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Kirby Smart has an opportunity with Will Muschamp
Will Muschamp was always going to play some sort of part in Georgia’s 2021 season. Kirby Smart hired him on as a defensive analyst in the early stages of 2021. Originally, it was believed Muschamp would help build recruiting relationships and assist the on-field coaches in becoming better coaches.
But no one really thought he’d step into an on-field role and start helping the Bulldogs before the start of the 2021 season.
“It’s very valuable to have a guy that’s been a head coach at two places in our conference, he knows the ins and outs of this conference,” Smart said in February. “He’ll be able to help our staff, our coaches in a lot of ways. I’m excited to be able to have him join us.”
After Sunday though, it seems Muschamp won’t be limited to an analyst role. He’ll be stepping onto the field as one of Georgia’s 10 on-field assistants, as Jake Rowe of 247Sports was the first to report the news.
The events that led to Muschamp’s potential promotion came about because special teams coordinator Scott Cochran has made the decision to step away from his role with Georgia for the time being.
Smart released a statement wishing the best for Cochran.
“Coach Cochran is currently dealing with health issues and is taking time to prioritize his mental health and well-being,” Smart said. “We fully support him as he takes this time to focus on his well-being.”
With Cochran temporarily away from the team, Georgia has a vacancy when it comes to the on-field coaching staff as the Bulldogs are allowed 10 on-field coaches. That’s how Smart could bring Muschamp onto the field for the time being.
Related: Will Muschamp poised to move into on-field role as Scott Cochran steps away from Georgia football
Doing so would allow Muschamp to recruit out on the road in addition to now working directly with players during practice.
Back in the spring, players took notice early on of the energy Muschamp brought into the program. That will now likely transfer to the practice field.
“The first day coach Muschamp was here I was watching some extra film with my coach and they were like, ‘there’s a surprise upstairs.’ So when I look up, and when I see coach Muschamp I’m like ‘What! What are you doing here?’” senior linebacker Channing Tindall said in March. “So we had a nice little conversation. It’s good to have someone from my hometown here, too. So with coach Smart and coach Muschamp, I feel like I have a piece of home here as well.”
The assumption might be that Muschamp steps directly in for Cochran as the special teams coordinator. That would make some sense, as Muschamp’s head coaching stops at Florida and South Carolina likely have him well-equipped to handle such responsibilities.
But Georgia does have other coaches who would be capable of helping out when it comes to special teams duties. A number of Georgia coaches have worked on special teams in the past, including Todd Hartley working as the special teams coordinator at Miami for three seasons.
The Bulldogs also brought in analyst Robbie Discher in the offseason to help with special teams as well.
With Muschamp as an on-field coach, he could do more than just monitor special teams. It helps to have an All-SEC punter in Jake Camarda and returning kicker Jack Podlesny. His last kick was a 53-yard field goal to beat Cincinnati in the Peach Bowl.
Georgia does have other areas of need on the team. Areas where Muschamp can likely assist beyond just special teams. He’s well-regarded as a defensive backs coach. Georgia brought in a new defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae, and have to replace four defensive backs who were taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.
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Having someone like Muschamp to assist, but not overstep Addae, could help a new-look defensive backfield that brought in two transfers in Derion Kendrick and Tykee Smith.
Muschamp has also served as a linebackers coach in his stops at LSU, Auburn and Texas. At outside linebacker, the Bulldogs need to develop some depth behind Nolan Smith and Adam Anderson. Georgia brought in four linebackers as a part of the 2021 recruiting cycle as well who could all benefit from working with Muschamp.