Fan talk: Are this year’s Dawgs on a roll like the 2007 team?

Would Mark Richt still get a thumbs up if the Dogs win out but don't take the SEC East? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Would Mark Richt still get a thumbs up if the Dogs win out but don't take the SEC East? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

As part of the Walk With the Dogs to School event, UGA student-athletes were due to walk groups of children Friday morning to Athens’ Barrow Elementary School, “the best old school I know,” as fellow Barrow alums will remember from the distinctive school song. Barrow is located right across the street from Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.

The idea is to encourage kids to walk to school whenever they can, said Robert Miles, the UGA Athletic Association’s director of CHAMPS/Life Skills. “The kids love to see a Bulldog in a jersey and the parents remember when our student-athletes take time out of their schedule to visit with the kids, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

You might remember Miles as a member of the 1980 national championship football team, and one of his teammates, Scott Woerner, will be signing autographs and promoting the new “1980 Dawgs” DVD in Athens before and after this weekend’s homecoming game. Woerner will be at the Red Zone at 155 E. Clayton St. 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. You can see a clip of Woerner from the video here.

Speaking of Homecoming, the annual parade is Friday evening from 6 to 7 p.m. in downtown Athens.

And now on to some Junkyard Mail. …

Michael Foster writes: Love following you on Facebook and ajc.com! [I've noticed] how similar this season has been, so far, to 2007. Two early season losses (1 being at home to South Carolina), nearly losing the game in Nashville to Vanderbilt, beating Florida in a heated game where Florida fans blamed an injured quarterback for the loss (and amount of sacks). Now, thanks to a sophomore quarterback and a freshman tailback, this team really looks way different than it did in at the start. And the defense, just like 2007, has been GREAT. Fans at the beginning of the season said we basically had to win the SEC East for Richt to save his job. But, what if we go 10-2 and still don’t make the SEC title game? What if we finish 11-2? I’d say, if we do, Richt has the Dawgs right back where we want them.

Well, I’m not ready to count victories the Dogs haven’t earned yet, but I have to agree with you, I don’t think there’d be too many complaints about a two-loss season that saw the Dogs win 11 straight. And, yes, that probably would mean Georgia would wind up with a pretty decent showing in the polls and also, like 2007, would prompt a high preseason ranking next year (though probably not No. 1 like happened in 2008).

J.S. writes: I have a great question for you to pose to the DAWG Nation: As a DAWG fan, if you could pick 1 game for a victory this week, would you choose UGA over New Mexico State or Arkansas over S.C.? My position is Arkansas. It would hurt to lose to New Mexico State, but it is not a conference game and that would allow us to win the SEC East. Otherwise, we are putting our hopes on UF. I do not think that we have a chance to lose to New Mexico, even with the running back issue. However, the question is indicative of DAWG fans’ views between a solo victory and overall success.

I can see your reasoning, though the Bulldog Nation’s howls of anguish and calls for heads to roll in Athens that would accompany a loss to the Aggies of the WAC might put such a damper on the season that winning the SEC East would be all but forgotten. Still, if I must choose, I suppose I’d rather have the conference win.

Steve writes: Some people have stated that UGA’s athletic department’s drug violation policy is the toughest in the SEC. The claim was that every other SEC school allows for a 1st offense without game suspension, and UGA does not. A claim is made that if UGA’s three running backs played for UF, Alabama, Auburn, LSU then they would not have been suspended. Is this true? Find this hard to believe.

It’s true. UGA’s disciplinary guidelines call for players to be suspended from 10 percent of the season (one game) on the first offense. The penalty increases to half the season for a second offense and dismissal from the program for the third offense. A recent survey of SEC athletic departments by Brett McMurphy of cbssports.com shows that in the SEC only Kentucky joins UGA in suspending players for the first drug offense. The other schools do not suspend players until at least the second offense, and Ole Miss waits for the third. Overall, Georgia is one of only six BCS schools with such a strict policy. So, yeah, if those running backs played for the schools you mentioned, they wouldn’t have been suspended and we likely never would have heard a word about the failed drug tests.

