Jim Chaney: QB Situation at UGA "Has Been Tough"

December 30, 2018
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OC JIM CHANEY: It's a pleasure to be here with everybody today.   I look forward to this football game. Rare privilege for a man my age to get to coach in such a prestigious football game. I've been looking forward to someday getting the chance to coach in the Sugar Bowl my whole life.  I've been really fortunate. I'm lucky as heck. 

I'm surrounded by a bunch of great people. Get to play a heck of a football team in the University of Texas. They've represented themselves very well, and we feel like we have also. You have a couple of good teams lining up here in a couple of days to play some ball. And I'm excited about doing it. And it's a pleasure to be here with you guys today. 

 

Q. Can you tell me about J.J. [Jeremiah] Holloman's development this season? Has it been about what you expected, and how much better can he get?

OC JIM CHANEY: I think J.J. is a very hard‑working kid with a good brain in him. He's got good soul and a good brain. Anytime you mix those together with hard work, good things are going to come your way. You could see him making a little move in the spring football, and he continues to work, work, work, work.

When the kids hang their hat on hard work and just sitting down and going to work and don't worry about some negative stuff that comes your way with inevitability in college football, you always see them progress faster than others. And you could see that coming their way. To make the plays that he's done this year, I'm really happy for him. And he's done it on the football field. But he does it through hard work. And I think he'll continue to develop as a football player for us. I think he's a down field threat for us. He's a big physical presence. He can handle all the run game the way we like to run the football. And we like that aspect to him. I think the sky's the limit for Jeremiah. And I think he's done everything we want him to do and look for him to continue to develop and be a really good football player next year.

 

Q. Jim, with the current landscape we're seeing with transfers, quarterbacks in particular, are two quarterback offenses going to become the norm, in your opinion? And how challenging is it to incorporate two quarterbacks into one system or build a system that can keep two quarterbacks happy these days?

OC JIM CHANEY: Well, it's challenging. Anytime you've got good quality depth anywhere, regardless of what position it is,you're trying to find a way to get good players on the field. When you have them both stuck at the quarterback spot, you want to make sure you're trying to utilize their skills the best you can to help your team win a football game.

So I don't know the landscape. I don't know, really, the answers to it. I don't know that anybody could sit up here and truthfully tell you exactly what they're going to anticipate taking place in the next three or four years with the advent of the new rules and the transfer stuff going on. I don't know. We're all in a new mode right now as we work our way through this.

And I think kids are kids. They want to play. They're good football players. They want to play. And, as a coach, our job is to take the existing players on our football team and put them in a position to win. And we try to do that the best we can, all the while having conversations with these kids to know what they're thinking.

 

Q. As you take a look at your tight‑end position and how you've worked with those guys all year, where do you think development of that group is at and how things can transpire with the decision that Isaac Nauta has to make? And looking forward to the transfer portal, how do you feel about the future of the guys you currently have?

OC JIM CHANEY: What's going to happen is going to happen in the future. I can't anticipate that. Once again, as I just mentioned, you try to talk to them and do the best job you can.

As far as the development of the position, obviously, Isaac and Charlie [Woerner] play the majority of the reps for us. You look back and you get going so fast during the season some things pass you by. I think one statistic that did kind of pass me by is how many times we were targeting those kids and how many times, when we targeted them, it resulted in a completion at a very high, alarming rate a little bit.

With that said, you would have to be a dummy to sit here and think you probably shouldn't utilize that position a little bit more than we have in our offense. You can see that probably changing a little bit.

Their development, those guys work so hard in that room. And they're good quality kids. Once again, I get back to the same thing. If they have a good brain and a good soul and a hard work ethic, they're all going to continue to develop.

Does it make you worry about the depth of the position? Certainly, it always does. You worry about that at every position. You continue to recruit your butt off and do the best you can to put yourself in a position to have enough players in every position to be able to compete.

 

Q. First of all, we were talking about the competitive situation at quarterbacks. Does that ever manifest itself in the meeting room and practice situation into maybe tension that you shouldn't have, you don't want to have?

