Saturday, January 11, 2014

Has Saban jumped the shark?

It sure feels that way. And not in just the snarky Lane Kiffin is just another douchebag with a very pretty name. Consider the following statements of fact:

  1. Saban thrives on controlling the process. 
  2. Kiffin steers towards corners he can purposefully cut.
  3. The SEC landscape is where both men complete those tasks most meaningfully.
This will either work because Kiffin has changed enough that he can fit under the Bama coach's miniature umbrella, or it will crash and burn in a way that will set a new standard for failures in grandeur.

Also, screw Slive. Did Nick ask his wife Terry about this first? I have a hard time imagining Mrs. Saban getting along too well with Layla. But admittedly, that's a very surface assessment.

Regardless, pass the popcorn. I'm dusting off the ol' KiffyBaby blog tag! 

via nick_pants

Friday, January 10, 2014

More on Lakatos, then moving forward

Reading the tea leaves from this post by Emerson, those that think the Georgia defensive backs coach was fired, appear to be mistaken.
This has been in the works for awhile, from what I'm told, and it may have happened - perhaps even probably still would have - had Georgia's secondary not struggled so much this year.
Personal reasons were given as the reason for Lakatos stepping down, and it's a very legitimate reason, according to a couple sources within the program. Yes, the secondary had a rough season, and yes, I do think a fresh approach with some of the youngsters will be good. But one source described to me how hard Lakatos has worked, whether it was on the field or in recruiting. He's a respected coach, and the decision to leave appears to be mostly his own. If this was a firing, it would have happened after the Georgia Tech game.
And that was my question last night once the news broke - if this were a case of Lakatos getting a pink slip it would've happened weeks ago. After Georgia beat Tech in 2009, it didn't take very long before Richt showed Martinez and crew the way out. No, this smells differently. Much so. I agree with Blutarsky, we'll never really know. And quite frankly, it doesn't sound like it's any of our business, except that it allows both parties a fresh start.

So, moving along...
 That also doesn't mean that a search for a new secondary coach is suddenly beginning. Lakatos leaving has been a possibility for awhile now, and frankly I was a bit surprised it wasn't announced after the Georgia Tech game. I suspect that Todd Grantham has been laying some groundwork for awhile, and something could happen relatively quickly.
As for potential replacements, I've thrown out Manny Diaz's name (the former Texas defensive coordinator, not the longtime Georgia tennis coach) because he's available, and there is a connection with Richt. That doesn't mean it will be him. Grantham could very well reach back into his NFL contacts; that's how Kirk Olivadotti ended up being hired three years ago. Or it could be the ex-coordinator who's available, the way Chris Wilson was hired last year.
According to Shattle Fenteng (one of Georgia's three defensive back commitments for 2014) and a conversation the JUCO standout had yesterday with Coach Grantham, the first looks to replace Lakatos may in the NFL. That would be my first guess, and I believe if that's the direction Grantham turns it will happen quickly.

But last season Chris Wilson was brought in from a rival nearby competitor. Personally, I'd prefer Grantham and Richt start in the college ranks, especially considering that Wilson has hit the ground running so well. Say what you will about the lack of consistency from Lakatos' unit this season, but it appears to me he was doing a good job recruiting the right players. So reaching out to someone like Florida's Tavaris Robinson, who is known as a solid recruiter, might be a solid step to take. Florida finished first in the conference for pass defense, so Richt could do a lot worse for sure. And it's not too big a leap to assume a spot on Richt's staff in Athens would be just a little more secure than one in Gainesville.

While I'm throwing names out there at random (somewhat), what about Vanderbilt's George Barlow? There's word around Nashville that, if indeed there is a new coaching search for the Commodores, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop will get a good luck at replacing James Franklin. If that happens, Barlow would likely assume the full-time duties of defensive coordinator. But if not...and if there's, ahem, no ill will between Grantham and one of Franklin's assistants...then Barlow could be looking for a stable landing spot. The 'Dores finished sixth in the conference in pass defense last season and had nearly twice as many interceptions as Florida did. Just looking at players like Andre Hal (Thorpe, Bednarik and Nagurski Award watchlists) the last couple of seasons and Trey Wilson in '11 and '12, he's done an exemplary job developing talent in Nashville.

That's just some food for thought. We'll look at some more candidates I'm sure as the situation develops.

Great day for the Richt family name!

Coach brings us some news from the home front.

Congrats to the Richt family!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lakatos resigns for personal reasons

Without speculating too far, I wish Coach Lakatos and his family nothing but the best. Problems on the field always, always pale in comparison to any troubles off of it. A sincere and heartfelt thanks on top of well wishes, prayers and positive thoughts.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The trust in McGarity's desk

I casually clicked on this pre-season ranking article just to go through the usual January motion. But this quote, based on a what-if scenario that gives UGA a national championship in exchange for a dismal season preceding it, stuck out like a sore thumb:
“If I sit here and say, yeah, I’d be willing to go through a two-win season in order to win a national championship the next year, we’re in the if only world,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said back in December. “We’re speculating here. Our charge has always been to show improvement every year. That is determined at the end of the day by me. That’s my responsibility. It lands at this desk.”
Like I alluded to last month here and here, your support in the current state of the Georgia football program should come down to how much you trust the athletic director (and especially the people he answers to/consults with) to make the Gus Malzahn homerun hire.

I'll hang up and listen again, because my own personal jury is deadlocked. At least I think that's the nicest way I can put it.

Humpday Hilarity - true friendship

To all my friends out there that I've ever used as a step stool...thanks for just being there when I needed ya man!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kublanow is "going to be interesting"

Watching the Gator Bowl on television, it was easy to miss the Dallas Lee injury. But when tempers flared, I quickly recognized #54 getting after it and mixing it up with some Cornhuskers. One thing we missed on the offensive line this season (well, one of the things) is someone who has an edge, an attitude...a bold spirit.

