Saturday, May 26, 2012

Randomly mused together: an apple, an orange and the baseball program

Sometimes I rant. And sometimes things just need to be said. There was no easy way to type how I feel about Coach Perno being retained. Yet I don't regret it. Just because we're all Dawg fans doesn't mean we can't disagree.

But after reading and hearing reactions, here's some clarifications and other points I'd like to make.

Just because I think the program needs some new leadership doesn't mean I'm not going to support the baseball team next season. I'm not a season ticket holder, but I'll go to games next year just as I did this year. I'll watch on tv whenever I can too.

I'll cheer just as loud if not louder next season in hopes of being proven wrong. If you don't believe that, then you simply don't know me. At all.

I don't profess to know the inner workings of the decision to keep Coach Perno. It could've been McGarity's decision and/or the board's. It could've been financial. It could've been emotional given all of the circumstances involved. To speculate is useless. Move on people.

To compare administrative decisions involving coaching hires/fires, even on the same campus, is a dangerous and illogical game. Perno is an apple, Landers is an orange. Perno didn't help establish the game of baseball at the collegiate level. Those who are frustrated with the baseball standings have firm ground to stand on when they wonder why changes aren't being made. Those who are frustrated with the women's basketball team making the tournament but not winning it just need to accept the fact that they'll have to wait for Landers to retire. If you don't understand that, I can't help you here.

To complete the recent coaching changes at UGA as compared to fruit, I guess Jay Clark was a banana. You just can't replace a legend so he was doomed at some point.

Back to the apple and similarity I will accept. Landers isn't going to be fired because who would want to come replace one of the founding fathers of the sport when they were shown the door? Perno might not fit that description completely in terms of college baseball, but he's shown he can take a team the distance. Or at least within a game of the ultimate prize.

Lastly, I mentioned the other day that Perno taking over the pitching seems to have worked thus far. But perhaps some self-analysis within the staff can lead to some helpful tweaks in other areas. With the new CBA in MLB the coaching staff should be ready to recruit even more aggressively. My hope moving forward is that we see something similar to the football staff after the 2010 season. Some momentum on the recruiting trail that brings more energy to the dugout.

Friday, May 25, 2012

99 reasons... GATA!

h/t Mac

In the case of UGA vs. Coach Perno

With all due respect to the athletic board and McGarity, it's past time to part ways. As Kyle said, when Tyler is no longer upbeat...we gots some problems man.

He's a son of Athens. He was on the 1990 NCAA Championship team. He's gotten us to the College World Series, including within a breath of winning it all. But there's only so far even that résumé will carry you.

Good teams that take the extra step to greatness are the ones that find a way to win. Perno's teams find too many ways to lose. The pitching was better, even though they lost a young arm out of the bullpen in Tyler Maloof. The 2010-11 team ERA was 4.90. This season it was 3.86. However, that's still well off the pace of the SEC's elite teams such as eastern division stalwart Carolina which had a 2012 ERA of 3.16, and a 2.45 in 2011.

And the hitting...ol' Coach Umstattd's spits on our slumping batting figures. It hasn't gotten any better since Allen Osborne was brought onboard. In 2011 the team average was .274 and the slugging % was .383. This season, .279 and .371 respectively. Compared again to our rival who sits where we want to be: in 2011 the Gamecocks had a .294 avg and .427 slugging %. In 2012 Coach Tanner's squad relied even more heavily on their pitching (you go pretty deep into their bullpen before you get to a kid that has an ERA greater than 4.00, and as a team their opponents batted just .225) and had a .271 team batting average and .399 slugging %.

Ugh. We're not competing statistically and we're not competing on the field. The two tourney games this week against Vanderbilt and Auburn were perfect examples of the seasons we've come to expect. When the pitching staff gets it done on the mound, the bats fail to make the noise. Ask yourself if this rings a bell? First batter strikes out and the second batter dribbles one to the shortstop, the third batter crushes one to the alley only to be left stranded when the fourth batter pops it up to shallow left.

Rinse and repeat again in 3 innings.

Which brings me to another point, and this is something we've touched on with other coaches in Butts-Mehre as well. I don't mind coaches calling players out. They're the ones that either do or they don't. I'll always applaud accountability and the truth is these aren't little boys just beginning to learn the game. However, there comes a time when the coaches should bear the brunt of the responsibility. It should sound more like "I'm not getting it done" instead of "we're not getting it done".

That time has past us by. I've become convinced that Coach Perno's legacy will be cast on two lasting memories: 1) getting within a game of being a national champion, and 2) getting the UGA baseball program through not one but two horrific spinal injuries with Chance Veazey's accident and Jonathan Taylor's outfield collision. Words can't do the man justice for what he and his staff did to keep those teams from falling completely apart. For the former, we'll always have a knot in our stomach. For the latter, we'll be eternally grateful. 

