Archive for April, 2009

Fox: Roundball Dogs need new mindset

Mark Richt and Mark Fox held a press conference before their appearance before the Rome Bulldog Club Wednesday night, and Fox talked a bit about what it’s going to take to turn the basketball Dogs into winners. The Rome News-Tribune has coverage, including some brief video clips.

Foremost, Fox said, is “we’re going to have to improve our offensive production.” He noted that this past season the Dogs had more turnovers than they did assists and said that’s something he’s going to have to address.

Beyond that, he said, the mindset of the team has to change in that they need to have the “expectation of success. … I’m not sure they had that last year.” 

It will mean a “change of culture in the locker room,” he said. “It’s not easily done, but fans can expect our team to play very hard every night.”

Again, something that wasn’t the case last season, though he didn’t come right out say that. 

As for Richt, he again made the point that last season’s spotlight on Matthew Stafford …

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Dogs’ backup QB doubling at receiver?

Mark Richt has admitted that using Logan Gray on special teams last year slowed his development as a quarterback.  After spring practice, Gray is the leading candidate to be Joe Cox’s backup, and Richt has said that his staff might prepare a special package of plays to take advantage of Gray’s running ability at quarterback (which would fit in with No. 7 on my list yesterday of things I’d like to see this season: Gray inserted some of the time in the Red Zone). 

But the coach apparently can’t quite let go of the idea that he needs to get Gray on the field even if he’s not behind center. Richt is quoted in the Athens Banner-Herald as saying, “We also think Logan is athlete enough to play a little bit of receiver, too, so that’s a possibility.”

As long as this doesn’t take away from Gray’s needed reps at quarterback in practice (and getting him some real game experience), it sounds like an intriguing idea. Sort of a Hines Ward type role. And who knows, if Aaron Murray comes on …

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10 things a Bulldog fan is looking forward to seeing

Last week I ran down some of the things I hope not to see in the coming football season, mostly nagging problems that plagued the Dogs last year. Now it’s time to look ahead to some of the good things I think will have fans on their feet cheering this fall.

So here they are, starting with our big-play man:

1. A.J. Green catching the ball and running the ball. It’s hard to believe the freshman phenom played most of last season hurt and still had 56 catches for 963 yards, some of those catches quite spectacular. He also ran the ball four times for 61 yards, an aspect of his game I’d like to see more of, turning him into a Percy Harvin-style weapon. Of course, Green will be double-covered much of the time, so the Dogs will need some of their other receivers to step up. Michael Moore showed in the bowl game that he’s coming along nicely, and a healthy Tavares King has potential. But it would be really nice to have another big weapon, which leads me to …

2. Marlon Brown making a …

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Dogs play a home game in Atlanta?

Georgia fans put up with the fact that our “home” game with Florida every other year takes place in Jacksonville, but how would you feel if the Dogs gave up another game in Athens, say, in 2010, to play a nationally televised high-profile nonconference game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta?

It’s a possibility, according to coach Mark Richt. The Athens Banner-Herald reports that when Richt spoke to the Augusta Bulldog Club Monday night an audience member asked what he could do about Alabama’s Nick Saban scheduling games in Atlanta, seen as a recruiting plus. “We’re working a deal that could possibly happen,” Richt said. “Maybe even the year after this.” He added, however, that a lot would have to happen for the deal to fall into place and “it’s really more of a pipedream than anything anybody should get excited about.” 

Richt said somebody currently on Georgia’s schedule (which hasn’t been officially announced) would have to agree to come off in order for the deal to happen, and …

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Dog draft: Who was big winner?

Like most Bulldog fans, I’m happy Matthew Stafford got a big payday in the NFL draft and looks set for life financially. Hopefully he’ll generously remember his alma mater in the coming years! But in football terms, his deal with Detroit doesn’t have a lot of upside, as draft mavens like to say. 

Aside from the guaranteed money Stafford will put in the bank, there appears to be almost no way either party to the deal will get what they really want and need, based on what folks who follow the Lions say. Barring a complete transformation, chances are the Lions will still be a sucky franchise, and Stafford’s NFL career will get off to a shaky start. It’s unlikely Detroit will get its money’s worth out of Stafford, and unless he can get traded to a decent team, his career isn’t likely to be as successful on the field as it was at the negotiating table.

