December 29, 2009

Doolittle, Hartley relished opportunity

Mitch Doolittle didn't mind the ice bath courtesy of Rennie Curran, Darryl Gamble and Akeem Dent following Georgia's 44-20 win over Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl.

Sure, it was cold. Temperatures in Shreveport were already freezing when Doolittle and defensive line coach Rodney Garner received their complimentary dunking.

But this was a shower he was all too happy to receive.

"I'm glad, it was a good problem to have," Doolittle said. "To be cold, and get the ice bath; it was exciting."

No question.

Monday's game was an unprecedented opportunity for Doolittle, who along with fellow GA Todd Hartley collaborated with Garner to call the defensive plays following the recent dismissal of former defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, John Jancek and Jon Fabris.

Hartley missed his "bath" but only because he was up in the press box helping to call plays and didn't make it down to the field until right before the end of the game.

"(Tuesday) I'll be back to being a GA," Hartley laughed. "But this was a great opportunity. I told the guys in my pregame speech that I'd only been this happy three times in my life - my wedding day, when I graduated from the University of Georgia, and when I woke up knowing that kickoff for this game was 4 p.m. Central."

Head coach Mark Richt was proud of his two young coaches.

"I'm very proud of the fantastic job our defensive coaches did. Coach Garner leading the way with our young graduate assistant coaches Mitch Doolittle and Todd Hartley," Richt said. "Really, everybody on that side of the ball kind of moved up to the next level of coaching responsibility."

Hartley said the experience will be one he never forgets, but was quick to give the proper credit where it was due - to the players.

"You've got to give credit to those players," he said. "Coaches can have an impact, but when it comes down to it, it's all about the players making the plays and the fact they bought into to what we were trying to do. I know we wondered going in if they would respect us; they did, so give all the credit to them. They worked their butts off."

Doolittle laughed when asked if Monday's performance might put him in line for a more full-time position on the staff.

"That's a good joke, but I don't think that will happen," he said. "But this was a lot of fun. I'm very proud that players took ownership of the plan and they went out there and played good ole Georgia defense. It was fun to watch."

Even Curran was impressed with what he saw.

Like many of the players, Curran was upset to see Martinez, Fabris and Jancek let go, but had nothing but praise for the two young coaches.

"It was awesome. Both guys brought a lot of energy," Curran said. "They were fun, joking around; we were able to relate to them and just played all out. They did a great job of keeping the game plan simple for us and they let us know from the beginning that they wanted us to have fun, win this game and go out on a good note."

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