Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Outstanding Dawg preseason video

Monday July 31, 2006

Dawg fan Al Daniels put together a great video montage to get you ready for the season. If you’re not jumping around by the end, check your pulse. No promises about this causing epileptic seizures. Kudos to Steve Patterson of UGASports.com for providing the bandwidth for this video.

Post Richt finally signs contract extension

Monday July 31, 2006

Announcing a new contract is one thing, but it’s not done until the deal is signed. Looks as if Mark Richt has finally taken care of that last detail. $2 million a year for eight years with some bonus potential. Hopefully he’s here through those eight years and then some.

Post How long does it take to play a 60-minute football game?

Monday July 31, 2006

The length of college football games isn’t a problem. If you attend a game at a smaller school that isn’t broadcast on television, you’ll find that the game moves right along and is done in three hours or so. But televised games, particularly on a certain network, routinely last four hours and longer. Each change of possession is cause for a full-length timeout. There is nothing better nor more exciting than the score-commercial-kickoff-commercial-three and out-commercial sequence. Great for the guy watching at home with the small bladder, not so great for everyone else. I have no problem against football games that last all afternoon – I’m there; I’m a captive audience. Play all day, go 17 overtimes. I do mind when much of my time in the stadium is waiting for the guy on the sideline dressed in all white to signal the end of another TV timeout.

Instead of dealing with the root cause of lengthy games, the NCAA chose to address the "problem" by altering the nature of the game. Change of possession will likely still result in minutes of television commercials, but the clock starts as soon as that commercial is over and the ref blows the whistle to start the play clock.

Back during the World Cup, a lot of people noticed how nice and quick the broadcasts were without commercials. A full 90-minute game was over in about two hours or so (three hours tops if the game went to penalty kicks). I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to suggest that continuous action was a good way to move college football games along. Soccer is broadcast worldwide, presumably at a profit for the broadcast outlets. I’ve seen more regional soccer coverage, and the ads are a bit more intrusive on the screen, but it’s still tolerable. If they can figure out a way to stay out of the way of the game’s flow, broadcasts of college football should be able to do the same.

EDSBS suggests something like this today, in their own way of course. Their conclusion is exactly correct: "The rules don’t innovate; if anything, they point to a failure of imagination on the part of advertisers and the rules committee." You can tell us that television revenue is the fuel of this exploding cash cow and that the NCAA and the schools that benefit from TV money will do what it takes to keep the money coming in. (Ironic given the lip service paid to amateurism, but that’s another post.) EDSBS’s bottom line still stands – the NCAA through its lack of creativity has spoken clearly and chosen to gut its own product instead of reign in advertisers.

Post A few things I hope to do this season…

Monday July 31, 2006
  • Semi-liveblogging. I’m almost always at the games on Saturday, but I like to go back over the Tivo’ed broadcast on Sunday. I’ll post in stream-of-consciousness mode while watching the tape after a night to sleep on the game.
  • "Film study". This might be more of a mid-week thing, but thanks to sites like YouTube where hosting video is less of an issue, I’ll put up some comments about a few plays (not likely to be the usual highlights) and illustrate them with video clips.
  • Stats browser. Who gets the most carries and receptions in the 4th quarter of SEC games during October? You’ll be able to find out. I’m most interested in the running game, so we’ll likely start there.

Hold me to all of this.

Post Preseason storylines – other than QB

Monday July 31, 2006

With the attention focused on the quarterback decision, there are some other important positional questions out there this summer that I’ll be watching as practice gets underway this weekend. Here are just a couple off the top of my head:

