Saturday, June 23, 2012

Around the Tailgate: the state of the Richt era

Last installment for the week. So first and foremost, thanks to the guys for being brave enough to share their opinions on the week's topics: 2012's biggest game, Aaron Murray's career, tailback depth and post-season perfection. We'll see if they'll stop by again before the season starts, maybe once camp opens in August.

For today I asked the guys to give us their assessment of how things are looking today in Coach Richt's tenure - Last year this time Mark Richt was squarely on the hotseat. Today, that headline isn't making the front page. Taking into account the entire 2011 season from start to finish, the changes in staff the last couple years and the recent recruiting do you feel about Richt as the head coach at Georgia today?

Take it away gentlemen!

Joe Waterloo - I hate to say it, but I think it's time for Mark Richt to move on.  I think he's a great person and would be a great neighbor, but I don't think he's the guy for a major program with aspirations of winning a national championship.  Georgia is undoubtedly in a better place now then it was when he took over, but I still feel it was all a bit of smoke and mirrors.  His early success in the SEC was at a low point for the league - Tenn and Florida were sliding and Bama and LSU were unacceptably mediocre for what those programs should be.  I'll give credit where credit is due - Richt brought a sense of calm to the team and taught them how to win the kind of games we always blew under Goff and Donnan.  But as the SEC has risen up UGA has done nothing to keep pace.  Can anyone honestly say that other teams fear playing us - even at Sanford stadium?
Richt gets a lot of credit for all the top 10 recruiting classes - but Georgia should be there by default just due to the talent that comes out of the state.  We send a lot of players to the pros, but I'm not sure why that's considered impressive when they don't do anything remarkable while they are in school. Richt gets a lot of credit for being a great guy and a good Christian. Those are both amiable qualities, but when I'm sitting in Church on Sunday I don't care how much my priest knows about football. On Saturday I don't care how close my coach is to God. I care that he represents my school well and has players that do too. At the end of the day my religious beliefs are my own and I'm firm in my faith - that won't change if my team goes 0-11 or 14-0. But this seems to be an issue that is brought up time and time again from the national media and Richt's supporters on why he's good for UGA. It won't keep me or you from getting fired if we aren't living up to expectations.
I went to UGA and bleed the colors, but my honest opinion is UGA is the most under performing program in the country over the last 35 years.  We've had some really good moments, but Georgia should be a top 20 program year in and year out and should be top 10 more often than not. And it's not unrealistic to think that once every 5 years or so we'd be a legitimate National Championship contender. I'm not saying we should win it or even make it to the game that often, but top programs are at least in the mix  - USC, Bama, LSU, Ohio St, Okla, Texas.  Those are programs that UGA should lumped in with, but we are in reality 2 or 3 steps behind.

AthensHomerDawg - Following that disaster of a 6-7 season, if you would have told me CMR was going to follow that season by losing both the first two and the last two  games of 2011 in a row...I would have wondered just who the next head coach was going to be. That did happenyet the Dawgs won another SEC East title in spite of it. That's five SEC East titles and two SEC Championships with a winning percentage greater than Coach Dooley. "Not too bad..... not too bad at all." But here is the rub: Yes I give the coach his due for Auburn and UT and of course the gnats but.......Coach Richt's record against Florida and no national championship. There is still time to turn that around . His contract was extended to 2016!  If he does, then his place as one of the best coaches to coach the red and black is secure. Imho.

Smoke Wagon - I have always liked CMR.  I think he is good face of the franchise.  I think kids, parents, HS coaches, assistant coaches, and administration like him......that is not easy to do.  I think loyalty is huge and it is a 2way street.  I think he made a bad decision with coach Willie M and it took too long to recognize and correct.  I think CMR learned a lot through that with Van Halanger and Willie.  I am happy with where we are with CMR.  I like cool, calm, and collected head coach, but I like intense coordinators.  Love TG.  Not crazy about Bobo, but his numbers (scoring and yardage) have been good.  My biggest complaint with CMR is he is content with patsy non-conference games.  McGarity too.  I want big games.  We wait all year for 12 Saturdays.  The older I get, the more I despise cupcake games on schedule.  I wanted 9 game sec slate, but CMR values the cupcake games.  My game strategy related complaint is too conservative before half time ...... Rarely tries to use timeouts and aggressive plays to put points on board before halftime.  Also think he is content with and sits on small leads.  As you can see, I have my complaints, but overall I would not trade him.  I am proud to have him as UGA coach.

Da Mighty Fred - Oh hell, I was afraid you'd ask this.  I like Richt a lot.  He's won a lot of games and the SEC championship.  I LOVE the sadness in the eyes of the Techies.  He's a fine representative of UGA.  Recruits (and more importantly, their families) LOVE the way he's concerned with building character in the young men under his charge.  He's made some great coaching changes lately.

