Saturday, February 11, 2012

Shaq Wiggins wants to be a Dawg

While visiting Athens yesterday, Sandy Creek's Shaq Wiggins decided to give his commitment to Coach Richt. He becomes Georgia's fourth commitment for the class of 2013.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Wiggins has spent the last year or more practicing against Jaquay Williams. Georgia is counting on that ability in what will be a very thin secondary once Wiggins is officially on campus.
Also check out Chad Simmons' interview with Wiggins ($$) and what he says about the possibility of getting Reuben Foster to join him in Athens.
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Beer of the Week: Old Rasputin

If you've never had this one you're in for a treat. North Coast's greatest treasure (just my opinion) is hard to find. I found these at Total Wine and More in Alpharetta. Tell them Bernie sent ya. They'll look at you rather suspiciously...

Anyway. Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout is a great beer for dark cold nights. It pours thickly and produces that nice tan head, which hardly dissipates at all as you drink. Again, I'm not great at picking a lot of things up with the aroma. To makes it even more challenging I had this one at the tail end of a sinus infection. But...I did catch a lot of malty sweetness on the nose which is reinforced supremely when you taste it.

The flavor is full bodied and complex. A lot of caramel maltiness mixed with some roasted coffee at first. On the back end is where it gets bitter which is a great reward after the sweetness and syrupyness of the malt. So the tastes really compliment each other well and balance the tasting throughout. As you swallow it all kind of comes together and leaves your mouth and lips rather sticky.

I was actually a little surprised at how bitter it was and how much hop flavor there was. By the end I found myself on the North Coast site checking the stats. Old Rasputin has 75 IBUs which is pretty hoppy and probably why I enjoy it so much. It also touts a whopping 9% ABV, but I found very little if any burn from the alcohol. And that is a testament to the flavor that makes the alcohol content so well.

So all in all, Old Rasputin lives up to its Imperial branding AND its cult following supremely. Great beer from the left coast that will make any occasion just a little warmer.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bobo, your enigma gives me a headache

Garbin does his usual masterful work in providing statistical analysis in this post, this time of the offense during the Mark Richt era. He compares the effectiveness of the Bulldog offense under Bobo as to when Richt was calling the plays himself. It's an add-on post to an earlier one he did back in 2010. Really good reads, both of them.

But it hurts my head. Putting aside the "anonymous war of words" that follows in the comments and whether the stats Garbin supplies are more telling than actual wins and losses, I am forced to recognize that Mike Bobo is at least a more effective offensive coordinator than his boss. In the same breath I also recognize that he's a great quarterbacks coach and exceptional recruiter, therefore a value to Richt's staff.

But stepping away from the stats and the overall win-loss records of the two subsets that Garbin dichotomizes, I always come back to one thought that I know I've mentioned before, mostly here and here. And that's the feeling that Richt didn't do Bobo any favors by promoting him so soon. That and I think one flaw that Richt has continuously rubs off on his offensive coordinator.

Deep down Mark Richt believes that every offensive play that is called should work. If everyone does their job and follows through with their assignment each play will at least gain yards if not score points. You hear it all the time on his call in shows when he mentions that if a block is made downfield a certain play will not only gains yards but could spring a big gain.

That's is a fine philosophy...for a team from Tallahassee in the 1990's. However in Athens GA regardless of the era, it ain't gonna always hold water. What else could possibly explain running a ball carrier a smidgen smaller than my neighbor's 6th grader between Ben Jones and Chris Burnette?

And therein lies the problem. Despite all of Bobo's success, can he ever escape his boss' shadow? Can he wear pants that are big enough for the fans and for championships? 