Aaron Murray has had trouble with the long ball this season. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray has had trouble with the long ball this season. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Jeremy Gamiza writes: Why can’t we throw the ball deep? Is it Mike Bobo?

Funny, the complaint I’ve heard most often is that Bobo calls too many deep routes, especially on third down, forcing Aaron Murray to stand in the pocket too long. As for Georgia’s relative lack of success with the deep ball this season, I don’t think you can pin that on Bobo. He doesn’t throw the passes. Murray has, for whatever reason, been extremely inconsistent on long passes this year.

Ralph Jackson writes: My question is simple, should this current situation with our tailbacks help us land a major running back? I mean, I’m thinking, if I were considering the Dawgs and I notice [Isaiah] Crowell having issues, plus taking himself out of games, that would encourage me to go to Georgia, because Crowell might turn out to be his own worst enemy. What do you think? And for heaven’s sake why doesn’t Richt let [Brandon] Bogotay try a few field goals?

Well, let’s hope you’re right, since Georgia is considered one of the favorites in the recruiting battle over 5-star running back Keith Marshall of Raleigh, N.C. As for placekicking, Richt appears committed, at least for now, to Blair Walsh. From what I’ve heard, Walsh, for all his misses in games, is still the most consistent kicker in practice. We’ll just have to wait and see how long Richt’s patience will last with Walsh, who himself said this week, “It’s nice to have his backing, his confidence, but I’m not oblivious. That does run out, I’m sure.” Bonus points to him, by the way, for using the word oblivious.

Also on the subject of kickers, Paula B writes: Hey Bill! LOVE reading your blawg! As much as it breaks my heart to see Blair Walsh and Drew Butler have a tough game (and a tough season overall for Walsh), I’m fascinated to wonder what could possibly be the cause of such a nightmarish turnaround for each of them. What do you think? Is this a result of a lack of coaching by CMR? What is the cause (if any) and what should be done by CMR? Obviously special teams can make or break us in any game. I’ll be at the game on Saturday with my two nieces from Virginia (16 and 19 years old) — their first big college game! GO DAWGS!!!

Hope your nieces enjoy the game. As for the kickers, it’d help, I’m sure, if Georgia could still have a coach who concentrated on them like the late Bill Hartman did back in the Vince Dooley era, but the NCAA put an end to those volunteer coaching spots. Butler has been pretty great this season, so I think we can write last Saturday off as the odd bad day. Walsh’s problems seem more akin to when a golfer suddenly has problems with his swing or a batter goes into a slump in baseball. It might be a technical problem that can be corrected. Early in the season, Walsh indicated he’d watched film and fixed a few little hitches. But he’s still missing kicks, so chances are it’s become more a mental thing. He’s proved in the past he’s a great kicker so it’s just a matter of him working through this. As I noted earlier this week, Kevin Butler thinks he’s just been kicking too much in practice and in warm-ups and needs to pull back. Let’s hope he does so before he runs out of season (or Richt decides to go with Bogotay).

Kelvin Phillips writes: Bill, do you have any idea why we line up in the spread so much? With a 280-pound fullback who can actually block and an offensive line as big as ours, and with Crowell, why do we not line up in the I and run the ball?

The plan was for the Dogs to use the shotgun spread formation more this season as part of their no-huddle offense, in an attempt to get more offensive plays (which has been successful). Also, the idea behind using the spread generally is that it literally spreads the field for the wide receivers and takes some pressure off the offensive line. At times, Isaiah Crowell has actually looked more comfortable running out of the spread than the I, but generally I think the Dogs do better with play-action in their traditional pro set, particularly in the red zone.

Jeremy Floyd writes: Am I the only one wondering about (not questioning yet) Crowell’s toughness? [Richard] Samuel filled in admirably, especially with his effort and hard running. But is Crowell that banged up that he couldn’t play against Florida?

