Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post UGA students mad that football parking might bend blades of grass

Thursday August 31, 2006

Do yourself a favor and check out these two articles in today’s Red & Black. Some students are pretty ticked about the University parking cars at and on the intramural fields for football games.

I can understand not wanting to play ultimate frisbee on shards of glass. But we’re not talking about the fairways at Augusta National either; they can deal with parking cars on the grass. What gets me is the palpable hostility of some towards football. Jeez…put down the hacky sacks and get inside Sanford Stadium.

One person did mention something I’ve suggested before.

Travis Storin, a senior accounting major from Marietta, playing football with friends (said…)
“Since we’re making the changes to accommodate family tailgating, they should be the ones forced to relocate.”

That would make too much sense…alcohol-free "family" tailgates would be much less likely to get out of control and leave behind trash and especially broken glass.

Admit it…you’re wondering what toli is.

Post Early enrollees

Wednesday August 30, 2006

Georgia freshman cornerback Asher Allen is the focus of a USA Today story on the trend of freshmen graduating early from high school to enroll in college early. They spend the spring semester settling in to the college routine, taking classes, going through spring practice and summer workouts, and are more prepared to begin the football season as true freshmen.

Georgia always has a couple of these freshmen, but this year they have an NCAA-leading six early enrollees. It’s to their advantage – Allen is a possible starter at nickle corner and will certainly see playing time.

Post Lineup coming into focus

Wednesday August 30, 2006

There are two sure signs that the season opens this week. First is that players are slowly but surely coming back from injuries. Fans wring their hands over the day-to-day injury reports during preseason camp, but the truth has been that the Dawgs (seriously knocking on wood here) are relatively healthy. Besides the knee injury to Coates, there aren’t many long-term injuries on the squad. You have guys like Gant and Elmore and a few of the offensive linemen fighting nagging, sometimes chronic injuries, but most of them should be ready for action soon.

The second sign that the season is right around the corner is the last-minute shuffling and solidifying of the depth chart. Some positions have been set since the end of last season, but many others continue to be up for grabs. We heard about the quarterbacks weeks ago, and now the final few pieces are coming together.

  • The guys over at UGASports.com told us yesterday that Danny Verdun-Wheeler had earned a starting strong (SAM) linebacker position over Brandon Miller. Everyone in the world seems to think that Miller is a better fit at defensive end, but so far the coaches haven’t made that move. Whether he’s a linebacker or defensive end, he’ll be starting the season on the second team. It should be noted that he was injured a good bit last year and has also been banged up this preseason, so it might just be a consequence of Verdun-Wheeler being more prepared at this point.
  • Ching reports that Asher Allen and Prince Miller are both candidates for nickle cornerback – a very key position in passing situations. Both have ridiculous talent and speed, but they are still freshmen and prone to the occasional freshman mistake. It’s really up in the air which will start, but each will see time on Saturday. So two true freshman are battling for a rather important position. Interesting. Bryan Evans will also see time at cornerback. Oliver and Ramarcus Brown are the starters of course.

So we’ll have a starting defense of Moses-Owens-Dixson-C Johnson, Verdun – Taylor – Jackson, Oliver-Battle-K Johnson-Brown. Great lineup there, especially when you consider that there are names like Byrd, Miller, and Weston coming off the bench. About the only real question marks as far as the depth chart goes are at the return positions – kickoffs and punts. Flowers’ suspension has put the punt return job up for grabs, and there are still several likely candidates for kickoff return.

A recap of the Athens Touchdown Club meeting from last night also has some interesting tidbits. Among them: the true freshmen who will surely play are Durham, Atkins, Dewberry, Allen, and Miller. Others might play too – Crawford seems most likely. It was surprising to see the harsh words about Moreno at tailback. All indications we had to this point were that he had really worked his way into the mix. As an aside, this is more or less a repeat of something we see every year: ans drunk on recruiting videos are certain that 15+ true freshmen will play, and it always ends up that only 6-8 do.

