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Post Introducing Uga VII: “Loran’s Best”

Friday August 29, 2008

Uga VIIThe official press release from UGA (click through to see more pictures):

The seventh in the Uga line of Georgia mascots will be introduced to the Georgia people on Saturday, Aug. 30, during pre-game ceremonies of the Bulldogs’ season opener against Georgia Southern.

“Loran’s Best” will officially become “Uga VII,” when he is introduced for the first time to the Sanford Stadium crowd prior to the 12:34 p.m. kickoff. He will be escorted onto the field by members of the Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler family of Savannah who have owned the continuous line of mascots since Uga I took up the mantle in 1956.

Uga VII’s coronation will become official when UGA President Dr. Michael F. Adams slips the new red leather spike collar over his head during the ceremony at midfield. He succeeds his father, Uga VI, who passed away in June of this year. Uga VII will be escorted onto the field by Charles Seiler and two Seiler grandchildren: Margaret Story and Sara Thompson.

At 56 and one half pounds, he’ll be second only to Uga VI as the biggest mascot in the line. Seiler said he “has an excellent coat and bears a striking resemblance to his father.”

“He’s a great pet, already answers to his name, loves to travel and ride in the car,” said Seiler. “He sleeps in his kennel in the den and is fed Hill’s prescription maintenance dog food at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily. Uga VII already loves to sit on the dock by the river and is ready for his first boat ride.”

“Loran’s Best” was originally named for long-time Georgia Athletic Association personality Loran Smith. Seiler said Uga VII has an entire new wardrobe made with the same material as the team jerseys.

Participating in the pre-game ceremony will be UGA Director of Athletics Damon Evans and the Georgia Redcoat Band. University Alumni Association president Trey Paris will also present a proclamation to the Seiler family honoring Uga VI and welcoming Uga VII.

Other Seiler family members on the field will be Frank W. “Sonny” and Cecelia Seiler, Swann Seiler, Wendy (Mrs. Charles) Seiler, Shannon and Bess Thompson and their children Tennyson and Seiler Thompson, Todd and Sara Story and their children Anna and William Story.

A video tribute to Uga VI will be shown on the stadium scoreboard prior to the official introduction of Uga VII.

Post Arizona State takes a hit

Friday August 29, 2008

The Sun Devils’ new $8 million indoor practice dome was destroyed by a storm last night. There’s some incredible footage of the devastation in the video. The facility was only about a month old.

Post Did Tech really play this video last night?

Friday August 29, 2008

The comments indicate that it was part of the pregame. Just damn.

Post Effect of rules changes on number of plays

Friday August 29, 2008

I’m sure someone will do a better or more detailed analysis, but here are the number of plays from a sample of games from last night.

69 (SC) – 57 (NCSU) (126 total)
64 (Baylor) – 80 (Wake) (144 total)
61 (GT) – 68 (Jax St) (129 total)
67 (Miami-OH) – 66 (Vandy) (133 total)
75 (Cent Mich) – 59 (East Ill) (134 total)

As a baseline for comparison, the Wiz tells us,

The 3-2-5e rule was abolished for the 2007 season and the average number of plays returned to 143.42, on par with the 2005 average of 140.71 (a difference of plus-2.71 plays).

Is it discouraging that only one of those games was at or above the 2005 and 2007 averages? Somewhat. Keep in mind that there were several blowouts, and many of those teams probably went into clock-killing mode later in the game – a strategy that would suppress the number of plays. This sample size is way too small to draw any conclusions, but it’s something to keep an eye on.

Post A light lunch

Thursday August 28, 2008

I thought about doing yet another preview for the opener or, worse, the season, but what’s the point? If you’ve kept up with things over the summer, any Georgia preview is like a bad movie version of a good book. I think that’s why we’re all so dissatisfied and nit-picky with most any preview that’s out there. We’ve read the book.

Even Mark Richt is over all of this preseason crap. So instead we’ll keep things a bit more casual and random until we play ball.

Simoniz your watches

The Dawg Walk will take place at 10:45. The location hasn’t changed, but construction on the Tate Center expansion continues, so keep that in mind when heading down there.

Even though it’s an early game against a 1-AA team, I hope the pregame turnout will be better than usual. There will be a video tribute to Uga VI around 12:15, and his successor will be introduced soon after. Besides, being there to hear “your #1-ranked Georgia Bulldogs” is alone worth packing up tailgate a little earlier.


