ATHENS - The turnover on the Georgia defensive staff will have another effect on the team: Mark Richt says he's going to tweak the way special teams is handled.
That doesn't mean hiring a special teams coordinator, though Richt is hoping to do that as soon as after next year. As for this season, Richt is planning on something, though he didn't offer many specifics.
“I got some things in mind," he said at Wednesday's press conference introducing defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. "I can’t say exactly what I have in mind. I do have some things in mind for that, that I think is gonna be helpful.”
Right now, there is one vacancy on staff, and Richt expects to fill it with an outside linebackers coach.
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“My guess is whoever it is will have a strong special teams background as well," Richt said, adding: "That’s not a prerequisite for getting coach Pruitt what he feels he needs.”
Georgia's special teams were often abysmal this past season, costing the team in most of its five losses. Richt does not employ a special teams coordinator, preferring to divide the duties up among four assistant coaches. He's not the only coach to do it that way - Missouri does as well - but Georgia's many special-teams errors again led to criticism over not having a coordinator.
The problem for Richt has always been that the NCAA limits teams to nine full-time assistant coaches. But that may be changing: The American Football Coaches Association has been discussing a push to increase the limit to 10, and Richt, who is on the AFCA board, thinks "in time" it will pass.
“It wouldn't be for next season, but maybe as soon as after next season," Richt said. "I know I’m behind it, I’m for it. Most every coach I’ve talked to is for it. If that happens, that would probably free up a lot of people to say, This is all this guy does, is special teams now.
“But in the meantime, we’re gonna have something that I think is gonna be very exciting for us in that area.”
Pruitt has some experience coaching some facets of special teams, but Richt doesn’t want him to handle too much. The fact Pruitt even mentioned doing it was "music to my ears," according to Richt.
“When your defensive coordinator has that mentality, then it becomes more important for everyone to want to get on one of those teams, and be on one of those teams," Richt said. "I think that’s gonna be real helpful for us.”