Georgia moves coaches around for bowl practice

Steve Shimko, left, is a former quarterback at Rutgers.

ATHENS — After all the departures on the staff, Georgia has moved a handful of coaches into bigger roles, and moved one assistant coach to another role for bowl preparation.

Bryan McClendon, the interim coach through the Jan. 2 Taxslayer Bowl against Penn State, announced the new roles on Wednesday:

  • Steve Shimko, a graduate assistant with the quarterbacks, will continue in that role. A former Rutgers quarterback, Shimko has been working with Brian Schottenheimer this season. (“’Shimmy,’ he’s been there every step of the way with those QB’s,” McClendon said. “He’s going to take on full responsibility with those guys.”
  • Todd Hartley, the recruiting coordinator, will be special teams coach, including the kicking units. Georgia hasn’t had a special teams coordinator, so Hartley’s is a new role.
  • Sam Petitto, who joined the program two years ago in an off-field role, will be the secondary coach, replacing Jeremy Pruitt. Petitto has coached the secondary at other schools in the past. (“A guy who’s very familiar with the defensive backfield,” McClendon said of Pettito. “He’s a coach who did a lot. He was a coach who we were trying to get over here in any capacity, and he’s been very good. He’s very familiar with that, he can teach that, and he’ll do a very good job with that.”)
  • Courtney Coard, a graduate assistant, will handle the outside linebackers, with Kevin Sherrer switching to inside linebackers. Sherrer is also taking over as defensive coordinator for the bowl.
  • Olten Downs, a quality control analyst for the offense, will be on the field to work with the receivers. McClendon will still work with the receivers but will also supervise the team. (“Coach Downs is just a tremendous coach, and we’re lucky to have him,” McClendon said. “He’ll be on the field as well. He’s going to help out with my group — the receivers. He’s been helping with those guys all year in a capacity where he wasn’t a guy who was able to do stuff on the field outside of charting and things like that. As my role changed a little bit, he’s going to have a new role to take in, a bunch of the team aspects and things like that.”)

Georgia needed to fill the spots vacated by three coaches who left immediately rather than coach through the bowl.

  • Pruitt, the secondary coach and defensive coordinator, took the job at Alabama.
  • Schottenheimer, the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, will also not coach in the bowl, though it’s not clear whether it’s by his choice or not.
  • Mike Ekeler, the inside linebackers coach, said he was close to accepting another job.
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