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SPRING PREVIEW: Georgia Bulldogs — and Kirby Smart — will be hearing a lot of new coaching voices in 2019
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SPRING PREVIEW: Georgia Bulldogs — and Kirby Smart — will be hearing a lot of new coaching voices in 2019

SPRING PREVIEW: Georgia Bulldogs — and Kirby Smart — will be hearing a lot of new coaching voices in 2019

SPRING PREVIEW: Georgia Bulldogs — and Kirby Smart — will be hearing a lot of new coaching voices in 2019

Georgia football-Spring Preview-Georgia Bulldogs will be hearing a lot of new coaching voices-Georgia Bulldogs

PRE-SPRING FOOTBALL ANALYSIS

Part XVI: The Coaches

This is Part 16 and the final entry in a series breaking down and analyzing each position group for the Georgia Bulldogs in advance of spring football practice, which is scheduled to begin on March 19.

ATHENS — Georgia fans believe strongly in coach Kirby Smart, and Smart believes strongly in himself. That will come in this handy this season as the Bulldogs and Smart will go to battle with a much less experienced coaching staff surrounding them.

Smart lost at least 97 years worth of experience off the staff that helped him compile a 24-5 record over the last two seasons. That included veteran offensive and defensive coordinators Jim Chaney and Mel Tucker, respectively, as well as some behind-the-scenes personnel that had more to do with the Bulldogs’ success than a lot of people might realize.

Tucker and Chaney had both been with Smart since he first became Georgia’s head coach 2016. In fact, Chaney was Smart’s first hire in December of 2015, and that proved critical for Smart to land his second hire, which was offensive line coach Sam Pittman.

Retrospectively, Tucker was in the plans all along. But Tucker, then the defensive backs coach at Alabama, wasn’t officially on board until he and Glenn Schumann accompanied Smart on a UGA-provided private jet back to Athens the morning after the Crimson Tides’ win over Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship. Schumann had been a defensive analyst for Smart at Alabama.

That gave Smart two solid foundational keystones on which to build his staff. In Chaney and Pittman, he was able to hand off the offense without needing to provide much input over and above broad philosophical parameters.

Meanwhile, in Tucker, Smart had a near-perfect pragmatic task master. A former NFL defensive coordinator and interim head coach, had the knowledge and insight to be able to implement whatever it was Smart was demanding, either in the meeting room or in the heat of the moment on the field. Tucker also lacked ego, so he was able to readily defer to Smart whenever needed. He was also comfortable and confident enough in his own knowledge to put his own spin on things, or to overrule Smart in some cases.

From that, the Bulldogs will be moving to a young duo of first-time defensive coordinators in Dan Lanning and Schumann. The 32-year-old Lanning, who will be calling the defensive plays and have the most seniority, hasn’t coordinated a defense or offense even on the high school or small-college level. Same for the 28-year-old Schumann, who will serve as co-coordinator.

On the offensive side of the ball, James Coley succeeds Chaney as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was co-coordinator last year after moving over from wide receivers. Coley had been a coordinator before at Florida State and Miami, and he coached quarterbacks with the Hurricanes. But this is the first time at Georgia that Coley will have total charge of practice planning and play scripts, in addition to game-day play-calling. It’s a big job that Chaney was probably under-appreciated for outside of coaching circles.

Equally unknown will be the effects of Smart losing some accomplished coaches off his support staff. Foremost among those is Jay Johnson. Johnson joined the Bulldogs as an offensive quality control consultant in February of 2017 after losing his job as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. After Johnson left to join Tucker as offensive coordinator, Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm called him, “the unsung hero of Georgia football.”

“He did wonders for me in that quarterback room,” Fromm said during Sugar Bowl preparations.

Smart knows this, of course. He he went to the proverbial “coaches waiver wire” to find a replacement for Johnson. That brought the Bulldogs Shawn Watson, who was dismissed as Pitt’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Watson previously held coordinator positions at Texas and Louisville.

On the defensive side, Georgia is sure to miss the services of Tyson Summers, who joined Tucker as Colorado’s defensive coordinator. Summers assisted Tucker with the defensive backs as a quality-control analyst last year. That’s after being a head coach at Georgia Southern and a defensive coordinator at Colorado State.

