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

Voice of Reason

May 11th, 2009
4:41 pm

HAD to live in Athens?? I think you should say if you had the privilege to live in Athens. I guess you think ATL is better? Talk about THUG CITY USA.

Einstein

May 11th, 2009
4:48 pm

Memo to Coach Richt: I was a Dawg fan before you were born, and a proud graduate, too. Also, I am delighted to have you as part of the Dawg family, but your same old/same old disciple is not producing different results. As you well know, a football scholarship costs $38,000+ and is worth a lot more, and is picked up by alumni and season ticket holders. Every year, we hear and face the same old problems and game suspensions. I say, ONE and DONE for drugs, assault, DUI, and not attending class. If a student athlete doesn’t appreciate the opportunity for a quality education, doesn’t respect his teammates, the chance to play in the NFL, represnt UGA, or is too stupid to realize that 99% of the other students don’t have this chance, then take away their scholarship. I believe in second and third chances, so they can stay in school. The Hope, a part time job, and the discipline to study might be required, but it’s up to them. After a year, then let the team decide if they can rejoin. For one, I don’t want to see my investment wasted on a thug/punk/as#h$le that doesn’t respect himself, much less his teammates and the University. These every year suspensions won’t stop until the players realize the consequences. Just my opinion…Peace.

Dawg Girl 32 what a retard

May 11th, 2009
4:53 pm

Odell Thurman

May 11th, 2009
5:00 pm

Hey leghumpers remember me?

obomaisaclown

May 11th, 2009
5:00 pm

With ga’s lost of so many player and bama’s prospects of going on probation this could be a down year for SEC.

shane#1

May 11th, 2009
5:03 pm

I feel for Figgins. UGA has Ros and White and two more highly rated TEs coming in this summer. Figgins missed a lot of time last year and spring practice this year because of injury. Now he will probably practice with the third string because he will not play for six games. I don’t see how he can work his way back into the rotation after missing so much time. Houston has a shot if he works doubly hard, but the Dogs will be getting some injured DEs back for fall practice and someone could step up and take his job. Dobbs showed flashes last season and if he can be more consistant and stay healthy he could be better than Houston. That is the risk a player takes when he screws up, somebody on that practice field wants to start, give him a shot and he just might take your job.

obomaisaclown

May 11th, 2009
5:03 pm

With ga and tenn. lost of so much talent and ALABAMA rec. a second letter this could be a bad year for sec

THUGA

May 11th, 2009
5:07 pm

THUGA! THUGA ! THUGA!

Big Dog

May 11th, 2009
5:10 pm

Maybe CMR should do the endzone stomp after every TD o yea CMR didn’t know his team going run onto the field.Are you kidding me?

Cuz

May 11th, 2009
5:12 pm

What are the latest Fulmer Cup rankings?

Say it isn't true

May 11th, 2009
5:20 pm

More UGA players in trouble…………………..AGAIN!!

IhateUrban

May 11th, 2009
5:32 pm

Atleast he didnt shoot an AK-47 are use a dead girls credit card

Paddy

May 11th, 2009
5:37 pm

Now wait just a minute…. Percy Harvin smoked dope and scored a 12 on the
wonderlic test, no way. Tony Cole is in jail, no no way. Don’t you dare now tell me Mike Vick does not love dogs. Where is my Prozac and Jack Daniels? I just can’t trust my instincts and charater judgement any more. This is bad. Those are great kids with so much up-side. Oh well at least I still have Art Schliester and JR Rider to look up to.

PTC Jacket

May 11th, 2009
5:43 pm

Voice of Reason

Thug City of USA? You’re kidding right? Is your ignorance and oblivion so big that you happen to overlook Detroit? Wow. You need a reality check

ARdawg

May 11th, 2009
5:44 pm

Breaking team rules and suspensions are happening on every team all across the country. You gator and tech yahoos pounding your chest need to be taking a look at your own thugs. Be sure and comeback to comment on them when they get discipline….that is IF they get discipline

Baba O'Riley

May 11th, 2009
5:47 pm

Shane#1- are you kidding? You feel for Figgins???

UGA man

May 11th, 2009
6:04 pm

St Simons, it would be great if you were drunk all the time. It would me you removed your head from your arse long enough to take a drink.

TW

May 11th, 2009
6:20 pm

We’ll be fine at TE.

This will hurt the most on ‘D’ – even though this character wouldn’t be missed by any other SEC school this year.

