Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hey, Nature Boy....how many days left until kickoff?


Thanks, Ric! Hope the Dawgs beat the mess out of your gators this year!


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Took in some high school football last night...

Dawgs 2011 commit Chris Conley currently plays at North Paulding High School, which is about 10 minutes away from my brother's house. We are planning on going to see him play several times this year. Last night was their first home game, against Paulding County, so we headed out.

First thing we learned...we need to get there EARLY. We left Josh's around 7:15 or so, and arrived in the vicinity of the school right before kickoff. I say the "vicinity" because traffic was backed around a mile from the entrance. The campus is situated right in the middle of about 100 acres of cow pasture, and the line of cars and walking families streaming up the hill to the high school reminded me of nothing more than the closing scenes of Field of Dreams.

"If you commit to be a Dawg, they will come".

While we were in line to get in, North Paulding struck first with a quick touchdown (not sure who scored that one). They followed that up with an onside kick, which they recovered, and then marched down for a field goal. 10-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, N. Paulding initiated what was going to be their kickoff strategy for most of the night...the pooch kick. The ball bounced off some poor hogmolly playing as an up man and was recovered by...North Paulding. Three plays later, Chris Conley scored his first of many touchdowns this season on a little slant route from around 10 yards out.

North Paulding kicked off again, and Paulding County...fumbled the kickoff AGAIN. North Paulding took over at the 15, scored a touchdown two plays later, and it was 24-0 before Paulding County had even run an OFFENSIVE PLAY. North Paulding continued to dominate in every single facet of the game (even their band was better), and we left when North scored to make it 50-0 in the third and were well into their bench depth.

Conley looked very good, even though his stat line probably won't show it. Unless he scored that first touchdown that I missed, he ended the game with just the one touchdown and probably another 4-5 catches. Despite the rather pedestrian stats, he was clearly better than anybody who tried to defend him, and he was open all night. I was also pleased to see him blocking downfield very effectively once North went to a short pass/run offense after going up so quickly.

It was also good to see Chris be an obvious leader on the team, and to see him just as pumped and excited for his teammates who made plays as he was when he got his own opportunities.

One teammate who he was able to get excited for a LOT was Joey Elizer, his teammate at wideout. Elizer was making huge plays all night, and ended the night with three touchdowns and at least 180-200 yards (I don't have official stats). He's listed at 6'2, 190 lb, and he just looked smooth and FAST all night. A quick look at his Rivals profile shows that his only major offer is from Illinois...my guess is that if he consistently plays like he did last night, he won't have to go play for the Zooker.

I had every intention of having some decent pics and videos to post...unfortunately, I had two things working against me. Number one, I am a HORRIBLE photographer/video recorder...you should only try to watch my video of when we went to see the Blue Angels if you take anti-nausea pills first, as the camera just whips around randomly at empty sky, except for the one time when I mistakenly followed a passenger plane 30,000 feet in the air for about 30 seconds.

Compounding my utter ineptitude as a photographer is the fact that I was breaking in a new camera. Not a good combination.

Anyway, here's what I got...

A pretty blurry of Conley breaking from the line of scrimmage...that's Conley lined up closes to us:

On this video, you can see a little of what I'm talking about regarding Conley's downfield blocking. At about the 10 second mark in the middle of the screen, a Paulding County defender is deposited squarely on his backside. The one doing the depositing is Conley.

Here is a shot of Joey Elizer on a WR screen...I didn't know the guy's name yet, so that's me at the end saying "That was #80 again". Also notable in this clip is the shot at the end of my niece, attending her first ever football game. I was (obviously) unaware that I was shooting her...note my earlier disclaimer about my horrible videography skillz.

Like I said, we are planning on going back several times this season, and I will keep you all updated as we follow this future Dawg...let's hope that I take the opportunity to hone my camera holding ability so that you can watch the video without puking.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm ready

I have two people that I talk to on the phone almost every day (my brother and Brent). Even in the dead periods like March or early June, those conversations inevitably turn to UGA football at some point.

Lately, my part of the conversation consists primarily of two words: I'm ready.

I'm ready to put the window flags up.

I'm ready to wear the same shirt to work every Friday for the next three months.

I'm ready to get little to no work done on Fridays and Mondays, as office conversation invariably centers on what's gonna happen this weekend, or what just happened over the weekend.

I'm ready for the tailgate.

I'm ready to be at the Dawgwalk a week from Saturday, letting these young men know how much we love, appreciate, and support them.

