Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Urban Meyer, coach-in-waiting

Sunday December 27, 2009

We guessed yesterday that we’d see Urban Meyer back on a college football sideline, but we didn’t see it coming this quickly:  instead of going through with his planned resignation, Meyer will accept an offer to stay on as head coach and take an indefinite leave of absence.

It’s going to take a lot of work to keep this from becoming a messy situation.  As it was phrased in the press conference, the head coach is now also the coach-in-waiting.  To what extent will he have oversight of the program during his leave?

A question about Meyer’s role in hiring Florida’s next defensive coordinator seemed to catch Meyer off-guard.  To be fair, this is a decision that was made in a day’s time, and Meyer was quick to point out that the details still have to be sorted out. 

It was a good question, though.  By changing his resignation to a leave of absence, Meyer will still have some presence around the program.  He admitted that the tough part of this process will be figuring out how to “fix” the things that have led him to this point.  That involves stepping away from the program to get well, but was this morning’s change of heart a sign that he’s going to have trouble distancing himself enough to get well?

Athletic director Jeremy Foley made it clear at the press conference that Meyer is still Florida’s head coach, and he just happens to be taking an indefinite leave of absence.  His role in the hiring of the defensive coordinator is just one detail to be worked out.  Recruiting is heading into the home stretch, and Meyer deflected a question about whether he was now off the recruiting trail. 

Meyer talked about being back in time for the start of the 2010 season.  He’s going to coach in the bowl game.  He’s not likely to drop recruiting cold turkey.  Other than spring practice, exactly what is he stepping away from?

The answer – it doesn’t matter.  It’s not our concern.  As everyone wrote up their resignation stories, the consensus was that the SEC was better with Meyer in it.  That’s still true.  We’re going to snipe at the minutiae of the story, but Meyer’s the one to know his limits and has to face his family with the decision.  I’ve already seen the “guess it couldn’t have been that serious” comments, but Meyer’s under no obligation to justify that.

Speaking of medical conditions though, I hope no one gagged or got diabetes from the conversation on the podium.  Meyer spoke of the amazing place that is Florida, and Jeremy Foley swooned along, but I doubt they would have made this arrangement for someone who hadn’t won two national titles in the past three seasons.  Not many of us get the opportunity Meyer is getting, but he’s earned it.

Post Reacting to Urban Meyer’s resignation

Sunday December 27, 2009

No other way to do this than to go down the random thoughts that have been bouncing around all evening.  It’s a massive and sudden announcement that has stopped the college football world in its tracks.

  • First, our thoughts have to be with Meyer and his family.  The issue doesn’t seem to be life-threatening (in the immediate sense, at least), but it was obviously serious enough to force a man who lived the game of football to readjust his priorities and step away.  Hopefully it’s a hiccup in a long life.
  • It’s so unusual to see someone at the top of their game – coaches come and go all the time, but this has to be as big of a shock as it was when Spurrier took to the podium at the start of the decade.  The biggest difference is the health issue.  We’re not saying goodbye to Meyer, so it’s not quite a Lou Gehrig moment.  Ara Parseghian and Bo Schembechler will be mentioned as analogues, but were either really the dominant personalities in the sport when they stepped down? 
  • Georgia fans may never know how close Mark Richt came to a similar decision a few years ago during his wife’s battle with cancer. Facing one’s mortality, especially with financial concerns all but moot, has to make even the most driven professional place work far down the list of priorities.
  • As much as we hate to admit it, the SEC was better off for having Meyer around.  He’s a big part of the reason why the conference is going for its fourth consecutive national title.  The coverage that will nauseate most of us leading up to the Sugar Bowl is a reminder that this is a national sports story that will dwarf almost every other college football story up to and including the national title game.
  • One has to wonder when and where he’ll resurface.  Again, he’s not dying.  He’ll have time to step away and spend time with his family while addressing his health.  It’s not hard to imagine a bright and effective communicator stepping into broadcast media at some point.  Will we ever see him on a sideline again?  He’s only 45.
  • The SEC East was already pretty wide open heading into 2010, and this news only adds to the unpredictability.  The top three teams in the division – Florida, Tennessee, and Georgia – all face big turnover and will be starting a new quarterback.  Is South Carolina, with an experienced quarterback returning, a dark horse among a chaotic field?
  • Bulldog fans shouldn’t be too giddy just yet – Georgia’s problems with Florida go far beyond the coach on the other sideline.  Even Ron Zook had a winning record in Jax.
  • Some might think it crass that Georgia and others began contacting Florida commitments less than an hour after the announcement.  But back to Gehrig – we’re not hovering over Meyer’s death bed waiting to see if he’ll emerge from a coma.  He’s made the decision to step away from coaching, and that decision – not to mention the departure of the offensive and defensive coordinators within a year of each other – has immediate implications in recruiting. 
  • Not going to get too wrapped up in the Florida coaching search except to say that it will introduce some new dynamics into the ongoing Georgia searches. Will Florida be replacing more than a new coordinator on defense as a new head coach takes over?
  • Notre Dame might have inadvertently avoided a repeat of the 2005 battle with Florida over the next big head coach.  Or is Brian Kelly re-examining that five-year Notre Dame contract tonight for a buyout clause? 
  • Charlie Strong is an interesting case.  Meyer didn’t wake up this morning and decided to step down.  All accounts are that he’s been considering it since “recent developments” (including a hospitalization following the SEC Championship game).  Strong took the Louisville job in the meantime, but we have to think he would have been a candidate to replace Meyer.  Meyer didn’t reach a decision until the past few days, but did Strong have a chance to see it coming?
  • Will Meyer take on the “emeritus” role and hang around the program?  I hope for his sake he’ll retreat into the privacy he’ll need to focus on health and family, but it will be tempting to remain around a Gator community that wants him around. That scenario wouldn’t bode well for the next coach though; Meyer’s shadow will loom large enough without the former coach popping up everywhere. 
  • As with Zook, I don’t envy the next Florida coach.