Smart lost two other members of his defensive support staff to Colorado, including Travares Tillman, who will coach defensive backs, and Brian Michalowski, who will coach outside linebackers. Also, Jesse Stone, a graduate assistant who helped Georgia’s offense, accepted a full-time position as an offensive analyst at Miami.

None of this caught Smart by surprise. For every exit, Smart has located and brought in a replacement.

Such staff transitions are something Smart witnessed up close and personal as Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator and right-hand man at Alabama. But this is the first time he has had to with it en masse at Georgia.

The Bulldogs can only hope the transition is as seamless for them as it has been for Saban and the Crimson Tide. The expectations are equally as high.

Let’s look at the changes that are known at this point:

NEW ASSIGNMENTS

  • Offensive coordinator: James Coley, 46: Coley takes over after serving as co-coordinator and quarterbacks coach last season. He was receivers coach for the Bulldogs from 2016-17 and had previously held coordinator positions at Miami and Florida State.
  • Defensive coordinators: Dan Lanning, 32: Lanning was promoted to defensive chief from outside linebackers coach, which he will continue to lead as position coach. This is his first opportunity as a coordinator, having coached inside linebackers at Memphis and DBs at Sam Houston State before joining the Bulldogs last year; Glenn Schumann, 28: Schumann was promoted to co-coordinator after serving the previous three years as inside linebackers, which he’ll continue to coach. Schumann followed Smart to Georgia from Alabama, where he was defensive quality control coach.
  • Defensive backs coach: Charlton Warren, 42 — Warren came to Georgia from Florida, where he coached one season. Before that he spent one season at Tennessee, and then two at North Carolina, all as DBs coach. The Atlanta native was longtime assistant and former player at the Air Force Academy. At $600,000 a year, he is the Bulldogs’ highest paid defensive assistant.
  • Tight ends: Todd Hartley, 33 —Hartley succeeds Jim Chaney as Georgia’s tight ends coach, a position he held for three years at Miami under former head coach Mark Richt.
  • Other additions: Shawn Watson, offensive quality control — Comes to UGA from Pitt, where he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Also been an OC at Texas ans Louisville.
  • New titles: Sam Pittman, associate head coach/offensive line; Dell McGee, run-game coordinator/running backs; Cortez Hankton, passing game coordinator/receivers
  • Departed personnel: Mel Tucker, defensive coordinator/secondary — Now head coach at Colorado; Jim Chaney, offensive coordinator/tight ends  — Now offensive coordinator at Tennessee; Jay Johnson, offensive analyst/quarterbacks — Now offensive coordinator at Colorado; Tyson Summers, defensive analyst/secondary — now defensive coordinator at Colorado; Brian Michalowski, defensive quality control — now outside linebackers coach at Colorado; Travares Tillman, defensive quality control — now cornerbacks and safeties coach at Colorado; Jesse Stone, graduate assistant — now full-time quality control assistant for Miami Hurricanes.

This concludes DawgNation’s Spring Football Analysis series. Following are the previous submissions:

SPRING FOOTBALL ANALYSIS

 

The post SPRING PREVIEW: Georgia Bulldogs — and Kirby Smart — will be hearing a lot of new coaching voices in 2019 appeared first on DawgNation.