I'm ready to take my daughter to see Russ during the pregame festivities.

I'm ready to hear the Redcoats live, not just on the CD that I've started listening to every day.

I'm ready to hear the opening solo of "Glory, Glory" from the South end zone, with my Georgia hat upraised and tears in my eyes...every single time.

I'm ready to see if Coach Grantham can coach football as well as he can talk it.

I'm ready to appreciate the last season Between the Hedges of the best wide receiver in the country, and the best one the Dawgs have ever had.

I'm ready for Justin Houston to become a household name.

I'm ready to watch the quarterback that all of Dawg Nation was beside ourselves with excitement over when he committed to the Dawgs over his hometown gators.

I'm ready to stop reading message board posts about how Aaron Murray is apparently a dwarf who can't throw the ball more than five yards downfield.

I'm ready to hear Scott Howard, and I'm ready to imagine I can still hear Munson telling me to "Get the picture".

I'm ready, believe it or not, to get irrationally angry at ESPN and their idiot "analysts".

I'm ready, believe it or not, to have weekly heated discussions over whether SEC refs are crooked or too stupid to be crooked.

I'm ready to tell Paul Finebaum where he can stick his hot seat.

I'm ready to watch an offense with more weapons than I can ever remember the Dawgs having at one time.

I'm ready to watch Marlon Brown blossom into the player we all know he can be.

I'm ready for Brown to join AJ, King, Durham, Wootentheballcarrier, Charles, and White to form the best group of receivers and tight ends in the SEC.

I'm ready for Caleb King and Washaun Ealy to RUN THE SEC the way we RUN THIS STATE.

I'm ready to watch a big and nasty offensive line be big and nasty.

I'm ready to watch the Dawgs go to Columbia and put the "sleeper team in the SEC East" to sleep.

I'm ready to send Bobby Petrino scurrying out of the state of Georgia with his little rat tail stuck between his legs...again.

I'm ready for the Dawgs to avenge their embarassing loss to the Evil Hillbillies from Knoxville, and I'm ready for the staff to show no mercy while doing so.

I'm ready to go through a season without having to use fancy uniform tricks to fire the team up for a rivalry game (fingers crossed for this one).

I'm ready to hear the Chapel Bell ringing.

I'm ready to watch the deepest and most athletic group of safeties ever compiled on one team unleash their collective fury. Rambo. Williams. Ogletree. Hamilton. I'm ready to hear those names a LOT.

I'm ready to celebrate a win in Jacksonville (Please, Lord, make it so).

I'm ready to get one for the thumb against the War Tiger Eagle Plainsmen.

I'm ready to show the gnats from North Avenue that they are still the little sister, and always will be.

I'm ready for an epic showdown in the Dome between the Dawgs and the Sabanites.



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I am taking requests now....

Thanks to a Twitter conversation I had earlier with Thinking Bulldog (and be sure to follow him for his entertaining and EXTREMELY difficult Munson of the Day contests)....a little Damien Gary to celebrate EIGHTEEN DAYS TO KICKOFF!

My favorite Munson quote related to this play isn't on this clip...later in the game, when he's talking about the earlier touchdown by Gary, Munson said something like, "I think I said something dumb, like 'HEY!'"

Classic Munson.

And, just because I promised....some WAYNE JOHNSON love!


Monday, August 16, 2010

19 days to kickoff...Happy Hines Ward Day!

Been suffering a little blogger's block lately, but there's no way I'm letting today pass without acknowledging my very favorite Dawg of all time.

One of the greatest pure football players I have ever seen....Hines Ward.

Hines is heavily involved in this one, one of my favorite Dawg memories and Munson calls: "Our HEART that was TORN OUT and BLEEDING...we picked it up and WE STUCK IT BACK INSIDE!!!"

And a couple from his career as a Steeler:

Herschel is the greatest college football player ever...but my FAVORITE Dawg ever is Hines Ward, without question.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Preseason coaches polls are stupid...and other random musings

- The first USA Today Coaches Poll was published last Friday...four weeks before any actual games have been played.

Long time readers of this blog (all four of you) know that I have made my feelings about preseason polls clear in the past. I understand Lindy's, Athlon, Phil Steele, etc. publishing them...they drive conversation and (presumably) increase magazine sales. The difference with this one is that this poll actually makes up 1/3 of the BCS formula. That is absurd.

