Weekend highs and lows in Bulldog Nation

It was a mixed weekend in Athens.

On the positive side, many UGA families, including mine, were celebrating graduations at Sanford Stadium and Stegeman Coliseum, the men’s and women’s tennis teams both advanced to the NCAA Round of 16, and the softball team was selected as the No. 1 seed for the Chapel Hill regional. But the results at Foley Field and the confirmation of disciplinary action against two members of the football team were disappointing.

The final baseball home stand of the season got off to a dismal start with the Diamond Dogs dropping Friday and Saturday’s games to Vandy, a middling team. At least Sunday’s win over the Dores clinched an SEC Tournament birth for the Bulldogs (15-12 in SEC play with South Carolina still to go), though just making it to Hoover is a bit of a comedown for a team that led the league (and the national rankings) much of the season.

Hosting an NCAA regional seems unlikely at this point, but at least the team will keep playing past the regular season and is pretty certain to go somewhere in NCAA play. And who knows, Rally Rat, their new mascot as detailed in the Athens Banner-Herald, could see an extended run if they can get back on track. Worth noting: The 2,361 fans at Sunday’s game set a new season attendance record at Foley Field of 93,360, surpassing last season’s 93,152. Up next: a shot at revenge against the Jackets Tuesday at Turner Field in Atlanta.

But what most Dawg fans were talking about this weekend was Mark Richt suspending junior tight end Bruce Figgins for six games and sophomore defensive end Justin Houston for two games, while junior receiver Tony Wilson was medically disqualified but would have been suspended otherwise. 

Richt didn’t announce the reason for the suspensions, but ESPN reported that Figgins failed a drug test, and his penalty is in line with UGA Athletic Association policy of automatic suspension for half a season in those cases. 

One Athens observer with close ties to the football program says that Richt generally bends over backwards to work with players who screw up and violate team rules, but not if drugs are involved. Which is as it should be. With this being the second time Figgins has been suspended (he missed last year’s season opener for an unspecified violation of team rules), he’s lucky he wasn’t kicked off the team completely.

As for the on-field repercussions, I’ve already touched on the justifiable fan hand-wringing about Houston missing playing time when we need all the help rushing the passer we can get. 

Missing six games will pretty much make Figgins, who sat out spring practice, an afterthought at tight end and move up the timetable on the expected ascension of incoming freshman Orson Charles as the eventual starter. It seems likely, though, that Charles and redshirt sophomore Aron White (the probable starter at the beginning of the season) will be used more as receivers in a hybrid flex tight end position, which gives the other incoming freshman, Arthur Lynch, a chance to earn playing time as the blocking tight end. Bryce Ros could figure in there, too.

While Kris Durham being out for the season means the Dogs will have just six scholarship receivers, including incoming freshmen Marlon Brown and Rontavious Wooten, I’m not convinced Wilson’s departure will make all that much difference. He was having a really slow rehab from a season-ending injury last year and had not shown that much in his time on the field. A lot of folks are really high on Brown, touted as possibly the next A.J. Green, and I really liked the way Michael Moore finished the season. Israel Troupe and Tavares King have shown promise, too. 

Lots for fans to talk about in the 116 days until the season starts. What do you think? Are these suspensions a minor hiccup or a serious blow to the Dogs’ 2009 prospects?

154 comments Add your comment

Urban

May 11th, 2009
1:50 pm

I am sorry for all of the unintelligent remarks I have made on this blog. You must understand that education isn’t a priority in Gainesville, FL. Also, please understand that posting on your blog makes me feel better (remember I live in Gainesville, FL). My actions are a result of my knowledge that The University of Georgia is a far superior football team. I have to do something to make me feel better. For me, blogging in my mom’s basement brings me joy.

GeoffDawg

May 11th, 2009
1:53 pm

Sorry fake Urban. I applaud the sentiment but you should’ve dumbed down the vocabulary a bit to make it more believable.

Urban

May 11th, 2009
1:58 pm

Sorry GeoffDawg. How is this?

Dir UGA fanz,

I am sorri fore acting lik a fool on yur blog. Blogging in my Mamas bazemint makes me fil good. The only way too mak mi fil better about UF iz a sayin’ bad things about other football teems even tho I know your teem iz better. I am sorri.