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Georgia Sports News

  • Devon Gales, the former Southern University football player who was paralyzed in a 2015 game against UGA, is returning to football. Gales has been hired as an assistant football coach at Jefferson High School, per accessWDUN.com’s Bo Wilson. The new job will be around 20 miles away from UGA. Former UGA recruiting coordinator Bob Pittard is a social studies teacher at the high school. Per the website, the hiring of Gales was the idea of Jefferson superintendent Dr. John Jackson. It was after Gales shared his story with the Jefferson senior class. “It was brought to our attention upon meeting this wonderful family that Devon missed the game and practices and being part of a football team in the game he still loved so much,” Jefferson coach Gene Cathcart told the website. “Dr. John Jackson had the idea of getting him involved in our program in some way and how our young men would benefit from his living example, character, strength in facing adversity and perseverance.” UGA donors and fans raised funds to build a handicapped-accessible house in Jefferson for Gales and his family. The post Devon Gales makes his return to football appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart has emphasized several times in several ways that championship football requires all units working together. Indeed, much of the Bulldogs’ offensive and defensive scheming is predicated on Smart and his staff analyzing strengths and weaknesses and game arriving at core alignments and plays. The sooner Georgia knows itself, the better, and that makes the Bulldogs’ 15 spring practice dates pivotal. Here’s a way-too-early positional group ranking, an order that could be affected by an updated injury report or the emergence of a newcomer. 1. Offensive line The lock: Junior left tackle Andrew Thomas, Outland Trophy candidate. The question: Sophomore Cade Mays, where does he fit in? 2. Defensive backs The lock: Senior safety J.R. Reed, team leader of defense. The question: Sophomore Tyson Campbell, will skills match elite speed and ideal length? 3. Specialists The lock: Senior kicker Rodrigo Blankenship. The question: Can Georgia adequately replace Mecole Hardman? 3. Quarterbacks The lock: Junior Jake Fromm, third-year starter, offense on his shoulders. The question: How much of the offense can freshman Dwan Mathis pick up? 4. Linebackers The lock: None. The question: Can senior Tae Crowder become the playmaker Georgia lacked last year? 5. Running backs The lock: Junior tailback D’Andre Swift, Hesiman Trophy candidate The question (s): Will production match 5-star ratings of James Cook and Zamir White in 2019? 6. Receivers/tight ends The lock: Junior receiver J.J. Holloman is the go-to target. The question: Can graduate transfer tight end Eli Wolf fill the void left by Isaac Nauta? 7. Defensive linemen The lock: None. The question: Will sophomore Jordan Davis become an SEC dominator? More Georgia football spring 2019 Georgia linebackers: most improved unit? UGA running backs 4 spring football questions 5 questions for UGA spring football, it’s Jake Fromm’s team Does Georgia have championship level Defensive line? Questions 4 questions for Georgia football O-Line 3 pre-spring football questions on Georgia QB situation Kirby Smart provides preview on young receivers  Georgia secondary still best in the SEC? The post Georgia football: Way-too-early team spring position group rankings appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Best I can tell, it has been my task to cover college football spring practices for about 26 of the 31 years that encompass my sportswriting career. There were a few years that I wasn’t covering college football. There were a few more that I bounced around and saw a little bit of a lot of different teams. Most of time, though, I’ve been charged with covering all of Georgia’s spring practices. There have been times those practice sessions have been pretty interesting, some times that they’ve been incredibly dull and all over the place between. I’m anticipating the Bulldogs’ spring practice this year to be fairly intriguing. There are a lot of reasons for that, but the main one is the influx of new players. Early enrollment was a fairly new concept in the 1990s and still a bit of a rarity then. Quarterback Eric Zeier was one of the first high-profile recruits to do it and it served him very well that first year. Zeier served notice at the 1991 G-Day Game that he was going to be a factor that season, and boy was he ever. Since then, early enrollment has become a regular part of the recruiting process. Nowadays, everybody everywhere has at least a hand full of signees that come in early and get embedded with their respective teams since the first week of January. But it remains somewhat rare to see as many new players come in early — 14 — as Georgia has this year. Fourteen is a lot. The most ever for the Bulldogs. They had 13 in that 2013 class that included 30 total signees (and experienced some of the worst attrition ever for Georgia football). It’s not the most in college football. Alabama had 16 enroll early out of its 23-man recruiting class this year. But 14 is a bunch of new Bulldogs, no matter how one slices it up. That in and of itself cranks up the competition factor. Georgia has several areas in which it’d love to get some impact from from some of these early arrivals. Quarterback, linebacker and defensive back immediately spring to mind. I’d say receiver, too. But, oddly enough, the Bulldogs weren’t able to bring in any of their wideout signees early Dominick Blaylock happens to attend a school in Walton High that doesn’t allow it. Georgia has experienced the same thing with players it has signed out of Pace Academy, including Jamaree Salyer, Andrew Thomas and Trey Blount. But that’s where spring ball has