ATHENS — Several people this week were asking what was the deal with the bat Richard LeCounte was carrying before last Saturday’s game.
Good question. And LeCounte had a good answer.
Turns out it’s the “Hit Stick.”
Created in the same spirit as the “Savage” shoulder pads that go to the Georgia defensive player that comes up with a turnover, the “Hit Stick” is presented each week to the player determined to have delivered the best shot when making a tackle in a game.
LeCounte got the bat after the South Carolina after making a big hit on Rico Dowdle to break up a pass and prevent a third-down late on the first half.
“You get the bat, you’re a bad man,” LeCounte said proudly.
But that’s where the story gets sort of batty. LeCounte also revealed that the bat is, in fact his bat. He brought it from home. It was just a regulation wooden bat until LeCounte decided to paint it black.
In fact, it sounded like the whole idea was his concept. But as he continued to answer questions about it, LeCounte credited defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for the concept. And he said Tucker and the Georgia defensive coaches are definitely who determines which player gets it.
“The coaches, they review (game video) and they give it out to whoever had the biggest hit that week,” LeCounte said.
It was unclear who got bat for the Middle Tennessee game. But no matter who earns the Hit Stick in games, LeCounte remains the keeper of it.
“The hit stick is going wherever I go,” he declared.
So now you know.
UGA eyeing virtual reality training
One of the technical advances in training that is sweeping the football world is the virtual reality quarterback simulator.
Built into a helmet that quarterbacks can wear, this gaming technology utilizes virtual reality googles, artificial intelligence and statistical football data to give the players a real-time scenario in which they have to read defenses, go through their progressions and then deliver a real football ball on time and on target to the correct receiver. Numerous NFL teams and some college teams are already utilizing this technology, according to SportsTechie.com.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart confirmed this week that the Bulldogs have been looking into virtual reality training and are taking it under consideration for future use.
“We’ve looked into to it,” Smart said during Georgia’s preparations for Missouri this week. “We have not purchased it as of yet. We explored it two years ago and again last year, so we’ve looked into it each year. We think it has a lot of good things to it. We just haven’t made the decision to purchase. We’re trying to make sure we get our value and return on it if we do purchase it. We have explored it.”
Baccari Rambo lends hand
One of the most difficult aspects of preparing to face Missouri’s Drew Lock is simulating the senior quarterback’s tremendous arm talent. Lock’s ability to throw the ball 70 yards on a line is just one of the traits that has him projected as a first-round draft choice in the coming year’s draft.
While Georgia has a few walkon quarterbacks who have “pretty good” arms, according to Smart, the Bulldogs don’t have any who throw the ball quite like Lock. So they turned to a former defensive back to help them out.
Bacarri Rambo, who earned All-America honors while playing safety for Georgia from 2010-12, is working for the Bulldogs as a graduate assistant. He also played quarterback while starring for Seminole County High School before coming to UGA and has long been known for his uncanny ability to hurl a football a really long way.
“Bacarri Rambo has an extremely good arm,” Smart said. “Hew as a high school quarterback and he can throw it out of the stadium. So, he throws with our DBs a lot. He does a good job with it. But we have a few guys that do a pretty good job with it.”
The long ball is what separates Missouri from a lot of other spread-option teams. Georgia saw that first hand last year when Lock hit receiver Emanuel Hall with a pair of 63-yard bombs for touchdowns in Georgia’s 53-28 win at Sanford Stadium.
“Yeah, they’re a vertical passing team, so we’re trying to emphasize it,” Smart said. “We do deep-ball drills every day at the of practice, emphasize long balls, back-shoulders. We’re putting a lot of work into it because they’re a good passing team altogether, but especially as a vertical passing team.
Rambo finished his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills in the 2017 preseason, after being drafted by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round of the 2013 draft. Rambo played with the Miami Dolphins in 2016, and spent the prior four years with the Bills and Redskins. He finished his career with 16 starts, 151 tackles and 4 interceptions.
A four-year player at Georgia, Rambo finished with 16 career interceptions, tied with Jake Scott. They were joined in first place this past season by Dominick Sanders.
Missouri may play in the SEC’s Eastern Division, but the school is decided Midwest when it comes to its location. That means the hot temperatures Georgia has become so acclimated to here in the Deep South won’t be present in Columbia, Mo.
The high temperature during Saturday’s noon game (ET) is expected to be 81 degrees. Also, there is a 60 percent chance of rain from noon to 3 p.m. To prepare for the possibility of precipitation, Smart had the Bulldogs work out with wet footballs for extended periods in the last three practices of the week.
That’s it for me. Next stop: St. Louis. Will check in with everyone from there.