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Post I come not to bury Searels

Friday January 21, 2011

The departure of offensive line coach Stacy Searels to Texas is official. The timing isn’t the best – coaches are full on into recruiting mode. In the meantime, the staff has to work to keep the commitments of five offensive line prospects. Most, if not all, seem to be firm in their commitment, but you can be certain that they’ll be hearing from the competition.

I can understand the perception of this news as rats-off-a-sinking-ship, but Georgia still doesn’t have a lot of voluntary turnover relative to its peers. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s the first lateral move by a Georgia assistant under Richt. One guy leaving for a lot more money isn’t a sign to man the lifeboats.

The reaction has ranged from indifference to don’t-let-the-door-hit-ya . You’re not finding many tears shed over Searels’ departure, and in a way that’s more than a little sad. No one blames him for the disappointing 2010 season, certainly not in the way that the defensive coaches took the fall for 2009. But, yes, there was a lot of head-scratching going on over the performance of the offensive line of which a lot more was expected.

I won’t deny anyone their opportunity to think that this isn’t bad news for Georgia. The line did underperform last season. If you want to put that on the position coach, fine – it makes sense. This was also a line with some real issues and injuries that affected their play. There are a few things keeping me from joining those offering to help Searels pack.

First, if you believe some of the scuttlebutt out there, Searels was one of the first to blow the whistle on slippage in Georgia’s conditioning program. Searels, if you recall, was one of the first big external hires by Mark Richt. There had been some shuffling at running backs coach, and the underwhelming John Jancek was brought in following the departure of Brian VanGorder. But in large part the staff had remained intact. That’s good in terms of continuity and synergy, but there are always the temptations of complacency and insular thinking for a group kept together that long. For the first six years under Richt, there hadn’t been a strong outside perspective brought into the program. Searels was just that, and I hope that we’re not losing that challenging perspective.

I think four years later people have a vague sense of what Searels inherited, but let’s recap exactly what the offensive line looked like entering the 2007 season:

LT 77 Trinton Sturdivant 6-5, 286, Fr.
72 Vince Vance 6-8, 330, So.

LG 63 Chris Davis 6-4, 292, RFr.
54 Tanner Strickland 6-5, 318, Fr.

C 75 Fernando Velasco 6-4, 328, Sr.
74 Kevin Perez 6-3, 274, RFr.
64 Ian Smith 6-3, 295, So..

RG 70 Scott Havercamp 6-4, 310, Jr.
78 Josh Davis 6-6, 293, RFr.
73 Micky White 6-3, 320, RFr.

RT 67 Chester Adams 6-4, 330, Jr.
79 Justin Anderson 6-5, 335, Fr.

The biggest change on that line came as Havercamp washed out and Clint Boling came along quicker than expected. Searels earned his reputation as a miracle worker who pieced together a line starting three freshmen. Georgia, behind that line, was able to win 11 games, finish #2 in the nation, and produce the single best individual rushing performance from a Dawg since Herschel Walker.

The situation was even more dire in 2008 when Vance became the single upperclassmen on the line. Sturdivant was out with his first knee injury, and Searels’ spent most of the season rotating players just to fill the gaps. Kiante Tripp was even brought over from the defensive line to provide whatever he could at tackle. The results weren’t as great as they were in 2007, but Georgia still won ten games, and both run and pass blocking were good enough to launch the pro careers of Stafford and Moreno.

In a way, Searels earns a grade of “incomplete” for his time in Athens. This season saw only the first big turnover in the line he began constructing in 2007. The 2010 edition was disappointing, but the 2011 version also has a lot going for it now that Sturdivant and Glenn are coming back. Searels did enough just to get Georgia a funtioning line to begin with, and he also did a lot to make sure it’s a long time before the Bulldogs have to face the nightmare scenario of 2007 again.

6 Responses to 'I come not to bury Searels'

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  • Kudos Groo! Finally we have a balanced report on Searles. Thus far i’ve not only been befuddled, but embarrassed over the reaction from internet Dawg fans. Shame on me for expecting rational thought & fact-based opinion formation.

    There’s a great deal behind the scenes that Searles had to deal with in regards to Mark Richt that clearly not a lot of Dawg fans have bothered to research. I know 2 personal friends of Searles’ that have privately expressed (for 3 years now) a much different story than Dawg fans are spouting at the moment. Shocking, i know.

