Friday, July 11, 2014

Around the tailgate - new era? more kool-aid?

Last question. Thanks to the tailgaters for stepping up and to everyone else for reading. Today we wrap up with a broader stroke. I was eager to hear these guys' opinions on the state of the program. Are they gulping the kool-aid or taking a wait and see approach? Let's get to it.

I get the sense that this is a new era in Mark Richt's tenure. There's a renewed, energized feeling around the program. I'm not sure if that transfers down to the fans yet, but I'm eager to hear how you feel about the state of the program.

I have bought into the hype every year.  Every summer I hear about how the team leaders are getting the guys together for summer workouts and how this team is different.  It seems like we always stumble early and we hear how “we still control our own destiny” and how we are going to “keep fighting”.  

We have been waiting for that “new era” for a long time.  We have seen glimpses of it at times, but never fully taken that step.  For once, I want us to start September like every game is the biggest game we play on the schedule.  

It is the time of the year to be excited about the season and I am, but is it too much to ask for us not to take timeouts on special teams?  See, I am still a little bitter.  I am in full “show me” mode.

Joe Waterloo
I am optimistic that Richt's starting to figure some things out but to be honest I fall for it just about every year and come December I'm typically scratching my head and wondering how long it will be until he retires. I think he is a hell of a person, a great role model, and he represents UGA well, but there always seems to be something lacking.  God knows I have a hard enough time keeping my 3 kids in line - I can't imagine trying to keep 100 of them on the straight and narrow.  But one thing I think a coach and a parent have in common is that the kids need to have a healthy fear of them.  Maybe other schools really do a better job than UGA of keeping these things out of the headlines, but that's probably just fans making excuses.  Maybe this off season will prove that Richt finally has grown tired of all the shenanigans, but up until this point it doesn't seem like our players have had that healthy fear.

I love the Dawgs... I am always hyped up and ready to go for the season.  I love the addition of Jeremy Pruitt and have high hopes for what this will mean for our defense moving forward - especially wondering how his defensive style will translate to the SEC full time.  I am pleased with the state of the program and look forward to what the future holds!  I hope that Mason has a Shockley-like season this year too!

Son of AHD
To me there is a new era on one side of the ball. The offense has been putting up great numbers the past few years (even with a slew of injuries last season). Even the "Fire Bobo" chants have finally started to die down. I don't think we really need to change much with the offense. The defense was another story. After a great start, the money hungry Grantham started slipping, even with a NFL caliber defense. What the defense needed was a fresh start. Once he left, and a few bad apples were shown the door, Pruitt and his new staff had something to work with. All the rumors going around campus is that these new coaches aren't playing around. They are kicking butt and taking names. I even saw one rumor that Pruitt hardly ever interacts with the players in a way that isn't clearly coaching. Even the new star Lorenzo Carter supposedly doesn't get any special treatment. Pruitt is completely changing the defense and it's effects seem to be felt throughout the entire team. Players and coaches are here to win championships. Individual glory is going by the wayside. I would not be surprised to even see our arrests and suspensions go down either. Can you imagine pissing off Pruitt? Right now it feels like a mental and physical revolution that has energized the players and the students in a way I haven't seen recently. Hopefully it'll pay off.

Each season every team takes on their own demeanor and step. This season's team has,on the surface, taken a serious and determined approach to their season. Our clown and stoners have moved on. I wish them well. The rebel uprising has been stymied and it is all about getting down to business. New Kool-aid. Fresh batch with a different look. I like it. Try some. We made plenty.

"The Force is what gives a Bulldog his power. It's an energy field created
by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds
the Bulldawg Nation together."
--Coach Pruitt  to the Defensive Backs.

                              "Don't underestimate the Force!"

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Around the taildate - the schedule

Thanks for clicking in this week. Today we look at the schedule and how it shapes up for the Dawgs this fall.

Taking a look at the schedule, how do you feel it shapes up for Georgia this season? What's the biggest game that you have circled?


The 2014 schedule sets up great.  I tend to be on the optimistic side, but I only see 3 teams that I am worried about.  (SC, Fla, and Auburn)  Of those three games, we have a bye week before SC and Florida.  We have Auburn at home.  

