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.