Archive for August, 2011

‘How are the Dogs gonna do?’

Mark Richt's seat will be slightly less warm after this season. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt's seat will be slightly less warm after this season. (Associated Press)

I’ve been getting the question all summer, seemingly everywhere I go. In the elevator at work. In restaurants. At a funeral.

“How are the Dogs gonna do? How many wins do you think they’ll have?”

So now it’s time to make that annual venture out on the limb and share with you what I’ve been telling those folks, though I first must remind you that my record as a seer is mixed.

Most years since I’ve been doing this blog I’ve been fairly conservative in my predictions, with the Dogs even bettering my forecast a couple of times. And then there’ve been a couple of seasons like last year, when I predicted a 10-2 regular season and Georgia winning the SEC East. That didn’t go so well.

Of course, I wasn’t alone. In a poll we did here last year, only 18 percent of you thought Georgia would have less than nine wins and 44 percent expected at least 10 wins.

I’m not going quite that far this year. I think …

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Fan talk: Does Clemson belong in the SEC?

SEC LogoOne week to go. Time for some more Junkyard Mail. First up, a couple of readers want to talk SEC expansion. …

Jonathan London writes: I don’t understand why the SEC wants another member to add to the conference. All that will do is decrease each school’s share when we split up revenue. It might increase overall revenue, but I don’t think enough to offset the decreases. We have the greatest league in college football history right now. Why would we want to dilute it by adding another school, especially some inferior, middle of the road program like Texas A&M? Compared to Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn and Florida, adding A&M is like adding another Arkansas. FSU isn’t much better.

And Carolina Pup writes: Looks like Texas A&M joining the SEC is pretty much a done deal. But how long can the conference go with an unbalanced 13 teams? So who should be added as the 14th team? Or should the SEC go all the way to being a 16-team mega-league? I know who I’d like to see added: …

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Are you ready to ring the chapel bell?

The UGA chapel bell features prominently in the new promotional spot. (University of Georgia)

The UGA chapel bell features prominently in the new promotional spot. (University of Georgia)

In a complete turnabout from the lame spot for UGA that ran during football telecasts last season, a group of Bulldog alums have put together an awesome new film that will debut during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

The 30-second promo is being previewed on a special Facebook page.

The theme is that you may leave the University of Georgia … but it never leaves you.

And it has music by Athens’ own R.E.M., too.

If you’re a Dawgs fan, it’ll definitely give you goosebumps. Time to ring the chapel bell!

UPDATE: For those who don’t know, the song is “Oh My Heart” from R.E.M.’s most recent album, “Collapse Into Now.” On the band’s official website, manager Bertis Downs said of the video: “The enthusiasm of the filmmakers, the resonance of the song in the film, and the band’s love and respect for Athens — those were all factors in our decisions. As alumni ourselves, we’re proud of the PSA …

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Dogs need to erase memory of a woeful effort

Aaron Murray and Mike Bobo had one of their poorer games the last time Georgia took the field against an opponent. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray and Mike Bobo had one of their poorer games the last time Georgia took the field against an opponent. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

If you’re running down the checklist of things Mark Richt’s football team needed to improve from last year, many of the personnel needs seem to have been addressed and a new approach to strength and conditioning looks promising.

But what we won’t know until Georgia is facing adversity on the field is whether they’ll consistently play as hard as they can, something last year’s Dogs didn’t always do.

Richt talked during the offseason about how distressing it was to sometimes see his team outplayed and Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald recently followed up with the coach for specifics. “When you watch the film and you see another team played harder than we did, that’s sad, that’s my fault,” Richt said. “We had some games like that in my opinion. I can name one for sure and that’s the bowl game. It was most evident that game, …

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Looking for the silver lining as UGA spreads the red

A look at Georgia uniforms of the past. (Heritage Sports Art)

A look at Georgia uniforms of the past. (Heritage Sports Art)

So I return from vacation to find Mark Richt’s Dogs now a Top 20 team with opening-game uniforms that look like something out of a Japanese kiddie show.

Actually, I don’t mind the red on red aspect of Georgia’s Nike Pro Combat uniforms so much but I just don’t like that jersey, especially the black on the sleeves. However, the helmet actually comes close to being pretty cool; I just wish the red stripe wasn’t so wide. I could see those helmets — or a variation — brought back out for a future bowl game or something with our traditional uniforms.

Discussing the Pro Combats over the weekend with several fans, both young and old, I found a recurring theme that most would have preferred something a bit closer to a retro look (silver helmets, red jerseys, silver britches), but throwbacks is not really what the whole Pro Combat thing is about. Still, as my old schoolmate Rusty said on Facebook, “Well, they’re hideous, …

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Fan talk: Which would you rather have, a win over Florida or the SEC East title?

Welcome to Saturday. Three weeks from today Mark Richt’s boys will tee it up in the Georgia Dome against the Broncos.

