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No days off and late nights: Georgia secondary benefiting from Charlton Warren’s detail

UGA’s outside linebackers group ready to ‘wreak havoc this season,’ Azeez Ojulari says

University of Georgia Bulldogs outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari told media Aug. 12, 2019, he's built his skills by coming to practice each day focused. Ojulari said the outside group is ready to "wreak havoc" on opponents this season.
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University of Georgia Bulldogs outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari told media Aug. 12, 2019, he's built his skills by coming to practice each day focused. Ojulari said the outside group is ready to "wreak havoc" on opponents this season.

Charlton Warren completed six years of military service after graduating from Air Force in 1999. He found himself deployed twice, including a four-year stint at nearby Robins Air Force Base, as a C-130 avionics and air-to-ground manager. Warren carries a rich military background into each coaching stop, and it’s seen in his mannerisms as an assistant.

Fourteen years have passed since his last date of service. Warren has coached at four different programs since 2005, now hired at Georgia as of January. But his internal clock must struggle to adjust from the military days.

“He says every day ‘if you want to meet until 3 a.m., I am totally here for it,’” cornerback Eric Stokes said. “He will break (your tape) down day-by-day.”

Whether that’s the reasoning for Warren’s offer for a late night or not, the one-on-one time is favorable to the Georgia secondary that craves development. Warren landed in Athens after the departure of Mel Tucker, who took a head coaching position at Colorado. After signing with the Bulldogs, Warren will have coached with three SEC programs in three seasons.

He might be staying put at Georgia for more than one year, however. According to an open records request made by the Athens Banner-Herald, Warren received a $600,000 annual salary with a contract that runs through 2022. Such a deal was necessary to lure the trending coach from Florida after Warren was set for a raise around $400,000 with the Gators.

Warren’s demeanor differs slightly from Tucker’s. Tucker showed care for his players, but carried a stoic tone to match his boisterous frame. Warren carries reduced ferocity, as evidenced by his recent work on the Woodruff Practice Fields, but he’s still focused on instruction and detail.

“He’s a great personality to have in the room. He’s a really structured guy,” junior safety Richard LeCounte said. “He’s focused on those details. It’s great to have coach Warren on your side to talk to him every time.”

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart’s previous hires throughout his four seasons have been those who he had crossed paths with. A good number of his current assistants worked with Smart at Alabama. Warren, however, is unique in that Smart didn’t know his prospective coach at all. Their only interaction took place in the 2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game with Georgia and North Carolina.

For someone as entrenched in details as Smart, however, his research resulted in the hire. He spoke to people within his network, a list that had to be of significant length due to Warren’s time at Tennessee and Florida. Smart also knew that some Tennessee coaches tried to keep him in Knoxville at the time of Butch Jones’ firing.

Smart piloted the hunt for a new defensive backs coach, found Warren and did some staff rearrangement to give the co-coordinator titles to Dan Lanning and Glenn Schumann.

“He really stood out as a guy that we thought would bring a lot of discipline and great demeanor to our secondary,” Smart said on March 19. “He was the guy that I wanted to pick and think a lot of him.”

Like most of Georgia’s coaches, Warren craves detail — a quality that stems from his military background. Safety J.R. Reed calls his position coach a “technician” based on how those facets transfer to football coaching. Warren has a 50-50 ball chart and he keeps a record of who won or lost in those situations.

He’s also a member of the “havoc rate” club too. That’s an elaborate mathematical (but also a not-so-mathematical) equation to determine the defense’s efficiency in pressures, turnovers, pass break-ups and other statistics that get lost in the jumble. Georgia defenders have it on their minds each day. A reminder sits outside the Bulldogs’ film room as there’s a football encased in some type of resistance material.

They have to try and strip the ball each time they see it. These players possess exceptional strength, but to no avail. That must be the point of the invention created by Lanning, Warren and company.

“I don’t know if there’s a brick in there or something,” Webb said. “There’s something in there.”

Warren also doesn’t care to sugarcoat. He’s a realist with his players. Georgia’s situation with its secondary is one where a direct approach could be beneficial. Some omissions are notable, most notably Deandre Baker. His departure, however, leaves opportunity for some younger talents to work with the veteran likes of LeCounte and Reed.

Sophomore Tyson Campbell can now emerge as the secondary’s top cornerback. Stokes is suddenly a very-familiar face after starting for only a half-season. Freshmen such as Tyrique Stevenson, Lewis Cine and Divaad Wilson (redshirt) might quickly find themselves into some prominent roles in short time.

As a result of youth, Warren is direct and business-like in his approach.

“He challenges us every day,” Webb said during spring practice. “We don’t ever have a day off. We don’t expect a day off. As a DB, you can’t have a day off. You have days off, you get scored on.”

Georgia’s new philosophy within its secondary position room creates a confidence in success for the upcoming season. Somewhat similar to a mentality that Warren had when preparing for militaristic battle: rising above the competition.

“Our unit is one of the best in the nation,” LeCounte said.

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