as fast at putting the ball down. Three years ago Georgia installed a no-huddle offense, though it's not quite a hurry-up. The Bulldogs often rush to the line then wait for the play to be called and sent in.

So even if the rule comes into effect - which Richt does not think it will this year - it wouldn't have much effect on Georgia's offense.

"You can still go no-huddle and you can still go at a pretty good clip," Richt said. "If you're snapping the ball at 10, if you've got a 40-second clock and you're snapping it with 30 seconds left on the 40-second clock ... you're still going pretty darn fast. I don't think it'll be a huge deal if it does change. But I doubt very seriously it changes this quickly."

Richt wishes Harvey-Clemons well

Not surprisingly, Richt did not shed any light on why Josh Harvey-Clemons was dismissed from the team on Tuesday.

"The only thing I'm gonna say about that is I wanna wish him well," Richt said, leaving it at that. Pressed, he added: "I hope he finds a good home and finishes his career in a real positive way."

Harvey-Clemons was booted for what the team said was a violation of team rules. It came after two previous suspensions for failing the school's student-athlete drug policy.

"I think the guys understand there's certain rules everybody needs to abide by, and if they don't they could possibly lose their privilege to play at Georgia," Richt said. "There's a consequence for any action we have here at Georgia that's not in the Georgia way, so to speak. Whether it's getting up early and pulling sleds, or whether it's missing playing time, or it's being dismissed from the team, there's gonna be a consequence for anything that's contrary to what will help us win."

This and that

Richt said he decided to name Bryan McClendon recruiting coordinator because he saw value in having a coach carry that title. Daryl Jones will continue as the team's on-campus coordinator, while McClendon - recently named the nation's top recruiter by two national recruiting services - added a title that had been vacant since Rodney Garner left the staff in 2012.

"I just think when it comes from someone within the ranks, when it comes from one of the soldiers, it carries a little more weight," Richt said. "I also believe Bryan is one of the best recruiters around, and he has a passion for it." ...

While John Lilly and Mike Ekeler have been named co-special teams coordinators, Richt said all but one assistant will still have a role on special teams. He wasn't entirely clear on what the other assistants will do, other than be involved. Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will be the only assistant not working with the special teams.

"Our players are all gonna understand that special teams are something everyone's gonna be involved in," Richt said. "You're either going to be on a team, or a look team, or something. But you're gonna be involved."

Jay Felder, a former Penn State player, has joined Georgia's staff as assistant strength and conditioning coordinator. Felder had been leading the strength and conditioning program at Clark Atlanta, a Division II school in Atlanta.

Georgia still has one opening on the strength staff, which is limited to five members by the NCAA.

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