And, secondly, you were the coordinator for Drew Brees at Purdue. What qualities did you see in him back then that he still shows today?

OC JIM CHANEY: To the first question, I think every room has competitive spirit to it. You want them to be able to get along and understand and respect their teammates, which I think routinely they do.

But that position, there's only one of them walking out there on the field. So you can always feel that a little bit. That comes with it. Every job I've ever had it's been that way. You want that. You want them also to be able to support their teammate when they get on the field, too.

As for the second question, when Drew showed up at Purdue, he couldn't throw a forward pass. He didn't know what the defenses were. So we had to teach him every bit of that. He was really good when he showed up, so we didn't have to do much with him. He's a good football player.

 

Q. I know we could go a while on Justin Fields and Jake Fromm this year, so I hate to ask questions and sum up everything from the last four or five months. But what was this like this season? What was the thought process on trying to get Justin into games and utilize his skill set but when you had Jake Fromm and what he had accomplished last year and what he was doing this year?

OC JIM CHANEY: Well, it's been tough, there's no question about that. Once again, if you separate the quarterback spot and look over there at the wide receiver spots and you say, hey, that kid standing by me on the sideline, he has a unique skill set. Let's try to utilize him.

If you look at the quarterbacks the same way, we kind of tried to do that with Justin a little bit this year. We don't want to leave our team at a disadvantage because of any particular position. You try to do the best you can by utilizing the skill set of your existing players. That's what we try to do. 

You look back on the season, I don't know. I'll reflect back on it when the season is all the way over. Right now I think we did right and we'll see how it plays out.

 

Q. I was going to ask a similar question but just more to the point. Is Justin [Fields] for this game in particular, you know, is he similarly employed in the game plan? Not to give anything away, but just anecdotally?

OC JIM CHANEY: We haven't changed anything from what we've been doing throughout the season. I'll say that.

 
Q. Is there any hesitancy, knowing that he could be gone, about what you put in front of that guy because he could be taking it with him? 

OC JIM CHANEY: No.

 
Q. I want to get your state of the union kind of with the offense.  It leans more heavily on the passing game and you're pretty much where you were last year in the running game. How do you guys think you did?

OC JIM CHANEY: I feel good about it. I think that, as a coach nowadays, when you're clicking around that 40‑point a game mark, you feel like you're doing okay. You're scoring points.

But, when you sit in this chair, you're never happy. We're looking for that perfect game and perfection at all times. Are we content with what we got done? In some ball games. Other games we didn't play particularly well.

I think we did throw the ball a bit better than we have in years past, and I do believe that will continue to grow and continue to develop.

I've talked to you guys a lot about familiarity of offense. And Jake [Fromm] just ran through his second year in the system. That shows. You asked about Jeremiah [Holloman], third year in the program.

Those first few years we were playing a bunch of young kids, except for the boys that took off for the draft. The thing I'm most proud of, those kids that left for the draft and the quality individuals they are, the young kids stepped back up. And we were able to maintain and continue to achieve at some points that we needed to win a few ball games.

 

Q. Coach, just interested in your overall impressions of the Texas defense and, in specific, the secondary.

OC JIM CHANEY: Let me say this: I've sat up here for a lot of years and spoke to a lot of people. And I think the thing I take most pride about my own offense and the units that I've been in charge of, do they play hard and do they play together and do they play physical?

And, when I approach a game and I look at the defensive side,    I ask the same questions. And I would say that Coach [Todd] Orlando and that defense does. They play super hard. They play very physical. And they play together.

So, to me, check the number one box. They've got that figured out. They're playing their hind ends off. I'm not arguing that some teams do and some don't. But, to be realistic, this team does.

In the back half of their defense, their secondary is very physical. They will come up and tackle you. Is that unique? No. But maybe unique from the first play to the last play. They show up and they play, and they seem to enjoy it. And that's a good thing to have when your back half wants to tackle. Because we're going to try to run the football. And there's no question about that. So that's what comes the difference between the goal line and not a goal line run.