  • Who will be the other starting cornerback? For that matter, how about the other safety? Battle and Oliver seem fairly certain as two of the starters in the defensive backfield. From there, it gets a little messier. Kelin Johnson is a favorite to start at strong safety, but C.J. Byrd and Antavious Coates could play early and often. Thomas Flowers could reasonably start at the other corner position, but Bryan Evans and Ramarcus Brown could make that a tough decision. Asher Allen and Prince Miller might be the future at cornerback, but I’m skeptical about starting true freshmen at cornerback no matter how talented they might be. Even Champ Bailey didn’t really make an impact until the end of the 1996 season.
  • How will the running game depth chart shake out? The key decision here is the tailback rotation and the distribution of carries. Thomas Brown is at the top of the depth chart, and Kregg Lumpkin will be the most likely to challenge him. I won’t go over and over my same doubts about the tailbacks and the desire for one of them to grab control of the position, but I will say that I will be a little disappointed if we head into the season without some more clarity at tailback. What kind of an impact will a new position coach have on the position? How will Southerland and Williams share time at fullback?
  • Can Michael Turner get the job done at offensive tackle? Depth at offensive tackle is one of those hidden time bombs that could quickly derail a promising season. It will be tested immediately given Inman’s suspension. Even once Inman returns, the offensive tackle position remains one of the areas on the team that could least absorb a long-term injury.
  • The last chances. For guys like Mario Raley, Marquis Elmore, and Danny Verdun-Wheeler, this preseason presents an opportunity to set the tone for their senior seasons. Verdun-Wheeler seems in the best position as the "fourth linebacker" and a guy in whom the staff has a lot of confidence backing up most any linebacker position. Raley watched Bryan McClendon step up from relative obscurity as a senior to become one of the team’s leading receivers. Richt has set a goal for Raley to have a similar season. Elmore could be much-needed veteran depth at a young defensive tackle position, and he finally seems to be past the nagging injuries.
  • What will happen to the aging receivers? I mentioned Raley, but Gartrell and Goodman are also upperclassmen. Newcomers like Tony Wilson and Michael Moore will push for playing time. Younger receivers Massaquoi, Bryant, and Harris seem a bit more established. The injury to Bailey and the relatively open depth chart behind Massaquoi leave the door open for one of the veterans to have an impact, but can they?
  • The little things on special teams. Positions like snapper and holder that you never notice until they screw up remain open. Tereshinski probably won’t remain on the punt team if he’s the starting QB or even #2, and he handled that role well. Returning jobs seem open, too. If Flowers sees significant time at cornerback, will he still return punts with so much speed on the bench? Will a star like Thomas Brown return kickoffs, or will other speedsters get that chance? Byrd and Kelin Johnson were among the young players who made names for themselves on special teams as the first men down on kicks and punts. Who’s next in that role? Will kickoff returns improve from an abysmal 2005?

Post Unofficial start of the 2006 season – and Richt in Roswell recap

Monday July 31, 2006

Tonight marks the unofficial start of the 2006 season – the annual Atlanta Bulldog Club meeting at Colony Square. Mark Richt fires up the fan base, and then it’s time to get to work – practice begins this weekend!

I’m not going to be able to make tonight’s meeting, but I did have the pleasure of listening to Coach Richt at the Roswell meeting a few weeks ago. I took some mental notes, and they were well-enough received on the DawgVent that it might be worth it to republish them here. It’s just a stream-of-consciousness recollection of some of Richt’s comments, and I hope it’s faithful to what he actually said. To me, the most interesting comment was about the tailbacks and their use in the passing game or in a two-back formation. It was a nice answer to a question most of us have asked at some point – why can’t (one of our talented backs) be our Ronnie Brown?

Overall notes:

It was a relatively short program; Richt was the only speaker. He went a little longer than he might have if there were a full program. I’ll try to avoid editorializing.

Recruiting: very happy. Possible that 3 or 4 "silent" commitments might go public before the start of the season. Happy with both the football ability (it starts there after all) and the personal qualities of the players we’re getting. Spoke about "you attract who you are" and that we want to be a model of doing things the right way.

Currently: players, all of them, are in Athens. Only a handful weren’t here at the start of the summmer for various reasons (Knowshon was still in HS!). Player-led workouts (you’ve heard all about pass skel, etc). Coaches aren’t allowed to enforce attendence, but players are…they’ve held a meeting to call some folks out when the effort wasn’t there. Leadership seems to be getting it done.

Coaches will begin their annual hideaway next week where they will for all intents lock everyone in a room for most of the days, turn off the phones, and do a lot of planning for the season. Everything from xs and os to philosophy to making sure the coaches don’t kill each other after working long days next to each other all year for 5+ years.

Positional notes:

QB…JT3 will start camp as #1, not necessarily the season (though he would if he won the job of course). Hope by practice 15-18 to have it narrowed to 2 and maybe even 1 if that’s how things go. Hopes to have a starter by the season, but they might be in a position like 2001 where they have "co-starters" entering the first game. Sometimes you never know until you take the green no-contact jersey off a guy.