Post Kawika Mitchell has a problem with his new teammate

Thursday December 17, 2009

Remember Kawika Mitchell? He was part of that great 1998 recruiting class of linebackers at Georgia. He transferred to USF after his freshman season (reportedly to be closer to his girlfriend), and he’s become a solid pro. He’s currently with Buffalo on injured reserve.

The Bills picked up lineman Richie Incognito this week, and Mitchell used his Twitter account to make sure everyone know what he thinks of the addition.

Post Should replay officials ignore the call on the field?

Thursday December 17, 2009

Since it’s a slow time before the bowls and it might be January before we get any concrete news about the new coaches, I’ll throw out a topic that has been getting a lot of play, of all places, in the legal blogosphere: should replay officials review plays de novo?

de novo, in the legal context, means to review a case fresh; that is, without considering the original outcome. Applied to football replays, de novo review would mean that replay officials would review the play and make a ruling based on the video without consideration for the ruling on the field. That’s contrary to most replay systems currently in use which defer to the field officials and require “indisputable video evidence” in order to overturn a call.

Why remove the burden of indisputable video evidence and instead ignore the original call? It centers around this one assumption: a replay official, with multiple angles and time to study the call, almost always has the advantage over a field official making the call in real time.

What about instances where the video replay is inconclusive? It could still be argued that the judgment of the replay official is the right way to go. If several moments and multiple camera angles aren’t enough to establish a conclusive ruling, why would the original call made in the heat of the moment be any more accurate?

Go back to calls like the LSU interception against Alabama. With the ruling on the field of a catch out of bounds, the burden under the current standard is to prove conclusively that the defender’s foot was in bounds. Based on the outcome of the review (the call was upheld), we conclude that the standard wasn’t met. But under a de novo review, the booth would be free to consider the play and the number of angles without being constrained by the ruling on the field.

Since there are a lot of educated minds kicking this topic around, some good points have been raised. Overuse of replay and its effect on the game’s pace are vaild concerns. There are also disagreements over whether multiple video angles really can provide a better look at a call than an official who is in great position to see the play. That’s especially valid considering the non-standardized equipment and video quality in the booth that’s often poorer than what home viewers see.

PS…regardless of the standards used for review, I’ll beat my drum here again for unmanned cameras positioned at goal lines.

PPS…I do like Josh Patashnik’s point about the arbitrariness of calls, especially when it comes to spotting the ball. It’s always amused me that the officials can eyeball the placement of the spot for every play – including the one that sets the chains to begin with – and yet the decision to award a first down depends on a (relatively) precise measurement.