Look, the Coaches poll is stupid in its own right. Coaches know their own team, and maybe the ones on their schedule. There is no way they are familiarizing themselves with the rest of the teams in the country, at least not enough to be ranking them intelligently. And, yes, I know that head coaches aren't actually filling out the ballots (which raises a whole other argument)...but I don't think assistants are really paying that much more attention. They're just voting for whomever Herbstreit, Corso, and May tell them to (I don't think anybody is paying attention to who Dr. Lou wants them to vote for...if they were, Notre Dame and South Carolina would play for the MNC every year).

But...a PRESEASON poll? Seriously? And not only a pre-SEASON poll...in many cases, it's a pre-PRACTICE poll! As of the time this poll was published, the Dawgs had not had a full-contact practice yet, and we were one of the first teams to start practicing. How in the world is ANYBODY supposed to rank teams at that point, especially coaches who obviously have their own team as their focus? Who knows which freshmen are going to step up, or how teams are going to adjust to new coaches and schemes, or how badly outgoing players are going to be missed?

Again, if the poll was just for fun then I don't care...but this is ONE THIRD OF THE FORMULA THAT DECIDES THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. And, unfortunately, where you start can have a lot of bearing on where you finish. Take Boise State, for instance...they start this year ranked 5th. They start the season with Virginia Tech at a neutral site, and then for the rest of the year they play NOBODY. Because they are starting the season ranked so high, they only have to win their one real game, and they are virtually guaranteed of a spot in the championship game. For that matter, since they are ranked so high, they could conceivably LOSE that game (the only one on their schedule), run the table the rest of the way, and be sitting at 12-1 at the end of the year with the idiots at ESPN touting them as real contenders for the national championship.

I'm not a BCS-hater...I'm not a playoff proponent (the only way I want a playoff is if it's GUARANTEED to be no more than 4 teams). But something has to be done about this 33.3% of the formula.

Two suggestions:
1) Start the poll later. Wait 4-6 weeks before the first poll. By that time, we at least have SOME idea of what the landscape is. I would even support waiting later, but I know that would never happen.

2) Take the coaches poll out of the equation, for all of the reasons I stated before. I would support replacing it with the Legends Poll, which is voted on by a group of former coaches. Every week, they send DVDs to all of their members of all of the games played by teams who are likely to be ranked. After they watch the games (supposedly...hey, no system is perfect), the voters get together on a weekly call and rank the teams. They also publish how they voted every week, a bit of transparency that you only get in the final week of the USA Today poll.

Some other quick musings...

- I was originally going to talk about how it's been almost exclusively good news out of fall camp. Then...today happened. So never mind.

Smith and Samuel being out for any length of time is especially worrisome...as we are installing Coach Grantham's new defense, every possible contributor on defense needs to be getting as many reps as possible.

I hate fall practice.

- It was great to have LIVE football on my television last night, even if it was a crappy NFL preseason game. Congrats to Geno Atkins...former Dawg picked up 6 tackles and a sack. That's how you make an impact!

- If you are looking for a great Braves website, check out TalkingChop.com. Superb content, updated several times a day...and rather than the idiotic commenters you get on AJC blogs (First!!), you get stuff like this, from "Lennox" in celebration of J-Hey's 21st birthday:
Did I ever tell you about the time Jason Heyward took me out to go get a drink with him? We go off looking for a bar and we can’t find one. Finally Heyward takes me to a vacant lot and says, “Here we are.” We sat there for a year and a half and sure enough someone constructs a bar around us. The day they opened we ordered a shot, drank it, and then burned the place to the ground. Heyward yelled over the roar of the flames, “Always leave things the way you found ’em!”
Something about the image of that last sentence had me cracking up all day...

Speaking of the Braves, they seem to have righted the ship in the last week or so. They are really reminding me of the early 90's Braves...ridiculously good pitching, and just enough timely hitting to get by. I still wish we would have gotten one more big bat at the trade deadline...I think we're one bat away from being a real World Series contender.

But, these days, all I really ask from the Braves is that they keep it interesting until fall practice starts, and they have certainly done that. Anything more than that is just gravy.

- If you were wondering why so many (myself included) started turning on Brett FaRve even before he started waffling like John Kerry every summer...look no further than this post.

- Summer TV continues to be TONS better than it was when I was growing up. Now that LOST is gone, Friday Night Lights and Mad Men are the best two shows on television, in my opinion (coming from someone who, for some reason, has never watched Breaking Bad).

Speaking of LOST...as a fan of both that show and Weezer, well...this pretty much made my day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I'm trying, really I am...

I'm just trying to make it through the next thirty days. I mean, seriously...I have work to do. I have a family to take care of. My daughters start school next week. I'm trying to stay focused...really, I am.

