The Chaney Effect: Concern or no?
There’s naturally a lot of attention being paid to the fact that former offensive coordinator Jim Chaney will be on the opposing sideline when No. 3 Georgia visits Tennessee Saturday night (7 p.m., ESPN).
Bulldog head coach Kirby Smart doesn’t understand why.
Sure, Smart understands the reasons reporters were asking so many questions about Chaney. After all, Chaney was in charge of the Bulldogs’ offense for the previous three seasons. However, when it comes to Chaney’s presence in Knoxville being a detriment to Georgia Saturday night, Smart believes that’s more media hype than anything.
“I think there’s a lot more to it in you guys' stories than it is in real life,” Smart said. “It’s a matter of which guys block properly, which guy covers properly. There’s no, like, secrets. We know what they do, they know what we do, but that’s the case every week.”
Quarterback Jake Fromm agreed.
“We kind of know a little bit about what they do and they know a little bit about what we do,” Fromm said. “We’ve just got to do what we do a little better than what they do.”
During Chaney’s three years at Georgia, the Bulldogs averaged 24.5 points in 2016, then jumped to 35.40 in 2017 and 37.85 in 2018.
So far in 2019, the Bulldogs are averaging 42.8 points per contest.
“It should be a good battle,” center Trey Hill said. “All our coaches know each other.”
Hill is correct, although Chaney is not the only correlation between the two staffs.
Current Bulldog secondary coach Charlton Warren coached at Tennessee in 2017, with Vol assistants Tracy Rocker, Will Friend, Kevin Sherrer, and of course head coach Jeremy Pruitt, at one point or another calling Athens home.
“There’s a lot of familiarity there, but the bottom line is the players have to go out there and execute. They’ve got to play with a passion, energy, and enthusiasm to beat the guy across from them and not make it about what our defensive coordinator calls, what their offensive coordinator calls,” Smart said. “I just don’t think that matters a whole lot. It’s blocking, tackling, turnovers, explosive plays, it’s executing and doing it with a lot of passion.”
Fromm said the familiarity will probably help Georgia’s defense as much as anything.
“It should be good for our defense, because they know kind of what he did with this system, but he’ll know a lot about us,” Fromm said. “It’s going to be fun to see what side does it better.”
Ironically, Fromm did not throw a touchdown in last year’s 38-12 win over the Vols in Athens, despite completing 17 of 24 passes for 190 yards.
Instead, the Bulldogs pushed past Tennessee with 251 yards rushing yards and four touchdowns, including two by former quarterback Justin Fields.
“He (Chaney) did a great job. He really took me in, teaching me the game of football, seeing it from a different perspective, and really introduced me to his pro-style offense,” Fromm said. “I really didn’t do that in high school, it was spread it out and throw it around, so I kind of got introduced to big boy football on offense, different terminologies, different passing concepts. I learned a lot of football under him, and I thank him for that.”