ATHENS, Ga. — Jim Chaney stood in the same spot last year, the Georgia football team meeting room, and regaled the media with quotes about liking pie and fly fishing.
This time around, Chaney still had quips. He seemed to invent a word – “Bambi-ish” – on the fly, and kidded a reporter about asking a second question. But as he enters his second season as Georgia’s offensive coordinator, Chaney knows this is an important season for him.
He said he did a lot of “soul-searching” in the offseason, as he does any offseason. He talked about “working within Kirby (Smart’s) philosophy” on offense, and mentioned the challenge of a freshman quarterback and the offensive line.
“When things aren’t going the way you would like for them to go, you question a lot of things,” Chaney said. “And you’ve got to really in the offseason, you look back on yourself and make doggone sure you’re not the reason. And make sure what part of that you played you do the best that you possibly can (to fix it).”
Georgia finished 11th in the SEC in total yards and scoring last season. (Georgia was at least top 5 in those categories every year from 2011-14 under Mike Bobo, then dipped to ninth under Brian Schottenheimer in 2015.)
“I understand that from years past, first years in programs are inevitably a bit tougher than others. I reflect back on that. But in no way do I say all the problems we had were only because it was the first year. I had a big part to play in that,” Chaney said. “And my job is to freshen things up and take my responsibility in it. Because, I’ve said before, I’ll say it again, the buck stops here when it comes down to production of offense.”
This was Chaney’s bi-annual appearance with the media. Smart doesn’t let his assistants do interviews, other than the offensive and defensive coordinators each speaking once during the preseason, and then once at the bowl game.
After a tough first season at Georgia, Chaney has his sense of humor. He described quarterback Jacob Eason as “kind of Bambi-ish” while running because of his 6-foot-5 height, then stopped himself and realized that may not be a real word.
“That’s a Chaney word. I’m from Missouri, don’t expect a hell of a lot out of me,” Chaney said, smiling.
Later, a media member prefaced a question by saying he wanted to ask Chaney a bit more about his offseason soul-searching. Chaney, taking a drink of water, cut him off.
“How long am I going to have to talk about soul searching?” Chaney said, grinning.
But he knew the questions were coming. He talked before the Liberty Bowl, after 12 regular-season games, about being disappointed in the team’s production.
Chaney said he studied a lot of video from other teams, especially the Atlanta Falcons. He didn’t name college football teams he studied, but indicated there were more than a few.
“For me personally, it was fun to do. It was time to do,” he said. “It was much-needed for me, a little freshening up of everything.”