ATLANTA — Georgia finally has a special-teams coordinator, and one of the more respected names for it in the country. Apparently that’s not an automatic fix.
When North Carolina took a 10-point lead over Georgia in the third quarter, the difference was two big special-teams plays:
- A 95-yard kickoff return touchdown by North Carolina’s T.J. Logan on the opening play of the second half.
- A missed 42-yard field goal by Georgia’s William Ham. It was the first field-goal attempt of the sophomore’s college career.
Ham, however, got another chance, and this time made good. His 29-yard field goal, from the left hash mark, was good with 5:27 left in the game, giving Georgia back the lead, 26-24.
Georgia’s kickoff coverage team then starred, dropping the return man at the 15 – and an illegal-block penalty pushed the Tar Heels even further back.
Special teams have been a source of frustration through the years for Georgia, and many pointed to the lack of one coach dedicated just to special teams as the culprit. Mark Richt resisted it in his 15 years as head coach, pointing to the NCAA’s limit of nine full-time assistants. He split the duties among his coaches up until his final two years, when he had two assistants serve as co-coordinators.
When Kirby Smart was hired, he brought in Shane Beamer as special-teams coordinator, as well as tight ends coach. Beamer’s father, Frank, had such good special teams during his long coaching tenure at Virginia Tech that it was called Beamer Ball.