Tuesday, August 30, 2011

10 Questions: the 2011 season with Marc Weiszer

With just four days left until actual toe meets leather, I threw 10 pre-season opener questions at Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald. He didn't dodge a one. See for yourself:

  1.  First of all, I've been wondering as I read about camp and practices how much AD McGarity has been visible. He's kept a close eye on things thus far, such as his seat at the scorer's table during basketball games. Very hands on. I know the media is limited to just a few minutes of practice, but have you seen him around the fields observing things from a distance?
I’ve seen McGarity at practice just one day so far this month, but then again the media has been more and more limited ourselves in getting access to practice. He told me he also went by practice another time on the first week of camp, went to the team’s 6:15 a.m. conditioning testing before camp began and addressed the team on the night they officially reported. His fourth-floor corner office gives him a view of the practice fields, so he can get a peek whenever he wants.
2. Turning towards Saturday, can you give us a rundown on players that may miss the opener due to injury?
After Monday’s final full pads practice before the Boise game, tailback Richard Samuel seems to be the player whose status might be most in question, but he’s optimistic about being able to play.
Samuel has dealt with a quadriceps injury for two and a half weeks. He said he practiced about half of the workout. Richt said he’s still not 100 percent and is still the projected starter over Isaiah Crowell as of today.
Cornerback Branden Smith said he jogged on Monday when he did not practice. He was in a walking boot on Friday, but said that he will be ready to play on Saturday. I asked him if his 4.3 40 speed is now 4.4 due to the injury and he wouldn’t even allow for 0.1 of a second to be lost due to the injury.
3.     Kwame Geathers seems to have locked down the starting NT position for the opener. However, it seems like we can expect both him and Jenkins to play. Given Boise's offense I would think we would need both on the field more often than not. What are your thoughts at the nose tackle position?
First of all, the position seems to be called many things. Coaches and players also call it nose guard. When Todd Grantham first came around, the guys playing there were listed just as nose. Whatever you call it, Geathers is the starter. He has picked up where he left off in the spring. Even if Jenkins didn’t have his battles with the heat and his hamstring issue, I’m not sure how much of a battle it would have been for the starting job. If Jenkins is healthy enough (he practiced Monday), he’ll get snaps. Grantham said the other day that he’s worked some at end, too, so it will be interesting to see just how he’s used and how effective he is from the get-go.
4.     Of course the other key position battle fans have been focused on is RB. It sounds like Crowell is progressing as well as could be expected. Do you think he's ready to handle the bulk of the load, or should we expect a more widespread distribution of carries against Boise State?

I think the distribution of carries against Boise will go this way: Samuel-Crowell or Crowell-Samuel. Mark Richt already likes his top two tailbacks better than the disappointing combo of Ealey-King from last year. Samuel is projected to start now, but his injury may impact that. I’d be surprised if we see either Brandon Harton or Ken Malcome get a carry unless Samuel can't go. From everything coaches have said, Crowell is ready for the demands of the position. He’s not afraid to get physical in pass protection and seems to know his assignments about as well as you could hope for a freshman. As far as how many carries Crowell or Samuel get, the hot hand may dictate that.
5.     Speaking of Crowell, the Dream Team focus seems to be mostly on him and Mitchell. But the truth is the greatest impact of the 2011 class will be in depth, talented depth. Which freshman that hasn't had much attention thus far do you think will stand out as the season progresses?

I’ll give you two. Damian Swann and Amarlo Herrera.
Swann is already in the top four cornerbacks now after Brandon Boykin, Branden Smith and Jordan Love. If Smith can’t go Saturday because of his foot injury, Swann will be a starter in the nickel package. Herrera’s physically imposing already (6-2 and 231 pounds) and plays a position of inside linebacker where the Bulldogs are thin in depth behind Christian Robinson and Alec Ogletree. There’s Mike Gilliard and Herrera behind them among scholarship players.

6.  Will Friend's hire was met with a lot of questions. Months later he seems like a good fit and a welcome change. What are your impressions of him and the offensive line as a whole?

