Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Limited single-game football tickets on sale

Wednesday August 31, 2011

Due to opponents returning some of their allotment, Georgia has released additional tickets for the Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State, and Kentucky games. Tickets are first-come, first-served and can be bought online or by calling 877-542-1231.

Speaking of tickets, men’s and women’s basketball season tickets are also now on sale. Single-game basketball tickets will be available as of November 1st.

Post DISH Network introduces portable HDTV tailgating system in time for the season

Wednesday August 31, 2011

By this time a lot of us already have ways to watch games via satellite at our tailgates. If you don’t, or if you’re tired of aiming a dish and want a way to simplify your setup, DISH Network has a new product aimed at us: the Tailgater Portable HDTV System.

(Note: this isn’t an ad or a review. I’m not being compensated for this post, I’m not a DISH subscriber, and I don’t have this product.)

For $499, you get an HD receiver and the “Portable Antenna” which is basically a satellite dish mounted inside a plastic weather-resistant bubble. You set the antenna on the ground as much as 50 ft from the receiver, and it will automatically lock in on the satellite.

You’ll still need a TV and a power source – either an inverter or generator will do. You’ll also have to pay for programming of course. Current DISH subscribers can piggy-back on their current subscription. If you have a certain model of DISH receiver, the portable antenna itself is $350. If you’re not a DISH subscriber, they do a very cool thing and allow month-to-month subscriptions. You can activate it from September-December and then cut it off until the next football season comes around.

Post The depth chart for the next three days

Tuesday August 30, 2011

Georgia released an updated depth chart today, and it creates almost as many questions as it answers. Weiszer’s observations are good ones, and here are a couple more.

  • The absence of Drew isn’t a big deal; it just reflects his injured status (same with Malcome). Richt said at his press conference today that Drew would play on Saturday.
  • Two of the bigger questions in the offseason have been who will be the “other” receiver and cornerback. King and Boykin were pretty well established at their spots, but the departure of A.J. Green and Vance Cuff left vacancies at the other starting spots. I’m encouraged to see Marlon Brown and Branden Smith step into those roles. Both are two of the top prospects Georgia has recruitied at their respective positions over the past several years. It’s good to see that top talent finally come into its own in their junior seasons.
  • Speaking of the secondary, Sanders Commings looks to be one of the more important players on the team that the average fan doesn’t know much about. Not only is he listed as the starting safety; he’s also one of the top cornerback reserves.
  • The starting line has the possibility of being very good if it can stay healthy. The sum total of the experience of the second-team line is the three 2010 games in which Dallas Lee saw mop-up duty: Louisiana-Lafayette, Vanderbilt and Idaho St. The rest of the second team are true freshmen and one highly-rated redshirt sophomore who’s yet to see any game time due to a long recovery from back surgery.
  • As for the whole Rambo thing, I’ve wondered if something is up. But while Richt continues to be maddeningly cryptic about the whole thing, Rambo remains on the depth chart. Carlton Thomas, who most definitely is suspended for the opener, is not listed. It leads me to wonder if Rambo isn’t seeing some sort of alternate discipline like the loss of his starting position or even a partial-game suspension.

Post Will Georgia and Boise State both look to speed things up?

Tuesday August 30, 2011

If Georgia’s 2011 offense includes a higher-tempo or no-huddle look, it’s not exactly a big secret anymore. Whether or not Richard Samuel intended to let the cat out of the bag, his Q&A with the AJC didn’t leave much room for doubt.

Q: Surely some things have changed. How much would you say is different?

A: I’d just say the signals mainly; actually the whole play-calling situation. We’re doing a lot of no-huddle and a lot of high-tempo stuff, and that’s new to us. There are a lot of sight adjustments, so you have to be paying attention and focused and listening and hurrying up.

Georgia isn’t the only team in the game that might speed things up. Boise is hardly known for its tempo or no-huddle look. Their identity is much more about motion, misdirection, and getting superior numbers. But one game last year gave future Boise opponents a lot to think about.

In a November game against Hawaii, Boise State put up 737 yards of total offense (a school record), and Kellen Moore threw for an otherworldly 507 yards – in just three quarters – by breaking out the no-huddle. Before you start with the “yeah, but the schedule…” stuff, Boise’s output was more than twice what Hawaii allowed on average. That would be impressive for a team running a system that it had spent all year perfecting, but Boise’s gaudy production came via a gameplan on offense that was “a little bit outside of who we are,” admits coach Chris Petersen. “It’s hard when you don’t major in that.”