THAT SAID, this isn't good enough.  As much as I hate to say it, despite putting out a damn good football team almost every year, Richt has not brought the National Championship home to the faithful.  It ain't money, facilities, lack of a recruiting base, lack of tradition or not enough tenure.  Richt is well paid, our facilities rock, the state of Georgia is one of the best states to recruit in, we all bleed red and black, and Richt is one of the old men of the SEC now. We've had tons of talent come through here, but not a lot of hardware and ZERO crystal footballs.  So, what's the issue? Well, kids, it's one of two things:  coaching or fan base.

On the coaching side, look at Alabama and LSU. Less fertile fields for recruiting, especially for Alabama, whose instate rival has won the MNC recently.  (Side note:  that crazy offense in Atlanta is manna from heaven for in state recruiting).  Yet, Saban and the Hatter consisitlently recruit and win big.  Coaching has even turned the Chickens of Columbia into some semblance of a real team.  On the other side of the spectrum, look how coaching issues have wreaked havoc with UT and UF. Coaching matters.  Want to avoid hot seat talk? Win championships.  Got a hot RB recruit wavering on a commit to another school?  Show him some crystal footballs.  Want money for new coaches, facilities, or a new boat?  Yeah, bring up that undefeated season you just had.  Winning fixes everything.  To quote MacArthur "there is no substitute for victory".
Or, good readers, it could be the Fan Base...  Ok, done spitting out your bourbon and talkin about my sainted Mama?  Good, let me explain: I'll bet if you asked Mark Richt what question he's been asked most by the fans, he doesn't hesitate: "Hey coach, when are we gonna beat Florida?"

W T F?????

Is that the sum of our ambition?  To beat the Lizards???  Are you kidding me??? No, that's not good enough.  We all talk about "winning the east".  When the hell has that been a goal?  It's a stepping stone at best.  We have set our goals too small.  This ain't Vandy. Coach Richt need to hear things like "Hey Coach, when are we going to win the SEC Championship?"
"Hey Coach, when are we gonna win the national championship?" "Hey Coach, what kind of a world do we live in when people like Saban, the Hatter, the Visor and some guy named "Gene" are outclassing the Fairest of the Southland?"

You gotta tell folks what you expect of them.  We, the Dawg Nation, haven't told Coach Richt what we expect, at least not loudly enough.  I think McGarity may be upping that volume soon. Coach Richt isn't on the hot seat.  Won't be on it this year. Maybe he doesn't deserve to be.  Maybe ten win seasons should be enough for those of us who bleed red and black.

Or maybe 30 years is too damn long.

The Wrangler - I have never been on the hotseat bandwagon for Coach Richt.  I think he has brought integrity and for the most part, consistency to our program.  Most teams would kill to have as many 10 win seasons as we have had under Richt.  I was as frustrated as anyone during the Martinez era when we were so very soft on defense.  Richt’s loyalty to his friend almost cost him his job.  I think going through that ordeal taught him that his loyalty is to the players, the program, and the fan base.  He made some difficult decisions, and we are poised to reap the benefits.  Coach Todd Damn Grantham is the single most important hire Richt has made to date.  This staff has brought the Junkyard “D” back to Athens, GA, and I am pumped up about it!  Tough D and a great ground attack is what UGA football is all about. 

The end of the 2011 season was disappointing, but I never really expected us to beat LSU.  They were a deeper team that seemed destined to win the SEC title, but I must admit that our 1st half performance was as impressive as any defensive performance I can remember.  Had we not left 2 touchdowns on the field in the first half, we would have blown the roof off the dome en route to another SEC Title.

Coach Richt’s stellar recruiting the last couple of years has us stacked at all of the skill positions.  I do wish we put forth as much effort recruiting the O-Line as we do the skill positions, but I think we are pretty solid.  I am as excited about the upcoming season as I have ever been, and my excitement is fueled by the job Coach Richt has done the last few years.  GO DAWGS!

Namaman - I am a Mark Richt fan.  I still love him as our coach even though some times I question his decisions.  But that is what fans do.  I am just happy that hasn't gotten him run out of town like so many seem to have wanted over the past few years.  Our strong run last year coupled with a great recruiting class is keeping everyone at bay for now.  My greatest wish is for him to take back over more of the play calling.  I hate being around 80-90% right on guessing the "next" play game after game.  Hell, if I can figure it out, I know others can...

Parting shot: I won't echo any of the great points made, but I'll add two thoughts. 1) For all of his charm and grace, Coach Richt is as polarizing a figure as you'll find. This post encapsulates that about perfectly. 2) Richt just inked a nice extension and I think it's safe to say this will be his last contract at UGA. That's just my feeling on it, no inside scoop or anything. Just me and the red and black tea leaves. Although Grantham isn't a HCIW I think UGA wants him to succeed Richt one day (which in and of itself is about a 50/50 shot of happening). Whether that day comes once the head guy's current contract is up or sometime before then...we'll have to wait and see. Like my excellent tailgate guests, I hope he goes out on top. 

