Monday, August 31, 2009
So, to help me sort it out, I decided to try and lay out what I feel like I DO know going into this season, as well as the factors that are causing me to flip-flop like a Democratic Senator.
- AJ Green is the truth. The most physically gifted receiver we have ever had, at least as far back as I can remember. Has supposedly put on an additional 10-15 pounds while not losing any speed. This guy will demand double teams and still put up big time numbers.
- Offensive line should be a position of strength. Sturdivant appears to be back to 100%, as does Vince Vance. The starting lineup of Sturdivant, Davis, Jones, Glenn, and Boling stacks up with anybody, plus some pretty good quality depth with Bean and Vince Vance as the first two reserves. A lot of versatility, as well, since so many of these guys have been forced to play different positions due to injury.
- Nobody should be able to run up the middle on us with any kind of success. Owens, Atkins, Weston and Tyson comprise a truly impressive rotation at defensive tackle, and Abry Jones may be too good to redshirt as well. Put Darryl Gamble, Rennie Curran, and a rejuvenated Darius Dewberry behind them, and you’ve got an extremely stout core to build around.
- We will be fast. Years of recruiting the best athletes in the country mean that this team will be the fastest I can ever remember us fielding. AJ Green, Michael Moore, and Tavarres King at WR. Orson Charles and Aron White at TE. Richard Samuel (who Bobo recently named as the fastest RB he can remember us having at UGA in his time there) and Carlton Thomas at RB. Rennie Curran, Darryl Gamble, Akeem Dent, and others at LB. Prince Miller and Brandon Boykin (not to mention Branden Smith) at CB. Bryan Evans (believed by many to be the fastest guy on the team) and Reshad Jones at safety. Cornelius Washington (my dark horse impact player candidate) at DE. Speed, speed, speed. Of course, I often say that if you’re not disciplined enough (as we obviously weren’t on defense last year), that much speed only means you get can get out of position REALLY quickly, but I don’t see us being “out-athlete-ed” at any point this year, and that includes the mighty Gators.
Now for the scary part…
- The schedule. I almost put this in the “Known” category, just because it is so widely recognized as being brutal. But, really, nobody knows at this point. Remember, at this time last year, we all thought that beating Arizona State on the road would really mean something. So, in the midst of all the hand wringing about the schedule, I just wanted to make this point…you really can’t judge a schedule’s strength until the season is over. Injuries, new coaching schemes, unknown new players (either freshmen or guys who are getting their first shot at playing time)…all of these factors could turn a game against, say, Georgia Tech from a tough task to a relatively easy week, or vice versa.
- Joe Cox. Let me reiterate…I love this guy. I love his attitude, his leadership, his ginger complexion…I love it all. But we have no idea what he is going to be like as the starting QB for this team. We’ve seen him start one game, against Ole Miss three years ago, and see significant playing time in only one other game, the great comeback against a terrible Colorado team the same year. I would love to think that his leadership, throwing accuracy, and knowledge of the offense will be enough to compensate for any other physical shortcomings. For that matter, I don’t think his physical tools are as lacking as a lot of people seem to…but we have no way of knowing until the bullets start flying.
- Can we get AJ Green some help? Because we know that AJ Green is a freak, we also know this…whomever the WR is that lines up opposite him, they are going to see tons of one-on-one coverage. Teams are going to scheme specifically to stop AJ, especially early on. The onus falls on somebody to take advantage of this. Michael Moore seems to be the solid #2. He played very well at the end of the year last year, culminating in probably his best game of the year in the Citrus Bowl. He also caught a couple of TDs in the spring game, if memory serves correctly. If he can take advantage of the one-on-one he is going to see a lot of, there will be plays to be made. We can also hope that T. King, Orson Charles, Aron White, et. al will find some additional room to roam over the middle. The point is, there will be opportunities to make defenses pay for paying too much attention to AJ…do we have anyone willing and able to step up and exploit them?