Post Mountain West crew to work the I-Bowl

Wednesday December 16, 2009

Rivals has information this morning about which conferences will be assigned to referee the 2009 bowl games. Officials from the Mountain West conference will work Georgia’s Independence Bowl matchup with Texas A&M. The piece also looks at how conferences go about assigning their various crews to work the bowls – it’s as much a reward and merit-based system for the officials as it is for the teams.

After grading each official’s work during the regular season, each conference sends its top officials at each position to NCAA national coordinator David Parry, who assembles bowl crews by conference. Parry then assigns each bowl game a crew of neutral conference officials.

We offer our condolences to the teams playing in the Alamo, Champs Sports, Orange, and St. Petersburg Bowls. They’ll be getting SEC refs, and it will be interesting to see who the conference sends as its best officials.

Post Heisman returns to the SEC, but will it remain?

Wednesday December 16, 2009

Congratulations to Mark Ingram. He’s as good a choice as anyone this year, and his reaction to winning the Heisman was a great and genuine moment.

Ingram is barely home from New York, and he already faces the question faced by any underclassman winner: can he do it again? It would be a tough order, and history won’t be on his side. The previous two Heisman winners won as underclassmen and neither was able to repeat. In the case of Bradford, injury cut short any repeat talk before it could get started. In the case of Tebow, the phenomenon of Tebow fatigue and declining stats since that 2007 season kept him from repeating. Tebow still managed to become a rare 3-time finalist, and Ingram can still match that feat.

I don’t expect there to be nearly as much “Ingram fatigue” as there was Tebow fatigue. As star football players go, Ingram’s still relatively anonymous. He’s not the outspoken leader that Tebow is/was. With such teammates as Cody, McLain, and Julio Jones, it’s possible that Ingram isn’t even the biggest name on his own team. That will change almost immediately. The Ingram media blitz is underway, and he’ll be the centerpiece of the championship game coverage as well as every preseason publication next year. I still think it won’t be as obnoxious or overbearing as what we saw out of Gainesville, but that was as much the media’s creation as anything, and Ingram will only have so much control over his own image going forward.

If someone other than Ingram is going to win the 2010 Heisman, he’s likely going to have to come from relative obscurity (much as Ingram did). 2009 was unusual with established stars like Tebow, McCoy, and Bradford all returning, but that won’t be the case next year. Of the top 10 from this year’s results, only three – Ingram, Boise’s Kellen Moore, and Houston’s Case Keenum – might be back next year. That number might dwindle further as Keenum explores his draft options.

You’re sure to hear some specific names come up next year. There are the stars from traditional powers: Pryor for sure will at least be in the preseason discussion and given every chance to win it. Even young players like Barkley and Forcier could come into play if their teams have strong seasons. Then there are exciting players from the next tier of programs: Dion Lewis at Pitt is bound to draw some attention. Kellen Moore could launch his candidacy with a BCS bowl win this year. Ryan Williams at Virginia Tech and LaMichael James at Oregon were phenomenal freshmen. The Pac-10 will have several high-profile quarterbacks (Luck, Masoli, Barkley, and even Locker). Finally there are the gaudy stat guys. Keenum would be the head of this class if he returns. Ryan Mathews at Fresno put up over 1,600 yards rushing despite missing a game. Ryan Mallett had a strong season for Arkansas and could put up big numbers in Petrino’s offense, but turnover on the staff and general questions about the quality of Arkansas could hurt his Heisman chances.

But, yeah. There don’t seem to be many sure-fire candidates – as it stands now – to challenge Ingram. That’s the story of Ingram’s improbable season though. If someone other than the Big 3 quarterbacks was going to win the Heisman this year, hardly anyone mentioned that it could be the sophomore tailback from Alabama. Coming into 2009 Reggie Bush was the only non-quarterback to win the award this decade. Ingram himself was barely on the Heisman radar at midseason. A lot of players had some very good seasons, but the lack of a real focal point (think Tebow in 2007 or Bush in 2005) opened up the race to a group of nontraditional candidates like Gerhart, Suh, and of course the first Heisman winner from Alabama. As stark as the Heisman landscape might look entering 2010, we know there will be several players who emerge.