It’s important to note that Boise’s use of the no-huddle was a strategic counter to Hawaii’s tendency to use multiple looks on defense to create confusion. By speeding things up, the tables are turned, and the defense is forced into a reactive mode. Kellen Moore explains, “The tempo helps get the defense into more base coverages and base defenses,” he said. “They don’t have time to throw in their unique blitzes and things like that when they only have a short few seconds to call plays.”

If Georgia’s defense is effective early at disrupting Moore, don’t be surprised to see the Broncos try to speed things up to get Georgia’s defense back on their heels. Offensive coordinator Brian Harsin plans to have the no-huddle ready to use. “I think it’s a good changeup for us to have in there,” Harsin said. Georgia should have a little more familiarity with their defense in coordinator Todd Grantham’s second year, but there are still enough newcomers at all three levels of defense to cause missed assignments if there’s much pre-snap confusion.

There’s a down side to speeding things up on offense. If you’re not successful sustaining drives and scoring, your defense is put right back on the field. Worst case for Georgia? A reprise of two common 2010 maladies: a defense that hasn’t solved its third-and-long problems coupled with a an up-tempo offense that struggles out of the gate could have the Georgia defense sucking wind by halftime. Forget finishing strong – Boise is a team that has been very effective at jumping out on their opponents, and a no-huddle strategy that turned out like the scenario above would look a lot like this.

Of course the opposite is what Georgia hopes will happen, and that was the story of the 2005 game. If the Bulldog defense can get stops, it will give its own offense a chance to set the tempo. None of this is groundbreaking stuff (who knew defense likes three-and-outs?), but the Bulldog defense will have a lot to say about whether Georgia’s offense can run at its preferred tempo. That’s why Blutarsky had this reaction to Samuel’s news: “Richt likes what he’s seeing out of the defense.” You can’t use tempo as an attacking strategy if you’re having to use tempo in a defensive way to preserve the legs and lungs of your defense.

Fundamental to any successful up-tempo offense is communication from the sideline to the field and a quarterback who can process the play and the defense in a few seconds. The quarterback’s job is a little easier if the defense is forced by the tempo into more basic looks, but he still has to be familiar enough with his own system to get everyone lined up and adapt from play to play. That’s not much of an issue for Boise State. Kellen Moore is about as experienced as they come in college, and he should be on the same page with Petersen. Aaron Murray isn’t as experienced within his system as Moore, but he’s at least settled in now. Richt won’t have to limit the scope of what he asks from Murray, and Murray should be able to make his own adjustments.

Post Technology watch – the iPad playbook

Friday August 26, 2011

Earlier this year we heard about NFL teams considering replacing their ponderous paper playbooks with tablet versions. That’s become a reality: Tampa Bay has gone paperless and issued iPads with playbooks to each of their players.

The Bucs were smart and went beyond just a straight up playbook alternative. The iPad platform allows the team to offer players access to “video files of games, and practice and situational videos of any NFL team.” As a player studies the playbook, he can call up a practice video to see how that play is executed. He can also pull up a clip of how an opponent defends a certain formation.

The iPads also come with a security advantage. Once a paper playbook gets shared or stolen, it’s gone. iPads can be remotely wiped by the owner.

We’re still waiting for this technology to make it onto the field and look forward to specialized applications to help coaches with real-time decision making. It won’t be long.

Tablets are also making it into college programs, though on a much smaller scale. We’ve talked about their use in recruiting. Nebraska alum Ndamukong Suh outfitted the Huskers’ locker room with 123 built-in Apple iPads. Due to compliance concerns, the tablets are mounted and can’t be removed. That takes away a lot of the advantage, so players can’t use them for personal use or even film study outside of the locker room. In that capacity, they’ll be used mostly for communication between players, coaches, and academic personnel.

That’s unfortunate, because the portability and convenience of the tablet is perfectly suited for the student-athlete who might only have a few minutes on some remote part of campus to study a play or a video clip. I understand the compliance concern (Hey! Here’s an $800 piece of electronic equipment for you.) This is something that’s just going to have to evolve over time as the NCAA and colleges become more familiar with and smarter about the technology.

Post Questions about three Georgia veterans

Friday August 26, 2011

Something any successful organization learns is to not ignore your strengths while trying to improve weaknesses. Few questioned the Georgia offensive line or its coach heading into last season, but it hardly turned out to be a dominant unit. With that in mind, I’m thinking about three veterans who are all starters and fan favorites. They’re all being counted on to be a big part of the 2011 season. Each has a big question to answer though.

