Saturday, February 19, 2011

Losing at home predicates a win on the road

At least if you want to dance in March.

Today Coach Fox's HoopDawgs try to shake the massive, dry mouth, brain pounding hangover from the loss to Vanderbilt Wednesday night. They take on Pearl's Vols at 1pm in Knoxville. If you're frustrated by the play of the Dawgs recently, take a look at what's going on in creamsickle country.
What kind of team are we? Do we hang our hat on suffocating defense? Are we a run and gun team? Are we a grinded it out, half-court basketball team? What do we want from our offense, lots of post ups, good three point shooting, or driving to the basket? There is nothing that makes me say “Now that is Tennessee basketball!” We have nothing to go to when the going gets tough. We don’t even know who our go-to player is! The team is in disarray and has nothing to go back to. When Pearl’s team first struggled, they brought more urgency to the press and said “You may beat it, but this is what we do, and we aren’t going to back down.” This team has nothing like that. And that’s on the coach. At the beginning of each year, you sit your team down and say “We are going to X and we are going to do that every game. No matter what happens, that is what this team is about.” It’s not like with this team. When you have no identity, you panic in tough times. That’s why we struggle so much in late game situations. We have nothing to go to, and when that happens the players don’t trust what is called. It’s why we have seen so many different plays in the last few seconds of games. There is nothing consistent.
In many ways that analysis resembles what's going on in Athens. Tennessee has plenty of talent, just as the Dawgs do. But focus is lacking, an identity is needed. Daunting task trying to steal a road win in Knoxville today. But hopefully Fox has had the guys' noses to the grindstone ever since the waning seconds drained from Vandy's last win.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Trivial Update - Can I buy a catch out of the backfield?

#ThursdaysRTrivial is coming up right after this PSA: Alabama is now under more civil unrest than the livestock shortage of 1972.
#ThursdaysRTrivial ep 68 "A General Receiver" Welcome to the weekly Twitter Twivia show that's never computerized. While Watson outsmarts Trebek, TrT has a human guest hostess...Vanna White!! "Thanks Bernie, REPLY back your answer for a chance at a fabulous prize. Herschel caught 26 passes in three years of college. How many did he catch as a rookie in New Jersey?"

Never send an IBM hard drive to tackle a 6 star stud from Wrightsville GA. That's 6 stars for every point he earned his team in each goal line he stalked.

When I was writing yesterday's post and looking through Herschel's stats, it was that record in 1995 that really stood out to me. In three singular plays, it sums up what is so special about the athlete that Walker is. One of a kind, a legend in his own time.

So Scott once again edged out Shan in another photo finish. They both had #34 down for 53 receptions in his rookie year with Trump's cash, but Vanna liked the vowels in Stuff_of_Legend's handle better than the consonants in TNRLM's. Mike came in third with fast thumbs, but a slow 3G network.

Show em what they've won Vanna!

Well Bernie, Scott takes home this bust of Herschel's head, made completely from english privet. We hear Canton is green with envy. Shan gets a Hot Wheels Trans-Am and Mike a portable WiFi hotspot that stays linked to NASA's servers 24/7. Just don't ever search the term "sputnik". Back to you Dawg!

Thanks Vanna. If only we had a fourth contestant this week we could've given away Sajak's hair piece. But tune in next Thursday when we answer the question...should you bend over and pick up the Spike 80DF when you drop it in a Lee County prison shower ?

Did Vandy kill Fox's Twitter

Coach's last tweet (as of this post) was pre-game Wednesday. Once again he was asking for seats to be filled with paying customers (this time with a nearly half price ticket). From the looks of things, his request fell on deaf timelines. Yet I digress.

The loss to the 'Dores was exceptionally tough. I don't think we came into it facing a must-win. But with 10 minutes left, and up by 14 points it certainly had transformed into that. The game went from one we'd like to steal against a ranked team at home to a devastating, inexplicable loss.

Late last Spring Coach Fox banned his players from Twitter. This is a move I applauded then, and continue to implore Coach Richt to follow suit. I think I follow most of our student athletes and they are heads and shoulders above what I hear and see from others. But it's a ticking time bomb if you ask me. But I've digressed again.

A post-game tweet, even after a loss, is a common occurrence with Fox. He's also one of my favorite people to follow. But it's beginning to look like he has put his money where his team rule is. If so, I'll miss him. But at this point in the season, re-evaluation is at a premium.

