The Quad, The New York Times’ college sports blog, has been profiling all 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams and its countdown has reached No. 11 … Georgia.
Last season, the Quad had picked the Dogs at No. 2 preseason but the blog notes the 2008 Georgia team “was not ready for prime time: the defense, especially, was not up to par. So enormous hopes ended in — the horror — a 10-win finish. Welcome to Georgia in the Mark Richt era, when excellence is assumed and a 10-3 record falls short of potential.”
As for this season, after a lengthy rundown of Georgia’s personnel, Quad blogger Paul Myerberg writes: “I think this team can and will challenge Florida for the SEC East crown. Are the Bulldogs good enough to beat the Gators? No, I’m not sure if anyone is good enough to beat the Gators in 2009. But I think Georgia will be good, very good, perhaps the third-best team in the entire SEC. Even in what some are viewing as a rebuilding year for Richt and the Bulldogs, sleep on this team at your own risk. My prediction: 10-2, 6-2 in the SEC, second behind Florida in the East division.”
Interestingly, in ranking UGA’s top five NFL players of all time, the Quad said Herschel Walker, Terrell Davis and Hines Ward were among those who just missed the cut. The Times’ picks: 1. Fran Tarkenton 2. Champ Bailey 3. Charley Trippi 4. Jake Scott 5. Richard Seymour.
Talk about an embarrassment of riches.
Wrangling those Cowboys
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, whose relationship with the media is a bit prickly, has closed off reporters’ access to his team until Aug. 31. The reason, Gundy told the Oklahoman: “The most difficult thing we’re doing right now, or trying to do, is keep them focused and concentrated on preparing to play the game. You’ve got 19,000 students here. You’ve got a lot of cute girls out there. There’s a lot of things going on. Guys have to focus. We’re trying to reel them in.”
OK, let me get this straight. Oklahoma State has what many view as the biggest season opener in its history coming up, against a historically strong SEC program, and is on the verge of what its boosters hope will be its best season ever. And the Cowboys are having trouble focusing because of cute girls on campus?
Meanwhile, Buck Belue talks in his blog about what the Dogs will have to do to keep Okie State’s high-powered offense in check, particularly QB Zac Robinson, who Belue says is “a rock star in Stillwater and he’s a dual threat on Saturday. Not the type of QB you want to blitz, or play a lot of man coverage against. Example: Georgia blitzes and plays man, but does not get the sack … Zac pulls it down and gallops for 25 yards. Another example: Dogs play Cover 1 or Cover 2, which means they are playing underneath man, and Zac scrambles for 30 yards. When you play man coverage, typically there is no one on the QB. A QB that can scoot can hurt you. He recognizes man at the snap — when he see’s DBs chasing WRs & LBs running to chase RBs — and he knows at that instant that he can run for a big-play if say Dez Bryant is tightly covered by Prince Miller. Expect to see a heavy dose of zone against Oklahoma State.”
Not exactly typecasting
The Dogs moved into preparation for the Cowboys on Monday, and one practice note caught my eye: true freshman Zach Mettenberger was wearing Zac Robinson’s number (11) while working as scout team quarterback. Seeing Mettenberger on the scout team and looking likely to be redshirted doesn’t surprise me at all. But I’m kind of puzzled why the Dogs’ coaches would take their least mobile quarterback and have him play Robinson, always a threat to take off running, in practice.
As for Mettenberger, he told the Athens Banner-Herald he’s fine with how he’s being used. “I don’t have a problem running scout this year and being redshirted. I’m still young and still have a lot to work on.”