The second game of the year in Columbia East is the biggest game of the year in my opinion.  It sounds a little crazy saying that, because we all know how wild and crazy the college football season can be.  I think a win against the Cocks would put UGA in prime position to make the SEC Championship game and that in itself would make us contenders for the 4 team playoff.

Joe Waterloou
The season shapes up about as perfectly as any UGA fan can hope.  Having bye weeks before South Carolina and Florida is exactly what most fans would ask for, but this is the rare season I wish we had Carolina late in the year.  Going to Columbia in week 2 is going to be brutal with an inexperienced QB.  I know they have QB issues of their own, but that defense and home crowd is not what we want Mason to go through for his first real road game.  There's no doubt that week 2 at USC is the key to the whole season.  I don't think we can overcome being effectively 2 games back with our inexperience at QB and defensive question marks.

We come out to the gate fast again this year with Clempson and South Carolina back-to-back.  I am sure Spurrier likes that better than waiting for us at the end of September.  After that, we have nice streak of home games that should be winnable and then hit the road forever...  It is always tough when you are on the road for a month and a half.  Going to Missouri and Arkansas back to back will be interesting, but at least there is a week off before heading down to the WLOCP.  I am looking forward to Kentucky this year as this will be my first time traveling to Lexington (assuming we get the tickets!).  I still hate the we play Florida the day after Halloween this year.  As much fun as it was taking the red eye down in the morning the last time this happened, I am not sure about our "ticket back" to the ATLon Sunday.  It is still a work in progress, but if I go, I will be sure to slow down with jean-short-wearin' cousing Bill's Bloody Mary's lest I relive the tailgate blackout from yesteryear... Sheesh!

Son of AHD 
I think this schedule sets up pretty sweet for our Dawgs. There is an off week before both the Cocks and the Gayturds. Both of those teams have played us very tough the past several years, and an off week can only make things easier. Everyone else in the East is a joke except for Mizzou, but I feel like we can play them better than last year. Out of the west we miss out on Bama and LSU and instead face the atrocious B10 coaching of Brett Beliema and the convicts of Auburn (at home finally). While I don't like the idea of traveling all the way to Arkansas to play them, I still think that our boys can put that one in the bag pretty easily. Everyone seems to be putting Nick Marshall on their Heisman watch lists, but for the life of me I can't figure out why. He needed two miracle plays to beat UGA and Bama, and then Pruitt shut him down in the second half of the national championship game. I mean, for Christ's sake, Todd Grantham was a play away from not losing the game for us against Auburn. Marshall is no Cam Newton. Richt and Bobo didn't think he had what it takes to be a QB, and they know a little bit about that position. The ACC is an even weaker conference now that they semi added the losing Irish of Notre Dame. For another year we will all get to yell "We run this state" as the nerds of Tech slink back to their holes.
    All that being said, I feel like the two biggest games are the first two games. Clemson and SC will set the tone for the rest of our season. We might be able to lose to Clemson and still set a good tone like last year, but barring a bad snap on a FG and several key injuries, we should be able to beat them. In fact, I hope we embarrass them in front of our home crowd (I'm still a little bitter about Clemson fans asking, "How does that Bama dick taste?" as if coming a play away from the national championship was something to be ashamed of).

First four out of  5 games are at home. We get Clemson at home to start the season. Now we can treat them to a loud stadium. I always hate playing Cacalacky at their place. The upside is that it is not a night game and we get a week off before their game. We get the Hillbillies and Upstart Vandy between the hedges too. Last year uT really came out and hit us in the mouth. I hope we return the favor. After that we will be living in hotels and out of our suitcases for  4 games.I am not making the road trip to Missouri this year. Those are some nice fans they have up there. "Thanks for Coming." How many times did I hear that? We catch a week off before the Gators. When we finally get back to the Hedges we start immediately with the Barners. Pay back is a bitch! We should cruise with the rest of the schedule until its time to get ready for the  SECC game.  Yeah Baby! Thaz what I'm talkin' about!

Holy crap! That HomerDawg clan really can bring it! Good stuff. And about how I feel about the 2014 schedule. Anything they missed? Add it in in the comments. Go Dawgs!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Around the tailgate - Pruitt's defense

You can find Monday and Tuesday's Around the tailgate posts here (off season headlines) and here (the Hutson Mason era). Today we talk about the defense.

With all the defensive attrition in the secondary, how worried are you about how our defense will shape up this August?

