Saturday, June 11, 2011

Beer of the Week: Cage Match IPA

Couldn't decide what to feature in this week's beer post. So I went to my beer fridge and lumped some IPAs together for an all out war with my mouth as the cage and my belly as the hungry, insatiable and frenzied crowd. What ensued was both hoppy and madness.

Sierra Nevada's Torpedo
This has been one of my favorites the last month or so. It's really piney and the dry hopping keeps the citrus levels to a minimum, which I like. Non-hopheads would pucker up and complain about the bitterness. But if you like your hop addiction to have a clean, thorough taste then you're gonna like this one too.

Victory's HopDevil
This is devilishly hoppish. Victory really knows what they're doing. The HopDevil came to me highly recommended by several and it did not disappoint. It means business. It's a little smoother than the Torpedo, you can catch hints of the malts more so than some other really hoppy IPAs.

TommyKnocker's HopStrike
The bitterness of the hops meets the mellowness of some chocolate malt. The Hop Strike is a good blend of really strong flavors. This is one that can bring you some differing tastes with each sip. The only fruit I tasted was some grapefruit. The bittery hops is evident but to me is overwhelmed by the chocolate rye.

Unfortunately, the HopStrike never stood a chance in this one. It's a good brew, nicely balanced...but completely overwhelmed by the two preceding heavy weights. The Torpedo and the HopDevil aren't the best IPAs I've had. But they are solid from pour to last gulp. The Torpedo put up a helluva fight, but the HopDevil dealt the knock out blow just as the match reached its feverpitch.


What's New This Week
The Beverage Superstore had their weekly free tasting yesterday. Paul had an assortment of brews from Uinta Brewery in Utah as well as Ode to Mercy and Invocation from Wild Heaven in Decatur. I hope my local readers have all had a chance to taste Wild Heaven's brews. They're really, really great. And if you're used to having to track them down on draft you're no doubt thrilled that they're now available in bottles. As for Uinta, everything was really good. From everything we tasted yesterday I would recommend their Anglers Pale Ale the most. Overall their beer reminded me some of everything I tasted out in Colorado: very crisp and clean. Very refreshing.

Also, kicked a growler of HopArt by Coast Brewing this week. If you've tried the IPAs above, hunt down some HopArt. You won't be disappointed.

2011 Preview: under the radar

I was lucky enough to be asked to be a part of a Georgia Bulldogs preview by College Football Zealots. You'll have to wait til Monday to find the answers, but Tyler has posted the questions here.

One question I really had a fun, yet hard time answering: Who are some under-the-radar guys that you think will step up for Georgia this year? Again, I'll keep you in suspense as to my answer but there are a lot to choose from aren't there? Enough so I thought I'd list some alongside my thoughts.

  • Ken Malcome. Sure Crowell probably ends the season with the most starts in the backfield. But I saw and read enough of Malcome this Spring to think he could provide some fresh legs whenever needed.
  • DeAngelo Tyson. Nose wasn't the right spot and we all knew it. He should flourish when he's not only in a new role but has Big John and/or Kwame beside him. Add to that the fact that eventually we hope opposing offensive linemen are worried about Ogletree, Jones and Robinson.
  • Abry Jones. See above.
  • Rantavious Wooten. He's always been my guy. I'm not giving up now on the ball carrier. Too many yards and catches out there with AJ and Kris gone.
There's a handful. Can't wait to see what you all think...and what the roundtable thinks.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Three Heisman campaigns in 7 days

