Archive for March, 2010

Richt getting more involved with quarterbacks is a plus

Mark Richt's increased involvement can only help Georgia's quarterbacks. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC}

Mark Richt's increased involvement can only help Georgia's quarterbacks. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC}

Count me among those who think Georgia head coach Mark Richt getting more involved in his team’s offense is a good thing.

That was the big news out of Richt meeting with the UGA beat reporters on Tuesday: After several years of generally maintaining a hands-off stance with the offense while coordinator Mike Bobo grew into the job, Richt has decided he wants and needs to attend all the meetings of the quarterbacks and the offense.

This isn’t a knock on Bobo, he says, but rather a way for him to more fully evaluate the contenders in the QB battle and stay more involved in coaching, rather than dealing with the PR side of his job.

Now, for sure, some will see this as Richt letting Bobo know that while he may have escaped the coaching purge after last season, the boss is looking over his shoulder this year.

But I’ll take the coach’s rationale at face value. Let’s face it, as a former …

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Battling QBs and a mediocre weekend for other UGA teams

Zach Mettenberger (left) had a good scrimmage; Logan Gray, not so much. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Zach Mettenberger (left) had a good scrimmage; Logan Gray, not so much. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

A family wedding had me spending the weekend in South Carolina and, for the most part, away from the sports scene (though my daughter and I briefly tuned in to the Lady Dogs’ demolition by Stanford Saturday night before deciding it was too painful to watch). Perusing the Greenville News’ sports pages Sunday morning, I didn’t glean much of interest from reports on Clemson and South Carolina’s spring practice other than Steve Spurrier plans on using cornerback Stephon Gilmore more in the “Wild Cock” offense this season.

Back home, I scanned the various UGA news sites for reports on the Dogs’ Saturday scrimmage and didn’t see anything particularly surprising. The quarterback battle looks to be developing much like I’d expected: Logan Gray’s passing numbers were pretty mediocre and he was sacked three times, strong-armed Zach Mettenberger is much improved and had the best passing stats …

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Dogs ready to kick it up a notch?

Georgia kick coverage was awful despite Blair Walsh being one of the best kickers. (AJC staff)

Georgia kick coverage was awful despite Blair Walsh being one of the best kickers. (AJC staff)

While UGA assistant defensive coach Warren Belin was heard on the practice field earlier this week questioning the coaching his charges had received in recent years when it came to tackling, he was more coy when Marc Weiszer of The Athens Banner-Herald asked him what his philosophy will be on the kickoff coverage team that he will oversee.

“I can’t give that away right now,” Belin said.

Chances are pretty good, however, that what he really thought of saying if he watched film of last year’s kicks is, “Where did you guys learn to cover kicks the last five years??!!??”

Kickoffs have been crazy at UGA the past couple of years. And longtime readers know they’ve been a particular pet peeve of mine. (Not that I’m alone; former Georgia kickers Rex Robinson and Kevin Butler also have harped on this issue.) So here I go again …

The Dogs have one of the best kickers in the country in Blair …

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Thoughts on keeping defensive Dogs hungry and A.J. Green returning punts

Nick Williams likes the open competiton for playing time on defense. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Nick Williams likes the open competiton for playing time on defense. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

One of the side benefits of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham installing a new defense at Georgia may be that the players all know that no one is assured of a starting position — unlike last year, when some spots were locked up early by upperclassmen.

Nick Williams, who’s battling for playing time at one of the safety positions, talked about the benefits of the competition with The Macon Telegraph. “It’s great because it brings a lot out of players, knowing that you might not be the starter,” Williams said. “Nobody has a starting job. You can get kind of content when you know you’re going to be playing as a starter on Saturday nights, so you don’t practice as hard.

The italics for emphasis are mine. I think we all remember too well what it was like last year when some players held on to their starting spots despite the fact that they were being outplayed by their backups.

Williams …

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UGA coaches tackle nagging problem

Coach Warren Belin wants to know where these guys learned to tackle. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Coach Warren Belin wants to know where these guys learned to tackle. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

It wasn’t as big a factor as turnovers, but the Dogs have been plagued the past couple of seasons by poor tackling.

Flipping through some of my little game notebooks from last year, a frequent theme crops up: “Missed tackle.” “Poor tackling.”

Too often you saw Georgia defenders try to make a tackle from a bad angle or not wrap their arms and stick their heads into the chest of the ball carrier and drive them down. And then there were those awful occasions where they didn’t even really try to make an actual tackle, just hitting or bumping the guy as if that would make him fall down.

There’d be some improvement from game to game, but overall it was a team weakness under Willie Martinez’s staff, a point made this week in practice by coach Warren Belin in a quote that has lit up the blogosphere: “Where did you guys learn to tackle the last five years?”

