Mark Richt and his players have scattered for a rare weekend off. Richt is catching a football game involving one son and a musical performance involving another. Aaron Murray is attending the FSU game to watch some friends play. Most players have gone home for a visit.
Let’s hope that everyone makes it back to Athens safe and sound and without an arrest record.
In the meantime, while we can’t watch the Bulldogs play, we can still read about them, including one of the greatest Dawgs ever, though he never took a snap for UGA: Larry Munson.
Loran Smith checks in with the former voice of the Dogs in his latest column in the Athens Banner-Herald and it’s a sweet, if somewhat poignant, visit.
Munson laments no longer being able to indulge in one of his great loves. “It hurts like hell that I can’t fish anymore,” he says. Notes Smith: “It was sad, knowing that just talking about his deep love of the water and not being able to pick up a rod and reel anymore was painful. You could see it in his eyes as he talked.”
But Larry still likes to talk Dogs. “I didn’t like some of the stuff I saw out there, we almost gave it away,” Munson says of last week’s Vanderbilt game. “You think we are gonna beat Florida? Is this our year?”
“We reminisced about the past,” Smith writes.”We told him how much he was missed by the Bulldog Nation, which evoked a soft smile. He didn’t say so, but it was evident that he appreciates being remembered.”
Take a moment to catch up with a Bulldogs legend here.
And now for an off-week bonus batch of Junkyard Mail …
Barry Clinton writes: Hey Bill. Enjoy your writing, neighbor (I grew up just down the road from you on Milledge Terrace [in Athens] — Class of ‘69). So, this question is not as serious a most you get but I’m curious. Why doesn’t Russ get the attention he deserves? My wife is a HUGE Russ fan and wants to start a “Russ is for Us” campaign. She’s very sympathetic of his rise to fame. It’s like getting drafted in the 7th round and ending up in the pro bowl. He has risen from the ashes. He doesn’t get the attention on the field that the other “Ugas” get, which isn’t fair, I feel. I say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Let Russ have a long and appreciated career on the Georgia sidelines.
Go Five Points! I think a lot of fans have a soft spot for Russ, whose extended run as a fill-in mascot has gone on quite a bit longer than anyone at first thought it would. And you’re right, he hasn’t been accorded the full mascot attention. He may get the “Russ Cam” on the big screen at Sanford Stadium during games, but it’s costumed mascot Hairy Dawg who gets to hide behind the French fries in a weekly video screen spot. It’s expected that a new Uga will be introduced later this season, probably during either the Auburn or Kentucky game. And after that Russ will retire back to obscurity (and hopefully won’t be called on to fill in again for a short-lived mascot). Although he has never been named the official mascot and so probably won’t wind up joining the other mascots buried inside the stadium, it would be nice for the university to honor Russ with at least a special plaque or something noting his service, don’t you think?
OrlandoDawg writes: Junkyard, I have a question in regards to Isaiah Crowell. He has tremendous talent but it appears when he doesn’t have success running the ball in certain situations throughout the game he becomes easily agitated and his emotions are apparent by his demeanor and effort on the field. … Now there is word of his recent episode that caused him to sit out the first quarter of the Vandy game and played sparingly throughout the second half. Do you hear this is a ongoing issue or should we consider his recent ordeal as only a minor bump in the road and that attitude problems won’t be recurring in the future?
While sitting out the first quarter apparently was because of some sort of transgression, I think Crowell’s sporadic use in the second half was more due to that nagging wrist injury. I haven’t heard of any major attitude problems on his part, but obviously he’s young and immature and, like most kids, doesn’t hide his feelings. I imagine he’ll settle down as he matures.
Jared R. Shafer writes: Have you noticed that ever since the endzone celebration of 2007 that the SEC and officials, especially Penn Wagers, have seemed to have it out for Georgia? Georgia seems to get hit with the toughest penalties possible for infractions when other teams (Nick Fairley at Auburn really comes to mind) are not punished at all. We get called for the most questionable holds or late hits, etc. it seems. I bet if you researched into this the number of penalties have probably been 25% higher against UGA than other member schools. Any thoughts?
Like most UGA fans, I’ve wondered the same thing. Some write it off as just fan paranoia, but last Saturday night is a good example. Vandy got away with questionable blocks and on that kickoff return the officials failed to call at least one hold and a block in the back or two. Maybe they just weren’t very good officials, which is pretty much the norm in the SEC, unfortunately. Especially Wagers and his crew. Remember the 2008 game against Tennessee where a defensive holding call in the end zone should have resulted in a Georgia first down but didn’t? But, yes, I do think that after the end zone dance Georgia developed a “reputation” among the guys in stripes who officiate SEC games and perhaps they look more closely for infractions than with some other teams. I don’t think it rises to the level of conspiracy, like some fans do, but I don’t think it’s totally our imaginations, either.
