Saturday, April 6, 2013

Conley's "new level"

Chris Conley has had himself a spring. Real big.

Malcolm Mitchell is done until August. Michael Bennett is still recovering. So Conley has capitalized on being healthy and ready.
“When we came in together, I saw his talent as a freshman with me redshirting,” tight end Jay Rome said. “I just feel like him, Malcolm, me and a lot of other guys that when an opportunity presents itself and we get the ball in our hands, we can do great things with it. Conley has been really getting after it. He’s a really dedicated player. He puts in a lot of extra hours.”
That includes working on team off days with Mitchell, Scott-Wesley and others, Rome said. They go through drills and catch balls off the Jugs machine.
“I think the best thing about this receiving corps is there’s a lot of talented people on it, but there’s not big egos,” Conley said. “There’s not a guy who says, ‘I want my touches. I want to be that No. 1 guy.’ It’s just a whole bunch of guys who are willing to go out there and work, and whoever starts a game, we’re fine with that. Everybody else is going to be able to get touches and make plays, too.”

GDay rosters

As expected, they came out late yesterday. If you're heading to Athens with your business face on, you'll wanna download or print this out somehow. Otherwise, not a lot of surprise.

Murray followed by Bauta and/or LeMay. And Mason followed by Welch and then Greg Bingham.

Gonna be a great day in Athens. I'm jealous of those of you who will be there..

Friday, April 5, 2013

GDay Gameday Preview

With the travel and entertainment portion aside, let's get down to the nuts and bolts of the spring scrimmage.

What are we going to see?
What we know for sure is that the team will be split by depth, which is to say that the first team offense will try and function against the first team defense, and then vice versa. So one team gets the 1st offense and the 2nd defense, the other gets the 1st defense and the 2nd offense. (I typed that out even though it was self explanatory, came to such a realization and then left it in case it was not...) Grantham will coach one team and Bobo will coach the other. Assistants split up forthwith.

Ward's a redshirt soph that's
finally healthy.(via)
What we don't know yet will be one of the more intriguing subplots to this year's GDay (and actually any spring game really) - the rosters. I would imagine those would leak out starting sometime today. And when they do we'll have a better idea of where certain players are on the depth chart.

What should we be looking for?
And for once the depth chart at tailback is not going to be that interesting. Thank God. Seems like each spring the last few years we've wondered where "so and so" would be and if Richt would once again favor seniority over the spring's hot name.

But the depth on the defensive side of the ball will be of particular interest with so many starting spots up for grabs. After the end of last season, we should be definitely be looking at how well the run defense looks. I'm sure the defensive coaches have awoken from a deep sleep plenty of times since December 1st to nightmares of Lacy and Yeldon running free in the secondary. I know I have. Can the line plug up holes for the linebackers to roam unhindered? is one of the top GDay subplots. I would expect to see a lot of spirited competition to make key tackles, big stops and game changing plays on that side of the ball.

Offensively the line is (always) at the top for me. I'm eager to see how much depth we might truly have. Reports have Xzavier Ward as a potential tackle opposite Theus. Finding someone to lock down that side is key to allowing some of our guards posing as tackles back inside where they should be.

Beyond that it would be nice to see a receiver like Conley pick up where he left off on New Year's Day. And it would terrific to see Quayvon clearing space and helping to set the pocket.

Also, Hutson Mason. I think getting a chance to run things last week was a shot in the arm. Here's a guy that's waited, truly been the poster boy for patience. We've seen a lot of him during his springs in Athens and I think we know what he can do. But I bet he has a big day on Saturday. He's gotten a taste of being the #1 guy and I think he wants to show fans what they can expect from him when the huddle is his.

Harvey-Clemons, special talent. (via)
Other players that could have a big impact: Tray Matthews (the spring's darling), Josh Harvey-Clemons (position change to feature his skills more), Mike Thornton (has he locked down the nose over Mayes?), Sheldon Dawson (has shined with three picks in the previous scrimmages) and Ramik Wilson (may have solidified a starting spot with Herrera at inside linebacker).

And what will we not see?
You won't see much of Murray. Same goes for Gurley. Plus, none of Malcolm Mitchell. And while that might be a bummer, especially for young fans wearing their jerseys, it does open up the field for Keith Marshall and the new kid AJ Turman to get more snaps [edit: not on campus yet. Sorry] as well as a chance to see how we might plan to use newcomer JJ Green.

Additionally, who is in the third QB slot behind Mason? Faton Bauta has been nursing some tendinitis in his bicep. Doubt we'll see too much of him, which is a shame. Which leaves us with walk-on Parker Welch, the new kid Brice Ramsey and Christian LeMay.

