Saturday, April 21, 2012

Crowell 2.0 leads the stable

I've counted myself among the many fans frustrated by the running game last season. And not all of that frustration can be laid at Isaiah Crowell's cleats. As difficult as it was to see him miss snaps at key moments and miss games due to "being loved" by Coach Richt, overall he had a pretty amazing freshman campaign. It's the what might have been that sticks in the craw. Probably for him as much as us. At least I hope so.

So we're a week removed from GDay and there's still just as many questions about the kid who led the team in rushing last season as there are about the position itself. On one hand Crowell and Co. didn't blow the doors off of the scrimmage, but I thought each guy who lined up looked good toting the ball.
  • Crowell didn't get nearly the number of snaps I had hoped for. But he made enough cuts to show us that his ankle is fully healed. He's still one of the best I've seen in a while as far as getting to the edge quickly. Which makes him the guy to beat this August.
  • Malcome may have impressed me the most, just from a rising from the ashes kind of scenario. He was all but done in Athens. Somehow decided to stay and had a great spring. And he took each handoff as if we were still scrimmaging playing the engiNerds back in November. Good, powerful runner.
  • Samuel showed he has also fully healed and took over inside the 20 on that early drive for the Black team. Just put the team on his back just as he did in Jacksonville a few months ago and drove us into the endzone.
The only real bummer is we didn't get to see the kid, Keith Marshall. Add him and Todd Gurley to the mix this August and I don't think there's any doubt that we're in much better shape at tailback than we were a year ago this time. Of course, Athens Academy's tailback roster probably looked comparable to Georgia's a year ago.

In all seriousness, I don't know if I would've picked Crowell as the guy to beat coming out of April if you had asked me back in December or even early January. That sentiment is probably born out of that frustration mentioned earlier as much as anything. In the same breath, I'm glad this is the way it is though. All indications are that the two freshmen will add a ton of potential and talent to the position. The better Crowell performs, the better off we are, obviously.

It's too early to tell if the demons that haunted #1 last season have relented or just faded from the headlines temporarily. If Crowell 2.0 means the expectation can equal the talent...the sky could be the limit.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Special changes for special teams

The changes coming to the area of special teams for the 2012 season are both local and global. The NCAA has changed the kickoffs from the 30 yard line to the 35. For a Georgia team that ranked 88th in the country in kickoff coverage (23.1 yards a return) that should be welcome news.

But the air of change is blowing on the inside as well where Richt and staff emphasized drills for special teams during the spring.
“The goal in the spring for the special teams was to get a lot of guys involved and do a lot of drill work that will help us. First of all, evaluate, ‘Can a guy do what we’re going to ask him to do. Can he get off a block. Can he tackle in space? Can he protect a kick?’ ” coach Mark Richt said. “We were just wanting everybody to understand that everybody and anybody could end up on a special team — a starter, a second-teamer, whatever it is.”
That may or may not just sound like coach speak to you. But Coach Olivadotti sounds as if there is more tweaking needed than whole scale changes.
“We were bad statistically, but within games we actually played good,” Olivadotti said. “What bad teams always say or I always say this to the players, ‘Whenever you’re talking about one or two plays that you want to take out, you didn’t play good.’ As a whole, you’ve got to look at that we obviously let two touchdowns get on you and we can’t have that.”
Coupled with the continued focus on revamping the offensive line, and the arrival of two brand new freshman kickers, this will be something to keep an eye on in August.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Recipes for a "tremendous offseason"

Players are getting their "exit meetings" this week before the long off season. Final instructions and suggestions are being given that are pretty detailed.
Richt and the coaching staff met Monday morning with the strength and conditioning staff and nutritionist Jen Ketterly to go over player by player what each individual would need for a “tremendous offseason,” Richt said.
Target reporting weights were pinpointed and areas of emphasis were discussed in strength and conditioning.
“It’s a comprehensive plan for every player,” Richt said.
Each player will meet individually with their position coach this week as well for an “exit meeting,” to find out what that player needs to work on for the next few months. Players fill out a self-evaluation breaking down their strengths and weaknesses.
Richt spoke of his new strength staff hires.
“Because of some of the changes we made with our strength staff, we now have a tremendous speed man on campus with us now in Sherman Armstrong,” he said.
Richt noted that former Penn State strength coach John Thomas, another new hire, is “one of the few Master strength coaches that there are in the United States of America.” He said that Thomas works well with players coming back from injury to ensure that they get stronger without doing lifts that could reinjure a player.
Last off season we heard rumblings of mild to moderate protest. Dietary change is hard, we all know that right? But the results that came in the 2012 season I would say were pretty good for season one in the new S&C program.