Ouch. You know Mark Richt had to …

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Dogs’ offense looks more versatile this year

Whether rolling out or taking off running, Aaron Murray should bring added versatility to the QB position. (AJC staff)

Whether rolling out or taking off running, Aaron Murray should bring added versatility to the QB position. (AJC staff)

Despite the uncertainty over who’ll be the Dogs’ quarterback, most fans I’ve been talking with this spring feel pretty good about the offense because of the returning experience on the offensive line and at tailback, and, of course, A.J. Green.

But the Macon Telegraph’s spring practice coverage has touched on a couple of other reasons to be optimistic about UGA’s offensive prospects.

One is the likelihood of additional mobility at QB if either Aaron Murray or Logan Gray is behind center. While Mark Richt’s teams haven’t generally been known for a dual-threat QB except during 2005 with D.J. Shockley — and last year that really wasn’t part of the offense with Joe Cox — Georgia’s coaches think Murray and Gray have that potential. (Zach Mettenberger, not so much, but he’s pretty much taken himself out of the starter’s race at this point with a suspension hanging …

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Dawg fans love new approach on defense

Let’s wind up the week with some notes and quotes worthy of comment. …

Todd Grantham and Scott Lakatos. (Athens Banner-Herald)

Todd Grantham and Scott Lakatos. (Athens Banner-Herald)

There’s no telling whether UGA fans will still be in love with the new defensive staff come the end of November, but Todd Grantham, Warren Belin and Scott Lakatos certainly seem to be saying and doing all the right things during spring practice.

We’ve already noted that the defensive backs being coached by Lakatos have talked about how different his teaching methods are from the way Willie Martinez did it. (And for many Dogs fans, that alone is good news.)

For fans long frustrated with the way Georgia’s secondary men rarely seemed to look back for the ball under Martinez, here’s a particularly sweet quote from Jordan Love in the Bulldogs Blog: “When the ball’s in the air, he teaches to get your head around and look for the ball. Last year we were playing hands to the receiver, and that’s an adjustment we’ve had to make.”

We pause for a chorus of …

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Hey Coach Richt, thanks for reading!

Mark Richt took issue with a blog about Logan Gray fielding punts. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt took issue with a blog about Logan Gray fielding punts. (Associated Press)

So, first thing when I fire up the computer this morning, there’s an e-mail from my brother Tim saying, “I see in the Athens paper that Mark Richt reads your Blawg, he answered your question about Logan Gray returning punts. …”

And, sure enough, under the headline “Richt takes issue with blogger,” The Athens Banner-Herald reports that after practice Thursday Richt appeared to be criticizing my comments earlier this week about him continuing to use Logan Gray on special teams. I say “appeared,” because he didn’t name which blogger he was disagreeing with, saying only that it was a “media blog,” and I’m not the only one critical of the move (as I noted at the time). But the ABH seemed pretty sure he was talking about me.

Anyway, Richt said: “I usually don’t ever read a blog, but I read a blog about Logan Gray catching punts.” He went on to say he wanted “to try to educate whoever cares that …

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North Campus pigs have ruined tailgating at UGA

The trashing of campus has ruined tailgating at UGA. (Tom Ritch / Special)

The trashing of campus has ruined tailgating at UGA. (Tom Ritch / Special)

As many fans had feared, the pigs who continued to trash UGA’s North Campus on football Saturdays despite warnings from the school’s administration have pretty much killed off tailgating as it’s traditionally known in that area.

UGA announced new tailgating guidelines today that limit access to the traditional quads on North Campus to four hours before kickoff and ban tents, kegs, generators, televisions, amplified music, grills or cookers of any type, tables larger than 4 feet long and household furniture (folding chairs not included).

If you can imagine tailgating without any of that — spreading a tablecloth on the ground like an old-fashioned picnic — then you’ll be alright. Otherwise, the search will be on for new places to party before a home game.

The tailgaters who abused the campus and those who stood by and watched them have no one to blame but themselves. The tons of trash left on the …

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3 Dogs in bracket for South’s football player of the decade

Max Jean-Gilles was a monster on the offensive line. (University of Georgia)

Max Jean-Gilles was a monster on the offensive line. (University of Georgia)

In keeping with the whole March Madness thing, SouthernPigskin.com has created a 64-choice bracket to determine the top Southern college football player of the past 10 years. If I told you that three Georgia Bulldogs were in the running, you’d probably be able to guess two of the names right away: all-everything defensive end David Pollack and record-setting quarterback David Greene.

Their third choice from the Dog ranks might surprise some folks. It’s not tight end Ben Watson or safety Thomas Davis. And, no, they didn’t go for NFL signees Knowshon Moreno or Matthew Stafford. The third Dog is offensive lineman Max Jean-Gilles, which actually is a great choice. He was a consensus All-American and was considered by many observers as the most dominant offensive lineman in college ball during his time at UGA.

Overall, the selections are pretty much the usual suspects. The Pigskin folks ranked the top 16 …

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