ATHENS, Ga. – With Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney making the switch from coaching quarterbacks to coaching tight ends this year, Bulldogs tight ends could be seeing an uptick in usage.
At least that’s the hope among members of the position group.
“I think that’s definitely the anticipation in the room … we’ll get the ball a little more next year,” junior tight end Charlie Woerner said.
Tight ends combined for only 22 catches last season, less than half of leading receiver Javon Wims’ 45 receptions. None of the tight ends broke double-digits in catches.
But with Wims graduating and Georgia’s top two producers at tight end, Woerner and fellow junior Isaac Nauta, returning, the arrow appears to be pointing in the right direction for Bulldogs tight ends this season. In 2016, Nauta was third on the team with 29 receptions.
James Coley, who had been receivers coach, is the new quarterback coach, and he also has added the co-offensive coordinator title. Cortez Hankton was hired away from Vanderbilt to be the Bulldogs’ wide receiver coach; that’s the same role he had with the Commodores. Shane Beamer, who left for Oklahoma, had been Georgia’s tight end coach.
Woerner said Chaney’s new focus on the tight ends is giving the group a better general understanding of the offense, helping the tight ends shift their mindset to be “more like the quarterback’s.” Combined with Chaney’s concentration on fundamentals, that’s getting the tight ends as prepared as ever for in-game usage, Woerner said.
He added that working close with Chaney gives him and his fellow tight ends more opportunity for a little bribery for good measure.
“Maybe we can sweet talk him or bring some cookies in for him and some sweet tea and he’ll get us the ball a little more,” Woerner said.
In taking over as tight ends coach, Chaney reprises a role he hasn’t filled for a decade; he was tight ends coach of the NFL’s St. Louis Rams in 2008. He had served as the offensive coordinator/quarterback coach for Tennessee, Arkansas and Pitt from 2009-15 before being hired by Kirby Smart when he became Georgia’s coach.
Woerner said Chaney’s experience with the Rams has made his transition a smooth one.
“It’s like riding a bike,” Woerner said. “He’s picking it back up pretty easy.”
(You can follow Nathan Berg on Twitter @NathanxBerg)
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