Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Big night for Clint Sammons

Thursday July 31, 2008
Clint Sammons celebrates winning the Athens regional in 2004
Sammons celebrates winning the 2004 Athens Regional.

Sammy set the standard for Georgia catchers in the early part of this decade, and his defense behind the plate was a big part of Georgia’s run to the College World Series in 2004.

Sammons made his major league debut last season for the Atlanta Braves, and he recorded his first career MLB hit.

He was brought back up to the majors this week after Braves’ catcher Brian McCann suffered a concussion. Though he’s known for his defense, his offense broke through Thursday evening, and he notched both his first RBI (with a single in the 4th inning) and home run (2-run shot in the 6th) as a big-leaguer (see video). Sammons finished the night 3-for-4 with 3 RBI and a home run to lead the Braves past St. Louis 9-4.

Congratulations to Clint, and hopefully we’ll see lots more of him in the majors.

Post Mimbs earns a scholarship

Thursday July 31, 2008

The silver lining of attrition is that scholarships often become available for deserving walk-ons. Senior punter Brian Mimbs is such a player, and his effort over the years has been rewarded with a football scholarship. Mimbs handled both punting and holding duties for the Bulldogs last year. If you’re contributing that much on the field, you’ve earned your keep, and it’s great to see him recognized this way.

Last season Jeff Henson received a scholarship.

My favorite Mimbs play is still the perfectly executed onside kick against Virginia Tech that sparked the comeback win. Mimbs not only kicked the ball – he had to dive at the ball and snatch it away from a Virginia Tech player.

Then again, there’s always this:

Post Boling’s suspension reduced to one game

Thursday July 31, 2008

After alcohol-related charges against him were reduced to reckless driving, Mark Richt today cut offensive lineman Clint Boling’s suspension in half from two games to one.

“With the change in the charges and the attitude that Clint has demonstrated I have reevaluated his situation and decided on the one-game suspension as a fair penalty,” said Richt. “Clint has been remorseful and pro-active in handling all his responsibilities in a mature manner with a good attitude. He’s learned a strong lesson that I’m sure will serve him well from here on.”

Post Misplaced focus

Thursday July 31, 2008

I’m not sure which Georgia fans Mark Bradley is talking about. What in recent history has given Georgia fans a reason to take the Tech game lightly?

Tech workout
Don’t worry guys…we’ll be ready.
  • 2004: An injured David Greene has to come off the bench to get the win. Still, it took the infamous 4th down blunder to seal it.
  • 2005: A tie game was broken in the final minutes when Shockley found McClendon on a bee-yoo-tiful play action pass. Again, it took a play by the Georgia defense (INT by Jennings) to escape.
  • 2006: Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! Touchdown! Massakwa. The pull-a-fumble-from-the-pile touchdown will ranks as one of the all-time WTF?!? plays in the rivalry.
  • 2007: The widest margin of victory since 2003, but it was a 2-point game at halftime and took Thomas Brown’s 4th quarter score to open it up.

If it comes down to Tech standing in the way of a BCS bid, Georgia and Georgia fans will be plenty ready and into the game. Even if that scenario comes to pass, will the attention on Paul Johnson and his offense overshadow a more important key to the game?

In these rivalries, we tend to focus on personalities, and that sometimes leads us to look at the wrong things. Sometimes not – Cutcliffe really was a factor in some frustrating losses to Tennessee. But take Florida. We obsess over Spurrier, Meyer, and Tebow, but Georgia’s biggest problem against the Gators lately has been on the other side of the ball. While everyone frets over stopping the offensive geniuses, breaking 20 points has been the real challenge in Jacksonville. Though Georgia is 3-15 against Florida since 1990, the series is 3-3 (with Georgia winning three of the last four) over the same period when Georgia scores at least 20.