On the other hand, Knowshon Moreno has good reason to smile after going earlier than expected in the first round to a team that …

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10 things a Bulldog fan hopes not to see

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, it’s not so much who will start at what position that concerns me, but whether Mark Richt and Co. can fix some of the recurring problems that nagged the Dawgs throughout the 2008 campaign and even before. The kind of problems that put you in a hole and give the other guy an advantage.

A lot of these problems speak to coaching, or a lack of it. They’re fixable. But I’m not convinced Richt’s staff has a handle on some of them; at least, they didn’t last year.

So here we go, in no particular order on things I’d love never to see again from the Dogs:

1. Those high, short directional kickoffs that either sail out of bounds or give the return team a head start, resulting in the opponent getting the ball at the 40-yard line or even near midfield. Richt has talked on both sides of this issue; at season’s end he was lamenting the need for a kicker who could boom it out of the end zone, while earlier in the season he defended the directional kicks, …

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Greatest quarterback debate continues

Fans love to debate who was the greatest this, that or the other, and with Matthew Stafford much in the news of late, the discussion about UGA’s all-time greatest quarterback comes up frequently. The Athens Banner-Herald has put a new twist on the discussion by surveying Bulldog football insiders on Georgia’s greatest quarterback ever. Some of the answers, particularly, Vince Dooley’s, may surprise you. The overall winner in the ABH survey is David Greene, the winningest QB in NCAA history, followed by sentimental choice Buck Belue (a national championship is hard to trump), Fran Tarkenton, Charley Trippi (yeah, he played quarterback as well as halfback), Johnny Rauch, Eric Zeier, D.J. Shockley and Stafford. If I’m pinned down on the subject, I have to equivocate a little by saying it depends on whether you’re talking Georgia’s greatest college quarterback or greatest quarterback, period. As a college QB, I don’t think you can argue with the cool reliability and winning record …

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Bulldog Bites: Big East Challenge, Edwards for Hall of Fame

 Whatever Mark Fox’s first UGA team ends up looking like, they’ll get a fairly early high-profile outing thanks to the third annual SEC/Big East Challenge, which will match the Dogs with St. John’s at the Big Apple’s Madison Square Garden on Dec. 9 as the prelim (carried on ESPN2) to the Kentucky-UConn matchup on ESPN. The two programs have played only a couple of times before, most memorably when the Dogs eliminated St. John’s in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 1983. … Teresa Edwards, two-time All-American for Andy Landers’ Lady Dogs and the only basketball player, male or female, to represent the United States in five Olympics, has been nominated for the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. Voting is open online through June 16 here. The inductees will be announced in July. If ever there was an Olympian worthy of the Hall of Fame, it’s Edwards. So go vote!

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Cupboard’s almost bare for UGA men’s basketball

New basketball coach Mark Fox came to Georgia with what appear to be pretty good credentials as a recruiter. His first big hire as an assistant, former Alabama interim coach Philip Pearson, is known as a great recruiter. Let’s hope they’ve got some magic working during the late signing period, which began last week and runs through May 20. Because as of Tuesday, with center Daniel Miller of Loganville getting his requested release from his letter of intent, UGA’s men’s recruiting class for this year is down to one: Franklin County guard DeMario Mayfield, who signed with former coach Dennis Felton last fall. That leaves the Dogs with eight scholarship players plus Mayfield and walk-on Ricky McPhee. Speculation is that Fox might have to bring in at least a couple of JUCO players to come close to fielding a competitive team next season. What do you think, will we have to suffer through an even worse season than the one we just finished before things get better?  

 

Watching …

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Cole continues to dog UGA

Tony Cole is like the “gift” that keeps on giving.

It wasn’t bad enough that this bad seed recruited by the Harricks spent much of his time in Athens in trouble and eventually brought his former coaches and the entire Georgia basketball program down early this decade. Since then, Cole’s rap sheet has continued to grow and now he’s back in the headlines, with a Cook County, Ill., official forced to resign after it was revealed she kept spending money to bail him out of jail before he was fired for not disclosing criminal convictions on his county government job application. 

It’s those headlines that are particularly galling, because they naturally refer to him as an “ex-UGA player,” “former Bulldog,” “ex-UGA hoops star,” and so on. The guy was only associated with UGA for about a year and a half, and the program he helped destroy has served its time and started over. A couple of times. But we seemingly can’t get shed of the taint of Cole.

It’s a story that should prompt …

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