- Do we have enough at running back? Kind of an addendum to the last point. Our running game has to be enough to give teams something else to worry about. The offensive scheme favored by Bobo relies heavily on a successful running game to get in favorable down and distance and set up the play action. This will be especially important this year, now that we no longer have Matt Stafford’s canon arm to bail us out of bad situations at times. The O-line should certainly be providing room to run. Who is going to step into Knowshon’s huge shoes? Richard Samuel has apparently locked up the #1 spot for now, but how much of that was his performance and how much was the fact that Caleb King couldn’t stay healthy? Samuel showed flashes last year, but had well-publicized problems holding on to the ball. Supposedly, that has improved during fall camp, and as I mentioned earlier, Bobo speaks very highly of him. The one aspect of his game that apparently still needs work is his pass-catching, which is certainly not unexpected from a converted linebacker. Definitely look for Carlton Thomas and Caleb King to be called on to make plays in the passing game. The hope is that, between the three of them, we have enough to adequately replace what we’ve lost in Moreno, as well as just be the force that Bobo’s offense needs in order to be successful.
- Where’s the pass rush? Just like Bobo’s offense needs a dominant rushing attack to succeed, Coach Martinez’s defense needs ferocious pass-rushing defensive ends. This point was made PAINFULLY obvious last year. This one I truly have no idea about. Justin Houston supposedly had a great spring, but he’s out for the first two games due to stupidity. Roderick Battle has been unstoppable in scrimmages after being hurt much of last year, but he’s going against backups, and the QB hasn’t actually been live. I’ve mentioned before that I think Cornelius Washington could be a real factor…he was a beast in high school, and has supposedly put on around 30 pounds of muscle while still maintaining his speed. But, obviously, he has never done anything at this level. This may be the most crucial question mark for a defense that needs desperately to bounce back.
- The secondary. This area still scares me, too. At cornerback, we have one guy coming back with any kind of experience at all, Prince Miller. Outside of him, we are relying on young players with virtually no game experience. I have high hopes for Boykin and Branden Smith, but they are still extremely green. At safety, we have one converted cornerback (Bryan Evans) and one all-world athlete who has not yet shown the ability to transform athletic ability into football skills. Couple the inexperience and question marks in the secondary with an inability to get consistent pressure on the quarterback, and…well, you get the picture.
So, you see my problem…on one hand, I have always been what many message board vets would classify as a “Disney Dawg”…I am generally optimistic, I tend to give players/coaches the benefit of the doubt, etc. On the other hand, there is a lot about this team that I just truly can’t get a good handle on, and at some crucial areas. If it all breaks correctly…if Joe Cox turns out to have physical skills that match his mental fortitude, if the defensive end production returns to the level to which we have become accustomed, if Richard Samuel becomes more Robert Edwards and less Petey Jones, if Reshad Jones finally lives up to his massive potential, if, if, if….well, if all of that, or even MOST of that happens, then I don’t see anybody I’m skurred of, even (::GASP::) those Mighty Gators.
But since ifs and buts AREN’T candy and nuts, I don’t know that our Christmas will be completely merry. I’m going to chicken out, show no guts whatsoever, and predict 9-3, just like everybody else…
You know what? NO. Screw it. We go 11-1, including an immensely satisfying upset in Jacksonville, beat LSU (again) in the SECCG, and go on to beat Texas to win the MNC.
“Disney Dawg”, my butt.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
h/t to Georgia Sports Blog
Friday, August 28, 2009
Hopefully, I have my schedule worked out where I can get back to posting on a regular basis again next week...in the meantime, HAPPY AJ GREEN DAY!!!
Friday, August 21, 2009
I have the feeling that this is D.J.'s last big chance to impress on the coaching staff that he deserves to be on this roster. I really think that D.J. has to show the ability to be the #2 guy if he is going to stick...you don't often see a guy stick on one roster as the #3 guy for four years. If he can't beat out Redman for the second string spot I think he gets cut.
For selfish reasons, I want to see him make this team, because he's one of my favorite Dawgs of all time and it's nice to have him around. However, if he truly thinks he has what it takes to be a starter in the NFL, then he obviously needs to find another home. That would make tonight more of an audition, a chance to get a really good performance on tape that he can shop around.
