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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.

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