Saturday, February 23, 2013

Around the tailgate - the 2013 defense

So, while I'm away we take the pulse of the tailgate. Next, let's talk about the defense.

The big concern among many Dawg fans seems to be the defense going into the fall. Kind of the opposite of last season when we were concerned about the offense. What are your feelings about the defense going into spring practice with all of those holes to fill?

Joe Waterloo - When I look at the list of players we lost on defense I get very concerned.  Then I remember how that unit played all season and I start to realize it can’t be all that bad.  Maybe we had too many studs fixated on their draft status.  Or maybe our DC was too concerned with out scheming the opponent instead of out-talenting them.  Either way that unit was a major underachiever last season, so I’m hopeful a new group of hungry players will player better as a unit and therefore get better results. 

AthensHomerDawg - I've been a real big optimist concerning the D. The D continuity was disrupted far too many times in 2012. I hope everyone stays off the scooters and away from one way alleys, remembers their middle names, avoid renegade brownies, and leave the WWII mementos with the lost serial numbers at their parents home. I think we just reload. No pun intended.  Are we there yet? I hope so. 

Son of AHD - I would classify the defense as a question mark, but not a concern. With our latest signing class we gained some much needed depth on that side of the ball. We added around 20 guys to that side of the ball, and with Grantham’s quotes about needing to play more linemen I think he’s finally decided to utilize that depth. We got holes to fill, but we got guys to fill them.

Smoke Wagon - Going into spring practice, I feel excited about the potential for the next generation of bulldog defense.  I am obviously not the first to say this, but I am looking forward to some new dogs that are trying to prove themselves.  We certainly lost a lot of talent and we lost one of the best bulldogs that we have had in quite a while in Jarvis.  However, there was definitely something about that group that caused them to underachieve at times.  I am certainly proud to have cheered for all of them, grateful for their contributions to UGA, and wish them the best in the NFL.  I also hope they appreciate what UGA has contributed to them as they enter their professional and adult lives.  I have no doubt that many of them do.  I am not going to call any of them bad apples, but there definitely seemed to be something that was missing that resulted in lapses in leadership, focus, passion, chemistry, or something that is not characterized by physical talent.   

I think we will have enough size and talent to compete well upfront.  My biggest concern is in the secondary.  I really feel like Sanders Commings is going to be one of the most missed that is least talked about of the departures.  It just seems like really good corners are harder to find than really good safeties.  With that said, we have virtually no experience coming back at safety.  Hope some of the puppies can step up and become Dawgs quick.  I am hoping to find a Thomas Davis in one of these safeties (that may be a stretch).  I get the feeling that the coaching staff, including TDG, gets a little extra enjoyment out of the challenge of developing new guys, so hopefully there is a sense of urgency and excitement that will lead to something special.  We all know we have a lot of talent, so ultimately it comes down to how they gel together and whether they can be engaged and inspired to be a special defense and not just a collection of talented players.  This next year’s defense will set the tone for the next 2 or 3 years with all of these young guys.  The other concern is quality depth in the big beef department.  Even with Jenkins and Kwame, we still didn’t have enough depth to hold up against the best of the best.  We won’t have time to build depth, so I hope some of these young guys can get the most out of spring practice and preseason camp.

Namaman - I am concerned about the defense this year.  It is strange how we were so worried about the offense last year and they did perform so well.  It kinda makes me hopeful that the defense will pull together like the O line did last year.  They will need to rely on each other and play as a team.  Not so many individuals.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Around the tailgate - the long, cold winter of our discontent

So, while I'm away we take the pulse of the tailgate. Let's start with the off season blues.

First of all, we all have our own ways of coping with loss, a cold turkey quit from our own personal heroin. I'm speaking of course of college football and its months and months of dormancy. I know you all to be avid Georgia football fans. So how much do you unplug in the off-season? And if so, when do you start to pick up the momentum again for the next season? 

Joe Waterloo - Typically by time the last bowl game is over I’m ready for a break from college football.  I follow the NFL like everyone else, but not with nearly the same level of enthusiasm.  I’ll take a peek at national signing day but really don’t get too caught up in it or spring practice.  Once the kid’s summer swim league ends in mid-July I start getting the itch for football and by the beginning of August I’m like my 6 year old watching Christmas fast approaching. 

AthensHomerDawg - After the real National Championship game, much like every other Dawg fan I was disappointed and could not bring myself to watch the replay. After a while acceptance set in.  I watched the bowls and watched Bama spank Notre Dame. I'll begin to catch a gear when spring training gets here and we can discuss roster depth on the D side. 