Sincirili,
Urban

BE#3

May 11th, 2009
1:58 pm

Losing Tony Wilson is not huge. The only thing I remember him doing was blowing up an ASU DE with a killer block last season but that was one play all season. Granted, he was hurt the last half of the season.

Speaking of injuries, maybe Bruce had a prescription for the weed. The kid did play the majority of last season with an injured shoulder. Maybe it was medicinal marijuana……..

Yes, the loss of Houston for two games isn’t good, but there is all summer for someone else to step up and fill the void. Houston looked good in a spring game against a partial 2nd team OL. Also keep in mind that we’ll have Owens, Atkins & Weston in the middle which will take some pressure off the ends. And don’t forget about Marcus Washington at LB/DE. He missed last season w/a shoulder injury but is back and will be a big contributor this season.

If ya think Percy just started hitting the bong right before the combine, you’re dumber than Jamarcus Russell. Do you really think Percy started smoking the night after the BCS title game? He cost himself a chunk of coin by being an idiot and smoking weed. Daddy Urban might let ya slide but The Commish won’t put up with it.

I know for a fact that UGAA does not tolerate drug use among athletes. They have tests throughout the year for all sports….many of them random and zero notice…..pull ‘em right off the field/court at end of practice. If you hear of an athlete being suspended for a lengthy amount of time or kicked off a team for unspecified reasons, don’t be surprised if it was drug related. Can’t say the same for other schools in SEC.

GeoffDawg

May 11th, 2009
2:02 pm

Very nice. I can practically visualize the gold chain outside your t-shirt.

Urban

May 11th, 2009
2:08 pm

They match my teeth.

uuugh.

May 11th, 2009
2:09 pm

Dawgtime: Wonderlic Scores. Michael Vick-20 (not terribly bright) Percy Harvin-12 (just plain stupid)

I didn’t say Vick scored high…he scored low and I didn’t think that there was anyone out there dumber than Michael Vick but Percy proved me wrong in fine fashion.

gdawginkalamazoo

May 11th, 2009
2:14 pm

So Bruce Figgins, Percy Harvin and Rueben Houston walk into a Willie Nelson concert….

Steve

May 11th, 2009
2:16 pm

Houston and Figgins will both hurt, but not deal breakers. Richt has been recruiting depth, and this year he’s got it at almost every position. CB is our biggest concern, followed by DE, TE, and WR, then FB. When you play the beastly schedule we do this year, injuries happen playing the better teams. We will be more beat up this year, but we have more depth than I ever remember Ga. having – at least since ‘80.

WTF??

May 11th, 2009
2:19 pm

I still LOVE COX!!!

Karl Childers

May 11th, 2009
2:22 pm

I eat potted meat and buscuits with Percy all the time…

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Preston

May 11th, 2009
2:24 pm

Yeah, it has to be a serious felony arrest for it to make news in Gainesville (and there are plenty). Anyway, we are loaded at TE but the DE hurts. UGA has a knack for bringing in an unknown weapon at just about any position. I’m not too concerned.

Preston

May 11th, 2009
2:27 pm

Athens doesn’t give it’s football players special treatment like other schools do so all of you Dawg haters need to respect the fact that UGA players get called out for their wrongdoing while your players catch all the breaks. I wonder which players will be better off in the long run? Ex.Percy Harvin

Preston

May 11th, 2009
2:29 pm

WTF, you must be 10 years old. Grow up before you post again please.

UGAY

May 11th, 2009
2:31 pm

WTF??

May 11th, 2009
2:32 pm

Actually I am 11, thank you. You must be 13 with a massive IQ.

Mark Twain

May 11th, 2009
2:33 pm

Preston, it is name stealing of the lowest order.

One must keep up one’s character. Earn a character first if you can, and if you can’t, then assume one.

NC Dawg

May 11th, 2009
2:37 pm

I am not some crazy liberal, yet a conservative and I sure wish they would just legalize pot, which I am confident is what happened here. It certainly isn’t performance enhancing, causes so many issues for the legal system all for something that is less harmful than alcohol. Just doesn’t make any sense.

Reality Check...

