They Said It: Jim Chaney

ATHENS - UGA OC Jim Chaney met with the media on Saturday...

Opening statement … 

“The kids are working hard out there, guys. You'd be real proud of them. They are working through a lot of heat. It's been fun to watch them as we move the depth charts around, watch them compete to see who is going to get on the field and represent Georgia this fall on the football field. So far the competitiveness has shined. We have some kids a little bit better shape than others. Some are working themselves into shape. They are fighting through a lot of dings out there. We've seen a lot of good mental toughness as they demonstrate that play-to-play. It's been a lot of fun thus far. We'll see how it goes. We're a week in with our installations. The volume of offense we're asking our kids to know right now is tremendous. We're pumping a bunch of plays at them right now. Trying to test their aptitude to see how many can learn and how much they can learn. As you guys well know, we are only as strong as the weakest link in that chain. So we figure out our individuals and what they are able to do, and then we go from there. So it's been fun so far, learned a lot about this football team, all the young kids coming in and seeing how they are performing. So far, so good. It's been exciting and from that point on, I'll open it up for anything you guys have.”

On comparing this year’s quarterback situation with any he has experienced in the past …

“Not really. This is a little unique that I think we have three kids that can go out and perform on the field and, routinely for me, I have not had three guys that can go out and play. Now, everybody has their opinion on the quarterbacks. It's a polarizing position. You get a victory, you get told how great you are. You get the losses, you get told how bad you are. That kind of comes with it. This is a unique situation with the age group of these three kids we're competing with right now to find out who is going to play and who is not. So it's been a lot of fun. We have been rotating them around and they go from one group to another, and they are competing hard. But 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. But it is unique to me to have three of them right now battling for this spot.”

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. You quantify as much as you can; this quarterback is on target this much, he's making this many good decisions. And I can put all the numbers on everything they do. But at the end of the day, get down to Coach Smart, making that decision who he's wanting to go with, with some of my influence on that one way or the other, and it's not always about the math. Sometimes it's about a gut feeling what you're going to do. So at the end of the day, let them compete, it will sort out when it sorts out. There's no timetable on this. And we'll figure out where it goes from there.”

On junior quarterback Brice Ramsey and his ability to learn from three different offensive coordinators …

“He's doing a fine job. I have no empathy. I've had three different schools in three years. What's the big deal. Grow up, kiddo (laughter). 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 junior wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie …

“Well, anytime you've got someone special with the ball, you're always looking for ways to get him the ball. He's good with that. He's demonstrated that year-in, year-out; that he has that ability to do that. So we'll be finding ways to get Isaiah the ball. Things I've noticed about Isaiah, he's a physical football player. Everybody associates physicality with big guys. This is a little guy that pound-for-pound is as strong as anybody on our team and it doesn't bother him one bit to mix it up. So that's a good thing. Attempting to become a better football player and a leader on our football team. It's interesting to watch his growth and maturity from the time we walked in the door to now. We've got him kind of quieted down a bit. He likes to talk a lot and we prefer just to go play. So he's learning who we are and we're learning who he is, and I think he's doing a good job in that maturity and that growth, and I'd expect him to be on the field playing football for us. Do they need to be specific packages? There might be. But also, he can go out and play full-time for us if we need him to do so.”

On freshman quarterback Jacob Eason and what went into recruiting him …

“I’m flying down on plane, throw the Pitt shirt off, put the Georgia shirt on and meet with him an hour later. That's the world we live in. Everybody else, that's like craziness. But for us, it isn't. You sell who you are. We've all, after 30-some years, have developed resumes, and some of my resume is good, some of it is not so good, just like you guys. We're not different. I think people look at us in a unique mode because our lives are so public, but we're just employees and we're just workers. We have the same type of things, the good and the bads, everybody else does. So we get in here and we sit down and we talk a lot, and got to know Jacob and his family, and I enjoyed him a lot. 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 the 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. What I'm looking for is all those pieces. If I have to play with three tight ends to play in a game to win, we can. If we've got to play with four wide receivers in a game to win a game, we can. And that's what you do in recruiting. You try to develop enough depth in your program that you have enough players that when they go on the field, you feel comfortable when you're setting a game plan that you're not hindered by your personnel, in saying, well, I'm not sure I can do that yet. And right now, in our infant stages here, I'm trying to figure out how many of those wide-outs we can win with, how many of those tight ends we can win with, as we approach this season and it's coming up on us pretty quick. But I feel real comfortable with the depth and aptitude on that room.”

