ATHENS — Jim Chaney was fly fishing on a river when he got the word that Sony Michel had been injured in an ATV accident Independence Day weekend and would be sidelined for an extended period.
How did Chaney react?
“I changed to a wet fly and I went out to try to catch some better trout,” Chaney deadpanned.
His point was, what is a coach to do? A veteran coach of 31 years, Chaney doesn’t sweat such developments much. He simply adjusts.
“I can’t do anything about injuries that take place with kids,” Chaney said. “I’ll take you back a year earlier at the University of Pittsburgh. We had a tackle messing around after practice — dislocation of the knee. Lost our starting right tackle for the season. Things happen in life, my goodness. These kids are kids. They are going to go out and do things and things happen. You don’t worry about them.”
That said, Chaney wasn’t thrilled about the development. It means more work for him.
He accepted the Georgia job last December not knowing if or when he would have Nick Chubb available at tailback this season but knowing he had Sony Michel to fall back on. Now Michel’s status is uncertain and Chubb appears to be in position to play from the jump.
“Now, is it disappointing? Certainly, because I think Sony is a super football player,” Chaney said. “And there were specific installation plays that I’ve slowed down and pushed back a little bit, depending on his health. But at the end of the day, I feel comfortable Sony will be back and he’ll be ready to roll and I’m excited about it. I love the kid. I love his spirit. I love his attitude.
“Things happen, man, they happen. You move on. It’s not for me to worry about too much.”
That will give you some idea of the personality and attitude of the Bulldogs’ new offensive coordinator. Following are some highlights from his 20-minute question-and-answer session with reporters on Saturday.
On Georgia’s quarterback competition …
“For me and my history, it is a little unique because I like all three of these kids. On any given day, I like one a little bit more than the other. I told them yesterday, I got a little upset with them. I said, somebody needs to start emerging a little bit here, showing a little bit more. As the volume comes in, it gets a little tougher on some of them. Some can handle a little more volume than others. That doesn’t necessarily make you the best player and the one we’re going to choose. But at the end of the day, every one of us are human beings, and like quarterbacks, we have fleas. We’re not all perfect. So they have to figure out what they do good and do it as best they can and work on their weaknesses, and I feel comfortable in saying they are all doing that right now. The competition is hot and it’s alive and it’s very competitive and it’s been fun to watch them.”
On what factors into deciding who the starting quarterback will be …
“It inevitably gets to who can score points and who can secure the football, because winning football games is so much about ball security. Here comes the cliches: Who can secure the ball, who throws is to our guys and not the opponent, and who shows that discipline to be able to make that decision; if I call a downfield throw and it isn’t there, to check it down; who can show the discipline to learn a new game plan week-to-week; who can do those things, and ultimately, who can drive and lead ten other men down into the end zone. So we are looking for that and we are putting them in those environments to see who can do that. So who can secure the ball and who can move a group of men and lead them down in the end zone. Who can affect others in a real positive way; that’s the best way to say it. And that’s how we’ll judge it at the end.”
On the drawbacks of junior quarterback Brice Ramsey having to work with his third offensive coordinator in as many years …
“I have no (sympathy). I’ve had three different schools in three years. What’s the big deal? ‘Grow up, kiddo!’If you want to go on and play, you’re forced to learn, regardless what style it is, who is the coordinator, none of that. Players play, coaches coach, administrators administrate and there is no overlap. Do your job to the best of your ability, learn, work your butt off, strive to be the best you possibly can be and see where it goes. Does it harm him knowing more football in different systems? I’ve never got the feeling that’s a negative. I’ve always felt like that’s better. You have the ability to have something to fall back upon; oh, that’s like this, that’s like this. And I’ll probably train him different than Mike (Bobo) or Brian (Schottenheimer) did and that’s kind of the way we all have to do our things. But do I think he’s behind the 8-ball and it’s unique? Not one bit. I think it’s a benefit to him.”
On Jacob Eason …
“I think he felt comfortable what we were going to try to do with him, as far as developmental and the program we were going to try to put up for him would fit his needs, and so he stuck with us and tickled to have him here. He’s an extremely talented young man that’s learning his way around of being a good quarterback.”
On Georgia’s tight ends …
“I think it’s as deep as any group I’ve ever been around. They have the ability to do a lot of things. They can be inline blockers, we can detach them and throw them footballs as a wide receiver. They have a unique ability to learn. This is a pretty sharp room. You walk into that room, they have a high aptitude. It doesn’t bother them to learn 14 new concepts in a day. They will pick that up quickly. We have smart kids at that room, which at that position, you need to have. Other than the quarterback spot, there will be more demand at the tight end position than any other position on our football team. They have got to learn to be a tackle in the run game and a wide-out in the passing game. So I can see us in a multiple tight end sets, if needed, if that’s the direction we need to go to win that football game, then I feel real comfortable doing that.”
On how much the decision at quarterback depends on the injuries to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel…
“I think you’d be a fool if you didn’t consider that early on, but I don’t know how much. It will be weighed, but I don’t know how much weight it will carry in that decision. Inevitably it’s going to down to which one of those boys can move the ball down the field and score enough points. But that has to be looked at, the health of positions whether it be tackle or running back or whatever it happens to be, everything. Nothing is looked at in a vacuum.”
On his relationship with offensive line coach Sam Pittman …
“I don’t think that we take life real seriously. I think we understand where football fits in the big picture. We’re trying to help these young men grow up. We want to win football games and do the best we can, but we also laugh at ourselves a little bit. I think his personality and my personality blend really well. We understand and we desire the same things in life. We want to win football games and that keeps a smile on our face.”