Bryan Ingram writes from Des Moines: First, I’m an avid reader of your blog and the biggest Junkyard Blawg/Dawg fan in Iowa! Second, when was the last time that you remember the fan base as unstable as it is now? I’m a “glass-half-full” fan and I’m getting a little tired of the critical eye Georgia fans are casting on our Dawgs. We’ve won four SEC games in a row! Three of which were road games. So what if they weren’t “pretty”. I don’t remember too many pretty road-game wins. Additionally, let’s give Bobo a little bit of credit. I agree his playcalling can be suspect; most coordinators don’t call perfect games. However, he has drafted some great game plans and a lot of our red zone follies have been due to poor execution. Murray missing a wide open receiver, for example, at Vandy. I think doubting Dawg fans need to realize we have a tremendouslly talented young team and things are only going to get better. With the youth, injuries, and scheduling the coaches have dealt with this year, I think they’ve done a great job. I don’t think any other coaching staff could accomplish what we have with so much adversity. What do you think?
I think the biggest Dawg fan in Iowa makes a good point. Georgia has bounced back nicely from its 0-2 start this season and Bobo certainly doesn’t deserve all the blame when the Dogs’ offense misfires. And, yes, the influx of young talent should make all UGA fans optimistic about the future. I think the reason Georgia fans are perhaps a little harder on this team than normally might be expected is a result of the cumulative disappointment over the past three seasons. A win in Jacksonville would go a loooong way toward changing that mind-set.
Dean writes: Hi Bill, I’ve got a comment related to the big picture state of Georgia football. This has been an interesting few years with a lot of angst and optimism alike, but there is one thing that I’m feeling pretty good about: Greg McGarity. Here’s why. When I attempted in the past to imagine Mark Richt sitting across the table from Damon Evans, I had a hard time imagining Evans as “The Boss”. To me, in that hypothetical meeting, Richt is the adult in the room. That may or may not be true. But it’s my perception that come time to make The Big Decision, Evans would be out of his league (props for getting [Mark] Fox though). But for whatever reason, I feel that McGarity is in the right seat. So to the extent that Richt is in any kind of actual turning point at his career at UGA, I have a good feeling that McGarity has the right perspective to understand the situation and manage it in a manner that will deliver the best outcome for all parties. Let’s face it, Mark Richt is the current dean of SEC coaches and one of the winningest active coaches in the NCAA. This is a serious situation, and emotional calls for his ouster are short-sighted. I’m comfortable that McGarity will get Richt, the program and all of us through the turbulence. You have any thoughts on this? Go Dawgs!
I’m totally with you in feeling comfortable with having McGarity, an Athens native who grew up around the UGA sports program, in charge. I think he’ll give Richt every opportunity to turn things around and get the football program back at the top of the SEC East.
LA Dawg writes: Watched the Vanderbilt game and I was appalled at the Georgia players. It appears Richt has lost control of on field discipline. I thought [Shawn] Williams played a dirty game and should have been benched during the game. I thought the body slam tackle by [Bacarri] Rambo was over the top. I have no problem with the [Kwame] Geathers retaliation hit. If you look closely at the block on Geathers it was almost legal (defender’s head in front of player being blocked). However, Geathers didn’t know that and the guy needed to know Geathers wasn’t going to put up with that. There is a difference in being rough and mean and being dirty. I love Mark Richt but I don’t want him to sacrifice his integrity by lowering his standards. Go Dawgs but stay clean and don’t embarrass the Georgia faithful.
It was a very chippy game, as games against Vanderbilt tend to be, and it didn’t help that the Commodores were getting away with going for the Dogs’ legs on borderline chop blocks. But, yes, I do think the Georgia defense in particular lost some of its composure during the game. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising considering the behavior after the game by their coach. I’m hopeful if the Dogs encounter another team that tries to get under their skin they’ll have learned the lesson and will ignore the provocations.
James writes: Regarding playing it safe in the 4th quarter, yes, we need to be less conservative. It’s good to be able to lean on your defense but we need to have the same amount of faith in the O as the D to get the job done. Eventually, the D will be placed in a no-win situation where we are trying not to lose as opposed to trying to win and we will, in fact, lose. On another point, Bobo’s playcalling inside the 20’s is even more predictable than Richt’s was — shocking I know. Also, although Bobo has averaged more points statistically, Richt’s offense consistently put up better numbers against better defenses as opposed to Bobo hanging 50+ on Coastal Carolina and Vandy and then fizzling against an underwhelming UT defense. My two cents. Go Dawgs!
You’re right. Bobo’s offensive numbers might be better than Richt’s overall, but Richt got the big wins and so far that’s been a rarity in the Bobo era. But like Bryan Ingram notes above, the shortcomings of the Georgia offense can’t be completely put on Bobo, although the preditability of his playcalling is a common complaint. The players have to start coming through in clutch situations. That’s one area where I certainly feel better about this year’s team than last year’s. I think last year’s team would have lost that game to Vanderbilt.
That’s it for now. I’ll answer more Junkyard Mail later in the week, so if you’ve got a question or want to raise an issue, send it to email@example.com.
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