And nothing says GDay like a spirited debate over which number should be the third string quarterback. Y'all have fun and root for no injuries.

Go Dawgs!

Jenkins eager to hit Gurley

Evidently Jordan Jenkins put on quite the show for the media yesterday. He weighed in on the Auburn allegations, almost guaranteed a win in the opener, cracked jokes about some teammates, and then listed some players he planned to hit at tomorrow's scrimmage.
"I'm gonna try to get a couple hits on Todd (Gurley). Because I didn't hit him all last season in practice, and I think I hit him once in a scrimmage," Jenkins said. "Todd's been talkin' a lot of trash. I need to hit Todd. And I hope we get a stunt where I get to hit (offensive linemen) David (Andrews) and Dallas (Lee), because those guys decided to blind-side me on (a drill.)"

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Swann's song for spring

When you're the lone returning starter it's hard to avoid the spotlight.
Swann is getting used to a new group around him after the secondary lost starting safeties Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo and cornerbacks Sanders Commings and Branden Smith.
“It’s a different look,” Swann said. “It’s a very different feeling for me. I look to the left, I see Branden. I look behind me I see Rambo and Shawn. The other corner I see Sanders. All four of those guys are gone now. I’ve just got to get comfortable playing with the guys that are here now because that’s who I’m going to be playing with.”
His coaches are confident in the junior cornerback and see even more potential than he's shown thus far in his career. The first key was seeing that Swann had been moved to the boundary corner spot. Listening to Grantham and Richt it's easy to see why.
“I think he was tremendous last year,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “When you look at the way he played and the way he progressed, I expect him to be a leader for us back there.”
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Swann said he’s tried to learn the responsibilities of every position in the secondary to teach the younger players better.
“I think Swann is leading extremely well for us,” coach Mark Richt said. “I think he’s practicing hard. He’s to the point in his career where he’s got to think in terms of trying to perfect his trade and what he does. He’s not learning what to do anymore. He knows what to do. He really doesn’t have to prove to anybody that he’s a very good football player, he’s already proved that. Now it’s just a matter of can I lead and can I become the very best football player that I can possibly be. I think that’s his mindset. I’m seeing good signs of that.”
And it's worth remembering that Swann was one of the biggest stars in the bowl game against Nebraska - six tackles and a couple of picks. A performance that has helped him get over the devastating loss in the Georgia Dome.
Swann said his big bowl game helped him get over the SEC championship loss. Alabama went ahead for good on a 45-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper, who beat Swann for a 45-yard touchdown with 3:15 left.
“Damian’s been Damian,” receiver Chris Conley said. “He’s developed more. He’s got the same confidence that he has had last year, but I think the biggest thing about Damian is he’s a true SEC starting corner. He plays like one. He’s got the presence of one and quarterbacks and offenses are going to be aware of that because he’s made those plays and he’s continuing to make those plays in the spring and he’s only getting better.” 

"Auburn found a way to make those dudes eligible."

Trooper Taylor, weather forecaster
It's tradition. And I'm not only referring to Auburn here. Selena Roberts' story on Mike McNeil and Auburn's most recent shenanigans sheds an ugly, albeit one-sided, light on the WarTiglesmen underbelly. The allegations are severe, no question. But I'll refrain from pointing fingers wait until the dust clears up a bit for two reasons.

One. We've seen a smoking gun on the Plains before and nothing was done. Everyone already knows that Cam Newton and the 2010 titles were purchased. Which is why this news smells like a former player trying to bully the bully that bullied him. Maybe a second whiff will bring an even worse odor. It is Auburn after all. Cheating in Opelika is their oldest tradition now that Updyke has killed the trees.

Two. A lot of what's alleged is stuff that takes place in every nook and cranny of the NCAA's boundaries. Maybe Auburn has perfected the culture of it. Maybe McNeil wasn't given his due rights as a citizen because of his status as a football player. But it's big time football. The fact that it happens in lots of places doesn't make it right and it doesn't excuse this instance. happens.

So where do we go from here? You mean other than watching the Auburn alumni squirm? Well, apparently there's another part of the story Roberts is working on focusing on the Auburn boosters. Joy. Raise your hand if you've heard that story before. Other than that I think the telling part may be to watch the relationship between Chizik and ESPN. The former Auburn coach who is implicated in the allegations has since become an analyst for the mothership. So far there's no comment from either. But we know that ESPN likes to let the real investigative journalism happen and then react to it. The direction in which they react may be a significant development.