Son of AHD - Many tears were shed after the SEC “National” Championship. I completely shut myself away from all things football related as I tried to cope with the haunting questions related to the two word sentence “What if?”. To this day I still refuse to discuss the game. My salvation arrived in Orlando as the Dawgs devoured the corn pickers. When the season is over, it’s all about using the significant dates in between to keep you going. I spent most of Signing day on my laptop watching the commits roll in. I’ve been following every headline waiting to stroll back into beautiful Sanford in March for the G Day game. I can’t unplug during the offseason. I just have to use as much as I can to scratch that itch until football season starts again.

Smoke Wagon -  I definitely unplug a bit during the off season.  The last couple of years I have started following recruiting more than I had in the past, so that keeps me tuned in until after signing day and whatever few days of drama follows signing day.  I haven’t moved to the basement or anything or started paying for recruiting services so that I can be an “Insider” or anything like that.  I guess when you consider how much some people bury themselves into recruiting, you might not characterize my interest as “following closely”.  I am not breaking down any high school film.  I do recognize the importance of recruiting and think that our success in the fall is very dependent on our success on signing day.   However, I can only stand so much soap opera drama.  When we miss out on a recruit that was perceived as a huge blue chipper, I am disappointed that we missed out on a talent that could have worn the silver britches, but I am really more disappointed that I had wasted whatever amount of time, consideration, effort, emotion, or anything else invested in this kid that is now a gator, saban worshiper, tiger, eagle, plain man, rebel, bear, or whatever other foe that they have decided to endear themselves to.  They automatically have become the enemy and I feel dirty for any previous desires to have the kid on our team.  Because of this feeling, I try not to get invested too much in recruiting.

Namaman -  I play lots of tennis and spend time with the family on the weekends as much as possible since that all changes in the Fall again.  Things start getting REAL in August when the kids school starts back up and all of the preseason rankings and polls come out.

So long T Kyle King! Godspeed!

So I kind of said good bye yesterday. But I'd be remiss if I did not give the man his due in a less wordy and more direct way.

I've never met T Kyle King. But I feel I've known him for some time. I entered "the arena" of dawg blogging in 2008 and had cut my teeth reading him, Groo, PWD and Blutarsky. Although I never tried to "copy" their style, I used their experience to draw a better understanding of what the Dawg readers wanted. King was instrumental in always providing terrific insight and entertaining me as a reader. He embraced his audience like no other and provided a comfortable spot in any storm as well as a place to shout when the moment called for it.

I will miss his printed words. Greatly. Yet I find it ironic that (in my estimation at least) his greatest contribution contained no words. Nothing to read and nothing to listen to. Except the unwrapping of the cigar and the unscrewing of the cap.

GATA Kyle King! While I admired your work and effort in trying to reverse the injustice of Erk Russell being omitted from the hall of fame, it is that video that I will remember most fondly. Because you captured every feeling and exultation within my soul without even saying a word.

Godspeed sir. One day we will meet so that I can test my vocabulary against your actual spoken word while we share a glass of dreams and terrific memories. Until then, I will cherish the moment above like a long, warm, biting pull from a handle of whiskey. Yes, tonight I raise a glass to you.

Abuurn sucks. Go Dawgs!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Friday Misery - Kyle King, Caribbean Conquests and other arts of alliteration

It's not Friday, it's Thursday evening. I had a deadline and I've met it by the skin of my teeth. Any other problems you have with the specifics of this post....well, just STFU.

Yes, it's an unusual time for a miserable post as it is not a football weekend. But misery has set in my friend. And when that happens we must let it out. So zip up those big boy pants Internet Wanderer, let's get to steppin'.

The Mayor and his sunset
On one hand, T Kyle King is no George Washington because he did not (to my knowledge) chop down his mother's cherry tree. However, he thoroughly disappointed the Dawgosphere when he did not tell a lie and made his truthful and heartfelt announcement that he's retiring...hanging up the vaunted thesaurus...secluding himself to a life of watching Sex and the City reruns while sipping cheap whiskey straight from the bottle and lamenting the fact that paying off the judge will never lift Charlotte York MacDougal Goldenblatt's restraining order against him. Not to mention make her into an actual person.
T Kyle King, not an Austrian. But possibly a
future Duck Dynasty stand-in.

