Former UGA standout Randy McMichael explains why rotating Justin Fields, Jake Fromm is ‘irritating’
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#DGD: Catching up with former Bulldog Randy McMichael
In this week’s installment of the #DGD or “Damn Good Dawg” series, we catch up with former Georgia tight end Randy McMichael. After injuries stunted his first two years at Georgia, McMichael blossomed into one of the SEC’s best tight ends, as he earned first team All-SEC honors in 2001.
The former Georgia standout enjoyed an 11-year NFL career with the Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers. While with Rams, McMichael also played for current Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
McMichael retired after the 2012 season and now lives in Atlanta. He works with 92.9 the game and you can get more of his insights by following him on Twitter at @randymac81.
DawgNation: What have you made of Georgia this season, especially given what they’ve lost last year?
Randy McMichael: I think the fact that it’s a young football (team)… I think a few weeks ago I realized they were the youngest team in the SEC, so I’m just excited about their growth. There are so many young guys playing. I’m really encouraged by what I’ve seen. I saw this at the Florida game, and Kirby isn’t playing around anymore. It’s go time, and you’ve seen these past few weeks how they’ve been playing.
DN: So in your eyes, this team has gotten better over the course of the season?
RM: Absolutely. You look at the first half against Auburn, they played 21 guys on defense. They’re trying to get reps for the young guys and build this football team. If you look over the next three, four years we’re going to be one of the best teams and challenge every year for a national championship.
DN: So is that maybe a difference from this year’s team to last year’s team, where this team seems to be peaking at the right time, as opposed to last year’s team where there were a couple of uneven performances in the back half of the season?
RM: It’s not a big difference in the talent part. Other than losing a generational player in Roquan Smith and two generational runners in Sony (Michel) and Nick (Chubb), this team still has a ton of talent. My question was, could they replace the soul of last year’s team? Last year they had an upperclassman soul about them, and those upperclassmen were not going to let that team lose. It also helps that this year, D’Andre Swift is finally healthy this year. He’s made a huge difference.
DN: You mention D’Andre Swift and he’s really played well in the back half of the season. Does Swift becoming the player we all thought he was going to be at the start of the season — does that change how Georgia might go and attack Alabama from the offensive side of the ball, as the Bulldogs now actually look like the best rushing team in the SEC?
RM: Well we know that’s what Kirby wants to do. He wants to limit the mistakes as far as throwing the football down the field. But we’re now seeing D’Andre Swift look like how we thought he was going to look as he’s rounding into form. He’s finally found his form, that burst is there with him. He does so many different things, especially when he catches the football. But you also can’t forget about Elijah Holyfield for a second, a man that I am so happy and excited to see play football. A guy who waited his turn and is finally playing some great football.
DN: So you being a former tight end, how do you think you would’ve fit in and played under Kirby Smart in his offense?
RM:I think I would’ve had a similar effect. But (offensive coordinator Jim) Chaney is my man because he was my position coach in St. Louis. I would’ve had a few words with him about getting the ball. But that just goes to show you the unselfishness of guys like Isaac Nauta. He’s one of the most talented tight ends in the country, he just doesn’t get the chance to showcase it a lot. When he gets opportunities, he always seems to cash in and I would think that down the stretch and possibly into the playoff, you would find a way to use this man. But they spread the ball around so much, you don’t know who the go-to guy is right now.
DN:There’s been a lot made of Chaney and Georgia’s goal-to-go offense this year. What have you seen from Georgia on that and is there anything they can do to fix it? Or is it just line up and mash the guy in front of you for that yard?
RM: I think that right there has been the most irritating part of what’s going on this year, the short yardage part of it. Right now when you look it, I’m old school, I come for the G-A-T-A. That’s how I was raised when I was at Georgia. It’s all about whooping the man in front of you. And they haven’t gotten it done in that aspect. That’s the most frustrating aspect of this season. All we need is one yard. That’s what scares me the most about this Georgia team. When we need that yard can we get that yard. Line up, put your hand in the dirt and move a guy.
DN: A lot of people are looking ahead to the Alabama matchup in the SEC Championship game. What do you think Georgia has to do to come out and win that game, for lack of better phrasing?
RM: Outside of the short-yardage issues, you have to rush the passer. We have not done a good job of that this year. We haven’t done that on a consistent basis. I think to beat a team like Alabama, you have to do that. I think we’re a better offensive team than Mississippi State, but if you saw that game they were able to get after and affect the quarterback. If you can do that then you have a chance. They can still run the football, but they have all these wide receivers, they have Tua, so they want to throw the ball a little bit more. So if you can affect the passer a little bit more, you have a chance.
DN: Not to be blunt, but do you think Georgia will beat Alabama when they meet in Atlanta?
RM: I’m a homer, of course I think Georgia’s going to beat Alabama. But they have some things to work on before getting to the game. We’ll see how it goes, but Kirby’s focus right now is just on getting better.
DN: How much of a difference maker can Georgia freshman quarterback Justin Fields be, especially coming off the performance he just ahead and with an eye towards Alabama? I think a lot of people this year thought he could come in and have an impact similar to Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
RM: It’s kind of irritating because he’s such a young player and to essentially just have him come in for one play and then try and have him generate something. If you’re going to let him play, let him play. I’ve always been that way. Coming into the season, I thought they were going to use him a lot like how (former Georgia coach Mark) Richt used David Greene and Shock (former UGA quarterback DJ Shockley). They actually gave Shock entire series for him to make plays. Taking him out doesn’t really let him get into a groove. And it’s unfair to Jake Fromm as well because Jake could be getting into a groove, and then here comes Justin. But you have to play him because he’s a phenomenal athlete. But it just throws things off. I’ve never been a big fan of the two quarterback system, but if you’re going to do it you have to let both actually play.
DN: These past couple of weeks, Tua Tagovailoa has seemed a little nicked up. I don’t want to say that players are going out of their way to injury Tua but they know if a guys i banged, they’re going to try to hit him low in the knee, right?
RM: Absolutely. You saw against Mississippi State, I don’t think they were trying to hurt him, but they were going low. I’m an old-school player, and if you know that someone has an injury, you go for their legs. There’s a fine line between just internationally trying to injure him. You can tell that he’s banged up, but he’s still a phenomenal player.
Editor’s note: McMichael was incorrectly quoted in the headline of the email newsletter version of this article. DawgNation regrets the error.
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