Finally, Ching mentions something really interesting:

But I will say this: Joe T was throwing the ball a lot of places in the early part of practice we watched, when he and Cox were working on pass routes with the receivers. One of those places was rarely the receivers’ hands. He didn’t look too good. And of course, my opinion on the subject means very little. I’m just saying what I saw.

You might write that off as one guy’s opinion, but the UGASports.com writers posted the exact same observation on the DawgVent last night. Scary stuff. You’ve got to wonder what the plan is.

Post Larry Munson roast

Wednesday August 30, 2006

Do yourself a favor and find a way to watch the recent roast of Larry Munson put on by Hondo Williamson and the folks at 750 WSB. It was on CSS last night; hopefully they will show it 25,000 more times as they have with the spring football games. It’s also on Comcast’s OnDemand service if you receive that. I’m really glad I caught it. It was an outstanding tribute to the Legend and pretty damn funny too.

Highlights of the event:

  • Wes Durham doing a dead-on Loran Smith impression recalling the infamous occasion when Loran asked Charles Grant about boiled peanuts. For being the voice of the enemy, Wes Durham all but stole the show. Wes said during the roast that we won’t ever see anything like the generation of Munson and Woody Durham, but Wes is too modest – he’s well on his way to becoming a fixture in the style of those old-school broadcasters.
  • Munson himself. He was at his best – dry and witty.
  • Jim Donnan. Donnan continues to amaze and impress me with his graciousness and humility since his departure from Georgia. He handles the awkwardness of the "fired coach" well, and he has nothing but good words for Dooley, Richt, and the Dawgs.

Post Three Lady Dogs headed to WNBA finals

Monday August 28, 2006

I know it’s football week, but I like to acknowledge Dawgs at the top of their craft. Deanna Nolan, Kara Braxton, and Kedra Holland-Corn are headed to this week’s WNBA final with the Detroit Shock. They will face defending champions Sacramento. Nolan is consistently one of the most exciting and highest-scoring guards in the league, and Braxton’s post play was a big reason why Detroit was able to win yesterday’s conference final.

The best-of-five WNBA finals begin on Wednesday night at 7:30 and will be televised by ESPN2.

Post Mixed news for NFL Dawgs

Monday August 28, 2006

The big news is that DJ Shockley looks to have made the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons released Bryan Randall leaving Shock as the third quarterback. Josh Mallard remains on the Falcons’ roster, but additional cuts are still to come.

The news wasn’t so good for two other Dawgs. Will Thompson was cut by the Falcons, and Bryan McClendon was cut by Chicago.

Post It’s finally here.

Monday August 28, 2006

Game week.


The buildup is much less than for last year’s nationally-scrutinized opener, but that’s fine. This is a different team with different needs for its opener.

WKU mascot

What do we know about Western Kentucky? Very little. They’re 1-AA, they sent us Dennis Felton, and their mascot had one of the funniest segments of the 2004 Capital One Mascot Challenge. They’ve played two “major” Division 1 teams early in the season in the past few years. In 2004, they put a nice scare into Kansas State in the season opener. Despite a large gap in yardage, they were within seven points of Kansas State in the fourth quarter. Last year, they lost 37-14 at Auburn in late September. Auburn had shaken off the loss to Georgia Tech and had begun to get its act together by this point, and they led 30-0 after three quarters. Georgia should win this game easily, but I’d be very surprised if the Dawgs are able to score 40+. If they do, it’s likely to involve some turnovers or special teams scores – and we’d welcome those with open arms too.

What am I looking for from the Western Kentucky game? We’ll start with the questions that have formed over preseason camp:

