Archive for February, 2010

Amid all the change, some familiar refrains in Athens

Logan Gray decided to give it another shot at quarterback. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Logan Gray decided to give it another shot at quarterback. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Whew, a lot to digest from the fount of information spewing out of the media briefings held this week at Butts-Mehre.

We learned who’s going to line up where on defense, at least initially, and that the DL will be anchored by the “nose,” not nose tackle or nose guard. The outside linebackers will be primarily pass rushers while the more athletic inside linebackers will have more pass coverage responsibilty.

We were told that in the new defensive scheme cornerbacks won’t be as much involved in run support as in the past (which led to Bryan Evans getting badly beaten time after time) and that new secondary coach Scott Lakatos is teaching his players completely different, NFL-style footwork from what Willie Martinez taught them. (Now if he can just get them to turn their heads to see where the ball is.)

We found out who’ll be coaching what on special teams, including that kickoff coverage — the …

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UGA’s Bobo looks to do ‘better job’ with quarterbacks

Mike Bobo thinks the 2006 QB battle went on too long. (Associated Press)

Mike Bobo thinks the 2006 QB battle went on too long. (Associated Press)

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and some of the Georgia players chatted with the UGA beat writers on Thursday (among other places, you can find reports here and here and here), and while nothing really surprising was said, there were some things worth chewing over, particularly some of Bobo’s comments.

While the oft-criticized Bobo saying that losing five games last year was “not acceptable” and “lit a fire in everybody” was the marquee quote coming out of the session, that sort of statement is pretty well expected at this point. As was him saying that the main emphasis at quarterback this season will be “taking care of the football and not turning it over.”

But it’s notable that he seemed to put at least a bit of the onus for that on his own shoulders, saying, “We just have to do a better job of managing that position and managing those mistakes this year where [last] year we probably didn’t.”

As the …

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Looking for progress at G-Day

Mark Richt’s Dogs open spring practice a week from today and the story line that’s naturally attracted the most fan and media attention is the battle between Logan Gray, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger at quarterback. And, certainly, one of the things I’m most looking forward to seeing at the April 10 G-Day game is how Murray and Mettenberger have progressed since last year’s spring game. Particularly Mettenberger. I’m hoping the receivers don’t drop as many balls as last spring so we get a fair look at the QBs.

Branden Smith attracted more attention on special teams and offense last year than in the secondary. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Branden Smith attracted more attention on special teams and offense last year than in the secondary. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

As for the defense, I’m figuring the installation of Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme will still be a work in progress by then, so we might not be able to get as good a feel for where they stand, but I’ll be particularly interested in the play at outside linebacker.

And I’m anxious to see who steps up big in the rebuilt secondary. It was at last …

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Decory Bryant case: Why did it take UGA so long to do the right thing?

The folks at Butts-Mehre botched the handling of the Decory Bryant case. (University of Georgia)

The folks at Butts-Mehre botched the handling of the Decory Bryant case. (University of Georgia)

The news in the Athens Banner-Herald that the legal battle between the UGA Athletic Association and former football player Decory Bryant finally has been settled for $400,000 after more than five years prompts one big question: What took them so long?

Bryant had sued the athletic association because he said it was the athletic association’s fault he was denied an insurance policy that would have paid him as much as $500,000 after a neck injury ended his playing career in 2003.

It came out in documents filed in the case that the player had asked for the policy but an athletic association administrator failed to turn in the paperwork on time. But in December, Clarke County Superior Court Judge Lawton Stephens had dismissed Bryant’s suit, ruling that while the athletic association is a private corporation, it is legally an arm of the state and therefore falls under the doctrine of …

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Lack of BCS title doesn’t keep Dogs from decade’s Top 10

UGA fans have had a lot to celebrate in the past decade. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

UGA fans have had a lot to celebrate in the past decade. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

We’ve heard a lot recently about how Georgia fans are disappointed with the way things have been going lately for Mark Richt’s program. But it’s worth noting that most of that disappointment is focused on the past two seasons and, in fact, is prompted in large measure by how consistently successful the Dogs have been since Richt came to Athens.

Richt raised the standards of what Georgia fans consider acceptable, and how he has to live up to those standards.

That point is driven home by some numbers crunching done by the CFB Data Warehouse (with a tip of the hat to Rivals’ Fanblogs.com for pointing this out).

Factoring in winning percentage, schedule, national championships won and Big 4 bowl appearances, the Data Warehouse folks have compiled a comprehensive college football ranking for the years 2000-2009, and UGA comes in No. 8 for the decade. (That covers Jim Donnan’s last season and all of …

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Are Dawg fans’ BCS title hopes for 2011 realistic?