Sanders comes clean

Chris Sanders speaks with Fletcher Page about his dismissal as well as his regret at having to move forward. It sheds some light on the difference between his dismissal as opposed to those of his former teammates Nick Marshall and Sanford Seay.
“Coach Richt was hurt, but he told me that things can get better,” Sanders said of being dismissed.
Sanders would not comment on the exact reason why he was let go – saying that the conversation was between him and Richt alone – but indicated that the details of his situation were different than that of Sanford Seay and Nick Marshall. Dawg Post reported last week that Seay and Marshall were caught attempting to steal money from teammates.
“Of course Coach Richt was disappointed,” Sanders said of his infraction. “He asked me what happened, and I explained to him what happened. Of course he felt bad, and I felt bad. But I was honest with him.”
That honesty may be the reason Sanders has a chance to come back to Athens one day soon – at least if history is any guide. He plans on enrolling at GMC for the quarter that begins in March and to play football there in the fall.
“I am going to have to go through GMC for six months,” he said.
After that?
The former Bulldog didn’t say that he would be back in Athens for sure, but was apologetic to his family and Georgia fans – saying that he had embarrassed himself and Georgia.
Sanders didn’t specifically say Richt would have him back at Georgia, but all indications are that the former Tucker player would like to return to the Bulldogs. And while that remains to be seen, Sanders wouldn’t be the first former Georgia player to wind up in Milledgeville with an eye on returning to the program a year later. The most notable success was Odell Thurman, who used his sidetrack to GMC as a springboard to a very successful two years afterwards in Athens. But other former Dawgs have not made it back to Athens after winding up at GMC.
Sanders is hopeful that he can make the most of this turn in his career – a position he admits he got himself into.
“I felt bad because I let a lot of people who have supported me and loved me down. I let myself down, too,” he admitted. “This is the first time I have gotten in trouble at Georgia. A lot of folks are going to look at me like I am a bad kid – I am not a bad kid. But I am going to move forward and learn from my mistakes.”

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Malcolm Mitchell - the next Champ Bailey?

So on Saturday I dumped something in your lap. It was my combined response to last Wednesday's signees (more specifically that we only signed one defensive back) and Friday's news that we dismissed three players (two of which were defensive backs). My question was whether or not we see Malcolm Mitchell in the secondary this spring. To further the discussion I decided to look back at one of Georgia's most successful "two way" threats - Champ Bailey.

I did this for one main reason. I kept hearing and reading an argument against Mitchell playing defensive back that centered on his value as a receiving threat. I get that. But some have gone so far as to say that the wide receiver position is just as thin as defensive back. Again, a notion I thought I had put to rest in Saturday's post. The future at secondary is rail thin compared to receiver.

But putting that argument aside, why can't we have it both ways? Therefore, enter Champ. Unfortunately, stats from way back in the late 1990s were more difficult to come by than expected, but here's what I found:
In 1997-98, Champ's last two seasons in Athens, he had 70 offensive touches: 19 carries for 93 yards, 50 receptions for 817 yards and one incomplete pass in addition to 23 career kick returns for 511 yards. He was third on the team in scoring with 6 touchdowns and was easily our biggest offensive threat outside of Olandis Gary.
Mostly modest numbers for sure. However what makes him so revered among Georgia fans is the fact that he did all that while holding down a corner position. Quite well I might add. For most of three seasons he locked down the opponents' biggest receiving threat and took away an entire side of the field from their quarterback. The fact that he finished his career at UGA with a single digit interception mark is no slight on his ability. It's a nod to the fact that the ball was rarely thrown anywhere near his blazing feet.

I've always thought Donnan's staff did a good job of managing Champ's plays as well as bringing him along as a two way player. It's not a task meant for a freshman and it's not a practice meant for a team loaded with talent. From a simple conditioning standpoint a freshman almost always lacks the understanding and the lung capacity to manage enough plays to be a difference maker on one side of the ball, much less two. And if a team has quality depth at a position in the two way player's forte...well, what's the point really?

So what about Mitchell's potential impact as both a wide receiver and a defensive back? Well first, back to Champ. His 70 offensive touches came from 24 games during his sophomore and junior seasons. That averages out to 2.92 touches per game. I don't have total plays to rely on but let's give a moderate guess of 10-15 snaps on offense for Champ, given that there are games that I don't think he even reached 10 and others where he was probably closer to 20 (ref. Wiki 1997-98 seasons). 

Mitchell played in 11 games last season, starting 9 of them. He hauled in 45 catches for 665 yards and had 4 carries for 38 yards. If this "two way experiment" were to commence this spring we wouldn't need Mitchell for anything more than a nickel back during the 2012 season, barring any injuries. 

So...isn't it reasonable to expect him to still be able to put up comparable offensive numbers while playing mostly situational defensive sets? You know, much in the way that Champ did his thing on defense and then played in situational offensive sets.

Georgia dominates Arkansas, highlights

After a 15-0 run early, the Hoop Dawgs never looked back in taking down Arkansas 81-59 last night.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

NSD Recap with Chad Simmons

The 2012 class was inked a week ago and there are still as many questions (or nearly as many) as there were before signing day. To help shed some light on this year's class and to give us some analysis I've asked Scout's National Recruiting Analyst and DawgPost contributor Chad Simmons to answer a few questions for us. He was kind enough to put his phone down long enough to oblige.

First of all, just trying to think of all the names, stats and other information you must have to keep track of with ALL of these recruits year in and year out makes my head swim. What's the hardest part of your job as a recruiting analyst? 