Thanks to y'all for reading this week. As with the posts before, it's now your turn. How does Richt's tenure sit with you today?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Around the Tailgate: perfect post-seasons

Now that the CFB higher-ups have ratified a motion, it's a good time to pose this question: I just named you Grand Poobah of College Football. What does your post-season look like?
Misty water colored memories....
Joe Waterloo - If it was up to me we'd go back to a 11 game schedule and every conference would have to have a championship game to participate.  All championship games would be the same weekend and the 5 conference champions (SEC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac 12, and ACC) are in to the playoff.  The remaining 3 spots are from the remaining conference champions, Notre Dame, and at large bids from the big 5 conferences.
Round 1 is played on campus the week after conference championship games.  Taking a week off is a penalty to the better teams - they are deep enough to overcome injuries and don't need the extra time to come up with a special game plan.
Round 2 is played on New Years Day in a rotation of the big 4 bowls.  Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta are all on New Years Day like God intended.   All the smaller bowls need to play before New Years - they don't deserve the spotlight on a later date and no one cares.  Those games are only for those 2 teams fans and the gamblers - that won't change if they are played before New Years. 
The 2 remaining winners play a week later in championship game.  In the current system the teams that make it to conference championships play 14 games (including their bowl.)  The only teams that would play more than that in my system are the 2 championship game teams. 

AthensHomerDawg - A championship determined by polls, computers, and the Championship Bowl series is still "aiight" with me. I'm in the minority I know. Other options/opinions/beauty contests: AD's want a plus 1 after the bowls, best four teams, best 4 "conference champs", Pres. Obama wants 8 teams in 3 rounds.  The "Pirate" advocates for a 64 teams playoff. Whatever you "drink,drop,shoot,snort or rub into your belly button" I am sure there is a choice available for you. However, if it's not your particular flavor are you going to be satisfied with someone else's flavor? Probably not . I see this thing being tweaked and twisted for some time now continuing that revenue stream. And on whose shoulders do we place the burden of providing assurance that we get the real deal when it comes to our football champion? Why the players of course.    Has anyone asked the players what they would like?  Yep. College football is a grind week in and week out.  I can't advocate kids working any harder so that we fans are secure in the ultimate knowledge of "Who is number one?"  I am  pretty sure that   whatever is created and however many more millions it generates, there will be a fan base somewhere screaming "foul"!

Smoke Wagon - First thing I would do is petition to get my position name changed from Grand Poobah to Head MFIC.  I am definitely not for a full blown playoff.  I would probably keep bcs with minor tweaks and set up a top 4 playoff..... A plus one if you will.  Plus one only works if you get top 4 in the 1st two games.  I just don't think that the no. 5 team has ever had a legitimate claim to NC.  I would use existing bowl structure and try to honor traditional bowl ties as much as possible.  I think college football is greatest sport out there and has the most tradition.  I think CFB should grab, embrace, celebrate, and protect traditions of CFB.  Best team in NFL has not won super bowl in several years.  I usually do my share of complaining about certain scenarios.  However, I think of all the great experiences that I have had following college football, I have never found myself being envious of what 1-AA (or whatever they call it now).  I am sure I would get used to it, but my point is that I really enjoy the system that we have.  The more we tinker with it, it seems that the more we have to complain about.

Da Mighty Fred - I ban anything orange and hold a visor bonfire the night before the National Championship?

Seriously, 8 team tournament for the championship. 
McGarity's diet
Four venues- Orange, Sugar, Rose, Fiesta.   Rose Bowl wants to play hardball, they're out.  Sorry guys, but you're not the Augusta National of football.  If  you still need your tradition, fine- but the Cotton Bowl,  Capital One, and, yes, Shreveport, will be happy to take your place.  Semi's and Finals rotate between the four bowls.  Only game in town twice for three of every four years? Welcome back to the table, Mr. Rose Bowl.

Oh yes, the "But That Adds Too Many Games to the Schedule" argument.  Yeah, about that- no more cupcakes that aren't in division IA.  If you're playing Div IA football, that's who you'll be playing against or you don't go to a bowl.  Cupcake free diet for the big boys.  And you get to pay those boys for backing out (sorry, but you shouldn't have scheduled noncompetitive games)

Championship games- Yep, we're gonna play those. 
Congratulations ACC, PAC12, Big 12, Big Ten and SEC champions- you get to play in the Championship series. 
The rest of you will scrap it out for the final three slots.  And Yes, Notre Dame- THIS MEANS YOU! Either get in a conference or show us a damn good reason you need to be considered.
Teams who did not win their championship will be considered for these slots.

About those three at large spots- how are they selected? We could use the BCS or AP, or coaches poll or Sagarin.  But since I'm the Poobah , I'll be picking them.  Better be a lot of Fight in those Irish- you have been warned.  Jackets, I would suggest you win the ACC.  Anybody wearing orange needs to win their championship game and humbly ask the rest of humanity for forgiveness.

