Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post “It’s a damn minefield out there.”

Wednesday August 28, 2013

I really enjoyed this conversation with Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell about the upcoming season over at Grantland. If only most of our fans had this kind of informed and level-headed approach to the team, program, and season.

Post Thinking out loud: Clemson and defense

Wednesday August 28, 2013

You’ve seen by now that Georgia’s 2-deep on defense is as inexperienced as we feared it could be: 10 players have never played a snap of D-1 football, and 8 are true freshmen. That’s not unexpected, but the approach of the Clemson game gives us a chance to look at some specific ways Georgia will have to deal with their situation.

PWD had a good one here:

The Nebraska game turned out well, but you also remember that scene early in the third quarter when Georgia couldn’t get lined up on the goal line. You wonder how complex Grantham will try to get with such an inexperienced defense. It’s not quite 2010 again, but it’s going to be important to get these new guys into a comfort zone where at least they know what their assignment is before they worry about the offense they’ll see. Georgia’s defensive success in this game will have a lot to do with Grantham’s ability to improvise with what he has versus what he’d prefer to do.

That brings up a related topic – one of the reasons why Herrera didn’t see more time last year at MLB had to do with getting the defense lined up. It’s the job of the middle linebacker to read the offense and adjust the defensive call to match what he sees. Herrera has been a solid linebacker since he was thrown to the fire as a freshman in 2011, but he was still developing the big-picture skills. That gave the coaches a decision and a trade-off – do you put the better defender in or the guy more likely to align the defense correctly? There’s no one ahead of Herrera and Wilson this year, so it’s on them. So we’re not only looking at Grantham getting the call in quicker, we’re also depending on the middle linebackers to improve on a weakness of last season. Fun stuff.

Both Georgia and Clemson are facing big questions in the secondary. Georgia will be without two likely starters thanks to a suspension and an injury. Clemson has also been banged up, and they’re looking to improve on a unit that was sub-par to begin with. So while each team hopes its secondary can step up, they’ll lean on relatively stronger units up front. If either team can generate pressure and chaos along the line, they’ll force more rushed throws and poor decisions that will help the defensive backs.

Tyler had a nice look yesterday at Clemson’s speed and depth along their front seven. That kind of disruption of Georgia’s rushing lanes and timing of passes is just what the secondary is looking for. The Dawgs aren’t as experienced up front, but they will at least have a strong rotation to keep the line fresh. Georgia’s linebacking corps is the most experienced unit on the defense (even that’s relative), and they’ll have to be keys to applying pressure while maintaining the discipline to deal with Clemson’s counters to the pressure.

Each team has ways to derail attempts to bring pressure. For Clemson, it’s tempo and the scrambling ability of Boyd. He can elude initial pressure and create on the run. Georgia’s front six or seven must worry not only about pressure but also containment. Boyd’s running threat also allows Clemson to use option plays from most any formation to freeze Georgia’s front to buy time or make them pay for overaggressiveness. On the Georgia side, you have the tailbacks and play-action. Gurley and Marshall are the quality of tailback that require run support from the secondary. Tyler made an interesting comparison of Clemson’s line to the Boise defense we saw in 2011. The current talent at tailback is one big weapon that Georgia didn’t have to counter what they saw from Boise. If Clemson is aggressive on the line, they’ll open things up for draws, play-action, and screens. We’ve seen Gurley and Marshall put in work in the passing game during the offseason, and this could be a good chance to use them to relieve pressure.

Post Why watch at home when you can bring home with you?

Tuesday August 27, 2013

It’s been an unavoidable topic during the offseason: attendance is lagging at live sporting events. Teams, even good ones, are finding it tough to sell out of season tickets. Teams are struggling with ways to compete against home viewing where the fridge and restroom are steps away, parking is ample, and you can see 43 different camera angles from your HDTV.

Quality of competition counts, but we’re in a part of the world where 40,000 people will turn out to watch a team scrimmage itself. Of course those spring scrimmages are free with (at least in Athens) open parking. So any discussion about attendance that doesn’t spend most of its time on cost and convenience seems misguided. Wi-fi in the stadium is nice, but I have that at home, too, and it’s not going to be what draws me to a game. Besides, I’d rather we not have a stadium full of fans with heads buried in their phones. Attendance is a participatory sport.