Until then, how about another $money$ quote from the story.
“Chizik didn’t like anyone who didn’t fit a certain image.”
That's why Trooper Taylor used a backwards facing ballcap to cover up his dreads and HIGH Lyfe cranial tattoo. Wonder what else he was covering up?

GDay - preview one

Bad news guys. I'm not going to GDay. I was able to find a bigger game to attend. But I do have two preview posts for you. The first one, which you have already found here, addresses some transportation developments since we last transported ourselves to Athens as well as some day of events that you may or may not have heard about. The tomorrow I'll be back with a look at what we might can expect to come out of the actual scrimmage.

Wanted to update you on the 316 corridor through Lawrenceville. If you're not aware, the Collins Hill and Highway 20/Buford Dr. interchanges are undergoing a major overhaul. They're adding overpasses and access roads which has turned the area into a traffic bipolar danger zone: extreme caution needed at times, and at others it's pretty much status quo. Luckily, if you're just passing through and not exiting on one of those roads you aren't affected nearly as much as those of us who are doing that on a regular basis. And I doubt a fan friendly scrimmage in Athens is going to lock the interchanges down completely. Most of the added buildup is coming on the weekdays.
The NEW intersection at Highway 20 and 316!

That being said, I believe travel through Lawrenceville along 316 will be affected come fall. Especially for any early games where the gameday traffic is more concentrated. So Saturday might be a good time to try out a new possibility for navigating around this "hotspot". The "Sugarloaf By-Pass" is fully functional now and would probably help Atlanta residents trying to get down 316 that have no need to pass through Lawrenceville. Sugarloaf Parkway is the first eastbound exit on 316 and skirts along the outer edge of Lawrenceville. The road used to dead end into Grayson Highway, but they've opened up another few miles to get traffic all the way to 316 just before the Harbins Rd-Dacula stoplight. Back in the fall west bound 316 traffic couldn't access this "by-pass", but they've completed construction now so that traffic from any direction can use the interchange.

Although there are several stoplights, this Sugarloaf option would still be a favorable alternative to the construction zone that Lawrenceville has become. Saturday might be a good time to test it out.

Rennie Curran's book signing
In case you've missed it this week as he's been publicizing it, Rennie Curran has a book out - Free Agent: The Perspectives of a Young African-American Athlete. He'll be on hand at the UGA Bookstore for autographs and signings ($10 each, or for the price of the book) as he promotes it. You can pre-order a copy at his website.

Here's a link to a video made as a trailer for the book. You can get more info about the Bookstore appearance from the Facebook invite.

Lunch with the Legends
The tickets and autographed footballs sold out quick. Hopefully you were able to get in on the action. If not, there stands a good chance that there will be a third annual event like this next year.

Annual Letterman Game
Past heroes of Sanford's turf gather and play a flag football game prior to the start of the intra-squad scrimmage. I believe this starts at 11:00am and is a lot of fun and a chance to root for some former players once again.

Plus, you get an early crack at the shaded seats before the crowd comes in.

Canned Food Drive
As in most years, UGA Athletic Association is asking GDay attendees to bring canned goods to donate. The scrimmage is free to attend, but these donations go towards helping the Food Bank of Northeast GA. Additionally, it appears some of the players have organized themselves into teams and are asking for specific foods to be donated. Keith Marshall (aka #TeamMarshall) would like you to bring canned corn and sliced peaches; #TeamBennett would prefer you bring peanut butter and mixed veggies; and #TeamSwann wants more baked beans and sliced pears than anything else. Still no word on #TeamLynch lobbying for canned haddock on a Wicked Saturday. Oh well.

Regardless, bins will be set up at the main gate, plus gates 2,4,6 and 9. Monetary donations are welcome as well. For more info on the Food Bank of NEGA - click here.

Evening fare
Of course once the game ends you really have two options: go on home or make a day of it. If you choose the latter there is some little concert at Sanford as well as the Diamond Dawgs taking on Missouri at Foley. Of course there's always the allure of downtown. And regardless of what happens on the field you can stop and ring the Chapel Bell. [CORRECTION: that concert is next Saturday, 4/13. Sorry for any confusion.]

Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Tray Matthews' kool-aid comes in black AND blue

I know, I know. It's spring. Plus, he's just a freshman. But this is just too good.

Then this:
"I'm not going to sit here and say (his spring) has been anything but impressive," Richt said. “I really don’t know if he’s doing everything correct, assignment-wise, but he’s a very fundamentally-sound football player and tackler. He enjoys competing, and he enjoys the physical aspect of the game. When a guy can tackle out in space like he does and just plays with speed and confidence, it’s been impressive. He hasn’t nailed down any particular job yet, but he’s made a very strong impression on everybody. I think he’s proved that he’s earned playing time. “
Hope the kid's head still fits in his helmet come Saturday.

