ATHENS — Brian VanGorder is indeed serving as a “consultant” to the Georgia football team as it prepares for Georgia Tech, head coach Kirby Smart acknowledged after Tuesday’s practice.
“I called him and asked him,” Smart said. “I thought it would be helpful for us, for this game specifically.”
Smart said VanGorder came on board last week. Georgia’s defensive coordinator from 2001-04, VanGorder, who had been Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator since 2014, was fired in September after the Fighting Irish fell to Duke, 38-35.
“He’s a consultant,” Smart said. “‘A consultant can watch film, can break down tape, can watch practice, observe, give opinions.’’
Smart said he thought about reaching out to VanGorder after his firing from Notre Dame, but decided to wait. He reached out to him a bit later, apparently with the blessing of defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.
“He didn’t come here until late last week and began work on Georgia Tech. He’s a part of that game plan,” Smart said. “He’s been very helpful. He’s very knowledgable. I’ve got a lot of respect for Brian. Always have, when he coached here (at UGA). Mel knew him when he was in the NFL, so they had a good relationship. And then he coached at Notre Dame, which plays the academies and also played Georgia Tech.’’
Smart and defensive coordinator don’t have much experience facing the triple option, especially recently. But VanGorder does – and Georgia Tech specifically.
Notre Dame faced the Yellow Jackets last year in South Bend, with Georgia Tech rushing for 216 rushing yards – averaging 4.6 yards per carry – and passing for 121 yards.
Navy, on the other hand, had better success in two match-ups against VanGorder’s defense: The Midshipmen rushed for 318 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry, in a 41-24 Notre Dame victory last year, and in 2014 the Midshipmen gained 336 rushing yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry, in a 49-39 Notre Dame win.
Georgia junior outside linebacker Davin Bellamy met VanGorder back in high school, when Bellamy was being recruited by Auburn. He said he’s seen VanGorder at practice, but he doesn’t do any coaching.
“He’s out there, you know, but he doesn’t really say too much to us,” Bellamy said. “He’s out there, but we kind of just do what we do.”