changed a good bit over the years. It’s much more competitive over the course of 15 practices than it used to be. Those sessions can go a long way to determining who is going to be starter in the fall. Not always, but often. The ideal situation is getting as many positions locked down and decided in the spring, so those guys can work together as a unit as much as possible on a volunteer basis over the summer. That way they hit the ground running in preseason practice. No doubt you’ve read numerous accounts of what various people believe the be the most pressing priorities of the spring for the Bulldogs. As for me, the order of importance goes this way: Determine a receiver rotation; Identify a backup quarterback; Establish a starting center; Settle on a right cornerback; Figure out who else will help on defense. Going with the receivers first is an easy call for me. It has been well-documented that the Bulldogs lost 106 catches and 20 touchdowns from last year’s wideouts, the majority of those being compiled by juniors Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman. But that number actually goes up by 35 catches and 3 touchdowns when tight end Isaac Nauta and running back Elijah Holyfield are included. So the emphasis on throwing and catching the ball in spring practice is going to be heavy. It’s usually that way anyway this time of year, because it is rare for teams to pound on each other a lot this far away from the actual season. That said, Georgia will need to mindful of Jake Fromm’s arm health and be careful not to overthrow him. To that end, the Bulldogs would like to come out with a good idea who is going to be Fromm’s primary backup. I wrote extensively on Sunday about redshirt sophomore Stetson Bennett coming back via junior college and giving Georgia an immediate competent presence with regard to already knowing the offensive system. But freshman Dwan Mathis remains an intriguing figure, and one can he sure that the Bulldogs will work hard and fast to determine exactly what they have in this 6-foot-6 athlete who has run a 10.8 100 meters. Trey Hill leads the way to succeed Lamont Gaillard at center, but that’s not a given. As always, Sam Pittman probably suffer brain cramps from exploring all possibilities for determining the combination that results in the best five across the board. The competition to succeed Deandre Baker at right cornerback certainly will be intriguing. But starting with elevating Tyson Campbell there as Georgia did in the bowl game is the first in what are all positive alternatives at all the secondary positions. If early enrollees such as JUCO transfer D.J. Daniel or Tyrique Stevenson end up winning out, all the better. Same with outside linebackers. The recruiting at this position has been other-worldly. Between the 5-stars that are coming back and the ones coming in, something is going to have Conversely, that’s why I don’t list inside linebackers here. Certainly the Bulldogs want higher-level play than it got from the returnees last season. But I believe all the existing alternatives to be better than adequate and not necessarily paramount to Georgia’s cause.  And as exciting a prospect as is Nakobe Dean, ranked the No. 1 inside linebacker in America, I always think back to Roquan Smith’s struggles as a true freshman and how it was late in his sophomore season before he emerged as the star he actually was. Same on the D-line, same on the O-line, same in the offensive backfield, same on special teams. The rest of it is very much organic. That is, it’ll come together naturally through the teaching of concepts and fundamentals. The Bulldogs seek competition and improvement, but they’ll be able to go to war with they’ve got. What you’re NOT going to see is running back D’Andre Swift get much in the way of contact. I highly doubt you’ll see Zamir White get any at all. White, the heralded 2018 signee known as Zeus, is less than seven months removed from a second knee surgery that came eight months after the first. The Bulldogs will be very interested in seeing what the former No. 1 back in America can do, but that can wait until late summer, when he will have had a year to rehab and recover. Maybe the most important factor will be the Bulldogs getting used to some new voices and concepts from the coaching staff. For the first time since Kirby Smart has been head coach, somebody other than Jim Chaney or Mel Tucker will be putting together the practice script for the offense and defense, respectively. That said, I suspect it won’t change significantly from what Georgia has been doing the last four years. That’s why James Coley, Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann were appointed coordinators. They’re going to give Smart what he wants, which is more of the same. But it’s that — the newness factor — that’s going to make this spring so fun and interesting. And then, of course, they’ll tear up all the depth charts and start from scratch in August. The post Newness factor is what makes Kirby Smart’s 4th spring practice his most interesting at Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Atlanta Braves right-hander Julio Teheran is set to make his sixth straight start on opening day. The Braves said Monday that Teheran will face the Phillies on March 28 in Philadelphia. Teheran's run ties Hall of Famer Warren Spahn (1957-62) for the longest in Braves' franchise history during the modern era. Teheran is 1-1 with a 2.73 ERA on opening day. Earlier this spring, it had been thought Mike Foltynewicz might start on opening day for the Braves. But he's likely to be out until at least mid-April with a sore right elbow. New Phillies slugger Bryce Harper is expected to make his debut in the opener. He's had a lot of career success against Teheran, going 18 for 40 (.450) with eight homers and 19 RBIs. Teheran went 9-9 last season with a 3.94 ERA in 31 starts.