On the playmakers he has on offense …

“A playmaker, that's interesting. I think people associate playmakers with people who are creative when they have the ball in their hand. I think (Isaiah) Wynn is a tremendous playmaker in the front. He is a lightweight kid with great feet and great football intellect and seldom gets beat. He makes plays when I don't expect him to and gets leverage on a D-Lineman he shouldn't. So he's a great playmaker; we associate that with the ball. Do we have players that can do that? Yeah, we have guys that can run fast vertically that might not be as shaky, so their play-making ability might be on vertical balls. We have these big tight ends that might be those third medium guys that are forced to make plays. The first round picks we associate that with, I don't know. Let's go play and find that out. But as far as having enough players to move the ball down the field, I feel comfortable in saying, I believe we'll be okay that way. We've got enough players. I think coaches, we always want better players. Never been a coordinator up here that doesn't want 10 great wide-outs, four tight ends, seven running backs, four quarterbacks, 20 linemen. We all want more players. We want better, great quality players to win in the SEC with, and we'll continue to do that through recruiting. But I feel comfortable in saying we should be able to find a way to utilize our talent to move the ball down the field.”

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. Everything is the totality of what you're dealing with. In the quarterback position, it doesn't just affect our offense. It affects our football team. And Coach (Kirby Smart) is very much aware of that and sensitive to those issues. We'll keep working our way through that, but yeah, I think that you have to think about everything when you're picking quarterbacks. But I also don't think you should be so -- it's just another one of 11 positions. I tell the kids all the time, at quarterback, your job is one job: You've got to get the ball and deliver it to the playmakers, either hand it to them or throw it to them. That's it. Don't overthink this thing. Don't think you have got to do something outside of the system or you've got to do all that craziness. Just do your job and do it the best you can daily.”

On influence he had in bringing offensive line coach Sam Pittman to Georgia … 

“Not much. I tried to convince him to stay. I didn't want him around here. He's a pain in the butt (Laughter). No, you guys know Sam and I's history. We're dear -- he's one of my best friends and he's a heck of a line coach and an outstanding line recruiter. I always feel comfortable when Sam is with us. We're going to have good players and he's going to coach them better than anybody else. If I had any influence on it, I'm tickled that Kirby offered him a job and we got him here. He's a good football coach and a good man.”

On why he and Coach Pittman have such a great relationship … 

“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.”

On how he wants to use Nick Chubb going forward … 

“I think Nick has demonstrated in the past what a talented football player he is. I don't see us changing a lot of what's been done with him before. Nothing's broke there. So let's don't fix it. He can go downhill as a heavy running back and that's what we're doing. He's out there on the field working every day to get himself in shape, and I feel comfortable we're on track of where they are at with the medical stuff. I'm sure Coach will talk more about that when he gets here, but from my perspective, and I stay out of all the medical questions. But at the end of the day he's practicing hard like everybody else is. I see Nick Chubb being the player he's been before and will continue to do so. He's a downhill-running son of a gun, so let's hand him the ball and see what he can do.”

On how he evaluates the highs and lows of his offense … 

“I think that when you've been doing it as long as I have, you've got to watch yourself and don't get too stagnant. You belief in some certain beliefs in a pro-style offense, that right now things that are in vogue in college football are a little foreign to some of the things you do. So I have to force myself to stay educated constantly on the newest things. Whether or not they fit in our system or not and how they fit in our system is interesting. Everybody likes to do a lot of offense, but I look at it, and you guys are going to find this hard to believe, but I'll draw the analogy of a pie, because I like pie. You just got so many pieces of pie, what do you want to get good at. So we're going to spend so much time in the run game, play-action, quick gain screens, where they all fit in; all the new RPOs, they take a lot of time, how much time do I have to do that. And you try to blend that with Coach Smart's philosophy of what he's wanting us to get done to hopefully manufacture as good of offense as we can. So I've got to find time to educate myself on the new stuff going on out there in the spread offense world a little bit, because I do think there's a lot of good going on. There's a tremendous amount of creative people out there running offenses. But I do believe at the end of the day to have a successful offense, you have got to be very physical in this conference. You've got to win situational offense. You've got to win short yardage. You've got to win goal line. When there's three minutes left in the game, you have got to run the ball out so the defense don't have to go play. And to do that, in my history at Purdue, I was unable to be able to do that to win the close games. That's when I went in the NFL and came back with a little different philosophical look on the game.”

On how Sony Michel’s injury affects his preparation … 

“I just got off the river fly fishing when I got the news and I changed to a wet fly that afternoon when I went out to try to catch some better trout. What am I going to do about it? I can't do nothing about injuries that take place with kids. 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. They happen. You learn at my age and our age, I would say, you know the things you can control and the other things you don't. Now, is it disappointing, certainly because I think Sony is a super football player. 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.”

On comparing this year’s injuries to last season at Pitt … 

“I did have, for about half a quarter, and then what happens, next guy in. You know, you just try to get everybody ready with enough quality depth that you feel comfortable with, you can go win those football games, and that's all we can do as coaches. We can't do anything else, and injuries are part of the game. You move on. Do I have a magic wand or a special formula? No, I hate it when these young men get hurt. It hurts me deeply when those things happen. But it is life and you move right on and do the best you can.”


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