Saturday, January 23, 2010

Isner Serving it Up Down Under

That sound you hear is probably one of two things: the whooopf of the tennis ball passing by John Isner's opponents in the Austrailian Open...or the rest of the world coming to realize what we already knew....Isner is a real Dawg on the court.

Currently, the former Georgia tennis star stands behind only Andy Roddick as the top American netter. And it wasn't too long ago that Isner defeated Roddick in Flushing Meadows. Isner used the momentum from that US Open stunner to train very hard in the off season. He hired a new coach in Craig Boynton and started 2010 off with his first tournament win in Auckland last weekend. (sidenote: John donated $5,000 of his first career title earnings to Haiti Relief Funds)

Suddenly, Isner isn't just the giant with the huge serve. He has a well rounded game, most notably a much improved backhand. At his size (6'9") it becomes even more important for him to maintain accurate and consistent groundstrokes against smaller and more fleet of foot opponents.

And Isner is doing just that. With a strong open to the season, Isner has stretched his career record to 51-42. Perhaps a bit tired from just getting off the plane from New Zealand, Isner needed all five sets to outlast Italy's Andreas Seppi in the Austrailian Open's first round. In the second he took out Ireland's Louk Sorensen and then defeated France's Monfils in four sets Friday.

His reward for being undefeated in 2010...a fourth round match against one of tennis' most well-rounded players, Andy Murray. Neither Isner nor Murray have won a grand slam, and both are legitimate threats in this year's Australian. The winner of the match will face either Ivo Karlovic or Rafa Nadal in the quarter finals, both of whom are beatable on Melbourne's hard surface.

While advancing through the field in New York last September, you could hear many fans barking in between points. Isner's not enjoying nearly as much fan support Down Under, but it doesn't seem to be phasing the player who is used to raucous Dan Magill crowds during NCAA tourneys.

So tune into the Tennis Channel for live coverage of Isner tonight at 7pm, ESPN2 for late coverage and lend your bark from afar. If you don't have those, try the livestream at You may even hear Patrick McEnroe talk about SEC fans' enthusiasm for sports. Isner's an emerging star in the world of tennis and he's a great ambassador for the University of Georgia. He frequently sports the G during pre and post match interviews and has a dog named Magill. In a sport filled with pampered prima-donnas, Isner stands heads and shoulders above the rest, proudly bleeding red and black.

GATA John!!

Beforehand, you can check out these related readings:


Countdown to Signing Day...11


One of the bigger storylines heading towards National Signing Day on February 3rd is the commitment of Da'Rick Rogers. The WR prospect out of Calhoun has given his verbal intent to Coach Richt's staff, but the coaches (and the Dawg Nation's frenzied recruitniks) are anxious to see that committed signature on the letter of intent in a week and a half.

As Chad Simmons reports ($$), Rogers visited Athens last weekend and said it was a good one. He tried on the #3 and liked the look. But no one has been able to convince him to stay away from other campuses. Rogers is good friends with his Calhoun QB, Nash Nance. Rogers plans to accompany Nance (a Vandy commit himself) as he visits other schools. Among the laundry lists of programs who could bend Rogers' ear while entertaining Nance are Missy State, Florida and Tennessee.

Georgia's top ranked player has better size (6'3", 208 lbs) and comparable skills to AJ Green and undoubtedly Coach Ball has been able to sell Rogers on the possibility of not just playing in '10 but taking #8's place in the fall of '11. Whether that holds up to the competition remains to be seen. But with a large number of Georgia's commitments on the defensive side of the ball, expect CMR and staff to fight to the very end to keep Rogers on board. Georgia's top prospect is one they can't afford to lose a grip on.

Here's a video of Nance and Rogers discussing their commitments back in June that includes some nice highlights.

video courtesy of romenewstribune

Tomorrow...Nickell Robey.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Somethins' Afoot at the Learning Curve

We've had Coach Grantham for a week now; still has that nice new DC smell, doesn't it?

Grantham and Coach Lakatos meet their charges today in the first team meeting since their hiring. If the anticipation was great among the Dawg Nation for a DC to be hired, you can imagine it could've been multiplied twenty-fold for the players. What's he like? Where will I fit in? What kind of shape do I need to be in? Wonder if he thinks I can play at the next level...

