Richt Discusses Special Teams Coaches, Rule Changes
Georgia head coach, seen here on National Signing Day, spoke to the media via teleconference on Thursday.

Georgia head coach, seen here on National Signing Day, spoke to the media via teleconference on Thursday.
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Feb. 20, 2014

ATHENS, Ga.---Georgia head coach Mark Richt spoke with members of the media via teleconference on Thursday afternoon to answer questions on a variety of topics.

The Bulldogs have had a busy offseason so far as they have hired a completely new defensive staff for the first time since Vince Dooley’s inaugural season in 1964. Georgia also signed a recruiting class widely ranked as top-10 in the nation.

Along with hiring new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and defensive coaches Kevin Sherrer, Tracy Rocker and Mike Ekeler, Richt also announced a restructuring of the special teams coaching duties.

Special teams restructuring includes dividing duties into Offensive Special Teams and Defensive Special Teams. The offensive special teams will be coordinated by tight ends coach John Lilly and include kickoff return, punt return and extra point/field goal. Defensive special teams will be headed by new inside linebackers coach Ekeler and include kickoff, punt return block, and extra point/field goal.

“I feel like the defensive staff should be handling the special teams that are more geared towards defense. The kick off is historically considered a defensive special team and you’re punt return and block is kind of the last play of a defensive series to make sure the ball is given to the offense when the play is over,” Richt said. “For PAT and field goal blocking, defensive personnel are in the game so I wanted to make sure that was handled by that side of the ball. Coach Ekeler had a lot of experience in that area so it made sense to make him coordinator of that side of the ball. It was the same thing with Lily with the punt, kick off return, PAT and field goal. So I feel like those guys are responsible for those units in their entirety but also they’re in charge of assigning who is going to be in charge of each group and who is going to be assisting in each one of those groups.”

Richt said that, with exception of offensive coordinator Mike Bobo who will be working with the Quarterbacks, all coaches and players can expect to have some role on special teams.  

At the same time as restructuring the special teams coaching responsibility, Richt also announced Running Backs coach Bryan McClendon as the Bulldogs new Recruiting Coordinator. In this role McClendon, who was named the 247Sports National Recruiter of the Year, will work alongside Director of on-Campus Recruiting Daryl Jones to spearhead Georgia’s recruiting efforts.

“I think that Daryl and the rest of the recruiting staff is doing an excellent job. After living without (a Recruiting Coordinator) after Coach (Rodney) Garner left I see that it adds a lot of value if you have one of the guys that’s in the trenches there to communicate with the other coaches and say ‘Hey, this is what we need to do as a staff to maximize our ability to get these players or during the week we need to have this amount of time to this or we need to get this guy into this area,’” Richt said. “I just think when it comes from within the ranks, from one of the soldiers I think it carries a bit more weight. I also believe that Bryan is one of the best recruiters around and he has a passion for it. He was excited to take on the role and I’m already excited about the dividends I think it’ll pay for us.”

Richt also commented on the proposed rule change in college football that would see an offense called for a delay of game penalty should it snap the ball before the 29 second mark of a 40 second play clock. A proponent of the hurry-up offense since his days as offensive coordinator at Florida State, Richt spoke of the many layers that exist to the proposed rule change.

“We started going fast at Florida State in 1992 and then in 1993 we were going at break neck speed until I got to Georgia. The ACC officials back in the day at Florida State were putting the ball down on the ground and getting out of the way and that wasn’t happening in the SEC,” he said. “The way it is now I don’t know how many teams snap the ball short of the ten seconds, when I saw that my immediate reaction was curiosity at how many teams snap it before ten seconds. Even to look at our situation would it affect us in a negative way if we were thinking about going fast that was one of the first things I thought of. I feel like if you can train offensive players to play five or six plays in a row you train defensive players to play that many plays in a row as well so I personally don’t think it’s a health issue.”

Georgia will begin spring practice, and with it preparations for the annual G-Day game on April 12, next month. 

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