Some other hoops linkage:
  • Legge says it all rests on Price's shoulders, good or bad
  • Exile says it takes better rebounding for primetime
  • hoopdawg evaluates the loss
  • Also, Dawgola Tesla examines whether or not we're any better than last year. Good analysis.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Goal Line Stalker, too good for Canton

I can't get enough of Herschel Walker. How can any Georgia fan really? I attribute some of that to his early departure from the Dooley depth chart. Like any real rock star worth his amplifier, the wonder from Wrightsville left his audience wanting more. But he's also a great ambassador for UGA. And as another that bleeds Georgia red, I truly appreciate that.

Why isn't he in the Hall of Fame? Good, honest question really. Andrew Miller at BullDawg Illustrated says he should be. And he points us to two interesting articles by Brad Oremland at Sports Central. You should read both, starting with this one that states the case overall for Walker getting a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Then read Oremland's follow up that specifically compares Walker to Jerome Bettis, who has actually come much closer to getting elected.

If you're like me you'll go into those two readings thinking Duh!. I mean, every Dawg fan appreciates everything Herschel has done for professional football just as much as the college game. But Oremland really breaks down the reasoning for keeping him out as completely flawed; from being the poster child on the wrong end of the BIG trade to getting shorted four games by the players strike during what was arguably Herschel's best season in 1987.

But as I read the articles, I began to realize that like so many other things in life Herschel Walker is too big for Canton, Ohio. By early 1983 he was too big for amateur football so he left Athens to conquer the next mountain. By the mid-80s he was making a mockery of the defensive players in the USFL and the next challenge was the NFL. He's taken on every belt Tae-Kwon-Do will allow. He made the US Olympic bobsled team and nearly the Olympic relay team in track. He's a successful business man. He wrote a very challenging and difficult autobiography. And now he's proving he's not just eye candy to an MMA fight card.

Herschel Walker's all time yardage stats rank 8th in the NFL (when he retired he was 2nd). He adds another 7,046 yards from the New Jersey Generals (rushing and receiving). As Oremland points out, these were during the years when Walker would've been at his prime. His 2,411 yards rushing in 1985 for the Generals stands alone among professional ball carriers; Eric Dickerson is second, 2,105 for the Rams in 1985.

I've never had the privilege of meeting Herschel Walker, but I've read everything I could get my hands on. He's never struck me as a person who rested on his laurels or wanted to be pegged into one role, be that in life in general or more specifically as an athlete. My favorite example of this came late in his career in 1995. He had a 90+ yard run, a 90+ yard reception and a 90+ yard kickoff the same season! He was 33 years old. He couldn't be placed into one category back then, and he can't be put in one single Hall of Fame today.

Herchel's too big for Canton. Dawg fans understand that. He outgrew Sanford.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Bonus Goal Line Stalker links:
  • One of the greatest college football writings ever, Joe Posnanski's The Legend of Herschel Walker
  • If you don't have time to read it, check out Derek's podcast devoted to it at (Archives, April 2009). He'll read it to you.
  • His book Breaking Free is a spectacular read for anyone who's followed his career and a must for Dawg fans.
  • Herschel's career stats, from college to his last season in the NFL

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Grantham hires Redskins' Olivadotti

Kirk Olivadotti has an impressive resume and is evidently poised to bring it to Athens.
Washington Redskins defensive assistant Kirk Olivadotti, the son of former Grantham colleague Tom Olivadotti, is in line to be named as the newest member of Georgia's defensive coaching staff, sources are telling Dawgs247.
When reached this afternoon, Kirk Olivadotti did not deny chatter linking him to the position.
"I'm going to leave that up to Georgia," Olivadotti said when asked for comment. "That's all I'm going to say."
The Washington Post's Rick Maese reported on Twitter that Olivadotti is leaving the Redskins to join UGA's staff.
UGA spokesman Claude Felton said he was unaware of any pending announcement this evening. 
Grantham coached with Kirk's dad Tom Olivadotti in Houston a few years ago. This is a great hire in my opinion. Some fans always want college coaches with recruiting experience replacing college coaches, but it impresses recruits to come and work with established NFL coaches. And that is exactly what Olivadotti is. He's been in Washington 11 years and has worked with some great defensive minds:
Throughout his NFL coaching career, Olivadotti has worked with some of the best defensive minds in the NFL, including Ray Rhodes, Marvin Lewis, Gregg Williams and Greg Blache.
I'm pleasantly surprised and certainly didn't expect anyone better qualified. I'm expecting Olivadotti to work with the LBs despite experience all over the field.