He didn't lay waste to fans, readers, admirers and other social misfits with any leftover Spike80DF, but there was much wistful wilting of limbs and leaves. Then, quite casually, King issues a challenge and just expects me to accept it. A parting shot, much like cannon fodder from the Battle of Toulon in the War of Austrian Succession. Only this battle is fated to have an actual victor. And that victor is claimed to be an evil force that resides in the internet solely to eat bloggers' wills, shortening their typeable diction until there is an abrupt end, and the good and hungry people are left to wonder what park, tree, building, museum, or just a fast food chain's corner booth next to the playscape to name after him. As my weary and worried fingers type this I am sure Joseph Henry Lumpkin would be both proud and disheartened, and would also likely ask that the T Kyle King Memorial Honorary Lawyerly Library of Really Widespread and Wide-Ranging Words and Surprisingly Sprawling and Sprangled Sentences* not be placed anywhere near Herty Drive. We feel ya Lump...the Mayor is a enigma wrapped in a red and black sweatshirt inside of the keyboard with years and years of coffee stains...[dramatic pause to give added weight to transition]...

And all this brings us to the matter of a commissioned work of art to remember King's blogging and editorial achievements. A master's work that can be duplicated for the masses, but still hold its value and depiction of Kyle clumsily and carelessly collecting his cigar in his mouth, a handle of Jack Daniels in one hand, and giving Prez Adams the finger with the other. Something Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot would never dream of undertaking. But surely a curbside artist in Jacksonville in late October would jump at the chance. After all, a clever and courageously created caricature would bring some life to the pose and a certain quaint and composed dignity to the muse's life work.

Because it is there!...There at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party that we will avenge this dire, disagreeable and displeasing news. King understands the magnitude of the rivalry and accepts its importance, even more so than the fact that Kristin Davis is far superior to that horse-mouthed fake writer wannabe blogger that Ferris Bueller married. Fear not Mayor of Dawgtown and rest easy kind sir. Set aside any anxiety Fair and Wordy Proprietor of Dawgsports as you embrace your literary sunset. You witty and whimsical wordsmith...we will carry on...somehow.

Vaya con bourbon amigos
Sing it Billy!
Holy shit. I'm exhausted. Just those last four paragraphs took 18 hours to compose. Kyle probably does something comparable in the time it takes Michael Adams to cash another check [BOOM!]. I'll have a (much) less wordy tribute to the man tomorrow. And then.....

I'm out y'all. Mrs. Bernie and I have cashed out our BCS savings and are heading eastbound and down for some time spent relaxing in a warmer clime. Suck it Saban! One where kids don't bitch about menial chores and my boss can't make me punch a clock at absurd hours of the day when I'm more inclined to be sleepi...

...whoa whoa whoa! Don't unplug just yet. I've got you covered until I come back, should that unfortunate event take place where I'm forced to return due to lack of funds or some distasteful diplomatic incident or because the mother in law simply insists on not raising any more children. My guys from around the tailgate are ready to take things over. We'll address a topic a day starting late Friday or early Saturday. I gave em questions and they gave me answers. Quid pro quo!

For you folks that haven't ventured inside the friendly confines of the T Kyle King Memorial Honorary Lawyerly Library of Really Widespread and Wide-Ranging Words and Surprisingly Sprawling and Sprangled Sentences*, that's simply lawyerly latinese meaning "this for that". See ya soon Reader!

Go Dawgs!

[*post edit: either the bourbon or just blatant ignorance caused me to confuse "memorial" with "honorary" late last night. Kyle is not dead. It's just his thesaurus. I think.]

SEC Storied - the tournament tornado

Or was it the tornado tournament? You remember this right?

Free Kolton Houston failed

UPDATE - UGA clarifies Houston's status as still on scholarship and hoping for eligibility to be restored. Just not on roster.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Kolton Houston "currently" not on the team.
Offensive lineman Kolton Houston, who has yet to play in college while ruled ineligible by the NCAA, is off the Georgia football team for now.
Houston is “currently not with the team,” Georgia spokesman Claude Felton confirmed this morning.
He has remained ineligible for testing positive for a performance enhancing substance banned by the NCAA. Georgia has said that Houston was unknowingly given a substance banned by the NCAA–the anabolic steroid Norandrolone–after sustaining a shoulder injury playing for Buford High School.
Houston, who first tested positive in April, 2010 after enrolling for the spring semester, practiced with the team last fall while trying to reach an appropriate threshold that would restore his eligibility, but was away from practice at times as well.
This story does nothing but make you want to point fingers. And what really sucks about it is you can point it towards a lot of people, none of which includes the player.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Money, Power and plain ol' Georgia football

I've read The Senator's posts on the subject. And I read King's as well. I certainly understand the frustration at the lack of spending to keep up with the Sabans, so to speak. But allow me to play devil's advocate for a moment. And actually, it leads to a crossroads many have highlighted already.