On a similar note, I was reading through this post by Tim Tucker yesterday and got the feeling of a controlled chaos; a lot more questions than answers and a palpable excitement brewing in Butts-Mehre. All of which should bring a smile to most Dawg fans' faces. The overwhelming feeling is that the learning curve is steep, but the energy is in abundance.

Media types, beat writers and yes, even bloggers are also facing a steep learning curve. For those who frequent this corner of the internets often, you know I'm not a big professional sports fan. And the 3-4 defensive scheme, while born in the collegiate ranks by the brain of Bud Wilkinson, is currently almost exclusively a professional defense. So for yours truly, I'll confess that my knowledge of the 3-4 base stems solely from those times I was leading by 30 in the 4th quarter of NCAA Football and wanted to try something different.

But hopefully you can tell I've done a little research to broaden that, the wife has apparently broken my PlayStation in an effort to make me more productive. Fat chance! 

And speaking of great girth, I listened in on 680theFan's interview of Grantham yesterday. Maybe you caught it too. Personally, I felt his enthusiasm all the way down to my toes. The dude is thoughtful, direct, genuine and energetic. I also learned that his 3-4 is a one gap and not a two, so having a 350 lb. behemoth as a plug isn't a necessity. As DeAngelo Tyson said, I just feel I need to get stronger rather than bigger.

Sounds like a good start to me.

the Friday Feedbag
  • First and foremost, some mad props to Coach Landers and his Lady Dawgs for taking down the giant last night in Stegeman. It was a defensive battle that saw 16 lead changes. Epic win. HillBillyFail.
  • And a lot of great reads on the Lady Dawgs' 18th win of the season: the Red and Black, Banner-HeraldAJC, Dean Legge and even the Mutha.
  • It wasn't all smooth sailing last night however. Pretty sure I nearly ran over Orson Charles at the corner of Rutherford and Smith as I was looking for a parking spot. That certainly would have ended my blawgging career.
  • And I was a little disappointed in the Stegeman crowd, especially since UGA Athletics was giving tickets to students along with pizza, cokes and a semester's tuition. But it was a loud crowd that definitely set a standard for Saturday evening...
  • ...when Coach Fox tries to follow Landers' lead.
  • Before we leave the hardwood, the AJCs Schultz has a great read on Coach Fox and the hurdles he's facing turning around the hoops program. And you know I don't link to the AllJackCrap very take advantage.
  • John Isner beat a french dude in Melbourne, advancing the former Dawg to the round of 16 in the Australian Open.
  • Exile returns a favorite feature, From the Cornfield...including a little Carroll humor.
  • Mackie plays off of a post from the Senator and together they scoff at the idea of Coach Richt feeling the heat.
  • Rex thinks the special teams can return to glory without a complete makeover.
  • Slurban is feeling much better these days. Word is he may even recover in time to salvage this year's recruiting class. What a miracle!!
  • Speaking of recruiting, Scout has the final rankings for his year's class.
  • Lastly, bed warmers? Really? I get bent out of shape when my own kids get in my bed...why would I want Nigel and his bad breath taking my pillow for a test run before I turn in?

Trivial Update
Q - Tonight at Stegeman the no. 3 Lady Vols meet Coach Landers' no. 8 Lady Dawgs for the 54th time. How many of those times have both teams been ranked in the top 10?
A - 18

Some tweeps really know how to dish the rock. @JeremyRoyAdams was the first to chime in, but his shot turned out to be more of a desperation heave. @alanashley was just ahead of @allyugadawg and newcomer @ChrisLewis25 with the correct answer. Alan takes home a box of signature Andy Landers stogies. And since there are no losers in ThursdaysRTrivial, the rest will enjoy a trampled urrrnnj and white pompom. A valuable keepsake in remembrance of another time when Rocky Flopped.

And let's hope it continues to flop. Tomorrow night in the Stegosaurus, on the diamond this spring and well into the fall. I never thought I'd see the day when a Dooley crying would make me smile, but that bed's been made. A day of HillBilly ineptitude is a great day in the Dawg Nation.

Enjoy your weekend Reader. It's here whether you like it or not.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Countdown to Signing Day...13

Today we profile one of Coach Richt's highest profile commitments, Alec Ogletree.

size: 6-3, 212
school: Newnan HS  Newnan, GA
position: safety

Ogletree is a super freak. Once he committed, immediately the comparisons to Thomas Davis began. But if Thomas Davis was a diamond found in the rough for Van Gorder back in '02, Ogletree is sparkling from the front window. He's a 5 star prospect and is ranked as the no. 3 safety in the nation. Back in '02, it took a basketball game for Davis to get his first and only D-1 offer.