The same applies and I think will continue to apply to Tech. For a while, it was all about Calvin Johnson, but Georgia was barely able to scratch out 14 and 15 points. The four times Georgia has managed 30+ in the current seven-game winning streak, they’ve beaten Tech by at least 14 points.

Now we’re on to Paul Johnson and dwelling on the impact he’ll have on the Tech offense. Bradley reaches back to 2005 to note Georgia’s difficulty with the spread option against West Virginia, but Georgia did adjust and allowed only ten points over the final 44 minutes of the game. Additionally, Georgia will have seen at least three teams (LSU, Florida, and Auburn) who will run elements of an option offense. The flexbone isn’t the same as the spread option of course, but they test defenses similarly.

So while Paul Johnson is a quality and accomplished coach with an effective contrary offense, yada, yada, yada, recent history tells us that if Tech is going to end the streak any time soon, Dave Wommack will have as much or more to do with it than Johnson.

Post I just don’t get it

Thursday July 31, 2008

Every year there are a few teams that end up on those "teams to watch" lists that I just don’t get. What’s worse is that I usually don’t have much reasoning for doubt; it’s just more of an "O RLY?" reaction when I see these teams popping up over and over again. It’s not that I expect these teams to bomb. I just don’t see as much upside in them as others.

  • North Carolina. I have to say this every so often, but before my conversion I grew up a North Carolina fan. I watched Lawrence Taylor and Amos Lawrence and considered Kelvin Bryant a worthy contemporary of Herschel Walker. I still follow the program. That said, I’m not yet sold on the Butch Davis + time = lots o’ wins formula just yet. It’s not that the team won’t improve on their win total – the schedule is favorable, and I know how close they were to more wins last year. It’s just that I don’t see them jumping suddenly to an ACC contender and a Top 25 team. It might be a year too soon for that. Steady progress is fine.
  • Pitt. The win vs. West Virginia was an upset, not a sign of things to come.
  • Mississippi State. Great job to get to where they finished last year, but eventually you need offense. 2007 might be a peak instead of base camp.

I’m tempted to add: Texas Tech, Clemson, and Fresno.

Post Afternoon tidbits

Wednesday July 30, 2008
  • We’ve mentioned that the Chapel Bell was sent off for repair during the offseason. It’ll be ready for the season opener, and Travis Fain of the Macon Telegraph has a feature on the work that’s gone into it. Bonus: “It might be a little more melodious.”
  • Season parking passes remain: If you want to have parking taken care of before you head to Athens, there are still spaces in the North Campus and Carlton St. (Coliseum) decks. A season pass is $120.
  • Mark Richt is all over ESPN radio this afternoon. One nugget – it sounds like the black jerseys are almost a certainty at some point during the year. My guess: Tennessee.

Post What’s the optimal kickoff time?

Wednesday July 30, 2008

There are two topics that seem to get Georgia fans going more so than other fans: 1) identifying our biggest rival and 2) agreeing on the optimal start time for a home game.

We’ll leave the biggest rival (Tech) for another day, but a news item from Mississippi has stirred the kickoff time pot and has started the discussion back up once again. It doesn’t take much.

Ole Miss has announced that it will move its season opener against Memphis to 6 p.m. It’s not a huge change – the original start time was 5:00. The school mentioned the heat as a driving factor behind the change.

"The heat factor played a major role in this decision," said Ole Miss Athletics Director Pete Boone. "We have experienced exceptionally hot weather in Oxford this summer, and we hope to provide as much relief as possible for our fans in the early-season games."

Not paying $50 to see Ole Miss vs. Memphis would seem like a good starting point for fans seeking relief. There are still tickets remaining – surprised?

Anyway, the news from Oxford was enough to get the attention of Georgia fans who are facing a 12:30 kickoff for their opener against Georgia Southern and a 3:30 start for the Central Michigan game a week later. It’s easy to see why many Georgia fans are steamed. The graph below from the National Weather Service shows a typical summertime temperature forecast. The hottest part of the day is between noon and 6 p.m. (no kidding!) with a peak temperature and heat index around 3:00. After 3:00, the temperature and heat index drop gradually and then begin to fall off after 6:00.