PS the rest of the bowl games can stay- if somebody wants to watch some extra football- I'm in.

GATA #19!!
The Wrangler - I like the idea of a 4 team playoff, but I am afraid that it will grow into an 8 or 16 team tournament.  If it can stay at 4 teams, I think we will have a more deserving National Champion.  I don’t think that having a 4 team playoff dilutes the regular season, but an extended playoff format with 8 to 16 teams would.  Every game matters now, and I would like to keep it that way.  I don’t particularly like the fact that a committee will be deciding the final 4 teams.  I would prefer that we continue using the current BCS system and take the 4 top teams from the final rankings, but I guess the pollsters already act as a committee. 

Namaman - I would declare an 8 team playoff with the only "guaranteed" spots going to the champs of the SEC, Pac12, Big 10, Big not-so-12 and ACC.  The other 3 slots would go to the SEC, I mean the next 3 highest ranked teams.  And to boot, no official polls would come out until October so that teams don't have to make up so much ground because of poor pre-season rankings.  We would then use the current BCS bowl games - Rose, Sugar, Fiesta, & Orange - plus the Capital One, Cotton Bowl and Chik-fil-a Bowl to be the 7 games over 5 weeks (2 weeks after conference championships, New Years time, and then the week after New Years Day.  It would be PERFECT!!!

Final thought - I feel like I'm on a deserted island. The last sonofabitch in the world that actually likes the old days. If anyone has my address here, please send me a case of Ol' Granddad and a VHS tape of the 1981-83 Sugar Bowls.

Your turn. What kind of broom and a mop do you bring to clean up this mess? Then come back tomorrow for the last installment of Around the Tailgate when the guys give their honest assessment of Coach Mark Richt.

Georgia Bulldogs, a dark horse?

Are the Georgia Bulldogs a dark horse in 2012? If so, a dark horse for what? SEC? BCS?

h/t jzh11

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Around the Tailgate: Tailback Who?

So to continue the chain...yesterday was Aaron Murray's turn under the microscope, and the day before was the 2012 schedule. Today we talk Crowell and his running mates. Birds are on the grill and the beer's in the cooler. Bring a chair on over. 

Question: Who will be the starting running back against Buffalo? More importantly, who will be the starting running back at season's end?

Can the phenom meet the
fans' expectations?
Joe Waterloo - I think barring injury Crowell will be the starting running back at the start and end of the season.  I don't say that as a knock on him for being banged up last year.  In a lot of ways he probably got a bad rap for being injury prone when in reality an ankle injury to a running back in the middle of the season rarely gets a chance to heal properly.  And running against SEC defenses with a bad leg isn't simply a matter of toughing it out.  Lost in all the emotion of Crowell's "second half collapse" was just how good he looked in the first half of the season. He looked like a legitimate SEC back who was a threat running or receiving.  If either of the incoming freshman are able to unseat him it's most likely because they are bigtime playmakers. Crowell got a lot of criticism last year for needing to grow up, but which of us didn't our freshman year in college?  If he matured at all and is 100% I think we are in really good hands.

AthensHomerDawg - Hard to replace a RB with as much press and promise as Crowell. It's a big jump from HS to college. 850 yards is a lot of ground when you consider how often he was absent from the huddle.  Hope he stays healthy.   If he can, we will see a lot of him.

Smoke Wagon - Good question.  The good news is that we have promising options.  I am guessing Ken Malcome in first game.  I was as down on Crowell's attitude and heart as anyone last year, but Malcome was nowhere to be found early in his career as well.  My point is that if Malcome can turn around, why can't Crowell?  I still think Crowell has huge upside.  I am optimistic that Crowell will have enough of a mental turn around that he is starting early in season.  If he is and is still starting at end of season, then we have probably done well.  Also excited about Marshall and Gurley.   Samuel played hard at Jax, but glad we have several better options this year.  Unless we have significant injuries, the competition between Crowell, Malcome, Marshall, and Gurley should be awesome and productive.

Keith Marshall
Da Mighty Fred - Crowell will start at Buffalo (although Marshall had, reportedly, a great spring).  No disrespect to the other guys, but I hope he stays the starter.  Crowell has incredible talent, and our coaching staff oughta be able to get his head screwed on straight.  Crowell got freshman of the year with his head wrong. Can you imagine what the right attitude would do for the guy?

Plus, having Marshall and Gurley waiting in the wings may provide the needed emphasis.

Still, it's a long season and we're pretty deep.  Look at what happened last year- it may come down to who's left at the end of the season.