  • No injuries. Of course you never want injuries in any game, but these little cupcake games always seem to be the source of the worst injuries. We all remember Boss Bailey going down against Georgia Southern in 2000, and the season went south from there. Let’s bring an intact team at least as far as our SEC opener.
  • How do we come out? “Finish harder” is the theme for the season, but “start sooner” was more appropriate at times last year. How will Georgia set the tone for the game and the season?
  • QB play. This is the obvious area where most people will be focusing. Tons of questions. Can Tereshinski lead the team and make the offense look smooth against even 1-AA competition? Will Cox impress coming off the bench? Who will be the third QB in the game if there is an opportunity to clear the bench? What will be the differences in their performance in games vs. what we’ve seen in practice?
  • Will Paul Oliver intercept a pass? It’s not a Georgia practice lately if Paul Oliver doesn’t record an interception. Is that because he’s jumping the familiar plays from the Georgia offense? Or is he really ready to take the next step as Georgia’s next great cover corner? There’s a ton of young talent ready to step into significant playing time in the secondary. Is it ready and able?
  • Is Thomas Brown really that much better this year? Let’s see it out of the gate. The Georgia running game is supposed to carry the load this year – is it up to the job?
  • We’ve heard many promising things about the receivers this fall. I’m very interested in seeing their progress. Whose light has really switched on?
  • How will the new offensive line hold up esepcially with Inman’s suspension?
  • Moses and Johnson have been well-advertised all summer. What kind of impact will they have?
  • Ching has been hinting not to expect much from Gant this weekend. How will the center of the defensive line perform with Owens and Dixson? Is Weston going to make a difference?
  • The linebackers are still licking their wounds from some sloppy play in 2005. Are they back? Will the long-awaited debut of Dewberry be something to remember?

Now we won’t get all of these answers on Saturday. I’m not expecting to see much that’s too revealing. We’ve been at these games where things get frustrating and boring as we send a third-string offense out there to run the ball in the fourth quarter. “WHAT?!?!? Why are we having this walk-on run the ball instead of seeing Stafford throw???” The “keeping things vanilla” line is too often used as an excuse for poor play, but there shouldn’t be a need to get too fancy in this game. With that said, cleanly executing the plays we do run is still important. Runs are still runs. Passing efficiency needs to be high. Tackles need to be clean and finished. All of these things need to be there whether the gameplan is dead basic or overly complex.

We don’t know the extent to which the game will be an extended audition for the quarterback job. Will Tereshinki be the only one getting meaningful experience with the first team? If three quarterbacks play, will the third do much of anything besides hand off? Will Cox show he can perform in a game? Will he have enough of an opportunity to make a change to the depth chart?

I think what most of us want to see from the opener boils down to this: can we be confident in the team we will take to Columbia?

Post Schedule might hurt tailgating more than Adams ever could

Friday August 25, 2006

Georgia fans have a wary eye on gameday changes planned for campus this football season, but it might be a year or two before those changes butt heads with the big game Georgia tailgating scene. For which games on this year’s schedule would you really want to show up before 7 a.m.?

Think about the typical football season. Remember Tennessee in 1998 or LSU in 2004? Even Auburn last year? We’re all familiar with those "arrive on Thursday" games where you can sense the electricity on campus at mid-week. The game might be a night kickoff, or it might just be significant enough to start the tailgate well in advance no matter what time the game kicks off (LSU 2004 was one of those).

Now look at this year’s home schedule:

  • Western Kentucky: 12:30 kickoff. 1-AA. See you at 10 a.m. Students, see you at 3 p.m.
  • UAB: another late-arriving crowd.
  • Colorado: interesting.
  • Tennessee: we’ll come back to this one.
  • Vandy: Homecoming, which means no later than a 1:00 start.
  • Miss. St.: can’t see much build-up for this one.
  • Tech: it’s cold. Though the Tech game always brings out a good tailgate, the weather will mean it starts on Saturday and no sooner.

There are two games to talk about. First is Colorado. This won’t create the stir of someone like Oklahoma coming to town, but it is still an interesting matchup of BCS conference teams. Colorado doesn’t have an especially large and rabid fan base that will invade Athens on Wednesday, so this tailgate is pretty much up to us. It could take on some importance if the Buffalos have an impressive start to the season, but I don’t see this one getting to the level of most big SEC games.