Back in Newnan, Alec decided to get the recruiting process out of the way this past summer by committing to Georgia in June. Here's what Scout's Chad Simmons had to say about him:

Ogletree has the body (6-3/215) of a linebacker, but the skills to play safety. He covers a lot of ground at safety, he has great range, and he has very good insticts. He breaks up a lot of passes, his hands are sound, and he is intimidating on that third level. Some may think he is just good in run support, but he is truly the total package at safety.

Ogletree's commitment is rock solid while his chances at a redshirt are slim and none. He's the kind of player that enjoys contact and excels at special teams. Look for him to contribute there early while he hones his coverage skills in the secondary. In Grantham's 3-4 attack, I see him eventually being a very versatile player; one who is able to produce alligator arms on slant routes and steamroll ball carriers who dare seek the first down marker.

Ogletree will also get the pleasure of playing with his twin brother Alexander, who committed to Coach Richt in early of classiest stories in this class.

Want a preview? Alec = #39, Zander = #33. Enjoy.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coaching Rumor Update, episode XIV UPDATED

Hopefully this staff is rounded out soon, so this may be one of the last of these.

First of all, a great BIG welcome to Scott Lakatos. The new DB coach of the Dawgs' secondary is a great addition; UConn has had an impressive pass defense throughout his tenure in Storrs. I gave you this guy's resume on Saturday after news broke of his interview. It sounds like it didn't sparkle in some fans' eyes. But as the Senator said, if his kids look back at the ball when it's thrown to the man they're covering...then there'll be plenty of sparkle. Of course, right now we'd just take them being within camera shot of the defender.

So, we've replaced Willie DC and Jancek LB with Grantham and Willie DB with Lakatos...that leaves us still one in the black as far as the coaching ledger, correct?

When Grantham was hired it cemented the notion that we'd only have one d-line coach, Garner. Some teams that operate from a 3-4 split LB duties up by inside and outside. Grantham will not. (Update: evidently the language there was too strong. Hale hints that not only may Grantham hire help for LBs, but it may be all in the family. Plus, I missed this earlier but I missed this earlier - PWD weighs in as well.)

Well!...isn't that spehshul? 

That leaves Coach Richt with a difficult choice, defense or special teams. Groo has a great read on this very topic and ultimately decides that with the dramatic changes on that side of the ball it would be wise to add more defensive help. 

Before reading his assessment I was against anything other than a special teams guy. But Groo is right when he typed that there is a history for success with position coaches running special teams as well as head coaches. From Beamer's lunchpail philosophy to Slurban's preferential treatment towards special teamers, there is reason to think that Coach Richt himself might handle the duties. Hell, it worked pretty well in Athens earlier in CMRs tenure.

Here's some stats to digest:

 KO Defense
 Punt Defense

Should CMR go with one coach...I hope he at least gauges Joe DeCamillis' interest. It's a pipe dream that's been kept alive by message boards, I know. But he looks good in red and black and is renowned as the guy. Those hidden yards would be a LOT easier to find with him on the sideline.

Another possibility - whoever is stirring the awesomeness in Ames, Iowa. That's right, the Iowa State Cyclones finished top 10 in both kickoff return and punt return yardage defense (h/t Ally). It appears as if Coach Rhoads also splits the special teams' duties amongst the staff because the official website doesn't list a special teams coach. Or maybe that's just a well kept secret.

What approach do you prefer to special teams? And if you want a coach, who would you like to see interviewed?

And as Hale's Fun With Numbers pointed out yesterday, recruiting is always in play in decisions like these. So there are a lot of variables in the air and whatever Richt decides, he'll make the best decision for the team. I'm just eager to see these teams become special again.

A KiffyBaby Documentary

Perhaps you've seen this riveting docudrama already. It's awash in raw emotions and tells the story of a simple coach looking for his next headline. If you haven't had the pleasure, it's worth three minutes of your busy day...avoiding that inbox that has staked a claim to over 40% of your desk.

Press play. Sit back. Pick your nose. Whatever.

Again we're reminded that there are times when Al Davis uses words that are as true as they are nearly coherent. That and pumping gas can be a noble profession.

