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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Q &A: Stacey Searels

The offensive line and the running game were two of the most disappointing units on the Georgia football team the first half of this season. That led Stacey Searels, the O-Line coach and running game coordinator, to do a bit of tinkering on a unit that was supposed to be the team's most stable.

So far it's worked, as the pass protection and run blocking have both improved. After Tuesday's practice Searels answered a few questions about the state of the line:

SE: A couple weeks ago when you all decided to tinker with the starting unit, and put in freshman Kenarious Gates, how much of it was the run blocking?

Searels: I think it was just overall we weren’t performing up to the level we wanted to perform up front. And he had been doing really good in practice. I had wanted to play him more a couple weeks before and he had got held out of a practice, and I’m not gonna play them if they don’t practice. The kid had shown that he could perform at a high level and was ready to play. We had a couple kids that were dinged up, and they were playing with some issues that they’ve had in the past and weren’t performing the way we wanted them to play. So we got a healthy body out there.

SE: Coach Bobo said after the Vanderbilt game that the run blocking had been good all year it just hadn’t been noticed. Would you agree with that?

Searels: No, because … (Pauses and laughs). I’m not gonna disagree with Bobo but I guess I will. You know, it’s our job to block. It’s our job to make room for the backs and it’s our job to protect the quarterback. And we haven’t done that well enough for us to win, that’s the bottom line. We haven’t blocked good enough to win.

SE: Josh Davis rotated in a lot –

Searels: He played more this past week than Gates did, actually. Josh was dinged up a little bit, and that’s part of the reason that Gates played, plus I thought Gates was ready to play. So I wanted to see what he could do, and he’s done a pretty good job.

SE: Was it pretty much those six (five starters plus Josh Davis) until the fourth quarter?

Searels: I tell you what, this past game everybody played. I’m talking about the first five that started, that included Gates, and Josh Davis played, and Chris Davis played, and Tanner Strickland played. Dallas Lee played and A.J. Harmon played. They all played probably 20 snaps, close to 20 snaps, all of them. So I was pleased to be able to do that. They all competed. The more competition, a guy can’t take plays off because a guy’s gonna take his job.

SE: Did it surprise you that had to end up doing this with such veteran guys going into the season?

Searels: Well you look at the history of this deal, we’ve had a lot of guys beat up. And I’m not making excuses, but Josh Davis last year comes off two shoulder surgeries, Chris Davis comes off hip surgery. Tanner Strickland comes off shoulder surgery. So you tell me where the depth is. There hasn’t been a lot of depth. If everybody was healthy and we had everybody playing, we might have some depth. But we haven’t had everybody healthy at one time.

Everybody wanted to talk about that crap but in reality we still had a lot of people banged up that couldn’t go through the whole camp, and therefore we haven’t had the depth I’d like to have. And we haven’t competed the way I’d like for us to compete early in the season. I think it’s improved over the last couple weeks and we’re looking for consistency.

SE: Is it possible that some of these guys read their press clippings a bit too much and relied less on their effort than they should have?

Searels: No, I’m not gonna say that. It takes us all, and we all didn’t play well together early. We didn’t have the results that we’d like to see early.

SE: I suspect I know the answer, but do you feel like you’ve turned the corner here, or if guys still don’t perform their might be more personnel changes?

Searels: You gotta go out every Saturday and compete. If you think you’ve arrived because you’ve won two games in a row, you’re not very smart, I’ll say that. So we gotta go out and compete every day. We’ve gotta go out and compete every day in practice: Tuesdays and Wednesdays when we’re hitting, we gotta compete. And then it’s gotta go over to the field and compete at a very high level on Saturday in the SEC. Playing at Kentucky, at night, we better be ready to really get after it and compete.


Anonymous said...

Why didnt you ask Searles about the lack of our teams athleticness and physicality on the line of scrimmage. This team still can't run block through wet paper bag if its life depended on it. Seems that UGA has to earn every yard in short yardage situations while other teams do it with such ease against UGA. What is wrong with our strength and conditioning at UGA? Its obvious as hell.

Anonymous said...

Yes, i concur, get rid of the stinkin', left-over FSU S&C coach. Bowden can have him back (in retirement)!

Keese said...

You can't argue the fact that injuries have been a problem year in and year out. That fact alone should compel the staff to completely reevaluate the strength and conditioning. Just look at the type of injuries.

The conditioning aspect is another matter. Our guys get worn down easily throughout games, especially against physical teams. The core strength numbers may be impressive but that only paints some of the picture. We're not up to the endurance and overall strength level we should be

Anonymous said...

I still think the post game comments after the Carolina game say a lot. All the Carolina linemen mentioned that they were surprised by how quickly the Dawg linemen wore down. That was the game plan for them going in but a number of their players were shocked how quickly it happened.

We have a S&C program that was top notch in 1990. Got to evolve.

Anonymous said...

We've have had some bright spots here and there in the running game and our pass blocking seems to do very well at times. Lets be realistic though , the so called improvement has been against much lesser talent the past two weeks. The team is still having problems in the red zone settling for 3's instead of TD's. Kentucky may shed light if the Dawgs really have improved that much. I still cant believe this team lost to Colorado which is a team that really pathetic.

Keese said...

Just wait for the Kentucky game this weekend for proof that our S&C is an issue....the line play will show it.

Dooms Day Dawg said...

I have a theory, however, I am not sure if it holds much water. The Dawgs O-line is an extremely veteran group that was brought in during the Stafford era. During this era the Dawgs were a pass 1st team. I wonder if these guys were strong passing blockers in high school brought in for that purpose with hopes of coaching them up in the run game. Last season the O-line only gave up 12 sacks (very solid) yet lack running blocking talent. Same is true for this season. Any thoughts? I may be way off base here, just looking for insight.

Anonymous said...

If your a high school lineman being recruited to play in the SEC, I'm pretty sure the guy isn't specialized in pass blocking. I get what your saying and some kids do excel in one over the other, but if that's the case, we need to start recruiting better players. I still think it boils down to S&C and not having that toughness you saw from guys like Breedlove, Velasco, and Jean-Gilles.

Dooms Day Dawg said...

Anon. 6:44...Like I said, it is just a theory. I agree that kids recruited at the SEC level should be more talented/skilled. However, the past 2 years have proven that these guys are solid pass blockers, yet fall wayfully short in the running game. Where is the disconnect? I am just searching for answers as to why this unit has fallen so short for 2 straight season.

Anonymous said...

DDD, I hear what you are saying and there has been an obvious difference in our pass blocking and run blocking. I still think it comes down to S&C and nastiness. Pass blocking involves a little more technique and athleticism than run blocking. I think we have both of those areas covered. Run blocking is man on man, strength vs. strenghth. This might not be the reason for the descrepancy but I believe theres something to it.