Either way, I'll be watching and pulling for him tonight for sure.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
To celebrate, here is what is probably the most famous hit of Greg Blue's career...as of last year it was STILL part of the College GameDay credits.
A lot of people remember and talk about this hit, but what a lot of people forget is what made the hit even MORE satisfying. This was the 2003 game in which the Dawgs dominated Auburn (this game also featured Odell's 99-yd interception return), and the game was well out of hand when Auburn was forced to punt late in the game. Damien Gary CLEARLY called for a fair catch and was levelled after he caught the ball by Courtney Taylor....just a blatantly dirty, illegal, and chicken__ move. The reaction in the crowd was PRIMAL. I can never remember such utter fury being directed at a player in Sanford Stadium....I think I personally blacked out, only to emerge from the rage-induced haze like Ralphie in A Christmas Story, coming to the realization that I was unleashing a string of profanity that I didn't even know that I was capable of.
On Auburn's next posession, Taylor was in the game at WR, went over the middle, and then...
BOOM!!! One of the more satisfying moments in my life as a Dawg fan.
GO DAWGS!!! 17 DAYS!!!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Real quick thoughts:
- Happy with almost all reports out of Dawgs fall camp so far, except that the injury bug is biting us a little right now. Still no major injuries, and virtually all of the walking wounded should be back by week one. This is pretty typical fall camp stuff, nothing major.
Feel free to peruse the blog list to your right...David Hale and The Red and Black have done a phenomenal job with newsy news, and Bernie, The Georgia Sports Blog, DawgSports, MikeinValdosta, Rex Robinson, et al are here to fulfill all your opinion and blogging needs.
- I'm afraid to mention the local baseball team, because every time I do they go in the tank. So...SHHHHHH...
- In TV news, Mad Men starts Sunday night. I don't know what else I can tell you about this show, other than if you're not watching you're missing one of the greatest shows of our era (apologies to Tebow, the GPOOE).
My schedule doesn't get any better for the next couple of weeks...once the season starts I plan on being a lot more active in the blogosphere.
Friday, August 7, 2009
I looked and don't see that these are for subscribers only...if they are, I'll have to take them down, so watch quick!
I'm 35...why do you ask?
First, some Dawg news:
- The first green jerseys of the season are beginning to make their appearance. The biggest name yesterday to go down was Reshad Jones...and, as my brother was nice enough to point out in the comments yesterday, it's my fault. I finally got off Reshad's back and actually gave him some positive commentary for once, and he immediately injures his hamstring. I will now go right back to dogging him at every step...I've learned my lesson.
Good news is that it does appear to only be "tweaked" and that he's expected back in time to be ready for Okie State. More good news was that Quentin Banks was able to step in and take his place, so apparently Quentin is getting close to 100%.
- All other reports out of practice continue to be glowing. I keep waiting for that one practice that always seems to come early when Richt is just completely ticked off (or, as ticked off as he gets when it doesn't involve SEC officials - probably what would be referred to as "mildly agitated" if it was anybody else). But so far every practice has been deemed to be outstanding by the coaching staff. Can't wait til they put the pads on next week and we start getting scrimmage reports!
- More good news...Kwame Geathers actually qualified and will start practicing next week. To tell you the truth I was shocked, but Jody had the best line: "I’m not sure I was certain he was even real." (Great to have Jody blogging on a pretty regular basis, btw).
This means that every one of our recruits qualified and are now on campus. WH00T!
- Coaches poll was released today, which is absolutely ridiculous. I've made my thoughts known before on this, but I hate pre-season polls. It's why I wholeheartedly support Blutarsky's Mumme Poll, where voting doesn't start until around the midpoint of the season. However, in this absurdly early poll, Dawgs are ranked 13, while the gnats are at 15. HAH! SUCK ON THAT, NERDS!!!!11!!1!!
- MaconDawg put up a fun post today looking at what kind of "wrinkles" we may see in our offensive and defensive strategies this year. I think that with some of the personnel we are accumulating, especially on offense, we are going to beseeing some creativity in getting the ball into our playmakers' hands. We already have the little swing passes and WR screens in our arsenal, and we run them pretty well...I was noticing that especially while watching the replay of the Capital One Bowl. I can only imagine that they may be even more effective with someone like Rontavious Wooten catching the screen pass with his speed, or Carlton Thomas going in motion to the slot to catch the swing pass...we really are accumulating some weapons.