But best of all, one of my doctored pics made the cycle of graphics peaster68 used in the documentary. A steady round of golf applause to the reader that can comment as to which one.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Countdown to Signing Day...15

First, lemme come clean. When I started this blawg I was intrigued by Nat'l Signing Day, but didn't follow recruiting much. I just can't seem to work myself into a lather over a 17 year old's collegiate courtship like some are able to do. Then last February I attended my first Nat'l Signing Day event at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

I was hooked. Although I still don't get bent outta shape like some do when a kid chooses someone else over us (pleeeze people...good riddance), I do enjoy hearing the coaches talk about the process. I do enjoy reading about which way a kid is leaning and why. And I really enjoy speculating where I think kids may go.

All that being said...this ain't gonna be a daily thing. But I hope to have several updates in the next two weeks.

Nose Tackle

As the Grantham Era begins, the role of the nose guard is going to be crucial to the kind of defense the new coach wants to run. The better the NG can control his gaps, the more the LBs behind him can roam free.

Before we look at prospects I think it's important to reflect on some things Grantham said in his teleconference. He looks for NT play that is technically sound, quick and relentless. Prettyy easy to read that he's looking for smart play over just lazy girth. Jay Ratliff, Grantham's star out in Dallas is listed at 6-4, 303.

So who are we looking at adding to the field from the '10 class? Let's look.
  • Garrison Smith (pictured) 6-3 255 Douglass HS, committed to UGA. Smith has the versatility to play end or DT in college. His eventual size and development will likely determine which now that the 3-4 is in Athens. Smith is listed as a prototypical three-technique DT, so his quickness and ability to rush the passer are definitely not in question.
  • Jeff Whitaker 6-4 295 Warner Robins HS. Down to Auburn, UGA, Miami, N. Carolina and California, likely in that order. Whitaker is a true space eater that has elite strength. He just finished his official to Auburn and plans to knock on Coach Richt's door this weekend.
  • Michael Thornton 6-1 275 Stephenson HS. Down to UGA, Auburn, Penn St., Miami and newcomer Florida. Thornton is very quick, agile. Would settle easier into a 4-3, but he definitely has the size and strength to produce early. Thornton certainly qualifies Grantham's quickness criteria. He tallied 18 tackles for loss and seven sacks this past season. UPDATE: Chad Simmons has some late breaking news on Thornton's recruitment ($$).
Grantham's defense is gonna need solid play all around, especially up the middle. So it all starts at NT.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday's Meatloaf - I Had a Nightmare...of a Dooley in Orange

I had a Nightmare, because we all know there is no content in a HillBilly's character to judge them by. Happy MLK Day Reader. Hope your Dream didn't end in a night sweat.

I grew up across town from Derek Dooley. Our paths rarely crossed save a rec league basketball season. Believe it or not, Dooley's kid had a better crossover than Durham's. But I digress.

I've enjoyed watching Derek coach at LA Tech. His teams are prepared and he coaches with enthusiasm. I really like that and would love to see him succeed...but not no mo.
If the thought of Dawg progeny on a HillBillly sideline hasn't made you sick to your stomach yet, how do like the sound of Coach Dooley as it refers to a Tennessee coach? How do you like the idea of the real Coach Dooley pulling against the Dawgs this October 9th? IN Sanford Stadium? Within mere feet of where he once used to use body english to help Herschel break tackles and FG attempts reach their destination? Does Vince know all of the words to Rocky Top? Will he pet Ol' Smoky while wearing an orange tie?

If that last paragraph made you retch, good. There's no getting around the fact that this hire is good and bad for Georgia. Good in that Derek Dooley is in over his head in Knutsville and works under a man who's days are numbered as Athletic Director. Derek had a decent gig, was his own boss. Then a swindler texted him simply because of his name. He was handed the keys to a Mustang GT with a 4.6 24 valve V8. The only problem, it has four flat tires and not a single can of fix-a-flat.

The Derek Dooley hire is bad for Georgia in that his dad is synonymous with Athens, GA. Coach Dooley bled red and black and now fields questions about the possibilities of wearing orange ties. And why not? As of Friday the former coach and AD now has HillBilly ties within his own family.

I love my children and will do anything to help them succeed. Believe me when I type that to you Reader. I just don't believe they need to wear orange to get there.

