Archive for January, 2010

Five Favorite Bulldogs in the Pros

Fran the Man. (Minnesota Vikings)

Fran the Man. (Minnesota Vikings)

Let’s talk about Dogs in the pros.

A lot of UGA fans follow Bulldog players’ NFL careers closely and no doubt will be tuning in to the Pro Bowl this weekend, where Champ Bailey of the Broncos will be representing UGA. (Jon Stinchcomb of the Saints also would be in the game but he’s on a Super Bowl team.)

The list of other Bulldogs who’ve been selected for the Pro Bowl in the past includes, among others, such names as Broncos Super Bowl MVP and noted Chunky soup fan Terrell Davis, Rodney Hampton, Garrison Hearst, Len Hauss, Jimmy Orr, Mo Lewis, Guy McIntyre, Richard Seymour, Charley Trippi and Bobby Walston. And I’d long forgotten this, but in his very brief pro career with the Falcons, kicker Bobby Etter actually made the 1970 Pro Bowl.

(That also brings to mind probably the most unlikely Bulldog to grace an NFL roster: Ray Jeffords, who was a basketball player for the Dogs that the Falcons decided to draft as a tight end in 1968 for …

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What will UGA fans make of ‘Dooley’s Vols’?

UGA-bred Derek Dooley is a definite step up in class from Lane Kiffin. (Louisiana Tech)

UGA-bred Derek Dooley is a definite step up in class from Lane Kiffin. (Louisiana Tech)

As college football rivalries go, the one between UGA and Tennessee doesn’t have a lot of history (they didn’t play for many years) and it has never had the intensity of Georgia-Florida, or the sibling-like feel of Georgia-Auburn and the season-ending meeting with Tech.

And yet the rivalry with the Vols is the only one in modern memory that saw UGA fans tear down the goal posts in Athens after a win, and it produced one of Larry Munson’s most memorable calls in Knoxville.

I got to thinking about the nature of that rivalry after my son raised the question of how having Vince Dooley’s son Derek as the UT head coach might change how UGA fans view Tennessee.

Certainly, Dooley, who grew up in Athens, played and got his undergrad degree at Virginia and received his law degree from UGA, won’t be the obvious villain in fans’ eyes that loudmouthed Lane Kiffin aspired to be. By all appearances to …

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Finally, a positive spin on Richt’s future at UGA

Do you see Mark Richt growing old at UGA? (Associated Press)

Do you see Mark Richt growing old at UGA? (Associated Press)

It’s a given that Mark Richt’s program lost a little momentum last season, which in the knee-jerk world of college football “analysis” prompted the “hot seat” talk that reached a crescendo during the prolonged search for a defensive coordinator. After Kirby Smart decided to stay at Alabama, MrSEC.com declared flatly that Richt was “in trouble” and “his days are running out.”

The hiring of Todd Grantham calmed the waters a bit, but there’s still a contingent of pundits who seem to think that anything less than an SEC East title this fall will leave Richt with a tenuous grip on his job.

So it’s refreshing to see ESPN.com’s Chris Low opining that if any SEC coach is in it for the long haul, it’s Richt.

Low says that “Steve Spurrier told me last summer that he doubts the SEC will ever see a head coach again who endures at one place for 16 or 17 seasons the way Phillip Fulmer did at Tennessee. The money coaches are making …

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Parade All-Americans and basketball scalpers!

(University of Georgia)

(University of Georgia)

Happy Founders Day! Today marks the 225th anniversary of the state of Georgia chartering the University of Georgia, and we’ll celebrate it by noting that three of the Dogs’ verbal commitments have made the 2010 edition of the much cited Parade Magazine All-America team.

Safety Alec Ogletree of Newnan, receiver Da’Rick Rogers of Calhoun and quarterback Hutson Mason of Marietta are among 58 players from 24 states selected selected by coaches, journalists, scouts, and recruiters for the 47th annual All-America High School Football Team. They are the only players from the state of Georgia to make the team.

Now we just gotta hope they indeed sign on the dotted line.

The All-America team will run in the Sunday issue of Parade but you can check it out by clicking on the above link.

BULLDOG BITES

You know Mark Fox has the basketball program on the mend when there are actually scalpers outside the Steg! The Athens Banner-Herald reports UGA police banned two men …

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Differing views of Dogs’ 2010 prospects

Will Dogs be better this season than in 2009? (University of Georgia)

Will Dogs be better this season than in 2009? (University of Georgia)

Most UGA fans I’ve talked with are expecting at least marginal improvement for Mark Richt’s Dogs in 2010.

Yes, Georgia will be breaking in an inexperienced quarterback (whoever it is) and rebuilding its defense with a new scheme. But the Dogs also will have a veteran offensive line, they’ve finally figured out who their running backs should be, and there’s an awful lot of young talent for new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham to work with. Plus the schedule looks a whole lot more advantageous for the Dogs.

