Posted: 4:36 pm Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

7 things to know about new special-teams coach Ray Rychleski 

By Ken Sugiura

I wrote a story for myajc and the paper about new special-teams coach Ray Rychleski (link here). A few things that didn’t make it into the story…

1. From his time coaching with Ralph Friedgen at Maryland, he said that Bobby Dodd Stadium “is one of the loudest stadiums I’ve ever been in.” (Rychleski was at Maryland from 2001 to 2007, during which time the Terrapins played Thursday night games at Tech in 2001 and 2003.)

2. He will be learning Tech’s spread-option offense in order to assist offensive line coach Mike Sewak. The plan is for Rychleski to be with the offensive line during practice for all of the periods except for those dedicated to special teams.

“We had some option in there (with Friedgen),” Rychleski said. “But this is a unique offense. You talk to anybody, they hate coaching against this offense, so I think it gives us a great chance to win.”

In his last three coaching jobs in college – Wake Forest, Maryland and South Carolina – he coached tight ends and special teams.

“Like Coach (Paul) Johnson said, tight end, tackle – same position,” Rychleski said. “And it’s actually easier because they can’t catch passes.”

3. On kicker Harrison Butker: “Harrison has proven he can kick in the ACC. I think he has a great deal of talent. What we have to do is take it to the next level. As I say, you can’t get sophomore-it is, but he’s not that type of person. He’s a guy that, he just wants to get better and better and better.”

4. On punter Ryan Rodwell: “He didn’t punt last year, so he’s got a little chip on his shoulder, which I like. He was in here (in Rychleski’s office) asking a lot of questions. I think he’s going to be a tough guy. I think he can handle me. So I’m excited.”

He said pooching the ball inside the 10-yard line will be critical.

“We’ve got to be great at that 9-iron or that pitching wedge,” he said.

5. He is not committed to using one returner or two (which, in this case, would likely mean using Jamal Golden on both punt and kickoff return, or sharing duties with DeAndre Smelter). He noted that special-teams experience makes players more attractive as draft prospects.

“So it’s an easy sell to these guys,” he said.

6. He plans to limit starters to two special-teams units each, a policy he has used in the past, to save wear on starters and limit injury risk. In special circumstances, for instance in late-game situations, he may use a starter on more than two units.

7. On splitting time between special teams and offensive line:

“People look at it (like), Well, he’s not focusing on (special teams). Well, yeah, I am. There’s enough time in the day. I’ve done it. I know it. I think it also is going to help with more eyes on the offensive line that they’re going to get better. As I said to Coach Johnson in the interview, ‘You’ve got a chance to kill two birds with one stone.’ I want to do that. Now some guys (might say), ‘Oh, no I’m just doing special teams.’ I want to win. And not that I have an ego about me, but I want to do my part. I’ve got to prove to you guys, I’ve got to prove to Coach Johnson, I’ve got to prove to this staff, I’ve got to prove to the players that I’m worth a (darn). And I’m excited for that opportunity, because that’s what it is. It’s a great opportunity. We’ll work it out. You’ve just got to trust me on that.”

48 comments
drydirtroad
drydirtroad

Tech used to make 4th downs when PJ was in his first year. I believe various factors caused this, such as the all white unis with the old gold jersey chest stripes, and the gold helmets. Also Nesbitt was the qb and was a strong runner and could make the yards. Yeah, the 4th down attempts have really gone downhill as the unis did starting with the LSU game in the Chick fil A Bowl. Also, Tech needs to realize that a tight end is very much allowed to catch the ball. Big, strong tight ends are seen in other CFB games on Saturdays on HD tv in the Fall always catching and running, and are hard to tackle b/c they're strong. Why CPJ doesn't use one at least occasionally is a flaw Tech has. Tech used one when I went there in the early 70's with Mike Oven playing the position. I recall him catching one thrown by qb Eddie McAshan. Also, pinning a team near their goal line doesn't matter if the team uses a shotgun. They'll get it back out and usually do easily. Tech struggles with getting it back out from near their goal line if pinned near it b/c of the TO offense. They should try a shotgun to get it back out.

Getting_Older
Getting_Older

Welcome Coach Rychleski.  


I agree with everyone about liking his attitude.  Interesting, that he came after being passed over the first time. (That is what I read, correct?  That he interviewed when CPJ hired Walkosky?)  


Did we ever hear why Walkosky left?


At any rate, I like this approach.  Still one coach responsible for all special teams, instead of multiple coaches for different parts, even if he helps with the OLine.  And help on the O-Line can be a good thing also.

jquick5342
jquick5342

Welcome to the Flats, coach. I think you are gonna like it here and we need the help.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Finally a coach that does not rely on 'coach speak!' Refreshing.

bigmacondawg
bigmacondawg

Wow!  You guys seem to have found your missing link!  No more excuses.

LongBeachJacket
LongBeachJacket

Great quotes.  Coach Rychleski seems to have the right sense of things. Great that in addition to several colleges, he brings some NFL/CFL experience.  Looks like a really strong addition to the staff. GO JACKETS!