On defense, the talk continues to be that we will be moving some of our LB's up to the rush end position on obvious passing downs to try and get more pressure on the quarterback. Great move, in my opinion, and it's encouraging to see the coaching staff going at least a LITTLE outside the box to try and find solutions to probably the biggest problem our defense had last year.
- Falcons training camp is not off to NEARLY as good a start as the Dawgs. First, Harry Douglas (and not HUGH Douglas, as I erroneously posted on Twitter yesterday) goes down for the year, and now rookie safety William Moore is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a knee injury. The team has high hopes for the 2nd round pick, and he was expected by many to actually be the starter at SS. This defense can not afford to lose ANYBODY, especially in the secondary. Only place on defense we may be more vulnerable is at DE, but I'm not mentioning names there after the Reshad Jones debacle from yesterday. I'll just say his initials are J.A. and hope the Football Gods think I am referring to Jamal Anderson and not...that other guy who plays DE for the Falcons with the initials J.A.
On top of that, the Roddy White negotiations seem to be stalled. But don't worry, Falcons fans...Marty Booker is in the house!!! (chirp....chirp)
What, Mark Duper wasn't available? Phil McConkey? How about John Taylor?
But seriously....how about Terrence Edwards? Isn't he still in the Canadian League somewhere?
- Posting may be kind of light for the next couple of weeks...we're entering the busiest time of the year for me at work, and plus I am planning on doing some different stuff with the blog once the season starts that may take some extra time. But stick around...I'll probably still throw up a random post or video every now and then when I get a chance. There may be days when I don't post at all, but there may be days when I get to throw up three or four quick hitters, depending on how the schedule goes.
ONLY 29 DAYS!!!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
- VERY encouraged by the reports coming out of camp regarding Reshad Jones. Sounds like he is taking his game to another level, and seems ready to embrace a leadership role. Reports have been that he was the absolute leader among the DB's in the first two days, both with his performance and being a vocal leader as well, encouraging guys, calling out drills, etc. That's great news...if he finally reaches the potential this year that so many Dawg fans have seen in him that will go a LONG way in helping a really young secondary. Let's just hope that his high level of performance continues once they put the pads on and start TACKLING next week.
- There are a lot of great Dawg reporters out there (with David Hale probably being my favorite), but I have been really impressed with the guys over at RedandBlack.com as well. The 2nd day tidbits they put up yesterday were especially detailed and well-written.
- Washaun Ealy is apparently already moving up the depth chart, taking snaps from Dontavious Jackson. Richt will absolutely not hesitate to play Ealy if he shows he's ready, having learned a painful lesson by only getting two seasons out of Knowshon.
- Speaking of guys playing early...I'm so glad AJ Green played last year so that we are guaranteed of at least three years with him on the field. He is going to have a MONSTER year this year...I know, I'm really going out on a limb with that one. He is 100% healthy, 15-20 pounds heavier, supposedly ran a sub-4.3 40 this offseason (my thoughts on 40 times will have to wait for another post, but the point is...he's fast). If the offensive line is as good as I think they can be, AJ is going to make Joe Cox look really good. Not to mention the seams he will hopefully open up for other guys like Orson Charles, Tavarres King (or whomever ends up at the slot), etc. as defenses have to account for him and his playmaking ability. What a weapon.
- I thought this piece on Bobo's quotes regarding the O-Line development was pretty funny. Bobo was doing the coach speak thing, trying to temper expectations by talking about how little time these guys have actually spent working together, etc...but then Coach Richt comes right behind him and basically says we are COUNTING on the fact that the O-Line will be a strength. Nice try, Coach Bobo!
All right, I gotta get back to work...distractions are only going to get worse over the next four weeks!
Anyway, the other reason this injury really hurts is that Douglas also did a very good job last year on punt returns, so you really are losing a big piece of what was shaping up to be a pretty good assortment of offensive weapons. Weapons that we are going to need, by the way, because I don't think this defense is going to scare a lot of teams.