May 11th, 2009
2:39 pm

Urban needs a reality check.

ARdawg

May 11th, 2009
2:43 pm

NC dawg….pot is against the law and against the rules of the NCAA. If’s and’s or butt’s make no difference. They all have to follow the rules to play football

Dawg_Em_Out

May 11th, 2009
2:48 pm

6 games for figgins seems like alot, he might have had this problem before. maybe missing class or something?

ARdawg

May 11th, 2009
2:51 pm

I believe it is a mandatory 6 games suspension for testing drug positive

Rob

May 11th, 2009
2:55 pm

Here we go again!

Jimmy Crack Corn

May 11th, 2009
3:04 pm

And I don’t care.

GT

May 11th, 2009
3:10 pm

Dawgirl 32 that is why Florida beats you all the time they are on drugs. Of course.

Oledawg

May 11th, 2009
3:21 pm

How about a running milepost on # of days players need to be clear,i.e.; Less than ? days until Fall practice; 100 more days until end of season to remain clear of team infractions; 30 days until Bowl Game and NC to remain clear of team infractions.

Beginning now; 75 days to Fall Practice. Dawgs unite with your friends and relatives to help keep Dawgs eligible to kick FU’s butt! Is that asking too much?

From Richt’s remarks during Spring Game, the biggest loss is Houston. Figgins has been the “Monster in Waiting ” for some time. Did anyone finally answer Alt’s question on Justin’s transgression(s)?

Reebok

May 11th, 2009
3:29 pm

Tech fan here. Georgia is so freaking deep with 4 & 5-star players, the loss of a couple of guys for a few games each will have little impact on its own. I think the bigger problem (IMHO, as always) is an overall lack of focus & discipline among the players AND the coaches. It was eveident all last year…suspensions, dumb penalties, blown assignments. If the Bulldogs don’t get mentally tougher & much more disciplined, they will finish 3rd or worse in the East. See you on the Flats in November…

Kendawg

May 11th, 2009
3:32 pm

Houston’s loss will be considerably more important than Figgin’s loss. We need a pass rush a lot more than we need a blocking tight end. If we don’t get a pass rush at Oklahoma State, it’s going to be a long afternoon, similar to 2008 on too many occasions.

AltamahaDawg

May 11th, 2009
3:37 pm

“It certainly isn’t performance enhancing”…..I wouldn’t think so.

Dawg_Em_Out

May 11th, 2009
3:39 pm

i didnt know that they failed drug test, though i just found out on cfb live as mark schlabach reported it too!

uuugh.

May 11th, 2009
3:46 pm

GT. Maybe that is why your bumble bees and their Shriner’s car scraped out a victory over the dawgs last year too! Rueben must be back in business! You Tech fans should band together and post the score on this and the other UGA blogs every day…then the football team should have the score put on their rings! Way to act like you’ve been there before.

Fact is we need everybody we can get to play…and kids getting in trouble only prevents that from happening year after year after year.

The smart kids that are good players go play at Vandy and Stanford…where they follow the rules. We recruit great players who are so good that their transgressions have been ignored their whole lives. Now they are 19 and someone finally holds them accountable for the first time. Want to stop these idiots from getting arrested/suspended in college? Start suspending them/arresting them in middle school and high school. If they learn early that the rules still apply to them, maybe it won’t be a suprise in college.

But then again all colleges have separate entrance standards for athletes. Telling them that the rules apply to them doesn’t work if the rules are specifically designed to make allowances for them. No wonder they don’t get it!

rupert Chesire

May 11th, 2009
3:46 pm

This is another example of EUWDA (pronounced EEE UW DUA) wheich means eat up with Dumb A$$!

wes

May 11th, 2009
3:49 pm

2 failed drug tests and he’s still on the team?

I thought Coach Richt was trying to be more “SERIOUS” about discipline?

Ugh

gdawginkalamazoo

May 11th, 2009
4:02 pm

Reports are that these kids only took whatever Nancy Pelosi is on. BTW, God Bless David Feherty.

heyberto

May 11th, 2009
4:05 pm

It’s ashame but I like how Richt has handled, despite our need, he needs to continue following through on bad behavior by these players. It stinks to be down for the OSU game, but I figured someone would mess up.. impossible to make it through unscathed.. its unfortunate that its happened to us with one of our most needed players, but hopefully it won’t be an issue.

