“I’ve taken over some really bad programs in the past and been fortunate enough to turn them around,” Saunders said. “This is not that big of a difference from what I’ve done in the past.”
Saunders, who won over 150 games as a head coach in Virginia, takes over for David Radford, who never won more than two games in a season during his six-year tenure.
“I had chances to come to Georgia in the past but they never worked out the right way,” Saunders said. “Now everything lined up perfectly to where I could come. This is an opportunity I’m looking forward to.”
Before Radford, Douglas Blackwell, James Nicholson, Mark Adams and Maurice Tyler all had forgettable stints. The last coach to own a winning record was Bill Harris in the mid-90s.
“The traditions that they had didn’t work,” Saunders said. “They haven’t had a winning season since ‘94 so we’ve got to change the whole mindset. Anything they’ve technically done in the past we don’t want to repeat.
“This is 2014. This team is completely different from last year. We’re 0-0 just like everybody else in the state. We just got to change their thinking and how to approach a game. We got to be more physically and mentally tough.”
Saunders said his biggest lesson to his players this season will deal with handling adversity.
“The teams that handle adversity are the ones that win games,” Saunders said. “That is something I’m trying to teach these young men. They have faced enough of it and it’s time they’ve learned how to deal with it and become better players.”
Saunders plans for the Indians to run the Wing T on offense and 3-3-5 on defense.