Wait, I promised you a silver lining, right? Well, one thing that this does is open up a spot at punt returner that could possibly be filled by former Dawg Thomas Brown. He will get his opportunities...hopefully he's healed up enough from his own season-ending injury last year that he can take advantage of it. If he is back to 100%, I think he can be a real weapon on the punt return team, and I would love to see him on the field in the Dome.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
- Coach Richt saying that a lot of the freshmen will play on special teams this year rather than take a redshirt. The goal there is to get a lot quicker and more athletic on the kickoff and punt coverage teams. This is a very positive development, in my opinion. I mean, I enjoy the whole "feel-good" story of our hard working scout team guys and walk-ons getting a chance to get on the field, but our coverage teams have been a little too.....pale for my liking. I guess that's the most P.C. way of saying it.
- Reading Dimitri Cassini's opinion pieces on UGASports. These are subscription only, but they may be worth the price of admission. Dimitri is an intern for the site, and I truly admire the kid's enthusiasm...but he kind of reminds me of the old Chicago Sports Guys skit on SNL. Reading his impressions of our offense and defense would lead you to believe that NOBODY could ever even come close to being able to hang with the Dawgs...not even a team of mini-Ditkas.
- Orson Charles, Orson Charles, Orson Charles. I think that every single report I've read has singled him out as being an absolute freak with a motor that doesn't stop. I can not WAIT to see this guy take the field.
- The vocal leadership of guys like Rennie Curran, Jeff Owens, Michael Moore, and several other upperclassmen. It sounds like these guys have really taken it on themselves to not wait on the coaches to motivate/encourage/keep guys in line. I always think leadership is more effective when it is either provided by or reinforced by peers rather than only coming down from above. Hopefully it will translate to a more focused and disciplined team on the field.
- Coach Searles in his sweatshirt, showing solidarity with his linemen. Love it.
From all reports, it was a great first day...in years past when that has happened, the coaches have usually not been as happy with the 2nd day, at least not publicly. I think they just don't want guys to get too full of themselves this early. So I'm trying to take everything I hear out of these first few sessions with a few healthy grains of salt...I think the first true meaningful milestone will be the first scrimmage next week. By then, I think we'll be getting a real picture of what the coaching staff thinks we have.
The only negative report I have heard from yesterday is that Quentin Banks still doesn't seem to be 100% healthy...that will be something to keep an eye on. We're not real deep in the secondary already and we need him to provide quality depth.
h/t to Mike in Valdosta
And now....be sure you are sitting down for this one.....via Jeff Owens Twitter feed (who is looking for more followers, BTW...be sure and follow him if you have a Twitter account). This is AWESOME.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Quarterback Joe Cox said the message he sent to his teammates was for "everybody
to grow up."
Said Cox: "We had too many people that thought they were more mature than
they were. We had too many guys on our team that knew when things were going bad
with their teammates, they wouldn't say anything to them and it kind of got to
the point where we, as seniors, told them we had a big problem, where guys would
say 'I can't tell him anything, he's a grown man, he's going to do what he wants
But you're not a grown man if you're making decisions that are going to hurt
your team. That's what we preached to everybody this offseason."
This guy will have an opportunity to see the field due to our needs at DE, but my gut says he will redshirt. I'm not sure about the competition level he was going against in high school...he is obviously the biggest guy on the field by tons in all of the game film. There are a couple of technique issues that worry me, as he seems to just be relying on his size and speed to overwhelm guys, but I think Fabris can work that out.
UGA Freshmen: Montez Robinson @ Rivals Video
Can't tell much from this video...it's only two plays. But it is interesting that they have lined up at DE to take advantage of his athleticism. He's slotted at DT for the Dawgs, but hopefully he'll keep his explosiveness, a la Owens and Atkins.
UGA Freshman: Abry Jones @ Rivals Video
Unfortunately, Austin is injured and won't play this year, but this video is an exciting look at the future. In this video, he shows tremendous technique, impressive athleticism (he spends a lot of time pulling and trapping in this video) and great power...check out the play about 53 seconds in where he pulls and basically pancakes two guys at once. Fun stuff.