Oakland
Oakland

I like this guy's attitude. Hopefully some of it will rub off on the offensive line. The bar has to be raised there.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

At least the guy understands field position and the value of huge yardage swings on special teams.

I agree with his emphasis on the pooch kick inside the 10 yard line. Subjectively, that is something we have struggled to do consistently.

If you can pin an offense down inside their own 10, 2 or 3 times per game, that's 50-75 yards per game in your favor and easily 3-10 pts per game if your defense is solid.

PJs tendency to go for it on fourth down (and sometimes fail) have left too many opposing offenses short fields to work with.

Punters with good pitching wedges are more effective than those whose only tool is a booming driver.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

I was disappointed to see Walkosky go, but we may have lucked out and upgraded our coaching staff.  I like his attitude and enthusiasm.  Though correlation doesn't imply cause, we had only one OL coach and we supposedly had our best offensive line last year. The results were our yds/game dropped and yds/carry dropped significantly. Coaching, injuries, poor QB-reads...?  Hard to say, but apparently this offense requires a lot of instruction/timing/execution on how the line blocks.  I hope CRR gets up to speed quickly---it seems that he will and let's put up about 350 yds/game on the ground.  I think our special teams will do well and as Fuzzy stated, may win us a game or two.  Hope is always high in June and July!

ConfederateFlagBurner
ConfederateFlagBurner

What the hell Sewalk do?? Why do we NEED to have 2 O Line coaches??

Anyway I was hoping for the addition of the TE to the offense, but I guess that's not happening. 

Jim70
Jim70

Like his attitude.  but, loudest stadium, not so sure about that, except for who md may have played. 

GTAlum
GTAlum

Got to like his enthusiasm, if nothing else.

fuzzybee78
fuzzybee78

Especially at Tech, ST need to be special in a good way. Helping your offense with great field position or a ST TD can be the difference in a close game. Or getting your D more field to stop an opponents drive doesn't get noticed like it should. Really looking forward to some more Golden magic on punts and KO returns…he has that IT factor. We have maybe 6 games that in my mind are toss ups in 2014 and ST can be the difference. 

TechTroll13
TechTroll13

@ dried up road - I stopped reading your post when you blame our 4th down efficiency on the uniforms.  That tells me there is nothing of value in your post.

GTBob
GTBob

@drydirtroad We converted a lower percentage of 4th downs in CPJ's first year than we did last year and we attempted 10 more. We seemed to do ok. Going for it and failing isn't the end of the world. That is the mental road block people will have to get passed before coaches start going for it based on real percentages.

Yellerbug
Yellerbug

@drydirtroad  You often comment on our uniforms as having a major impact on our play.  Perhaps a GT grad student in psychology could do a thesis on this---how uniform designs and colors affect the psyche, morale and motivation of players.

I think Nesbitt was a warrior and a "Go to" guy that could get that 4th and 1 or 2.  It was also more novel when CPJ appeared on the scene that he went for it on 4th down certainly far more than Chan Gailey did.  I think the nature of our offense will cause us to have more 4th situations. The 3 yards and a cloud of dust mentality leaves you with a 4th and 1 every time. 

We're supposedly getting back to the basics this year---so no diamond, little shotgun (pistol), and other nuances in the offensive playbook.  Compared to Auburn and Oregon offenses, our offense has a better threat on the dive play being under center---it requires defenses to react sooner.  The QB run option is about the same for either offense and whereas we pitch the ball, the other offenses often throw the ball which I think is an advantage to them.  Throwing the ball has more points of attack---as receivers are all over the field that defenders must defend, and if incomplete there is no loss of yardage.  If we drop the pitch it's a fumble not an incomplete pass, our point of attack is limited to a pitch area around the QB and if anyone misses a block, it has minimal potential for success.  So there's the trade-offs.  I would like to see us incorporate some quick short play action pass plays where we fake the dive, take a 2-step drop and hit a quick slant or a 5 yd A-back curl. I think running this a few times each game would cause safeties to hesitate before crashing to the LOS to stop the run. I don't think we can be consistently successful as a one-trick pony, but maybe if we're really good at that one trick, it will be enough.  We will see.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Nesbitt was good!  You are correct, Sir.

"Tech struggles with getting it back out from near their goal line if pinned near it b/c of the TO offense."

I think he same is true driving inside the opponents 10.  We seem to struggle in any offensive situation where we with relative certainty we will run between the tackles and/or have limited space or margin of error to use smoke and mirrors.

ToddE
ToddE

@Birmingham__Jacket I agree with the statement about CPJ & 4th down, but with the defenses we've had can you really blame him?

Burdell
Burdell

Dabo Swinney and VT's Logan Thomas made similar remarks that BDS is the loudest opposing stadium they play in. 

BleedingGold
BleedingGold

@Jim70  It has the potential to be one the loudest.  Fans are practically on the field while in their seats. 