That brings us to Tennessee. In previous years, the Tennessee game would produce some huge tailgates. 1998 brought Gameday to Athens. Unreal scene. 2000 saw a night game and a chance to end the streak. It was wild, and the celebration continued well into the morning hours. In 2002, we were flying high and ready to claim the SEC after proving we were "man enough" at Bama. But starting in 2004, the post-LSU hangover made the Tennessee game less of an event. The Vols’ performance in 2005 took even more wind out of the sails. I’m afraid that if the Vols don’t come into this game at 4-1 or better, we’ll lose our only shot all year for a really good tailgating scene. Add in rumors that the game might be picked up by CBS at noon, and things deteriorate rapidly.

Now before we get all conspiratorial and say this is President Adams’ grand plan, several things could happen to make things more interesting. Television might make some games start later, and some game might end up taking on more importance than it seems to now. And there will always be bigger games down the road where Athens is the place to be. Just not this year. When Adams or whoever claims victory for the changes put into place this year, just put a copy of the schedule in front of them and ask, "what exactly did you expect?"

Post Plenty of reasons why college is better than NFL, but postseason isn’t one of them

Thursday August 24, 2006

Remember a few weeks ago when a writer out of Jacksonville called college football an "inferior product" to the NFL? Ivan Maisel over at ESPN.com had a great piece recently that pretty much puts that silly notion to bed. Inferior, indeed.

But there’s one thing in Maisel’s column to which I can’t help but respond, and of course it has to do with #4 – the postseason and the lack of a playoff.

Maisel focuses his point on "those ugly December (NFL) games when Peyton Manning plays one series and sits out, as if it were August." Pro teams already assured of their playoff spot and homefield advantage rest their starters. OK, fine. We see it in several pro sports; several baseball teams will soon clinch and start resting people. His implied point is that college teams would do the same, and there would be less emphasis on later regular season games as teams solidify their place in the postseason.

The first problem with that line of thinking is that any proposed college playoff involves a much smaller percentage of teams. You still have to be among the elite or at least win your conference in even eight-team playoff scenarios, and that means winning games right up until the end of the season. While a single loss wouldn’t necessarily remove you from the national title picture anymore, it could severely impact seeding and make a much tougher road through the bracket. Who would sit players and risk a possible #1 or #2 seed?

For a bigger and more basic flaw in the NFL analogy, you can go right to his points #1 and #3. You’re telling me that Alabama would sit its starters and shrug its shoulders over the Iron Bowl? Texas would roll over against the Aggies for a chance to rest the tailback? Please. The coach wouldn’t make it out of the parking lot alive. Even in college hoops where teams know they have a spot in the Big Dance, JJ Redick doesn’t skip the UNC game.

In fact, passion and rivalries drive the entire season. If "every game is a playoff" (an idea I find to be a bit of fiction to begin with), why doesn’t the inverse of Maisel’s Peyton Manning scenario apply? Why don’t teams pack it in once they’ve lost a few times and been all but eliminated from the national title picture? Passion and rivalries won’t allow it. Even in a 4-7 season with no hope of a bowl, your rivalry games matter. The Georgia Tech game will always mean something to Georgia fans whether it’s 1993 and both teams are sore from losing seasons or 2005 where both teams are bowl-bound. The Dawgs were only 5-6 in 1996, but the comeback to beat Auburn clearly mattered to Georgia fans.

With teams “eliminated” weekly from the national title scene, we still end up with an incredible college football regular season. You’re telling me that would somehow be diminished by giving more teams something else to play for over the course of the season?

Post The annual statement game

Tuesday August 22, 2006

In 2001, it might have been the Tennessee game. In 2002, it was the Alabama game. In 2003, it happened right out of the gate at Clemson. In 2004, it wasn’t particularly necessary, but the LSU game sure served the purpose. In 2005, it was Boise State.

What is it? It’s the game each season that reminds people that Georgia is as good as any team in the SEC and most everyone in the nation. Strange as it may seem, even our own fans sometimes need a wake-up call about the current state of the program. While the Dawgs haven’t always won the conference or been national title contenders each of these years, they have been consistently there among the pack if not on top of it as much as any team in the league. No one disputes it after the fact, and the Dawgs always get their due, but each year it seems as if a certain game solidifies the Dawgs as contenders.

