I will preface with this: I have always been a fan of Coach Richt. His style of dress, the way he carries himself, his calm but fiery-when-necessary demeanor. Coach Richt seemed to always do what was right when he was the head coach at UGA from 2001-2015. He would suspend players that would then come back to beat him (ie Nick Marshall, 2013) or lose young men that would bail on the lessons he was teaching and opt for the supplemental draft (ie Paul Oliver, 2007). Richt was fired at Georgia after winning 145 games and having nine seasons with double-digit wins including ten bowl wins. In that firing, and all of his dealings, he stayed a class act.
Coach Richt has a teacher-like approach to being the head football coach at the University of Miami. The way he addresses the media is like he’s teaching a College Football CEO 101 course. Where many coaches avoid the why and like to keep the media and fans in the dark about the inner workings of football, Coach Richt sounds like he’s talking to the super-fans that roam the message boards. Take this quote from Mark Richt from UM Athletics:
“We call it ‘thud’ – thud is full speed without tackling and without blocking below the waist.
Not many coaches would take the time to explain this to the media, but it’s a really important and difficult part of coaching. Getting your players to play fast while not going to the ground takes work. Many coaches have to explain what thud is over and over again to their players. Being able to practice in Thud means you can keep players fresh and it’s a great way to avoid injuries during the season.
With regards to scheme, Coach Richt will take the time to explain a play to the media:
“Well, it’s only one play but we ran a power, it’s just called power. But when you have a power you have a tackle and a guard side by side and if there’s a guy in the middle, a defender, he’s called the three technique. We call it a deuce block where we double the three to the backside backer.
Last summer I covered power in detail for SOTU. I think many fans get the gist of power from years of playing Madden and NCAA Football on their gaming consoles. But I appreciate Coach Richt’s time that he takes to explain the play and his enthusiasm he displays in teaching the game. You can see a diagram of power from the UGA playbook below:
In power, they want Navaughn Donaldson to block at an angle when he comes off the combo (deuce) and pick up the Will (W) that’s scraping to replace the Mike (M) on the play. The pulling guard will come around and pick up the Mike so if Donaldson blocks him, the guard has no one to block. That’s the key to power football, not just blocking someone but making sure you have more blockers than defenders at the point of attack.
Coach Richt, The Teacher
Coach Richt speaks to the players and media as if every second is a teachable moment. Explaining why guys aren’t being tackled to the ground, even if you’re in full pads. Especially with a thin group at running back, you’re not going to see a ton of clips of guys being tackled. Rather than leave it up to interpretation he spends the time to communicate his philosophy on practice.
Coach even takes time to explain to the players why they’re expected to sprint station to station, drill to drill, and through every play. He wants to condition by practicing fast. Many fans are used to movies and their high school days where coaches did “gassers” after practice. However, a gasser just trains a player how to run 50, 100 or 200 yards which is rare in the actual game. Coach Richt prefers they practice fast in real football conditions so they’ll be able to play fast in real football conditions. That’s probably hard to explain to many of the freshman coming in from poorly coached high schools across America.
The Canes are back on Greentree. Listen to practice from the head coach himself.— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) March 23, 2017
Coaching with Fire
Fan like to say Coach Richt doesn’t have fire to his coaching but I think at times fans mistake coaches screaming and berating players as coaching. While that is necessary at times, it isn’t what makes you a good coach. A good coach understands the situation and every player and how to approach them to get the most out of them. I think Coach almost does certain things and says certain things as a challenge to fans and media to say he doesn’t have enthusiasm or doesn’t have the fire anymore... I see some fire from the 57 year old below:
It may be day two, but this is nothing new.— Canes Football (@CanesFootball) March 23, 2017
It's time to get to work. pic.twitter.com/lRsUyGyKhy
Speaking in Code
Coach Richt isn’t completely an open book. He was being very open about what the Jackets offense can do, but heading into the Georgia Tech game he had a lot to say that might have been some forecasting as to what he would like in his own QB, from the Palm Beach Post:
It’s not all option football, but they have that element to it. When they have a quarterback runner who can throw as well as they can, it creates more problems than you want to be dealing with.
It makes you wonder if he wasn’t telling the ‘Canes fans he wants a dual-threat QB in the future. We’ve seen it too in the coaches messages for so and so needs “more focus” or “better conditioning.” That means learn your playbook and don’t get lazy over spring break.
On GT explicitly, I love how he explains an Offensive Coordinator’s fears when playing a ball control offense, this from the same Palm Beach Post article:
Let’s say you’re a high-tempo team, you want to get the ball back, you want to go score. If you go three and out and Georgia Tech goes for a 13-play drive, eight-minute drive, and all of a sudden you don’t get the ball back for all that time, you’re not used to that. Then everybody gets a little uneasy. We have to find a way to keep that from happening.”
Every moment is a teachable moment for Coach Richt, and it’s nice to not just hear the same old Coachspeak Miami fans became numb to for the past fifteen years.