Lots of stories about ticket scarcity. I’m not really sympathetic with those who decided that this would be a good time to start getting tickets. It’s not like this is the first promising year under Mark Richt. If two SEC titles weren’t enough to get your motor going before now (when there was much less demand for tickets), I can’t feel your pain.

I’m a little more understanding when it comes to the plight of current students. It seems as if there are always complaints, but the situation is justifiably tighter this year. Due to demand, ticket packages are even being split into three-game sets. Ouch. It’s a good time to be a UGA student, but that’s the price of success. Trust us, you’d much rather have it this way instead of how we had it in 1993 and 1994.

OK, I can’t help it.

Two quick things about the team. First, as impressive as Moreno and Stafford might be, this is still a Georgia offense that was outside the top 3 in the SEC in scoring offense, rushing offense, and passing offense. I’d feel a lot better about the season if the offense can get into the top 3 in those stats. Whether it’s the addition of a playmaker like A.J. Green or another year of experience under Mike Bobo, the offense should have the firepower it needs to become one of the best units in the conference. I hope to see some of that on Saturday.

But if you believe Mark Schlabach, the defense should still be the strength of the team (h/t Blutarsky). Georgia’s schedule has been the focus of many centimeter-deep Georgia previews, but it’s not much more different than the 2003 schedule (trading Clemson for Arizona State). In 2003 the Georgia defense was simply scary, leading to big wins over Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, and Tech. The defense even looked good in Georgia’s losses (with the lone exception of the SEC Championship). That 2003 defense helped Georgia overcome a young and, let’s face it, porous offensive line and weak running game to win the SEC East.

We have a higher regard for members of that 2003 defense (Pollack, Davis, Thurman, Jones, et. al.), but is this 2008 defense cut from the same cloth?

Post “How do I get the game?”

Thursday August 28, 2008

It’s probably the most common question this week. Everyone seems to know that the game is on pay-per-view, but beyond that it gets messy. Here’s our best attempt to clear things up.

If you live in Georgia:

Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) controls the broadcast rights within the state of Georgia. The only way to order the game if you have an address in Georgia is to contact your local cable company. Comcast digital subscribers should be able to order the game right from your cable box. Even if you don’t have Comcast cable, it’s possible that your local cable company has partnered with Comcast for this game. The only way to be 100% sure is to call your cable company.

If you live outside of Georgia:

You can order the game as part of ESPN’s GamePlan package. Either buy the game or the season package for not much more.

Can I get the GamePlan package in Georgia?

No. This game is blacked out on the GamePlan package within the state of Georgia (see map below) because Comcast controls the rights within Georgia.

Coverage map for the season opener

I have DirectTV / Dish, and I live in Georgia. Am I screwed?

Pretty much. The only way to get the GamePlan package is to have an out-of-state address. Unless you can convince the dish company that you’re taking your dish “camping” at an out-of-state location, you’re SOL. Some have reported success with that method though – your local channels will change for the weekend as your address changes to some out-of-state campground, but you’d be able to order the game. If you want to jump through those hoops, that’s up to you.

What about a sports bar?

The only thing I can tell you is to call the bar of your choice. Because some bars use satellite only, they can’t order the game in Georgia. Those that get cable should be able to order the game. Again – calling is the only way to be 100% sure. Out-of-state bars should have the game if they get GamePlan (and if they’re worth a damn, why wouldn’t they?). Just call to make sure they’ll show the Dawgs instead of the local team.

There…clear as mud, right? If you know of any bars that definitely will be showing the game, drop the name in the comments. I know that the Derby in Atlanta is among those showing the game. TJ’s in Roswell also.

UPDATE: The AJC has a few additional metro area locations that will be showing the game.

Post Bigger weekend for football or hoops this weekend?

Wednesday August 27, 2008

Of course the season opener with Georgia Southern has the attention of most Bulldog fans this weekend, but there’s also a basketball player in town on his official visit who singlehandedly has the ability to give a big boost to Georgia’s basketball fortunes.

6’9″ big man Derrick Favors – one of the top 5 prospects in the nation – will be in Athens on his official visit this weekend. Though he’s considered a one-and-done player, he also has the ability to make that one year very special for his chosen team, and that special season couldn’t come at a better time for Georgia or Dennis Felton.

Favors is playing his recruitment very coolly, and we shouldn’t expect big news out of this weekend. He’s considering several other schools and will take additional visits. Still, this is Georgia’s chance to put its best foot forward in the Favors sweepstakes, and there won’t be a more important prospect – football or otherwise – in Athens for a while.