Humpday Hilarity - Go hard or go home!

H/T AthensHomerDawg

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Quayvon Hicks: size PLUS scheme = playing time

"He's the guy you want to get off the bus first." - Coach Bobo talking about fullback Quayvon Hicks.

Hicks, a sophomore from Pierce County, is turning a few heads this spring. And it's not just because the depth chart at his position is a lot narrower. Merritt Hall is nursing an injury and Zander Ogletree is not in Athens any longer.

All that being said, what makes you a little nervous about that last sentence may also convince you to get the pitcher of kool-aid out of the fridge. As consistent as Hall proved to be in run and pass blocking last season before an ankle injury sidelined him against Florida, Hicks has an extra few inches and 30+ more pounds.

If that's not enough for you, there's this:
“You don’t read any stats about him, but just playing some fullback (Friday), he picked up a blitz and just did it with enthusiasm,” Richt said. “He’s very physical, and he’s just starting to play a lot faster, and he’s more comfortable with the scheme. He’s just blocking extremely well, pass blocking, run blocking. He actually had a short-yardage run (Saturday) and he’s got good ball skills.”
Richt talked about Hicks in the context of how there was less separation between the starters and backups at many spots.
“I don’t want to brag too much about him, but he’s really starting to look like he could become a heck of a fullback,” Richt said.
Reminds me of how much Richt gushed over LSU fullback JC Copeland before the 2011 SEC Championship game.
“This kid Copeland, I smile when I talk about him because he’s a beast,” Richt said. “He wears No. 44 but he looks more like a (defensive tackle). He’s a guy that has worn out more Sam linebackers than anybody I’ve ever seen in a season. Normally by the end of the game, those guys are jumping out of the way when he comes downhill at him. …Hopefully our guys won’t jump out of the way of him.”
The key for Hicks has always been picking up the scheme so that he can help his large frame pick up the blitz and get in the way of would be tacklers. Physically, he walked onto campus ready to go. Now it sounds like his mind is in the right place when the opportunity has come knocking.

Look for him to knock a few of Grantham's boys around this Saturday.

Dontavius Russell makes a "peaceful" commitment

Carrollton GA defensive tackle four star Dontavius Russell became Georgia's fourth commitment for 2014 yesterday, choosing the Dawgs over a host of other schools including Bama, Florida, FSU and Clemson. And it sounds like it had less to do with football than about just feeling at home.
“I just left Georgia,” Russell said. “It was just like every other time I visited. But when we got in the car on our way back, I just thought about, ‘What if I committed?’ The thought of that was just so peaceful, and it felt like a place that I wanted to be, so I just went ahead and made a decision.” 

With his decision made, Wilson called the coaches from the car. 

“I just called them back and spoke to Coach Wilson and then Mark Richt,” Russell said. “I committed to them. They said, ‘That is awesome,’ and, ‘We are glad to have you,’ and a bunch of other stuff.” 

Russell credits the Bulldogs' consistent message for winning him over.
Russell is a 6'3" 300lb plug in the defense for Carrollton High. His frame is there, but he will obviously grow even more. He'll be a good one to watch this fall during his senior season to see how he develops, physically and athletically.

Monday, April 1, 2013

C'mon Ladies...GATA!

For previews, you can't really do better than Tyler and Groo. Should be a good game. So remember, 9:30pm on ESPN. Go Dawgs!

Image via The Dawgbone

Happy Mike Campo Day!!

Four years! Can't believe it's been four years since Terence Moore was so fantastically duped that the internet was changed forever. Well, that may be a bit much. But it was funny enough to remember fondly each year as the calendar turns to April.

Because in the spring of 2009 UGA was looking for a basketball coach. And Terence Moore, AJC typist and note idiot, was busy lobbying for Tubby Smith (okay, I get that Captain Obvious) or Craig Robinson (wuh? who?).

In April 2009 Craig Robinson had just finished his first season as Oregon State's head coach, going 18-18 and winning the College Basketball Invitational. Prior to that he'd gone 30-28 at Brown. Those sterling credentials aside, Robinson is also Barack Obama's brother in law. This point of fact alone clearly qualifies him to be the head coach at Georgia.

So Moore continued to type, much to everyone's regret. At least those with internet connection that could also read. Thankfully there was one person to intervene. Mike Campo.