So I guess the extreme in bring-home-to-the-stadium is this concept at Michigan. They’ll tow a loaded FEMA-like trailer up to campus, cater to you during the weekend, and then tow the thing away when you’re ready to leave. It looks like the portable version of a Cockaboose.

Looks great – but why would anyone leave this to actually go to the game?

Post Additional gameday tweaks announced

Thursday August 22, 2013

We learned last week about the new plan to scan tickets entering Sanford Stadium this year, and Tyler had news about improvements and deals coming to concessions for several sports.

The school has put together a release announcing these and some other changes you’ll see on football Saturdays this year. There’s nothing revolutionary here (no new tailgating policy, for example), but some nice, small enhancements.

Oh, there is one thing that will affect a lot of fans: the Dawg Walk is officially moved back to 1 hour and 50 minutes before kickoff. It used to be 90 minutes prior to kickoff, but that had been sliding lately. Now it’s official. If you want to see and participate in the Dawg Walk, be down at the Tate Plaza 2 hours before kickoff. (That means that the first Dawg Walk of the season will start at 2:40 p.m. for the South Carolina game.)

The other changes include:

  • A hotline to assist with parking and directions (active only during home football dates.)
  • New ticket scanning procedures for fans and students.
  • Concessions deals and locations of vendors in Sanford Stadium. They also claim that the “number of hawkers/vendors has been increased significantly,” so it should be easier to get a drink from your seat.
  • Misting stations at three locations. These will be in place for at least the first three home games.
  • Closed-Captioned boards have been installed to help both the hearing-impaired and those of us who wondered what the heck the ref just said.

There are a few other little things, so click through to check them out.

Post Coaches place eight Dawgs on preseason all-SEC team

Thursday August 22, 2013

You can find the complete list here. It raised eyebrows for Murray to be named first team over returning quarterbacks who won the Heisman or the national title, but it’s an entirely defensible decision.

Georgia’s preseason all-SEC players (according to the coaches):

  • Aaron Murray, 1st team QB
  • Todd Gurley, 1st team RB
  • Arthur Lynch, 1st team TE
  • Chris Burnette, 2nd team OL
  • Jordan Jenkins, 2nd team LB
  • Damian Swann, 2nd team DB
  • Keith Marshall, 3rd team RB
  • Malcolm Mitchell, 3rd team WR

Post 2014 football schedule released

Wednesday August 21, 2013

The 2013 football schedule doesn’t start for another week, but the big news today is the release of the 2014 SEC schedule. We knew that the conference would stick with an eight-game schedule, so the only real question was whether another SEC West opponent would replace LSU. That turned out to be the case. Rather than a return trip to Baton Rouge, Georgia will pick up Arkansas and head to Fayetteville.

Here is Georgia’s 2014 slate:

Aug 30 – vs. Clemson
Sept 6 – BYE
Sept 13 – at South Carolina
Sept 20 – vs. Troy
Sept 27 – vs. Tennessee
Oct 4 – vs. Vanderbilt
Oct 11 – at Missouri
Oct 18 – at Arkansas
Oct 25 – BYE
Nov 1 – Florida
Nov 8 – at Kentucky
Nov 15 – vs. Auburn
Nov 22 – vs. Charleston Southern
Nov 29 – vs. Georgia Tech
Dec 6 – SEC Championship

A few observations:

  • Everyone’s first analysis is to check who a team avoids from the other division. Georgia misses Alabama, LSU, and A&M.
  • For a new quarterback, it’s as close to an ideal schedule as you can get. Four of the first five are at home. Though Clemson and South Carolina will pose tough challenges, there’s at least a bye week before the trip to Columbia.
  • The long road trip is back. We’ve seen long stretches away from home like this before (2009 most recently), but Georgia will go from October 4 through November 15 without a home game.
  • The long road trip includes one tricky stretch. Missouri and Arkansas might not be the toughest teams on the schedule, but they represent a haul during the middle of the year. It’s not as if the Dawgs will be driving all the way out there, but those are two extended road trips after four straight games. It’s just something to watch. As for the fans…might as well spend a week in Branson, I guess.
  • South Carolina opening with an SEC game isn’t new – they just opened at Vanderbilt last year. But in 2014 they’ll start with a Thursday home game against Texas A&M – the inaugural game on the new SEC Network. (Go ahead and start writing the post-Clowney-and-Manziel-era pieces now.) While Georgia will have a bye on September 6, the Gamecocks will host East Carolina.
  • Both Georgia and Florida preserve their bye week before the WLOCP.
  • Georgia should be fairly pleased with their schedule, but of course not everyone will be happy. Florida will face LSU and Alabama from the SEC West in 2014.
  • 2014 will be the first time that the Dawgs will play Auburn and Georgia Tech in Athens in the same season.
  • Don’t get used to this schedule – we’re still a couple of years away from anything resembling a permanent schedule and a decision on eight or nine conference games.

Post Single-game Tennessee tickets available

Wednesday August 14, 2013

It’s a ticket kind of day around here.

The Vols have released single-game tickets to the general public. You can find them here. Tickets are $80/ea. You can select your seats – Georgia sections in the upper deck are usually GG and HH.

Post Changes coming for football ticketing

Wednesday August 14, 2013

With the season just a couple of weeks away, we’re starting to get news about changes to the game day experience. We haven’t heard anything new about tailgating, parking, or traffic flow, and we’re not expecting significant changes in those areas. We’ll pass along anything that comes up.

One thing that is changing is how you enter the stadium – no more tearing of ticket stubs.

All reserved seat tickets are bar-coded and will be scanned for entry at all gates. UGA Student tickets will continue to be loaded onto their UGA ID Card and only accepted at Gates 1, 3 and 4A.

Few transitions are seamless, so fans are urged to get to the South Carolina game a little early to avoid a crush at the gates.

Going to scanning will allow fans to transfer tickets online (through official UGA partner StubHub). While UGA hasn’t announced details of that process yet, StubHub does this with other teams, and we expect that things will be similar for Georgia. Look for an e-mail from UGA soon with specifics.

There is one obvious issue with the StubHub system: there will still be the original tickets out there. These aren’t counterfeit tickets – these are once-valid tickets that have been transfered online and inactivated. StubHub’s system works like this: “The barcodes on the tickets you currently have will be invalidated and tickets with a new bar code will be issued to the buyer.” It’s easy to imagine a number of inactivated tickets floating around the secondary market, especially for bigger games. There needs to be some way outside of the StubHub system – apart from at the gate – to verify whether a ticket is valid.

Post Preseason impressions – week one

Tuesday August 6, 2013

It’s a relatively light practice day between Monday’s first workout in full pads and the first scrimmage of fall camp scheduled for Wednesday. The Dawgs have been at it for just under a week. There really hasn’t been anything all that shocking to come out of camp so far, and the team – especially on defense – is still evaluating younger players to see who will fill the available spots. Wednesday’s scrimmage should be fairly important to start separating out those who will play often in the first few games. With that, here’s a look at some of what’s been going on:

Injuries. It’s not unusual to see little nagging injuries creep up at this point in camp, and we’re still a few weeks away from the time when all of the green no-contact jerseys magically transform back into red ones. Fortunately the injuries all seem to be of the minor variety so far (knock on whatever’s handy.) It is worth mentioning though that some of the knocks were to projected defensive starters. Safety Tray Matthews was limited with a minor shoulder injury but should be fine. OLB James DeLoach and Davin Bellamy both had thumb surgery on Monday. They’ll return to practice soon protected by a club cast, and they should be cleared by the season opener.

The good kind of injury news. Michael Bennett’s midseason knee injury was a temporary blow to the offense last year. Though the treatment of these injuries have come a long way, it’s still a risky and tough path back. Bennett missed spring practice but was active during summer workouts, and he’s back working with the first team offense. Bennett expects that by the season opener “I’ll be running around like I did last year.” With Mitchell and Conley, a healthy Bennett gives Georgia a very strong trio of receivers.