The Wrangler - I believe that Crowell will be the starter on opening day.  Reports are that he has really “grown up” and taken responsibility this offseason.  He is a real talent that just has a hard time getting out of his own way sometimes.    With another year in the system and good offseason conditioning, the starting job is his to lose.  With the talent at the position, Crowell had better bring his “A” game, as I expect he will have a short leash this year.  Malcome, Marshall, and Gurley will be hungry and will probably see significant reps regardless of who is named the starter.  Richt and Bobo have proven that they prefer the tailback-by-committee approach.  I just hope that they will ride the hot hand this year and not substitute for the sake of substitution.

I questioned Crowell’s heart in a lot of games last year.  It was so disappointing to see him tap his helmet after every other play.  I know that he had some injuries, so I am hoping the offseason will give him time to get healthy and show the nation what he is capable of.  I really believe he is one of the more talented backs in the conference if he can just keep his head on straight.  He needs the respect of the O-line – this seemed to be lacking late last year.  For the future of the team, we need him to perform at a high level so that Marshall or Gurley can be red-shirted.  Also key to one of them red-shirting will be the performance of Ken “Boo” Malcome – I really loved the heart he showed in the dome last year.

If Crowell stays healthy, he will be the starter in the dome in December.

Namaman - I think Crowell will be there at the start and end of the season.  Deep down, I have to believe that last season, and this year's running back class, were a wake-up call for Isaiah.  He has had a year and a full off season to put on some bulk and get prepared for playing in the SEC.  That will help him to get rid of his chandelier tendencies and show more than a flash of what we know he can be...

Parting shots: Shove Richt's "depth chart" in my face all you want, this job is Crowell's to lose. These guys are right about his potential and ability. If all goes well the bigger adjustment might be on the coaches who go from having one of the thinnest positions on the 2011 team become one of the deepest, talent-wise. Like The Wrangler said, I hope they find a hot hand each and every game and feed it. If that's Crowell, great. If it's not, then at least it won't be a running back who's also a card carrying member of the Lollipop Guild.

Now, your turn Reader. How do you see the tailback position stacking up this season? And tune in tomorrow when we go national with our own individual post season planning.

That's great it starts with an earthquake...

Has anyone asked Lenny Bruce how he feels about this?

There's a reason we have the good and noble Senator to tackle issues like this. I've read every post he's had on the plus one/playoff/nuclear bomb discussions this off season. At least I think I have. And as an old schooler I can say I agree with his take about 100.1%. Check there for reactions and better pontifications. I'm off to listen to the complete works of Leonard Bernstein and dig up old bowl season footage.

Soon, like Lenny and'll all be dead.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Around the Tailgate: Aaron Murray in the pocket

 Yesterday we looked at the top game for 2012. Today the guys try and tackle our quarterback's career thus far. So let's all seal off our blindside and see where this goes.

Question: Fans either love Aaron Murray or are still unsatisfied with him as the starter. Is Murray the most scrutinized quarterback in Georgia's history? Follow there a game on the schedule this season that could be his "signature win" that so many fans are waiting on?

Joe Waterloo - Murray is the most scrutinized QB in UGA history - at least until the next one comes along. Seriously, I don't think Murray's anymore scrutinized than any other quarterback - I just think human nature is we tend to lose perspective on how things were a few years or more ago. Shockley was heavily scrutinized as well - both while taking snaps from Greene and when he was slated to take over when Greene left.

I don't think there's one game to circle for Murray. The biggest thing I would like to see is consistency in good decision making. He can make all the throws and can hurt a defense with his legs when needed, but he has the tendency to hit periods of making poor decisions/turnovers. I don't think he was any better last year with his decision making than he was as a freshman. As unispiring as the offense we run is, the one thing we can't afford is mental mistakes. They are a bit more acceptable in a wide open offense but when playing the plain jane offense we run under Bobo you better be willing to make the throw away and fall back on the punt team. Especially with a strong defense there to back you up.
Most scrutinized backup

Athens Homer Dawg - A good OL coupled with a fundamentally sound running game can make an average qb appear stellar. By the same token, take away those two premiums and a good quarterback will get happy feet, force throws, and appear devoid of that qb savvy that "you and I" just knew was there when we signed him. "Tryin' To Do Too Much" syndrome sets in, and it can get ugly. For Murray, Ugly last year was the South Carolina game. They call us arm chair quarterbacks for a reason. We all have an opinion of what is wrong with Murray. We watch his mechanics, time his release, evaluate his mental game, and questions arise. Are those happy feet? Is he keying on one receiver? Anyone remember how much Peyton got criticized for happy feet? Yeah, we have put Mr. Murray under the magnifying glass. We are fans... it's what we do. ;-) Murray hasn't lost a game against the gnats. In another high scoring affair .... similar to the Ga/uSC game (42-45) .... did our beloved Stafford throw a pick six against the Nerds in what ended up being a hedge rending heart breaker (again 42-45)? Murray needs a day like he had against Auburn last season and he will have atoned for the uglies against the chickens. But if he has an off game ...... the armchair qb's will be back with the "I told you so!"