Enter, Brandon Kublanow.
“I do think Kublanow gives us a little bit more of a physical presence inside,” offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said of the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Marietta product who was the only freshman offensive lineman to play this season. “He’s got some power. It’s going to be interesting.”
Offensive line is a perpetual question mark under Coach Richt. But early on it looks like left guard could be an upgrade. Stay tuned.

Tre´ Mason would like a recount

And the winner is...

Congrats to Kdawg77 on winning the Fourth Annual Festivus4theDawgNus Bowl Pool. He finished ahead of Truupster and a host of third placers to take home the much sought after t-shirt. Kdawg's grievances were aired and his feats were strong that day my friend!

Send me your email and t-shirt size (bernie dawg AT gmail) and your prize will be in the mail before the strike is over. I promise.

Thanks to everyone for playing. We'll drag the pole out of the crawlspace again next year!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Farewell BCS. My lone parting thought.

I can think of two, maybe three Auburn fans I'd be legitimately happy for if Auburn wins. Other than that, this sums it up perfectly I believe:

FSU 45
AU  30

Coach Richt has lost control of school closures

Or in other words, why UGA needs an indoor learning facility.

Nope. No UGA...yet. Whomp whomp.
Been reading tweets from players hoping, praying and pleading for snow last night, and now just some kind of miraculous decision from Morehead's desk. I've been there. Rolled the dice on bad weather that didn't come and ended up with an F on a paper.

And while we're talking about bad weather and college memories, I had lunch at a local Guthries today. While living in Russell Hall we went up Baxter for chicken finger boxes loaded down in MSG about once a weekend. But whenever we were trapped in by Mother Nature we made an extra trip up north. There or China Boat.

Good times. Good food.

Hutson Mason, heir apparent?

As the time of year dictates, I'm in the process of prioritizing an off season Georgia Bulldogs tackle football agenda; the things that need to be addressed and an order in which to address them. Or some fashion there within. But I think it is best to dive into this topic right away - the next quarterback in the post-Aaron Murray era and what the position looks like as #11 exits with all his yards, touchdowns and records.

The passing of the huddle.
What does the depth chart look like? Hutson Mason (Sr), Faton Bauta (RS Soph), Brice Ramsey (RS Fr), Jacob Park (Fr). Lemay's departure takes away Richt's ideal of having a perfectly staggered quarterback depth chart in terms of matriculation. Also of note, Parker Welch, the walk on that surpassed Lemay, has graduated along with Murray and fellow walk on Greg Bingham. So four scholarship signal callers, one of which is just now moving onto campus.

What do we know for sure? Hutson Mason has the most experience obviously; he stayed on campus despite opportunities to transfer and will enter the spring as the clubhouse leader; in 157 attempts he has eight touchdowns, three interceptions and a 143.26 passer rating; Bauta is the only other quarterback with experience, albeit no attempted passes; he has four rushes for 30 yards in four total plays.

What can we assume? Nothing. Except that Mason will surely start the Clemson game, barring something unforeseen this spring. He has some differences than Murray for sure, but he also is the one Bobo and Richt have the most familiarity with as their quarterback. And taking into account the history and what we know of Richt, he'll provide Mason every chance and more to take over the reins given the chances he had to leave the program altogether.

Looking back to last week. the Gator Bowl was a mixed bag for Mason, as well as the fans watching with an eager eye (maybe too eager??) as to how he would perform with a month of preparation under his belt. On one hand you saw him dance around too much, make some bad throws, far fewer checks at the line of scrimmage than what we've grown accustomed to seeing, and overall have a game that was more forgettable than memorable.

But taking a step back can give us a clearer picture. The weather was far below ideal, his targets (at least the ones he'll be throwing to in 2014) were mostly in sweats on the sidelines, his offensive line struggled on their way to giving up four sacks, and he still threw for over 300 yards. The biggest concern for Mason coming out of the bowl game (at least the way I see it) was the significant drop in completion percentage, 66% in three previous games to 53% against the Cornhuskers. And the fact that the only starting receiver with much experience (Chris Conley) was not even close to 100% as well as the sloppy field and rain, can more than explain that drop in passes completed.

So, looking forward, I see little reason to worry, much less speculate as to whether Mason should be the guy heading into the 2014 campaign. I believe we will see some looks for Bauta. He provides a different skillset at the position that could be utilized as a change of pace. That is something that will be very interesting to watch this spring and particularly at GDay. But more directly, the most intriguing question in terms of the quarterback position will be how much Bobo adapts to Mason's style. We've heard #14 likes an up tempo pace. Can the offensive scheme adjust to that successfully? Or will Mason have to dial it down to match an offense that will surely feature a running game behind Todd Gurley?

Probably a little of both. Something to keep an eye on as we surely read about all the comparisons to 2005 when another quarterback who had waited his turn to take over behind an established veteran finally found his time to shine. Shockley had a lot more snaps under his belt prior to getting his turn. Let's just hope the end results are similar with a trip to Atlanta again.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Wright wants Crowell to "bounce back"

For me at least, this was a nice "rise from the ashes" story. Until the end, where Gabe Wright knows role models war eagles.
Sometimes, a second chance is all someone needs. As Wright noted, an off-field indiscretion only derails a career if you let it.
Wright then pointed to a pair of notable examples Crowell can turn to if he ever needs a reminder.
"Look at Nick (Marshall). Think about Cam (Newton)," he said. "Think about what those guys went through. It’s all about how you bounce back."
Perspective can be a bitch Gabe. After all, second chances are a dime a dozen on the Plains.

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