Mike is not necessarily a real person. Although he could be. Or she, perhaps. But whoever Campo is he got the better of Moore and put him back in his place with just a few words, expertly crafted, on the Fools' most recognizable day.
Mike Campo 4/1/09, 11:38am - Mr. Moore, I am 12 years old and love reading your articles. I think they are great! Please keep writing and inspiring the youth like me to write!
Chief Craptastic 4/1/09, 11:48am - Mike Campo - Thanks for the kind words. Since you’re 12 years old, I’m sure you’ll change your mind several times in regards to what you want to do in life. But keep studying hard in general, and I’m glad you enjoy writing. The more you write, the more you’ll enjoy it, and the more you’ll develop your craft. Having the ability (and the will) to write effectively will help you in whatever you decide to do. So, Mike, keep listening to your parents and to your teachers, and you’ll be just fine. 
Mike Campo 4/1/09, 11:51am Just kidding, your writing and opinions suck 
Chief Craptastic 4/1/09, 11:51-12:02pm - silence....
Mike Campo 4/1/09, 12:02pm - Sorry, my dad typed that. He doesn’t like you and says you are racist. i don’t know what that means. he want’s me to ask you when you are moving to another state? He says he’ll buy me a new bike if you go. Please hurry up and move far away. 
And scene. Excellent. It's a lot like "catfishing" just with a better 40 time and tackling skills. Moore took a voluntary buyout later that month. He now makes up shit for something called AOL Fanhouse. Craig Robinson, by the way, has compiled a 59-70 record since 2009. Clearly Damon Evans was drunk in not hiring him. Clearly.

But that's all conjecture. Today we celebrate the man (supposedly), the myth, the legend. Somewhere I hope Mike Campo is steering his Schwinn with one hand and drinking a raspberry slushy with the other. Perhaps one day we'll meet outside of the wires of the internets. Until then...

Happy Mike Campo Day!

Bonus material:
- original Moore article
- Hale weighed in with a response
- Williard's interview with Moore

Leaner "Meatball" at the nose

Mike Thornton may not be fond of the nickname, but he's not letting it affect his low center of gravity.
Center David Andrews has had some battles with Thornton this spring, according to coach Mark Richt.
“He’s very low to the ground,” Richt said. “David was very used to blocking them big guys and sometimes David could use his quickness to his advantage and get his pads underneath theirs naturally just because of the size difference, but Michael, he’s got some good quicks and he’s got a low center of gravity. David’s had some trouble dealing with him on certain blocks. He’s trying to cut him off and Michael’s made some plays.”
It's only natural to compare Thornton and Mayes's size to the guys they're attempting to replace. So it's likely to be a recurring storyline well into the fall. But if they can help this defense stop the run better than the one Jenkins and Geathers centered then size really won't matter.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Scrimmage, second time around

UPDATE: Saw this post this morning by Weiszer. Couple injuries should knock Autin Long and Sheldon Dawson.

- - - - - - - - -

First and foremost, if you didn't see THIS VIDEO that Blutarsky posted yesterday you really, really need to watch it now. Warning, watching the full four minutes may cause pregnancy.

Some other observations from the tweets, stats and video reactions of the second spring scrimmage:
  • Chris Conley having a heckuva spring y'all. From what little I've read and even less than I've seen, he's making great catches and earning some yards after catch. Living up to that bowl game performance for sure. Keep it up!
  • We heard a couple days ago that Gurley was hoping to be more involved in the passing game. So far (at least in scrimmages) that's what we've seen. If you go to GDay, don't be surprised to see a couple handoffs to #3 and then maybe a couple designed screens to him. That'll be about it.
  • If you believe all of the scrimmage stats, there's a stark dropoff from Murray and Mason to the second tier of the quarterback depth.
  • But hey...LeMay was the only quarterback without an interception.
  • Reggie Wilkerson wins standout early-enrollee of the day.
Here's Josh Harvey-Clemons talking about his role in the defense:

    Lady Dawgs chop down Stanford

    This is a great group of seniors intermixed with talented freshmen. And last night they played with all heart, defeating top seed Stanford 61-59 despite a slow start and great shooting by the Trees Cardinal.
    Georgia overcame three major scoring droughts, including falling behind 9-0 to start the game, to oust the No. 1 seed from the Spokane Regional and end Stanford’s hopes of reaching the Final Four for the sixth straight year.
    Jasmine James led Georgia (28-6) with 16 points, including a pair of free throws with 23.5 seconds left that gave the Lady Bulldogs a 60-56 lead. It’s the 11th trip to the regional finals for coach Andy Landers in his long tenure at Georgia.
    Next objective: Monday at 9:40 vs. Cal-LSU winner for a chance at the Final Four. Go Dawgs!