After all, this isn't an issue of the haves and the have nots, at least as far as Georgia is concerned; we have the cash and plenty enough join the fun. It's an issue of the willing and the unwilling; programs like Bama and the new Ole Miss are clearly willing to take any recruiting and coaching support advantage they can muster. Georgia is not.

Will the men in power here, namely McGarity, Richt and incoming UGA President Morehead, take the necessary perspective and focus to justify spending some of the cash on hand to beef up the football program's support staff and resources when they feel they are only five yards short of it already? Will they look at last season's "photo finish" in the SEC (and for all intents and purposes the BCS as well) and see a program that needs an influx of tweaks and modifications to finish a new drill? Or will they see a program that has everything it needs other than luck? Is everyone, from the administrators to the coaches, ready to reorganize the current football operations to include the kind of support staff we're talking about here? And lastly, are they capable of transitioning and implementing in that direction successfully?

Before we go any further, let's be perfectly fair. This was an issue PWD hit on after the South Carolina loss last year pretty thoroughly. It's easy to see this as the UGA brass being satisfied with the status quo. Now, said "status quo" means keeping recruiting back in the 1990s while winning 10 or so games a year. We have the coaching staff and the on field talent to do just that most years. As Westerdawg explained, the support can be added immediately whenever the guys in charge are ready.

But that's where we get hung up. McGarity stood by the coach during the turbulent era of Richt's long tenure. He seems comfortable with Richt making the programmatic decisions regarding the football operations and staff (read: strength and conditioning, recruiting coordinator). More pointedly, McGarity would rather address "recruiting concerns" with the NCAA and the powers that be. All while the Alabamas and the Rebels of the world dance in the gray area and push the envelope further and further.

That's the way I see it. We have a coach that's been here a long time and has been highly successful. And we have an Athletic Director that is content with that to the point that it's easier to sit on whatever revenue his head coach brings in...and hope that the ball doesn't get tipped next time.

Welcome! Toby Johnson!

When you least expect it....expect it!

In a weird twist that college football recruiting could only understand, Hutchinson Community College defensive tackle Toby Johnson (6'4", 305 lbs) chose Georgia yesterday over Auburn, Oklahoma and Miss State. He'll play defensive end but says he'll slide inside in nickel situations.

Surprising because last we heard, he and Georgia had cooled off completely. Just last week when Radi Nabulsi sat down with us here he said that Georgia coaches' recruitment of Johnson was done.
There was a lot of buzz late in the day on signing day about a late signee. Any updates along that front? 
Toby Johnson had contacted the coaches about dropping his final official visits and signing with Georgia.  But he changed his mind apparently. Georgia had moved on from him earlier in January after it became apparent he was going to have trouble qualifying but after missing on some top targets, Georgia had room to take a chance. I do not think Georgia is actively recruiting him now.
Something changed. And it might be his academic prospects. It never appeared as if Georgia was shying away due to a knee injury Johnson's rehabbing. They've always recruited him to play immediately. And now it appears as if Johnson will enroll in June and be ready to do just that.

And it also appears as if we have new defensive line coach Chris Wilson to thank for the final signee of the 2013 class.
As weeks passed, however, some thought Georgia -- a program Johnson considered a longtime leader -- was looking more like a dark horse candidate while Auburn and Mississippi State were front-runners.
But Georgia seemed to creep back in the picture when Chris Wilson left Mississippi State to take a defensive line position with Georgia.
"I liked Coach Wilson when he was at Mississippi State," Johnson told ESPN's DawgNation in January. "I think he can make me better each and every day. He can make me versatile and help me get to the next level." 
Indeed. Welcome Toby!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday Headers - Marcus, Tunsil, Jarvis and Bukowski

My apologies for not having the meatloaf ready yesterday. And now seems as good a time as any to tell you that there will not be an edition of that post next Monday either [email complaints to eventhoughyou AT dontgiveashit DOT com]. I have important business that I will be attending to and posting crap early on a Monday morning is not on the agenda.