Today's Ingredients
  • John Isner used the Heineken Open in Aukland as more than a tune up for the ATPs first major. He won the damn thing!
  • If you spent the weekend looking for a big red bow to tie around this Grantham hire, I doubt you'd find a better one than this post by the Senator.
  • Until the new regime proves itself, we believe we have every right to claim this city. Neuheisel may stoop to KiffyBaby's level, but give the guy props for taking the first shot.
  • The GymDogs saw a streak snapped in Tuscaloosa.
  • Hale has 5 questions for Coach Richt's program.
  • Dean Legge reports that one of Florida's top playmakers really enjoyed his visit ($$) to Athens.
  • Scott Lakatos interviewed for the DB position over the weekend. Word is he's the guy. UPDATE: he's officially been named.
  • Coach Fox's Dawgs blew two 13 points leads in Starkville, but Exile still sees improvement.
  • Drew Butler spent the weekend in Connecticut at the Walter Camp All-American banquet. I thought I'd share a tweetDinner has begun at Yale Commons.Colt McCoy, Player of the Year. John Elway, Man of the Year. Drew Butler, most pale player in the room. Know the feeling Drew. (the pale part, not the award banquet part)
  • Mackie had a Sunday dilemma that the Vikings put an end to.
  • So, Grantham is officially a Dawg after the Vikings proved to be quite brutish Sunday. Now all of a sudden the new guy is scheduling opponents....whoa!

    Back to the dream analysis...perhaps the worst part about it is that the Tennessee Dooley is underappreciated. In Athens the name carries with it the sum of all its glorious parts. Urging Lindsay Scott down the sideline. Being carried off the field on shoulders in the Super Dome. The way he discussed at length how each opponents' punter could beat you with his foot. Continuously taking the highest road possible when Adams continuously humiliated him.

    Yet those HillBillys are too caught up in being spurned by a egotistical dipshit to truly value the name of their new coach. All of Derek's eloquence in his opening remarks as head coach in Knutsville was lost on most of the suspender clad inbreds as they sifted through the ashes of single coil mattresses.

    No worse fate can befall a man than to be surrounded by traitor souls. I wasn't aware Burroughs had ever served any time in the Vol Navy, but I get his drift. Back on point, God bless you Derek Dooley for trying to save a slew of dimwitted mountain folk. You've chosen your fate, win or lose. Unfortunately, coaches' careers tend not to end well in Knutsville. But surely you knew that going in.

    As for you, I hope you have a great day Reader. I may have had a nightmare involving an orange tie, but I can spot a holiday when I'm given one. Martin Luther King Jr. preached to love not hate. But I'm sure he never shook hands with Steve Spurrier.

    Here's a fork. Unlike Congress, try not to overtax it.


    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    Coaching Rumor Update, episode XIII

    As the Grantham Era begins, Marc Weiszer confirms for us that indeed Scott Lakatos has interviewed for the DB coaching position on Coach Richt's staff. The rumor mill started Friday night churning language as strong as the UConn coach is the next DB coach at UGA. I figured I'd find something at some point Saturday, but no. This morning Weiszer confirmed it through the Huskies football blog at the Hartford Courant website. Be sure to read the comment.... ; )

    Here's the guys' coaching resume':

    Secondary Coach
    Secondary Coach
    Defensive Coordinator & Linebacker Coach
    Secondary Coach & Special Teams Coach
    Secondary Coach
    Defensive Coordinator & Linebacker Coach
    New Haven
    Assistant Coach
    Outside Linebacker Coach
    Boston U.
    Secondary Coach
    Western Connecticut State

    And here's a link to his UConn bio. I too was impressed with how well UConn dismantled the Lamechickens in the Pizza Bowl. But in truth no very little about this guy. From the link above, it sounds like Lakatos has ties to Grantham. So it would stand that this guy would get serious consideration. I now wonder who else CMR may have contacted in the six plus weeks since the firings. CMR has replaced one of the positions he opened up on December 2nd. Now we wait to see who is tapped for the others.

    Nothing to do but wait...and speculate. The only thing we know for certain is that Grantham will coach the LBs. Garner would fit in on the DL, assuming we can hold onto him. Tennessee fans are clamoring for Garner to get a look on Dooley's staff. Assuming that Grantham handles the entire linebacking corps rather than splitting it into ILBs and OLBs, that would leave a DB coach and....dare I say...

    ..a special teams coach. Isn't speculating fun? Grantham works with Joe Decamillis in Dallas. to see him back in red and black.

    What other coaches do YOU wanna see in Sanford this fall?