Ingram’s biggest obstacle to repeating might be sharing a locker room with him. Even playing behind a Heisman winner true freshman Trent Richardson managed 642 yards and 5.1 YPC. I’m not suggesting that Richardson will beat out Ingram next year, but they will split time. It’s a fact of life as a tailback. Will Ingram get enough carries to put up Heisman-type numbers, and can he match his 6+ YPC number again? The presence of another capable back isn’t necessarily a death sentence for Heisman hopes though – Ingram won it this year despite Richardson’s impressive freshman season, and Reggie Bush managed just fine alongside another NFL-quality back.

What does Ingram have to do to repeat? At the bare minimum, he’ll need to:

  • Stay healthy. Ingram played through some pain late in the season, but anything more serious could have cost him valuable exposure and stats in a tight race. It was only two years ago that Dennis Dixon had his legitimate Heisman chances stopped cold by injury.
  • Put up far better numbers. Ingram’s 2009 stats were enough for him to win a close vote this year, but they were the fewest rushing yards by any Heisman-winning back since 1975. He can’t hope to repeat if his stats drop or even stay constant – the bar has been set. The challenge will be getting his numbers while playing alongside Richardson and a maturing passing game that features McElroy, Jones, and Maze.
  • Feature on a winning team. Bama still figures to be strong, but just dropping a game or two along the way could derail a Heisman candidate. Alabama will play Penn State and Florida in addition to the usual SEC slate in 2010.

Post I-Bowl tickets popular everywhere but Athens

Tuesday December 15, 2009

Independence Bowl tickets are selling well, according to the Shreveport Times, with one exception. Local tickets have sold out for the 49,180-seat stadium. Texas A&M has nearly distributed all of its 12,000 tickets. What’s keeping the game from selling out?

The University of Georgia has sold approximately half of its 12,000 tickets. Georgia went into the weekend with 5,500 tickets sold.

I’m not going to berate Georgia fans because I’m one of the bad fans who’s not going to make the trip. I understand that Shreveport is much closer to College Station, Dallas, and all of east Texas than it is to Georgia. Not feeling it for this postseason isn’t an indictment of Georgia fans – bowl organizers will need only look at our showing in Tempe, Stillwater, and Boulder to know that Georgia fans will travel in force for a quality game. To be honest, that 5,500 is a pretty big increase. I’ve heard that I-Bowl preorders numbered in the hundreds before Georgia was officially announced less than two weeks ago.

Will Georgia sell out its allotment? It’s possible, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Point the finger at the fans if you like, but that’s not going to fix the disappointing season or the failure of the athletic administration to position the team for a better bowl. I hope the Dawgs end up being as well-supported in Shreveport as they were in 1991. I also hope that disinterest in this game stops with the fan base and at the gates to the practice field.

Post Hoop Dawgs put on 2-hour infomercial for prospects who can score

Thursday December 10, 2009

Mark Fox’s team got their first opportunity on national television last night, and the best we can say is that they didn’t give up or get embarrassed in such a setting.

Georgia fell 66-56 to a decent St. John’s team at Madison Square Garden in the SEC-Big East Invitational. Georgia held their own in the first half and trailed by only three at intermission despite not being able to hit from the floor or the free throw line. It didn’t take St. Johns long in the second half to push the margin near double-digits, and the game remained an 8-to-12 point affair for most of the rest of the second half. Georgia made a small push near the end to cut the Red Storm’s advantage to just six points, but St. John’s put the game away from the foul line.

Trey Thompkins did well on the national stage by tallying 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks. He and Travis Leslie (14 points) were the highlights on offense for Georgia, but they got little help. The frontcourt was especially disappointing: Jackson and Price failed to score, and Chris Barnes – who ended up with 7 points – wasn’t used nearly enough. Leslie’s 10 free throw attempts were more than the frontcourt had combined.

It’s not much use to pick this team apart – we know who they are, and it’s no surprise that they’re going to have trouble scoring. Still, there are things like free throws and carelessness with the ball that can be corrected and keep the team competitive. There’s no question though that Georgia needs scorers to complement Thompkins. Leslie is a fine role player – and did you see the alley-oop at the end of the game? – but he’s not consistent enough to be your traditional scoring wing. We’ll see these issues again and again this year. Fox can get what he can out of the current group of players, but the chief imperative (and often the Achilles’ heel) of the Georgia job is turning around recruiting.

