Fan talk: Clemson opener, lack of defensive progress, Hutson Mason’s leadership, SEC schedule and more!

Mark Richt understands how Dabo Swinney feels about kicking a player off his team. (John Kelley / UGA)

Mark Richt understands how Dabo Swinney feels about kicking a player off his team. (John Kelley / UGA)

Mark Richt began his spring tour of booster clubs this past week with a stop in Greenville, and it being South Carolina the subject of Georgia’s season-opener with Clemson in Athens naturally came up.

“It’s exciting to play that type of game in game one,” the Greenville News quoted Richt as saying. “It was a tremendous amount of excitement at Clemson a year ago. Their fans did a phenomenal job. Their staff and players did a great job and won the game. So, we need to match that or exceed that type of intensity as a fan base and as a staff and as a team. We’re looking forward to that challenge.”

Richt, who’ll be missing a few players of his own (as usual) for that first game, commiserated with Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, who’s having his own problems, having previously suspended four players for the UGA game and now having announced the dismissal from the team of …

Continue reading Fan talk: Clemson opener, lack of defensive progress, Hutson Mason’s leadership, SEC schedule and more! »

Bulldogs’ spring wunderkinds don’t always become regular season stars

Will J.J. Green's spring success story carry over into the fall? (John Kelley / UGA)

Will J.J. Green's spring success story carry over into the fall? (John Kelley / UGA)

Something that new UGA defensive coordinator (and quote-machine-in-the-making) Jeremy Pruitt said the other day brought home to me the futility in trying to use spring practice storylines to predict regular season fall headlines.

Talking about his resistance to giving out honors this time of the year, Pruitt said about spring defensive MVP Ramik Wilson and Coffee County Hustle Award winner J.J. Green: “To me, those awards are spring awards. Those two guys may end up being starters, leaders or whatever, or they may not play. It’ll be up to them between now and fall camp.”

While I think he was laying out the extreme possibilities just to make a point — the likelihood of either Wilson or Green not playing this fall seem remote — Pruitt’s attitude is in line with what Georgia has experienced in recent years.

Last year, all the spring talk about the big hits freshman safety Tray Matthews

Continue reading Bulldogs’ spring wunderkinds don’t always become regular season stars »

Quarterbacks, defense the main focus as Red and Black battle on G-Day

Todd Gurley didn't have to work that hard to be the best back playing Saturday. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Todd Gurley didn't have to work that hard to be the best back playing Saturday. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Saturday was a fine time to be in Athens, what with the absolutely gorgeous spring weather and a chance to spend a couple of hours watching football at Sanford Stadium with my brothers and 46,000 other folks. Plus frisbee-catching dogs!

So, now to the main questions asked by Bulldog fans who couldn’t attend this year’s G-Day game, won 27-24 by the Red team (featuring the first-string offense) over the Black team (with the first-string defense):

First, how did Hutson Mason look? Very good. He completed 18 of 27 passes (almost all in the first half and including his first five) for 241 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, continuing his trend this spring of strong play. (In fact, head coach Mark Richt said after the game that this was the worst of Mason’s three spring scrimmages — which I think qualifies as Dawg porn.) I liked the pace of Mason’s offense, which featured a …

Continue reading Quarterbacks, defense the main focus as Red and Black battle on G-Day »

Bulldog Bites: What to watch for at G-Day and icing Georgia Tech!

Brice Ramsey is battling for the backup quarterback spot. (Steven Colquitt / UGA)

Brice Ramsey is battling for the backup quarterback spot. (Steven Colquitt / UGA)

I’ve had a couple of folks ask me this week: What will you be watching for at Saturday’s G-Day game?

Well, like most Dogs fans, I’ll be interested to see how the defense looks under new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, particularly the secondary, though I’m not expecting to see anything but vanilla schemes in the spring intrasquad game.

As Mark Richt said this week, “I don’t think we are going to try to do a lot of things on defense Saturday. I think we’ll line up and play some good, solid fundamental defense. I doubt we will do everything that we’ll do in the fall. We aren’t going to try to trick anybody, but just see who can play defense.”

Mainly, I’ll be watching Georgia’s defenders in terms of fundamentals like tackling and covering — which is what Pruitt has stressed during spring practice — to see if there’s any obvious improvement from last season. And with a crowd of players …

Continue reading Bulldog Bites: What to watch for at G-Day and icing Georgia Tech! »

Fan talk: Defensive changes, cupcakes, special teams, basketball and more!

New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is preaching a more uptempo style of play. (John Kelley / UGA)

New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is preaching a more uptempo style of play. (John Kelley / UGA)

Let’s get straight to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

Stuart in Austin, Texas, writes: Bill, I’m encouraged by the information coming out of the first few spring practices regarding the defense. Focusing more on fundamentals (specifically tackling and bringing opposing players to the ground vs. the bumping often done under coaches Willie Martinez and Todd Grantham), increasing the overall pace of practices, evening out the reps for all players, keeping the schemes and terminology simple, and better communication particularly in the secondary. This new run to the ball without overcomplicating the schemes sounds good, but I’m concerned it could hurt us against teams like Auburn and Georgia Tech where disciplined, assignment football is crucial. Martinez and Grantham defenses did perform relatively well against both AU and Tech. In the 2014 BCS Championship game, …

Continue reading Fan talk: Defensive changes, cupcakes, special teams, basketball and more! »

Bulldog Bites: Pondering Keith Marshall and ranking SEC coaches and greatest UGA players

Would you redshirt or play a healthy Keith Marshall in 2014? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Would you redshirt or play a healthy Keith Marshall in 2014? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The good news out of Georgia’s spring practices is that tailback Keith Marshall is “a lot further along” than running backs coach Bryan McClendon expected in coming back from knee surgery.