The Dawgs will face two legitimate Heisman contenders the first two games of the season. Kellen Moore is first up, and will likely shoulder more burden for that one game than Marcus Lattimore will the following week. If Moore doesn't have a great showing in the Dome that will plant a seed of doubt that he would spend the rest of the season fighting against.
Team success will be critical to Moore's campaign as well. Playing in a non-AQ conference, Boise State likely will have to run the table in order for Moore to win the award. Not since BYU’s Ty Detmer in 1990 has a player outside a Big Six conference won the Heisman.
And let's hope Grantham can dial up the pressure on Moore.
After finishing fourth in Heisman voting a year ago, Moore could climb higher in 2011. One area in which he separated himself from other quarterbacks is accuracy -- especially on deep balls.  
In 2010, Moore completed 59 percent of his passes that traveled 15 yards or more in the air, with 21 touchdowns and two interceptions. When his distance increased to 30 yards, Moore’s completion percentage was 60.9 with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. (By comparison, Luck completed 39.1 percent of his passes thrown 30 or more yards, and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones completed 28.6 percent.)  
The last three quarterbacks to win the Heisman ranked either first or second in pass efficiency and yards per attempt. Downfield accuracy is an easy way for Moore to put his name at the top of those statistical categories.  
With the departure of Titus Young, Moore will have to find a new downfield receiver, as Young was the target on more than 85 percent of Moore’s 30-yard attempts last season. Boise State also has to replace Moore’s other go-to receiver, Austin Pettis, who was targeted more than any other Broncos receiver in the red zone and on third down.  
 Then comes Lattimore and Jeffery.
Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Lattimore is in position to compete for the school’s second Heisman (George Rogers, 1980). During SEC play in 2010, Lattimore ran for 112.1 yards per game, second to Newton. On Nov. 13, Lattimore ran for a career-high 212 yards against Florida, the only 200-yard rushing game allowed by the Gators during Urban Meyer’s tenure.

Lattimore gets his yards in bunches. Last season, he had 33 rushes of at least 10 yards against SEC opponents. Over the past seven seasons, only five other players accomplished that feat, all of whom were selected within the first 36 picks of the NFL draft, including four first-rounders.
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina  
The 6-foot-4-inch junior burst on to the national scene last season with 1,517 receiving yards. More impressive was the fact that he dropped just one pass. 

In 2010, Jeffery had 88 receptions and 61 of them gained at least 10 yards. There have been only five instances over the past five seasons when a receiver had at least 70 receptions and gained 10 yards or more at a higher rate. Compare that to former Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green, the fourth pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He gained 10 yards or more on just 56 percent of his receptions last season. 
Jeffery’s production is helped by a dynamic teammate who keeps defenses honest, running back Marcus Lattimore. In 2010, South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia completed 84 percent of his passes -- and averaged 19.6 yards per completion -- when targeting Jeffery after a play-action fake. Those numbers could go even higher this season as respect for Lattimore grows. (Lattimore will be featured in our look at running backs on Tuesday.)  
Personally I'm hoping Alec Ogletree has eaten all three of these campaigns by the time we're tailgating for Coastal Carolina.

Let's hope the ball ain't got any heavier...

Herschel's in town. He's been seen in twitpics and Facebook status updates signing pages for current Georgia players, all with the same awestruck gaze that you and I would have in the same position. Good deal. Very happy Walker has taken the time to spend with the team. As this post goes cyber, he's working out with the team and showing them exactly what makes him such physical freak. Coach T might even break a smile, privately.

But Herschel will also spend some time with the newest kid to try and fit into the shoes Walker wore to town back in the Summer of 1980. Three years later the legend had long been made, and tailbacks have since been measured to #34's greatness.

Fair. Unfair...reality. Enter Isaiah Crowell.

The expectations are steep. The hype maybe even greater than Walker experienced given the social media age and the even greater attention to recruiting these days compared to 30 years ago. Yet, the two will spend some time together before Herschel dons his cape and leaves town.
“The advice I’d give him is to do his thing,” Walker, who was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999, said. “You can’t worry what people think about you because I tell people all the time there’s people that don’t love me, people that don’t even like me. And I’m a great guy, I thought, but there are people that don’t like me. What he’s got to do is he’s just got to do his thing. Just do what he can do and don’t worry about it and don’t worry about making mistakes.”
Walker claims he didn’t feel any pressure until his junior season, when he was expected to win the Heisman Trophy and was playing with a broken thumb. Crediting a great group of upperclassmen when he first arrived, Walker had two full seasons to play and grow as a player and person before he had to deal with realized attention and anticipation.
Crowell does not have this luxury. The Bulldogs are thin at tailback and kick the season off in the Georgia Dome against nationally-regarded Boise State.
All eyes will be on Crowell, whether he fully comprehends what comes with that burden or not.
“I know as the season gets closer there is going to be a lot of pressure,” Crowell, who rushed for 18 scores as a senior, said. “Well I want to be the starter. Got to be a starter.”'
I think the ball Murray will hand to Crowell is about equal in weight as the one Belue handed to Herschel up in Knoxville just before Bill Bates' chest met Walker's enormous thigh. Let's hope that ball finds the endzone an equal number of times as well.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Johnathan Taylor and the Texas Rangers, class personified