Aaron Murray: Can he be as big of a leader on the field as he is off the field? There’s no question that it’s his offense, and his freshman stats would have been impressive for a senior. The next step is turning those stats into meaningful plays and wins. We’ve talked about Murray and his self-administered “C” grade for last season, and making the big plays is what will vault him to the top of the class.

The 2001 season is known for the Hobnail Boot play, and it established (among other things) David Greene as a clutch quarterback. We forget that the Dawgs lost three games that year at the end. Those losses to South Carolina, Auburn, and BC would be right up there as case studies in this year’s emphasis on finishing the 4th quarter. Georgia and Greene took that step forward from 2001 to 2002. Georgia started winning the close games and getting the plays at the end – a fumble at South Carolina, a drive and clutch FG at Bama, a gutsy 4th down call against Tennessee, and of course the miracle at Auburn. Of course all of those outcomes weren’t all to do with Greene, and plenty of other areas have to improve along with Murray for Georgia to become better at finishing games. It needn’t be as dramatic as the 2001 Tennessee or 2002 Auburn endings, but we still haven’t seen the offense rally around Murray for a big finish. It nearly happened in Jacksonville last year.

Tavarres King: Is he really ready to be the man? No one is asking King to be A.J. Green, but they are asking the junior to be the leader of Georgia’s receiving corps. The questions around Georgia’s receiving corps haven’t been about King – they’ve been about filling the other roles. Will the light come on for Marlon Brown? Will one of Wooten or Troupe step up? Can Mitchell and Bennett make an impact as newcomers? King’s place in the order of things has been quietly set in stone since last year ended. Is relatively little news a sign all is going well? Holding the starting job and being the team’s go-to receiver are two different things. It’s going to take a big step up from the 27 receptions, 504 yards, and 3 TD he had a year ago.

Bacarri Rambo: Um…what’s going on? With Jakar Hamilton out fror the year with a foot injury and Alec Ogletree moving to linebacker, Rambo was one of the few known entities at a thin and inexperienced position. He had a nice debut season in 2009 with big plays against Tennessee and Auburn, and he quickly became a fan favorite because, hey, we’ve got a guy named RAMBO playing defense. Now Rambo seems in danger of losing his starting job. More curious, Rambo is one of the few players unavailable to the media during the preseason. Something isn’t quite right there…

Post Boise unveils their uniform

Thursday August 25, 2011

For some reason, I thought I had read that they’d be in blue jerseys. I guess Nike had other ideas. The pictures we saw the other day must have been older or alternate versions.

Post Four seniors named Georgia captains

Thursday August 25, 2011

Mark Richt announced yesterday the four captains for the 2011 season:

  • CB/R Brandon Boykin
  • P Drew Butler
  • C Ben Jones
  • DE DeAngelo Tyson

The four shouldn’t surprise anyone – most fans know what they mean to the team on the field, and being voted captain shows what they mean to their teammates.

The honor is especially poignant for Tyson. A lot of players even from the best backgrounds don’t make it as far as Tyson has. But Tyson didn’t have anything close to a normal upbringing. All but deserted by his family, Tyson was a product of foster homes and DFACS with little direction. After earning national recognition in high school and committing to Georgia, Tyson nearly threw it away. Thanks to the Joseph’s Home for Boys in Statesboro and a strong support system at his high school, Tyson was able to make it to Georgia. Now he’s a senior starter at his natural position and respected enough in the eyes of his teammates to become a team captain.

Post UGA’s new commercial

Wednesday August 24, 2011

The effort to remake Georgia’s 30-second commercial has received a lot of attention, and now we get to see the finished product.

Find the video here: https://www.facebook.com/UGAChapelBell (or see the video directly at this link).

It wouldn’t have been hard to top the old spot or most any boring commercial from that genre, but the team knocked it out of the park with this one. Great job, and kudos to R.E.M. for their participation. It never leaves you…

Post At least we’ll have red

Wednesday August 24, 2011

This item on the Senator’s buffet reminded me of a comment I read yesterday.

Georgia has the nation’s best uniform, the nation’s best mascot, and one of the top ten stadiums in the nation. And they’ll be featuring exactly zero of those next weekend.

