ATHENS - As Georgia prepares for Saturday’s game at No. 10 Auburn, someone who knows the Tigers’ personnel well is providing input to the Bulldogs.
Scott Fountain joined the Georgia support staff in late May as a special teams analyst after eight seasons at Auburn, the last four heading up the Tigers’ special teams.
“It’s another set of eyes and another great special team mind that we have in the program,” kicker Rodrigo Blankenship said. “We’ll take anybody that we can get.”
When Gus Malzahn was hired as Auburn’s head coach in 2013, two of the moves he made on his staff were promoting Fountain to special teams coordinator and tight ends coach and hiring Dell McGee as an offensive analyst.
McGee is a former two-year starting defensive back at Auburn who was a successful high school coach in Georgia at Carver High in Columbus.
“Dell did a very good job,” Malzahn said Wednesday. “You could tell he was going to be successful.”
Auburn reached the BCS national championship game that season, getting a deflected pass Hail Mary to beat Georgia 43-38 two weeks before the “Kick Six” 100 yard field goal return for touchdown by Chris Davis to beat No. 1 Alabama 34-28 to win the SEC West.
“That haunts you forever,” said Georgia coach Kirby Smart, Alabama’s defensive coordinator then.
When Fountain was replaced after last season on Malzahn’s staff, he moved to an an off-field position until Smart hired him at Georgia in late May. The Alabama native previously worked on Gene Chizik’s staff for two seasons at Iowa State and joined him at Auburn in a support staff role of player personnel director.
McGee’s one season on staff at Auburn was a springboard to a full-time college coaching job at Georgia Southern where he coached running backs for two seasons and was the interim coach in the Eagles’ first ever bowl win.
Smart brought him aboard right after in 2016 to coach Georgia’s running backs.
He walked into an enviable position on the staff at a position with established players in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel although Chubb at the time was coming off a significant knee injury.
This year, the Bulldogs are eighth in the nation in rushing at 279.3 yards per game.
“He’s a great coach,” Michel said. “Every great coach has the ability to make a player even better. He challenges us every day. He teaches different things to look at. He helps us be a student of the game, learn the game better, learn defenses better. He’s the ultimate coach that doesn’t really get the credit that he needs.”
McGee is getting credit for his recruiting prowess. He’s rated the No. 1 recruiter for the 2018 class by the 247Sports composite, helping to secure commitments from Justin Fields, the nation’s No. 1 quarterback recruit, Zamir White, the No. 1 running back, and James Cook, the No. 3 running back.
As for McGee’s work with the current deep group of backs including freshman D’Andre Swift , Smart said “he’s a tremendous leader, he sets a great example for them, he’s a good teacher.” McGee has a good grasp on both sides of the ball, Smart said, and “knows a lot about picking up blitzes, where they’re coming from, eye control.”
McGee is demanding, Smart said. Michel said he is “a player’s coach” but can be tough as well “when he needs to be. And I respect him for it. I like him for it. I just love him when he coaches us.”
At Auburn, Fountain coached kicker Daniel Carlson, a two-time Groza Award finalist, and had coverage units that led the SEC last season but kickoff returns were near the bottom.
“He did a very solid job in his time here,” Malzhan said.
With the help of Fountain, Georgia has enjoyed “really good special teams,” this season, according to Smart. He said in the preseason it was the No. 1 area of improvement needed and that Fountain had brought “a lot of insight to our coaches.”
Punter Cameron Nizialek said Fountain’s knowledge of the Tigers can help this week..
“He knows their whole system,” Nizialek said. “He’s done a great job helping us implement our punt team and special teams phases. He knows the other returners, their coverage guys, who’s holding us up. I think it ‘s going to be good. It will help us cover well and hopefully we can do that.”