Of course, it's now a new and improved S&C program. Hopefully the buy-in is even greater than last year. A "tremendous offseason" could lead to a special 2012.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Men's Tennis prepares for SEC Tournament

This year the SEC Tourney is in Starkville. It starts Thursday. However #2 seed Georgia has a first round bye and will play on Friday against the Auburn/South Carolina winner. Coach Diaz's team is riding some momentum since losing to #1 seed Kentucky 4-3 on March 30th. After that second loss of the season they are 4-0 and boasting 25-3 match record. Ranked #4 in the nation with a 20-2 record (10-1 in the SEC), the Bulldogs are the usual tough out come tournament time. This was the 20th season Diaz has reached the 20 win milestone in the 24 seasons he's been at the helm. Quite an achievement.

You can see the tournament draw HERE (all times are Central). For highlights from the season check out Coach Diaz's YouTube channelTo prepare for the weekend here's a preview video as well as some player features/interviews.

Humpday Hilarity - reason #239 why I don't like cats

I brought a dog into the marriage and Mrs. Bernie brought a cat. Nearly 15 years later we still have a dog as a pet, but no cat. Why? Because they do crap like this...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

GATArchives: 1984 GDay, Varsity versus Alumni

Ok, so we've been stuck in 1984 for the last couple editions of GATArchives. It's cool with me cuz I can still rock my Members Only and impress all the 8th grade chicks with my retainer. So let's give it one more go. And for this we give a huge fist bump to Dawgs19 for sending the clipping below. I hope I was able to make it big enough for you to read. If not, now's a good time to go dig out that magnifying glass. It relates to Georgia's spring game before that 1984 Citrus Bowl and before that epic win over Clemson. 
from The Macon Telegraph
Reading over that my curiosity peaked. Because what's notable about the article above is that we had players just removed from campus like Ronnie Stewart playing in the same game as much older players such as Kent Lawrence (who played in this game shortly before being appointed to the State Court by Gov. Joe Frank Harris...and after a couple stints in the NFL, time as a UGA police officer, Clarke Co. Chief of Police, a prosecutor and a judge). And they were playing against the likes of Jeff Sanchez and Andre "Pulpwood" Smith. (Smith would of course lead the team in rushing later that season before being dismissed from the program.) I just love that quote from Lawrence - "After I caught it, I turned on the jets and headed east. But I ran out of fuel." Having had the privilege on sitting on Judge Lawrence's jury stand, that's one to remember. Considering he was nearing 40 years young at the time of the game it's understandable that the fuel tanks might have been a bit lower than they were in the 1967 Cotton Bowl.

"Pulpwood" returned to Sanford this past Saturday to participate in the alumni flag football game. And that's likely as close as we'll get to seeing legends grace the field at Sanford again, at least while wearing cleats. I knew the answer but had to ask the question we all would wonder after seeing this newsprint from so long ago. So I took the liberty of contacting AD McGarity about any possibility of this happening again. The answer of course was somewhere just short of there's not a snowball's chance in hell. It's just a different age now than it was back then. As cool as it would be to see Damian Swann try and cover Hines Ward, it's an image that will have to live on in our imagination.

Attendance for GDay is up. Moving the spring game away from Masters weekend was one of McGarity's best decisions for the fans of the football program. We see a lot of discussion this time of year about the value in GDay. There are a lot of different ways to look at it. What do the fans like? What do the players prefer? What's better for the program? 