    It’s no coincidence that programs sought Searles’ services every year he was at UGA. Searles took the job at UGA for several reasons, among them to be closer to both He & his wife’s extended, aging family and bc his wife could have a part in on-campus Ministries at UGA. It speaks volumes that they were willing to part with both….

    Searles was the most accomplished Coach aside from Mark Richt himself, on staff & is taking his recent National Championship ring with him to Texas. Dawg fans will believe whatever they want about Searles- truth & reality don’t matter to some unfortunately. I, along with many others, will miss Searles & hate he had to go. However, i don’t blame him for leaving; i’d certainly do the same under the circumstances.

    Thank you as always Groo, for being the voice of reason & fairness.

    Go Dawgs!

  • First let me say I was very high on CSS. But let us be honest about the accomplishments of the running game coordinator. Many point to the 09/27/08 game as “the fall” in the program. Remember that was #3 UGA vs #8 Bama. From there the Dawgs decline.
    09/27/08 Bama game: net yds rushing – 50; rushing attempts 16; avg per rush – 3.1
    11/01/08 #5 UGA vs #8 UF: net yds rushing 106; attempts 29; avg per rush – 3.7
    11/15/08 #13 UGA vs unranked Auburn: net yds rushing 124; rushing attempts 36; avg per rush – 3.4

    A clear pattern has been set. The opening game at OSU was when I turned the page completely on Bobo and the O staff.
    09/05/09 #13 UGA vs #9 OSU
    net yds rushing 172; attempts 46; avg per rush – 3.7
    key number opening KO drive 10 plays 80 yds [that is almost half the 172]. Only TD of the game.

    Watch the trend


    UGA vs UT and Kiffin a program on the brink;
    net yds rushing 162; attempts 37; aveg 4.4
    guess what? not one rushing TD

    UGA vs UF [the black helmet game]
    net yds rushing 121; attempts 33; avg 3.7
    Guess what? not one rushing TD here

    Do you see something here?

    Jump to the last game of 2010 in Memphis. An opening possession drive that goes 92+ and stalls at UCF’s 3 with no rushing TD after one attempt on 3rd down. Remember what CMR said and was critiized for…guess what he was right! Second half opening drive stalls into a FG. Yep, no one rushing TD

    Now we can open up the stats further, but explain where the O line goes for periods of time during a game under CSS.

    Go back and look at what most analyst said in 2008 about the top O line coaches. CSS is not there. Can not let your personal feeling come into play on the field when you go 14-12 over some 2 seasons.

    Just perhaps there was a “blessing here” for all.

  • Ally, what kind of “behind the scenes” issues with Richt? Could you provide links to the issues to which you reference?

  • I’m less concerned with Searles departure, now that he’s taken the Texas job, and more concerned with who his replacement will be.

  • The truth is aways in the middle. The tremendous increase in pay had a lot to do with his decision. If the S&C program were truly the reason for the Oline problems then maybe CSS was doing the best he could with a bad situation. It does seem that our team seems to play itself into shape every year. There are many problems with our football program and CSS was not a major one at all. Good Luck to him and his family.

  • A Different Jim

    January 21st, 2011
    6:44 pm


    Here is my perspective. When he came to GA years ago, I thought we stole a good coach. However, I have noticed that Les Miles does not seem to fire coaches but in areas where the team does not have success, the coaches seem to find another job elsewhere. Apparently the LSU fans told us that CSSwas good but his run blocking was not the best.

    CSS is over 40 and has been a coach at a number of programs. He is paid $400K and was some kind of co run coordinator.

    Let’s say the S&C did suck. If he could identify that he could also tell the players who he coached what they had to do to make up for the lack of quality S&C.

    Let’s say the OC is a bozo who calls bad plays. If you coached the line well we should be able to run over teams like Colorado, LL and CF because we would over power them. If not in the first quarter, surely by the third and fourth quarter.

    He did a good job the first year and taught decent pass blocking skills. However, run blocking was nonexistent. Moreno made the running game look much better than it was. His constantly reshuffling the line when he did not have to did not help build team work. He may not have been the biggest issue at GA but he had some of his own issues.

    We will find at Texas how good he is. Texas has had major problems run blocking for the past few years so if CSS can not improve it he will be gone in year or two. Texas can recruit good OL players so that should not be an issue which leaves S&C as an excuse or the OC. The new OC is supposedly good and they have a new S&C coach. I hope he does well as I hope the ne GA OL coach does really well. Time will tell.