RB…three good backs, all of whom have looked like the starter at some point, etc, etc. Nothing new there. Mentioned Moreno already getting looks…broad shoulders and is in fantastic condition. Won’t rule out playing him this year if he earns it.

FB…deep with the two vets, the two newcomers, and Jason Johnson a FB/RB combo.

TE…Milner has it all, just needs to catch better (as does everyone). Chandler is #2. Mentioned Ward, but Ward isn’t in playing shape yet. Still working to get up to speed.

OL…thin as we know, particularly at tackle. Richt isn’t too concerned (until he thinks about next year’s line). Nick Jones at center is a great fit. Velasco is very close to his target weight.

WR…says a lot that MoMass was able to make an impact as a frosh (both about him and our need). Kudos to Henderson. Hoping Raley can produce along the lines of McClendon last year. Basically waiting for someone to make a move…either Goodman, Gartrell or one of the newcomers (Moore, Wilson).

DT…Owens and Weston two great young guys. Gant should be very good if he can avoid the little injuries. Dixson and Elmore expected to help too. Crawford will play. Mudcat is up to 295 which should help him.

DE…two of the best. Hoping that Battle makes a move this year.

LB…starters are pretty much set, but Danny V-W is pushing for a starting job and a good guy to bring off the bench. Washington is straight MLB. Ellerbe, once he "gets out of the doghouse" is a good WLB. Richt is VERY impressed by the speed of the newcomers – Dent, Dew, and Gamble mentioned specifically.

DB…Oliver set. Other corner up in the air. Mentioned Flowers, Evans, AA, Prince. Battle at one safety, Kelin at the other. CJ Byrd has been making quite a push though. Coates already looks like the prototypical safety…just a question of if he’s back from the injury. Donovan Baldwin could see time at either S or CB.

Kickers…no one has a better combo.

Trying to remember specific questions….

We will see some two RB sets, but only one guy can carry the ball. Would usually rather have the other guy be our best blocking option. Also (in comparison to Auburn’s use of Ronnie Brown as a receiver)…Lump and Brown aren’t particularly good lined up out there. Ware slightly better. Ronnie Brown was a natural lined up as WR, ran very good routes. It’s not a strength of our guys.

Richt took responsibility for the punt fake in the Sugar Bowl. Said he trusts his assistants (who know much more about special teams than he does), but he could have called for the "punt safe" look. Said while some teams are really good at blocking kicks and others are good at returning, we are one of the best of doing both, and he has full faith in Fabris.

He considered giving the staff a day (Sunday) off during the season to deal with the 11 straight games, but honestly it creates more stress as people feel they get behind on their prep work. What he’d like to try is using technology to allow the staff to do their prep work at home on Sunday on their own schedule.

That’s about it. No huge news but a nice rundown. If you think I left something out or wonder if he mentioned anything/anyone, just ask.

Post Georgia to open 2012 season in Siberia…that’ll show ’em

Monday July 31, 2006

DawgSpiel over on the DawgVent found a blurb in the Seattle paper that contains this little gem:

The (Oregon) Ducks are putting the finishing touches on a contract with Georgia, a program notorious for refusing to travel outside the Southeast.

Greeeeeeeeeeat. Anyone at all see the appeal of this game for Georgia? I mean, other than an overreaction to the “notorious for refusing to travel outside the Southeast” bit. The program dances for the media, plays a few games west of the Mississippi, and fans dig deep or stay home.

Make no mistake about who benefits more from these arrangements. Oregon has a clear reason to seek out games like this. “Oregon has fought hard to earn legitimacy, and the program’s ambitions under Bellotti and athletic director Bill Moos have paid off with the ultimate sign of respect: home-and-home game contracts with big-time foes.” Georgia doesn’t have such a legitimacy problem. But because writers and talk jocks rate quality opponents by distance, the Dawgs seem willing to cross the country again.

Seriously, Damon. We get it. Those big, bad bullies in the media will shut up now about UGA’s scheduling. That’s three games out west in the foreseeable future. Now if you’re looking for some more quality nonconference games, how about a few in this time zone next time?

