Saturday, August 3, 2013

Hunker down vs touch that rock

Excellent preview video here by Sonny Kennedy. (h/t Greg)

Glory Glory!

But so did Jarvis...

Jordan Jenkins has big shoes to fill for sure. Jarvis Jones had 14.5 [edit] sacks last season alone. But which came first, the system or the star player?

A Georgia defensive pass rusher has thrived in Grantham's system in every year he's been in Athens. Justin Houston used his junior season to vault into the NFL. Then Jarvis did the same in 2011 and 2012. So odds are in Jordan Jenkins favor. Still, he, his teammates and his coaches are cautiously optimistic.
  • “Jordan has all the characteristics you look for in playmakers. I think it’s just a matter of working and developing and perfecting his craft. If he does that, I think I’m excited about what he can do.” - Coach Grantham
  • “He’s quick, strong, fast, agile. He’s everything. He’ll definitely set the tone for this defense off the edge.” - Mike Thornton
  • “I think he’ll probably get some of the same type of opportunities that he got a year ago, but that remains to be seen. If they watch film and say he’s the guy we’ve got to do something different with, he may have to learn to beat some more double teams than he’s ever had to deal with.” - Coach Richt
  • “He knows that he needs to perform and I think he will...It will be fun to watch him this year and hopefully he’s Jarvis-esque on the field.” - John Theus
  • “Personally, I just want to be able to keep the fans happy, keep myself happy and just have a great year this year...Just have that breakaway year that I want and my family wants.” - Jenkins

Friday, August 2, 2013

Keith Marshall 2.0

Gonna be a big year for Keith Marshall. Don't you think he's tired of hearing about his friend Todd Gurley? Don't you think he's sick of playing second fiddle?

Let the windmill bi-ceps free Dawg!

h/t Logan Booker of Bulldawg Illustrated

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"NO DEPOSIT, NO RETURN!" - Erk Russell

Practice starts today. Camp opened and iPads were dispensed. Now it's grind time. And what better way to start than with a look at one of Erk Russell's infamous August calendars. (Here's last year's. And many thanks to Scott for sharing the one below.)

In 1982, while Georgia was preparing for an opener against Clemson again, Russell was busy starting the Georgia Southern program from scratch after 40 years of dormancy. No real surprise that he incorporated a method he'd used in Athens to motivate his players and raise the bar each and every day.

When GSU hired Erk, Lewis Grizzard is noted for commenting - "When they landed Erk Russell, they got themselves a franchise." And right on cue, in just the Eagles fourth season and just their second as a full NCAA member, Erk lead Georgia Southern to their first national title.

Erk Russell was a master motivator. We should remember him at all times, but especially in August. Because no one could get a team in shape mentally and physically like Erk.

Click for larger version

Clemson coach sings some Motown

Up beyond Lake Hartwell you can hear Aretha really belting it out. Or maybe that's just Tiger defensive line coach Dan Brooks.
"They know they have to prepare," he said. "I think a lot of it is their mentality of how much they respect that opponent. You want them to respect every opponent. But they respect Georgia more because they saw Georgia in the SEC championship game and saw them go to their bowl game and play well. There is a definitely a respect factor."
So that's what coming within a breath of beating Saban's minions gets you. Respect.

I guess we all knew that. But still sounds a little odd coming from an assistant coach in another conference talking about a game Georgia lost. My guess is Coach Brooks may have watched that game a few more times than I did.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A leaner and meaner position battle, hopefully

Ching does a thorough job of breaking down the top position battles to watch out for now that practices are upon us. And of course there's lots of intrigue, from how Kolton Houston will fit into a fairly muddy offensive tackle rotation to who can challenge for Josh Harvey-Clemons' spot in the opener.