To be truthful, I have no idea where to begin a post like this. I mean, just read these words:
Taylor, an outfielder from the University of Georgia, was a 33rd-round pick of the Texas Rangers, while Lamothe, a reliever from San Jacinto College, was the Houston Astros' 40th-round selection.
Taylor was left paralyzed from the chest down after he broke his neck in March during a game when he collided with teammate Zach Cone, the Rangers' supplemental-round pick Monday. Texas director of amateur scouting Kip Fagg said the team's selection of Taylor was "something we felt was right."
"We would have drafted him either way, regardless of any other circumstances involving his injury or Zach's draft status," Fagg said. "Our area scout in Georgia, Ryan Coe, has had a relationship with Johnathan since he was a high school player. The club has always liked his passion and ability as a player."
In a time when old guys like me begin to wonder if heart and passion even exist in pro sports these days, the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros help fallen players realize their lifelong dreams. Shame on me for doubting. I mean, just read Coach Perno's response:
"This was truly a classy move and a great gesture on the part of the Texas Rangers organization," Georgia coach David Perno said. "J.T. is definitely a player worthy of getting drafted. He's been a big part of our program, and we are all very excited for him. When I talked to him after he got the call, he was in the middle of his rehabilitation work, laughing and having a good time and was thrilled to be drafted."
Truly happy for Johnathan and his family today. What a thrill. What a dream still realized even after a tragic accident a few months ago.

And a very special hat tip to the Rangers and the Astros (who also drafted a paralyzed player) for helping guys like me restore our faith in professional sports. And most of all helping players realize their dream of making the bigs!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

2011 Preview: areas of concern

Gonna jumpstart a series of posts that preview the upcoming football season. It's only fair to preface them with a separate post that outlines what I believe to be the chief areas of concern. I don't think any of these will be groundbreaking, and certainly not news to anyone. But still, they need to be addressed.

So first, here's the 3 areas I'm most concerned about:

  1. Toughness
  2. Offensive line depth
  3. Wide receiver production
Before I explain them, let me clarify my choices. I decided not to just devote "areas of concern" to positional anxiety mainly because I think this season (and really any season for that matter) revolves around the concept of toughness. It's easy now to look back at many games the last couple seasons and say that we lost them because we weren't tougher than the opponent. Central Florida beat us in the trenches for 3+ quarters just as soundly as Tennessee did back in 2009.

Also, when I first began putting this into a post I had OL, Safety and WR as the top areas of concern. After much thought as well as a lot of reading I decided that toughness not only needed to make the list but had to be #1. Reasoning comes below. 

Safety I think is still a top concern, after all we're likely going to need some young players to step up and compete with Jakar Hamilton, Baccari Rambo and Shawn Williams. But I eventually ended up with WR ahead mostly due to the departure of two very productive pass catchers in AJ and Kris.

Well, before I ramble too much here are my explanations:

  • Toughness. By the time the Peach dropped in Atlanta to ring in 2011 we had already been cold hard smacked in the face with just how soft we were. Most of us had growing suspicions, but the loss to UCF was salt in the wound. Phil Steele lists the Dawgs as one of his top turnaround teams. Part of his reasoning is that we had 4 close losses in 2010. The Arkansas, Colorado, Florida and UCF games could've swung our way had we been able to play a full 60+ minutes. This year's schedule is much easier, but there are certainly games on it where we'll need to prove our manhood.
  • Offensive Line. This one is simple and the depth issue alone proves it's worthy of being #1 on its own. I like our starting five. But you can't get through an entire SEC slate with five offensive linemen. If we get through to November and still don't miss Trinton Sturdivant it will be a miracle and Will Friend will be in the running for the Broyles Award.
  • Wide Receiver. AJ Green and Kris Durham were super productive, even with that damn four game suspension. Filling up their stats will be next to impossible. In fact the only thing that keeps this area of concern from rising is our TEs Orson Charles and Aron White. Their presence should help Tavarres King and whoever else steps up with him. But we have to have some production here to keep defenses honest and easier for Murray to read at the line of scrimmage from September through Novemeber.
That's enough for now. What do you think I've missed? Would your order be different at this point? Should I have expanded to 5?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday's Margarita - a homecoming of sorts...camo optional

If you're a regular around these parts, you know I married well. Mrs. Bernie not only is a damn good Dawg, she's beautiful and makes me a full breakfast each and every morning. (Two of those are actually true. And I dare you to tell her to her face she doesn't look smokin' hawt in her red and black gameday attire.)
Honor, obey...and to
vertical clap!