Smoke Wagon - If he is most scrutinized, it is just because of more Internet, media coverage, and blogs, etc...Overall, I don't sense much unrest around Murray. To me, he is as steady as any qb we have had. I wish he were taller, but he plays with lot of heart and has numbers probably better than any other GA qb at this point in career. I also think that a lot of chatter is because we apparently have very solid backups that may also have great upside. I think David G had best career that Uga qb has ever had, but I often wonder how good DJ would have been had he played 3 or 4 yrs. After we get a chance to see the other guys, we may feel same way. I hope that doesn’t happen this year though. If we have qb change, the season is likely not going well.

On the follow-up, he has beat Florida, which is more than many UGA QB’s can say. I can’t justify singling out one game on this year’s schedule that I would call a “signature win”. I can’t make myself call beating SC a “signature win”. Wins in Jax have been so few and far between that each one of them is almost like a “signature” win. It is kind of ironic, but it seems to me that Murray’s signature game that won over a lot of fan support was actually the loss to Auburn in 2010. The personal fouls and his gutsy performance are the closest thing to a signature performance on his resume.

No Glory!

Da Mighty Fred - Murray is the best quarterback in the SEC, period. Strong arm, nice accuracy and technique (mostly), can get yards with his feet if he has to, and has shown improvement every year. You could question his decision making, but this should be the year that his head gets together.

Is he over scrutinized? C'mon, you play for the same school that put Zeier and Stafford on the map. You can't really be over scrutinized- it comes with the territory. It's just gonna be worse in the pros. A starting UGA QB really has to deal with it.

Signature wins? Murray came here looking for a championship. Make that statement in the dome

The Wrangler - I don’t hang the less than stellar seasons lately on Murray. He has made some poor decisions, but he is a real talent. Until last year, he didn’t have a lot of help from the defense. This year, he won’t have this crutch to fall back on, so it is time for him to put his talent on full display and be the leader of this team. The most important team addition since Murray has been at UGA is Coach Todd Damn Grantham. The D’s new found ability to create turnovers and change field position has greatly reduced the number of times Murray has taken the field with his back against the wall. I feel that the people who scrutinize his performance to date don’t always factor in the entire team’s lack of a killer instinct the last few years. With a stable of very capable running backs, Murray should be able to rely on play-action to pick up some big plays this year. 2 big keys to team success will be: 1) how quickly the offensive line gels, and 2) how much freedom Bobo will give Murray to utilize his legs. His scrambling ability is a real asset as long as he takes care of the football.

Murray doesn’t get the credit he deserves for the stats he has compiled. I know the bottom line on success is always tied to the W’s, but he has been a very effective quarterback. His skill set, coupled with his off-the-field maturity and success in the classroom are real testaments to this young man.

The signature win we are all waiting for will be in Atlanta in December. If he can win an SEC title this year, he will go down as one of the best to wear the red and black. DGD in my opinion!

Thanks for the S/O Nama!

Namaman - In short, I do not believe Aaron is the most scrutinized QB in Georgia's history. That honor still goes to Quincy Carter for me. Throw that many interceptions against South Carolina and start shaking defenders hands...FOR REAL????

Personally, I am a HUGE fan of Mr. Murray. I love what he brings to the table each week and feel he has the ability to make things happen on every snap. However, he is still an enigma. He can make spectacular play after play and then go through a series where you wonder who the heck came off of the bench and is throwing area passes (that aren't as accurate as the ones I used to throw on the Myers Quad). I think his signature win will be against the hated Gators. This year, I think he will make the passes though that won't leave us all yelling NOOOOOOO then YESSSSSS from the stands as his receivers some how manage to make circus catches in ridiculous traffic.

Two more pennies. Some great responses today. Murray has some great stats, just not as many W's as we would like. Not all his fault for sure. Yet, a lot of what #11 gets criticized for are things he can't help: his height, the schedule, some of the play calls. I agree that he can get us to the Dome again this December. Win that thing and the critics will only sound loonier.

Fair is fair. You read the whole thing. So now it's your turn. And tune in tomorrow when these tailgaters have a shot at Tailback Who?

Sans Ben's seersucker, Updyke confesses

If a confession happens outside of Finebaum's show, does it make a sound? Evidently, yes PAAAAAWWWWWWLLLLL!!!

Andy Griffith can hang his suit back up. Not even all of the Auburn University employees had been dismissed from the jury pool. Yet while waiting on an elevator, the truth that everyone already knows spewed forth as if from a large vat of pesticide.

So much for the Matlock-made-for-tv movie. That wouldn't even get us to the first Metamucil commercial break.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Around the Tailgate: biggest game of 2012

So I gathered them together and gave them five questions. The next few days I'll post their answers here so you can let them know how they did. They're six guys with varying opinions and attitudes, but they all bleed Georgia red and black. Honored to have their words posted here. To protect their guilt, their names have been altered.