If there’s one weather benefit to an earlier start time, it’s that we should miss any rain. Summer storms usually develop later in the afternoon and into the evening. A 12:30 start should keep things dry unless there’s an organized weather system.

A 12:30 start puts fans in the seats at the beginning of the hottest part of the day and then turns up the heat as the game goes on. A 3:30 start puts fans in the seats at the hottest part of the day and provides only slight relief towards the end. A 6:00 start keeps fans out of the stadium for most of the hottest part of the day, and there’s quite a bit of cooldown by the game’s conclusion. If heat is a concern, Ole Miss’s decision seems to make good sense.

High temps

But things are never that simple at Georgia. TV is almost always a factor. Ole Miss’s opener is not televised, so the kickoff time is much more flexible. Georgia’s opener is televised pay-per-view, so you’d still think there could be some flexibility. The Central Michigan game has been picked up by FSN.

Even when you take the heat out of it, there’s still plenty of disagreement about the optimal starting time. It usually breaks down along the lines of age and geography. Older fans are used to the traditional 1:00 kickoff before television began putting games at all hours of the day on every day of the week. There’s also a good chance you’ll be home at a reasonable hour. Younger fans like night games and the all-day tailgate, but the University administration doesn’t appreciate the condition of campus after those late games.

Fans who live in south Georgia have been very vocal in opposition to later kickoffs, and the athletic department does listen to them. That bloc is probably the reason why Georgia has showed restraint in moving kickoff times, but can you blame them? Unless you shell out for a hotel room, you’re arriving home just a few hours from sunrise.

Personally, I’m still of the age where I appreciate a later start. I’m not going to follow up a 7:45 game with a trip downtown anymore, but there’s nothing wrong with a nice, long tailgate. On the other hand, I’m starting to see how tough it is on families the later a game is. I wouldn’t want to keep up with a gaggle of kids through a day-long tailgate and a game that ends after 11:00. It seems as if CBS has it just right with their 3:30 starts…I’ve rarely seen complaints about games starting in the mid afternoon.

Don’t count on Ole Miss’s change to affect any Georgia start time. We’re stuck with 12:30. We’re not the only ones – Florida’s game against Hawaii is also set for 12:30 (due to TV), and they’ll likely have it even worse than we will.

Post And somewhere the Macho Man sheds a tear

Monday July 28, 2008
Macho Man
Oh nooooooooooo…

Is the 5th Quarter show a thing of the past?

At the Atlanta Bulldog Club meeting tonight they talked about a few changes to post-game programming. First will be a shorter segment of 30 minutes or so of the same highlights, coaches’ comments, etc. that we’re used to right after the game. After that there will be a new network-wide call-in show hosted by Eric Zeier and Neil “Hondo” Williamson. (Thanks to Jim from Duluth for filling in the holes in my recollection.) I’d be surprised if any network affiliates would run their own postgame show over that one.

Hey – maybe this will just give the Macho Man and the regular 5th Quarter callers a bigger stage. It just won’t be the same without the local WNGC production and the bar glasses clinking at Applebee’s.

CORRECTION: It looks as if the 5th Quarter show will live on. So, yes, that means there will be two call-in shows going on after the game, but, personally, the 5th Quarter is a tradition for our crew as the day and tailgate winds down. I know where our dial will be set. There should be more details as we get closer to the season.

Post Football dates to remember

Monday July 28, 2008

Media Days got it going last week, and tonight’s Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club meeting is the unofficial start to the season for most of us. We’re less than five weeks to kickoff, practice starts next week, and it’s time to start talking about this season in detail. We’ll start with a reminder of the important dates over the next month:

Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club: July 28
Road Tour in Columbus: July 29
Road Tour in Chattanooga: July 31
Practice begins: August 4
Two-a-days: August 9-15
Tickets mailed: First week in August
Picture Day: August 16 (3-5 p.m., Sanford Stadium)
First college game: August 28 (Thurs.)
Georgia Season Opener: August 30 (12:30 p.m.)

