Before Georgia and Tennessee tangle at Neyland Stadium Saturday, quarterback Zac Jancek and defensive back/receiver Will Martinez will play Friday night at home for Knoxville Catholic High School.
Zac is the son of Tennessee defensive coordinator John Jancek. Will is the son of Volunteers defensive backs coach Willie Martinez.
The elder Jancek and the elder Martinez will play their former team, Georgia, on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.
There are few Georgia players still on the Bulldogs‚Äô roster from Martinez and Jancek‚Äôs last season at Georgia in 2009, but ties, of course, remain on the coaching staff.
Jancek said he speaks to Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo every now and then.
Wives Kelly Jancek and Lainie Bobo remain close. Kelly Jancek is the godmother of Kate Bobo, Mike and Lainie‚Äôs 6-year old daughter.
The approach on both sides this week, however, is more professional than personal.
‚ÄúObviously, we know we‚Äôre facing a great opponent,‚Äù Jancek said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôve got great players and great coaches and a tremendous opportunity to see where we‚Äôre at as a program and as a defense. It‚Äôs about competition, it‚Äôs about going out and competing against an opponent no matter who they are. As a competitor, you want to win every game you play.‚Äù
Georgia and Bobo won resoundingly in his first matchup against former Georgia defensive assistants last November when the Bulldogs throttled Auburn, 38-0. The Bulldogs jumped out to a four-touchdown, first-half lead and finished with 497 total yards against a defense with former Georgia defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder as coordinator and Martinez as secondary coach.
They were out of jobs when Auburn fired Gene Chizik. VanGorder is now with the New York Jets and Martinez landed with Jancek.
‚ÄúHe was the first guy I called,‚Äù Jancek said of Martinez, who coached at Oklahoma for two seasons after Georgia. ‚ÄúThat was easy, someone I trust and respect in the coaching profession. He‚Äôs a great coach and we have a great working relationship.‚Äù
Martinez and Bobo were hired on coach Mark Richt‚Äôs original coaching staff in 2001 and Jancek came aboard as linebackers coach in 2005 after VanGorder left for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
That‚Äôs when Martinez, the secondary coach, was promoted to defensive coordinator, a position he held for five seasons until Richt fired Martinez, Jancek and defensive ends coach Jon Fabris after the 2009 regular season ended with a 7-5 record.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of similarities with what they‚Äôre doing to what they did when they were here,‚Äù said Bobo, who also stays in contact with Martinez. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre lining up trying to get the guys to play hard, being opportunistic on the defense and that‚Äôs kind of been their trademark always all the way back to days of VanGorder and when them two were here. Guys were going to line up, they were going to play in good football position, they‚Äôre going to try and hit you and create turnovers. It‚Äôs going to be fun.‚Äù
Jancek was hired by Butch Jones at Cincinnati soon after departing Georgia and followed him to Tennessee, where he‚Äôs in charge of its 4-3 defense. The two first knew each other working at rival Division II colleges in Michigan in the mid-1990s when Jancek was at Hillsdale College and Jones at Ferris State and worked together at Central Michigan and remained friends.
‚ÄúI liked the way he coached the fine details, the fundamentals,‚Äù Jones told reporters after practice Tuesday. ‚ÄúYou kind of have a coaching tree. Whether it‚Äôs coach Martinez or him, it stems to Brian VanGorder who was also the defensive coordinator at Georgia. I‚Äôve known those individuals forever.‚Äù
Jancek took over a defense that gave up a school-record worst 471 yards per game last season. The Volunteers are allowing 58 fewer yards per game this year.
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre a work in progress,‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúI think we‚Äôve shown tremendous improvement from last year to this year from spring ball to the fall. We‚Äôre getting better each and every week.‚Äù
Martinez was teammates with Richt when they played at Miami.
‚ÄúI enjoy seeing those guys,‚Äù Richt said. ‚ÄúI like them very much and I consider them good friends, but we go compete. We‚Äôre looking at tape, we‚Äôre not looking at coaches‚Äô pictures in the media guide.‚Äù
Said Georgia receivers coach Tony Ball: ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been what, four years since they‚Äôve been here? You‚Äôve got to think people grow, people continue to grow professionally and schematically, so you have to study that and that‚Äôs what we do.‚Äù
Bobo said he‚Äôs tried to treat this like another game and not overthink it.
‚ÄúYou catch yourself chasing a lot of ghosts,‚Äù Bobo said. ‚Äú‚ÄòI remember they played this team. They did this.‚Äô You‚Äôre going to mention some of those things to your guys, but you‚Äôre not going to go crazy trying to figure out exactly what blitz or what play they‚Äôre going to line up to heavy formation. .. If you get them overthinking and think they see too much, they can‚Äôt play fast.‚Äù