Georgia Bulldogs: Kirk Olivadotti Talks Special Teams and James Deloach

Here’s the thing, if Georgia is going to assert themselves in games this season, they are going to have to do a better job of covering punts and kickoffs.

Last year they gave up far too many big plays and way too much field position simply by allowing a guy to run it back 30-, 40-, or 50-yards on a punt or kickoff—that cannot happen this season.

I suspect, from what I’ve read and heard, the Bulldogs will return to the ways of Warren Belin (the inside linebackers coach who spent 2010 with the Dawgs before exiting to the NFL coaching ranks) where special teams is concerned.

Belin was a firm believer in using the best guys available for kick coverages and, despite the fear of injuring valuable starters, it was a gamble that paid off for the Dawgs in 2010 as their coverage units ranked near tops in the conference.

What a difference a year makes.

While there is no more Brandon Boykin, Blair Walsh, or Drew Butler, the talent is there to fill the holes in Marshall Morgan, Colin Barber, and—possibly—Jamie Lindley. None of the three are expected to come in and become instant all-americans, but they could provide the consistency needed to keep the kicking and punting respectable…but they will need help from the coverage units if they have any hope of being successful this season.

James Deloach, LB

If Olivadotti sounded non-committal about true freshman linebacker James DeLoach, it’s because DeLoach doesn’t have a “natural” position yet—per se. He’s a big kid with an ability to play on the outside or the inside, depending on how he develops, and fits the mold of Todd Grantham’s m.o. where his front seven is concerned: tons of versatility.

As of now, the plan appears to be just to see where he plays most comfortably, see what he can handle, and take it from there. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him on special teams most of the season with a little reserve work thrown in here and there—a la Ramik Wilson in 2011.

 

 

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Georgia Bulldogs: Former QB David Greene, “I like our team. I like our chances”

I love Georgia’s chances to come out of the SEC East, too, with so much drama happening across the division.

If it’s not Tennessee losing one of their best wide receivers to abject stupidity, it’s South Carolina’s Connor Shaw experiencing back troubles—and trust me, if this becomes a chronic issue, it will become a factor of interest in at least one or two of South Carolina’s games this season.

Injuries and suspensions, unfortunately, are the great equalizer amongst teams in the SEC. If you lose an important cog, it changes the whole team’s dynamic and chemistry—despite what they say about their being no “I” in team, there are players who have the ability to make a team better whenever they’re on the field—case in point, that guy this year for Georgia will no doubt be Jarvis Jones.

Of course, the impact a player has on a team can also be a negative distraction and therefore not worth the having of him, in which case it becomes a matter of addition by subtraction as sometimes the talent just ain’t worth the trouble.

2012 has the potential—don’t you just hate that word “potential”—to be something special if every guy knows his part and plays it to the best of his ability. Even with the glaring question marks on the field, it cannot be denied that there is plenty of talent to be had this season—particularly at running back and wide receiver.

If all goes well, Georgia should find themselves in the drivers seat for Atlanta come December and then we’ll just have to see what happens from there.

On another note, though, how many people still see David Greene and think: man, if you could have just beaten the Gators in 2002…or is that just me?

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SEC Football: Could Texas A&M Be Upset by Louisiana Tech in Week One?

According to Tim Brando and Dennis Dodd, the worst thing Texas A&M—the SEC’s newest member—could have done is end up with Louisiana Tech in their season opener.

Tim Brando’s hometown devotion aside, I’ll still take Texas A&M over Louisiana Tech—even though I suspect the game will be close early.

My hesitation in jumping on the LaTech bandwagon resides in the fact that: 1) I’m not certain the fascination with the Bulldogs has as much to do with the players returning as it does with the fact that the WAC is now one of the weakest leagues in the country and 2) even with a new coach, a new system, and a new quarterback  at the helm for Texas A&M, the Aggies still have a very potent group of guys on the offensive side of the ball—Guys like Ryan Swopes and Uzoma Nwachukwa; both of whom will make life easier for the newly named starter at quarterback—and enough potential on defense to be competitive this season. And it likely won’t hurt that Johnny Manziel (QB) will have an experienced offensive line to stand behind either.

While the Bulldogs bring back plenty of weapons on offense as well, I’m inclined to believe this game will ultimately come down to the defenses. And, if the Aggies can play even marginally more consistent than they did last season, they should have no trouble keeping the Bulldogs at bay and securing their first win of the season.

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