Why are we sooooo freakin’ thin at DE?

As far as the behavior – just part of the process. They are kids, ya’ know? I can understand a player acting a fool alot better than I can understand WHY CMR HAS NOT REPLACED CWM!!!!!! AND THEY PROMOTE JANCEK TO CO-DC BECAUSE HE HAS HAD THE WORST FREAKIN’ LBs IN THE SEC EVERY YEAR HE’S BEEN HERE!!!!!!

WTF??????????????????????????????????????????

shane#1

May 11th, 2009
6:26 pm

Yes Baba, I feel for the kid. He is a three star athlete that worked his way into the rotation as a true freshman. Do you have any idea how hard that is or how hard he had to work? Then he put off shoulder surgery last season and played in pain because his team needed him. UGA was short of TEs last year and Chandler was a day to day case because he was banged up. Did you ever block a Div 1 DE and drive your injured shoulder into him, Baba? This kid had given his all and then blew it by doing something stupid. So yes I feel for him, as I do any young person that screws up. It’s time some of you got off your high horses and quit pointing fingers.

GTMike

May 11th, 2009
7:11 pm

As a Tech fan, all I can say is you Gators need to go back home and shut up. The Florida program is the biggest embarrassment to the idea of “student-athlete” of any program in the country…WORST SAT scores and man, wasn’t Percy Harvin’s Wunderlich test impressive?? NOT!

We Jackets and Dawgs go back and forth, but you dadgum Gators need to butt out and keep your noses back in the swamp where they belong!

savanadawg

May 11th, 2009
7:13 pm

DE switch for Marcus Washington, Darryl Gamble and Darius Dewberry, we not only get stronger at the position but I believe this saves CWMs life as (at least for one more year) the DC at UGA.

Brandon

May 11th, 2009
7:18 pm

I wonder how many games the other Sec teams would suspend their players for the same mistake? I doubt any would have been this harsh!

DawgCrazy

May 11th, 2009
7:20 pm

No big deal–UGA has plenty of studs to play these 2 positions. Plus, Ok State will not be that good this year, so I’m not worried about the first game. The only tough game of the season is Florida, and I think the Dawgs can upset them somehow, since UF will be flat and overconfident.

savanadawg

May 11th, 2009
7:31 pm

Can’t help but post one more time for all the gator lubbers out there. I believe UF will loose at least 2 games next year!!!!!

Pi$$onaDAWG

May 11th, 2009
8:18 pm

Now we know for sure why the dawgs will never play Ga. TECH for the first game unless it is played at Athens-Clarke County Jail. Maybe if CMR made the TECH game the first game he could keep his players from being dumba$$, but I doubt it.
SAVdog you have an eazy schedual and don’t let the Talking Heads tell you different. You have 7-8 wins on paper alone if the Dogs just get off the bus. Good luck being the SEC EAST rep though.

Where is Dawg Girl32 at

May 11th, 2009
8:50 pm

Public library closed for the evening?

THUGA

May 11th, 2009
8:52 pm

UGAY will lose 3-4 games in 09…

Jimmy

May 11th, 2009
8:59 pm

You people all sound sooooooo stooooooooopid saying, “Oh yeah, well my thug is less thuggish than your thug.” It’s all about the benjamens. One blogger said it right on another blog-these days coaches just look for athletes who can pass for students.

Percy Harvin

May 11th, 2009
9:14 pm

i onli smokeed wead one tyme.

Army Vet

May 11th, 2009
9:25 pm

If CMR would recruit athletes instead of thugs and criminals…we wouldn’t have this problem. Here we go again.

Percy Harvin

May 11th, 2009
9:33 pm

And that test was reilly, reilly hard.

AltamahaDawg

May 11th, 2009
9:33 pm

savanadawg, they arent switching to DE. They are still LBs. Coaches have been talking for a while, way before Houston’s issue, about leaving in the extra LB, or more specifically, bringing in a more mobile type of LB during passing situations to generate added pressure from the end. Worked pretty well in the G-day game.

Gamble if you will recall was a very much in the backfield last year till he fell, and the other two were injured all year. We got down to bare minimum LB to finish the year, which is why we most likely didn’t see more of that strategy.

You are right about the shelf life of WM, it’s going to hinge on getting pressure somehow.