Note: if you’re getting a refund on tickets, they’ll be mailed by July 31. We got ours over the weekend.

Post A tale of two quarterbacks

Monday July 28, 2008

Play Rodney Garner for a second and tell me which quarterback you’d recruit.

Quarterback A:

11 games starting as a HS junior. Completed 117-of-189 (61.9%). 1,333 yards passing (121 YPG). Threw 10 TD against 9 INT.

Quarterback B:

Rated the #9 QB in the nation and #1 in Georgia by Rivals.com. Offers from Georgia, FSU, and Boston College. Invited to the Elite 11 QB camp.

Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But if you follow recruiting, you probably know that these two blurbs describe the same quarterback. Zach Mettenberger, senior QB at Oconee County, is a walking illustration of potential. At a solid 6’5", he looks the part of a prototypical NFL drop-back passer. He’s wowed coaches at camps with his measurables, and he had an offer from FSU before his junior season even started.

ESPN’s report from the Elite 11 camp observes the same arm strength and intelligence that put Mettenberger on the recruiting radar, notes a lack of speed, and becomes the latest to apply the upside/potential label that can be as much of a curse as it is a compliment.

Mettenberger has a cannon and he has been well coached. He understands the game, knows where to go with the ball and plays with confidence. He has one of the bigger personalities in the group and seems to really enjoy the game.

Mettenberger is a pure drop-back guy. He will need to play in a system that can give him ample protection because he’s not super mobile in the pocket. Saying that, his upside is high and he has a chance to surprise at the next level.

That potential and the made-to-order size and arm strength have been slow to translate into success during games. Next to future Georgia teammate Aaron Murray’s gaudy junior numbers (4,013 yards, 51 TD, 7 INT), Mettenberger’s career numbers hardly register. I admit it can seem a bit incongruous that a quarterback entering his senior season with just over 2,000 career passing yards to his credit is at the same time emerging as a consensus national top 10 prospect at his position.

Some of that disparity might be attributed to coaching and scheme. Last year’s plan to "tweak" an option offense to make better use of Mettenberger met with lukewarm success. Oconee County now has its third coach in four years, and the most recent change brought in a coach from California who is expected to open up the passing game for Mettenberger. The new scheme might suit him better, but can the quarterback and his team succeed with yet another new system thrown at them?

Though college coaches are interested much more in potential than in meaningless high school stats, it will be worth watching this fall to see if Mettenberger’s productivity on the field begins to back up the summer hype and attention from the recruiting services. If he continues to grow into his 6’5" frame and thrives in Oconee’s new offense, the sky is the limit in Watkinsville as well as in Athens.

Post Media Days finishing strong

Friday July 25, 2008

You’d have thought that the first two days with the high profiles of Richt, Meyer, Saban, Miles, Tuberville, Fulmer, and their players would have stolen the show at SEC Media Days. But nope – the SEC saved its best for last.

New Columbus beat writer David Hale is off to a strong start following in the footsteps of David Ching with this legendary account of Kentucky’s Dickie Lyons Jr. time in front of the microphone. If I were Matthew Stafford, I’d somehow sneak up behind Lyons before this year’s game in Lexington.

Also today Anthony Dasher reports over on UGASports.com that Bobby Petrino got more than slightly bent out of shape over a rapid-fire stream of Atlanta Falcons questions. Can’t wait to read more about that.

Again, only in the SEC, where Phil Fulmer now says, “oh, you mean that subpoena.”

Post Five Dawgs on media All-SEC preseason teams

Friday July 25, 2008

The coaches’ preseason selections were announced earlier in the week, and this morning the media named its All-SEC teams.

