October 5, 2011

Coach on the spot

They're Georgia's eyes in the sky, their sole responsibility - to do their utmost best to ensure the plays being called on the sidelines are the correct ones to make.

On offense, that responsibility falls to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and Program Coordinator for Offense Jonathan Batson.

On defense, inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti heads up a three-man defensive staff including Scott Lakatos and Program Coordinator for Defense Mike Kelly to make sure the Bulldogs are in the best position to make plays.

It can be a difficult place for one to keep his wits about him.

The action is fast and the coaches upstairs only have moments to assess the situation on the field and relay it to the coaches and players on the field.

To be successful, it takes a person with a relaxed demeanor and an attention-to-detail to successfully spot exactly what's going on.

That's a role Olivadotti appears to be filling quite well for a defense currently tied for second (258.6 yards per game) in the entire SEC.

"I've been up in the box, I guess for the last six years, something like that. I've been on the field before, so it doesn't really matter to me, but I've always tried to be the calm voice up there, just kind of report the news," said Olivadotti, who serves as the main spotter for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. "Sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes I get excited, but we're up in an environment that we can be calm. Down on the sideline it can get crazy and nuts with a little bit of chaos."

Grantham said the defense would not be having the success it is without them.

"I depend on both those guys (Olivadotti and Lakatos) up there as well as Mike Kelly. All three of those guys provide information because it can be hard to see on the field," Grantham said. "You kind of know what happens based on where things hit or where things go, you kind of know what happens, but the information you get from the box is critical and those guys have done a great job for us."

Olivadotti said it takes three good sets of eyes to try and keep tabs on what opposing offenses are trying to do before calling down to the sideline.

It's not easy.

"That's one of the things that even when young coaches get up there it's surprising how fast it moves. It goes fast, so if you try to see everything you see nothing so you try to focus on specific things, on specific plays, know what you're looking at with each call, and guys to look at, those kinds of things," Olivadotti said. "Nobody's perfect, you mess up, but between myself and Coach Lakatos, we usually get it and piece it together with Coach (Rodney) Garner and Coach Grantham on the sideline."

No stranger to coaching from up-top, Olivadotti spent the last six years serving in that capacity while coaching for the Washington Redskins.

Before that, Olivadotti spent considerable time in the press box, including his first year as an assistant at the University of Maine.

"I was lucky because my first year in coaching, I was up in the box and I had a patient head coach who put up with me seeing basically nothing for the first month of the season," he said. "Then after that I got better. Some weeks I see darn near everything and I'm pretty good, other weeks you miss a thing or two, but you try not to wait to Sunday to see anything and we do a really good job as a staff."

But it's not just the coaches up top who are providing all the on-field information.

Olivadotti credits the players on the field, especially veterans like Christian Robinson and Brandon Boykin for helping provide additional information that helps the coaches do their jobs.

Part of the deal is they have to give us information too, because you can't see all 22 players. They've done a very nice job coming off the field and telling us what happened," Olivadotti said. "Right, wrong or indifferent, good or bad, they tell us what happened and we can piece everything together and we can help guys when they just tell us and know what happened. They've done a really good job with that."

Anthony Dasher is the managing editor for UGASports
and he can be reached via email at [email protected]