The secondary is the only position I am worried about.  I expect us to be better on the defensive line and we have the best group of linebackers in the country.  The front being so good, should alleviate some of the pressure on the secondary, but we are going to have to have some young guys step up.  I had rather have players eager to learn, and willing to do the work, than players with entitlement issues.  

Joe Waterloo
I'm not sure worried is a strong enough word.  With our secondary so thin I think our only hope is to have our front seven put serious pressure on the QB.  Our linebackers are as good as any in the league if not the country, but it seems like our defense has lacked creativity since Van G left.  Pruitt is supposed to be a master at it, so I'm going in with high hopes, but that little voice in the back of my head can't help but keep saying "Uh Oh!"

Defense has been the "worry" coming in to each of the last several seasons it seems.  We have plenty of weapons on offense, but you never really knew what was going to happen on the other side of the ball.  The young players in the secondary did have some flashes this past season, but with many of them going the way of the wind (or Louisville or Auburn), we will again have to work with untested players.  The biggest wild card in this equation is how the addition of Jeremy Pruitt as our DC.  I am ever hopeful that his success at Florida State last year will help inspire our no-name defense to play above themselves.  But I am also wary that we might again need to count on our offense to out gun the teams we come up against...

Son of AHD
No one in their right mind would say that the sheer physical talent on our roster has improved after the departure of 3 members of our secondary. That being said, after the classroom implosion of Trey Matthews, there was a feeling that maybe the overall maturity of our defense had improved. JHC couldn't lay off the THC to remain eligible, and Shaq got his feelings hurt that Pruitt wouldn't let him be a clown during practice. While these players are great athletes, they displayed a lack of maturity that may have been a contributing factor in their inability to understand Grantham's god-awful defensive scheme. Pruitt has a lot of experience in coaching high school boys, but he expects his players to act like men (something Richt has preached for years). So the Bulldog nation has to show a little faith in Pruitt's ability to put the best players on the field and in a position to make a play. While I think that our defense is unlikely to destroy teams like in years past (at least until Pruitt has a few years of recruiting), I do believe that they will improve substantially over the unit last year and will no longer be a liability. 

Appreciate the honest opinions. Feel free to add your own Reader down below. And come back tomorrow when we talk about how the 2014 schedule shapes up.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Around the tailgate - beginning the Hutson Mason era

One of the things I plan to do in the coming weeks is to rewatch the last three games of the season to get a better feel for what we can expect this fall from Hutson Mason. For now though I want to hear from these guys experts on how they feel about letting go of a four year starter in Murray, and handing the reins over to his backup.

For the first time since 2010 we'll start the season with a quarterback other than Aaron Murray. Since we've had a chance to see Hutson Mason in actual games other than garbage time, how do you feel about the having the fifth year senior under center?

I am pretty nervous about the QB play in the 2014 season.  As bad as I felt for Aaron Murray when he was injured in the Kentucky game, I was glad that Hutson Mason was going to see some quality action.  

Coach Richt isn’t big on playing back-ups at the QB position, unless it is against an FCS opponent and the game is waaaaaaay out of hand.  If Murray had not been injured, we may not know what we have in 2014 at the QB position.  Now that we have seen Mason, I feel pretty good, but I think it is expecting too much for him to play quality SEC opponents on the road and not make a few mistakes.  After all, Aaron Murray still made some big mistakes as a senior.  The good news about the QB position on this 2014 team, he will not need to be perfect.  Our experienced RB’s will take a lot of the pressure off. 

Joe Waterloo
Uneasy is probably the most diplommatic way to discribe how I feel about Mason at QB.  There is certainly a lot of talent around him at the skill positions to take the pressure off, but our offensive line had some key losses.  It wouldn't be as big of a deal if it didn't look like our defense is going to have some major growing pains.  I don't know how reasonable it is to expect him to lead our offense to putting up the kind of numbers Murray did last year, but that might be exactly what we need from him - especially early in the season while the defense gets it's legs under it.