Crowell did get banged up against the Gators, but was able to return to the game. However, Samuel played more in the fourth quarter, apparently because the coaches decided his downhill running style suited what they needed at that time. But, no, you’re not the only one questioning (or at least wondering about) Crowell’s toughness. I’m not sure it’s his toughness as much as it is his conditioning, which apparently was pretty poor to start the season. He was hurt last year in high school and doesn’t seem to have worked hard enough during the offseason. He also, frankly, seems a bit immature in his attitude. Before we write him off as a part-time back, though, let’s let him get through his first season and give the UGA conditioning staff a chance to build up his endurance and also give him some time to grow up.

OkieDawg writes: Hi Bill, by looking at your photo, I assume we attended UGA about the same time. I graduated in 1975 and I am a lifelong Bulldog. I love UGA. I read that in 2010, UGA was #4 in gross revenues @ $65.2 million and #2 in net revenues @ $45.4 million. UGA is profitable due to an excellent brand image that has been built over a long period of time. Are the negative things that have occurred both on the field and off the field going to adversely impact our brand image and thus our continued ability to be one of the most profitable football programs in the nation? In both football and business, the brand is everything. It cannot ever be compromised, it must be protected by all means necessary. Is it properly protected?

Yes, we were at UGA at the same time. I graduated in 1974. As to your question, I think off the field, the brand is in great hands with Mark Richt. Most of the off-field discipline problems in recent years have been relatively minor, though irritating, and as we noted earlier, UGA has a tougher drug policy than most schools. But when it comes to profitability, I believe winning is the most important factor in protecting the brand. A sustained period of lousy seasons might diminish the gross revenues, but I don’t think Greg McGarity would let it get that far. So as far as the brand is concerned, I’m not worried.

Brent Jarnicki writes: Bill, like you, I’m a UGA alum and a die-hard Dawg that enjoys discussions not only about the X’s and O’s, but the “intangibles” of Georgia that we love. I’m writing to you about an issue that’s recently really bothered me: the major changes to the field paint design at Sanford. Hopefully you’ve noticed that since 2008, our field’s paint design has been greatly minimized. From about 2005 to 2007, we had a solid 3 foot red outlining of the entire field. I thought it looked very bold and sharp. This was taken away in 2008. But this year more changes have been made that just completely took away all of Sanford’s tradition and originality. For example, the yardline numbers no longer have the red shadowing, which were around when Herschel played (I’ve watched all the highlight videos and the numbers were shadowed even back then). The endzone lettering is now totally bland, with only a thin red line around the letters (it used to have 3-D lettering, and then a thin red and black outline, which I thought looked best). Finally, this year the field no longer has the Georgia oval G’s at the goaline. These G’s were so unique to Sanford, and really was a nice touch. Now, other than the midfield logo, there is nothing that distinguishes our field, and that really bothers me. Gameday in Sanford has so much tradition and uniqueness that sets it apart from other venues, and I considered the red shadowed numbers and especially the goal line Georgia G some of these cool nuances. Please let me know your thoughts.

I have to say I had not noticed the changes you mention, but I also agree that your description of the way it used to be done does sound more attractive. I’d be interested in hearing if anyone else noticed these changes and what they think of the way the field looks now.

Black jerseys made their debut against Auburn. Should they return? (Associated Press)

Black jerseys made their debut against Auburn. Should they return? (Associated Press)

Josh Johansson writes: Having been a UGA fan since I was born in 1991, and going to games since 1992, my favorite game has been the Blackout against Auburn. Sanford Stadium, that night, was probably the loudest and most excited I had ever seen it. The fans and more importantly the players were so pumped. I know we’ve worn the black jerseys since then (and other, not as popular, variations of black uniforms) but I really feel like it could be a great tradition for us to where those black tops against Auburn, every time we play them at home. It would be similar to the way Notre Dame wears/wore the green jerseys against USC. I think it would be awesome because it wouldn’t be every year. It wouldn’t seem like a “gimmick” against some random team. Those would be THE Black Jerseys that we wear when we play Auburn. What are your thoughts?