In the end, perhaps the way the scrimmage is structured is most important for the coaches doing the evaluation. They've invested a lot of time in prepping the players for drills and scrimmages all spring, you want them to go away from GDay with some idea of where the players are in their development. That's an item that might be up for some debate in terms of whether the current GDay set up can provide that better than say a scrimmage against another nearby program.

I don't know. I'd just love the chance to see a 50 year old Herschel Walker strap that chinstrap on tight and have a go at Ray Drew on an outside sweep. An old Dawg can dream right?

Bubba Watson's shot, an aerial view

h/t Mac

Coordinating reflections

Bobo and Grantham look back on Saturday's scrimmage and the spring overall in this interview piece by Emerson. First up, the offense.
- As far as the O-line, it seemed the first-teamers did OK for the most part, but the second-teamers kind of got a little overmatched at times. Does that speak to what Will Friend has talked about, that he feels he has about five or six guys he can depend on right now?

"Yeah, we need to develop more depth up front, there's no doubt. But like I said earlier, those guys keep fighting, keep getting better. A lot of these guys are just now getting reps for the first time. But that's linemen, it takes awhile. Fifteen practices is not enough to get them ready, that's why they call it spring ball. We've got 29 practices in the fall, so that's gonna be important to them. But we've gotta find us eight guys to get us to play. I'd say we got four to five right now that we feel good about. We've just gotta keep working to get more depth up front."
29 > 15. Hopefully 15 + 29 = SEC ready.

And as for Grantham.
- On Damian Swann, who played a lot of cornerback:
"I think he's had a good camp anda  good spring. He's gonna be a good player for us. I've been pleased with what he's done."
- How do you leave camp feeling about that cornerback spot with him, and with Malcolm Mitchell and Devin Bowman?
"I think Mitchell before he got hurt can be a dynamic corner. He's a really good player. He can obviously help us there. I think Bowman showed progress throughout the thing. So I was pleased with how he came on relative to last year. B-Smith for the most part I thought had a solid spring. 
"So I think what we've gotta do is understand that we've gotta put them in positions to be successful in. You know, we've gotta make sure we get guys out there that can make plays. Based upon the guys that we've got and the guys coming in, we'll mix and match and move guys around."
There's plenty more there on everything from tailbacks to Cornelius Washington's excellent versatility. Give it a gander.

Read more here:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday's Meatloaf - a TON of stupid, and posts

Like any parent I put my kids first. Nothing against yours, it's just that mine are smarter and better looking. Plus you know, that whole genetics thing. Sorry.

So a couple weeks ago whilst vacating, this happened...

The quizzical stare I got in return was interrupted by a cannonball back into the pool. I didn't even get a chance to ask him if cheese is made of snow. Later my youngest daughter had a run in with an unidentified pre-pubescent engiNerd while we were in the middle of an intense game of beach paddle ball. I had made a nice alley shot that was unfortunately ruled out as the ball rolled down the beach towards another umbrella and set of chairs.

I watched for my darlin's reaction to whatever this kid was saying to her. She simply moseyed on back to the "court". Not much later the lil brat decided to interrupt our game by shouting to me that he told her "Don't let a Georgia Bulldog beat you." was on now. I quickly asked him who it was he proudly cheered for in the Fall. This beach seemed mostly populated by northerners from places with an abundance of "O's" in their names. But I figured this kid must be a Gamechicken not yet castrated. I was ready to do the honors and show my little angel that Dawgs don't back down.

But when the kid said Georgia Tech, I simply laughed. The tension in my shoulders eased and I put my hand on my red and back t-shirt as I said, "Tech?!? Well you should know all about getting beat." Then we quickly went back to our game, as I gathered his mom was less than thrilled with the comment. 

However, if you raise your kid to be that stupid bold, natural consequences are unavoidable.

