Archive for June, 2011

Who will be Dogs’ true freshman impact players?

Will true freshman Malcolm Mitchell make an impact at wide receiver? (Chip Towers / AJC)

Will true freshman Malcolm Mitchell make an impact at wide receiver? (Chip Towers / AJC)

ESPN.com’s Edward Aschoff took a look at true freshmen who could have an impact on their teams this fall, and for the Georgia Bulldogs he singled out running back Isaiah Crowell (no kidding!) and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell.

Crowell, he says, “arrives in Athens with a ton of hype. Georgia has yet to find its feature back and Crowell has all the talent to be that player. Some think he could start by the midpoint of the season.”

Mitchell, he notes, “played both sides of the ball in high school, but Georgia’s staff really likes what he could do at receiver. He’s a tremendous athlete and will get a chance to earn playing time for the fall, especially with some unproven receivers already on Georgia’s roster.”

Crowell and Mitchell are probably the safest bets among the true freshmen to have a big impact, but who else from their class do you see getting a chance at considerable playing …

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UGA, Richt have a lot riding on the South Carolina game

Could Mark Richt's future at UGA come down to one game? (AJC file)

Could Mark Richt's future at UGA come down to one game? (AJC file)

Georgia football’s long, hot but relatively quiet summer unfortunately got a bit more eventful this weekend.

UGA announced that redshirt freshman Brent Benedict, a backup offensive lineman who spent last season rehabbing a serious knee injury, is leaving the program for “personal reasons,” and as you’d expect when a vague official statement leaves people wondering, there’s been a raft of rumors and anonymous-sourced online reports about what really went on there.

But whether it was simply a disagreement about UGA’s conditioning regimen or a case of the young man and his father brazenly looking to buy him another year of rehab by transferring to another SEC school, the fact is that any impact on the Dogs’ program likely won’t be felt this year. As recently as late May Benedict himself was talking about not having any feeling in one foot, and reports are he was unlikely to see much, if any, playing time this …

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Another preseason pick likes Dawgs in SEC East

Blair Walsh topped one of ESPN's many SEC lists. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Blair Walsh topped one of ESPN's many SEC lists. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

ESPN.com’s SEC coverage team, Chris Low and Edward Aschoff, so far have spent the summer making lists. Lots of lists. They’ve compiled conference rankings looking at each position on the basis of team strength and individual players (Georgia’s Blair Walsh topped all SEC place-kickers, for example).

And after all that was done, they crunched the numbers all together and have come up with an overall ranking. As Aschoff explains it, “For our overall team rankings, we took all eight position rankings and found the mean for each team. Obviously, the lower score, the better — just like golf.”

Alabama came out on top, as you’d expect, and the SEC West dominated the top of the chart, with Arkansas second, followed by LSU. But Georgia pulled an upset by nudging out South Carolina for fourth place.

And, says Aschoff: “That gives Georgia the SEC East in our book. The Bulldogs also had 13 players ranked in our …

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UGA or Tech? It’s no contest, really

classic uga logoESPN’s SEC and ACC bloggers had an interesting exchange this week in which they argued the relative merits of UGA and Georgia Tech.

The discussion was prompted by a reader named Tom in Denver who is moving to Atlanta and wanted to be sold on which school he should root for in place of Colorado.

ACC blogger Heather Dinich had the unenviable task of making the case for the Yellow Jackets, and she mainly concentrated on similarities between Tech and CU, like both teams wearing gold and sharing the 1990 national championship, which she noted “is 10 years more recent than the last time the Bulldogs won a national crown.”

Ouch. That’s about the only blow she landed, however.

As for Tech football, her backhanded sales pitch was that “it’s not a bad product on the field. Georgia Tech has played in 14 consecutive bowl games. It’s been 17 years since the Yellow Jackets had a losing record in conference play. And personally, I like Paul Johnson’s offense. It’s unique, it was the best …

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Caleb King as 2011 Dawgs’ savior?

Can Caleb King really be the lead Dog in 2011? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Can Caleb King really be the lead Dog in 2011? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I’m afraid there’s probably an awful lot of wishful thinking fueling Buck Belue’s take on Caleb King, but I’d like nothing better than for old No. 8 to be right on the mark.

I think Buck’s right that Isaiah Crowell isn’t likely to be ready to be “the lead Dog” early on, especially considering the pass protection duties a Georgia tailback has.

Belue thinks that leaves King as “a young man in a good position. He’s motivated to have a big senior season. It’s his last shot to impress NFL scouts. He’s in the best shape of his life and can play physical at 220-plus. Caleb can hold up between the tackles, burst it outside, catch it and protect. Solid all-around skill set.”

Of course, Belue allows, King has proved disappointing in the past. “There have been injuries and issues.”