The hardest part of my job as an analyst now is keeping up with prospects in multiple classes.  It used to be one class at a time, now it is at least two, and you better know some elite sophomores too.  So many kids run together and we have to know about or we are not doing our job. 

Georgia's 2012 class is headlined by two great running backs in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. What can each of these guys bring to the backfield at this level? 

Pierce Co.'s Quayvon Hicks
Marshall brings a lot of speed to the table.  He is a back that accelerates quickly, plays at top speed often, and never slows down when he changes direction.  I like how he returns kicks and catches the ball out of the backfield as well.

Gurley is a physical back, a back that really moves the chains, and someone who can carry the ball well between the tackles.  He has good straight-line speed in the open field and I really like his toughness as well.

Also, one of the more intriguing recruits to me is Quayvon Hicks. He looks like a superb athlete at a position of need with fullback. Do you think he can contribute early? And can he add some versatility to the position we didn't see much of last year?

There is no doubt Hicks is a talented athlete who can contribute early.  He moves well, he is very strong, and he will be able to catch the ball out of the backfield in Athens also.  Hicks is very coachable, he will do whatever coaches ask of him, and once he learns how to be that lead blocker, he will make a big impact at fullback. 

Grantham really racked up last week when it came to OLB/DE. Looks like some will need to add some weight. But who do you think we'll see sooner rather than later?

Jordan Jenkins battles John Theus
at Dawg Night 2011
All of those guys needs to add weight/strength, but Jordan Jenkins could see the field very early, especially on passing downs.  He is a great pass rusher off the edge, he is explosive, and he chases the quarterback well.  He weighs 245 pounds, but he is still thin, and he still needs to add mass to his frame.  

Speaking of Coach Grantham, just how hot is his name right now on the recruiting trails? He snagged Jordan Jenkins from Saban's grasp and stole Josh Dawson from Vandy. Not to mention winning one of the nation's biggest recruiting wars by signing Josh Harvey-Clemons. Is Grantham's name recognition as big as it seems to be and how much of a factor could that be moving forward?

Todd Grantham has really made a name for himself on the recruiting trail.  He coaches with intensity and he recruits with that same fire.  He is a competitor and he has a very good resume, so kids recognize that.  Grantham can relate to the kids well, they know his coaching history in the NFL, and he shows them he can teach with the best of them. 

One of the disappointments on National Signing Day was only signing three offensive linemen. Does it seem like Georgia was more selective in who they went after for offensive line help?  Were they being extra cautious considering the new limit of 25?

You could use the word cautious or even optimistic, but they did not finish well in 2012 at this position.  The loss of Chester Brown hurts them from a numbers standpoint if nothing else.  They went from looking like they would sign five or six offensive linemen to signing three, so they have some work to do in 2013.  They do need to be a little more aggressive on the recruiting trail and I think we will see that in the near future. 

Sounds like Richt and staff may not be done with this class either. Do you think we can we expect to hear of more mutual interest between Georgia and some qualifying junior college players? 

I do not think UGA is finished in 2012.  Whether it be Junior College prospects or even a high school prospect that slipped through the cracks, I think UGA is still searching for those defensive backs or even offensive linemen that are unsigned that they feel could still help them. 

Even when/if all 19 signees make it to Athens this summer, there are still some depth issues at positions such as defensive back in the short term and again on offensive line in the long term. Can Richt and staff address this solely with the 2013 class or should we expect some JUCO help as well?

Junior College kids can bridge a gap, so I feel Georgia will explore their options there, and I would be surprised if there are not a couple of JUCO kids on the UGA roster in the coming years.  Like most coaches, Richt would like all high school signees because he has them for at least three years, but UGA is in a position now where they may need someone a little older, a little stronger, and a little more mature at certain positions to help them build depth. 

Dooly Co.'s Montravius Adams
Speaking of the 2013 class, everyone seems focused on Robert Nkemdiche and Reuben Foster as the gems. And for good reason. But who are some other names fans should keep an ear out for in the next year?

A guy I put my name on very early before he was even in databases out there was Montravius Adams, a 6-4/285 defensive lineman out of Dooly County.  Over the past month or so, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, and some others have offered him. He is definitely one to watch.

Tyshon Dye (RB Elbert County), Isaac Rochell (DE/OT Eagles Landing Christian Academy), Brice Ramsey (QB Camden County – Committed to Georgia), Tyren Jones (RB Walton), Vonn Bell (S Ridgeland), and Tray Matthews (S Newnan – Committed to Georgia) are some others.