Here's his Washington bio.

Starters vs. Boise State

Hey! It's only 199 days away...

The guys at the DawgPost have speculated as to who might be the starter at each position when toe meets leather in the GA Dome Labor Day weekend. Such prognostication just begs me to throw my two pennies in. So stand back...

Frankly, beyond quarterback just about every position is up for grabs. Let's start with the receivers. I see Tavarres King at 1, but who's on the other side? Fletch, Seth and Dean unanimously had Marlon Brown there. Guess they know something we don't, but that would sure be nice to see #15 step up. I'll go with a newcomer in Michael Bennett. I've heard good things about him working hard, and I think that gets him on the field before some of the others.

Charles was another unanimous selection. He could really evolve into one of the team leaders in his junior season. But I'm giving White the nod here in a two horse race that's too close to call.

The biggest positions to watch offensively I think will be on the line. Coming off of a down year in terms of production, getting a new S&C program and a new position coach, interested to see how things shake out. More directly, I'm interested to see if we get any new starters from the redshirts or newcomers.

QB - Murray   RB - Crowell   FB - Z. Ogletree   
LT - Sturdivant   LG - Glenn   C - Jones   RG - Gates   RT - Benedict
TE - White   WR - King   WR - Bennett

Year two of the Grantham regime should look vastly different than 2010. It should. Which is to say we hope that it will. Jenkins changes the makeup of the front seven dramatically, no question. Just the fact that Tyson can be a legitimate DE now is big. And if our new JUCO transfer is as good as I think he will be, it will be our LBs that reap the true rewards.

The question at NT becomes what happens to Bean and Geathers. Who will push for playing time at the position? Will anyone move back to offensive line?

Heading into spring ball (it's only a month away folks!!) I'm anxious to see the LBs shake out, not just depth-wise but also by positions. Jarvis Jones seems a legitimate starter outside, Robinson of course starts on the inside. Can Samuel or Gilliard step into the other MLB spot? I think it will be Samuel and then we see Washington play the other outside spot early with Drew gradually getting more and more reps. Sure will be nice to have some depth at LB.

Secondary: Boykin's easy. Tree and Rambo are locks to start. So who is the other corner? In terms of snaps Smith leads Owens, Commings and the new guys - Swann, Marshall. But by September I'll take Commings.

DE - Jones   NT - Jenkins   DE - Tyson
OLB - J. Jones   MLB - Samuel   MLB - Robinson   OLB - Washington
CB - Boykin   FS - Rambo   SS - Ogletree   CB - Commings

Special Teams
Butler, easy. Walsh, just as easy. But it's worth some discussion on returners. Boykin's back returning kicks, but who's handling punt returns? With Logan Gray gone...I'm going with Rantavious Wooten here. The competition is Branden Smith (2010s leader in returns and yards), Derek Owens, Malcolm Mitchell...maybe someone like Blake Sailors (h/t CFBZ)? 

In the end I hope PR is a position that symbolizes the renewed spirit and optimism that we so desperately need. Everyone who wants it gets a look and the best man gets the honor. In a word, competition. Who wants it most?

Unless it's big John Jenkins back there fielding punts. We can't afford to lose him. Well, that's more questions than answers of course, but that's why they call this month February and not August. So...where am I off?

Diamond Dawgs 5th in SEC East Coaches Poll

Perno's Dawgs are expected to finish one spot above their 2010 finish, 5th in the Eastern division. By points, they are only ahead of Tennessee and Mississippi State.

Eastern Division 

TeamPoints2010 SEC Record/Finish
South Carolina4821-9/2nd

Western Division 
TeamPoints2010 SEC Record/Finish
Ole Miss4016-14/3rd
Mississippi State176-24/6th

The season starts Friday in DeLand, Florida against Stetson. The home opener is next Wednesday against Furman.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Clowney's Recruitment, and its microscope

Very interesting read by FoxSports' Thayer Evans on The Pursuit of Jadeveon Clowney (h/t Year2). The nation's top prospect committed to South Carolina yesterday and gave Evans nearly full access the last month or so of recruiting. He has some interesting things to say about coaches like Spurrier, Dabo Swinney and Saban. 