Back on topic, I'm going to try and protect the innocent while calling out the guilty. Always a daunting task after being marked by maker's, but I'm up for the challenge. The wife has some poor souls in her family that ventured down to the jort capital of the world this weekend for a wedding. Being from Virginia my in-laws aren't familiar with the eclectic ways of the reptilian brood. Awkward testaments...the 106% humidity...mullet majorities...

I found her a few days ago talking to her kind, unsuspecting family. Turns out for this wedding, there were no invitations, other than ones that were emailed. No seriously...there's more. And if you dressed casually you'd stick out like a sore thumb. Who needs a wedding dress or tuxedos? They were going for a kind of a come as you are feel. No it ain't in the Univ. of floriDuh chapel Darlene, we're just gonna gather outside of it for when Cooter able to git there.

Big surprise right? She spent the next several minutes warning them about the jorts per capita and the likelihood that the bride would show up with a Shaeffer's Light in one hand. The wedding was supposed to be Saturday, sometime after the groom's best man (and father) went before the parole board. We have yet to hear from them all. I hope they enjoyed the St. Timmy the Tebow ice sculpture. I hear it's beautiful this time of year.

And surely it wouldn't melt...before the bride said "C'mon Coot, we got to git back to the swamp holler 'for the tater tots defrost".

Today's Ingredients
  • Father's Day is coming up. For the ladies out there, why not a copy of Belue to Scott by Robbie Burns?
  • What a day yesterday! Kudos to the men's golf team for making the NCAA finals against Augusta State. Just came up short.
  • And then the Diamond Dawgs...went well into the night, but fell to Oregon State's mightiest beavers and their overdue power bill.
  • Here was my initial thoughts from Phil Steele's 2011 preview.
  • the Senator dug deep in his college preview too over the weekend and found even more reason for the engiNerds to celebrate.
  • Reuben Foster was more than a little impressed ($$) by the attention he received in Athens recently.
  • Some good countdowns going on this time of year as usual. H2H has a post on Matthew DeGenova (I love any post on a scout teamer) and Streit has a legendary 2002 play queued up for you.
  • Speaking of 2002, Mike weighs in pretty heavily based on an afternoon of 2002 tape viewing. To sum up: We owned the 4th quarter. Enough said. We were quite simply a meaner, hungrier, better team in Richt's first 5 seasons.
  • ecdawg finds some confusion in the new oversigning rules. And Chris Low explains some of the loopholes as well.
  • As the product of a Clempson family, I can more than relate to Garbin's latest post.
  • The legends and the losers will still meet in Indianapolis to decide who gets to lose in the Rose Bowl.
  • While we're in the land of the slow and the tatt'd up, Matt Hinton captures some of the high drama and tears as Jimmy Tressel left town...a true hero!
  • And hold onto your love seats folks...things appear to be unraveling in Morgantown. You know, more than usual.
Sometimes guys are just destined to meet, share a moment in time...hunker down a spell. I realized this most recently when I ventured down a bourbon aisle in a liquor store in Boulder Colorado and looked up to see some guy in a Georgia shirt saying "Hey Bernie!". So last night I raised a glass to Exile. It's not everyday a Dawg gets to do what he did this weekend.

Cheers, dude! Hope your rug isn't
stolen. It really tied the room together.
When I first entered the Dawgosphere it was a blogger lost in a cornfield that I found first. Sure, there was PWD and the Senator to read. But a young blogger needed more. And Exile was there. His thoughts were fresh and unencumbered by proximity yet still flavored heavily by locality. After years and years of reading Grizzard, when I travel I'm always eager to find someone who talks like I think. In the Dawgosphere, Exile was that dude.