Although he’s not participating in any full-contact plays, Marshall is going through the running drills and practicing hard, like he doesn’t want to take that possible medical redshirt that the coaching staff’s been considering if the back isn’t fully recovered by the start of preseason camp in August.

On the one hand, having the Dogs’ one-two punch of Todd Gurley and Marshall back together leading a loaded running back corps sounds like the best possible outcome for Mike Bobo’s offense, especially with an offensive line that might still be trying to gel as the season starts.

But with Brendan Douglas back and talented five-star recruits Sony Michel and Nick Chubb coming in this summer, there are some Bulldog …

Continue reading Bulldog Bites: Pondering Keith Marshall and ranking SEC coaches and greatest UGA players »

Fan talk: Freshman tailbacks, Pruitt’s ‘dime,’ unionizing, Andy Landers and more!

Sony Michel comes to Athens as a highly-rated five-star recruit. (Eric Gay / special)

Sony Michel comes to Athens as a highly-rated five-star recruit. (Eric Gay / special)

I spent a couple of days this week recuperating from some oral surgery, but I’ve been keeping track of Georgia spring practices, where Jeremy Pruitt seems to have brought a fresh new energy to the entire team, not just the defense. Offensive line shuffling continues and their performance so far appears to be lagging a little behind the rest of the team, but good things are being heard about names like J.J. Green, Leonard Floyd, Jonathon Rumph and, thankfully, Todd Gurley. The Dawgs hold their first scrimmage Saturday, so that’ll no doubt give us more to talk about.

In the meantime, let’s get to some of the Junkyard Mail that’s arrived this week. …

Peoples Champ writes: What you think about Chubb & Michel? And could we be in for a major ground attack, with the 6-headed monster?

I don’t know about a six-headed monster, but even with J.J. Green moving over to defense, Georgia certainly will be …

Continue reading Fan talk: Freshman tailbacks, Pruitt’s ‘dime,’ unionizing, Andy Landers and more! »

Fan talk: QB competition, Grantham-bashing, Kevin Butler’s tweet plus Ice Dawgs!

Hutson Mason hands off to Todd Gurley in practice this week. (University of Georgia)

Hutson Mason hands off to Todd Gurley in practice this week. (University of Georgia)

Let’s go straight to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

Randy Carter writes: Bill, what is it with Mark Richt/Mike Bobo annointing a starting quarterback without making him earn it? Just because Hutson Mason was Aaron Murray’s backup, why should that mean he’s automatically going to be the starter for the Dawgs next season? And yet Richt and Bobo don’t even seem to be considering having a real quarterback competition. If Mason is the best, let him prove it by beating out Faton Bauta and Brice Ramsey in an honest to goodness battle where everybody starts out even. I just don’t think it’s healthy for the program to say that just because Mason is the veteran he gets to start. Anybody remember Joe T. and Joe Cox? How’d that work out for us?

This will be Mason’s fifth season in the program, and so it’s natural he’d have a better understanding of the playbook than the other quarterbacks. He was …

Continue reading Fan talk: QB competition, Grantham-bashing, Kevin Butler’s tweet plus Ice Dawgs! »

A day that sums up the varying moral landscape of SEC athletics

UGA's Mark Richt confronts his disciplinary problems openly. (University of Georgia)

UGA's Mark Richt confronts his disciplinary problems openly. (University of Georgia)

So far, this week things are going pretty much the way they usually do during the offseason. Georgia has had some players get in trouble — and, unlike a lot of other schools, hasn’t turned a blind eye or covered it up. And Auburn has latched on to another reject.

You could hardly ask for a better example of the range of moral stances in today’s SEC: Georgia turns in its own players to police on a matter that probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day on some other campuses in the conference, while Auburn hires a basketball coach still under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA for lying to investigators when he was at Tennessee. Was there ever any doubt that if the disgraced Bruce Pearl wound up at an SEC school it would be Auburn?

On the matter of the football Dawgs, you could practically hear the oft-practiced groan from the Bulldog Nation Monday night when news broke that starting safety …

Continue reading A day that sums up the varying moral landscape of SEC athletics »

Fan talk: Spring football concerns, new sack rule, SEC Network and more!

georgia floridaIt’s going to be the red vs. the blue from now on in Jacksonville, as University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley revealed this week that the two schools have agreed to both wear their home football jerseys in their annual game.

“It’s just something a little different,” Foley said. “To be honest, a fan suggested it. He sent me a picture of what they used to do when Coach Spurrier was playing. He had a blue jersey on and whoever was tackling him had a red jersey on.

“It’s a unique rivalry and just a little different something to do. There is no particular reason. Georgia agreed and we agreed. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to win the ballgame no matter what color jersey you have on. I think it’s just a little something that makes the game even more unique.”

I like it!

Now, let’s get to some Junkyard Mail. …

Phil Daly writes: Bill, I know everyone’s going to be watching the defense at G-Day, but I think I’m almost as concerned with having to …

Continue reading Fan talk: Spring football concerns, new sack rule, SEC Network and more! »