I got a chuckle from this part:

In early December, Saban made his home visit with Clowney. The town was abuzz, with vehicles slowly streaming by Clowney’s mother’s house in hopes of catching a glimpse of the legendary coach. Inside, Clowney wasn’t that impressed.
“I don’t see no big deal like everybody else,” he said later. “They’d say, ‘He’s the king of all of football.’ The guy ain’t nothing but 5-5. He’s a short guy. Everybody’s going crazy on Nick Saban.”
During the visit, Saban touted Alabama’s graduation rate, its success in sending players to the NFL and playing Clowney at both defensive end and outside linebacker. Clowney and his family could hardly get a word in.
“Nick Saban’s going to take over and talk,” Clowney said. “He talked the whole time he was there. I was dozing off. He can talk. A lot. He talked for a whole straight hour.”
It sounds like towards the end Clowney and his mom had come down on different sides of the fence. She preferred Clemson, while he obviously chose the campus closer to home.

“I really like Clemson,” Josenna Clowney said two days before her son’s announcement. “I think that’s the best place for him.
“I’m not disappointed he’s going to South Carolina. I need to make sure he knows that there’s a lot of stuff to get into and he don’t need to be down there fooling around.”
In other words, stay out of The Whitney, away from Stephen Garcia as well as Olympic swimmers with bongs. 

Evan's piece is an interesting look at recruiting as a whole. It comes to an awkward end (referring to the story, not the recruitment), but is thick with quotes, especially from Clowney himself. I would've liked to have read more about the kid's learning disability that's recently come to light as well as more about the everyday interference of phone calls and coaches' visits that is suggested but not explored to much depth. 

I doubt the article sheds any unsuspecting light in the recruiting world, but at least the nation's top kid didn't seem to make his final selection based on the coeds alone. Clemson runs a 3-4. Clowney is pretty upfront about his fear of possibly getting misplaced and his preference to play solely as a pass rusher.

Regardless, our new Coach Friend faces a daunting task the next three seasons trying to stop Jadeveon Clowney.

Ol' Ball Coach loses Beamer

Just hours after getting the signature of the nation's number one player, Spurrier and South Carolina announced that Shane Beamer will be leaving Columbia to join his father at Virginia Tech.
Shane Beamer, who played a key role in elevating South Carolina's recruiting over the past three years, is leaving the Gamecocks' staff to join his father, Frank Beamer, at Virginia Tech.

The younger Beamer had served as the Gamecocks' recruiting coordinator since the conclusion of the 2008 season. He'd also coached safeties, Spur linebackers, cornerbacks, outside linebackers and special teams at different points during his four seasons in Columbia. At Virginia Tech, he will coach running backs.

"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to return to Virginia Tech," said Beamer, who was the Hokies' long snapper when he played for his father. "I've been gone 11 years and during that time I've been around a number of great coaches and great programs and had the opportunity to learn a lot. Now, I look forward to returning to Blacksburg and helping Virginia Tech continue to win championships."

Spurrier said his emphasis in replacing Beamer will be finding the best special teams coach he can find. 
Coach Spurrier...look no further than Mr. Jon Fabris. Trust us on this one.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday's Meatloaf - Lucky Lyrical Valentine

I'm on the edge of my iTunes account with excitement. Tomorrow's the day the Drive By Truckers' new album comes out. My presale order went through weeks ago. Now I'm near the end of my self-imposed musical journey with Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley at the wheel. 

So to commemorate The Go-Go Boots eve...and at the risk of alienating 95% of my readers (roughly 6 of you total), not to mention dancing ever so close to copyright's a lyric weave I put together from some of my favorite, more recent songs. 

Everyone knew there had to be some outside thing that made this happen. Because they seemed like the perfect family. And it was them high-heeled shoes and That Wig He Made Her Wear. Laying around in bed on a Saturday morning, two daughters and a wife. Two Daughters and a Beautiful WifeDaddy Needs a Drink to hem in his demons. But she said, "I'm too pretty to work and I'm tired of you uglying up my house, Get Downtown.