2001 wasn’t a particularly stellar season, but the Tennessee game in Knoxville did show that things would be different under Mark Richt. Richt came to Georgia with the uncertainty of a guy who had never been a head coach, and the 2000 victory over Tennessee a year earlier was considered much more of a blip than any kind of sea-change in the series. After losing to Georgia in 2001, Tennessee went on to win the East and become a national title contender. The Dawgs stood up to them in one of the more intimidating venues in college football, a coach gained legitimacy, and a leader at quarterback was born.

Guys like Haynes, Grant, Phillips, and Wansley who anchored the 2001 team left, and there was plenty of uncertainty about their replacements. Some might say that the South Carolina game in 2002 with its unforgettable David Pollack play and the amazing finish was it in 2002, but many fans at the time considered that win much more of an escape than a statement. The new quarterback rotation was still an issue. It was the infamous "man enough" game at Tuscaloosa that established Georgia as an SEC favorite in 2002. Richt’s road warriors won in a stadium where no Georgia team before ever had, and the young program had another shot in the arm.

The 2003 game at Clemson looked like a perfect setup for failure. It seemed as if half the team was suspended – freshman walk-on Tra Battle had to start at safety. Almost the entire offensive line from 2002 was gone. There was no running game to speak of. A 30-0 blowout in Death Valley served notice that the Dawgs weren’t a one-hit wonder in 2002, and they repeated as SEC East champs. Despite losses to LSU and Florida, routs of Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Auburn were some of the most impressive wins in the Richt era.

A preseason #3 ranking in 2004 was the one time in this era when the Dawgs clearly controlled the role of favorite entering the season. They weren’t spectacular to start the year with struggles against South Carolina and Marshall. LSU had taken two games from Georgia in 2003, and few people could have predicted the blowout of the Tigers which would erase all doubts about Georgia’s legitimacy. Unfortunately, the Dawgs threw all of that away the following week with a sluggish loss to Tennessee, and they were on the outside of the SEC title hunt for the rest of the year.

We were back in the familiar pattern in 2005. Greene and Pollack were gone, so certainly the Dawgs must be down. D.J. Shockley had been shaky in relief against Georgia Tech, and Boise State brought one of the nation’s most potent and unique offenses into Athens for the opener. It was the showdown between a vulnerable team from a BCS league and an annual favorite "BCS buster". The Georgia win was so complete that Boise State shows up on almost no one’s list of "hot" teams anymore. Shockley’s command of a Georgia team that would win the SEC title was never again questioned after the first quarter.

So here we are again. Shockley’s gone, the lines are thin, new secondary, etc, etc. Questions all over the place. It’s Auburn, LSU, and Florida and then everyone else. I could be wrong, but it seems as if the question should simply be, "which game will it be this year?"

Post Lady Dogs announce schedule

Tuesday August 22, 2006

Andy Landers has announced a typically challenging schedule for the Lady Dogs. 14 of the 29 scheduled opponents were in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The SEC schedule rotation again places both Tennessee and LSU on the schedule twice. The Lady Dogs will again open the season with a big challenge. Last year it was defending national champ Baylor and this year it’s perennial power Rutgers. The home schedule is highlighted by a game with Stanford on the Sunday following the Georgia Tech football game.

I’ll have much more to say about this schedule and the team as the season approaches, but the schedule guarantees that we’ll know very quickly what kind of team this will be.

Post Not sure what to think yet about the QB decision

Tuesday August 22, 2006

Now that we’ve had a day or two to digest the announcement of the quarterback depth chart, things are starting to calm down a bit. After all, isn’t this more or less the depth chart from the end of last season? There were reports last year that Joe Cox would have played ahead of Barnes had Cox not redshirted. So insert Stafford in there somewhere, but the rest is more or less unchanged. If there was a suprise to most people, it was that Cox was #2. He threw several picks at G-Day, but he also moved the offense more consistently than any other quarterback.

