When it comes to preparing the Bulloch Academy offensive line for blocking in its flexbone option offense, a former collegiate standout in the scheme is… well… the best option.
For four seasons, Brandavious Mann was whatever the Georgia Southern Eagles needed him to be on the offensive line. Mann was brought in as a pass-blocking recruit in former coach Chris Hatcher’s pass-heavy scheme. When current coach Jeff Monken took over, Mann adjusted to the Eagles’ return to the flexbone option.
Mann was a key component on the offensive line in Georgia Southern’s trips to the FCS national semifinals in 2010 and 2011. Now, he has made the journey to the sidelines as the O-line coach for the Gators.
"It’s a world of difference," said Mann of the transition from player to coach. "You see things from a totally new perspective. What you see when you’re on the field and in the middle of a play is so much different than what you see and try to coach from the sidelines."
With only a small amount of previous coaching experience — he helped as an instructor in Hatcher’s camps and assisted in the flexbone camp that the Gators went through this summer — Mann has had to learn on the fly.
Mann’s intricate knowledge of the blocking schemes that are unique to the triple option give him great value to Bulloch Academy, but it has been some of the more basic things that have had him scrambling to get up to speed in the coaching game.
"One of our first practices, I was just standing here, thinking about what we were going to go over," said Mann. "Somebody starts yelling, ‘Hey, coach’. I heard it, but I was kind of zoned out. It took me a little while to get used to going through all of the preparation and being ready to field all of the questions, but I think that it’s coming along."
One concept that has made the transition along with Mann from player to coach is the family mentality of the offensive line.
Football is a team sport where everyone must be on the same page in order to succeed. That mantra is especially evident for the offensive lineman on a team that relies heavily on being able to run the ball. If Mann’s troops aren’t able to get a push off of the line and work to create running lanes where they ought to be, the Gators are stuck spinning their wheels in the mud.
"There’s no other group that has as many players on the field at once as the offensive line," said Mann. "We need to always be on top of our game and work as a unit. I think that a lot of trust has been built up between myself and our linemen. We all know the job that we have to get done on every single play."
So far, the Gators are making Mann look like a veteran coach. Through two games, the Bulloch line has paved the way for Gator running backs to rack up 605 total yards on the ground — good for an average of 6.9 yards per attempt.
The Gators will try to keep up the good work Friday as they play host to Robert Toombs at 7:30 p.m.
Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.