The Dawgs are off for exams until a December 19th game at the Gwinnett Area against Illlinois.

Post No accounting for taste

Thursday December 10, 2009

I know it’s my job as a Georgia fan to look down on the ACC. OUR 7-5 TEAMS BEAT YER CHAMPS HAHA. That’s more like it. But when I read how bad the ratings were for the ACC Championship game (h/t Get the Picture), especially relative to the Big 12 Championship, I have to ask: what were you all thinking? You were watching the wrong game.

Other than the legendary performance of Suh, the Big 12 game was mind-numbingly awful. I couldn’t turn away from it quickly enough. I know what was at stake – a spot in the BCS title game and even the Heisman. Even that wasn’t enough to hold interest.

Meanwhile the ACC game was compelling from start to finish. Clemson started the scoring right away. It was clear from the start that Spiller – playing through injury – would be a major story. Tech’s relentless option was also in fine form, and Nesbitt dragging his team down the field for a key third quarter touchdown was more impressive and skillful than anything Mr. Sideline Pass did on ABC.

Fortunately I was able to watch both endings and see Texas do their best to give the conference title, national title, and Heisman away. But I also got to see Clemson come back from two scores down before Tech began their slow and inevitable march to the winning score. There was no question which game was more entertaining and a better use of my time. Blame the low ratings on the the fact that it’s ACC football, but I’m surprised that a lot more people didn’t abandon ABC for ESPN as the night went on.

Post Great moments in rationalization

Thursday December 10, 2009

Clay Travis does the art of rationalization proud with his piece on the NCAA’s interest in Tennessee’s recruiting practices. He asks some good questions, but he veers into in-the-tank-land with arguments like this one:

And how about using “nearly 200 miles” as the distance instead of writing, “three hours in a car.” Is it really that surprising that a college student would take a road trip of three hours? Especially in the South, for a football game? Is it even that uncommon for someone to drive three hours to watch a sporting event? Nearly 200 miles makes the trip sound much further, especially to east coast readers.

Sure – I mean what college student hasn’t taken a nearly 200-mile (178-mile, sorry) road trip to watch an otherwise meaningless high school game whose only redeeming value is that it features a couple of kids who have committed to play for the college you attend and represent? Though I was one of the rare college students who chose to, you know, remain in a vibrant college town on a Friday night in the fall, I have to admit that it was tempting to pack up and – completely unprompted – head a few hours deep into South Freaking Carolina to show my school spirit.

A deeper look at Travis’s column over at TSK.

Post Preseason vs. postseason: the All-SEC offense

Tuesday December 8, 2009

The AP All-SEC teams were announced yesterday, and Georgia placed seven on the lists including Curran, Butler, and Green on the first team. The good news for Georgia is that as many as six of their seven all-conference players could be returning for 2010 (depending of course on what juniors like Curran and Boling decide to do).

It’s usually interesting to go back to the preseason all-conference teams to see which assumptions were closest, who emerged during the season, and who didn’t live up to expectations or had to deal with the heartbreak of injuries. We’ll start with the offense:


Preseason 1st Team: Tim Tebow
Preseason 2nd Team: Jevan Snead

Postseason 1st Team: Tim Tebow
Postseason 2nd Team: Ryan Mallett

Comments: That Mallett would win postseason honors isn’t a big surprise. He was expected to have a big season in Bobby Petrino’s second year, and he delivered this year’s Tim Couch performance – nice stats on an average team. He led the league in passing as well as total offense. There’s not much to say about Tebow holding on to the first team spot – it was his to lose, and he didn’t slip up.

The story at quarterback was Snead. Few players were hotter at the end of 2008, and, contrary to the circus at SEC Media Days, it wasn’t heresy to suggest that Snead was a worthy challenger to Tebow’s supremacy. Signs of trouble were there in the opener when he threw two interceptions against Memphis. Preseason hopes were finally dashed at South Carolina where the flaws of the Ole Miss team were laid out bare on national television. On the year he threw for 20 TD against 17 INT. Ole Miss still won 8 games, but it wasn’t the season that the Rebels or Snead expected.