But after watching the defensive line grow softer and softer in the final games of 2012, the position I'm watching with the keenest eye will be the nose tackle. It is Thornton's starting spot to lose. But he gives up 60 or so pounds to his predecessors and has some eager and slightly bigger bodies right behind him. To make it even more intriguing, longtime defensive line coach Rodney Garner is gone. Newly appointed Chris Wilson has already made a name for himself on the recruiting trails. Can he have this line ready for prime time opener AND the grind of the SEC slate?
Returning contenders: Michael Thornton (0 tackles), Taylor
Newcomers: Junior college transfer Chris Mayes, prep school transfer John Atkins, freshmanDe’Andre Johnson
Breakdown: Fourth-year junior Thornton inherited the job from the massive duo of John Jenkins and Kwame Geathers. And yet it’s reasonable to wonder how the line will function differently with the 290-pound Thornton in the middle instead of his 350-pound-plus predecessors. Coaches and teammates say Thornton can handle the job, but Mayes and Atkins -- who both weighed roughly 320 pounds -- are lurking behind him on the depth chart. And it’s not out of the question that Taylor could move inside in certain situations, either. The job seems to be Thornton’s to lose, but it would not be a surprise to see several different players lining up inside early in the year as new line coach Chris Wilson weighs his options. 

Building up towards the opener

Georgia opened camp yesterday. Clemson opens on Friday. Between now and August 31st, this game is only going to get bigger. And bigger. And bigger.

So here's some storylines that will be interesting to follow. Of course, about every position on the defensive side of the ball is up for grabs. We'll talk about those plenty in the coming weeks. Here I used broader strokes using what I think will be a more national scope.

Quarterback battle
Aaron Murray and Tajh Boyd are two of the nation's best. They're considered legitimate pre-season Heisman candidates and their performance in the opener could have far reaching implications for them personally and their teams' chances at titles.

The good news (and bad news) for fans on both sides is that each signal caller is a senior with a wealth of experience to go on. Murray broke numerous school records last season while passing for 3,893 yards, and could overtake Peyton Manning's SEC career touchdown mark this season. Boyd matched Murray's air attack with 3,896 yards himself and also added 514 rushing yards. The Clemson quarterback's dual threat is something Georgia will have to have an answer for on defense. Which brings me to...

Defensive gameplan
In what is certainly shaping up to be a high scoring affair, Georgia's Todd Grantham and Clemson's Brent Venables have a busy month ahead of finding the right playmakers and making the necessary adjustments.

For the Tigers that will mean finding a way to control Georgia's rushing attack (which totaled 2,556 yards in 2012) without giving Aaron Murray too many options downfield. For the Dawgs it will mean  finding the players and the scheme that can control both Boyd's legs and his arm. No easy task for either defense. But whichever side prepares more thoroughly, will likely make the difference in the outcome.

The Point Spread
The game is clearly a hard one to handicap. Some have Georgia as about a 3.5 point favorite while others favor the home team, but narrowly. Do these lines move and how much will be an interesting subplot in seeing where the money on this game is most comfortable. People will be checking out the sports betting sites at for the latest stats and information. A key injury here or there could cause a major shift. Some press about a newcomer's impact could affect the line as well.

There will be a lot of action wagered in this one I'm sure. It's the biggest game of the opening weekend. The national media will all be on hand and the spotlight will be bright. Which brings me to...

Ticket Demand
As we wait impatiently for cutoff scores to be announced, the price for a ticket to this game continues to rise. The bigger the hype the bigger the price. If Clemson does indeed send UGA 8000 it will make things a little easier for those traveling and planning on getting a seat inside. But regardless, it will be a seller's market with big prime time dollars being spent. Good time to be a scalper in Pickens County.

So which team avoids the intense drama, speculation and spotlight that this game will grow into and goes into Memorial Stadium to tackle, catch and cover instead of to star gaze and melt under the humidity and pressure? There's no question that Richt has more wide-ranging experience with this sort of thing compared to Dabo. But a Georgia fan only has to remember back to Boise State in the Georgia Dome a couple years ago to wonder what Richt and his staff will do differently.

If anything at all. The coaches lead the way, but the team whose focus is the keenest will be the one whose individual leaders take control of the team. From here on out, each and every rep, each and every drill, each and every block is aimed at winning the opener and starting the season out the right way.

Humpday Hilarity - Irish Philosophy

Kinda has a Bobby McFerrin "Don't Worry Be Happy" feel to it, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"Never Forget" the fumbles, Go Gatah!

Behind the scenes, the WLOCP continues (h/t BassinDawg) to eat at Muschamp especially hard. But invoking a dash of 9/11 sentiment..?? C'mon William.

And so it begins...

Coach Lilly posted this pic.

Yes. Lets do this!

Champ Bailey Enters “Now Or Never” Season

Thanks to the addition of Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos are officially in a win now mode. Last season was a great start, as the team cruised through the regular season, but they ended up losing a heartbreaker to eventual Super Bowl champions Baltimore. The team is loaded again heading into 2013, but for former Georgia standout Champ Bailey, he has to start feeling the pressure as far as how many years left he has left to produce at a high level.

The 35-year old is coming off a poor playoff performance, as Joe Flacco tore up an otherwise reliable secondary for the Broncos. Many people felt as though Bailey clearly lost a step in 2012, but he points to lingering injuries as being more of the case in that regard.

With the possible suspension of Von Miller to begin the season, there is a very good chance that the defense will face a much tougher task in 2013 as well. Chris Harris and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are just two of the players who will help out Bailey in the secondary, and they will need it with less pressure on the quarterback from a linebacker position.

Although very few people play fantasy football that selects individual defensive players, Bailey and the Broncos defense will be a nice fantasy football sleeper pick collectively. They have all the goods to be dominant, especially when Miller returns and the team is at full strength. For Champ Bailey fans, this could be his best chance to ever get that Super Bowl ring that he has been chasing since entering the league in 1999.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday's Meatloaf - "Off and On" day is HERE!!

"Get OFF the sofa and On the field! Run Run RUN!!" - Erk Russell

Coach Richt,

Congratulations on the advent of another new season in Athens. Glory awaits us again this fall as you and your team stand at the precipice of summer camp. We're eager to cheer you as you run onto the field...or casually stroll. Whichever. Easy on that new hip man.

I wanted to let you know that I will unfortunately not be able to attend tonight's function at the Gwinnett Center. Doggoneit! Life is happening and I just won't have a chance to swing by and hobnob with you and the others.

I know, I know. I was so excited back in March and even offered up my own backyard (an offer that still stands actually) as an option for UGA Day. But you know how things are when you're kinda a big deal. When you walk down Prince Ave. in mid-afternoon, that's kinda the way it is for me around these parts. Pulled every which way and the other. You know.

So my apologies. Please tell Greg and Jere to go easy on the scotch and give Coach Stricklin my sincerest welcome. I'll see you in Clempson in a few weeks. But if you need any help during practices you can hit me up on the twitter. I'll come running.

And of course, if it runs late tonight you are welcome to stay here at "Bernie's House of Estrogen". Do you prefer Italian linen or Egyptian cotton?

(AP Photo)
Later dude.

Today's Ingredients
- Congrats to Big John! And to all who were able to survive another ho-hum three sets/three tiebreakers kind of win.
- As we draw closer to the 2013 tackle football campaign, I hear more and more chatter about Jay Rome having a break out season. Kimberley shares her thoughts on that very subject.
- Steele ranks the positions and Blutarsky breaks it all down in terms of the opener.
- Some reason for optimism regarding the 2013 defense from Garbin.
- Corbindawg would like Richt to "pop" Kolton Houston into the starting lineup September 7th.
- Tyler spinning the hits with this "oldie goldie".
- If you missed it (like I did), Macondawg looks at the biggest disasters in UGA Athletics the last 20 years. Luckily me spilling two stadiums cups of bourbon and Coke at the 2010 USCe game didn't make the ballot.
- In need of some Dawg porn today? Try Andrew's post on Aaron Murray that includes some wicked highlights.
- Remember when I told you about T Kyle King's new book "Fighting Like Cats and Dogs"? Well, I got mine in the mail. Have you ordered yours yet?
- Lastly, you'll recall last year when we used Erk's motivational calendar to prepare us for the 2012 season. Thanks to Scott, we'll have another one begin to make an appearance later this week. GATA. Always.

Build a BIG neck!
So yeh, camp opens tomorrow. Football is finally upon us! Sure there's still 33 days to wait for the toe to meet the leather, but for hotshot bloggers this is like Christmas Eve, or walking out of the classroom after your last exam before spring break, or your 21st birthday, or your first visit to a strip club, or your 21st birthday at a strip club, or shopping...for a new tv!!

It was a long, arduous and, to be quite honest, awkward off season. There was a lot of hurt and pain and "what might have been" to swallow and digest. We all ran out of Tums before the calendar hit February and we just wallowed in our own self-pity and loathing. Some of you haven't even showered since Christmas. C'mon now.

But tomorrow the sun rises on new opportunities. The horizon will fill with aspirations and goals aimed at building on last year's success. You trudge along, stumble, learn and keep moving. From Woodruff Practice Fields we'll get updates about which defensive player is making strides towards the top of Grantham's empty depth chart. Some freshman will spark message boreds to fire off unbridled enthusiasm. Perhaps if we're lucky, a scuffle or two will break out between some linemen.

Buckle your chin strap Reader and stop hanging your head. Time to get after it. Here's your fork!


Talking pad level in Death Valley

While we're celebrating the addition of Kolton Houston to our already deep offensive line, over on the other side of Lake Hartwell they're pretty proud of their defensive line's progress at pad level.
"When we got into the mentality that Coach Brent (Venables) brings us, which is attacking our keys, I felt like we got better at playing the run, getting off some blocks, and getting some pressure and some sacks. All of them just got better as they went along. They know what they're doing and they're confident in themselves."
Brooks said that the players, over time, "bought into what we teach."
"I've been doing this a long time," Brooks said. "My job was to make what I'm teaching fit into Brent Venables' scheme. Once we got that going, it was good."
It's true that the Tigers did much better against the run down the final stretch last season; something they'll have to continue to show improvement on against Georgia for sure. But said improvement was against the likes of Wake Forest, Duke and Maryland. Against South Carolina they were pounded mercilessly for 45 carries. Even though Spurrier was only getting three yards per carry on average. And in the bowl game against LSU the Venables defense only surrendered 99 yards. Of course, inexplicably, Les Miles' cats only ran the ball 25 times.

I bet if Bobo can get four yards a carry or better we'll see a greatly skewed rush/pass ratio in order to try and keep Tahj Boyd and Co. off the field.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Walker your Dawg! THIRTY-FOUR!!

Yesterday I hit a countdown snafu on twitter and incorrectly displayed the amount of time til the kickoff against Clempson. To make up for that...


Where is your "acceptance" of being five yards short?

In 1969, Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross introduced five stages of grief in her book "On Death and Dying". In theory, it was proposed that people work through a process that takes them through the following: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. It's a fluid process, but nonetheless a theory that has been widely accepted and used for decades.

Tonight my friends, you have another chance to work through your own grief over last year's loss to Alabama. As Logan reminds us, ESPNU has finally counted down to the best game of the 2012 season. They've worked through all of the other tackle football conferences with merely epic games and semi-dramatic finishes. And now they've come to the only game that could possibly be labeled as the best game of 2012. It airs tonight on ESPNU at 9:00pm.

I know some one or two of you have already re-watched the SECCG. And I know many of you have no plans to subject yourself to the misery. As Logan explains, this is a personal choice. I just felt compelled to re-submit to you the following links:
If you are still in the doldrums...if you can't get past that game even seven months removed from it...if you're not ready to even think about the 2013 campaign yet...then I strongly urge you to watch the game again. See the purpose and determination in Richt's team. See the amount of fight in the Dawg. See the way we stood toe to toe with one of college football's greatest teams ever.

Then you can click the off button...delete the game from your DVR if necessary...and go to sleep. 

Thirty four days y'all. Don't get stuck in the past.