The players seem to have really taken to Friend, who is quite a change of pace from the often gruff Stacy Searels. Friend is a former Georgia graduate assistant who Mike Bobo helped bring back to Athens. The offensive line has underperformed the last couple of seasons, but if the starting five can stay healthy, they have a chance to be decent. Cordy Glenn and Ben Jones are highly-rated for their position for the NFL, Kenarious Gates started a few games last year and Justin Anderson is a big-body that can potentially be a force in the run blocking. Right guard Chris Burnette hasn’t played a snap yet in college, but has the smarts and held onto the one spot where it looked like there might be a push for the starting job.

7.     One of the biggest off season stories both locally and nationally is Coach Richt's hotseat. Yet, with some players leaving and the recruiting haul in February the staff seems as confident as ever. At least much more so than the last couple years. What are your thoughts on the coaching staff's attitude after a 6-7 season?

I’d say the attitude is no nonsense. Starting off with Boise State and South Carolina means Georgia needs to be sharp right out of the gates. There was no trip to Ramsey this year for the annual diving/swimming deal. Everyone has bought into the No Complaining rule that Richt picked up after meeting with Falcons coach Mike Smith. I’m not sure if I sense the coaches are confident as much as at least on defense, there appears to be an upgrade in talent at critical spots for the 3-4 with Geathers/Jenkins at nose and Ogletree/Jones at linebacker.
8.     The Bacarri Rambo situation has really grown legs here recently. My initial thought was that he was injured in some way, or possibly in the doghouse. Now it seems the coaches have been sending a message. Do you think he starts? If not, what do you think the reason might be?

Mark Richt finally came out and said on Saturday what players have said and reporters have seen with our own eyes—that Shawn Williams and Sanders Commings are the starting safeties for the Boise State game. Richt won't say yet if Rambo is suspended for the Boise game, but says "I'm still working on that," when asked when he will announce any other suspensions.

9.     Georgia lost two big playmakers in AJ Green and Justin Houston. In your mind, who helps ease the pain of their loss on each side of the ball?

It might be a collective effort on offense to make up for Green’s catches, but I would expect tight end Orson Charles to get more passes directed his way. Aaron Murray has said he wants him to hit 50 catches this season, which would be a Georgia record in a single season for a tight end. Freshman Malcolm Mitchell still could turn into another receiving threat along with Tavarres King. Marlon Brown has been talked up by coaches, but I’m kind of taking a wait and see on him until the real games begin. On defense, I think Houston’s production as a sack guy will come largely from Jarvis Jones with Cornelius Washington helping out. Geathers also could generate some push up the middle.

10. To wrap this up, what do you think the biggest question is heading into this last week of preps for the 2011 season? And given that, what do you think is a reasonable projection for the Dawgs in 2011?
There isn’t one glaring thing that jumps out as a question mark to me except perhaps the lack of depth at several spots—on the offensive line, at tailback and inside linebacker. An injury to a frontline guy at those positions could be costly. Georgia certainly needs Crowell to be the guy that it hoped he could be as a big-time playmaker when it signed him, but the sense I get on that is he hasn’t disappointed so far. Given the way, Georgia’s schedule sets up, a 9-3 season seems reasonable to expect, but the ceiling is of course higher. At least splitting the Boise-South Carolina games back-to-back is essential because an 0-2 start coming off last year’s losing season would be hard for the fanbase to stomach.

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Many thanks to Marc for stopping by and dropping some knowledge. You can catch all of his coverage over at Dogbytesonline and you can follow him on Twitter for up to date and breaking news.


Mark said...

I noticed Ray Drew wasn't on the depth chart. You know why?

Bernie said...

I saw that too. Not sure why, especially after Grantham said he would play. Hope it's not a set back with the shoulder.

Barrett said...

Wow, a lot here. A few observations.

1- I've not been impressed with AD, still have not found anyone name 1 thing he's done that led to a WIN yet.
2- Worried about RB depth, with injuries to everyone but Crowell, getting worried.
3- If Geathers is the man, why didn't we plug him in last year?
4- Bobo doesn't go by the "hot hand", his litmus is who can passpro better
5- I think going 6-7 was a major blow to confidence. He really needs to show upo and win some big games this year.
6- No one can replace AJ/Houston/Ealey's production, you just have to make it up with 2-3 players.

Anonymous said...