Running Back:

Preseason 1st Team: Charles Scott, Michael Smith
Preseason 2nd Team: Mark Ingram, Anthony Dixon

Postseason 1st Team: Mark Ingram, Anthony Dixon
Postseason 2nd Team: Dexter McCluster, Montario Hardesty, Ben Tate

Comments: The preseason first team gave way to the second team. Ingram built on a solid freshman season to emerge as a legitimate Heisman candidate, and Dixon was the primary weapon on offense for a Mississippi State team that claimed a few scalps and scared several others in an impressive debut for Dan Mullen.

McCluster’s inclusion on the second team is another way of recognizing the SEC’s most versatile player. He also shows up on the postseason first team under “all-purpose.” In the preseason he was listed as a 2nd team all-SEC receiver (see below). That all should tell you what he meant to the Ole Miss offense and how enjoyable he was to watch this year. Hardesty and Tate became dependable workhorses that led their first-year coaches to bowl eligibility. Despite sharing time with other capable backs (Brown at Tennessee and Fanning at Auburn), Hardesty and Tate stood out enough to merit recognition.

Injuries took down the preseason favorites. But for a wonderful 145-yard outing against Auburn, Smith never got going this year and finally had to hang it up after struggling with a hamstring injury all season. Scott likewise never got going during the season, and the two touchdowns he scored at Georgia remain the only points he put up against SEC competition. He put up 100 yards only once: 112 yards against Tulane. Scott’s season came to an end after he suffered a broken collarbone against Alabama.

Tight End:

Preseason 1st Team: D.J. Williams
Preseason 2nd Team: Aaron Hernandez

Postseason 1st Team: Aaron Hernandez
Postseason 2nd Team: Colin Peek

Comments: Hernandez was enough of a known entity to rate a preseason mention, and his stature rose as he became one of Tebow’s favorite targets. He was effective either in close quarters on the shovel pass or downfield as a dependable receiver who could move the chains. Alabama’s strategy to disrupt the shovel pass on Florida’s opening series was a tip of the cap to the impact Hernandez has had. Peek likewise became one of his quarterback’s preferred targets. The Alabama offense seemed tailor-made for a traditional tight end, and Peek flourished after his transfer from Georgia Tech.

Preseason first-teamer D.J. Williams had a good season by tight end standards, but his chances to earn postseason honors were probably hurt by the performance of other Arkansas receivers like Greg Childs and Joe Adams. Williams had as many touchdowns as he had in 2008, but he had nearly half the receptions and yardage while battling a nagging ankle injury.


Preseason 1st Team: A.J. Green, Julio Jones
Preseason 2nd Team: Brandon LaFell, Dexter McCluster

Postseason 1st Team: Shay Hodge, A.J. Green
Postseason 2nd Team: Joe Adams, Riley Cooper, Brandon LaFell


A.J. Green was good enough over the first half of the season that he managed only three receptions in November (due to missing the better part of four games due to various injuries) and still earned first team honors. Through the Florida game Green had at least three receptions per game and had no shortage of highlight-quality plays. Hodge meanwhile became the dependable and productive star of the Ole Miss offense. He might not have been as electrifying as McCluster, but you can’t ignore the SEC’s only 1,000 yard receiver.

The second-teamers are all solid choices. Adams was a big part of Mallett’s success. Cooper seemed headed for a future in baseball, but he returned for one more year with his roommate Tebow to lead the Gators in receiving yards and touchdowns. The LSU offense was unspectacular for much of the season, but LaFell remained one of the few bright spots.

As for Julio Jones, he didn’t have a disappointing season, but he was slowed by an injured ankle early in the season. He tallied only one touchdown and 175 yards through Alabama’s first seven games before coming to life with 7 receptions against Tennessee. He’s posted 398 yards and 3 TD in the final six games of the season. His highlight of the year had to be the short reception he turned into a 73-yard go-ahead touchdown against LSU. The play reminded everyone that, while his numbers might be down this year, Jones is still one of the most dangerous and explosive players in the SEC.

Offensive Line:

Preseason 1st Team: Ciron Black, Mike Johnson, John Jerry, Mike Pouncey, Maurkice Pouncey
Preseason 2nd Team: Clint Boling, Trinton Sturdivant, Lee Ziemba, Zipp Duncan, Josh McNeil

Postseason 1st Team: Mike Johnson, Ciron Black, Mike Pouncey, John Jerry, Maurkice Pouncey
Postseason 2nd Team: Clint Boling, Chris Scott, James Carpenter, Mitch Petrus, Ryan Pugh

Comments: I hope most honest fans would agree that line play is the toughest area to get a read on. There are few individual stats to compare other than the meaningless pancake block. So if the postseason first team is identical to the preseason line, I’ll take it.

