Archive for August, 2009

Bulldog Bites: UGA cracks Sagarin preseason Top 10

I’m still catching up on stuff from my time off, and that includes the Sagarin computerized preseason ratings released last week and published today in USA Today. 

Sagarin has USC at No. 1, followed by Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Ohio State, LSU and Georgia at No. 7. The Top 10 is rounded out by Penn State, Virginia Tech and Oregon. 

The ratings, devised by Jeff Sagarin, a 1970 MIT mathematics graduate, are one of the six computer rankings used in the BCS poll. Sagarin’s ratings are a numerical measure of a team’s strength. Southern Cal’s rating, for example, is 95.75 and Georgia’s is 86.59. 

Oh, and Georgia Tech? Sagarin has them at No. 42 with a rating of 76.93.

Media Watch

 

Mark Richt video was balky. (Georgiadogs.com)

Mark Richt video was balky. (Georgiadogs.com)

The UGA Athletic Association unveiled the revamped Georgiadogs.com site today. It includes expanded video sections (including a seven-day-a-week Georgia Sports Daily news update), the promise of improved live video streaming and a multimedia section with …

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Dogs’ ‘golden era’ … for now

 

Vince Dooley era commemorated (University of Georgia)

Vince Dooley era commemorated (University of Georgia)

As part of its College Football Preview, out today, USA Today looked at the history of all 120 programs in the Bowl Subdivision and picked the “golden era” for each one. 

For some schools, that means going way back (Vandy’s heyday was 1926-1930) while Florida is in the midst of its golden era since Urban Meyer arrived, the paper says. 

Alabama’s golden era is pegged as 1961-66, when Bear Bryant went 50-4-1 and claimed three national championships. The Bear also accounted for Kentucky’s golden era, 1949-51, when he went 28-8, took the Wildcats to the Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls and won the 1950 SEC championship.

Auburn’s prime years were 1955-60, USA Today says, when Ralph “Shug” Jordan went 49-10-2, won the 1957 AP national championship and finished fourth in 1958 with a 9-0-1 record. For Tennessee, the paper opts for the years 1938-40, three consecutive unbeaten seasons under Gen. Robert Neyland, instead of the years …

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Why I’m glad the Dogs are opening with Oklahoma State

I’ve heard a number of fans bemoaning how Georgia’s killer schedule is getting off to a particularly tough start with an on-the-road opener against a Top 10 team. But as my son and I were discussing, that’s really a good thing, because Georgia seems to have its best years under Mark Richt when it schedules a hard (or supposedly hard) opener.

In contrast, a season where they open with a patsy generally has seen Richt teams underperform, or at least not be quite as successful.

What was the best opening win under Mark Richt?

  • Clemson 2002
  • Clemson 2003
  • Boise State 2005
  • Oklahoma State 2007

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Here’s how it’s gone so far:

In 2001, the Dogs opened Richt’s first season with a patsy in Arkansas State and wound up with an 8-4 record (admittedly not bad for a rookie coach’s first year) and a loss in the Music City Bowl.

The next year, 2002, Georgia opened with a tougher opponent, traditional rival Clemson. That season ended in an SEC …

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Two-minute drill: It’s what’s up front that counts

 

Geno Atkins (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Geno Atkins (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

With key players back from injury and a bunch of very experienced youngsters, good things are expected from the Dogs’ offensive and defensive lines this season.

ESPN.com’s Chris Low has picked Georgia’s offensive line as the best in the SEC, ahead of Florida, LSU, Ole Miss and Auburn. He says: “The Bulldogs have more experience in their offensive line than any other SEC team. They also have a lot of flexibility after injuries forced them to move so many people around last season. Getting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant back is huge, and right tackle Clint Boling is also an All-SEC-caliber player.”

Meanwhile, in an Athens Banner-Herald piece on defensive lineman Kade Weston, a sometime starter who toils in the shadow of nationally recognized Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens, coach Rodney Garner draws a favorable comparison between the current mix of Atkins, Owens, Weston and backup DeAnglo Tyson and one of his more heralded Georgia lines from a …

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Dogs’ old-fashioned August suffering

The old football maxim that the tougher the practices are the better off the team will be come game time has been questioned by some in recent years. 

The new argument goes that with the year-round conditioning programs that college players go through, particularly in summer drills, brutal two-a-days in August don’t really gain you that much, and might end up costing you in injuries, whether minor ones like hamstring pulls, or major ones that might cause a player to miss a year.

You won’t hear that kind of talk around the Woodruff Practice Fields in Athens, however. After letting up in practice last year because of the alarming number of players going down with injuries, Mark Richt saw the Dogs’ fundamentals, focus and discipline all slip. The results weren’t pretty.

Practices toughened up for the bowl game and, at least in the case of the defense, definite improvement was shown. Approaching this season, Richt vowed to stay tough in practices if at all possible.

Seems like …

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Bulldog Bites: Dogs third-best in SEC?

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. 

 

Herschel missed the cut? (University of Georgia)

Herschel missed the cut? (University of 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 …

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Who’s most dangerous player Dogs will face?

Georgia’s defense, particularly the more inexperienced members of its secondary, will face a stiff challenge in some of the more heralded offensive stars they’ll come up against this season.

Besides Tim Tebow, who will be the Dogs defense’s biggest challenge?

  • Oklahoma State’s Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant
  • Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett
  • LSU’s Jordan Jefferson
  • Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer

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There’s Florida’s Tim Tebow, of course.

But first the Dogs must try to contain Oklahoma State’s high-scoring tandem of quarterback Zac Robinson and receiver Dez Bryant. Also early in the season, a lot of folks are picking the Arkansas game as a potential loss for the Dogs thanks to their quarterback transfer from Michigan, Ryan Mallett. Then there’s LSU’s powerful offense, led by rising QB Jordan Jefferson. And the Dogs are well aware of the big-play potential of Georgia Tech’s triple-option attack with Jonathan Dwyer.

We’ll say it’s a given that Tebow, …

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Two-minute drill: Dogs pegged as SEC ‘surprise’

ESPN.com’s Chris Low has compiled his preseason SEC Superlatives and picks Georgia as the team most likely to surprise. 

Says Low: “The pick here is based largely on the Bulldogs being an afterthought in the East race, only a year removed from being everybody’s preseason No. 1. Georgia isn’t good enough to unseat Florida in the East, but the Bulldogs behind a strong offensive line and a defense out to avenge last season’s poor showing will be a lot better than people think.”

By the way, his team that will disappoint? Alabama.

Encouraging report on defensive ends

The Athens Banner-Herald takes a look at the progress made at the important defensive end position this preseason and notes Rod Battle and Demarcus Dobbs look set as the likely starters in the opening game. Battle was credited with a combined six sacks during two scrimmages. Dobbs had half a sack in each scrimmage. 

Dogs’ little big man

The Macon Telegraph profiled diminutive tailback Carlton Thomas and how he’s …

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A great time to be in Athens

 

Uga VII ignored? (University of Georgia)

Uga VII ignored? (University of Georgia)

While off last week, I managed to spend a couple of days in Athens, which is always a good way to get rejuvenated, especially this time of year.

My daughter and I made our usual rounds, including Butts-Mehre to pick up the new team posters and wander through the museum, which is badly in need of updating (the exhibit on the mascots only goes up through Uga VI). Hope they’re not planning on waiting until the expansion of the facility is finished in early 2011.

We also made our usual visit to the UGA Bookstore, where I noted that those No. 7 jerseys that were so hot a year ago are now down to $15. Why not grab one now and call it an Orson Charles jersey instead of a Matthew Stafford. I have a feeling this time next year they’ll be selling for full price ($60) again. 

While at the bookstore, we made a brief foray into the cavernous $60 million Tate II student center expansion. It has a post office, a copying center, lots of meeting rooms …

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A big reason tailback still looks like a committee at UGA

I’m back from a vacation that saw me soaked but happy at a terrific Paul McCartney concert, spending way too much on school supplies and books for my daughter, and enjoying some fun family time. While I was gone, the Bulldog Nation had a scare over Ben Jones’ ankle, UGA announced the football coaches will have to take furlough days, and Mark Richt finally made it official that sophomore Richard Samuel is “a solid No. 1″ at tailback.

I thought it interesting, though, that quarterback Joe Cox sort of added an asterisk to that No. 1 designation in an Athens Banner-Herald article noting that tailbacks at UGA don’t just run and block. They also catch the ball a lot, with the departed Knowshon Moreno third in receptions for the Dogs last season.  

And as Cox sees it, while Samuel might start at tailback, he’s more likely to be tossing the ball to Carlton Thomas and Caleb King out of the backfield. He was pretty brutally frank in summing up Samuel’s weakness in that regard. “I think …

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