Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring drills: what I'm hearing

Some notes from the Woodruff Practice Field.
  • Full pads go on this morning y'all!! Clack! Whack!
  • On the injury front, Wooten and Sterling Bailey are spending some time with Coach T.  Wooten seems to have pulled a leg muscle. Bailey's shoulder is healed from last year's surgery but has something going on with his foot. On the OL both Zach DeBell and Xzavier Ward are missing drills.
  • Ramik Wilson's father passed away as I'm sure most of you heard. He missed the first two days but was back in Athens Thursday working out.
  • The battle for top TE to replace Charles and White is officially underway and may be one of the more interesting off season subplots. Lynch is not going to just stand by and allow the talented Jay Rome to assume the role. Watch this one closely folks.
  • Kolton Houston might be out of NCAA purgatory. Maybe. It appears so. Which is to say we don't truly know for sure but look forward to seeing him in the rotation this Fall. Hopefully.
  • You may remember Ching mentioning to us in the Spring Q&A that he expected Hutson Mason to still be the go to guy if a true backup were needed to Aaron Murray (read: if #11 were injured and someone was needed beyond mop-up duty). Well you'll be glad to hear that Mason is not in any frame of mind for slacking off.
  • Safety Bacarri Rambo isn't worried about DB depth at all. He has complete confidence in Grantham and the coaches to handle it with brilliance.
  • Last year's star at G-Day was arguably safety Connor Norman. He's still turning heads this spring as well.
  • Aaron Murray is impressed with the defense and upset that Malcolm Mitchell isn't a target for him this spring. Some will groan at that sentence. I get giddy.
  • What's more...apparently the QBs are afraid to throw to his side. Quick learners.

Friday, March 23, 2012

GATArchives: Herschel bests Tech and Dorsett

Ok, I promised this a couple weeks ago. Ron sent me enough old newsprint to open my own Dawg Smithsonian. I needed something to do with it. I simply must share it with the world.

First, I needed a name for these posts. On twitter Ron is solely responsible for the hashtag #GATA. Well, almost solely. So this is both a tribute to him as well as something y'all can recognize immediately from the title going forward as I add to the museum, hopefully each week.

Next I had to decide how to go about the project. My first thought was chronologically. But in the end I just wanted to pick and choose as certain pictures and stories caught my eye. And with all the talk about Herschel recently...and you know, not to mention the fact that he was a pretty good player...I thought there's not really a better place to start. 

Source - Athens Banner Herald/The Daily News 
Date - Sunday November 30th, 1980 
Context - Dawgs beat Nerds 38-20 in the season finale as Walker gains 205 yards, easily surpassing Tony Dorsett's seven year record for rushing yards by a freshman. 
Photo courtesy of Wingate Downs 
Headline - Walker Gets Record; Heisman Next? 
Photo caption - Herschel Walker Passed Tony Dorsett's NCAA Freshman Rushing Record vs Georgia Tech

Of course, despite being the best college football player in the nation Herschel would not take home the Heisman in 1980. He finished third behind George Rogers and Hugh Green. The Georgia tailback sensation was clearly penalized for not being a senior, something he could not help anymore than he could help the fact that Bill Bates got in his way up in Knoxville. For more on that subject you can probably do no better than T Kyle King's explanation for just how egregious was the hosing that Herschel received.

Back to the historical clipping, you oldtimers probably remember Coach Mike Cavan was  the coach in charge of recruiting Herschel as well as his position coach in Athens. In the article by ABH Sports Editor Blake Giles there's a quote from Cavan that pretty much sums up the 1980 season as well as how those in Silver Britches felt about #34's Heisman résumé.
"For what his contribution to an 11-0 team has been...I think he deserves it. I sure do."
Well, in the end the trophy came a couple years later. But looking back what really stands out about this inaugural addition to the GATArchives is that Herschel Walker finished his freshman campaign with a bang by running all over the Yellow Jackets and right by Tony Dorsett in the record book. Then he readied himself for a National Championship game and a perfect 12-0 season.