Along those lines, Toby Johnson seems to be in good shape after his own knee injury. He was one of the nation’s top junior college prospects last year before tearing his knee in November. Like Garrison Smith, Johnson is an end who can shift inside in certain situations. Though Georgia was considered an early favorite to sign Johnson, the picture became cloudy with Auburn and Mississippi State emerging. A late push by Georgia got the Dawgs back on top, and they seem to have landed a good one. Johnson is “practicing without limitations” and should factor into Chris Wilson’s plans for a deep defensive line rotation.

Speaking of the DL rotation… Todd Grantham said after the season that “we’ve got to play more players up front and keep them fresh.” The lack of depth up front was due in part to a lack of available players, but it was also the product of a cautious approach to rotating linemen by former DL coach Rodney Garner. One of the things we wondered about with a new coach at that position was how much that approach would change. There’s a difference between August talk and how this will pan out in the heat of a game, but it does look as if Wilson is planning on a system that’s big on competition, “quick with the hook,” and not at all concerned with a depth chart.

Standouts: We’re only a few days in and haven’t had a practice in full pads until Monday, but some names are rising above the usual camp hyperbole. Unfortunately Bellamy was one of them, but fellow OLB Leonard Floyd’s strong camp gives the Dawgs an additional option besides Vasser. We’ve heard from several people that Shaq Wiggins is looking good. OL Watts Dantzler has taken a step forward. With Xzavier Ward’s progress and the return of Kolton Houston, Dantzler’s improvement gives the team three very good reserves – if not candidates to push a couple of starters. (And that’s on top of the experienced tackle Mark Beard.)

It’s not unexpected to see most of the talk focused on the defense at this point – that’s where more positions are up for grabs. No news is good news as far as the offense is concerned. We’re encouraged that someone like Reggie Davis is getting noticed for his speed, but he’s a likely redshirt candidate given Georgia’s depth at the skill positions.

Post License plate update for North Carolina Dawgs

Tuesday August 6, 2013

There’s a campaign underway to get a UGA-branded license plate in the state of North Carolina. The good news – they’re only 25 people short of what they need to get the plates into production. The bad news – the deadline is August 31st. If you’re in North Carolina or know of any Georgia fans in the Tar Heel State, please go or send your friends to this page to learn how to register for the new plates.

Post Dawgs start the season at #5 in coaches’ poll

Thursday August 1, 2013

Preseason polls might not be accurate, but they do establish pole position for the race to the national title. If that’s the case, Georgia should be happy to start the season at #5 in the USA Today coaches’ poll. They won’t have far to climb in order to contend for the national title if the season unfolds favorably.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Georgia must face four top 13 opponents during the regular season – three of them in September. Georgia’s first two opponents, South Carolina (7th) and Clemson (8th) are also in the top ten.

The SEC placed six teams in the poll, and none was lower than 13th. (Alabama-1, Georgia-5, A&M-6, South Carolina-7, Florida-10, LSU-13) The conference has half of the initial top 10. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee also received votes but did not crack the top 25. Only Missouri, Kentucky, and Auburn received no votes.

We’ll see some shakeout among the top 10 right away. Georgia faces two top 10 teams and adds Florida at the beginning of November. Alabama and Texas A&M are set to meet as well. Later Oregon will play Stanford, and Clemson will close with South Carolina. Ohio State and Louisville are the only preseason top 10 teams not to face another top 10 team during the regular season.

Post Georgia baseball sets its sights on East Cobb

Thursday August 1, 2013

Scott Stricklin’s East Cobb ties were one of his many selling points when he took the Georgia baseball head coaching job back in June. His personnel moves are showing that he intends to turn one of Georgia’s most fertile recruiting areas into Bulldog territory.

Back in July, Stricklin named former Alabama standout Brandon May to a volunteer coaching position. May was a product of the East Cobb system and played high school ball at Lassiter.

Stricklin has gone back to the East Cobb well with his new Director of Operations. Jeff Guy comes from Marietta where he worked with East Cobb Baseball, a dominant youth program. Guy has also coached at Lassiter. Like Stricklin, Guy spent some time at Georgia Tech and helped to establish the pipelines that sent so much East Cobb talent to Atlanta.