But for today, these delicious morsels are. So, you're welcome.
Hotty Toddy! Goshamighty!
  • Coach Fox is not anticipating forward Marcus Thornton to play again this season. The junior has had three knee procedures since moving to Athens, the last of which was two months ago. Reading between the lines, they just can't get him to 100% and since a medical redshirt for this season is still a possibility they'd rather him rest it out and return for another go at it in the fall.
  • There appear to be grave misunderstandings about the Laremy Tunsil timelines as they relate to ones concerning UGA administration (h/t Blutarsky). So much so that some think our outgoing university president, kickball stud and chief horse's ass would actually do something to favor the UGA tackle football program. That's gold Jerry! GOLD!!
  • NFL Network's Mike Mayock analyzes Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree for the upcoming draft. The two UGA linebackers' draft stock will be interesting to watch for sure. However, I still have trouble believing the AJC any recent arrest will hurt Tree in the eyes of NFL scouts. 
  • And this post by Spencer Hall joins two of everyone's favorite things. No, make that three: booze, booze ads and literary giants. Well, mostly giants and then John Grisham. I liked him better before High Freeze signed him away from Tulane* where he could've really dropped some Bourbon St. soaked legal thrillers on us.
Anyway, read it at your leisure. I love anything with a good Charles Bukowski reference. Take that college football off season! You whore!

*I realize that Xavier University of Louisiana would've made more sense there as it is a liberal arts college where Grisham could've perfected his craft of typing even more betterer than at Tulane, a researchy type school. But really, do most people who read blogs like this on the internet know that NOLA has a college named Xavier? And it's NOT the one up in Ohio? Really, that whole thought process would've made this horrible post even worserer.'re welcome.

Happy (belated) Birthday Coach Richt!

Our tackle football coach recently left his post-hip surgery crutches behind and celebrated his 53rd birthday yesterday. Hope you finished the drill on that Hot Dawg Delight Coach! Happy Happy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Josh Harvey-Clemons vs the prophecy of "#1 player"

This look back at the recent history of Georgia's top high school player by Ching is a subscription link, but also an ominous look into the histories of players like Crowell, Josh Jarboe, Greg Reid, and Marcus Ball. Other than Eric Berry it is certainly not welcome company.

And any way too early prognostication as to Nkemdiche's impact in Oxford aside (should be noted that most of the busts have endured self-inflicted wounds), Harvey-Clemons' only obstacle may be something he can't control - his size.

He can be a safety or an Alec Ogletree type hybrid linebacker. We've talked before about the coaches' differing views. This season Harvey-Clemons played sparingly, but at Grantham's "star" position. Still, it was special teams where he had the only real impact as a freshman. Going forward though, the aim should be much higher.
Josh Harvey-Clemons, Georgia: Perhaps Harvey-Clemons’ quiet 2012 season was a step in the right direction for the No. 1 prospects from the Peach State considering his predecessors’ histories. Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes) contributed mostly on special teams for the Eastern Division champions, totaling 14 tackles and one tackle for a loss. However, now that 12 key defensive players from last season have completed their college careers, Harvey-Clemons is in line to play a key role for the Bulldogs this fall -- with defensive coordinator Todd Grantham recently calling him “one of the best players we have.”

Georgia's biggest games in 2013

How cute, and very bleacher reportish. Did y'all know the AJC now gives its clickers slides shows as news stories?

Anyway, they list the 10 most intriguing SEC games for 2013. Georgia's big three games are there: Florida, USCe and LSU. To further the argument I would rank them in that exact order.

But to be perfectly honest, I almost feel as if the game against the Gamecocks is even bigger than the WLOCP. Almost. I mean, just as we've recently been able to make the annual game in Jacksonville a rivalry again, Spurrier has done the same with their game against Georgia. Losing three in a row to Carolina has been embarrassing. And last year's loss in Columbia left a very acrid taste in the mouth.

But still, the game against the gators will always be the most important one on the schedule, right?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hoop Dawgs FLOP*

Still should've won. But this didn't help.

[**Post-edit: As Spence points out, this header was poorly worded. Very intense game that should've been won. Proud of the effort. Sorry we lost. Even more upset that the officiating played such a key role.]

Hoop Dawgs fall in Oxford

This was not a fun one to watch. Coulda shoulda woulda.

Tree grabs first DUI

Jimmy Williamson green with jealousy.
Former Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree, a likely first-round pick in the 2013 draft and one of the top prospects at inside linebacker, was arrested recently for DUI.
“Last weekend, my client Alec Ogletree was pulled over for speeding and a lane violation in Arizona,” agent Pat Dye, Jr. tells PFT.  “After the officers smelled alcohol, they conducted tests and also cited him for DUI.  Although Alec regrets this incident terribly, he is thankful that there was no accident and that no one was hurt.  Because this matter is still pending, we cannot comment further publicly at this time.”