AltamahaDawg

May 11th, 2009
4:07 pm

rupert, if the joke has to contain it’s own explaination……

Dave In Tampa

May 11th, 2009
4:08 pm

Reebok: Well said.

MoDawg

May 11th, 2009
4:08 pm

Justin Houston will be missed more, but if he was boneheaded enough to do something worthy of suspension when he pretty much cemented himself in the starting role, then good luck winning the job back. That was not smart. Figgins is another disappointment, but it’s not like he has been a constant contributor, so if he plays at all this year, I couldn’t care less. Tony Wilson was rarely a contributing factor, either. I hate that he is still suffering with the injury, but wish him the best.
Folks, it could be a long year. We will/should have the O-line to do great things on offense, but may not have the rest of the pieces needed to be any better than 7-5 or 8-4. I guess it’s about time for us to have a Tech-type year. These kids have got to take their heads out of their arses and “MAN UP”!!

Saint Simons

May 11th, 2009
4:10 pm

45-42!!!!!! hahahahahahahahahhaha

uuugh.

May 11th, 2009
4:13 pm

There we go…Thanks.

Saint Simons

May 11th, 2009
4:16 pm

If i had to live in Athens i would stay drunk all the time to!!!!

I-DOG

May 11th, 2009
4:18 pm

They will both be missed, but I think Houston more because of the lack of firepower and health at the DE position. I support Richt in these suspensions.

This is one of the reasons that I advocated moving to a 3-4 defense prior to Spring practice. UGA’s personnel and depth at linebacker, Interior D line, and DE seened much better suited toward the 3-4 than the 4-3.

At this point… it is too late to begin that process.

Big Dog

May 11th, 2009
4:19 pm

Odel Thurmond was arrested 4 times while at UGA and CMR gave him chance after chance after chance after chance so he got drafted got a fat check and got kicked out the NFL I think CMR never got his point across

uuugh.

May 11th, 2009
4:20 pm

What makes you think you would be welcome in Athens, Saint Simons?

Zagg

May 11th, 2009
4:21 pm

I see another typical Richt team in 2009. Undiscplined and unfocused when you least expect it (see blow-out loss in Athens to Bama last yr). Urban Meyer continues to be a thorn in the side of Richt teams. I’m starting to believe SEC East titles will be hard to achieve in Athens with Meyer in Gainesville. Our best hope is for Meyer to take the Golden Domer job in a couple years.

Saint Simons

May 11th, 2009
4:28 pm

uuugh i’m sure i wouldn’t be welcomed, i’m not missing any teeth!

AltamahaDawg

May 11th, 2009
4:31 pm

Pelosi needs to worry about how to blow a few more hundred million to study the marsh rats.

hop

May 11th, 2009
4:35 pm

I have been a strong advocate of Coach Richt since his arrival in athens,but the continued activity of some football players to take short cuts or dismiss any rules is disturbing.
It appears the coach has allowed the same pattern that continues with his former employer FSU to take hold at UGA.
We continue to recruit some football players who do not have the same values as the university advocates!
We do see through some schools in the SEC an ability to have a quality program,but who also recruit players who appear do have more focus and understanding of what the concept of team truly means.

It is time that coach richt adapts to this same profile as other SEC schools that do not have near the problems that we appear to have.

This should not be hard to implement since the NFL and it’s new commissioner are placing such a huge emphasis in clearing up the league and it appears to be working.

a case in point is our own Atlanta Falcons who have cleaned up their act and you can see a huge difference in the players they have today.

they are focus, with great values and a commitment to be drawn to the team concept.

that is what is needed at UGA.

king gator

May 11th, 2009
4:38 pm

Why worry .. all of those arrests and suspensions didn’t have anything to do with last year’s football season.. Enjoy the Capital One Peach Champsports Bowl again – Go Gators! NC bound! Enjoy watching us in the BCS championship in the Rose Bowl.

uuugh.

May 11th, 2009
4:39 pm

Yes…everyone who lives in or attends school in Athens is missing teeth. Well played Saint Simons…well played.