If you didn’t order tickets to that game before it sold out and didn’t sign up for the season tickets that arrived in mailboxes this week but you still hanker to see the Dawgs play this season, you’re in luck.

A limited number of tickets to three of Georgia’s home football games — Coastal Carolina on Sept. 17, New Mexico State on Nov. 5 and Kentucky on Nov. 19 — will go on sale to the general public beginning Monday, August 15, at 9 a.m. All tickets are $45 and can be purchased online or by calling the Athletic Association ticket office 1-877-542-1231.

All single-game tickets ordered will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis and mailed within 10 days of the order being submitted, the athletic association says.

Meanwhile, I went to the funeral for a longtime dear friend’s mom in Athens Friday, and it was a lovely service. It was, of course, a …

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Taking highs, lows of Dogs’ first scrimmage in stride

Richard Samuel mostly kept pace with Isaiah Crowell, but he did have a fumble. (Associated Press)

Richard Samuel mostly kept pace with Isaiah Crowell, but he did have a fumble. (Associated Press)

Most Dogs fans, I imagine, grimaced or dropped an expletive or two when they read about Wednesday’s scrimmage and saw “fumble” by Richard Samuel’s name.

That’s a natural response considering the Dogs have been bitten all too often by tailbacks putting the ball on the ground over the past couple of seasons.

But the tendency in mid-August is for football-starved fans to read too much into every little mistake in the season’s first scrimmage. And, likewise, to get too pumped up over the positives.

And there were things to get pumped about in Wednesday’s closed scrimmage at Sanford Stadium, according to coach Mark Richt. Celebrated true freshman Isaiah Crowell ran for 84 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. And although Samuel had that fumble (which Amarlo Herrerra recovered and returned for a 65-yard touchdown), he also ran for 82 yards on 11 carries and caught three passes for 32 …

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New Dogs will find fan buzz can be awfully fickle

The heat got to big John Jenkins at the first practice. (Brant Sanderlin, / AJC)

The heat got to big John Jenkins at the first practice. (Brant Sanderlin, / AJC)

It’s been amazing to watch the fluctuations in the fan buzz for the two most anticipated members of Georgia’s Dream Team.

For much of the early summer we had the nervous nellies prematurely declaring Isaiah Crowell a “bust” on the basis of rumors he wasn’t giving his all in summer workouts.

But since camp started and the coaches and veteran players have been talking about how hard he practices, how quick he is and how he’s doing a good job of picking up the playbook, the buzz-o-meter has flipped and the excitement is building again.

The opposite seems to be the case with big John Jenkins, who had some heat-related issues the first practice and currently is running second on the depth chart to Kwame Geathers, with coach Rodney Garner saying that Jenkins is “a very talented big man, just very inconsistent. … He’s going to have to improve his fundamentals to play at this level.”

Suddenly you’ve got …

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A Bulldog farewell from the Aisle 10 Crew

classic bulldog bodyLast August, when I was writing about Greg McGarity becoming UGA’s athletic director, I noted that he had a group of longtime Athens friends who dubbed themselves the Aisle 10 Crew at Georgia football games back in the 1970s, and that the Crew, many of them lifelong pals, still spent time together each summer at a North Georgia lake.

I also noted that my main childhood memory of Greg was him hanging out at the UGA tennis courts with one of my neighbors, a kid called “Chipper” Jones long before the baseball player made that name famous. I also mentioned that on the day the news broke that Greg would be the new AD, he talked on the phone with one of the Aisle 10 Crew, but the primary subject wasn’t his new job; it was their former Athens High/Clarke Central tennis teammate Chipper, who was hospitalized in Atlanta.

Well, the Aisle 10 Crew is getting together again today in Athens, but not for a happy occasion. They’re acting as pallbearers at the funeral of one of their own.

The …

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Preseason ranking no shocker: ‘We’re still Georgia’

Georgia's ranking "shocked" Ben Jones, but it shouldn't have. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Georgia's ranking "shocked" Ben Jones, but it shouldn't have. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Some folks inside and outside the Bulldog Nation were surprised when the USA Today coaches preseason poll was released Thursday and Georgia was ranked a respectable No. 22 despite coming off a 6-7 season and a horrendous bowl game.

Even the Dogs’ Ben Jones admitted he was “shocked” at Georgia being ranked in the preseason for the 10th consecutive year.

And Abry Jones said he “didn’t think we would be that high since we didn’t do well last year.”

Tavarres King, on the other hand, said, “I’m not shocked that we’re ranked. We’re still Georgia, and I think everybody knows that.”

I think King probably nailed it right there. Despite coming off a bad season and having a lot of question marks, UGA and Mark Richt have enough residual respect to be considered among the nation’s 25 best teams without having played a down yet.

And while preseason rankings don’t mean a whole lot, as Richt said, “I think …

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