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Post Weekend recap

Monday August 20, 2007

The Offense Strikes Back

The weekend started with a bang. After the defense looked strong in the first scrimmage of the preseason, the offense showed up in Friday night’s scrimmage. Quarterbacks combined for six touchdown passes, and three of the passes went for over 30 yards. Excuse my optimism over hitting the deep pass. "You know we had a lot more success offensively today than the other day," remarked Coach Richt. He credited the improvement in part to a better effort from the offensive line. "The number one unit blocked really well," he said.

Other than a few individual plays (like Geno Atkins’ 40-yard fumble return), the big news from the scrimmage is that 1) there were no serious injuries and 2) the coaches haven’t had much time to go over and make changes to the depth chart based on the scrimmage. Any changes might come early this week, though several positions are still very much up in the air.

One-headed Monster?

I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that, despite fewer carries, Knowshon Moreno has led both scrimmages in rushing yardage and YPC. Scrimmage stats might be as relevant as G-Day stats, but no one would be dismissing these stats if it were Brown or Lumpkin putting them up. The running backs only got carries in the first half of Friday’s scrimmage.

Richt made it clear though that the tailback rotation would continue. "Whether people like it or not, they’re all very talented and they all are ready to play and they’re gonna play." Meanwhile, Caleb King’s nagging hamstring injury makes his chances of redshirting greater and greater with each practice missed.

Fine Line Between Dedication and Insanity

I consider myself a pretty big fan – I think that’s obvious, right? I’ll concede there are more devoted fans. I’ll also concede that having children can and does change your priorities. But none of that should involve camping out overnight for a chance at a picture with Uga and/or Mark Richt. Ching writes,

I always enjoy the details on picture day of who showed up first for the guaranteed tickets for photos with Uga VI and Mark Richt and WHEN. This year’s Uga winner was Athens’ Joe D’Angelo, who got in line for the first of 120 guaranteed tickets at 8 p.m. Friday night (the dog’s time at the stadium was between 1 and 3 p.m. today). Jackson’s Wayne Parker started the Richt line at 4:30 this morning. He got the first of 250 Richt tickets. Demand again was pretty high. A little more than seven minutes after UGA staff began distributing the tickets at 9 a.m., they were all gone.

There are lots of reasons to attend Picture Day even on an extremely hot day like Saturday. Kids seem to love it, and the players enjoy the interaction. But there are literally dozens of better opportunities for getting a snapshot with Richt or Uga. I hope it was worth it for those gentlemen.

Man Down

Our best wishes to D.J. Shockley for a quick recovery after sustaining a knee injury on Friday night that will keep him out for the 2007 NFL season. Shockley tore his ACL and injured his MCL against Buffalo.

Spotlight on the Receivers

Everyone in the world seems to be sensitive to (or at least aware of) the issue of dropped passes. Whether you believe it’s a question of talent, coaching, scheme, or some combination of them, it’s the 800-lb. gorrila in the room when the subject of receivers comes up.

You even have other players sticking up for the receivers. Thomas Brown said,

The receivers were making plays. They’ve received a lot of criticism in last season and in the spring about not being able to catch the ball. But they’ve made a lot of great steps. They’ve been doing it all camp long in practice, making diving catches and things like that, so they’re gonna be fine.

Matthew Stafford added,

Their effort is up. Their confidence is up. That’s what you want from any position.

We’ve seen several articles now with this slant. "Massaquoi forgets the past." "Georgia receivers have something to prove." "UGA wide receivers are sticking together."

There are two ways that this kind of spotlight can affect the situation. Right now, everyone’s happy. Us vs. the world. "We’re all in it together, no matter who is catching the ball, no matter who it is thrown to, no matter who has the touchdowns," said Mikey Henderson. That’s a great attitude, and fellow senior A.J. Bryant has echoed it. If that kind of prove-everyone-wrong approach is what it takes for the receivers to step forward this year, great.

But as Mark Richt likes to say, you never really know how good a team is until it is tested by adversity. The receivers seem focused and a close-knit group now, and I hope they can keep that attitude after the first inevitable drop and the simultaneous groan of 92,000 fans. There has been a lot of self-doubt and a lack of confidence in the passing game (and, to be fair, the receivers are far from the only group affected by drops). With an emerging star in Matthew Stafford, the receivers should have the talent, experience, and the quality passes they need to have the kind of year they are talking about. All they need now is for that attitude to show up on the field.

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