I'm trying not to project David Greene circa 2001 stats on Aaron Murray, even though that was the last time a RFr QB started the season for us after spending two full offseasons with the team, and Aaron Murray is coming in with a much better pedigree and grasp of the offense than Greene had (remember - Aaron has spent two seasons learning Bobo's offense, while Greene's first year was also Richt's).

I'm trying to remember that TJ Stripling is a true freshman, and therefore not a realistic candidate for the All-American team...even though if Coach Grantham was tasked with creating the perfect OLB for his system, he would probably create something exactly like TJ Stripling.

I'm trying to temper expectations for the offense, since we have a first-time starter at QB...but I keep looking at the depth chart and seeing weapons everywhere I look. A.J. Green, Orson Charles, Aron White, Rantavious Wootentheballcarrier, Tavarres King...

I keep trying not to think about the potential that our running game has with two elite running backs and a veteran and extremely talented offensive line, but...I keep remembering WE RUN THIS STATE. And that Ealy was just a true freshman last year who didn't really know what he was doing until around late October.

I'm trying to keep in mind that we're running a brand new defense, and some growing pains are expected....but I keep thinking about how bad we would have to be for it to be an actual downgrade over the last couple of seasons, and how much more confidence I already have in this defensive coaching staff. And how much it sounds like our players on defense are embracing and quickly picking up the new scheme, and how when they talk about the new defense they sound like a man who has been starving to death describing the first few bites of a perfectly aged filet.

I'm trying not to think about all of the coaches who have reminded us that special teams is just as important as offense/defense...and how our special teams has the opportunity to be the best in the country, now that we are no longer hampered by the Czar of Directional Kicking. Groza Award finalist Blair Walsh. Ray Guy Award winner Drew Butler. Brandon Boykin. Branden Smith. Seriously...I'm trying.

I'm trying to pace myself, knowing that there are still 30 days to kickoff and if I don't calm down I'm going to be a wreck by the time kickoff actually arrives.

I'm trying.

And failing.



Monday, August 2, 2010

A little Coach Grantham to get you ready for practice..

I seriously need to find out if our shared last name is a coincidence...because if it turns out I am actually related to this guy I'll probably turn into a full fledged stalker.

These are my favorite parts of the interview Coach Grantham did with ESPN's Chris Lowe last week...

Georgia was tied for next to last nationally last season with 12 forced turnovers. How do you turn that around?

TG: It starts with the quarterback. In pro football, we did a study, and the guy who
fumbles the ball the most is the quarterback. He’s also the guy throwing the ball, so the more you can do to disrupt him, the more you’re going to create turnovers. You can do that a lot of ways -- disguising what you do, by bringing pressure, four-man and six-man rush, and the biggest thing is the disruption of routes. You can’t allow free
access. [emphasis added] If you disrupt them and jam them, they’re not always going to be in the spot they’re supposed to be. There’s no question that we need to create more turnovers. Again, going back to the NFL, the teams that were plus-1 in turnover margin over the last 11 years won 80 percent of their games.

What do you hope the Georgia fans see in this defense?

TG: What I want them to see is improvement and that we’re aggressive, fundamentally sound and relentless in our pursuit of the ball. I want them to see a defense that doesn’t give up explosive plays, a defense that plays with a swagger. I know this, that the Georgia fans have a passion for defense, the “Junkyard Dawg” defense that is so famous around here. I anticipate working toward giving them the things they have a passion for.

I was talking with my brother this morning...if this guy can coach anywhere close to as good as he can talk, then I am TREMENDOUSLY optimistic about our championship prospects in the very near future. As I have said before, I do anticipate some growing pains to manifest themselves this year in the form of blown coverages, guys out of position, etc...but, hey, it's not like we weren't seeing those problems on a regular basis anyway. What I am hoping for is that the new mentality goes a long way in this first year toward reversing our horrible turnover ratio from last season. Anything above that is just icing.

GATA, Dawgs! Time to put your game faces on...only FOUR weeks until game week!!


As if the start of practice wasn't enough...



Sunday, August 1, 2010

34 days to kickoff....Happy Herschel Walker Day!

34 Days to go, and we commemorate with the greatest college football player of all time: Herschel Walker, the Goal Line Stalker:


(Yep, another repeat from last year's countdown...but he IS the greatest college football player of all time. This day should be a holiday, at least in the Dawg Nation. Do we stop singing "Silent Night" just because we sang it last year?)