Post Face in the crowd

Wednesday August 27, 2008

Wesleyan senior and Lady Bulldog commitment Anne Marie Armstrong is one of Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd in the current issue. Armstrong has been a part of seven state titles: three in volleyball, two in basketball, and two in the high jump.

Post 56.5 pounds of fury

Wednesday August 27, 2008

If waiting until Friday or Saturday is killing you, the Macon paper has a little more information today about Uga VII.

As Lewis Grizzard would say, the pictures we’ve all been emailed with a white bulldog puppy are a ho-ax. Cute puppy, but it’s not Uga. Sonny Seiler explains,

"We had three to choose from, and we took our time. We’ve got an excellent dog. We’re not going to put a puppy out there to fill that collar. He is 3 years old. He is Uga VI’s son. And he is almost full-grown (56.5 pounds)."

If you want to see an illustration of chaos, check out Seiler’s parking spot underneath the bridge before the game on Saturday. Even for ordinary games it’s swamped with those looking to get a picture with Uga. How much more crowded will the area be with those trying to get a look at the new dawg? I wouldn’t blame Sonny for breaking with routine and finding a way to slip into the stadium via another entrance.

For the dedicated Uga stalkers, the Georgia Center wouldn’t be a bad place to hang out this weekend.

Post Big win for the Banner-Herald

Tuesday August 26, 2008

pwd has the scoop on a media development that’s a winner for the Banner-Herald and for Georgia fans. Marc Weiszer’s a solid beat writer, and Ching coming on board will only improve the Georgia coverage.

I know Ching’s an Auburn guy, but I guess a few years covering the Dawgs showed him how the better half lives. Welcome back, David.

Post Captain, my captain

Tuesday August 26, 2008

UGASports.com reports this morning that captains have been named for the season opener:

  • QB Matthew Stafford
  • TE Tripp Chandler
  • LB Dannell Ellerbe
  • P Brian Mimbs

That’s the veteran leadership core of this team.

Post Reserve OL out for the year

Tuesday August 26, 2008

It was a bit of a coup when Chris Little signed with Georgia in 2007. The USA Today 1st Team All American offensive lineman was originally an FSU commitment, changed his pledge to Notre Dame, and then pulled a Signing Day surprise by signing with the Bulldogs. Little’s letter of intent, at the time, took the edge off of another Signing Day surprise when Antwane Greenlee went with FSU instead of Georgia.

Little so far has been one of those star-crossed players. He had the recruiting pedigree, but since arriving in Athens he’s battled weight issues and has had to deal with the unexpected passing of his mother.

Season-ending foot surgery is Little’s most recent setback. He had surgery for a stress fracture in the spring, but the problems persist, and the weight problems can’t be helping. The Banner-Herald reports today that this most recent surgery will sideline him for 2008. Hopefully he can find a way to remain in shape and active while his foot recovers or it will be a long road back next spring and preseason.

Post Welcome to Game Week

Monday August 25, 2008

It’s here, and in five days we’ll hear Brook Whitmire introduce for the first time our #1-ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Pretty much all of the positions are settled now. Preparations for the opener are well underway. There’s not much left to do but line it up. With a few days remaining, here’s what we do and don’t know at this point.

What we know

  • Moreno is the star, but this is Matthew Stafford’s team. We’ve read about his lofty personal goals for the season, and he’s put in the work to get himself ready for a pivotal season. If Stafford does raise his level of play, Georgia should be just fine this year.
  • The offensive line is set. From left-to-right it will be Tripp (LT), Vance (LG), Chris Davis (C), Cordy Glenn (RG), and Josh Davis (RT). I’m not alone in expecting Clint Boling to assume one of the starting positions – most likely right tackle – upon his return from suspension next week. That’s a solid line, and the lone surprise is probably Glenn who has really come on as a true freshman. For the first time in a while, Georgia also has a respectable second team line with players like Ben Jones, "Bean" Anderson, Tanner Strickland, and either Boling or Josh Davis all pushing the starters.
  • Youth will be served. From the receivers to the offensive line to placekicking, true freshmen will see the field early and often in significant roles. Not many tools will be left in the shed this year.
  • Georgia will be wearing the bulls-eye. Everyone wants to knock off the king of the mountain. The Dawgs can expect nothing less than the opponent’s best shot each week.