Injuries cut into the preseason second team line. Sturdivant and McNeil were lost to knee injuries. Duncan and Ziemba didn’t have sub-par seasons; each received honorable mention on the postseason teams. Boling had another All-SEC season despite changing positions during the year for the second time due to injury elsewhere on the line.

Post One upside to the Independence Bowl

Tuesday December 8, 2009

Reuniting with Ron Franklin.

Post ABH endorses tailgating fee

Monday December 7, 2009

The defensive staff might not be the only change when we meet up for another season of Georgia football in 2010. The editors of the Athens Banner-Herald have put their support behind the idea of charging a fee to tailgate on North Campus as a response to the ongoing trash problem.

In general outline, setting up some sort of fee for tailgating access to North Campus, presumably through some sort of permit system, seems to be the most workable option.

To be clear, there is currently no plan to implement such a fee. It’s just an idea floated as a possible solution to the problem that received much negative media coverage during the 2009 season. President Adams stated last week that he would “recoil a little bit” from the idea of a tailgating fee.

A fee/permit/registration system would have the benefit not only of keeping numbers down; it would also, in theory, help to identify those leaving the mess behind. Of course in practice that would also mean that some poor schmuck who holds a tailgating permit would be on the hook for trash left in their designated spot by friends-of-friends or passers-by on the heavily-traveled route from downtown. There’s also the question whether those who dump trash on North Campus would simply move to another area of campus or the surrounding town. Is it less of a problem if a less-scenic part of campus ends up looking like a landfill?

While a fee would bring certain obligations and responsibilities by tailgaters, tailgaters should also expect something for their money. Better access to portable restrooms, even more trash containers and dumpsters, and even things like access to electricity should be considered.

The idea isn’t without precedent. Auburn has implemented a fee to tailgate at a certain area, and their experience would be worth studying if UGA considers the idea. It’s not an exact analogue – Auburn’s space is prime real estate next to the stadium and carries a price tag to match.

Post Texas A&M might not be Georgia’s ideal bowl opponent

Monday December 7, 2009

It’s official – the Dawgs are going to meet the 6-6 Texas A&M Aggies in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl on Monday Dec. 28 at 5:00 ET.  The game will be televised on ESPN2.  Georgia is 1-3 all-time against the Aggies.  Georgia dropped the first three meetings – including a postseason loss in the 1950 Presidential Cup Bowl.  But the Dawgs took the most recent game – a 42-0 win in Athens in 1980.

If you wanted to find the least ideal opponent for a team that was short three defensive coaches, it would be a team that was near the top of a major conference and rated among the top 5 nationally in total offense.  That’s just what Georgia is getting in Texas A&M.  Through all games, the Aggies led the Big 12 in total offense and were third in scoring offense.  Isolating only conference games A&M was second in total offense and still third in scoring offense.  They got there primarily behind a rushing offense that was second-best in the league with 180 YPG, and they also averaged 245.4 YPG passing against Big 12 competition.

The Aggie running game is led by a duo of backs Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray.  The two have similar stats, but Michael leads the team in touchdowns and has been getting the bulk of the carries lately.  The running game is augmented by a mobile quarterback.  Jerrod Johnson is an efficient passer who torched Texas for 342 yards passing and 97 yards on the ground.  For the season Johnson has an impressive 455 net yards and 8 touchdowns rushing along with 28 TD through the air against just 6 INT. (By contrast, the Georgia record for passing touchdowns in a season is 25.) 

The Georgia defense and its hodgepodge of coaches will have a tough job first containing the triple running threat while paying attention to a diversified passing game that has seen nine Aggies (including both featured tailbacks) record at least 15 receptions during the season.  They convert third downs at nearly a 50% clip, thanks no doubt to Johnson’s ability to create.

There’s a silver lining of course and a reason why such a potent offense led to a 6-6 record.  The Aggies were the Big 12’s worst defense in terms of scoring defense and total defense.  They gave up over 460 YPG to conference opponents.  They were dead last in passing defense, and their rushing defense is also among the bottom quarter of the Big 12.  Against bowl-eligible Big 12 teams, the Aggies gave up an average of 42 PPG. 

