Archive for July, 2011

Fan talk: UGA doesn’t need Isaiah Crowell to be the next Herschel Walker

Let’s answer some Junkyard Mail …

Like all UGA tailbacks, Isaiah Crowell must operate in someone's shadow. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Like all UGA tailbacks, Isaiah Crowell must operate in someone's shadow. (Jason Getz / AJC)

JerryDawg writes: After all the build-up, I’m getting awfully concerned that Isaiah Crowell is going to be another tailback bust for the Dawgs. I’ve heard and read all kinds of reports that he showed up in Athens with an attitude, skipped some workouts and had to have some of his teammates sit him down and try to get his head on straight. Are you worried, Bill?

I think Mark Richt said it best: “We don’t expect Isaiah to save the program. We don’t expect Isaiah to put the team on his back. We expect Isaiah to learn what to do and to do things the Georgia way and to try to do anything he can to help the team win as a freshman. We’ll see how far that goes.”

As for the rumors, I don’t put that much stock in anonymous reports on the Internet. But more importantly, can we let the kid have his first official practice as a Georgia Bulldog before we start …

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Mike Bobo offers a positive spin … and the usual tease

Mike Bobo offered a tease about freshman Jay Rome. (Associated Press)

Mike Bobo offered a tease about freshman Jay Rome. (Associated Press)

Most of what offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said when he met with reporters Wednesday was pretty predictable (like his playcalling, some wags would say).

He was optimistic about the thin offensive line (”We’re not very deep, but you only need five. We played in ’02 with only five linemen.”), was circumspect about prospects for highly hyped running back Isaiah Crowell (”He might be the guy that comes in and really helps.”) and put a positive spin on the offseason attrition of players: “It’s not going to be easy, and we’ve made it extremely tough around here. When you turn up the heat, sometimes you’re going to have guys that don’t want to be a part of it. That’s their choice.”

He was also slightly self-deprecating when it came to talking about what he has to do with the personnel that remains, saying, “We’ve got to play to the advantage of the guys that we have playing. We can learn …

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How much patience will the Bulldog Nation show this season?

How hot will Mark Richt's seat get if the Dogs open with two losses? (Associated Press)

How hot will Mark Richt's seat get if the Dogs open with two losses? (Associated Press)

Much of the preseason talk about the Georgia Bulldogs has centered on the high-stakes nature of the first two games against Boise State and South Carolina and how much this ratchets up the temperature under Mark Richt’s seat.

Winning both games would be huge and would probably make the Dogs the early-season Cinderella of the national polls and media pundits, but not too many folks are predicting that.

Most fans I’ve talked to would be pretty satisfied to come out of those opening two games with a split, especially if the win was over the Gamecocks, giving Georgia an edge in the SEC East.

But what if the Dogs lose to both highly ranked opponents?

I’ve lost track of how many observers from outside the Bulldog Nation have put forth the idea that if Georgia starts out the season 0-2 that Richt’s fate will be sealed. I’ve even seen predictions that losing the two opening games would mean he …

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Fan talk: Which UGA home game are you most looking forward to?

Is there a game other than South Carolina that you're really looking forward to? (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Is there a game other than South Carolina that you're really looking forward to? (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Time to answer some Junkyard Mail …

Paul Jackson writes: I seem to recall you doing a blog last summer about which of Georgia’s home games you were most looking forward to attending. What about this year? Is South Carolina a lock for the most anticipated game?

I look forward to all Georgia home games, but, yeah, I’d say the home opener with Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks is by far the game I’m most eagerly anticipating in a home schedule that, frankly, is pretty blah. As we’ve discussed here before, the South Carolina game is probably the most important one on the schedule this year because a win there would give the Dogs the edge in the SEC East race. Georgia-South Carolina is usually a pretty close contest, too, so it should be one of those games where everyone stays to the end.

Beyond that, the only other game on the home schedule that’s likely to get anyone excited is …

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Richt knows: It’s what have I done for you lately

Mark Richt knows winning solves all your problems. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt knows winning solves all your problems. (Associated Press)

There weren’t a lot of surprises that came out of UGA’s turn in the spotlight at SEC Media Days. We heard that Mark Richt wasn’t too thrilled with his running backs last season, but we already knew that. He also indicated that some of the players who have “gotten off the bus,” as he put it, “got a little bit of help” in making that decision. But we pretty much already had that idea, too.

Richt said he isn’t looking for a freshman like Isaiah Crowell “to come and carry our program,” but that there’s no question “we will need help from our freshman class to become a championship team, I don’t have any doubt about that.”

Richt also let us know that, like everyone else who watched a Georgia game last year, he recognizes what has to happen in the second year of Todd Grantham’s defense to keep from repeating last year: “If we can get off the field when we get them in the third-and-long, we’re going to be a whole …

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Shaking up Dawgs’ football schedule a great idea

classic bulldog bodyWith the release Wednesday via Sicemdawgs.com of Georgia’s tentative football schedules for 2013 and 2014, it looks like we’re starting to see Greg McGarity’s influence, and he isn’t afraid to shake things up.