GATA Herschel. Damn Good Dawg!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Men's Tennis beats Ohio St 4-3

Couldn't find an embeddable version of the video. But if you want to see the final point of yesterday's dramatic come from behind win over Ohio State, you can click here.
#4 Georgia 4, #2 Ohio State 3
Singles competition
1. #6 Blaz Rola (OSU) def. #8 Wil Spencer (UGA) 6-3, 6-2
2. #50 KU Singh (UGA) def. #12 Chase Buchanan (OSU) 7-5, 6-4
3. #20 Sadio Doumbia (UGA) def. #46 Peter Kobelt (OSU) 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-1
4. #29 Ignacio Taboada (UGA) def. #107 Ille Van Engelen (OSU) 6-2, 7-6 (7-5)
5. #79 Devin McCarthy (OSU) def. #70 Hernus Pieters (UGA) 7-6 (7-5), 6-2
6. Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Connor Smith (OSU) 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-4
Doubles competition
1. #1 Chase Buchanan/Blaz Rola (OSU) def. #31 Ignacio Taboada/Hernus Pieters (UGA) 8-3
2. #52 Sadio Doumbia/Nathan Pasha (UGA) def. Peter Kobelt/Connor Smith (OSU) 8-7 (7-0)
3. #39 Devin McCarthy/Ille Van Engelen (OSU) def. Wil Spencer/KU Singh (UGA) 8-6
Match Notes:
Ohio State 19-2; National ranking #2
Georgia 14-1; National ranking #4
Order of finish: Doubles (1,3,2); Singles (1,2,4,5,6,3)
Official: Walt Williams  T-4:25  A-1108
Great win for the Dawgs! So great to see a senior like Sadio Doumbia clinch the match. If watching that video, coupled with the change in the weather doesn't makes you want to get out to the Dan Magill Tennis Complex sometime soon then I just don't know you.

"I'm a player."

Spring is a time for fundamentals. It's also a time for adjustments. Ladies and gents, Ray Drew is adjusting to DE just fine.
“Since I’m going to be playing there no matter what, I would like to put on the weight so that I can hold my own whenever I’m down there,” said Drew, a sophomore who played outside linebacker last season but has practiced as a defensive end the first two practices. “When you get down there closer to the center, you have to be a man to play in the trenches.”
The 6-foot-5, 269-pound Drew still wouldn’t mind getting up in the 275-pound range this fall.
He expects by the time his Georgia career is over he’ll be in the 285- to 290-pound range.
Drew was a five-star recruit out of Thomasville who had eight tackles last season in limited playing time.
Asked if he’s more comfortable with his hand in the dirt, Drew said the positions are somewhat similar “just one is more wider than the other and then the occasional drop. I just like to be in a position where I can put pressure on the quarterback, stop the run and make plays. I’m a player. That’s what I like to do.”

Looking back, Kenarious > Da'Rick

And it ain't even close really. And I know this isn't news to most of us. After all, Kenarious Gates has played, started and filled in admirably and albeit effectively since he was a freshman in 2010. Rogers on the other hand is a first rate problem child for lil Dooley.

And now Gates is leading off the spring in Cordy Glenn's old spot at left tackle. He's played in 19 games and started 12 of them since his freshman year. Not bad for a kid that was offered at the last minute in 2010 when a player decommitted to Coach Richt and the program.

Meanwhile...Rogers has all world talent with nearly enough brains to fill a thimble. He's been trouble since he set foot in Knoxville and if Dooley had any spine (or quality depth) at all he surely would've booted the Calhoun GA product long ago. Rogers has divided the team and run off coaches. It's the near perfect poster for inmates running the asylum.

All this to say: 1) why were so many people upset when a kid turned his back on Georgia? Follow the philosophy of "If they don't wanna be Dawgs, good riddance" and 2) kudos to Gates for taking an opportunity and making the most of it. He was the last one offered in 2010, but he's become quite dependable and versatile along an offensive line that really needs both.

