Georgia in Good Hands for Bowl vs. Penn State Despite Massive Coaching Turnover

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterDecember 15, 2015

Georgia interim DC Kevin Sherrer
Georgia interim DC Kevin SherrerJason Getz/Associated Press

It's a December of transition for the Georgia Bulldogs, as new head coach Kirby Smart fills out his staff and the staff under former head coach Mark Richt fulfills its responsibility to the 2015 team by preparing it for the TaxSlayer Bowl versus Penn State.

Well, at least most of the staff.

Georgia will obviously be without Richt, who's getting started at his new gig as Miami's head coach. It will also be without defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who took over Smart's previous role as the defensive coordinator at Alabama.

Now, it will be without its offensive coordinator as well.

According to Seth Emerson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will not coach in the bowl game either, leaving Georgia with a patchwork staff leading up to the game against the Nittany Lions. 

Wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon will take over as interim head coach, and according to Adam Gillespie of WCNN 680 The Fan in Atlanta, Georgia has tabbed its interim coordinators:

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A strange scenario, for sure. But Georgia is in good hands.

John Lilly served as the offensive coordinator during Georgia's 37-14 win over Louisville in last season's Belk Bowl, after former offensive coordinator Mike Bobo took the head coaching job at Colorado State. The tight ends coach and special teams coordinator under Richt's staff helped the Bulldog offense put up 492 yards against a Louisville defense that finished as the sixth-best unit in the country (308.5 yards per game).

Sure, running back Nick Chubb and his 266 rushing yards had a lot to do with that, but he pieced together a rather successful game plan for a team that also lost starting quarterback Hutson Mason in the first half. 

Georgia RB Nick Chubb in the 2014 Belk Bowl
Georgia RB Nick Chubb in the 2014 Belk BowlNell Redmond/Associated Press

Not a bad debut, and certainly worthy of a sequel this bowl season after Schottenheimer's offense sputtered to just 381.4 yards per game in 2015. 

It's a great chance for Lilly to audition for any new employer who might consider him more than just a position coach moving down the road, or to Smart, who has yet to complete his offensive staff.

He has his hands full thanks to the absence of a reliable quarterback, an offensive line that has been hit-or-miss and a developing wide receiving corps. But he handled adversity well last bowl season, so nothing he sees over the next month should come as a shock.

Georgia interim DC Kevin Sherrer at South Alabama in 2013
Georgia interim DC Kevin Sherrer at South Alabama in 2013Michael Chang/Getty Images

Kevin Sherrer is a bit more of a risk as interim defensive coordinator because he's never done it for a Power Five school.

However, he was South Alabama's defensive coordinator in 2013, when the Jaguars finished with the Sun Belt's second-best defense (384.3 yards per game) and scoring defense (25.2 points per game). They led the conference in sacks (38), tackles for loss (86), third-down defense (36.36 percent) and gave up the fewest plays of 20 or more yards (47).

Not a bad track record.

What's more, he was an off-the-field assistant at Alabama while Pruitt was with the Tide, as well as an assistant with Pruitt at Hoover (Alabama) High School. Nothing will change with the defense over bowl practice thanks to Sherrer's familiarity with the system.

It also should be considered an audition for Sherrer, who could take over the role at Georgia with 15 strong practices and a solid bowl game performance.

It's an odd situation for Georgia, no doubt. But this patchwork staff is nothing to panic over. 

The Bulldogs are in good hands.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics are courtesy of and recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee