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Georgia football will show how important staff continuity is with new coordinators
When Clemson toppled Alabama 44-16 in the most recent national title game, many began to look for reasons as to why the Tigers had been able to surpass the Crimson Tide. One such reason was the continuity on Clemson’s coaching staff and the constant turnover on Nick Saban’s Alabama staff.
Clemson has had the same offensive coordinators — Tony Elliott and Jeff Scott — and defensive coordinator in Brent Venables in all four of its playoff appearances. Alabama heads into the 2019 season with its fourth different offensive and defensive coordinator over that same time span. After having Kirby Smart as a defensive coordinator for eight seasons, the defensive coordinator position has become a revolving door for Saban.
And this constant turnover has even started to hurt the Crimson Tide in recruiting. One of the country’s top 2020 prospects, 5-star wide receiver Julian Fleming, noted that Alabama’s constant coaching turnover did play a role in him picking Ohio State.
“Their coaching has been inconsistent,” Fleming said to AL.com. “I’ve been recruited by two, three coaches there. You know, I want someone I can rely on.”
This offseason, Smart’s Georgia staff experienced quite a bit of coaching turnover as well. Both of his coordinators left for other jobs, as Jim Chaney is now the offensive coordinator at Tennessee and Mel Tucker is the head coach at Colorado.
Smart will be attempting to do something that no college football team has done since the inception of the College Football Playoff: Win a national championship with two first-year coordinators.
Of the national champions in the College Football Playoff era, only one has had a first-year coordinator. Alabama did in 2017 with Brian Daboll as the offensive coordinator. The last team to win a national championship with two new coordinators was the 2001 Miami Hurricanes, who also had a first-year head coach in Larry Coker.
Of course, the 2019 Crimson Tide will also be replacing both of their coordinators from last season. And 2018 Alabama did make the College Football Playoff with two new coordinators as well.
But with the 2019 Georgia football team, it’s not like the two new coordinators are totally new hires. Dan Lanning and James Coley were both with the team last season, as Lanning was the outside linebackers coach and Coley was the quarterbacks and co-offensive coordinator.
Coley also does have experience as an offensive coordinator and play-caller, as he served that role with Miami from 2013-15. Lanning will be a defensive coordinator for the first time, but Smart will also be heavily involved in shaping the Georgia defense.
Earlier this offseason Smart did attempt to downplay how much the offense would change now with Coley leading the way.
“I don’t think that we’re going to say, ‘okay, we’re throwing out everything we’ve done; we’re starting over,’ “ Smart said. “We’ve really had one coaching change on the offensive side of the ball, and every year when you go reinvent yourself, you say, okay, who are my best players, how are we going to get them the ball what are our strengths, what are our weaknesses, what are the things we’ve gotta really work on?”
Smart has had to replace position coaches before, but Chaney and Tucker had been a part of Smart’s staff since he first arrived in Athens. And one only has to look at Mark Richt’s hiring of Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator before the 2015 season to see how much harm a bad coordinator hire can do to a program.
Staff familiarity isn’t likely to swing a single play or game. But it can play a vital role in the offseason months, where coaches are so fond of saying champions are made. Coley and Lanning do have more experience with Georgia than the average first-year coordinator, and Alabama has shown that if you’re talented enough, you can overcome plenty of things.
But history isn’t on Georgia’s side when it comes to winning a national title with new coordinators. And that is at least something to consider in a time when the best team in college football — Clemson — has also been the most stable.
Georgia linebacker Rian Davis takes part in Bottle Cap Challenge
A number of celebrities from Jason Statham to Ryan Reynolds have joined the newest internet challenge, dubbed the Bottle Cap Challenge. The goal is to get the bottle cap off of a bottle without using your hands. Most of them have been pretty cool to watch. Some of the mess-ups, like the one by the Oregon mascot, have been downright funny.
— The Oregon Duck (@TheOregonDuck) July 3, 2019
On Tuesday, a Georgia player gave it a shot. Freshman linebacker Rian Davis posted on his Twitter account his attempt at the challenge. And Davis nailed it.
— Rian "Trouble" Davis (@Trouble_R4) July 10, 2019
Perhaps the most impressive part of Davis’s challenge is that he completed it just months after suffering a torn ACL. He tore his ACL and meniscus last September as a senior in high school. Following the knee injury, Davis accelerated his enrollment and joined Georgia in January. Davis did not participate in spring drills due to the injury, but the hope is that he’ll be ready to go for the start of fall camp.
Davis was the No. 89 ranked prospect in the country last season. He will line-up at inside linebacker when healthy, joining the likes of fellow freshmen Trezmen Marshall and Nakobe Dean.
The first chance Davis will get to play for the Bulldogs will come on Aug. 31, when the Bulldogs take on Vanderbilt.
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