Thankfully the partisan Georgia crowd will be there to provide some of the comforts of home. One of the things I like about a big nonconference game on campus is a chance to show off everything that makes your campus and stadium great, and Georgia has plenty of that. If games like this are in part about building Georgia’s brand, they’ll be doing it without the hedges, the silver britches, and even an Uga. But if people come away with nothing more than an impression of quality football from Georgia, I’ll be plenty happy.

Post Pat Summitt

Wednesday August 24, 2011

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Pat Summitt and her family as she begins life with the devastating diagnosis of early-onset dementia. Though Georgia’s rivalry with the Lady Vols has often been bitter on the court, there’s never been any question about the standards of professionalism, character, and excellence that have been set by Summitt and her program. There’s not a women’s basketball fan (or any serious sports fan for that matter) who shouldn’t respect what Summitt has accomplished and what she stands for.

Summitt plans to continue to coach for as long as she is able, and she’ll have an experienced and capable staff on which to lean. We’ve seen other coaches, notably N.C. State’s Kay Yow, become inspirational figures as they coached on while fighting other diseases. Summitt’s experience with her condition, as it plays out in the public eye, could likewise do much for education and awareness, fundraising, and hopefully one day a treatment and a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

There’s a tendency in these kinds of posts to keep writing and say something stupid, so we’ll leave it at this: read this piece by Summitt collborator and friend Sally Jenkins. Summitt’s approach to her diagnosis and disease is right in character, but I came away with an immense respect for her son Tyler.

Post Rule #1 of a popularity contest: don’t be a jerk to the voters

Tuesday August 23, 2011

The AJC and a few others on the Georgia beat have noted that Boise State will not make any players available to “opposing media” before the Georgia game.

It’s silly to begin with and probably makes perfect sense to a media market small enough to be so easily segmented. It will be interesting to see who turns out to get that label. Obviously the Georgia beat writers qualify, but would someone like Barnhart? Technically he’s a national guy now, but his background is all about southern football. But Boise isn’t doing themselves any favors. There isn’t a bigger concentration of college football passion than there is in the South, and that passion supports a strong media presence. Many of those members of the media aren’t only influential outside of the South; they also vote on everything from the AP poll to the Heisman.

Heisman votes are distributed by region. As you might imagine, results often quite different from region to region as votes naturally go to players with whom the voters might be more familiar. The inverse is true also – players, unless they’re runaway favorites, tend to do less well in the Heisman voting the further they get from their region. You can see in 2009 that Ingram carried most of the east and even the midwest, but he did no better than 3rd on the west coast and in the southwest.

That said, if you had a chance to get your Heisman candidate in front of media from regions across the country, it might stand to reason that the media – many of whom vote on postseason awards – will become more familiar with that player. Their profile of your star player might be a good addition to his press portfolio. Probably the last thing you’d want to do is alienate an entire region of media and voters, especially when it’s likely that your star will struggle to have many more high-profile television appearances in the region.

Post Cracks in Boise’s line?

Monday August 22, 2011

A link yesterday from the Senator led to this feature on Boise State’s right tackle Charles Leno Jr. Leno will be making his first start against Georgia, and he’ll have the job of protecting the left-handed Kellen Moore’s blind side.

That’s not the only interesting situation on the Boise State offensive line. Senior center Thomas Byrd is an all-conference performer who has started since his freshman year, and the Broncos are 37-2 when Byrd starts. But Byrd has been dealing with “a troublesome knee that prevented him from practicing in the spring and has forced coaches to manage his practice time.” He’s managed the injury and is expected to play and start, but his endurance will be something to watch during the game. As it is, at he’ll be undersized at 5’11” and 288 lbs. against Georgia’s Geathers and/or Jenkins.

Post UCF investigation involves a familiar name

Monday August 22, 2011

It got all but buried last week during the Miami bombshell, but UCF is also in quite a bit of hot water. The program received a letter of inquiry last week aimed at possible recruiting violations in football and men’s basketball.

Ordinarily issues of compliance at Central Florida wouldn’t get a mention here, but the central figure in this case was was a name that came up earlier this year in a recruiting story that involved Georgia’s basketball program. According to ESPN, “Allegations are believed to center on Ken Caldwell, a 42-year-old Chicago native and former AAU basketball coach who has been tied to Central Florida’s recruitment of several basketball players and at least one football player.”