Barrett, AD hasn't done anything that has led to a win because they haven't played a game yet. I'm sure he had a hand in the new S&C program, hiring a nutritionist, and adding S&C staff that CMR has never had. So, I think he's been very active in taking over some duties that CMR handle before giving him more time to coach. I'm very impressed with the new AD.
Geathers wasn't plugged in last year because his light didn't go on until spring practice and after he took the new S&C seriously.
The D will be better because you win in the SEC with a strong D-line and the Dawgs should have that this year. The production from Houston won't be an issue. Murray will spread the ball around to a number of receivers all year because he will see the entire field better in year 2. He was looking for AJ all the time last year; and he should've been doing that too. However, things will slow down and he'll see the entire field and spread the ball around this year.

Barrett said...

1- Ealey was the top scorer, not AJ, get it straight.
2- AD was there for 13 games and pre-season, can't find 1 thing AD did alst year that led to a win.
3- Geathers should have got reps last year, Tyson just couldn't stop anybody. It was a mistake, admit it. Otherwise, you're sayign Geathers was lazy last year, and that's not good either.
4- Replacing Houston will be a major issue, he was the #1 producer on defense, as will losing 75% of top 4 tackle producers. As will replacing Ealey, the #1 scorer on offense, and AJ, the #2 scorer on offense. Wake up from your dream world.

Bernie said...

2- If you don't realize that McGarity is a HUGE upgrade over Evans, I don't know what you've been reading. The results will come. Give the man a little more than the mere months he's had.

4- Jarvis Jones is going to make us forget Houston. He's every bit as dangerous without the late night munchies.

AthensHomerDawg said...

Barnett ...who peed in your oatmeal?
Get on the bus!

NatesDawgs said...

Great job as always Bernie - NatesDawgs

Barrett said...


Great, give me the long list of all the things McGarity did in 2010that led to wins in 2010? I just can't find anyone that can name 1 thing. Jones replacing Houston? I doubt it, but I'd love to see him do 1/2 of what Houston did.

Anonymous said...


What did you do to get UGA a win last year? Just sayin...You are type of fan that makes me sick to my stomach. Shut up and watch and cheer.

Barrett said...

It's not my job to help UGA win games, I'm not paid MILLIONS to do that. I could manage if I were paid MILLIONS, like $2.8 MILLION Richt's paid, to figure out how to beat Colorado and score a TD on UCF.

AD ain't paid the big bucks to schedule future football games, he's paid to WIN.

And you're the type of fan that accepts 6-7, is ok with losing to Florida 8 out of 10 times. Mediocre ain't good enough.

AthensHomerDawg said...

Barrett..slow your roll son. Game on Saturday----> point that energy towards some Georgia cheers and do us all proud.

Barrett said...

Wake up from your dream, we're 6-7 and if you're a fan, we went form 11 wins to 10 to 8 wins in 2009 down to 6 wins in 2010. You ought to be sick and angry. Not cheery. 3years in a row of decline.

AthensHomerDawg said...

Barnett... Bernie's Blog is a realistic read... but not a "poor mouthin' rant" there are other blogs for that. There are two reasons I won't direct you there: polite decorum prevents me and Bernie wouldn't appreciate it. So "get on the bus" or move on.

Barrett said...

Bernie's blog is one of the few that try to be journalistic and unbiased. I've found it to be balanced. If you want to talk down his blog as being 1 sided, you have no place here. You're 1 of these guys that tries to muffle the truth, or the other sie of an issue.

Marc Weizer hit 10 "talking points". The idea was to stimulate thinking.

AthensHomerDawg said...

Barrnet... good for you. Your making a little more sense. Not sure of your angle about "muffling the truth" or "talk down his blog" goodness! Methinks thou protests too much! Whatever floats your boat. You do come across as a whiny butt. I'm ok with that. One thing I enjoy about Bernie's blog is his total "Dad-dom" approach. Being a Dad myself I enjoy and relate. Right about now I feel like sending you to your room for a time out. Or nap or something. Your just not a lot of fun right now.
There... now we can be friends again.

Bernie said...

Appreciate the comments guys. And especially appreciate the visits.

It's a difficult time in the Dawg Nation. Hopefully a Boise beatdown will ease things up a little Saturday.

A little chicken the next week wouldn't hurt either.