Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just Kick'n It With Fabris

Part one in a two part series

South Carolina beat NC State last Thursday night 7-3. Georgia lost to Oklahoma St. 24-10 Saturday. With two offenses suiting up 'tween the hedges Saturday night that are (self-admittedly) struggling, we may not figure to see many kickoffs other than the two that are required.

However, Coach Richt sees the special teams playing a pivotal role Saturday night:
"As I look at this game I'm seeing two defenses that played pretty darn good andtwo offenses that are trying to find their way. More than likely special teams will be the deciding factor in this one."

That seems pretty evident, especially if you add in turnovers. But despite what the fans want (and what makes the most sense), Richt also sees directional kicking as the preferred method of operation when the ball is teed on the Dawgs' 30 yard line.

"The fans want the long kick but the longest kick (Saturday) had the longest return. The kicks that were a little shorter had better hang time and ball placement and we covered those better. I wouldn't say because we kicked deeper that was the cause, necessarily. We should have contained it, surrounded him and forced him inside to where our coverage teams were, and we didn't do a good job of that."

I wasn't gonna split hairs, but...OK. On Saturday, when OSUs kicker went deep (ask Branden Smith just how deep) I saw an organized and disciplined array of orange jerseys rushing downfield to cover their kicker's boot. One more...and why exactly did we fly a kid who's tendency has been to kick it deep when teed from the left coast all the way to Athens?

Back in May, Rex asked the coaches to just let these kickers relax and kick it deep. If you are like me you held out hope that Fabris had finally lost his argument. The stats don't lie. Gone are the days of Kirouac providing a 46.7 yard net on kickoffs and an avg starting yard line for our opponents at the 18. Gone are the days of kicking from the 35. And gone is the 2" tee.


kickoffs yards avg TBs OB Net YdLn
2002 92 5472 59.5 0 0 46.7 18
2003 83 4826 58.1 0 0 40.6 24
2004 69 4183 60.6 21 6 * *
2005 78 4807 61.6 22 1 43.2 21
2006 67 4113 61.4 15 5 40.6 24
2007 80 4751 59.4 1 4 40.7 29
2008 77 4591 59.6 4 9 40.3 29
* couldn't find these stats for '04
** couldn't find any kickoff stats for '01

In the post linked above, Rex relates the reason why Kirouac was so successful. Without getting in over my head with the technical stuff, Kirouac had a style set up for the type of kick Fabris and CMR want.

Enter Coutu, who did pretty well too in the directional system until the rule changes in April of '07 - placement moved back from 35 to the 30 and tee lowered to 1". Coutu handled most of the kickoffs during the 2007 campaign, but his numbers went down dramatically...and understandably.

Walsh has been a different story. I remember after he committed finding clips of him on YouTube where he's just booming it. And while I don't doubt the decision to use him as a true freshman, how hard must it have been to adjust that thundering style with all that beautiful distance, to the directional stylings that bring such joy to Coach Fabris' life?

Well, that's a question I just had to pose to a Georgia legend and a kicking coach hisownself, Rex Robinson. That'll be the meat of Part Two, Kick'n It With Rex.

1 comment:

Sports Dawg said...

I also saw the clips from Walsh in HS. And I also understand the Fabris theory of keeping it out of the end zone and then stop the opposition inside the 20. However we seldom stop anyone inside the 20. Let the kid boom it through the end zone. He can do that. The 20 sure looks a heck of a lot better than the 40 & beyond. Our 2008 net had to be a lot more than the 20.