Alfred Neuman IV,Summa Cum Laude,UGA'90

May 11th, 2009
9:35 pm

If O.J. played at ga Richt might suspend him for the first play of the Western Middle Tenn. State game. Get serious will you?

what a waste

May 11th, 2009
9:40 pm

Kick that thug Bruce Figgins off the team. This guy is a complete disgrace to the program at Georgia. CMR needs to send a strong message now because of the bad publicty UGA is getting in the college football world. Show’em that cow horns hook!

Jimmy

May 11th, 2009
9:47 pm

Altahama,

What do you think youre doing there buddy? Talking football when we’re suppose to be trading barbs w/ those all mighty techies?

Percy Harvin

May 11th, 2009
9:50 pm

Plus when i git to minasoda i will never smoke wead agin.

AltamahaDawg

May 11th, 2009
9:57 pm

Jimmy, when it got to the point that I can’t tell the termites from some of the so-called Dawg fans in here, I got tired of that.

Chuck Uga

May 11th, 2009
10:57 pm

Urban, you are right. 49-10 will sound good…to Gator fans. UGA wins on Halloween with a superior defense. Tebow will be hurt this year before that game. Book it.

FL DAWG

May 11th, 2009
11:24 pm

It is a matter of commitment by each individual player to the team. For the first time, I must be critical of CMR. In the early Richt years, he established a program with all the players buying in(drinking the kool-aid)and putting team ahead of individualism. There are still a lot of players doing so, however Houston and Figgins have gotten off the reservation. Leadership has not been developed for off the off season and it was not present last year either. Last year it translated into poor leadership on the field during the season. I hope this is not a prelude of things to come. CMR and his staff need to get a handle on this as immediately. Come on Dawgs, focus on your team, your summer workouts and getting ready for the upcoming season. Richt is a great coach and a great man, he just needs to refocus the team.

KJ

May 12th, 2009
12:18 am

“Did you ever block a Div 1 DE and drive your injured shoulder into him, Baba? ”

I’d bet the only “blocking” Baba has ever done is the cawkblocking he does to the more socially adept UGA fans when he (again and again) fails to score with the ladies.

“eazy schedual”

LOL, really? REALLY?

AlabamaDawg

May 12th, 2009
1:07 am

Georgia upsets Florida this year in Jacksonville—mark it down. Richt gets even with Meyer for running up the score and calling those 2 late timeouts. UGA 29 UF 24—Ga wins the SEC and gets to the BCS. Florida chokes and ends up in the Outback Bowl!

Gator Lou

May 12th, 2009
6:34 am

AlabamaDawg….. Wake up man you are dreaming. Your team will be in the weedwacker bowl this year in the Acc jail.

gdawginkalamazoo

May 12th, 2009
9:35 am

Einstein, I tend to agree with you. However, I have always advocated the team approach to discipline. If these kids screw up make the entire team run the drills, stadiums, sprints, guts or whatnot. LEt the culprit sit there and watch them run all day long. Give him a lounge chair in the shade and a cold pitcher of lemonade while his teammates sweat it out. If peer pressure leads these kids to do stupid things then it should be used to make them think twice. I can’t imagine your teammates being happy with you after running the drills because you screwed up. Feeling sorry for these kids isn’t productive. I grew up, I never did drugs, never damaged property. Sure I had a few brewskies, okay more than a few, but never got arrested for it and anything I did while under the influence. I also never had the God given talent to play a sport at a level high enough to garner a free education.

Gator Growl

May 12th, 2009
10:36 am

LET’S BE FAIR AND BALANCED…EVERY avid fan of virtually EVERY big time program HAS to be holding their breath about this time every year and thru the summer until fall camp. This is the DANGER time, when players seem to show up on police blotters. EVERY program has this concern. I don’t know how you can criticize Richt for this latest incident, what was he supposed to do, be riding a moped behind these players keeping an eye on them??? You CAN”T hold their hand 24/7. You can’t put them in solitary confinement. Screening recruits before you sign them is always a good idea but is far from a 100% solution. I’m afraid to say that this is something that is going to happen from time to time and when it does it must be dealt with with a heavy hand. I agree that peer pressure may be the most effective solution…pick your responsible team leaders and make sure the right message gets out there… and the consequences are shared.