And he abided in the cornfields and the snow for nearly 5 years. He grilled in subzero temperatures while his neighbors laughed, covered in their B1G Ten blankets. He hunkered down in the land of of the great white north, stirring his grits and barking louder than ever. I get that. It warms the cockles of my silver britches.

We can scoff at people like Exile, while they cling to their Georgia driveway flags that they free from 3 inches of snow in May!!!. We can look down our southern noses at them and think they've lost touch somehow, that they've forgotten what it feels like to join hands with 93000 people when Auburn needs 2 yards in the middle of November. But the truth is it never leaves us Dawg fans. It stays inside us like a carefully thrown ball into a checkboard and creamsickled endzone. Michael Johnson no more dropped that pass on the Plains than people like Exile forget how to bark.

I don't think he'd mind me telling ya I've known this day was coming for a few months. Ironically I had a driveway full of snow when I found out the blog Bulldog in Exile's days were numbered. I've been thrilled for him and his family ever since. But I'll wait a few days weeks months before I remove the bookmark from my Dawg Blogs folder.

Pardon me, got a little something in my eye there. Welcome home Dawg!! Snow shovels are still optional. And God still talks like we do.

Now you go and make this Monday sumpin special Reader. I've got a beach sand waiting on my toes!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh Phil, you had me at Priority Mail

Got my Phil Steele yesterday. I don't think my 9yo was expecting such a reaction when she walked through the door with the large envelope. I sacked her in the foyer, she fumbled and I took the College Football Preview in for the touchdown digestion.

So if you're the type of person who would rather get this issue fresh in your hands, just skip this post...and stay off the interwebs the next few days.

Here are some highlights from my Saturday afternoon perusement:
  • National scene. Steele has Georgia 9th in the country. Let that sink in a moment. With any other publication I would scoff. But with a guy who has things right more often than not, it gives me pause at the very least.
  • Conference scene. He has us winning the East and heading to the CapOne bowl against Ohio State (after predicting OSU to win the B1G Delaney he noted that this was written and printed before the August hearing, and also before Dohrmann clicked publish.)
  • Team units. The Dawgs are looking down at the rest of the country when it comes to special teams as he has Georgia ranked first. But he has us ranked nationally at in all of the positional units that he breaks down. Offensive line (39th) and linebacker (29th) are the only two units not ranked in his top 15.
  • Individual performers. Everyone is enamored with Aaron Murray and his 61% comp percentage as a freshman. But it's clear he likes the roster overall and is especially impressed by the talent coming to town this summer (21 freshmen in his top 500 and John Jenkins is #5 on his top 75 JUCOs)
  • Overall, Steele has Georgia as #2 on his list of Most Improved Teams for 2011. He admits that much of the reason for liking the Bulldogs is due to our schedule, but also feels Richt's 2011 team is the best in the SEC East outright.
That's just one quick, large bite from the 2011 preview. Yesterday was an exciting day getting it in the mail. But it's now time to get busy. The off season is drawing to a close. There is much blogging to do.

Luke Fickell trumps Coach Richt

Actually, he tops everyone but Mack Brown. In the wake of last week's little bit of Tressel news, Andy Staples breaks down the most desirous head coaching positions in the country. The gig in Athens comes in 5th. (h/t Mac)

5. Georgia

Want to know why Mark Richt is on the hot seat despite six seasons with at least 10 wins since 2001? Because Georgia has the resources to be in the national title hunt every season. The Bulldogs just finished a major football facility upgrade, and they play in one of the nation's iconic stadiums. They have plenty of money. In terms of recruit preference, the Bulldogs rule a state that cranks out 90-100 BCS AQ-conference signees each year. Theoretically, Georgia should have its pick of those players, but Bulldogs coaches can't always stop Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Florida State from cherry-picking some of the state's top recruits. Unlike Florida or Alabama, which must fight off in-state rivals, Georgia recruits on a different level than Georgia Tech. The situation is more comparable to Texas and Texas A&M, which is why Georgia fans had a right to be dismayed that the Bulldogs had to win last year's installment of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate just to pull even with the Yellow Jackets at 6-6 on the regular season. (Never mind the Liberty Bowl loss to Central Florida.) Put simply, this is a great job for Richt if he can return to his early 2000s dominance. If Richt can't, the right choice can come in and win big in Athens.
The complete list goes to 2o. I assume Georgia Tech is 21...whomp whomp.