Come Monday we'll find out officially that the 2012 season is done. As a UGA alum, a frequent Foley patron and a 30+ year fan of the program...sometime thereafter I expect we'll be looking for the next head baseball coach I'll just plan on watching the wheels spin next season.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

David Greene 2003 vs. Aaron Murray 2012

Aaron Murray is entering his fourth season in the offense and his third as a starter. It's been nearly a decade since we have we had a signal caller in this position. David Greene red-shirted in 2000 and was entering his rs-junior year in 2003. To continue with the similarities, he was coming off a season in which he led his team to the SEC Championship game.

And the comparisons may not end there. In 2003 Richt was reinventing his offensive line which was bolstered by talented future NFL draft picks, but thin and exceptionally young. Russ Tanner and Max Jean-Gilles were the returning backups set to be starters. We also had Daniel Inman, Bartley Miller and Josh Brock among a slew of other young and very green players.

If you remember, 2003 was the year Coach Richt's recruiting difficulties for the offensive line really began to rear its ugly head. In '03 the Georgia offensive line surrendered a whopping 45 sacks. Coach Friend was spending his first year as a grad assistant in Athens that season, so I'm sure he remembers it well.

Enough with the history lesson and informational background. Let's compare Greene's stats to Murray's and see what we can take from it.

Pretty clear that Richt was trying to throw the ball more in Greene's junior season than any other. DJ Shockley would've shared more of that load had he not injured his knee that season. We'll get to the reason why Georgia was passing more in a minute. But first I think it's worth more than a glance to notice that despite passing more in '03, Greene had his worst TD/Int ratio that season. Part of that could've been due to lack of faith in the offensive line. Or... could've had to do with the running game. Richt's rushing leaders in 2003 were Michael Cooper and Kregg Lumpkin; two freshmen trying to replace a workhorse that had just carried the team to the GA Dome. And neither back averaged better than 52 yards a game. It was very much a running back by committee approach, one that Richt has used since for the most part. But it was a stark contrast to the previous season when Musa Smith carried the load almost entirely (260 total carries compared to Tony Milton's 82 for the season).

Back to present day, I don't believe the offensive line that tops this off season's "worry list" is nearly as dire as back in 2003. How could it be really? That season and the next set the industry standard for how to develop a patchwork offensive line for trench warfare in the Southeastern conference. But this season's line will have to gel quick. And if Theus is just half the talent we think he might be then that would go a long ways toward solidifying things.

The bottomline has been and always will be how well do you run the football, and how well do you protect it. Murray's stats dwarf Greene's in the first two seasons' comparison. Still, Murray garners a lot of criticism. Much of it unfair to be quite honest. But the one thing most everyone agrees on, from those of us outside the hedges to Coach Bobo up in the booth, #11 has to protect the football. As nice as those 35 touchdown passes were last season, fourteen interceptions is bad. Then add to it eight fumbles, three of which were lost, and you have a turnover margin issue that affects the one numeral that matters most - wins.

So the conclusion is clear, and likely one we've known for some time: like Greene, Murray is plenty experienced and plenty talented. But he can't carry the team. The better the protection and the better the rushing totals, the better the season we'll see from our third year quarterback.

Stats courtesy of the following 
three sites:

Done on the Diamond

Hoover sucked. Obviously a team that needed some magic to extend the post-season used it all last season. Now the season is surely over. We'll rehash it all later. For now, suffice to say that it was more missed opportunities and just not playing good enough.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nkemdiche talks leaders

DawgNation's Radi Nabulsi caught up with Grayson HS's Robert Nkemdiche to talk about how his recruitment is progressing. In the video below he discusses each school and is specifically asked about Coach Richt's newest hire, Daryl Jones as director of on-campus recruiting. Jones was a coach at Grayson Nkemdiche's freshman year.

Originally we were supposed to hear of the top player's decision this week, but he decided to take some more visits before making a commitment. Jones' hire certainly makes Nkemdiche feel more comfortable in Athens. However the competition for this kid's signature is fierce.

Diamond Dawgs open SEC tourney with a loss

Not enough action at the plate with runners in scoring position. Vanderbilt wins 4-1.

Diamond Dawgs play today at 4:00 against Auburn with their backs against the wall. Here's some post game quotes from Perno and Hyams.
Georgia Head Coach David Perno
Opening statement:

“(Vanderbilt) did a great job. That relief pitcher, (Brian) Miller, was outstanding. We just didn’t have any answer. We just had a tough time putting anything together.”

On how Vanderbilt’s pitching was able to limit Georgia offensively…
“The side arm guy was tough. He did a good job. I thought we did a good job against (Drew) VerHagen, we just couldn’t score. We couldn’t grab momentum, and Alex (Wood) struggled a little bit controlling tempo of the game and just wasn’t himself. We just never could grab momentum.”

