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Friday, April 2, 2010

Kicking It Old School

I think we pretty well established what a disaster the kickoff situation was at Georgia for the past two years under Jon Fabris. If you're unclear, read this.

And amid all the problems -- from the LSU debacle last year to the out-of-bounds kickoffs in '08 to Mark Richt promising to go to Poland to find someone who could do the job -- the man who was actually doing the job wasn't allowed to talk about it.

But among the many reasons fans are going to love Warren Belin -- who replaced Fabris as kickoff coach this year -- is that the muzzle is finally off Georgia's kicker, who shared some wisdom on the situation with us Thursday. Here's what Blair Walsh had to say...

On working with Belin so far...
“He’s a great guy. He’s real positive about stuff and when you hit a good kick, he’ll let us know we hit a good kick. He’ll let us know when we hit a bad one, but he’s not very high on the whole negative thing. He’s a good guy, and I like his philosophy and what he wants us to do.”

On the directional kicking...
“It’s not like it was here the past two years directional-wise. It’s a lot more use of my talent I would say. I was fine doing what they wanted me to do. I’m a team player, and I can go along with it. But it’s a lot more use of my talent, and I’m happy about it. I don’t feel like there’s a restraint on me anymore. Without giving too much away, it’s different.”

On improving the kick coverage...
“From what little I know about football, I know we’re going down there and trying to bust helmets up. We’re literally just trying to beat the guy in front of us and go get the guy. It’s not a lot of schemes. It’s a lot of old-school football involved in our kickoff coverage. I know (Belin) doesn’t like me to talk too much about what we’re doing exactly, but as much as I can tell you, the best hint your going to get is that you’re going to see a lot of guys hustle, a lot of fast stuff.”

On his goal for touchbacks...
“I think I had 17 last year, and I sort of figured out that with the new philosophy, I’m thinking about 25, I’m hoping. It just depends on how things go and staying healthy throughout the season.”

So… music to your ears or what?

16 comments:

chris said...

Music to my ears, yes.

JRL said...

Without a doubt...........I like it.

In the past I simply sat - dumbfounded after one of those dubious KO's. I kept asking my self why were we not utilizing the skills that made us pursue these kids.

Taking a great kicker out of his comfort level is inexplicable.

Having team speed sit on the bench watching the opponent get to the 35yard line before our guys crossed the 50 was simply maddening.

Anonymous said...

this is the 2nd post in 2 days that a player mentions how negative 2 of the coaches that got fired were (willie and fabris). i believe the article yesterday was something to the effect of Lakatos lets you know when you do something right, he'll get on you when you do something wrong but unlike last year its not a personal attack...or something like that...

lets hope these guys respond to the positive reinforcement they are getting and the new approach to motivating them to be better

Conor said...

"From what little I know about football..." I know he's just a kicker and all, but if I was his coach, I'd be embarrassed about one of my players saying that.

Anonymous said...

Cmon Connor, Blair Walsh is a pretty modest kid. His job is to boot the thing, not to read defenses. I think he's just acknowledging that compared to what other players have to learn, his job is relatively simple, and he understands and respects the complexity of the game outside his role.

UGA69Dawg said...

You don't know much about kicker do you?

Left to Right said...

Frankly, Walsh's comments p%$$ me off. Not towards him, but towards the hard-headed idiocy and spin of the coaching staff, including in particular Richt, that has hurt the football team over the past couple of years. Hopefully the firing of Willy et.al. represents the penance Richt had to serve for his sins against common sense.

dcdawg79 said...

I believe one word says it all: FINALLY!!!!

Randall said...

Left to Right would bitch if he won the lottery. Move forward. Move forward.

John F said...

I'll catch some heat for this, but I didn't have a problem with directional kicks, or at least the philosophy. A lot of teams use the same philosophy, only successfully. I had a problem with the coverage. The coverage did not seem aggressive at all. They wouldn't even sprint down field. But instead, just like the old defense, they would wait and react. I wasn't really excited to hear that we aren't doing directional kicks, but I'm excited that the coverage is going to be more aggressive and attack, a lot like the new defense.

Dawg19 said...

John F...

I think you missed the real reason why most of us hated the directional kickoff. It was because we had a kicker who could pound it out of the end zone. Why not make your opponent start at the 20 every time? It was very frustrating watching kicks go out of bounds when we KNEW the kicker could have just booted it through the end zone. I understand that a kicker's leg can get a little tired after numerous kickoffs and field goals, but if we're scoring so much that he's getting a lot of work, then a directional kickoff later in the game is acceptable.

John F said...

I thought the reason we hated directional kicks is because the other team was getting good starting field position, like from the 35 or 40? The philosophy behind directional kicks is to pin them inside the 20, therefore giving them worst field position than just kicking in the end zone. Sure, it's a risk. You risk a big return or the kicker kicking it out of bounds, but the reward could be great if you pin them inside the 15. The problem has been the coverage. Directional kicks only work if your players get to the other end of the field in a hurry. Fabris was not teaching them to do that and that, in my opinion, is why we hated directional kicks. If done right, it could be good for momentum and get the team up. Unfortunately, Fabris didn't do it right. Just my opinion.

David Hale said...

John F -- you're right on this, and I've written before that it wasn't that there is anything wrong with directional kicking, but Georgia proved it couldn't cover them and Walsh is one of the few kickers in the country who has a leg that can consistently boot it into the end zone, but you weren't utilizing that.

It wasn't a bad philosophy, it was bad decision making and bad coaching.

Anonymous said...

Man! Everything I read about Grantham, Belin, Lakatos and their coaching philosophies just puts a smile on my face and joy in my Dawg heart. I think we hit a home run with all three.


John F, no heat from me. I think you're 100% correct.

Texas_Dawg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Texas_Dawg said...

I think you missed the real reason why most of us hated the directional kickoff. It was because we had a kicker who could pound it out of the end zone. Why not make your opponent start at the 20 every time?

Um, Walsh himself just said that with the new kicking away strategy he is "hoping" (hoping) he will kick the ball for a touchback around 30% of the time.

30%.

And if we say those 8 additional touchbacks gain a total of 80 yards (assuming kicks that would have landed on average at the 10), assuming Walsh has 77 kickoffs again in 2010, that's an additional 1.03 yards per kick.

1. Fonking. Yard.

This kickoff thing has been more stupidly blown out of proportion by a fanbase than any other I can remember.

DHale, let's go. You're better than this. Help stop the madness.