Georgia had five players on the media’s all-conference teams: Knowshon Moreno and Dannell Ellerbe (first team), and Mohamed Massaquoi, Matthew Stafford, and Asher Allen (second team). Geno Atkins, a second-team selection by the coaches, did not make the media’s list. It’s a little odd that the media announced their All-SEC defenses according to a 3-4 format when the 4-3 is the prevalent alignment in the conference.

LSU had the most All-SEC selections by the coaches, but Auburn led the way among the media with nine players. LSU had eight, and Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina each had five players selected. All five of Florida’s selections were first-teamers.

There were no unanimous first-team selections, though Percy Harvin came close with 68 out of 70 votes. This guy will surely be calling for an investigation after his bold prediction earlier in the week:

What’s the biggest certainty at SEC Media Days? That Tebow will be a unanimous first-team pick at quarterback this week at SEC Media Days….The names of the voters aren’t released, but they do have to put their name on the ballots they submit. No one would risk the embarrassment of being ratted out as the person who omitted Tebow.

Make that six persons, slick.

Post SEC first, then worry about the national title

Friday July 25, 2008

Georgia might be at the top of several preseason national polls, but the SEC media says that the Bulldogs aren’t even the best team in their own conference.

Florida was the media’s pick for SEC champion, getting 36 of 70 votes. Georgia was the projected SEC champion on only 18 ballots. Florida’s advantage was even greater when it came to picking the SEC East champion: 45 ballots picked Florida while 23 named Georgia. Tennessee was a distant third with two votes.

Auburn was the overwhelming favorite to win the SEC West with 48 votes.

As Marc Weiszer notes though, Georgia fans might not mind so much that the media have anointed the Gators.

The SEC preseason poll hasn’t usually been a good barometer. Until LSU won last year, the media swung and missed in the previous 11 years on their pick. Only three times in the past 16 years has the favorite won the SEC title.

What I want to know is who the one media member was who picked Ole Miss to win the SEC. Whether that’s an honest mistake or a cute Spurrier-voting-for-Duke gag, some public ridicule is in order.

Post Top Dawg blog

Friday July 25, 2008

Back in April, I mentioned the upcoming book Top Dawg: Mark Richt and the Revival of Georgia Football written by accomplished author and Georgia fan Rob Suggs. (Pre-order the book here…it should be out soon.)

Rob has started a blog in support of the book, and he dives in by talking about the book’s first chapter – the 2001 Tennessee game. Head over to read a great entry and add your own memories from the game.

Somehow I think this book will be just slightly better than Urban’s love letter to himself.

Post Future Georgia QBs shine at Elite 11

Friday July 25, 2008

Both of Georgia’s 2009 quarterback commitments, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger, got some big-time recognition at the end of the Elite 11 national quarterback camp.

Camp “counselors” that included Matthew Stafford, Chase Daniel, Mark Sanchez, and Colt McCoy named Murray the camp’s MVP. Leadership is a crucial trait for a successful quarterback, and Georgia fans have got to love that Murray also picked up the camp’s Best Leader award.

Mettenberger wasn’t left out of the awards. He took home the Strongest Arm honors, and Georgia coaches have to be excited about having yet another big thrower to work with.

But Murray stole the show, and for the second time in a week he has gone against the best quarterbacks in the nation and came out on top. The guy even plays video games better than anyone else. Here’s just a little of what people were saying:

He has it all,” Elite 11 QB coach Tee Martin, a former standout at Tennessee and quarterback with the Steelers, told ESPN.com. “He needs to continue to work on playing under center and taking his drops. We’ve been working with him on making faster decisions and he has improved a lot there. He’s just a very gifted player.”

“As soon as I saw him last week at the Nike thing I was like, man, this school from Florida is going to win it all because of the quarterback,” said (Bengals WR T.J.) Houshmandzadeh.

Aaron Murray at Elite 11