Archive for February, 2010

Bulldog Bites: Spring to-do list for UGA quarterbacks

Buck Belue has advice for Zach Mettenberger and the other Georgia QBs. (Bob Andres / AJC)

Buck Belue has advice for Zach Mettenberger and the other Georgia QBs. (Bob Andres / AJC)

Georgia QB-turned-sportscaster Buck Belue looks at the Dogs’ three-way spring competition for the starting quarterback’s job in his latest blog entry. Belue believes Mike Bobo will be thinking more bootlegs and roll-outs this year, which should suit two of the candidates, redshirt junior Logan Gray and redshirt freshman Aaron Murray. The other redshirt freshman, Zach Mettenberger, is more of a pocket passer.

Buck assesses what each of the candidates needs to do this spring:

The big thing for Gray, he says, “is proving he can be successful in the pocket, working the short to intermediate passing game.”

Mettenberger, who had troubles with accuracy and footwork in last year’s spring game but has pronounced himself “10 times better” this year, “gets downfield in a hurry. There is some zip on it,” Belue says. His estimation of what Mettenberger needs to show this spring: accuracy and handling …

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Which is Dogs’ bigger concern, QB or defense?

Washaun Ealey and the running game should take the pressure off Georgia's inexperienced quarterback. (Georgiadogs.com)

Washaun Ealey and the running game should take the pressure off Georgia's inexperienced quarterback. (Georgiadogs.com)

So the Dogs are not getting a lot of love in national media previews of the 2010 football season, aside from ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach putting them at No. 19 in his Way-Too-Early Top 25. Fellow ESPN.com writer Chris Low went so far as to put UGA in the second tier of his SEC power rankings, behind Auburn and South Carolina.

But this early lack of respect isn’t really a big surprise considering that Mark Richt’s program is coming off a mediocre (for Georgia) season and is facing the prospect of an inexperienced quarterback and the complete rehauling of a troubled defense.

Otherwise, the picture is pretty positive. Aside from QB, the Dogs return the rest of their offensive starters. The kickers are among the nation’s best. With Jon Fabris gone, special teams — particularly kickoff coverage — ought to improve (it certainly couldn’t get any worse). And the …

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Can surging athletics salaries at UGA be justified?

Damon Evans' pay raises difficult questions for some in the UGA community. (Curtis Compton / AJC}

Damon Evans' pay raises difficult questions for some in the UGA community. (Curtis Compton / AJC}

It’s interesting the way folks react to the ever-escalating salaries in college athletics. UGA signs a new defensive coordinator for a whopping $750,000 and hardly anyone blinks. In fact, for some fans of the Dogs it became a sort of point of pride that the deal made Todd Grantham the third-highest paid assistant in the nation. Plus everyone knows UGA’s athletic association is one of the most profitable in the country, so they could afford to pay top dollar.

But Damon Evans, UGA’s athletics director, gets a $90,000 raise in his new five-year contract last week, going from his current $460,000 to $550,000 (with $20,000 annual hikes and a $250,000 longevity bonus built in) and UGA President Michael Adams, who also chairs the athletics board, feels it necessary to defend the move at his monthly news briefing.

Coaches are one thing, I guess, while administrators are viewed …

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Which UGA athletic heroes are worthy of statues?

Vince Dooley and the statue honoring the 1980 national championship. (University of Georgia)

Vince Dooley and the statue honoring the 1980 national championship. (University of Georgia)

Looks like we’ve entered a new Bronze Age in the SEC.

You probably saw the recent news that the University of Alabama is quickly putting up a statue of Nick Saban to mark the Tide’s most recent national championship. It’ll join statues of the other UA coaches who’ve won national titles in the “Walk of Champions” area outside Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Then came word that the University of Florida is looking at erecting bronze, life-size statues of the Gators’ Heisman Trophy winners, Tim Tebow, Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel.

That got me to thinking which Bulldog heroes ought to be enshrined if UGA were to go beyond the statue honoring former coach Vince Dooley and his 1980 national championship team that was unveiled in 2008 on the South Campus athletic complex named after Dooley.

Now let me say up front that I recognize there are those who question whether a university …

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Thank goodness for A.J. Green and Orson Charles

The return of Kris Durham will bolster Georgia's receiving corps. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

The return of Kris Durham will bolster Georgia's receiving corps. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Coming out of signing day this week, Mark Richt admitted that Georgia’s lack of depth at wide receiver concerns him, especially after the loss of Da’Rick Rogers to Tennessee left the Dogs with only one incoming freshman receiver this year, Michael Bennett of Alpharetta.

Speaking of his receiving corps, Richt told the Athens Banner-Herald, “We don’t have, at this moment, the number that we would feel comfortable having — and that’s always give or take one or two.” Which pretty much echoes a quote from Mike Bobo last April when it was announced that rising senior receiver Kris Durham would have to take a medical redshirt year because of shoulder surgery.

Despite being thin at receiver last year, Georgia wound up with a pretty decent passing attack, mainly because of A.J. Green. Junior star Green is back this season, of course, for what many think will be his final season playing in …

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Big picture needed when it comes to UGA’s recruiting

Richard Samuel's move to linebacker is welcome news. (Georgiadogs.com)

Richard Samuel's move to linebacker is welcome news. (Georgiadogs.com)

Some final thoughts on signing day.

First, you don’t shake up a program by getting rid of nearly half the coaches without expecting some fallout like this. Yes, it would have been great to add some depth at wide receiver and cornerback, but it’s not like the cupboard was exactly bare after those Top 10 recruiting classes Mark Richt has had in recent years. If the Dogs are going to suffer any from this subpar recruiting season, it’ll probably be a year or so down the road. And, who knows, if Richt bounces back in terms of recruiting next year, this hiccup might not matter much at all.

Secondly, this class might not be as impressive on first appearance as Richt’s others, but it’s not too shabby. Had Da’Rick Rogers not bolted, this likely would have been graded a Top 10 class by at least some of the recruiting analysts.

And as has been pointed out by MrSEC and others, if you average those much-hyped star …

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How much do recruiting star ratings really mean?

Georgia signee T.J. Stripling. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Georgia signee T.J. Stripling. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Recruiting isn’t the primary focus here (there are plenty of other outlets for that), but in my continuing effort to try to talk some of you down off the ledge in the face of what’s generally being perceived as a disappointing signing day for UGA, here’s a reminder that all this five-star and four-star ranking business isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

Back in August, we ran an article by Ken Sugiura and Tim Ellerbee under the headline “Are recruiting services overrated?” It included the following about a recruit who today has become one of Georgia’s signees:

“An odd thing happened in the world of college football recruiting last week, and T.J. Stripling, the talented player from Southwest DeKalb, certainly benefited. Stripling, a 6-foot-6, 215-pound defensive end, had gone somewhat unnoticed by the nation’s top recruiting services until word circulated that he was close to choosing among Georgia and several other top …

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Will Da’Rick Rogers see his shadow?

Will the recruitniks give Mark Richt a thumbs-up after signing day? (Associated Press)

Will the recruitniks give Mark Richt a thumbs-up after signing day? (Associated Press)

Today it was the groundhog’s day to provide grist for prognosticators, and tomorrow it’ll be the results of signing day.

From what I’m hearing and reading, a lot of UGA fans are feeling pretty depressed about the prospect of at least a couple of defections by high-profile recruits who’d given the Dogs a verbal commitment (which, considering these are 18-year-old kids, means about as much as an Urban Meyer resignation). Mark Richt has lost his touch as a recruiter, they’re saying. Why do Florida and Alabama get the five-star recruits? And what’s with the apparent recruiting surge of Auburn under Gene Chizik?

Of course, at the other extreme there are folks in the Bulldog Nation who think way too much is made of the annual rankings of recruiting classes. As Rex Robinson wrote recently, “The day I let a 17- or 18-year-old kid dictate the ebb and flow of my day, is when hell freezes over. …

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