Saturday, June 29, 2013

Commodore moral outrage

Given the news out of Nashville, I'll be watching closely to see how the columnists in the local paper express their frustration towards Coach Franklin over failing his players, his team, his community, his campus and society as a whole.

Because it's his fault. Right Schultz, Bradley, Towers and Carvell?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Best Friday ever!!

Usually when he emails me it is to take even more credit for developing the HOPE Scholarship or to ask for a donation so that he can wine and dine bigger donors while in Tuscany or the south of France.


Come on back Monday when I give the guy his exit interview. I have the perfect going away present for him too.

Aaron Murray, true ladies' man

This might be the best Aaron Murray story ever.
Clasping her hands to her chest, Bradford squealed and with a smile on her face said, “My heart is getting weak.”
Bradford also received an autographed football from Murray.
“I’ll treasure this as long as I live,” she said as she stared at the football in awe.
Mildred might be the only person with a bigger crush on Murray than my nine year old. But I bet my daughter can throw a better spiral. Maybe.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Smith gets deserved shout-out from old coach

I teased Coach Rodney Garner some yesterday in the wake of his visit to Athens. But last night I caught up on some of his quotes and noticed something he said that has been sticking in my craw a bit.
“I would think Garrison (Smith) being a senior, he would be the leader. He’s got to be the guy that sets the tone for them. But he’s got some really good young guys that are going to bring a lot of athleticism to the table. I know Chris and coach (Todd) Grantham will do a good job of having those guys ready.”
Garrison Smith. Never heard an ill word about the guy. And while Swann continues to get much of the press about being the experience to help the youth on the defensive side of the ball (and deservedly so, for sure), Smith is the senior amidst all that inexperience. After tallying 57 tackles (including a career high eight against Tech) last year, we're lucky to have that guy around another season.

In fact, I'd bet Smith will help Murray carry the torch for the team at SEC Media Days. Damn Good Dawg!

Don't sleep on Georgia too hard y'all

We talked some last week about Heisman candidates. Yesterday ESPN's Travis Haney went through the SEC with a fine toothed comb to find who might be the SEC's best in terms of the trophy as well as title contenders. You know, outside of Alabama.
Ken Ward

In terms of the Heisman (the trophy an SEC player has won three of the last four years, and four of the last six), I have to agree with Haney on Jadeveon Clowney's chances. He'd have to destroy a Michigan player each and every Saturday to have a real chance. As a big fan of the defensive side of the ball, I don't think that's fair. But that's the way it is. Spurrier's not going to have Clowney return kicks is he?

But when it comes to Aaron Murray, Haney points something out that I neglected to catch last week when I was baiting y'all for other Georgia contenders. The effectiveness of Gurley and Georgia's running game altogether could dampen the Georgia signal caller's chances altogether.
How about McCarron's rival in terms of QB efficiency, Aaron Murray? The Georgia signal-caller completed 65 percent of his 386 passes last season, averaging 10.1 yards per attempt, tops in the country. However, two things that hurt Murray last season could again hamper his chances this campaign: If teammates Todd Gurley or Keith Marshall have big years, it could take away from the attention Murray receives.
"He's a very, very, very good player, but he doesn't have many big wins, does he?" said an SEC defensive coordinator. "I'm not saying that's his fault, because he's a player we'd 100 percent have to prepare for, but that's a big part of how quarterbacks are judged."
Big wins are like crack to the Heisman voters. And those wins for Murray could come this season. But will they come just as much because of the rushing attack? Food for thought. I still like Murray's chances to earn a spot in New York come December.

Next Haney looks at teams that could challenge Bama for the SEC, and consequently the final BCS title. He settles on a team from the East, but has Georgia, South Carolina and Florida neck and neck. Really giving a slight edge to USCe due to their schedule.
But who's coming out of the East? Let's follow the same theme for the past two seasons. The best team hasn't necessarily won the division. Rather, it's been the team with the clearest path that has come out on top. This season, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina all have relatively equal talent. But if you're a Gamecocks fan, your team has the most favorable schedule.
 I don't think the Dawgs had the "clearest path" last season. Maybe from the start, but it became pretty muddled by the time we were licking our wounds in Columbia. Still, it certainly amplifies the games between those three teams. And whoever gets the date with Bama in December (or whoever manages to trip the Tide up from the West), will have earned the opportunity.

Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Congrats to Ron Courson!

Although word is that Mark Emmert is unimpressed. #freeKoltonHouston

Humpday Hilarity - PLAY THE BALL WHERE IT LIES!!

One of my favorite cartoons as a kids was Popeye. And whenever I'm out on the golf course I distinctly remember one of the sailor man's adventures on the golf course with Bluto. The recurring cry was - "PLAY THE BALL WHERE IT LIES!!!"

The two found themselves in ever more ridiculous situations for having to advance a golf ball. I smiled last Thursday while playing with dad when I hit a beautiful seven iron from dead pan onto the green from about 150 yards. Nary a foot wedge was used. If you play, you know that's not easy. At least for someone like me that only tees it up a handful of times a year.

Anyway, Popeye and Bluto are the only two I've seen hit the ball from inside a tree until I saw this video Mac sent me. Don't know how I missed this shot prior to his email, as it seems to have happened back in March. But it's pretty remarkable. It may not make you fall over in laughter. But you'll surely chuckle as Sergio climbs a tree to identify his ball.

More than a little ashamed to say I would've just dropped another one and taken the stroke. Well done Sergio, reminding us to PLAY THE BALL WHERE IT LIES!!

Coach Garner back in his natural habitat

I'll let you decide which is which.

Rodney Garner back in town tonight to speak to the Greater Athens Auburn Club.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CFPA watch lists full of Dawgs

Lot of Georgia players being named to the College Football Performance Award watch lists for the upcoming season.
Ken Ward
Senior quarterback Aaron Murray is one of 33 at his position on the Quarterback Trophy Watch List, while senior Arthur Lynch makes up one of three tight ends from the Southeastern Conference and one of 36 players overall on the Tight End Trophy Watch List.
Sophomores Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are the other pair of Georgia players included on the offensive watch lists.  The duo is part of 36 players on the Running Back Trophy Watch List.
Also, junior Damian Swann has been included on the Defensive Back Trophy Watch List and Gurley is part of the All-Purpose Performer of the Year Watch List.
Winners aren't announced until January. Former Dawgs Justin Houston, Blair Walsh, Drew Butler and Jarvis Jones are previous winners.

Orson Charles, the eternal square peg?

Saw this piece from a Cincy newspaper yesterday (h/t DawgBone). Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is moving Orson Charles to fullback to make use of his athleticism and the position's versatility.
“It's a very versatile position,” Gruden said. “If you are a one-dimensional team this day and age it's not going to last very long. We are hoping to do a lot of different things. We already know he can get outside and run routes and catch the ball.”
“We'll see what happens when we get to training camp,” Gruden said. “It's experimentation but it's good for Orson to understand defenses from a running back perspective as well as a tight end perspective. It will make him better in the long run.” 
Orson was backing up Jermaine Gresham last season and caught eight passes for 101 yards. Since then the Bengals have added a first round pick at the tight end spot in Tyler Eifert. But instead of forcing Charles to fight his way to the top of the depth chart there, they are attempting to utilize his athleticism and build at their thinnest position.

For his part, Charles is taking it in his usual graceful stride.
“I'm just happy,” he said. “I wasn't mad. At the end of the day I am accomplishing my dreams so it's hard to be mad.”
This, on paper at least, appears to be a positive move for Orson. He never fit squarely into the tight end position at Georgia. And as a result he was either asked to block bigger defensive players or flexed out to where he drew even more attention. He's evidently been working the entire off season at fullback. Here's to hoping it sticks and he makes Bobo say to himself, "Wish I'd've thought of that."

Quick look at 2014

For what it's worth...

Few days ago Travis Haney looked at which teams stand a good shot at national significance in 2014. Despite a new quarterback, he's pretty fond of Georgia.
Ken Ward
The Bulldogs won the SEC East each of the past two seasons, they're something akin to co-favorites this fall -- and yet 2014 might be their best title shot of the four years.
"As long as those backs are there," one coach in the SEC told me, "they're not going anywhere."
The backs, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, are sophomores this season and will be draft-eligible juniors next year. It hasn't been pointed out enough that both are North Carolina products; in a highly contentious recruiting state, they could have gone just about anywhere. And they chose UGA.
Even with Aaron Murray's seemingly eternal stay in Athens coming to a close, and he'll be missed, having two NFL-caliber backs will ease that loss. As freshmen, they averaged a collective 6.3 yards a carry (339 carries) and a touchdown every 13.5 carries.
What does that do? Among other things, it's why Georgia's passing game averaged nearly a yard more per attempt than any other team in the country. One thing leads to the other.
Defensively, a number of newcomers are expected to see the field this fall, but they'll be seasoned vets by this time next year. Expect linebacker Jordan Jenkins and safety Josh Harvey-Clemons to be 2015 draft targets and safety Tray Matthews and linebacker Reggie Carter to be rising stars in the league.
We'll know a lot more about the guys listed in that last paragraph after about a month into this season. But it's easy to see most of Haney's future enthusiasm comes from the tailbacks. He alludes to the uniqueness of having two talented guys at the same position and from the same state go to the same school in a different one altogether. Glad we get to enjoy that a couple more seasons.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Which spring commitment was the biggest for Richt?

I was reading over Radi's spring recruiting recap ($) yesterday and couldn't help but ask myself that question. You hear people say all the time that a recruiting commitment means nothing until they sign on the line. That's true, but only to a point.

This early in the process a commitment can mean a great deal. You want your team's staff to be able to convince certain kids to take that leap of faith. Match the program's interest in other words. In that way, certain commitments can generate some momentum for the staff during recruiting periods and can also add some pressure to recruits that may want to solidify their spot on the roster. You also like to see the staff address specific needs this early in the game.

Chubb at Rising Seniors Game, via Nabulsi
So the last several weeks have been huge for Richt and his staff. As Nabulsi points out, since April the Dawgs have doubled their class and addressed several needs. Here's a look at the latest commits:

  • Jeb Blazevich, tight end, Charlotte NC
  • Sony Michel, running back, Plantation FL
  • Jake Edwards, OL, Franklin GA
  • Gilbert Johnson, wide receiver, Miami FL
  • Nick Chubb, running back, Cedartown GA
  • Malkom Parrish, cornerback, Quitman GA
  • Jacob Park, quarterback, Goose Creek SC
  • Detric Dukes, inside linebacker, Tucker GA
A lot of offensive talent, especially considering Parrish plays quarterback in high school. A quick rundown shows we've got the tight end we want; we addressed the running back position completely; Edwards had an impressive camp in front of Richt and could grow into a very big and talented tackle; Johnson is a big, lean receiver; Parrish had an impressive camp as well; Park is one of two quarterbacks we were zeroed in on; and Dukes was a Louisville commit until yesterday.

Which is the biggest commitment to date? I'd go with Nick Chubb. He was an in state recruit that we were up against a host of other programs for, eventually coming down to Georgia, Auburn and South Carolina. Chubb is a big back with lots of talent and he chose Georgia despite the fact that the backfield is crowded and the fact that Michel (another highly regarded running back) had committed to Georgia back in April. This creates a lot of buzz for the staff and helps soothes some wounds left back in February when we officially missed out on two running backs that crossed the border into Alabama.

Regardless of which current commit turns out to be the biggest star, the staff is doing a good job of addressing needs and a great job aggressively recruiting the talent they want. Hopefully we can add some defensive line targets and a few more offensive linemen to what is already shaping up to be a nice class.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Swann - "I think we're going to shock a lot of people."

I like what starting cornerback has to say about Tray Matthews and the defense wearing the same shoe as the offense wore last season. But I'd just as soon everyone hold onto the "we've got a lot of questions on this young defense" for a while.
“I think once we get guys playing in those big games and producing in those big games, winning on the road and protecting our house, and once guys realize how good they can be, we can be just as good if not better than the defense from last year,” Swann said. “Last year a lot of people didn’t know what to expect a lot from our offense, and they had high expectations for the defense. The offense came out and put up tremendous numbers. Now the shoe is on the other foot; I think we’re going to shock a lot of people.”
Again. Don't get me wrong. I agree with everything Mr. Swann says. This defense won't have the stars in their eyes that Shawn Williams had to knock loose last season.

Read more here:

New GACA inductee - Charlie Winslette, DGD

This is from a couple weeks back, but is something I wanted to pass on here in case some of y'all missed it. Georgia's own Charlie Winslette was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Former Dawgs coach Ray Goff gave his induction speech.
“I knew Ray the whole time he was at Georgia, and he’s been a good friend of mine,” Winslette said. “Our friendship didn’t get off to a great start, because he was (coaching) at South Carolina, recruiting one of my linebackers named Will Forts, who ended up going to Georgia. But he couldn’t say a whole lot, because he played at Georgia and ended up coming back to Georgia.”
Goff recounted that story and several others, with a lot of humor mixed in amongst his strong sentiments about what Winslette has meant to the sport of football in the state of Georgia over the past four decades.
“Charlie has been around a long, long time,” Goff said. “If you watched him play, offensively, he was a lot like my old coach, Coach (Vince) Dooley. It wasn’t very exciting. You weren’t going to see a whole lot of passes thrown… He was gonna play defense. It might be 3-0 or 6-0, but he was going to win most of the time.”
Winslette compiled a career record of 260-134-3 over 34 years as a head coach at eight different Georgia high schools. He guided West Rome High in 1985 and Greene-Taliaferro Comprehensive High in 1993 to state championships and two other teams to state title games.
Winslette also is one of only five people to have won a state championship both as a player and a coach. And he's the only coach to have won so many games while leading two different teams (West Rome and Greene-Taliaferro) to state titles, and four teams to state semi-finals. He's one of the state's pre-eminent experts on the game of football but was also feared as a baseball player as well. He even played first base for the Diamond Dawgs way back in the day before graduating from UGA in 1974. Here he is pictured at the event with his family.

Winslette inducted into GACA Hall of Fame
Winslette (center), newest GACA inductee (picture credit: Steve Froehle)
Congratulations Coach Winslette! And thanks for all you've done for the players and other coaches in the state of Georgia.