Other readings on Gates:
- player bio
- Paschall on the look of Gates at LT
- offensive line opportunities abound
- Gates and the LT spot in transition

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring Practice pictures

Saw Radi Nabulsi post these to Twitter last night. Sure is nice to see just a glimpse of some football.
Isaiah Crowell toting the rock.
Artie Lynch..damn.
Keith Marshall in his first practice.
And then this one from CRob45...

 and Fatons first practice as dogs. I feel like a proud father about 
to spank his children 

Dawg Talkin' with Deke

Deke Davis was kind enough to have me on his latest episode of Dawg Talk. We talk about John Isner's rise, conference realignment implications (just before news broke about this), Carlton Thomas leaving and Malcolm Mitchell's impact. You can check it out here. And you can find his show featured weekly at LeatherHelmetBlog.

Dabo, we hardly knew ye

As we anticipated...Clempson and Georgia have begun talks to dump the home and home series scheduled for 2013 and 2014.
Athletic director Greg McGarity confirmed on Tuesday that he’s talked to Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips about the games.
“I don’t think Clemson knows exactly where things stand as far as expansion but we’re just trying to see the lay of the land because we know that they’re going to expand at nine games at some point in time,” McGarity said about Pittsburgh and Syracuse joining the ACC. “When that is, we’re just trying to stay ahead of it. We’ve had a few discussions on the phone about where things stand and we’re just waiting to hear back from Clemson on what their plans are in the future.”
There is a $500,000 cancellation fee unless there’s “mutual consent,” according to the game contract.
Georgia is scheduled to play at Clemson to open the 2013 season and Clemson would play in Athens in 2014.
McGarity said Georgia would like to play the games if the SEC remains with eight conference games.
“Word is we’re leaning towards staying with eight games and if we stay at eight-games, sure, we’d like we’d keep it intact, but I’m not sure what that would do for a team that has nine games,” McGarity said of Clemson. “They’re certainly not going to dropSouth Carolina.”
On the plus side, the South's oldest rivalry still appears safe. And Abuurn's just like Clempson...without the lake.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Practice Preview - with David Ching

Spring practice starts today. The once quiet and stillness of Woodruff Field will crackle with excitement as CRob and Tree strap on the pads and meet DICK Sam IV at the line of scrimmage. To prepare us, David Ching of ESPNs DawgNation sits down a minute to answer some questions about positions to look at and developing stories to watch.

1. First of all, what's the schedule for the spring? How many practices do the coaches get to help knock off the rust as well as prepare for the next season? There are 14 practices plus the G-Day game on the schedule, starting with a practice on Tuesday.

2. I think the thing that is at the forefront of everyone's mind is the competition at running back. What do you expect we'll see from that position during Spring drills and G-Day? I think Isaiah Crowell is the most well-rounded tailback on Georgia's roster and he will remain as the No. 1 option by the conclusion of spring practices. I'll be interested to see how quickly Keith Marshall rises on the depth chart. I think he will win some playing time this spring and will contribute in the fall. What will be interesting to see is how Richard Samuel, Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome figure into the mix. Mark Richt complimented Malcome for his improved attitude last week and I think he might continue his progress from late last season this spring.

3. In your mind, what becomes of Richard Samuel? The fan favorite seems focused on the tailback position, but there's been discussion of a possible move (again) to fullback? Honestly, I don't view Richard as a fullback. He's got a fullback's frame, but he doesn't often run like a fullback and he has been fairly brittle throughout his career. I don't know if sending him charging into the hole to blast a linebacker 30 times a game is the best way to keep him healthy. Fullback might be where he ends up, but I think Richard would be a better fit at tailback or in some sort of hybrid role between the two positions.