UGA Freshman: Austin Long @ Rivals Video
You don't get a great look at him on offense on this video, as a lot of the film seems to be of a scrimmage. But it's worth checking out the last 15-20 seconds, which is several plays of him on defense, inducing nightmares in QB's and running backs. I know we need interior OL, and I think that's where he'll stay, but I wouldn't be shocked if he moved to DT if we need him to at some point.
UGA Freshmen: Dallas Lee @ Rivals Video
Very athletic guy, seems to have a nose for the football. He also looks a bit small...wouldn't be surprised to see him at safety at some point if he doesn't put on weight.
UGA Freshman: Michael Gilliard @ Rivals Video
This guy certainly LOOKS like a big time QB, and he definitely has the arm. Main reason I see him redshirting rather than Aaron Murray is because of the quality of competition that Mett played both with and against in high school...he may need another year of seasoning before being ready to play SEC level guys.
I'll keep my eye out for when they post the rest of the freshman videos, and post them as they become available.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Really? Maybe it's just the circle of people I hang out with, but I have no idea where any of this is coming from, and I truly hope this doesn't become one of those stories that everybody latches on to and turns into a self-fulfilling prophesy.
David Hale does a magnificent job of laying out the reasons that this kind of thinking is ridiculous in his blog post today. It's a very informative, well researched piece, and I think that all Dawg fans, ESPECIALLY the ones who somehow, someway feel that we may be able to do better than Coach Richt, should read, re-read, and post on their refrigerator.
I know, every school has its Lunatic Fringe (except Alabama, who has their Reasonable Fringe), but any so-called fan who is thinking we need to be looking for another head coach needs to have his/her head examined. The man has won two SEC championships, played for another, has us in contention for SEC championships on a yearly basis, wins 10 games every year, consistently finishes in the top 10, consistently brings in top 5 recruiting classes, and represents the University with the utmost of class and high moral standing. Yep, let's kick this one to the curb.
No, he doesn't have a national championship yet....YET. But if you look at the performance of the 2002 and 2007 teams, for instance, they had every bit the pedigree that, say, the 2006 Florida team or the 2007 LSU teams had...we just didn't get the benefit of some of the breaks that those teams received.
If Richt's teams continue to perform the way they consistently have (and if you see any reasons to believe they won't, please feel free to enlighten me) then it's simply a matter of WHEN he wins a MNC, not IF.
Maybe that will be enough for the lunatics, but probably not.
***UPDATE - Cousin Walter at Football on the Brain is apparently as tired of this crap as I am, and he also links to a piece that Tony Barnhart did for AJC that I totally agree with...check it out hyeah.
I started wondering if they were going to do the same thing this year, since we are now four weeks out. But then I started trying to figure out which four games they would replay, and I couldn't think of four games from last year that I would really want to hear again. The best I could come up with were LSU, ASU, Tennessee, and Auburn. And even those were a stretch, because I only included the Viles and the War Tiger Eagle Plainsmen because they were wins over bitter rivals...those actual games were bowling shoe ugly.
In retrospect, 2007 was really a magical year (once we got past the embarrassment at Knoxville)...the Alabama, Auburn, and Florida games from that year are some of my greatest memories as a Dawg fan, and I go back almost 30 years of memories (I was a Dawg fan before that, I have pictures to prove it....but it wasn't necessarily by choice. Thank God for good parenting).
But the 2008 season that started with so much promise and hype has to be one of the most frustrating sports seasons I can remember...even in most of the wins, it seemed like we never really hit our potential. That we still won 10 games in such a frustrating year just tells you what kind of job our coaching staff has done in elevating both the performance and the expectation level for this program.
No better way to wash away that frustration than the fact that players report today, officially starting the 2009 season. There's not nearly as much hype about this team, and yet I think I am even MORE excited to see what this group of young men can do.
And since I know I am usually a source for nothing but excitement and enthusiasm when it comes to the Dawgs, I don't want to be a complete downer...so here, enjoy AJ Green carving up the Arizona State defense from last year, and imagine him 15 pounds heavier and 100% healthy: