Archive for July, 2009

What Richt did and didn’t say about UGA’s kickers

Talking about Georgia’s kicking game yesterday at the SEC Media Days, Mark Richt sounded like a coach who wants to believe he’s got the right players in place but isn’t completely convinced of it.

Richt started off on a positive note. “I have a lot of confidence in Blair Walsh’s ability to kick extra points [and] field goals,” he said, adding: “I know we’ll be much improved in the kickoff.” You’ll note he didn’t say that he knew Walsh would be much improved. Having taken on another scholarship kicker in JUCO transfer Brandon Bogotay primarily because of Walsh’s failures in the kickoff department last season, Richt is definitely hedging his bets.

Then he moved on to punter, where Drew Butler, son of UGA legend Kevin Butler, takes over as the starter after being used infrequently last year on pooch kicks. 

From what Richt said yesterday, it sounds like Butler is still a work in progress and the coach wanted to challenge him publicly to get better. 

“Butler is unproven as a …

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Media snubs Curran on All-SEC first team

Apparently the media covering the SEC isn’t as high on Rennie Curran as the conference’s coaches are.

When the coaches picked their preseason All-SEC team last week, both wide receiver A.J. Green and linebacker Curran were included on the first team, but only Green made the first team of the media preseason All-SEC team announced today, with Curran dropping to the second team.

Also making the media’s second team were offensive linemen Clint Boling and Trinton Sturdivant and defensive tackle Geno Atkins.

The difference for Curran was that the coaches picked four linebackers: Curran plus Brandon Spikes of Florida, Rolando McClain of Alabama and Eric Norwood of South Carolina, while the media only picked three linebackers — Spikes, McClain and Norwood — and instead went with another defensive lineman.

Cordy Glenn and Prince Miller made the coaches’ second team but didn’t rate with the media. Jeff Owens and Reshad Jones made the coaches’ third team, along with Sturdivant, but the …

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Release the WildDawg!

This could get interesting.

When asked Thursday at SEC Media Days about the prospect of using one of his two true freshman quarterbacks, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger, this season, Mark Richt first noted that redshirt-freshman Logan Gray, currently Joe Cox’s backup at QB, is in the mix, too. “When it comes to the true freshmen,” Richt said, “if I feel one is the true second team quarterback, we will play him, get him as much experience as we can. If Logan Gray is our number two guy, we may choose to redshirt both of those true freshmen.”

Then came the intriguing part. “If Logan Gray is not the number two quarterback, we may still have a package for him separate from our overall package just because he is athletic enough to do those kind of things that people do in the ‘wildcat,’ whatever you want to call it. So you got a wildcat who can actually throw and understand the entire system. That’s not a bad thing. We’ll just see how these guys develop.”

Already last spring, …

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Two-minute drill: Defense now and in the future

Georgia’s defense had big problems last season, and Mark Richt was asked today at his SEC Media Days appearance how he and his staff have tried to address those issues heading into the 2009 season.

Richt’s reply: “Number one, we hope to stay healthy. Number two, we hope to practice the way we’ve practiced every year since I’ve been at Georgia, and that is to practice tackling by tackling, and to practice goal line by getting on the goal line, practice inside run by getting after it full speed, full contact.” Last year, Richt said, “we backed off of some of those practice sessions in full pads with the intention of playing full speed as far as tackling to the ground, cutting below the waist, just playing football, because we got to the point where we were so thin at some positions, if we lost one more guy, we were gonna be in trouble with just having a guy that would know what to do. … I hope I’m not put in that situation again to have to make that decision, but if I don’t …

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Richt’s not worried about running game

Georgia fans have been concerned about the Dogs’ running game ever since spring drills ended without one tailback separating himself from the rest, but it’s heartening in looking over a conference transcript of Mark Richt’s remarks today at his SEC Media Days session to see that he’s not worried at all. 


Mark Richt (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Mark Richt (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

And you can bet it’s not a “What, me worry?” kind of denial like Mad magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman. Richt’s been through this tailback-by-committee stuff before. 

Anway, his take on Georgia’s running backs is that he thinks Georgia will be fine whichever one becomes the starter. Or even if there isn’t a featured back. Talent isn’t a problem, he says.

“I think … I could probably blindly grab two or three of ’em, just pick ’em up, and I would have confidence whatever three I picked out, we will have success with them,” the coach said. “Sometimes when you say no one has separated themselves from the pack, sometimes that’s bad if your pack …

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Dogs and TV a historic combo

With the ESPNization of the SEC’s TV coverage, every team in the conference can count on every game being televised on broadcast or cable each season except for one game reserved for possible pay-per-view (in other words, the weakest nonconference gimme matchup, this year being Tennessee Tech for Georgia).

Last season, 12 of the Dogs’ games were televised, including the bowl. Over the past seven years, Georgia has never had less than 10 games on the tube and usually 11 or 12.

Remember when having a game televised live was something special? If you’re of my son’s generation who grew up in the 1990s, no, you don’t. The last time less than half the Bulldogs’ schedule was televised was 1993, when we got to see only five games. And the last time less than that were televised was 10 years earlier, when only four games were covered by television.

Incredibly, during the national championship season of 1980, Herschel Walker and the Dawgs were on TV only three times on commercial …

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All-time Dogs offense?

OK, I admit it. I didn’t vote for Tim Tebow.

Of course, I’m not an SEC coach and I didn’t have a chance to vote for him on the preseason All-SEC team, but the media focus on the compelling question of who dared not to vote for Saint Timothy has been so great (might we even say obsessive?) that I just felt compelled to confess anyway. I feel better.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, how about one more all-timers list? 

I know, I know, we’ve been hip deep in such lists this offseason, but a lot of folks enjoy them and, besides, the Georgia Sports Dawg blog, whose Greatest “Junkyard Dawg” Defense of All Time we discussed here a couple of weeks ago, has come up with a companion list for the other side of the line of scrimmage.  

Blogger Wes Holtzclaw calls this one Georgia’s Offense for the Ages. Here it is:

Center: Tommy Lyons (1967 to 1970)

Left guard: Pat Dye (1957 to 1960)

Right guard: Joel Parrish (1973 to 1976)

Left tackle: Matt Stinchcomb (1995 to 1998)

Right tackle: …

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Two-minute drill: What a decade from Yahoo Sports has taken a look at the decade so far by the numbers. In the ranking for best record of the decade, Georgia comes in No. 6 with a 90-26 record (.776 percent) behind Boise State (98-17, .852), Texas (97-18, .843), Oklahoma (102-19, .843), USC (93-22, .809) and Ohio State (91-23, .798). Georgia is tied for 10th place with Texas Tech for best home record this decade, but, as previously noted by Phil Steele, second only to Texas for best road record. …

Mobile native and former UGA coach and athletics director Vince Dooley told the Mobile Press-Register that while recruiting expenses aren’t as out of hand as they used to be before the NCAA cracked down, he thinks some sort of spending cap may be necessary. “I think there should be a study,” Dooley said. “There used to be almost unlimited expenses on recruiting that has been curtailed with NCAA legislation. If it continues to escalate, there might have to be some kind of expenditure caps on that. Not …

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Richt third in SEC Coaches Power Poll

Something remarkable has happened. An Alabama newspaper’s Web site conducted a poll in which readers graded the SEC’s football coaches … and Nick Saban didn’t come in first. Not only that, but Auburn’s Gene Chizik came in next to last. 

Ah, the wonders of the Internet, which knows no state borders.

The Birmingham News says more than 6,400 fan ballots were cast online in its 2009 SEC Coaches Power Poll. Readers were asked to grade each of the 12 coaches on a scale of one to five stars (as is done with recruits), with five being the best. Florida’s Urban Meyer came out on top with a rating of 4.61 stars, followed by Saban (4.56) and Georgia’s Mark Richt (3.93).

Saban was given five stars on 80.3 percent of the ballots, while Meyer was rated five stars by 74.5 percent, but Meyer finished with a higher average, the News said, because he got more four-star votes and Saban got more one-star votes.

In fourth place, not far behind Richt, was South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier (3.81 …

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Is Joe Cox up to the challenge?

One of the most common refrains in preseason examinations of the 2009 Dogs has been that former backup quarterback Joe Cox doesn’t have to try and win games himself now that he’s the starter, he just has to “manage” the games successfully. 

Cox, to his credit, isn’t just looking to get by. He tells Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald that he’s set a personal goal of completing 70 percent of his passes this season. He admits “that’s a high goal,” but notes that “everything else comes with completions. I don’t worry about yards or touchdowns or anything like that. All of that stuff will come if you’re completing passes.”

It’s a formidable challenge, as Weiszer notes. The last time Cox played extensively — his senior season in high school — he completed 66.1 percent of his passes, and last season in Division 1-A, only the big guns of the Big 12 completed more than 70 percent: Colt McCoy of Texas (76.7 percent), Chase Daniel of Missouri (72.9) and Graham Harrell of Texas Tech …

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