Today's Ingredients
  • Some GDay perspectives for you: Streit. ecdawgKing. Blutarsky. Lugnut Dawg. Lady Sportswriter. And my two pennies.
  • Weiszer reports that there's little concern over the all points scored Saturday.
  • While the running backs are out of the doghouse, Crowell appreciated the cheers says Emerson.
  • Ching looks at LeMay and the backup QB race.
  • Mizzou unveiled their new uniform. ecdawg warns the Tigers that fashion consultants aren't necessary down here y'all.
  • Great read here by Garbin as he looks back at a Dawg that left us way too soon. Hugh Hendrix, damn good Dawg!
  • With a little feeling of déjà vu we begin the week expecting an announcement from Tony Parker. He's denying rumors and is set again to announce Friday at 6pm.
  • Mr. Sanchez provides an in depth analysis of Parker's finalists with pros and cons.
  • I admit the idea of Parker choosing Georgia is a possibility. Again, I just don't see it happening though. Before GDay I was willing to say if he did just that I would go to the spring game in a dress. Now I guess you'll just have to make do with a picture...should Parker surprise me.
  • Lastly, this is something Mrs. Bernie has known for years decades. Just sayin.
Appreciate all the positive responses to the GATArchives. With the help of Dawg19 this week, we'll stay stuck in 1984 with this week's edition and look at how the spring game looked different back then. 
Disconnect at your own risk!!
It also just happens that my 2000th post here at Bernie's Dawg Blawg was that look back the 1984 Clemson game and the Danny Ford "confrontation". That may be a figurative TON of posts, but I've enjoyed each one. And I look forward to the future weight of the next TON. Y'all are great readers and I dig the way you click. Thanks for taking part in this little milestone with me.

That being said, I know some of you are probably about to go into hibernation. Spring practice is over. News will all but drip to a complete stop. If you unplug, I hope you bookmark my little spot here for when you arise from your deep slumber this summer. Or if you are a glutton for cyber-punishment, I'll still be pecking away at the keyboard here. Keep stopping by as you see fit. Either way you may be a part of the next milestone as we near the millionth page view at BDB. 

At this rate I might catch The Senator by the time my great-grandkids are old enough to type the word Google. You know, assuming his blog eventually runs out of room on the innerwebs. Until then Reader, here's your fork. Dig in!


Couple GDay thoughts

While you wait on the meatloaf, let's reflect on what we saw Saturday.

I was a little distracted in Sanford by trips to the concession stand and questions about why Aaron Murray was wearing a different jersey than his teammates. So yesterday I watched the highlights a couple times and pored over the official stat sheet. Here's what I'm taking away into the long drawn out off season:

  • It's nice to have tailback as a position of strength. Seriously. It's spring and everything should be taken with excessive caution. But Crowell ran hard and Malcome looks like the back we saw on the flats, just with more spirit.
  • That being said, Richard Samuel needs to stay at tailback. I know a lot of people think the move to fullback would be an easy fit. But he's a greater asset to the team a few more steps behind the line of scrimmage. And he deserves to go out his senior year at a position where he's comfortable.
  • Hard to gauge how good the offensive line is after the graduation of Glenn and Jones. I happened to sit a few rows behind John Theus and his family. If that kid ain't ready, his dad damn sure looks like he could fit the bill.
  • I've said it before, but it's worth saying again. The biggest thing Coach Friend has going for him in putting this offensive line together is that his unit is facing one of the nation's toughest and deepest defensive fronts in practice each day.
  • Last injuries.
Let me reemphasize. NO INJURIES!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

G'Day, Walk on!

This summarizes pretty much all spring games for me. Completely.
Walk-on defensive lineman Ricky Lowe ran 62-yards for a touchdown on a fumble return after Reuben Faloughi knocked the ball loose from quarterback Parker Welch with 1:40 left to put the Red team ahead 32-25.
That's a former walk-on creating an opportunity for a current walk-on. Ricky Lowe may never get a chance to play in Sanford again. If not, he'll always be able to tell his kids and grandkids about that play.

Great day in Athens yesterday for over 44,000. But especially great for Ricky Lowe.

A Sunday Flashback - Irish went down to Georgia

Dawg19 has really been doing some digging. Check out this vintage video from the 1981 Sugar Bowl he grabbed from an old VHS tape. 

Ros and Robinson at the coin toss. Walker diving over mere mortals. Woerner grabbing that interception. I just get chills. Good stuff.

PS - if you know the artist, click the link above and let him know.