Both schedules feature two open dates (though, unfortunately, neither is the week before the Florida game) and the nonconference games are spread throughout the season (both seasons open with the latest home-and-home with Clemson). The Dogs do have an open date before Georgia Tech in 2013, and they tune up for the Jackets the next year with Charleston Southern.

But the most noticeable change is that South Carolina no longer occupies the traditional (since 1991) spot as the Dogs’ SEC season-opener, with a trip to Vanderbilt (!) being the first conference game in 2013 and the Dogs opening the SEC wars on the road against Arkansas the next year.

The 2013 plan is a bit unusual in that the Dawgs are on the road for the first two games, but overall it’s a very attractive home …

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Should Mark Richt’s job ride on winning the SEC East?

Predictions about what it will take to save Mark Richt's job are all over the place. (AJC file)

Predictions about what it will take to save Mark Richt's job are all over the place. (AJC file)

While we brace ourselves for the inevitable new round of Mark-Richt-on-the-hot-seat talk with the arrival of the SEC’s annual media days, it’s interesting to see the way expectations of what Richt needs to do to keep his job vary.

Recently we discussed here how many wins we thought Richt needed to get this season to keep his job, and the consensus appears to be that 10 wins was a sure thing, nine probably would save him and if it was eight, it would depend on whether that number included a victory over Florida.

But while South Carolina appears still to be most prognosticators’ favorite to win the SEC East, Georgia has popped up in quite a few predictions as the dark horse to take the division, and CollegeFootball News even goes so far as to posit that if the Dogs don’t win the East, Richt won’t be back.

Their all-or-nothing reasoning goes like this: “The timing couldn’t be better …

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When Atlanta (and UGA) grabbed the rings

Olympic soccer at a hedge-less Sanford Stadium. (Growing Up in Athens, Ga.)

Olympic soccer at a hedge-less Sanford Stadium. (Growing Up in Athens, Ga.)

Fifteen years ago Tuesday I began probably the most intense 17 days I’ve ever known as the Centennial Olympic Games finally got under way.

Recently a friend on Facebook was soliciting memories of the Atlanta Games and a flood of them came back to me: the crush of people from all over the world, the “flea market” downtown, passing the SWAT teams under the railroad trestle as I drove in every morning to work on the AJC’s daily Olympic Extra … and soccer at Sanford Stadium!

The UGA Olympics memorial and Stegeman Coliseum draped in its Atlanta Games colors. (University of Georgia)

The UGA Olympics memorial and Stegeman Coliseum draped in its Atlanta Games colors. (University of Georgia)

UGA was just about guaranteed a major Olympic role by virtue of former Dawg Billy Payne heading up the Games, but Athens ended up being the largest Olympic venue site outside Atlanta, playing host to some 650,000 visitors for events at three venues: men’s and women’s soccer in Sanford Stadium and volleyball preliminaries and …

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On a rival’s troubles and a Dawg being jerked around

Richard Samuel's move back to tailback isn't likely to be in his best interest. (Special)

Richard Samuel's move back to tailback isn't likely to be in his best interest. (Special)

The NCAA/Georgia Tech story was being discussed Thursday afternoon at the afternoon news meeting in our newsroom when one of the senior editors cracked, “Bill, what’s that big smile on your face?”

OK, I’ll admit it, as was probably true with any other UGA die-hard, I couldn’t help taking some pleasure in the “Institute” being caught once again with its frequently trumpeted integrity not quite in place.

But considering the fragile nature of “good standing” in the world of the NCAA, it’s not a good idea to spend too much time crowing about a rival getting slapped, as you never know when your own school is going to have to deal with another eligibility issue.

I will say note, though, that last year Georgia’s coaches determined that they would sit A.J. Green rather than risk using an ineligible player, and that kept Jerseygate from turning into something much bigger and nastier, like what has …

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Which game outside Jacksonville will be toughest for the Dogs?

Will the game against Marcus Lattimore and the Gamecocks be Georgia's toughest, aside from Florida? (Associated Press)

Will the game against Marcus Lattimore and the Gamecocks be Georgia's toughest, aside from Florida? (Associated Press)

It’s time for our annual survey to see which game you think will be the toughest for the Dogs this year, other than the showdown in Jacksonville with Florida, which over the past couple of decades has unfortunately become the Georgia program’s biggest continuing stumbling block.

This time last year, I put this question to Blawg readers and 51 percent of you picked the South Carolina game as the toughest besides Florida on the 2010 schedule. Not surprisingly, the Dogs lost. Next was Auburn, with 22 percent. Dogs lost that one, too. Then came Arkansas with 15 percent of the vote. Same result. But only 10 percent of you were worried about Tech and only 2 percent about Tennessee, and the Dogs managed to win both of those games.

Of course, since at the time we didn’t know that Georgia would enter the season minus A.J. Green, I didn’t even bother to include …

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