When will Mark Richt get to hoist one of these crystal babies like Nick Saban? Or will he? (Associated Press)

When will Mark Richt get to hoist one of these crystal babies like Nick Saban? Or will he? (Associated Press)

It’s that time of year between signing day and the beginning of spring practice when college football fans look ahead with optimism. That certainly applies in the Bulldog Nation, where many, if not most, fans appear to have concluded that the 2010 season will see an improvement in the Dogs’ on-field performance. A frequent refrain I’m hearing is that 10 wins, at least counting the bowl if not in the regular season, doesn’t seem out of reach, even with all the questions surrounding this team.

And if you then look ahead to 2011, with a year of experience at QB and the new defensive scheme established and battle-tested and a fairly advantageous schedule, well, the sky seems to be the limit in many fans’ estimation.

Yes, just three months after the debacle that was the game against Kentucky, some Dogs fans are daring to think BCS national championship in 2011. We’re …

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Dogs’ most important non-SEC game in 2010?

One blogger expects some football fireworks when the Dogs visit Folsom Field. (University of Colorado)

One blogger expects some football fireworks when the Dogs visit Folsom Field. (University of Colorado)

Ask most Dogs fans which nonconference game on this year’s schedule will be the most important, and the knee-jerk answer is, of course, Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets will be out to avenge this past season’s surprise loss at Grant Field while the Dogs will want to turn that win into a new winning streak against Tech and protect the hedges.

But in what CollegeFootballNews.com calls its “Ridiculously Early SEC Picks” by the site’s bloggers, Brian Harbach makes the case that Georgia’s trip out West to play Colorado at Folsom Field will be the SEC out-of-conference game of the year.

Here’s why he thinks that: “There are a number of great SEC out-of-conference games this year, but none may come at a more important time than Georgia’s trip to Boulder the first week of October. This game will be UGA’s third road trip in five weeks; and it will be following games at South Carolina, …

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Mark Richt at his best: Five favorite games

Mark Richt has had a lot of wins worth celebrating at Georgia. Today we pick five favorites. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt has had a lot of wins worth celebrating at Georgia. Today we pick five favorites. (Associated Press)

In honor of Mark Richt’s 50th birthday today, here are the five games from his nine seasons at Georgia that I think are the Georgia coach at his very best.

Georgia’s 26-24 win over Tennessee in 2001. Forever hailed by Dogs fans as the “hobnail boot” game, it was Richt’s first signature victory and set the template for Richt at his most successful: Cool on the sideline, explosive offense moving the ball quickly downfield, superb call for the touchdown, beating the other guy on the road.

Georgia’s 24-21 win in Auburn in 2002. Perhaps the most important win of the Richt era in that it put the Dogs into their first SEC championship game. Another classic come-from-behind effort and another great call with the fourth-and-19 “70-X-Takeoff” pass to Michael Johnson in the end zone.

Georgia’s 37-15 upset win over Auburn in 2006. Richt later said that he was worried before this …

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Dogs could benefit from schedule in 2010

Georgia's schedule finally breaks Mark Richt's way. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Georgia's schedule finally breaks Mark Richt's way. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Over the past two seasons, as the Dogs were trying to survive absolutely killer schedules, I kept looking ahead at the 2010 and 2011 schedules and thinking that if Mark Richt could solve his defensive problems and find a quarterback, he’d be looking at a definite window of opportunity.

The rotation of SEC West teams that the Dogs face definitely turns advantageous this season (no Bama or LSU) and the most challenging opponent on the nonconference schedule looks to be our in-state rival.

CollegeFootballNews.com is thinking along the same lines. In doing their roundup of the SEC composite schedule for 2010, they see Georgia’s “realistic best case record” as 11-1, the “worst case” record as 7-5 and peg the Dogs’ “likely finish” at 10-2.

Their summary paints a pretty optimistic scenario: “Georgia won’t be the best team in the SEC, but it has the schedule to look that way. Any SEC East team worth its salt …

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‘Package deals’ make and break Dogs’ recruiting

Zander and Alec Ogletree both ended up signing with UGA. A package deal? (Jason Getz / AJC)

Zander and Alec Ogletree both ended up signing with UGA. A package deal? (Jason Getz / AJC)

The issue of “package deals” in college football recruiting was raised again in Michael Carvell’s excellent piece about Georgia’s recruiting interest in Wilcox County’s Nick Marshall, the top-rated high school quarterback in the state.

No one at UGA is going to admit that the Dogs gave a last-minute scholarship offer this year to little-known wide receiver Lonnie Outlaw, despite the fact he was short of credits and would have to go to junior college first, simply because he’s related to Marshall. Georgia did, in fact, need another wide receiver in the pipeline, especially after a certain recruit’s defection to Big Orange land. But even if it wasn’t the primary factor in the signing of Outlaw, his blood connection to Marshall no doubt was mentioned.

The wisdom of offering package deals has been debated by recruitniks for a long time, but the discussion seems particularly pertinent to …

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