Post UGA announces Prohibition Zones

Friday July 28, 2006

UPDATE: As a followup to my post earlier this week about the informational GamedayGameplan site, UGA has now added some more details to the site. The locations for the "Family Friendly Tailgate Zones" (FFTZ) have been set, and it’s caused quite a bit of reaction. Some of the best greenspace on campus has been reclaimed. The campus’s gateway, the Arch, lies within one of these areas. I’ve been pretty positive or at least lukewarm about most of the gameday changes, but we begin to part ways today.

Georgia Sports Blog already has some good comments on the plan, and I echo most of them. The point about the mixed group is especially strong. Most tailgates of any size fit into this group – you might have a mix of singles, relatives, couples, kids, and so on. If any of them prefer to have a drink before the game, the group has to make a decision, and it likely won’t be in favor of the FFTZ. Let’s face it – you’re probably talking about the more interesting people in your group. It will be interesting to see what kinds of tailgates migrate there. I can see some church groups setting up shop, but many of them already have private tailgates at their own campus facilities.

We can get rid of the "family" label right away. Everyone knows this is all about alcohol, and UGA admits as much. "Providing certain ‘alcohol-free’ zones preserves the tradition of families enjoying UGA sporting events together without the disruption of fans who refuse to drink responsibly," claims the site. Apparently the presence of alcohol at your tailgate makes it hostile to families. This is the South, after all – most of our families need alcohol in order to make other family members tolerable.

Almost everything about the zones set them up for very limited use, and perhaps that’s the intent. The North Campus location runs right by President Adams’ North Campus office, and it’s no accident that this area was the place that got trashed after the Auburn game last year. I’d find it hard to believe that claiming much of this area for the FFTZ wasn’t a reaction to that incident. There isn’t much parking in the immediate location of either zone, and anyone wanting to set up a serious tailgate in these areas would either have to arrive early to claim what parking there is nearby or haul their equipment from one of the parking decks within walking distance. Neither case seems very likely.

So because students couldn’t handle themselves at the Auburn game, we get this plan. You can bet these Prohibition Zones will be strictly enforced. With President Adams’ publicized crackdown on student drinking, there is no way they will be lax with a high-profile gameday alcohol-free experiment. It’s much easier to rope off entire areas from responsible tailgaters than it is to identify those who do trash the campus. The likely outcome is that a much smaller number of people will choose to tailgate in these areas, and tailgating will be pushed further out into the periphery of campus away from these core areas as affected tailgates look for new locations. As I said before, isn’t it likely that this is exactly the intent?

If it weren’t the intent, why aren’t the family areas out in the wide-open spaces of the intramural fields? There are plenty of parking spaces, no stray drunks from downtown wandering by, and shuttles to the stadium. There is easy access from the bypass for typically late-arriving families. Friendly, friendly, friendly.

As each day passes, I’m more glad that my group has invested in private parking this year. The extravagant prices of Tailgate Station aren’t necessary – for a reasonable amount not much more than the $20 per game that they charge in the University parking decks, you can be in a private lot near campus with a guaranteed spot and without this whimsical and reactionary nonsense.

Here’s a nother good response.

Post Kudos…to Chan Gailey. Really.

Friday July 28, 2006
Amato signs hat
Better things to do in Ponte Vedra than this.

Good for Chan Gailey. While a lot of people are giving him a hard time about refusing to sign the hat of a young Georgia fan, I give him credit. Keep the rivalry alive. Gailey’s job might be on the line this year, and a big part of the pressure is his 0-4 record against Georgia. He knows where his bread is buttered, and the Georgia rivalry is the most important thing in the lives of Tech fans. Don’t underestimate this story’s chance to score some big points with the constituency. They’ve noticed. This is what you call win-win in rivalry land. Gailey gets a pat on the back from his base, and young Jordan Rich gets an invaluable lesson about the meaning of rivalry.

Look, there are times to put aside the rivalry. Tech was gracious after last week’s death of Kevin Brophy, and they sent some people to the memorial service (including some Australian student-athletes). Very appropriate and appreciated. But the ACC football media meetings are not one of those times. What the hell is someone other than a heckler doing at an ACC gathering with a Georgia hat? Why does he approach Chan Gailey of all people for an autograph? I don’t blame the kid – who puts their kid in that position?