There's a big fat man on a mechanical bull in slow motion, like Debra Winger. I'm just an Opening Act and every skinny mystery gotta make it hard somehow. Sit your narrow ass down hotshot, I'll solve yours right now Birthday Boy. On The Fourth Night of my Drinking I had a built in fever and bright red cheeks, my checks and balances were up sh*t creek. Trying to hold steady on The Righteous Path, 80 miles an hour with a worn out map. It was a straight shot, all it took was luck to not get caught. I laid 3 Dimes Down and the machine wanted twenty-five cents.

And you don't know nothing when the insurance man asks questions bout what went down at the end of Goode's Field Road? I did not hate him, I still don't hate him. He was trying to kill me and I had to take him down, That Man I Shot. So Drag the Lake Charlie, Charlie drag the lake. It won't be the first time, but it might be the last.

And the younguns all turned to karoake hanging all their wishes upon disregarded stars. Dead fat or rich nobody's left to bitch about the goings on in Self Destructive Zones. The grafitti on the back stage wall gets painted over in a muted shade, and the club becomes an Old Navy, After the Scene Dies.

Today's Ingredients
  • HoopDawgs escaped Chickumbia just when an epic failure seemed to be our destiny. Weiszer runs down the survival that was.
  • Like Daugman said, we looked like both a championship team and a rec team. 
  • Exile's head hurts. And MaconDawg's power poll is out. I thought his honest assessment of things so far this season pretty much summed it all up.
  • Dean Legge draws on a similarity between the Carolina win and the loss to the gators.
  • Let's just say you've been wanting to check out Stegeman, but just haven't pulled the trigger. Would nearly half price get you there Wednesday for the game against the Commodores? Click HERE, then enter the plural of HOOP. You're welcome.
  • Jasmine James had a big game close to home to help lift the Lady Dawgs over the Rebels.
  • Over at Mike's BUI, Paige introduces us to Watts Dantzler in a very nice post on a Bulldawg Legacy.
  • I got some emails and comments about the James Eunice story that made the rounds last week. I agree with Bill King, it's not just a moving tribute in a tragic story. It's also one reason I'm pulling harder for Coach Richt to turn things around himself.
  • The Lady Sportswriter wonders just what the hell Mark Emmert is thinking. Meanwhile, The Senator thinks the NCAA prez is way ahead of schedule in terms of embracing incompetence.
  • Jadeveon Clowney finally announces today whether he's signing with Clemson or South Carolina. Meanwhile Pete Thamel and Mark Viera of the NY Times wonder if the nation's top prospect will even qualify academically.
  • Lil Dooley is down another safety, indefinitely.
  • I of course have no true basis for typing this, but I think Houston Nutt just enjoys beating Saban at at least one thing. How else would you explain why he keeps denying the fact that he cuts players? That's one game ol' Giggety can play with the best of them.
  • Phil Steele thinks Boise State will come to the GA Dome on Labor Day weekend as the nation's #7 team.
  • Smart Football ponders what is the NFL labor dispute.
  • Lastly, even though I continue to fully support Paul Hewitt as head basketball coach of the North Avenue Trade School. I think even Dave Braine would admit that the time has come to eject him from more than a game.

Happy Valentines Day. If you're like me you're usually dressed in red anyway, it's just today that you add the box of chocolates under one arm and the bow and arrow in the other.

If you're also like me you've been lucky enough to find a soul mate that doesn't get too hyped up over a Hallmark holiday. Mrs. Bernie's not the kind of lady that wants a vase full of rotting flowers delivered just because the calendar says that's the tradition. No, she'd rather clank cans of PBR, kiss me on the top of the head and go upstairs to watch whatever the hell reality show is clogging up the TiVo tonight.

And it's not that she doesn't deserve a vase of tulips, a romantic card that sings Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love when you open ita heart shaped box of milk chocolates, a pajama gram, a nice dinner downtown at a place without an unsanitary play area for the kids, a giftcard to a spa, a teddy gram, some of that $70 perfume that comes in a bottle the size of a shot glass, and a night at the opera. (Did I miss anything?) She deserves all that just for putting up with being my proofreader.

But if she ever forgets, I always like to remind her:

Good love is hard to find
Good love is hard to find
You got lucky babe,
you got lucky babe, 
when I found you

No wonder he called them the Heartbreakers. Here's your fork Reader. In between bites, maybe croon a little Barry White to set the mood. Have a great Monday!