Levi Hyams (Sr., Second base)
On his effort today…

“They got the big hits when it counted. They took advantage of their opportunities, and we didn’t. We got some runners on, and I feel like we were on VerHagen, but that rubber arm guy, he’s pretty good. All of his stuff had sink, and he got a lot of us out. Tip your hat to him, but they took advantage of opportunities, and we just didn’t. That’s what it boils down to.”

On tomorrow’s elimination game against Auburn…
“Backs against the wall. That’s the same thing it was last year. We’re in the same situation. We lost the first one to Vanderbilt, and then we came back and won a few and got ourselves to Regionals. It’s the same situation. We’re going to play like there’s no tomorrow and keep grinding and try to get better every day. (We’ll try to be) better offensively and like Coach said, if we back our pitching a little more, I think we’ll be all right.”

Humpday Hurdling Hilarity

I know what you're saying. "Bernie, how could hurdling be funny?"

My answer..."You're welcome."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Perno talks SEC Tourney

Here's part of his press conference from yesterday on getting ready for the SEC tournament in Hoover.

The Diamond Dawgs lead off against Vanderbilt today. Full bracket here.

Limited number of football tickets available

A limited number of football tickets are now on sale through Single game tickets are available to Buffalo, Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt (September 1st, 15th and 22nd respectively). In addition some season tickets are available as well.
Due to visiting team ticket returns, a limited number of tickets to three home football games will be on sale to the general public starting Monday, May 21, 2012 @ 9a.m.
Single game tickets are $45 each and are available to the following home games:
September 1 Buffalo
September 15 Florida Atlantic
September 22 Vanderbilt
All single game tickets ordered will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis.

Also, a limited number of football single season tickets will be on sale. Season tickets are $280 and will be sold as singles only as no pairs will be available.

Tickets will be available for purchase online and by calling the Athletic Association ticket office 1-877-542-1231.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday's Meatloaf - expanded thoughts

Spent the weekend in Clempson visiting the folks. Had a long conversation with Dad at lunch about the off season topic du jour, expansion and it's step-brother the playoff. I was interested to get the feeling around there about how things were playing out, specifically after FSU went semi-public with their desires.

Whine and cheese douche
The easiest way to look at the ACC right now is as a divided nation. It's been that way forever really. It's just that it's no longer just an oddly shaped mole that gets some attention every now and then. Now it's a cancerous mass that is being picked and prodded from every angle.

Clemson fans are firmly entrenched in the "football side", better known as the Anti-Swoffords. The last straw really was adding Syracuse and Pittsburgh. The commish is akin to a four letter word and well below the mud underneath Danny Ford's tractor.

I think if I could have it my way I'd add Clemson and Virginia Tech to get to 16 teams and watch the rest fight over the crumbs. Like Tyler, I prefer games with meaning. So I'd rather add two teams with solid fan bases and good game day environments that make the trips worth it and the home fare better tasting. 

Cupcakes are for preschoolers.

Today's Ingredients
  • Sorry for the small serving spoon today. Long weekend and then I spent most of last night watching the tennis team's season come to an end.
  • CCRider sums up things in a way only he can.
  • ecdawg has a look at the SEC baseball tournament bracket.
  • Here's King's weekend sports summary.
  • Blutarsky has the latest chapter in the 8 game conference epic fail tale.
  • Like Kimberley I'll be pulling for Boykin to do well.
  • Lastly, I read Saturday's entry by CRob on his Italy blog and come to two thoughts: I get a kick out of being able to peek in on these guys' trip to such a beautiful country, and I'm so glad #45 is on our team. Dude just gets what it means to be a Dawg.
One last thought on expanded bliss. I mentioned up there if I could have it my way. I guess if we were really to get out our own magic wands, I would:
  • drop Mizzou like bad habit
  • add VA Tech after throwing a bunch of monopoly cash at the floor of the Virginia state legislature to distract them
  • add Clempson on condition that they would surrender Lake Hartwell forthwith
  • then tell the chickens to take their sniveling somewhere else
There, back to 12 teams. We keep the conference championship game, just rename it the True College Football Championship, sponsored by BDB. Here's you fork Reader. Have a terrific Monday!

Pepperdine bounces Dawgs from tourney

Tough loss last night for the men's tennis team. After losing the doubles point the Dawgs fought back to take a 3-1 match lead. After Wil Spencer lost the Waves had tied it at 3-3. So it came down to Sadio Duombia's match against Llompart. Despite forcing a third set, Sadio ran out of steam. Tough ending to a great season. Something we've come to expect from Coach Diaz's teams.
“Pepperdine just played a great match,” Georgia coach Manuel Diaz said. “They really owned the big moments. They were composed. They brought their best tennis at the most important times. I have to give them all the credit. Today was a day where they competed well and we gave all we had. We just came up a little bit short.”

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Josh Cardiello makes it official

Josh Cardiello made official yesterday what had long been expected. He becomes Coach Richt's 16th commitment for the 2013 class. Here Radi Nabulsi talks to him about his decision.