“The track record says Caleb King is going to disappoint you,” Buck writes. “Understand that. But I’m not buying it this time. I see a …

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Dogs seem to be picking up some fans in Vegas

Are the Dogs a good bet in 2011?

Are the Dogs a good bet in 2011?

We’ve talked a lot here about the positives the Dogs have approaching the coming season (Aaron Murray, the tight ends and special teams, the arrival of big John Jenkins and the infusion of Dream Team freshman talent, especially at tailback) and the question marks (the offensive line, the safety position, conditioning, the future of the head coach).

And none of that really has changed since spring practice. But what does appear to have changed perceptibly is the view from outside the Bulldog Nation of just what sort of season Georgia is likely to have. As we’ve discussed here recently, we’re starting to see some preseason prognosticators picking the Dogs to stage a big turnaround from a losing season and win the SEC East.

The handicappers in Las Vegas are coming around, too. As Phil Steele noted in a recent post, Georgia is viewed as a favorite in all of its big games after the first two, and while they’re still rated underdogs against Boise …

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Fan talk: Dawgs running the spread, Butler’s kick, radio out of sync

Let’s wind up a week in which we learned that Mark Richt and my wife have one major thing in common (pocket dialing) and Coach T apparently already has had his way with Isaiah Crowell by checking some Junkyard Mail …

Could Aaron Murray be effective in the running spread offense? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Could Aaron Murray be effective in the running spread offense? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Josh Cuevas writes: As a UGA alum I love your measured analysis on the Junkyard Blawg. Much better than the staff writers. My question spins off your question concerning what the Dogs have to do to reach lofty expectations. Do you think it’s time for Richt to throw caution to the wind and install something like a running spread offense?

I love old school smash-mouth football, but Georgia’s personnel this year doesn’t seem able to sustain that kind of play.

Here are my reasons for considering a running spread-type offense:

1) a mobile quarterback who has shown he can make good decisions

2) a blue chip running back, but one who doesn’t seem to have the physique to be an inside …

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Dawgs continue unlikely rise in preseason picks

Aaron Murray seems to be the key to optimistic preseason picks for Georgia. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray seems to be the key to optimistic preseason picks for Georgia. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

If this keeps up, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to keep my inner optimist from taking over.

I’m talking about another national college football preview picking Mark Richt’s Dawgs to win the SEC East in 2011, following on the heels of Phil Steele. This time it’s Athlon Sports, which sees Georgia winning the East and then losing to Alabama in the Georgia Dome.

The Athlon analysis of the conference sees the league’s balance of power remaining “tilted in westerly direction.” In the East, a return to Atlanta for the South Carolina Gamecocks is deemed “far from certain, especially with the ongoing drama with quarterback Stephen Garcia.” Meanwhile, Athlon notes that Richt “is probably one mediocre season away from unemployment. Fortunately for him, he has the horses to win the division, led by quarterback Aaron Murray, who has transitioned from question mark to lead Dawg.”

Georgia, …

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Move to eliminate kickoffs should be a nonstarter

College football wouldn't be the same game without the chance for Brandon Boykin to take it all the way. (Associated Press)

College football wouldn't be the same game without the chance for Brandon Boykin to take it all the way. (Associated Press)

College football without kickoffs. If you have trouble wrapping your mind around that concept, Mark Richt doesn’t.

Richt said Tuesday at the Peach State Pigskin Preview held at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in Macon that he would support a proposal by Rutgers coach Greg Schiano that the kickoff be eliminated. Schiano’s idea is that kickoffs, considered the most dangerous play in football, would be replaced by a team punting from their own 30-yard line after scores and at the start of each half. If they chose to, they could opt to go for it in a fourth-and-15 play that would serve the same purpose as an onside kick.

As quoted in the Athens Banner-Herald, Richt noted that kickoff plays are violent. “You’ve got a bunch of guys that can run fast and are strong and they are not afraid, it’s kind of a manhood thing. No one’s going to back down.”

It’s easy to …

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Dawgs winning the East: Pie in the sky or realistic?

Catching up on my Bulldogs reading after a few days off and away from the blogosphere, I came across the roundtable discussion of UGA football posted at College Football Zealots.

We’ve actually already dealt here in the Blawg with several of the questions posted, including which game is more critical for Georgia to win: Boise State or South Carolina? (To recap: While the Boise game is an opportunity for Mark Richt’s program to get back on the national radar, the South Carolina game a week later looms much bigger for the Dogs in terms of their SEC East hopes.)

But the last question in the roundtable is something I’ve actually been pondering lately as I play out in my head just how likely the more optimistic scenarios are for the 2011 Dogs.

The question: Athlon Sports has rated the Dawgs at #14 and Phil Steele has them at #9 in their pre-season polls. Both have Georgia winning the SEC East and playing in the Capital One Bowl. What needs to happen for Georgia to live up to these …

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