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Top Dawgs: Coaches edition
It’s the thick of summer. The days are long, hot and devoid of any meaningful college football news. And like we use a trip to the lake or pool to beat the heat of summer, we use lists and arbitrary rankings to fill the college football void. For Tuesday, we’re ranking the best assistant coaches on Georgia’s staff.
So, let’s get into it.
10. Dan Lanning, OLBs — Lanning began his career as an off-field staffer at Alabama before moving on to a successful stint at Memphis. As a first-year SEC assistant, the jury is still out on Lanning, but all signs point to him being a good one. At the very least he’ll have plenty of talent to work with in the LB corps.
9. Cortez Hankton, WRs — Like Lanning, Hankton is another young coach in the early stages of his career, but his past includes an NFL playing career and three years coaching receivers at Vanderbilt to bolster his résumé. Georgia has a talented group of receivers that hasn’t reached its potential yet, so we should get a good idea of how good Hankton is right away.
8. Tray Scott, DL — Scott’s defensive line was solid in his first year on the job and despite a lack of depth, there’s no indication it will take a dip in Year 2. But the future of the unit is more concerning than the present. Georgia isn’t bringing in as many defensive linemen as it should, and at least part of the blame for that should fall on Scott.
7. Scott Fountain, STs — Kirby Smart hired Fountain as special teams coordinator to fill the 10th assistant slot the NCAA granted to schools this year, and it’s easy to see why. He has previous experience running the special teams at Auburn and played a hand in the UGA’s special teams’ turnaround last season as an off-field analyst.
6. Jim Chaney, OC/TEs — An offensive coordinator will never please every fan — just ask Mike Bobo — but Chaney won over a lot of his detractors last season. He’s switching from coaching quarterbacks to tight ends this season in addition to his coordinator duties, so it will be interesting to see if tight ends receive more looks this year.
5. Glenn Schumann, ILBs — Like many on Georgia’s coaching staff, Schumann is a rising star in the profession. Smart gave Schumann, another former Alabama off-field staffer, his first on-field gig when hired by UGA in 2015 and it’s proved to be one of his best decisions. Under Schumann, Georgia’s inside linebackers have been among the best in college football.
4. James Coley, QBs — It says a lot about Coley that Jimbo Fisher wanted him to be his offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, and it says a lot about Georgia that Coley turned him down. Georgia did give Coley a raise, a new title and new set of responsibilities. He coaches quarterbacks now and will be under an intense amount of scrutiny to develop the talented signal-callers in his charge.
3. Dell McGee, RBs — McGee has gone from high school coach to one of the top assistants in college football in a virtual blink. Those high school ties from his days coaching at Carver (Columbus) have served him well on the recruiting trail, where he’s made a name for himself as UGA’s ace. On the field, his backs perennially rank among the best in college football.
2. Mel Tucker, DC/DBs — Fans and pundits were quick to give credit to Smart for Georgia’s outstanding defense last season and Smart was just as quick to direct the credit back to Tucker. And the proof is in the pudding. Georgia gave Tucker a raise from $900,000 to $1.5 million in order to keep him running the defense in Athens long term.
1. Sam Pittman, OL — It’s strange to think that just two seasons ago, the offensive line was by far the most concerning unit on the team. Now, it couldn’t be further from it, thanks to Pittman. Because of his tireless effort on the recruiting trail and his work on the practice field, Georgia has one of the biggest and best offensive lines in the country, and it’s only getting bigger and better.
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Athlon Sports ranked all 130 head coaches in FBS college football, and Smart checked in all the way up at No. 10. He was ranked third among SEC coaches behind Fisher (sixth) and Nick Saban (first).
Smart makes a huge jump in the coach rankings following a successful 2017 season. In his first year at the helm in 2016, Georgia finished 8-5 overall and 4-4 in SEC play. However, Smart’s second team was only a couple of plays away from winning the national championship, falling 26-23 in overtime to Alabama. The Bulldogs finished 13-2 overall, claimed the SEC title and dominated rivals Georgia Tech and Florida by a combined score of 80-14.
Georgia is also winning on the recruiting trail. After finishing with the No. 7 class in 2016, the Bulldogs inked the No. 3 haul in ’17 and claimed the best class by the 247Sports composite this cycle. Smart was one of the nation’s top assistant coaches at Alabama prior to his arrival in Athens and is one of college football’s top defensive minds.
After two years, it’s clear he’s on a fast track to a place among the top coaches in the nation and has Georgia (his alma mater) poised to contend for a playoff spot once again in 2018.
Never bet the Dawgs as ‘dogs
Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports provided some betting tips for each team in the SEC. Here’s what he had to say about Georgia.
63-65-4 (.492) — Never bet Georgia as a dog (9-14-1 ATS), but don’t bet it as a big favorite either. Instead, find the happy medium. When the Dawgs are favored by fewer than 14 points (-13.5 to -0.5) they’ve gone 36-28-3 ATS.
Odds and ends
- Former Bulldog Damon Evans deserves applause for his rise from disgrace
- NFL legacy Makiya Tongue and his family have a clear opinion about UGA
Dawgs on Twitter
“If you had a mini Incredible Hulk, it’d be @GenoSacks.”
— Georgia Football (@FootballUGA) June 25, 2018
Week Four is underway at @UGABasketball @sclipathegreat , @AmanzeNgumezi and @Tyefagan are gaining the strength, speed, endurance and most importantly, MENTAL TOUGHNESS that is going to the prerequisite to compete in the @SEC #DayByDay pic.twitter.com/Ac70Mqb80O
— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) June 25, 2018
Jake Fromm fielded a 98.7 passer rating on standard passes a season ago – tops among returning SEC QBs pic.twitter.com/oCOUZoY438
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 25, 2018
— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 25, 2018
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