4. I read your preview on the OL and Richt seems encouraged by the potential there despite the losses of Jones, Glenn and Anderson. No doubt Coach Friend has a difficult task. What's a reasonable goal you think for him coming out of spring practice? Since they certainly want to wait for John Theus to arrive on campus before settling on a lineup, I think the goal this spring will be to determine where everyone fits best and to start developing a general plan. They can begin deciding whether David Andrews or Chris Burnette is the center, which will affect the guard rotation. They can decide whether they want Mark Beard, Watts Dantzler and Kenarious Gates to spend most of their time at guard or tackle. Friend doesn't have to decide on his starting lineup for the Buffalo game five months ahead of time. He just needs to start narrowing down the possibilities. I think they will wind up being fine, but it's obviously the most uncertain personnel group on the roster entering the spring.

5. Orson Charles ended up being the only underclassman to go pro. Coupled with Aron White graduating, we're looking at some new faces in the transition from 2011 to 2012. What do you see in Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome and what differences can we expect at this position during the transition? Obviously we haven't seen too much of either player, but I think both Lynch and Rome will be very good college players. Rome had the higher profile as a recruit -- he was ESPN's top-rated tight end in 2011 -- but I think Lynch might surprise some folks. First of all, he's huge. Plus, he's tight with Aaron Murray and the quarterback is going to want to get his buddy the ball. Both of those guys are going to factor into the passing game and I think they'll be effective. The bigger concern at tight end is the depth. I expect freshman Ty Smith to play some in the fall, too, simply because of numbers. Lynch and Rome are the only scholarship tight ends on campus this spring.

6. There's a lot of troubled waters at the defensive back position. Even before the recent arrests and subsequent early season suspensions I've been eager to see Malcolm Mitchell on the defensive side of the ball some. How much do you think he'll be able to contribute and do you think this is a short term fix or will it end up as a long term split between reps? No, I think he will be a factor on both sides beyond the first couple of games. Brandon Boykin told us at Georgia's pro day that he thinks it might actually be easier for Mitchell to moonlight on defense than it is for a predominantly defensive player to contribute significantly on offense. Obviously he needs time to pick up his responsibilities in the scheme, but he has such ridiculous athleticism and competitiveness, I don't think he will have much difficulty becoming a valuable cover man.

7. Subsequently, how will the wide receiver position handle not having its most explosive playmaker this spring? If there is any position on the roster that could absorb that hit, it's the wideouts. Not having Mitchell in the spring isn't that big of a deal. He'll still be available in the fall. Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see how Tony Ball establishes his pecking order. You have to figure Tavarres King is at the top, but then he'll have to determine what to do with Michael Bennett, Chris Conley (who will be limited in the spring by injury), Marlon Brown, Rantavious Wooten and Justin Scott-Wesley. Then you'll add Mitchell and Blake Tibbs to the mix in preseason practice. They'll be fine in the spring, but I still believe Mitchell will be one of their go-to options in the fall, particularly once Sanders Commings and Branden Smith are back on defense.

8. Sounds like Richt is going to emphasize special teams this spring. Is using more starters on special teams something you think the entire team will embrace? In other words, can we look forward to more spirited competition for coverage and protection teams? Yes. They didn't hire a special teams coach like some folks wanted, but I really don't think that was necessary. They spent a lot of time this offseason rethinking their schemes and personnel on special teams and I expect the results to be much more positive in the fall.

9. With Hutson Mason deciding to stay in Athens and redshirt that leaves Christian LeMay as the most likely backup to Aaron Murray. We saw a glimpse of him last spring. Does it sound like he's ready to step in? I'm not sure about that. He reportedly got off to a slow start last fall, but picked things up better late in the year. I think he'll be the frontrunner for the 2012 backup job, but if anything were to happen to Murray, I'd still expect Mason to be the guy the coaches turn to.

10. Lastly, we went back to using mat drills some this winter. As the revamping of the post-Van Halanger S&C program continues, is it reasonable to expect even greater strides this season towards a stronger, better fit team? I think bringing back some of those endurance workouts will be helpful. They might have gone too far the other direction in building bulk last season. I'm not an expert in that area at all, but it's possible that showed up late in the losses against LSU and Michigan State. Personally, I'll be interested to see how adding versatile skill sets like those of John Thomas and Sherman Armstrong will affect their conditioning and results. 

