Georgia hoping offensive staff shakeup leads to even more success

ATHENS, Ga. – Georgia led the SEC in rushing and ranked third in scoring offense in the league last season. But despite the success, coach Kirby Smart has decided on an offensive coaching shakeup.

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney worked with the quarterbacks last season; this season, he will oversee tight ends. James Coley will go from receivers coach to quarterback coach, and he also has added the co-offensive coordinator title. Finally, Cortez Hankton was hired away from Vanderbilt to be the Bulldogs’ wide receiver coach; that’s the same role he had with the Commodores.

Smart said the decisions were made to prevent the team from getting stale.

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“I think if you continue to do the same thing you’ve always done, you will get the same results, usually guaranteed, and we’re always trying to get better,” Smart said. “I’m not accepting and saying where we were is good enough by any means. I think you can always look at yourself and say, ‘How can I improve?’ ”

Senior Terry Godwin, the team’s top returning receiver, said Coley’s move will not affect how the group prepares.

“It’s still the same,” Godwin said. “We had Coach Hankton fill in those shoes, and we’re doing the same thing.”

Godwin said that Hankton’s NFL playing experience (2003-06 with the Jacksonville Jaguars) will be beneficial for the receivers hoping to play pro ball.

“He knows exactly what we need to do if we want to further ourselves to that next level, and many of us are trying to do that,” Godwin said.

Hankton isn’t the only coach bringing NFL experience to his role.

In taking over as tight ends coach, Chaney reprises a role he held when he was with the St. Louis Rams in 2008. Junior tight end Isaac Nauta said he’s excited to see what Chaney brings to the position group.

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“He’s coached tight ends in the NFL, so he’s got a lot of background knowledge,” Nauta said. “And just already I think I’ve improved a lot just learning from him.”

Last season’s tight ends coach was Shane Beamer, who left for Oklahoma.

Smart is confident the changes will have a constructive impact on what was already a potent offense.

“All we want to do is make our staff better,” Smart said. “And … the ultimate goal is improve each year, and that’s what I think we’ve been able to do, so I’m excited about that.”

(You can follow Nathan Berg on Twitter @NathanxBerg)

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