Georgia is always going to be a state that sees a large number of recruiters from top notch programs. To me this makes Georgia's events such as their Junior Day, Dawg Night and the Gala even more important.  Have these events gotten as much attention as they need to nationally? Also, in your mind what other tools can Richt's staff use in their favor to stave off the competition?

The Gala can be national, but the other two events mentioned are tough because prospects have to pay their own way.  It is difficult to get a huge turn out from across the country when it has to come out their own pocket, but from a media perspective, I do feel Dawg Night is getting a lot of attention. 

Georgia is a fertile state, so Mark Richt will never be able to keep all the top talent at home, but if he can keep a good percentage of it, he will be fine.  Timing is so key in recruiting and that is where it all starts.  From offers to first visit to social media, and other things, that is where it all starts for UGA and other programs when recruiting top talent.
Lastly, recruiting has changed tremendously just in the last few years, not to mention since Easter in 1980 when Herschel flipped a coin. In your opinion, does the spotlight these kids receive make their transition to the life of a student-athlete unnecessarily difficult?

I don’t think so.  I think it can make them grow up a little quicker, but if the kid/parents/coaches handle it all properly, I do not think it hurts them in any way.  Some media outlets can cross the line a little when covering these kids, but for the most part, it helps the kids, the parents/family members enjoy the coverage, and it helps them more than it hurts them.

Many thanks to Chad for taking the time to stop by for a visit. We all know the recruiting trail never cools off. I hope we didn't slow his 40 time down too much.

Humpday Hilarity - women vs booze

I got a real kick out of this one when it hit the inbox. Cheers!

A real woman is a man's best friend.

She will never stand him up and never let him down.
She will reassure him when he feels insecure
and comfort him after a bad day.

... She will inspire him to do things he never thought he could do;
to live without fear and forget regret.
She will enable him to express his deepest emotions
and give in to his most intimate desires.

She will make sure he always feels as though he's
the most handsome man in the room
and will enable him to be the most confident, sexy, seductive and invincible...

No wait... Sorry.

I'm thinking of whiskey. It's whiskey that does all that sh*t.

Never mind.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Keith Marshall - 5 star, but spotlight shy

The interview goes about as you'd expect from a kid that's only been on campus for a few weeks. Even as a highly recruited high school star Keith Marshall answers questions as if he's just your average new guy on campus.

But there's two things that I found especially refreshing to hear from Marshall...

I do so enjoy hearing a young man say "Yes sir" and "No m'am". Plus, a football player that isn't necessarily attracted to the glamor and gleam that comes from downtown Athens...?

Yes, I think I can dig that too.

On the air with Coach Fox

Head coach Mark Fox talks about the next stretch of games, including Wednesday night against Arkansas in the Steg.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Preach it Herschel!

After being laid up all weekend with some sinus crap I didn't get around to finishing the meatloaf. Perhaps tomorrow. We'll see.

But I did want to take this opportunity to share this video (h/t Ally) from Woodlands Church in Texas. Pastor Kerry Shook had Herschel as a guest last Sunday. As usual the Goalline Stalker provides a great message, mixed with humor and incredible stories. 

He comes in around the 21:00 mark. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Rocky Flop "pickmeup"

Buddy had a great idea. And when Buddy has a great idea we should follow up on it and celebrate it. (pauses for cheers, high fives and general slap happery...)

I hate losing, and I really hate losing to a bunch of cousindaddy hillbillys. So since last night didn't go so well, here's some highlights from a game that actually mattered. Mattered to the tune of -20 yards rushing!!!!1

Stafford - 2011 NFL Comeback Player of the Year

Matt Stafford is rewarded for a great season as NFL's Comeback Player of the Year.
Stafford beat out six other players who received votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Stafford fought through injuries his first two seasons, then threw for more than 5,000 yards in 2011 to lead Detroit to its first playoff berth in 12 years.
He received 21 votes, six more than Cleveland linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith finished third, followed by Carolina receiver Steve Smith, Denver defensive end Elvis Dumervil, New England defensive end Andre Carter and Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Stafford is the first Lion and the ninth quarterback to win the award since its inception in 1998.
Stafford stressed the team’s success was more important than anything he did individually. Detroit made the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
“That’s what people are judged on this time of year,” said Stafford, who added the Lions are capable of much more than just earning a wild-card berth and losing in the opening round. “We have great talent around me. We’ve got it all. We’re still proving ourselves.”
Stafford completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 5,038 yards — only the fourth quarterback to go over 5,000 yards — and 41 touchdowns.

UGA-Tenn highlights

More ugh.