Oledawg

May 12th, 2009
3:28 pm

Finally, a blogger by the name of Gator Growl put the universal truth of summer up. I suggest that players should meet and give the equivalence view deserved from transgressions like this. Bruce, you have sustained an injury that takes your services away from the team for half the season at least. Your play will not be seen on TV nor will the pros have you more than an afterthought because they won’t get to see how good you are. There is no medical deferment that you can apply for with this injury. You have torpedoed your own time in the limelight. And you had company. Justin can’t even touch a beer now without looking over his shoulder and breaking into a cold sweat. If he is at a party with his girlfriend and close friends and someone lights up, he has to run for the door to get out before he gets secondhand smoke that could be detected in ppb in his blood. It destroys your team life and your social life until you leave this team by graduation(an early out is out of the question now). You both should rise in front of your teammates and tell them the hidden consequences this transgression has caused. Then you recapture your dignity by telling them that you will work with all members of the team to help them thru the summer without further problems resulting from their actions as yours have caused. Be minders for your teammates that will help others not to commit these team and fan attitude killers. Let them know that during this probationary period that you will be policing them as well as yourself. If you are men in your minds, you will do this thing to help your team, to lead and let them know that this is an injury that is not crippling to you , but could be to the team if it keeps recurring. It is irreversible. Be leaders by using this negative to try to achieve something for your team that you won’t be permitted to do on the field.

MAN UP, DAWGS!!

Oledawg

May 12th, 2009
4:09 pm

Since my blog didn’t register, I’ll try again.

Gator growl blogged the universal truth of summer for college ball. I propose that these players should gather themselves and present to the team those unreported actions/reactions they will experience. Bruce, you have cut any possible playing time in half with one thoughtless action. You will not be on TV where the pros can observe your play on the field that may interest them. You will go to an afterthought part of the draft and twist tenuously over the edge of pro oblivion that awaits another mistake. Your error has put you in an injury category that will not heal(no matter the medicine) until half way thru the playing schedule if your recovery path is perfect. And you can’t apply for a medical extension. Irretrievably lost. Justin’s team and social life has been shortened. He can’t comfortably taste a beer without looking over his shoulder and breaking into a sweat. If he is with his girlfriend socially and someone lights one up, he has to escape quickly before the secondhand smoke enters his bloodstream and is detected in ppm/ppb positively. Justin has just entered the fishbowl of life. Bruce IS the fishbowl of life at the moment.

You both should MAN UP and help your team prevent these errors by rising in front of them to become team minders for such behavior that could take other teammates out before the summer is over. Let them know that you can’t be on the field with the team, but you can help get them on the field and rise in their minds in another way. You both have a great opportunity to act as leaders without resorting to rah rah stuff. If you care for your team, you have a way to contribute that only you two qualify. Using this negative experience you can contribute positively by reminding your teammates socially when they are getting into deep water. You can act positively to help steer others clear of your pitfall by starting a team minder program from within. Stand in front of them and the coaches and remind them what you have lost. And hope it helps. Become TEAM DAWGS again.

BUZZ

May 12th, 2009
6:23 pm

And I’ll bet Sugar Hill Dawg a case of PBR and Red man that we win again tonight. I love it. I mean I really love it. I love everything about shutting Georgia down and Georgia fans UP!

BUZZ

May 12th, 2009
11:49 pm

Well, that didn’t work. Man, that money was supposed to go to next month’s WoW subscription, too. Guess I’ll have to go upstairs and ask mom for an advance on my allowance.

NGADawg

May 13th, 2009
5:12 am

Ole Dawg, nice sentiment, partly agree, but you cant pick up second hand smoke and show positive on a UA drug screen or serum screen…all of my patients would fail if that were the case…

I think what all of you fail to mention is the lack of parental influence on these kids as teenagers. Once a kid shows a hint of talent, these small communities turn thier heads let anything go. Instead of bashing CMR maybe you should take a look at your kids and yourself and ask what can I do to better myself and provide a positive role model for developing youths.

Mike Bobo 17 INT

May 13th, 2009
10:39 am

Program remains in the tank, and is the biggest joke in college football. From east to west, north to south, everyone in this nation loves to read these hilarious blogs about an overrated program going nowhere.

From the head coach to the def coordinator, UGAY has no clue about a true championship program and will never be compared to programs such as OU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Florida or Miami.

116 years of playing football and only 1 title to show for it. Everyone in Athens is still living in the Vince Dooley Buck Belue days, but who can blame them, it is all they’ve got.

Now Donnan is suppose to enter the hall of fame, and he should, since we was one of the most successful coaches at UGAY. Oops, that would be Ray Goof.