As you might expect, that volatile combination of potent offense and toxic defense has led to A&M being on both sides of some lopsided scores.  They got blown out by Arkansas and Kansas State but rebounded to put up at least 35 points in wins over bowl-bound Texas Tech and Iowa State.  They followed those wins up by losing to a bad Colorado team and getting destroyed 65-10 by an Oklahoma squad that limped to a 7-5 record. 

Many saw A&M’s most recent outing – a 49-39 loss to Texas on Thanksgiving night.  The Aggies, led by Johnson’s incredible performance, kept pace with the #2 team in the nation but had their back broken by a 95-yard kickoff return.  The Aggies put up a prodigious 532 yards but allowed 597 (plus 186 return yards).

There are common opponents. Two weeks after losing to Georgia in Fayetteville, Arkansas put a 47-19 beating on Texas A&M at a neutral-site game in Dallas. Arkansas trailed after the first quarter but put up 23 points in the second quarter to break the game open.  The Hogs were able to move the ball on the ground as well as through the air, and their dominance of the game let Mallet have a relatively reserved 17-27-271 day with 4 TD passes.

The Aggies fared slightly better against Oklahoma State.  The Cowboys won by a close 36-31 margin in College Station. Georgia lost 24-10 in the season opener at Oklahoma State.

Georgia’s defense will have its work cut out, but the offense will be under pressure to put points on the board and keep the ball away from a potent Aggie attack.  The Dawgs led their conference in scoring (in conference games), but they’ve also done themselves in with turnovers. They’ll need the strong running game we saw at Georgia Tech to control the clock and keep the Aggie firepower on the bench.  There should also be opportunities in the passing game, and the return of A.J. Green could provide a big spark for Georgia.

Post Sunday morning steam-of-consciousness

Sunday December 6, 2009

As we wait for the BCS and bowl picture to shake out this afternoon…

  • The final week of the regular season proved to be one of the most entertaining of the year.  From Fresno-Illinois to the big championship games, there was no shortage of drama, amazing individual performances, or great finishes.  It was also the week of the botched extra point.
  • What has Texas done over the past two games to make their case as the presumptive opponent for Alabama?  Take another look at that non-conference schedule. Scheduling a championship season is something we talked about as soon as last season ended, and it looks as if the Longhorns are going to get there. 
  • Most of the best individual efforts in yesterday’s game came from the losing side.  Suh, Spiller, Keenum, and Dion Lewis were all standouts in their games but were let down by those on the other side of the ball.
  • Good news: Charlie Strong might be headed to Louisville.  Bad news:  Florida might join a crowded market for defensive coordinators.  Georgia’s under a lot of pressure already to make an impact hire, and, in the hyper-competitive SEC, you know that Georgia fans are going to measure their choice of coordinator against Florida’s.
  • Speaking of which, I think we can safely remove Kevin Steele from Georgia’s list.  A lot of teams look bad against Tech’s offense, but that wasn’t the best audition last night. Given two shots against Tech this year Clemson’s defense actually looked worse last night than back in September.
  • Will Tech be among those making defensive changes in the offseason?  Paul Johnson can’t like grinding out touchdown drives only to give up a quick score going the other way.  They’ve come out on the right side of most of their shootouts this year, but that’s mostly due to his offense’s ability to control the clock at the end of the game.
  • I’m hoping for a Tech-Cincinnati matchup in the Orange Bowl.  We’d get to see whether that scoreboard has a third digit.
  • Welcome Zander Ogletree to Georgia football.  UGASports.com broke the news ($) yesterday that the twin brother of safety Alec Ogletree would join the recruiting class of 2010. 
  • Georgia’s defense is going to be short on coaches heading into the bowl game.  I can’t blame the departing coaches; their top priority now is finding their next gig.  Mark Richt and Rodney Garner will direct the defense with help from graduate assistants.  Hopefully the offensive scheme of the bowl opponent will be pretty straightforward – I wouldn’t be too excited about playing a team like Missouri.
  • Congratulations to Alabama.  Incredible effort and plan on both sides of the ball.  Florida’s running game has been a storyline for several years now, and it was glaring yesterday.