If some sniveling little nerdling showed up at an SEC event and asked Mark Richt to sign his mustard yellow cap, I’d be disappointed if the kid didn’t get sent home crying (or at least a nice huge "51-7" scrawled on the hat). But of course Richt would never do that, and that’s why he gets nice things like this written about him.

Post This says it all about the current state of recruiting

Thursday July 27, 2006

“I am still committed to Ole Miss, but I am kind of open too.”

– Ole Miss “commitment” Ted Laurent

Wake me in February.

Post Pro Dawgs in the news

Thursday July 27, 2006
DJ Shockley
Now buying.

One good, one not so good.

First the good. D.J. Shockley signed with the Atlanta Falcons, a four-year deal worth $1.663 million including a signing bonus of $53,750. He sounds like someone who appreciates the opportunity and recognizes that he still must compete to make the team. It’s not a certainty that he will survive the training camp cuts.

It’s kind of like one of those dream-come-true moments. Everybody doesn’t get to make it here, and I get to sign a contract with the Atlanta Falcons. It’s a new thing for me. I’m ready to learn and see where it takes me. I’m trying to earn a spot on this team, and the best way to do it is to work hard.

Now the bad news. We’ve known for a while that Odell Thurman was in trouble for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and Wednesday the punishment came down: a four-game suspension. Odell was the Bengals’ leading tackler last year as a rookie, but I guess the pot was a bit more important than building towards a pro bowl season.

(One side note to the Thurman story…he has a child by Kara Braxton, a former basketball player at Georgia and a current member of the WNBA’s Detroit Shock. The WNBA wrote glowingly of the pair last year around draft time. She was enough of a mess to get kicked off the Georgia basketball team, and I just hope for the kid’s sake that Odell’s problems are treatable and aren’t shared by Braxton. Those two don’t exactly have a history of good choices in each other’s company.)

Post One more swim in the pond for Mudcat

Wednesday July 26, 2006

Steve Patterson of UGASports.com has an interview today with enigmatic defensive tackle Marquis Elmore. Elmore’s had every nickname from "Mudcat" to the self-given "Zeus", but none of them have been heard much over the Sanford Stadium PA. He is one of those figures in sports more well-known for what he hasn’t done. This is his senior year, and it’s his last chance to make an impact.

Elmore arrived at Georgia as an elite five-star defensive prospect out of Charlton County. Given the success of some men named Bailey from his neck of the woods, the notion of another blue-chip defender from Folkston had Dawg fans salivating. But Elmore was a classic "tweener" on defense. While his combination of speed and size was devastating in high school, he was too slow to be an effective linebacker and too small to be an effective lineman in college. The coaches made that observation early in Elmore’s career and moved him to the defensive line where he could begin adding bulk. A chronic back injury early in his career was the first of several medical setbacks, and he wasn’t able to progress much neither in learning the techniques of a down lineman nor in adding strength and bulk for the leverage he’d need.

Boss UT 2002
Boss turned out OK in his senior season.
(Photo: UGASports.com)

Georgia could use the depth at the defensive tackle position. Jeff Owens came on strong late last season to earn a starting job as a sophomore. Senior Ray Gant is the other starter, and he has had his share of injury setbacks. Redshirt freshman Kade Weston hasn’t seen a second of action yet, but he’s backing up Owens. Elmore and Dale Dixson are the other "veterans" on the line, but neither has done much with limited playing time. True freshman Ricardo Crawford is almost assured of playing time this year to help with the depth. With Crawford and the promising Owens and Weston pushing for playing time, the opportunity for a meaningful senior season won’t be handed to Mudcat. "I know I am a senior, but anything I get I have to work for," he said. "I am going to push, push, and keep pushing."

Mark Richt told the Roswell Bulldog Club last week that Elmore is now up to 295 lb., a very reasonable target weight for a defensive tackle. Elmore is finally healthy. "I have been here four years and I feel like I have been injured the whole time," he told Patterson. But he knows that’s not an excuse. "I am not the first guy and I am not going to be the last guy to come in and be plagued by injuries." Very true, and some of them have come back to leave their mark on Georgia football.