Not everyone sees it that way, though.

In addition to predicting that 2010 will be Les Miles’ last season at LSU, Clay Travis of NCAA Football Fanhouse thinks “Georgia’s continuing decline will be the story of the SEC east in 2010.” Travis predicts another 7-5 regular season for UGA, saying “The Bulldogs are taking on water and they can’t bail out fast enough. Both the offense and defense will be weaker. …

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BIG win for Mark Fox’s Dogs!

Stuck at work and I could only watch sporadically on TV, but what a great win for the Dogs at the Steg. Travis Leslie was unreal. And what has been evident in the two upsets and close games Georgia has played this season was driven home today: This is a very well-coached team. Once Mark Fox gets more talent in Athens, watch out!

Feel free to celebrate UGA’s multisport spanking of the Vols this weekend in the comments …

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If Grantham coaches like he talks, Junkyard Dogs era has returned

Dogs defenders will have to earn playing time, Todd Grantham says. (Associated Press)

Dogs defenders will have to earn playing time, Todd Grantham says. (Associated Press)

This time last week, we were examining what little we’d heard so far from new UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and getting excited about his pronouncements that he favored an aggressive, attacking style.

Over the past few days, Grantham has been making the rounds of the sports talk stations and sat down Friday with reporters to elaborate. And he’s still saying what we want to hear. Of course, it’s often a big leap between talking the talk and producing on the field and we’ve yet to see how Georgia’s players will execute what Grantham wants.

But from what I’m reading and hearing, reaction across the Bulldog Nation has been very positive to what he’s saying. Grantham thinks recruiting successfully close to home is the answer to winning the SEC and beating elite teams like Florida. He embraces the passionate, impatient fan base and says he understands who Georgia needs to beat.

And he is …

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Bulldog Bites: It was a good decade for Richt, UGA

David Pollack a consensus all-decade player. (Associated Press)

David Pollack a consensus all-decade player. (Associated Press)

A host of all-decade SEC teams have been trotted out in recent weeks, and the only Dog who’s been pretty much a constant on them is David Pollack, though tight end Ben Watson also managed to crack Chris Low’s team for ESPN.com.

And yet despite not fielding as many consensus all stars as some programs, Mark Richt still managed to have a pretty good decade, as reflected by him finishing third, behind only Nick Saban and Urban Meyer (both of whom have two BCS championships) and ahead of Les Miles (one BCS title), on Low’s list of the SEC coaches of the decade. Said Low: “Despite some of the grumbling this past season in Athens, Richt’s consistency has been what sets him apart. He won SEC titles in 2002 and 2005 and has finished in the top 10 in the final polls in six of his nine seasons. He’s also won 10 or more games in six of his nine seasons.”

And from a national perspective, ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel ranks the Dogs …

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Dogs have a lot of questions to answer at G-Day

Will the pressure be on Mike Bobo this season? (Associated Press)

Will the pressure be on Mike Bobo this season? (Associated Press)

This year’s G-Day game, set for April 10, should be one of the more interesting UGA intrasquad matches in a long time.

While some aspects of the 2010 Dogs at least appear to be pretty well established — the offensive line and the two top running backs — there are a lot of big question marks hovering over Mark Richt’s 10th team.

Will Logan Gray still be competing for the starting quarterback job by G-Day or will he be a receiver or in the secondary? Will forgotten running back Richard Samuel have taken his speed to the linebacking corps?

And the two most intriguing questions: The quarterback battle and the implementation of a different defensive alignment under new coordinator Todd Grantham.

About half the defensive starters from last season are gone, and the defensive players are a little nervous about the switch to a 3-4 scheme and where they’ll fit into it. Who’s going to play nose guard? Who will those …

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Yea or nay on a full-time special teams coach for Dogs?

Blair Walsh was one of the bright spots in special teams play for the Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Blair Walsh was one of the bright spots in special teams play for the Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I’m back from the holiday and my regular day off and see that the subject that occupied a group of us Dog fans sitting around talking football on Sunday afternoon is still drawing split opinions in the Bulldog Nation: Should Mark Richt use that last open coaching slot for another defensive coach (outside linebackers?) or to finally give Georgia a full-time special teams coach?

Before the news of Todd Grantham and the switch to a 3-4 defensive alignment, most of the chatter seemed to favor the idea that the Dogs badly need a coach dedicated to special teams. But now some are arguing that Grantham will need all the help he can get in the defensive rebuilding project.

Under the Dogs’ system up to now, various coaches split up special teams responsibility and much-maligned former defensive ends coach Jon Fabris was the overall “coordinator” and handled punt returns and kickoff …

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