 

Q. Your running backs [D'Andre] Swift and [Elijah] Holyfield, how well do they complement one another? And how tough is that for you to dole out reps to those guys? 

And number two on Elijah, he's got an interesting situation being the son of a legend. How has he handled carving out his own identity?

OC JIM CHANEY: I tell you, he is a wonderful young man. He has had no issues doing that. The team loves him. He's a great teammate. He plays his hind end off. I would argue, day in and day out, he's one of our hardest workers, our strongest player on our football team. And anybody that works that hard, you immediately get the respect from your teammates. And he's a quality young man. I can't say enough good about him.

As for the reps, with Swift and him, Dell McGee handles that, does a wonderful job for us keeping those kids fresh. Do they complement one another? Yeah, I think they do in a lot of ways. I would be interested to get a defensive coordinator's perspective on what he sees. I have my own opinions, but I'd rather not share them today.

 

Q. In just two years Sam's [Pittman] been able to turn around the offensive line and make it a really effective group. Why do you think he's been able to do that? 

OC JIM CHANEY: Well, Sam is a heck of a football coach. He knows what he's doing. He does a heck of a job recruiting talent into that room. It's difficult to do what we've been able to do if you didn't have an immense amount of talent. The kids in that room compete, and Sam puts them in a position to do that.

It's a competitive environment now. There's not just four or five guys that can play. There's more than that. So they have to go to practice and improve and continue to warrant being the guy that plays that spot. And I think through depth, that gives you more competition. And I think Sam does a wonderful job coaching them. So when you've got talent and a good coach, you're usually going to be pretty solid up front.

 

Q. Just your thoughts on the College Football Playoffs.

OC JIM CHANEY: I think they're wonderful. I learned a long time ago as an assistant coach my job is to do my job. I stay out of all of the business outside of it. You guys that know me know that I'm not going to open nothing up or anything. I coach the offense. My job's to do the best I can. Someone else handles the playoffs, and they do the best that they can. I trust that they do that. And we live with the results of what they decide.

 
Q. After the LSU game, was there kind of a "Come to Jesus" moment where you kind of had to reinvent anything or approach anything differently after that game? 

OC JIM CHANEY: I think, when success doesn't come your way, you have to reflect. And you guys know me. I do that a lot. Look at myself. I don't think I called a particularly good football game. I don't think we particularly played a very good football game. And I think we all had to come to grips with that. We had the bye prior to the Florida game going into that.

The reality of it was, in our opinion, we needed to go out and get it done on the practice field better. And you could see that change from about that moment on. Okay. We've got to go out and we've got to work harder. You've just got to flat work harder.      I don't know. There's no magic wand, secret pill. You guys know all that stuff that I talk about. You've got to go out and work. And I think our kids came back out to work and really had a good couple of weeks prior to the Florida ball game in practice. And it paid off. And, when you can reap the benefits and you can actually see, oh, I work hard, good things come my way, that's the key to the deal.

And we were having some good things come our way, but I'm not necessarily sure we were working as hard as we should have. And it kind of opened up ‑‑ like you said, it opened our eyes a little bit. Hopefully, we've all learned from that.

 

Q. I wanted to ask you, you guys brought in a couple of quarterbacks in this early signing period, Dwan Mathis and Stetson Bennett. I wanted to find out what was it you guys like about Dwan Mathis? Is there some excitement? And I know Stetson is a guy who has kind of built up a little bit of confidence with you guys. What led you guys to bring him back? 

OC JIM CHANEY: He's an athletic kid. We've been trying to get the depth that you'd like to have at that position for some time. And it just showed up at that particular time in the recruiting cycle that we could do that.

And Dwan is a good, talented kid. We had him in camp a couple years ago. We've always kept our eyes on him. We watched him and liked him. He's athletic. He can deliver the ball the way we like for him to.

And Stet, we knew everything about him. We figured he could come right back in our program and know our system very well. And he's a good football player, so we're glad to get both of them. 

 
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