What we don’t know

  • Who’s going to be this year’s Marcus Howard? Charles Johnson went out with a bang in the 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl, and Georgia turned to an undersized end who had struggled to find playing time. The situation is similar a year later. Marcus Howard left Georgia fans raving about his Sugar Bowl performance, but his time at Georgia ended just as he was rounding into form. Now somewhat unfamiliar names like Wynn and Houston are among those competing for playing time. The ability of Jon Fabris to crank out NFL-quality defensive ends isn’t in question, but his job has been made tougher this year with a rash of minor injuries at the position.
  • Can Blair Walsh perform under pressure? A field goal make or miss can be season-changing in the SEC, and the Bulldogs enter 2008 with a freshman kicking the ball. Walsh has said all the right things and has the cockiness you’d want from someone willing to accept the pressure, but it might take consecutive road trips in September to learn just what kind of kicker we have.
  • Who’s splitting carries with Moreno? A year ago many fans expected Caleb King to compete with Knowshon Moreno. Now King is in danger of becoming the second choice for backing up Moreno. History is full of promising players who end up with the "injury-prone" label and can’t shake it. Now true freshman Richard Samuel is getting glowing press and is dead-even with King. Though Caleb is only a redshirt freshman, his window for proving himself is now.
  • How tough will the schedule really be? We know it’s loaded with big name teams, and even the mid-major opponent brings a dangerous quarterback to town. The ins and outs of a season though reveal some teams to be better than expected and others to be worse. Some games we expect to be struggles could likely turn into cakewalks and vice versa.
  • What factor will serendipity play in the 2008 season? Will one of the season’s biggest games be played in a driving rainstorm? Will a key injury turn the fortunes of the Bulldogs or one of their opponents? Will an epidemic of jock itch derail any more contenders? These completely random unknowns are what makes the game what it is and can make the difference between 14-0 and 10-2. Will enough of the bounces go Georgia’s way?

Post Topical memes

Monday August 25, 2008

Repechage: You couldn’t watch much Olympics coverage without coming across the term repechage. If you missed it, it’s more or less French for "loser’s bracket". Though the application of the term varies by sport, it generally allows individuals who aren’t automatic qualifiers in preliminary rounds to remain alive and earn their way back either by being the "fastest loser" or by winning additional heats against others who failed to qualify.

College football has its own repechage. There will be teams that lose early and are outright eliminated from the national title picture. Sorry, Michigan, several Pacific islands finished ahead of you in your first heat of 2007. There will be other teams who lose and remain viable title contenders. They’ll have a tougher road back with each loss, and they might need some help. But if your qualifications are strong enough, you still have a fighting chance. The United States might drop the baton, and Pitt might beat West Virginia.

It should be noted that the last two national champions got to the national title game via the repechage.

Superdelegates: We’ll see them in action this week in Denver. They probably won’t have as much of a controversial role at the DNC as it seemed during the spring, but the concept is interesting.

Imagine if after the BCS did its thing a group of college football’s elite figures got a chance to vote and affect the outcome. Some might accept the results of the BCS and vote accordingly. Others might vote in the interests of their conference or school. Still others might feel an obligation to do what’s best for the game and override the BCS.

In many years the football superdelegates wouldn’t have much to say. Southern Cal and Texas? Fine. In other years their role might become much more controversial. Nebraska 2001? Really?

If there were BCS superdelegates, to whom would you give that job?

Post Moreno to wear green jersey in opener

Monday August 25, 2008

Mark Richt announced on Monday that Georgia’s starting tailback would continue to wear a green no-contact jersey in this Saturday’s season opener against Georgia Southern. Knowshon Moreno has spent most of preseason camp in the no-contact jersey typically reserved for injured players, but coaches insist that Moreno is fine and that the jersey is just a precaution.

Richt noted on Sunday that Moreno was already getting some contact in Georgia practices despite the green jersey. "That green jersey is supposed to keep you from having to strike anybody or have someone strike you, but when you get the ball in your hand, you tend to get shots. I think he’s getting plenty right now," Richt said.

Georgia Southern still must agree to the arrangement, but the Bulldogs have offered to have plays involving Moreno end on "thud", a technique common during preseason scrimmages. Georgia coaches maintain that their proposal is win-win – Moreno is protected, and the Eagles don’t have to worry about completing tackles against the elusive Bulldog tailback.

Richt left open the possibility of Moreno shedding the green jersey for the Central Michigan game, and he expressed relief that Georgia was playing Central Michigan instead of Michigan State in the second game of the season. "Michigan State’s green uniforms sure would have caused us to think about some things," he admitted.

Coaches would not comment on rumors of a special road no-contact jersey ordered for the South Carolina game. Regardless of the jersey, Richt plans to use Moreno on exactly 23 plays this season to avoid the possibility of injury.