ATHENS - The problems of Georgia's special teams have once again led to a clamor among the fan base for Mark Richt to hire an assistant coach just for special teams.
Don't count on that. But Richt is mulling one change:
He might coach the kickers himself.
"One thing that I can do as head coach is at least spend time learning the kicking and punting fundamentals well enough to be their coach," Richt said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. "Which right this minute I wouldn’t say that I have enough expertise to do that, but I think this off season it would be wise for me to do something like that because I am freed up enough to do that, and if that’s my contribution to special teams in the future, I think it’d be valuable.”
Georgia currently splits the special teams duties among its assistant coaches. This sometimes creates some weird overlaps: Tight ends coach John Lilly has the kickers and punters in his meeting room, but the field goal-extra point team is coached by Will Friend (the offensive line coach) and the punt team by Lilly.
Richt continues to resist having one assistant coach all special teams, citing the NCAA rule that a team can't have more than nine on-field assistant coaches.
“First of all, you can assign somebody within your staff to do it, or if you don’t, that means that if there’s no attrition, you’re going to fire somebody to hire a special teams coordinator," Richt said. "So, I don’t know if I’m interested in doing that."
Richt also didn't sound amenable to hiring a quality control coach, or someone like that to help with special teams.
"They wouldn't be able to be on the field," Richt said.
The Bulldogs have had a number of problems on special teams this season. Freshman Marshall Morgan has been great on field goals (5-for-6, two of 50-plus yards), but has struggled on extra points, missing three and having another blocked. Punter Collin Barber has been solid (39.7 yards per attempt, 17 of 32 unreturned), but the team ranks 109th nationally in net punting, a stat that measures coverage.
Georgia and Missouri are the only two SEC programs that spread out the special teams duties over several assistants. Most handle it like Florida, where linebackers coach D.J. Durkin also carries the title of special teams coordinator.
“We’ve had some pretty good punters and kickers over the years since I’ve been here. We’re not doing anything any differently than we’ve done before really," Richt said. "But, they (Florida) have done a very good job on their special teams, and there’s no doubt about that. But there are some people in the country who do a good on special teams and need a special teams coach, and there’s some that do it and split the responsibilities. Some people say they have a special teams coordinator, but he may just be coordinating the practice time, or he may be coordinating the meeting time.
"So there are a lot of people who have a special teams coordinator and he’s coordinating what happens, but he doesn’t necessarily coach every single team on every single kick. There are a lot of people that are still dividing up responsibilities, but they (Florida) are certainly outstanding at it this year.”