Coach Richt left the question open-ended and the depth chart is subject to change during or after the first game. That’s given people occasion to read the tea leaves and latch on to any scenario that puts their favorite under center for the South Carolina game. Every word Richt says is parsed…"well, he said JT3 deserves to start this game." It’s much more simple than that – until someone proves they are better, Tereshinski will keep the job. Will the Western Kentucky game be a test to see how each performs in a live game? With the starter named, how much time will the others really get in practice or even in games to show that they deserve the job?

I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed that someone couldn’t shake up the depth chart. After four or five years of high-level quarterback play and some recent quality recruits, I can’t grasp that the best we can hope for is what we saw in Jacksonville last year. I would like to see progress at the quarterback position – even Greene and Shockley were far from efficient – but I’m not so sure we’ll see it this year. Of course we expect people to improve from year-to-year, but I didn’t see much evidence of progress at G-Day.

Unless Tereshinski’s abilities are quite different this year, the offense will be somewhat limited. Shorter passes will allow secondaries to play closer. Georgia’s running game will be stuffed until the offense shows some ability to stretch the field – something they couldn’t do at all in Jacksonville last year. Games will be closer with increased pressure on the defense to keep scores down. That should result in a defense that takes fewer risks and avoids situations where it might give up the big play. This decision and the ability of the quarterback to move the offense and put points on the board has implications across the board for the team.

Sorry if I seem a bit pessimistic. Though we knew that the new quarterback would be relatively inexperienced, we talked about it for so long as a position of strength. Now it seems as if we’re more concerned that it’s not a weakness. That’s something I’m not used to from the Georgia quarterback position, and I’m hoping that a different picture will emerge over the next two to three weeks.

Post Occasionally there is good news this time of year

Monday August 21, 2006

UGASports.com reported from the practice field this afternoon that Mark Richt has continued an unofficial tradition by rewarding a walk-on with an “extra” scholarship. NCAA rules limit the Dawgs to 85 scholarships, and they entered camp with 84 scholarship players this year.

Richt announced today that junior running back Jason Johnson has earned the remaining scholarship.

“Johnson has been honored with a scholarship and it was very well earned by him,” said Richt. “We know he can play tailback, he can play fullback, he can play special teams, and he is just a very productive guy. Johnson is a hard worker and it is kind of a joy to give that aid to him. He has done extremely well as a student and I am really happy for J.J.”

Post Tanned and rested

Monday August 21, 2006

Back at it after a perfect week on the Georgia coast spent recharging and relaxing. A week away forces you to take a step back from the myopia that comes from constant practice updates and remember why you’re really looking forward to the upcoming season. With only two weeks remaining, there’s lots to talk about, so let’s start with the obvious: Richt and his starting QB. Is anyone really surprised? I’ll dive more into this later tonight.

One of the few things I managed to catch on vacation was the occasional installment of ESPN’s "Championship Series" where they took a shot at the big games of each weekend and – shock! – more or less chose the favorite every time. Not a terribly thought-intensive exercise, but it was college football talk and a pretty good insight into the teams that ESPN will be pimping at the start of the season.

A big thanks to CFR for the link. I keep meaning to add my links here…not a comprehensive list as in the Daily Dawg days but a small list of the sites I make it a point to check every day. CFR is certainly one of those.

Post Bizarre shot from the Florida Times-Union

Sunday August 13, 2006

Bart Hubbuch has this very strange swipe at Georgia in today’s Jacksonville paper.

First, I’d like to congratulate Bart for breaking April’s news. Can’t wait for his mid-December piece on the preseason top 25.

The “inferior product” line is techically valid (the NFL plays at a higher skill level than college of course), but it’s a very crude way to phrase it…especially since many in the South feel that college football is a superior product to the NFL. The Falcons, Bucs, Dolphins, and Jags all have nice followings, but someone writing in Jacksonville knows that college football comes first in this part of the world.

But his last line is a keeper. “Will the players ever see a cent of that? Of course not. Any sweatshop owner will tell you it’s hard to make money without free labor.”

I guess schools down his way pay their players quite comfortably.

Oh, and the second item of his column is a pretty clear rip-off (and a poor one at that) of Clay Travis’s brilliant tribute to JP Sports that made the rounds earlier this week. C’mon Bart…at least attribute.