Right now, Elmore is unfortunately most well-known as the poster child for those who downplay the importance of recruiting rankings. The great thing about sports though is that all can be redeemed with one great season or even one great play. Boss Bailey, another top prospect from Folkston, was also feeling the heat entering his senior season. After decent but unspectacular freshman and sophomore seasons, Bailey’s career was sidelined by a knee injury on the opening kickoff of the 2000 season (helluva omen, wasn’t it?). He spent his junior season coming back from that injury, and it wasn’t until his senior season in 2002 that Boss exploded into the stuff of legend (and earned himself a nice NFL paycheck).

I don’t mean to suggest that Elmore is set up for a Boss Bailey-like senior season. Boss had much more of a foundation of success and playing time in his first few years and had earned a starting job. But the fact that we remember Boss as a star and an otherworldly blocker of kicks instead of the "bust" label some were throwing around entering the 2002 season shows that it’s not too late for Mudcat (or anyone for that matter) to salvage his Bulldog career and contribute something enduring to the program’s legacy.

Post SEC Media Days

Wednesday July 26, 2006

The SEC media days begin today. Those who have more or less stayed tuned in to the Dawg news in the offseason shouldn’t be surprised by much that comes out of the Georgia camp. It’s sometimes entertaining to see what the other programs have to say, but the net effect is usually the depth of analysis from a preseason magazine. It’s an important annual milestone, though – practice is right around the corner! Here’s about what we can expect the conventional wisdom to produce:

  • Georgia will have a new quarterback. That can’t be good.
  • Quentin Moses can play ball.
  • Georgia has running backs.
  • Some kind of human-interest story. Did you know David Greene and David Pollack were roommates?
  • Lip service will be paid to Mark Richt and Georgia’s recent accomplishments, but they will still pick Florida, LSU, and Auburn as the favorites.

Some might wonder why quarterback incumbent and senior leader Joe Tereshinski III wasn’t one of the seniors that will accompany Richt (Nick Jones and Moses will be this year’s player representatives), but last year Gerald Anderson and Max Jean-Gilles made the trip instead of D.J. Shockley. Don’t read much into it – and appreciate the chance to get some linemen rare time in the spotlight. If anything, this might be a good debut and introduction for Jones who could certainly propel himself into the NFL draft with a solid senior season at center.

Post Does CSS own a video of a Georgia victory?

Tuesday July 25, 2006

Mark Richt’s Dawgs have lost just 13 games since he arrived in 2001. I think those 13 losses comprise the entire Georgia video library over at CSS. Yet I keep watching.

I did it again last night….CSS, Dawg football, UT 2004. Gotta get my fix. I don’t care if it’s the ugly 2003 Middle Tenn. St. game, just give us one Dawg win. Please?

Post UGA answers some tailgating questions with new Web site

Monday July 24, 2006

And I’ve gotta say….it’s not that bad.

Check it out: http://www.uga.edu/gameday/

The two pages most fans should read right now are the ones on parking and tailgating.

Many of the changes we’ve heard about to the gameday experience are collected here, and fortunately many of them are clarified. The key points:

  • You can park before 7 a.m., but you can’t start setting up and making noise until then. Pretty reasonable. Not too many people crank up the tailgate that early, and being able to at least park before that time will help to alleviate the 7:00 mad rush to grab spaces I was concerned about.
  • Parking on grass and other vegetative areas is not allowed (except as designated by the University). I guess we’ll have to wait and see where those “designated” areas are.
  • One vehicle per parking space. Big one here. No parking and then setting up shop in the parking space next to you. I like this…you have limited open parking spaces, so put cars in them.
  • Fans using a tent or canopy over the tailgate of a vehicle should keep travel lanes open for vehicle traffic and should not take up space in other parking spaces. Along the same lines – park in your space and keep the lot and other spaces open for other cars.

They’ve also addressed the space taken up by so-called “corporate tailgates”. Excellent. Now these behemoths that take over entire lots are to be regulated by the school.

UGA also promises more trash receptacles and portable restroom facilities. Long time coming. We’ll see if it’s enough.

The site is a little short on details right now, such as a parking map and the exact locations of these alcohol-free “family” zones, but it should be enough information to put 95% of tailgaters at relative ease as we make our plans for the upcoming season.