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Thursday, September 10, 2009

You've Got Your Plan, I've Got Mine

We've talked a good deal about all the conflicting messages coming out of Georgia's locker room this week, but I came across another example last night that almost made me laugh out loud.

First, I suggest you check out the quotes from "Fifth Quarter Show" regulars that The Senator has on his blog regarding Georgia's kickoff philosophy. (Warning: If you're subject to sudden mood swings, violent behavior or you've already consumed more than six ounces of bourbon today, don't read this.)

"If you’re wondering what happened, former Georgia players A.J. Bryant and Kelin Johnson, now regulars on the “Fifth Quarter Show,” put it all into perspective. Both of them played on special teams for Fabris, and they said that it wouldn’t matter whether the Dogs had a kicker who could put it in the end zone or not; Fabris likes “the challenge” of directional kicks. That’s just Coach Fab, they said, get used to it."
So... Jon Fabris likes "the challenge" of directional kicking? Yikes.

Anyway, for obvious reasons the kickoff strategy is a hot topic of conversation for fans, which is why I asked Mark Richt whether the results last Saturday, which included a long run back by Perrish Cox to set up a touchdown, swayed his opinion any. Here's what he said...

“The fans want the long kick, but the longest kick had the longest return. The kicks that were a little shorter had the better hangtime and ball placement, and we covered those better."

So... long, line-drive kickoffs = easier returns for the opposition. Short kicks with lots of hang time = easier coverage for Georgia. Got that?

OK, flash forward to a question I posed to Tony Ball about why Branden Smith twice returned kicks that were deep into his own end zone. Here's what Ball had to say...

"After asking (upback Shaun) Chapas about it, he felt like with them being line-drive kicks, that kind of threw things off, so there was some dynamics there that he had to make some decisions. ... I felt like the one, in particular, he should have kept him in the end zone where he was really driven back, but even (Justin) Fields, my fullback, told me that the line drive kick kind of threw him off and there was too much separation between the returner and my fullback."

In other words, when Georgia is returning a kick, it's much tougher to field those long line drives than if, say, Oklahoma State had punted short with lots of hang time.

So the thought process among Georgia's kickoff coach is that short, high kicks are harder for the opposition to return.

The thought process for Georgia's kick return coach is that long, low kicks are harder to return.

I would love to hear Fabris and Ball discuss this with each other.


Anonymous said...

I love you Hale.

You have seriously stepped it up!!!!

rbubp said...

Ball's comment about the difficult nature of the deep line-drive disorienting kick did not go unnoticed.

What does amaze me is "the challenge." So you are going to risk the other team getting a great return rather than kick it five yards deep in the end zone?

That is sheer, utter STUPIDITY.

And that is why many, many smart people are not football coaches.

Anonymous said...

As much as I agree with you on the dissonance from the coaches' statements, I think Fabris and Ball might be on the same page here. I understood Ball to be saying that because the kick was a line drive, Chapas thought it might actually be a good idea to attempt a return. Had it been a lofted kick eight yards deep, it wouldn't have been a close call.

The "challenge" quote almost made me hurl some desk furniture, but then I realized it explains so much for special teams. Why directional kicks? More challenging. Why return from eight yards deep? More challenging. Why the initial reluctance to use first-stringers? You got it, more challenging.

IveyLeaguer said...

David, there is one option that gets little discussion it seems. And that is the option to kick the ball as deep as you can, perhaps favoring one side or the other, and simply cover the kick.

Teams do it successfully all the time, and I wish you would ask about it when you get the opportunity. If you get a touchback, that's great, but you can still cover the kick. The new 30 yard line rule (2007) affects directional, short, high kicks more than deep kickoffs, that's the result so far, and our kickoff problems in 2007 & 2008 reflect that. We all love Fabris, but he didn't pick up the nickname, "Forty Yard Line Fabris" for nothing.

I've never had the illusion that Bogotay could kick as deep as often in the South as he could in Southern California. Humidity affects distance (the coaches should understand that and realize Bogotay's chances of TB's are greater as the season goes on and the humidity decreases). But if he has the stronger leg, we have the option to let him kick deep and then cover it. That way we'll get some TB's, and our field position won't be any worse than it's been. How could it be ...

Somehow I think Fabris might learn something by watching film of the 71 teams that finished ahead of us in kickoff coverage last year. Or maybe just the top 10 teams who finished 60 spots ahead of us and did it best. I realize he already knows pretty much all of it. But I doubt he's taken an fresh, honest look at new approaches since the 2007 rule change.

If he's really that stubborn about it, it's doubtful he'll ever look.


Anonymous said...

guess coach Fab doesn't like "winning".

Old Dead Leg said...


jferg said...

Yeah, I read these comments to say that when it comes to B Smith returning it from deep in our own endzone, it's a tough call to not bring it out because the line drive type of kick necessary to get the ball that deep also arrives much quicker, meaning the coverage team hasn't gotten very far down the field, thus enticing you to return it.
He's not saying it would be a tough decision if we kicked it both high and deep. High AND deep it basically impossible with the new kickoff yardage and smaller tee height.
So, you can kick it long and low OR high and short--my math says that either way the coverage team gets to the ball at the same time. Therefore, direction NOR depth of kick matter. What matters is covering the kick. And we happen to suck at that particular skill.

By the way, when the coaches promised to put scholly athletes on kickoff coverage, did anyone think we'd see AJ out there? I mean, he does officially count as a scholly athlete, but I wouldn't call AJ a real tackle machine!

Anonymous said...

Fabris should get the "challenge" of finding other employment.

Anonymous said...

it does help that their low line drives were 8 yards deep in the endzone while our low line drive was 8 yards into the feild of play doesnt it?

David Hale said...

I can see how you guys read Ball's statement that way, and perhaps you're right. I didn't include the full quote though, which went into greater detail about how the depth and angle of the kick pulled Smith away from his fullback, keeping him from getting behind the wedge on the return. Either way, the bottom line is results, and Okie State's were a lot better then Georgia's.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Fab will give CMR a raise this offseason...oh wait....CMR is the head coach. Maybe CMR should give Fab a free trip to Poland to find the "mythical" kicker that can kick it through the end zone. Course they still have to be able to perform it in the thick GA air of Sanford stadium. Even if he can still do it once he gets state side and we use another scholly for a kick off kicker, Fab can always ruin his confidence (its been done before by Fab) or just tell CMR the kid cant do it consistently and he can go back to his directional kickoff. Time for Fab to head off on his own directional employment search.

IveyLeaguer said...

Gee, Clemson just kicked it off 2 yds. deep in the end zone to Ga.Tech in the center of field, yet tackled the return man on the 14.

I wonder how they did that???

Duh, I think it has something to do with covering the kick.


rbubp said...

Cracking me up, Anon 9:46.

I came back and read it again tonight because I still can't believe "Coach Fab" and his "challenges". What a f******g IDIOT.

And yes, thanks, Mr. Hale for delivering such excellence. You, Sir, are a Delight for the Mind, a Salve to the Soul, A Gentleman and A Scholar.

Carter said...

Fabris also enjoys the "challenge" of coaching with his head completely up his ass.