In two and a half games plus mop up duties Hutson threw for approx. 1000 yards.  That pace over the course of a season would be similar to what Murray was able to do for our Dawgs. In the past we were known for our pro style approach mixing in some play action. Murray was comfortable with that approach but he was also very capable of running the spread, which we did. Mason is comfortable with a fast pace offense and the spread suits his game. While not possessing a Stafford like cannon for an arm he is accurate and can lead this team. He has had the reps with Conley and Bennett when they were practicing with the 2s. Look for him to familiarize himself with the rest of his receiving core this summer. He doesn't have to be the second coming of Murray. Gurley  and crew will take a lot of pressure off Mason allowing him to hone his skill set early season and be more of a veteran leader and decision maker later on. Sure there will be a bump or two in the road. But I liked what I saw at Tech when we got behind and Mason gathered himself up and started playing well. Of course there is no RB back I rather have in my backfield late in the fourth quarter other than the Gurley Man! 
Go Dawgs!

Great stuff gentlemen! And y'all come back tomorrow when we look specifically at the secondary, who we have and who we don't.

Retribution: "There's always hope..."

The internets eluded me last weekend. I blame Hurricane Arthur. Regardless, I finally got around to watching Chris Conley's Retribution and thoroughly enjoyed it. In case I'm not the last one to see it, here it is. Go wide screen and crank up the volume.

Retribution: Darkness Falls from Retribution Movie on Vimeo.

Some thoughts.
- We've been hounding Conley, and subsequently Infinite Productions and Spirit World Productions, for the final product for some time. It was well worth the wait.
- More impressive than expected in about every facet. The writing, the acting, the cameos, the humor, the direction, the production, and especially the visual effects made the film very entertaining.
- All in all it left me wanting more. And completely impressed that the young man put this thing together in such a way. Sure, he had plenty of talent and help on his side. But remembering his tweets as it was being conceived, and eventually his casting call to his fellow students to come out for a part in it, reminds me that he spent a lot of time on this and has to be pretty proud to see it through.

Lastly, the only thing disappointing is the lack of comments/feedback. I guess I expected more when I loaded it on Vimeo since I was there a few days after it went live. So if you have a moment, go give these guys some encouragement and kind words.

It's a great film, produced in a great city and on a great campus. Well done to all involved.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Help DeAngelo give back

FYI - Damn good Dawg with some damn good plans for giving back to the Statesboro community that helped him overcome the odds.

Around the tailgate - off season headlines

It's the return of some off season tailgate conversation. Each day this week I posed a question for some of my favorite tailgaters. They respond, in between sips of fortitude.

Today we look at the highlights/lowlights of the off season.

The off season has been long, but pretty active. The departures and attrition have grabbed the usual share of headlines, but I would still rate the addition of Jeremy Pruitt as the highlight thus far. How would you characterize the 2014 off season?

Jeremy Pruitt has to be the highlight of the off-season. Let me get this straight and pinch myself once more. The defensive co-ordinator for the 2013 National Championship team made a decision to come to our beloved Georgia Bulldogs and coach th same position? Not only that, it didn't cost us a ton of extra money. Extra money that I would have been happy to see AD Greg McGarity dip into the vault for. Great job by Coach Mark Richt, AD Greg McGarity, and especially Coach Friend.

While I am optimistic about what the future brings under Coach Pruitt's leadership, I hate that there were players not willing to pay the price to succeed under said leadership. Regardless, I like "no B.S." attitude and the optimism far outweighs my frustration with players not doing the right thing.

Joe Waterloo
I think the additional of Jeremy Pruitt is without question the highlight of the offseason .  But other than that it's been the typical trainwreck that us Dawg fans have become accustom to.  Maybe the loss of so many key defensive players (to things other than graduation) will end up being addition by subtraction in the long run, but in the short term of the 2014 season there's a lot of math to overcome.  Pruitt can't help but being an upgrade from Granthem, but even if he is the Nick Saban schooled rock star we are expecting it would have been much better to see him being able to salvage the damage Granthem did then to have to start fresh at so many spots.

It started with uncertainty and then we hired Pruitt. I'm impressed with Pruitt and I am not by myself. The departures and failings of our players can't be taken lightly.  Gee... I could free lance here but I'm not fooling anyone. Todd was not the DC we hoped he would be and some of the great recruiting gets failed to deliver.  So we rebuild and reunite? I guess so. I'm on the bus... on a Ford 150 or whatever it is we are riding! ;-)

Thanks gentlemen! Y'all come back tomorrow when we look at the transition under center between #11 and #14.

This about sums it up...via Benjamin...