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@Birmingham__Jacket I believe we scored a touchdown on every single drive (not a FG, not a turnover) last year in which we took a first down snap from inside the opponent's 10 yard line until we settled for a FG against UGA and the final drive in overtime.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

His going for it on 4th down from the opponent's 45-35 yard line reflects not only a lack on confidence in our defense (which isn't surprising), but a lack of confidence in our kicking game and the ability to consistently pin opponents deep inside their own territory.

It sounds like Rychleski understands this, and wants to put another option (pardon the pun) on the table.l

DON1938
DON1938

@BleedingGold @Jim70 He must have attended a game while UGA or Clemson were visiting BDS.  It's very loud then.  Lot of noise from the visiting fans.  Otherwise, not  so much.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

I don't know about that.  Our red zone offense has ranked 29, 50, 17, 99, 39, 74 and 78 past several years.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket You should read the book scorecasting. Specifically the section "Go for it". If CPJ were to play the mathematical percentages then he would be going for it much more than he does now. 

JacketTime
JacketTime

He was there in '06 when Michael Johnson had those 2 sacks to save the game and beat MD. I was there and it was LOUD. That was the yr we went to the ACCG, played no. 2 ND and had yours truly Calvin Johnson. It was a loud year but I will admit it has fallen off and yes the opposing fans do seem to be louder recently. If we can get back to upsetting big teams and a 9-10 win season, the volume will be turnt up again. All the way turnt up ;)

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket Where are you getting those numbers from? Last year our red zone offense ranked 13th in the country. We were 2nd in the country in red zone TD% which was 81.63%.

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

I've heard the theory. Hal Mumme carried a copy of that book with him all the time, I'm told.

I'm actually not criticizing Johnson about his propensity to go for it on 4th down.  I'm just saying that our aberration to go for it on 4th down relative to the gold standard (i.e. the average NFL team) is attempting to compensate for flaws that by year 7 shouldn't be there.

juvenal
juvenal

when you "go for it", you either succeed 100% or fail 100%-seems like latter have recently much exceeded former.....

Birmingham__Jacket
Birmingham__Jacket

Hilarious...Not really.  Actually sad.

Are you really showing a replay from a game against our in-state rival that we LOST as evidence of how good our offense is?  Or to make any point whatsoever, other that "needs improvement"?

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket We were ranked 72nd in 4th down attempts last year. We aren't going for it as much as you think and there are NFL teams that go for it on 4th down more than us on average.

GTBob
GTBob

@juvenal We converted about 44% last year. It was certainly down from most years. I think that would mostly be attributed to Vad Lee and the offensive line. Even still, converting 44% of the time will make going for it on 4th down the proper play in most situations.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket There are many other parts of a football game other than red zone offense. Some of which we aren't all that great at. We are actually pretty solid in the red zone.

GTBob
GTBob

@Birmingham__Jacket I see where the rankings disparity is. The site you quoted only counts FBS games. Even if you only include FBS games, GT is still 6th in the country in red zone TD percentage.

Radar123
Radar123

@GTBob @Birmingham__Jacket

Go for it on 4th and 5 at the Uga 5 and we beat the Dawgs. 

Succeed and we go up 24-0.

Fail and there is still a long field behind us and we keep the Dawg 2nd string QB bottled up.

The three points are near worthless at the 5.

The Dawgs' weakness next year will be in pass defense with 2 or 3 losses there in the D backfield.

Do will have the passing attack to take advantage?

No.

To win last year we needed to go for broke when they were on their heels.

We let them back in and lost as usual.

Johnson has had two great chances to defeat Uga, 2009 and 2013.

What will the score be next year?

U making the trip?

Doubtful.

DON1938
DON1938

@GTBob @Birmingham__Jacket GTBob, I'm getting where I really enjoy your post.  By far, you are the most optimistic Jacket fan I have ever had the pleasure to read of. Only problem I have is sometimes I wonder:  Are we talking about the same team?

Keep up the good work.

GTBob
GTBob

@DON1938 We probably won't win the national title this year or beat UGA but we aren't nearly as bad as people pretend we are and we won't have as horrible of a season as some are hoping we will. There is reason to be optimistic.

DON1938
DON1938

@GTBob @DON1938 Absolutely, we are looking at (with luck) another 7 - 5 season or possibly 6 - 6.  But dammit some of these naysayers don't think we will win more than 5.  The first 3 games should help the wins but some think we may not win all  3.  As for me, surely with this schedule we will win 9 and go to the Music City bowl. 

GTBob
GTBob

@juvenal The calls didn't really cost us the game at all. The defense still had an opportunity to stop the other team. The idea behind the statistics of going for it more often are somewhat based on the likely hood of the other team scoring after a punt and after a failed conversion attempt. Basically, the likely hood of a team scoring after a punt isn't much lower than after a failed attempt with a shorter field. The opportunity of keeping the ball usually out weighs the relatively minor penalty incurred by not punting.