- David Ching, ESPN Staff Writer
ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia coach Mark Richt was discussing freshman kicker Marshall Morgan’s adventurous start to the season after Wednesday’s practice when a reporter asked for Richt’s thoughts on hiring a kicking coach.
Morgan -- who made field goals of 52 and 41 yards last week against Missouri, but also missed an extra point and has twice hit the left upright on successful PAT tries -- does not need help from another coach on staff, Richt said.
He noted that most kickers have grown up using personal kicking coaches -- which Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native Morgan has done, training with Tim Conrad, who also instructed Tennessee’s Michael Palardy, Auburn’s Wes Byrum and Michigan State’s Brett Swenson -- and don’t need a college coach fiddling with the fundamentals that got them to this point.
“I know some guys, as they’re growing up, they’ve got a golf coach,” Richt said. “The guy’s been teaching him how to swing that club his whole life. That’s the guy he kind of leans on.
“I think the same thing’s kind of true in kicking. You’ve got a coach that’s used to coaching you, teaching you and then if you come to Georgia or anywhere else and somebody’s tries to change all your fundamentals, it might blow them up. So sometimes I think there’s a little bit of a blessing that we’re not trying to mess them up, coach them up.”
NCAA regulations allow programs to have only nine assistant coaches and Richt has made it clear in the past that he does not believe the Bulldogs need one of them to focus solely on special teams -- much less to specialize in kicking.
It’s for the best, Richt said, that he allows his kickers to listen to those who helped them become a successful kicker to begin with instead of a coach on staff who might offer conflicting advice. If Morgan needs instruction on his mechanics, Richt said, his personal coach can easily offer advice from long distance that might help.
“I try to leave them alone because they know a lot more about it than I do, for sure,” Richt said. “I might say something here and there just to help his confidence, his ability to know that I’ve got faith in him. That’s probably the best thing that I can do to contribute to a guy. But those guys usually, you can literally have a kicking coach probably watching it on TV and he’ll say, ‘That was good, that was bad,’ or whatever. But it might be good we’re not trying to mess them up.”