You might not remember Caldwell’s name, but you Kevin Ware might ring a bell. Ware is a promising guard from Georgia, rated among the top 100 prospects in the nation for the incoming class. Ware originally committed to Tennessee, but he re-opened recruiting once Bruce Pearl left the Volunteer program. After he was granted his release, Ware immediately listed four programs that would get consideration: “Louisville, UCLA, Georgia and Central Florida.” Three of those schools made sense: UCLA and Louisville are traditional basketball powers. Georgia was the up-and-coming hometown school coming off an NCAA Tournament bid. But UCF? The story took an even bigger twist when Ware committed to the Knights in one of the bigger recruiting coups in program history. Things became much more clear when Caldwell’s role was uncovered.

Media outlets reported Caldwell’s connection to Ware back in May, but UCF officials stated that they had not been contacted by the NCAA. That has now changed. The New York Times explains Caldwell’s alleged role in steering Ware to UCF:

Central Florida, it turns out, had an ally in its recruitment of Ware: Kenneth Caldwell, a Chicago man with a substantial criminal record and apparent ties to a prominent sports agency. Ware said Caldwell called him repeatedly to talk up Central Florida, traveled to Atlanta to meet with his family and even arranged joint phone conversations with the university’s basketball coach, Donnie Jones, and his staff — contact prohibited by the N.C.A.A.

Once Ware became aware of Caldwell’s shady background, he backed out of his commitment and opened things up once again. In the end Ware settled on Louisville over his other finalists, including Georgia. Another top UCF prospect allegedly with ties to Caldwell, QB Damarcus Smith, hasn’t enrolled yet due to academic issues.

Post The obligatory uniform post

Monday August 22, 2011

UGA Pro Combat uniformSo we got to see the uniforms for the season opener on Saturday. Of course change brings backlash, and these uniforms don’t have many outright fans. Those who don’t like them more or less fall into two groups: the traditionalists who abhor any change, and those who think the solid red look is just plain ugly. Judging by the number of redesigns I’ve seen on the message boards and blogs this weekend, I’d have to guess that most people are actually OK with alternate uniforms as long as they looked like the ones they wanted.

The uniforms are said to be a nod to elements of Georgia’s past, but they remind others of everything from an ACC school to mid-century Ohio State to, well, this. Me? I don’t particularly like them, but it’s also not going to make the Ugas buried in Sanford Stadium roll over simultaneously. Georgia isn’t the first school to change things up for a game at the behest of a corporation, and it won’t be the last time it’s asked to do something like this.

A game like this should need no additional juice, and it’s unfortunate (and more than a little unseemly) that a game of this magnitude is being upstaged to some degree by Nike’s graphic design department. But that’s what this uniform change is all about: it’s tribute paid to Nike. Thanks in large part to Nike’s relentless marketing and ubiquitous merchandising, Georgia is consistently one of the nation’s top 10 programs in merchandise sales. That’s true even in the lean years. We’re told that “the 14 profitable Division I programs earned up to ten percent of their revenue from merchandise sales,” and that’s several million dollars to a program like Georgia.

Georgia fans and their kids, if they aren’t already, will soon take to the store and the computer to look for the jersey, gloves, and whatever else is mass-produced with this design on it. That includes many of those fans who are holding their noses and hope the uniform never sees the light of day or dome again. Buying Georgia stuff is what we do. In that respect, I’m surprised we don’t see uniform variations more often than we do. It’s not unheard of in the SEC.

Many Georgia fans now have a distaste for uniform changes thanks to the 2008 Alabama game. I think it’s important to distinguish that these uniforms aren’t a sign that Georgia is going back to that well (unlike this silly idea). The idea came from outside the program, and both teams will be participating. If the players like the look, so much the better, but none of that will replace the work that’s been done over the past seven-and-a-half months. Georgia didn’t lose to Alabama because of the jersey color; they lost to a team that was more talented, better prepared, and better coached on that day. I’m a little less persuaded by “the players like them” arguement than others are. If this offseason was about anything else, it was about getting back to business and putting the adults back in charge of the program. Hopefully Christian Robinson’s attitude is a common one – no one looks good missing a tackle or a block.

Personally, I hope we see a lot more of the new uniforms – at least on the Sanford Stadium video board. We could sure use some fresh highlights.

UPDATE: And if you were wondering what Boise’s version of the uniform looks like, here it is. Looks very similar to Georgia’s. Two thoughts hit me when seeing them: 1) I hope Georgia doesn’t see this combination of orange and blue and think back on this game, and 2) Georgia got the better deal out of these uniforms.