Thanks again to David for stopping by. Hopefully the Dawgs have a very productive and injury free spring.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday's Meatloaf - Go Greyhound...once

I've aired some dirty family laundry in the past. I guess I'll throw some more out today. When you're the red and black sheep of the family, it's what's expected right? As a kid I spent many hours watching the trees pass by my car window. Mainly along Highway 78 down to I-20, and then on Highway 278 outside of Augusta as we went to my maternal grandmother's house in the South Carolina low country. It was a time for some intense reflection on life during an era of such national headlines as Watergate, the Iran hostage crisis and whether cherry or raspberry was the best Jolly Rancher flavor. 

One trip however was put into crisis mode when the family car, a blue 2-door Opel (still the best car Dad ever purchased while wearing sideburns) was in the shop. For you young whippersnappers, this was before Enterprise and Avis car rentals. It was even before OJ Simpson hurdled and flew through airports. We couldn't forgo a delicious bowl of my grandmother's hambone soup, just over some timing belt being shipped in from wherever the hell Opel's were made. So we went Greyhound: a non-stop trip from downtown Athens to Augusta where my loving grandmother would pick us up in her fully functioning 1967 Chevelle. Seamless transition right?

Not exactly. What follows are the facts as best my aging brain can recall them. My mom, little brother and myself crammed into two seats on the bus and I took the window seat so I could count the usual pines and oaks. The bus itself wasn't full, but I was just old enough to pick up the subtle cues from Mom that there were undesirable influences nearby.

Think this, except circa 1979
As in the back, where the "smokers" were confined. When Mom wasn't looking I peaked in between the seats for a glimpse and saw roughly 15-18 disgruntled, tattoed and otherwise dirty malcontents crowded into the eight seats where smoking was permitted. Things went just fine until Jeff had to use the bathroom, as two year olds tend to do about every 30-45 minutes. This general rule especially holds true on a bus where the only "bathroom" is lodged in between a motorcycleless division of Hell's Angels chain smoking filterless Camels and the f-word is the cleanest one in the vocabulary.

What did I do? Offered to take him myself of course. There was a wealth of information back there and I was anxious to get my ears and eyes on it. This was a rare showing of love and appreciation for the little brat that was summarily and immediately dismissed by the only adult on the bus with a full set of teeth. The alternate plan was to have him drop trow right there and piss into a Tommy Tippee cup, standing right there between us in row 8 of a Greyhound bus somewhere southeast of Washington GA. Words could not describe my embarrassment and there were not enough pine trees to divert my attention.  I was horrified as the kid voiced his own surprise and amazement way too loudly. I could even feel the gaze of the bus driver in his oversized rearview mirror. Oh. The. Horror. 

And that is the worst story I've ever heard about a trip on a public bus...until Watts Dantzler boarded one last Thursday. Damn. At least I had trees to occupy my attention. Watts just had lil Meek and someone's grungy Adidas.

Today's Ingredients
Tennessee avoids a sweep by the Diamond Dawgs thanks to Williams. Everyone altogether now...Stella!!!!
- Here's Ching's baseball week in review.
- Hoop Dawgs looks at the recent schedule while reflecting on this year's tournament teams.
- Isner was not able to overcome Roger Federer yesterday but will still crack the world's top ten this week. Not to mention that he will take home $500K from Indian Wells.
- Lady Dawgs were bounced early in the NCAA Tourney yesterday.
- Weiszer outlines the top five questions entering spring drills.
Hunter Cole, round-tripper
- The writer Dawg fans "loved to hate"...Furman Bisher's passing is one of the many things ecdawg covers in today's Dawg Daily.
- Meanwhile Blutarsky finds a glaring omission in the AJC's obit.
- The next installment of Fletcher Page's Redshirt Diaries looks at Nathan Theus. ($$)
- CCRider's latest blend of politics and Georgia football includes step by step instructions for how to burn one's face.
- Over at College Football Zealots Kevin and his roundtable look at key position battles around the country entering the Spring.
- Lastly, cback tomorrow when David Ching of DawgNation sits down with us to talk about spring practice, which starts tomorrow!!