Here's today's question: I recall a lot of discussion last year about whether Boise State or a conference game was the biggest game on the schedule. This year there isn't a sexy opener like 2011, but assuming you're able to look past Buffalo for a moment...what conference game do you feel is Georgia's biggest game this season?

Time honored hate
Joe Waterloo - I think the Florida game is without a doubt the biggest of the season for the fans and Mark Richt. South Carolina may prove more important in winning the East, but losing at South Carolina with the talent they have is forgivable. The Dawgs finally get a chance to build a winning "streak" against Florida and even though beating the 2010 and 2011 Gators may not be a chest thumping accomplishment, I don't think the collective UGA psyche can take not getting the monkey off our backs. Florida will probably turn out to be a much better team this year than everyone is giving them credit for, but it's been 30 years since we've won 2 in a row and it's well past the point of being "if not now then when."

Athens Homer Dawg - The next game in front of you should always be the most important game. I guess Mizzou is that next game; no offense Buffalo. We shall find out what cloth both teams are cut from. Not unlike the Boise State game, we are again missing a few key team ingredients. Mizzou might have a less than limber qb trying to tune up some WR talent. Let's line up and play. That passing game that the Big 12 is so proud of needs time to develop.... "and time is on our side....yes it it is!!" A QB no matter how talented, can't throw from the recumbent position, and Missouri sure ain't running the rock against CTG. Not in my world!!!! Yours?

Time honored, part douche
Smoke Wagon - Mizzou is huge for season confidence, Florida is as big as any game in every year, but I would have to give edge to south Carolina for the biggest sec game on the slate going into 2012. I guess that says a lot for what spurrier has done for them...... Or the free fall for UF & UT over the last few years. I am a huge fan for the huge game, which is why I would have preferred the 9 game sec slate where Alabama would have been the easy answer to this question. I hate agreeing with Saban, but he had it right on this. With more teams in conference, it takes more games to determine true champ. Selfishly, I am also bummed about only going to LSU, Bama, and Oxford, once every 12 years.

Da Mighty Fred - I hate to say this, but it comes down to beating Spurrier again. The winner of UGA/ South Carolina probably goes to the dome. UT and UF still look weak. Vandy and Kentucky aren't gonna get it. The game is later this year, so no excuses about us not "gelling". They'll have Lattimore and their QB situation may be settled, so it's gonna be rough. Both teams may roll in undefeated. It'll be a good test of our defense. The offense will have to put up more points than we usually do against the chickens. I think we win the cocktail party, but I worry about this one.

Sexy new kid on the block
The Wrangler - USC East and Florida are always at the top of the list, but I feel that winning the Missouri game is paramount this year. Winning this game gives UGA the momentum to run the table in the east – losing this game will create a lot of backlash from the UGA faithful. We certainly don’t want to be the team that gave the Tigers their first SEC victory. The early season suspensions will make this game even more difficult, but it should create some depth since we will have some of our reserves playing critical minutes in our first conference game. If we take care of business, this could be a special season.

Namaman - Out of conference games are always nice and a lot of fun for us to travel to as fans. I still harken back to our trip to Tempe to face the Sun Devils and revel in the fact that made them open their bars early and drank 'em outta cold beer - at the Library for sure - before their faithful had gotten out of bed. But I digress...

In my opinion, no out of conference game is ever truly as important to us as conference games. They have, and always will, mean more to us in the end. Granted our conference schedule has not been as stout on paper as at usually is, but you play with the hand you are dealt. That said, I think South Carolina will be our biggest game this season. The Gamechickens have been the proverbial fly in the ointment for us more than a few times over the years. This year, we get to face them in October, when hopefully, our defense is back a full strength to bring down that beast in their backfield, Lattimore. Spurrier is mad as hell that the game got moved later because he knows we historically seem to start slow and then pick up steam (and players off of probation). I hope the steamroller is moving extra fast when we head through Cola East.

Final synopsis - About what I expected: Mizzou is extremely important to set the tone, South Carolina is a must because of their talent level, and Florida...well they're Florida. Perhaps we should take AHD's advice and take it one big game of hate at a time. And in the event of a true tie, go with Jacksonville. Always.

So..your turn. What's Georgia's biggest game this season? And tune in tomorrow when we look at Aaron Murray's career so far.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Georgia's tailbacks - a stable of maturation

With the help of Coach McClendon, Weiszer evaluates the maturity level of his running backs in this piece. Although it definitely has the feel of a mid-June update, it's a quick and thorough snapshot of the tailback position...from where it was then...
Caleb King was declared academically ineligible in the summer and entered the NFL supplemental draft.
Carlton Thomas was suspended for the season opener and then two more times before deciding to transfer on the first day of spring practice.
Isaiah Crowell was suspended for a quarter against Vanderbilt and then joined Ken Malcome (who left the team briefly) and Thomas in being suspended against New Mexico State. where it is now.
McClendon sees maturation in Crowell entering his sophomore season.
“Man, he’s doing, I want to knock on wood, but he’s doing a great job,” McClendon said. “He’s had a great spring. That’s propelled him into the offseason that’s he had. He’s really maturing, just really finding the value in doing all the small stuff. That’s where you see a guy mature the most, just how you value doing some of those small things.”

