Georgia Tech keeping new special-teams look under wraps

Georgia Tech A-backs coach Lamar Owens wouldn’t say much about schematic changes for the Yellow Jackets’ special teams, but gave indication that it will be different than previous seasons. After the departure of special-teams coordinator Ray Rychleski following last season, Owens was appointed to oversee the special-teams units with support from the rest of the coaching staff.

“I don’t want to say too much because I think we want to kind of keep it close to the vest of who we talked to and what we talked about until we play for a couple of weeks,” Owens said Wednesday following the team’s afternoon practice in preparation for the season opener against Boston College Sept. 3. “I don’t want to give anybody a head start on breaking us down.”

Owens did say that coaches did very extensive research. As has been coach Paul Johnson’s format for all of his head-coaching career save the past four years, coaching duties for special teams will be divided up amongst the staff. For instance, Owens will coach the punt team. Wide receivers coach Buzz Preston has the kickoff-return unit. Offensive-line coaches Mike Sewak and Ron West will coach the field-goal and extra-point teams.

“All the unit coaches, I think guys did a great job of really taking it seriously from the spring and the summer and we all know that the special-teams units can impact a game for us positively,” Owens said.

Johnson made the change after experimenting with a coach solely for special teams for the past four seasons, first David Walkosky and then Rychleski. After results didn’t improve, Johnson reverted.

Owens has returnees in kicker Harrison Butker and punter Ryan Rodwell. He’ll have to find a new return specialist for both punts and kickoffs, as Jamal Golden has graduated. Special-teams ace Chris Milton (seven career kick blocks) has also graduated.

“Coach Johnson challenged the entire team to get on some special teams, and those guys have responded,” Owens said. “I think we have some guys that we probably haven’t seen on special teams in a couple years that are interested in doing it, and we’ll still see.”

Owens said he didn’t take a vacation this summer because he was so consumed with preparing for his new job.

“I’m so fortunate, blessed, that Coach Johnson thought enough to let me be the special-teams coordinator this year,” Owens said. “I don’t want to let him down. I’m not going to let him down.”