Took the youngest to Foley Saturday for an afternoon of HillBilly hate. She got to see Hunter Cole blast a pitch over the cedars into the parking lot. She ate a hotdog. And she witnessed a grown vol fan out-jockey a kid for a foul ball before promptly botching the catch. Typical stoopid fan in orange.

The highlight of her trip? Definitely hanging with Brian in the left field lounge and playing catch. She had taken her glove in hopes of catching a stray foul ball, but we evidently chose the wrong seats. Didn't matter much anyway once Uncle Salty gave her one he recovered from Friday night's game. Then they gave her instructions on proper throwing motions and catching technique. She soaked it in like a little sponge and has now added Olympic softball shortstop to her future résumé.

The highlight for me? Cole's homer...until I heard the words "Thanks for bringing me daddy, that was fun" from the backseat as we edged onto South Milledge after the game. She's a great kid. And I'll never let her ride a Greyhound. Which she can thank me for later.

Have a great Monday Reader. And if my mom and little brother are around, be careful before drinking out of a Tommy Tippee cup.


Jarvis Jones, year two

Jarvis says he needs to be better next year. His stat line for the Florida game he references in the tweet: 5 tackles, 4 sacks for -27 yards and 1 forced fumble. Not sure what is better than that, but I can't wait to see it.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

From Foley to Isner...a segway segue way

Tried to get some footage of the Diamond Dawgs' win over the mountain turds yesterday. I failed. But I can assure you it was a great day at Foley. The 7 year old and I barked heartily which helped the red and black to a 5 run 5th inning and Perno's pups never looked back. 10-5 win over the HillBillys. Perfect day in Athens!

What in the hell does this have to do with John Isner? Well, let's segway segue way shall we?

Tradition at baseball games is for someone to sing Take me out to the Ballpark! during the 7th inning stretch. Yesterday the honor fell to Coach Manny Diaz (btw it was his birthday Friday!). Here's what the YouTube cameramen caught...

Now, next step in the segway segue way...Diaz obviously was Isner's coach while he was blasting through the NCAA fields. And yesterday Isner took down the world's #1 (which I pretty much predicted here a few weeks ago). It was a milestone that was expected sooner rather than later. In fact, here's yesterday's loser in his own words.
“It’s a matter of belief, I think, in the end, and confidence on the court,” Djokovic said when asked what has recently separated Isner from the pack of big servers lurking in the middle of the A.T.P. rankings. “I mean, with that serve and with that forehand he’s got the ability to be a top 10 player, you know. He had that already a couple years back. It’s just, you know, matter of really trusting your instincts and your strokes and your quality. I think it all came together for him now, and he’s deservedly in the top 10 now.” 
Congrats to the Diamond Dawgs! Thanks to Coach Diaz for the tune! And keep kicking kicking ass Isner!
UPDATE: Federer outlasts the rain and Nadal to earn a spot in the finals with Isner. They'll play today at 2pm. It airs on ABC I believe.

Mitchell to corner, moving forward

The idea of Malcolm Mitchell playing defensive back is beyond hypothetical at this point. We're on the eve of experimental. Let's move forward shall we?

Athletically I don't think there's much of a question as to whether this is something Mitchell can handle. After all, he was rated as high as #1 as a cornerback coming out of Valdosta.

The advantage I see that Mitchell has over someone like Champ is that he's had a year to absorb the offensive nuances of the college game, then move to the defensive meetings for instruction. I'm not suggesting that it's that much easier to absorb Grantham's scheme and his role within it than it is Bobo's playbook. But there's more instinct on that side of the ball. 

Mitchell is going to thrive as a two-way star and give his coaches numerous options both offensively and defensively. For Grantham he can be a shut down corner full time or he can contribute as needed. For Bobo he can ease into a starter's role as well as jump into the huddle whenever needed.

It's a win-win. Right?