The devil is in the details. Perhaps a 1000+ yard season is too.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday's Meatloaf - a fatherly dose of humility

Despite her younger influences,
she didn't learn any pessimism from Munson.
Hope your Father's Day weekend was everything you hoped for. Mine started with a daddy date. The 8yo wanted me to take her to that cafe' with the $8 cups of coffee "and it has free WiFi dad!!" I had little problem saying yes because I knew this would be the only stop. She doesn't like to be away from home long. And after we got in the car she confirmed this for me - "When we get back in an hour we'll play football."

I mistakenly thought she meant the Madden NFL video game. She was kind enough to clarify - "No, two hand touch with my new football. I'm gonna kick your butt." Suddenly an $8 cup of coffee sounded a lot better. I ordered the "grande", which in this place actually means "medium", so that I might actually be awake for my "butt-kicking". Thirty minutes later we were arguing over boundaries and the length of the quarters. She won on the size of the field, I convinced her shorter halves might spare her father's lungs.

All for naught evidently, I lost 54-22. The highlight of the game was a forced fumble that resulted in a safety, which helped me cut the deficit to a touchdown. But those were my last points. She went on a 25-0 run to finish the game. 

As she recovered a fumble with 9 seconds left and had a 46-22 lead I limped to the line of scrimmage and pointed out that I only had 1 timeout left. All she needed was two knees. Her response was to go no huddle and score on a 32 yard sweep. 

I dragged ass to the endzone to shake her hand. "Game's not over Dad. Two point conversion." Before I could even start an argument about how running the score up (even further) might hurt her in the new CFB post season voters' eyes she had crossed the plane uncontested (again) and spiked the ball. Where's Marc Curles and Penn Wagers when you need them?

As I elevated my swelling ankle and stroked my bruised ego I reflected on my new Losersville. Somewhere between France and North Avenue.

Today's Ingredients
- I've loved Father's Day ever since Corey Pavin drew a 4 wood out of his bag at Shinnecock. I was waiting for Mrs. BD to get off work at GA Square Mall so I could take her to meet my family.
- We were "courting". Unlike my mom who introduced herself while "slurping" spilled margarita from the countertop. Oh, memories!
- Meanwhile, did Costas shart hisself on the 18th last night?
- Great Father's Day post by Garbin in tribute to Old Dawg.
- The Telegraph is ranking the games for the upcoming season. Here they look at Vanderbilt.
- Blutarsky looks at the new stealth and conditioning hire.
- Looks like ecdawg tried to do some stealth work of his own and spy on Muschamp...only to find the state of Florida closed. Cool.
- Kevin at SicemDawgs looks at the commitment CMR got at his camp Saturday.
- Meanwhile, 5 star Reuben Foster showed up and Dawg recruitniks drooled. I think he might have been wearing a Saban Cam on that cap.
- Impressive first outing for former Diamond Dawg Justin Grimm.
- I'm sorry. You said you want proof that Tech fans are just as, if not more obsessed with UGA than actual Georgia fans..?? Ok, here you go. Dipshits.
- Lastly, my best Father's Day present...rolling down the road, wide open and hearing the little girl shout "Decoration Day!!" from the backseat even before Isbell even started singing. Atta girl! #CelticinEflat

That last one was for Scott and Tyler, my #DbT dudes. Excited to bring the rest of y'all a new series of posts. I spent last week gathering up the usual suspects. My intention was to get some fresh ideas from a group of Dawg fans I hold near and dear to my stadium cup. They vary in their opinions, but they all bleed Bulldog red and black.

Love him, or hate him...our QB.
Once I had lured them in with promises of cheap beer and internet glory, I presented them with the questions and charged them with answers that were as deep as a post route and as cogent cogent as...well, at least be semi-coherent. Here's the schedule:

- Tuesday we'll analyze the 2012 schedule and try to figure out what the Dawgs' biggest test of the season is.
- Wednesday we'll try and tackle Aaron Murray's career, both in the rear view mirror and in the future.
- Thursday is devoted to the tailback position. Who starts in September and who finishes the season?
- Friday we'll broaden our scope as I give each of them the power to create the perfect post-season.
- And Saturday we'll look at Coach Richt and evaluate where he is in his tenure at UGA.

Gonna be fun. Be sure and stop by to tell these guys how awesome and how off base they are. Their egos are unbruiseable. Trust me, I've tried. And that's your meatloaf Reader. Now get back to work!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lord of the Grill and King of the Coals!

Spending all afternoon manning two grills. Hope your day is filled with the smells of slow cooked meat as well.

Happy Father's Day y'all!