I loved the way the black jerseys looked. But I think maybe Richt went to the Blackout well a bit too often in 2007-2008 and after the blowout loss to Bama our superstitious fan base soured on the black jerseys. I’d love to see them brought back at some point but have wondered what would be the best way to do that. Perhaps wear them with no prior notice and without the attendant Blackout hooplah? But I think you might be on to something in your suggestion that they be designated the home jerseys against Auburn. Black jersey fans, what do you think?

Got a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

383 comments Add your comment

38 Yardline Dawg

November 4th, 2011
10:17 am

Sorry but having to suspend 3 tailbacks is not exactly “being on a roll.” More like, 1 step forward (beat FL) and 2 steps back (same ol’ problems).

GADevildawg

November 4th, 2011
10:17 am

second….yes they are

ATLDawg

November 4th, 2011
10:24 am

I absolutely LOVE the black jersey…I just think they look so good! I wish they would be worn without any sort of “gimmicky” hype, just as an alternate jersey!!

DawginLex

November 4th, 2011
10:24 am

Bill

None of us have the same feeling about this team as we did in 2007

In hindsight, we can now see our defense was a mirage in 2007 and the UT game was an indication of things to come.

I have much more confidence on that side of the ball heading into 2012.

Offensively, we are nowhere near 2007.

Who called the plays in 2007?? :) :)

gomdawg

November 4th, 2011
10:29 am

I LOVE THE BLACK JERSEYS LET’S USE THEM THIS WEEKEND

War Dang Dawg

November 4th, 2011
10:30 am

The 2007 team seemed much better on offense and special teams, but more porous on defense than this team. What’s exciting about this year’s team is the progress of the defense. If you can stop other teams and force turnovers, you have a puncher’s chance against anyone.

Fire CMR?.....

November 4th, 2011
10:31 am

No not really…..please no black out….please, its always a gimmick

LHM1509

November 4th, 2011
10:32 am

I do not see this year as a repeat of 2007. I do love the new D stepping up and the improved running game (sans weed problems). Give IC time, he will get stronger and in better shape. I just hope he gets his head right. Too much talent to throw it away!

Joey

November 4th, 2011
10:33 am

By the time that ‘07 Dawg team blew through UF and AU, they were probably the best team in the country.

No sane Dawg fan could say something like that with a straight face about the current team.

It is a trait of Richt’s really good teams (’02, ‘05, ‘07) that they inexcusably lost to iniferior teams which kept them out of the Big Game.

Fire CMR?.....

November 4th, 2011
10:34 am

@ WDD, yes the D is much better that is what’s making the difference this year

Joey

November 4th, 2011
10:34 am

Let’s save the black jerseys for, say, Coastal Carolina’s next visit . . .

Bremen Dawg

November 4th, 2011
10:35 am

It would be cool to bring out the black jerseys for one game a year and make that a tradition.

dawggirl

November 4th, 2011
10:39 am

No more black jerseys. Ever.

Also, I have noticed the changes to the field and I hate them. It was much more original and lively the way it was before.

I can see the similarities to 2007, but we need to take this one game at a time and stop counting ourselves into the SECCG before the season is even played out. No one should be thinking about Auburn yet, and looking ahead to GT is pointless right now. Worry about the next game, and the rest will hopefully take care of itself.

MattDawg

November 4th, 2011
10:39 am

Black Jerseys at home against Auburn could be an awesome tradition that would not be gimmicky. I personally like the jerseys, and would like to see a permanent way to use them. I’m sure UGA’s marketing department would like to sell Black #11’s as well as Red and White. GOTTA GET THEM ALL!

What??

November 4th, 2011
10:42 am

DawginLex – Bobo took over play calling in the last view games of 2007 if you recall. Richt didn’t announce it until after he had done it for a few games.

I also like the idea of using the black jerseys against Auburn at home.

frank

November 4th, 2011
10:45 am

not just no, but heyllll no. They havent played anybody!

By the end of the year this “big win” over florida wont mean jack when they are 4-7. Half the team is on drugs, or a dumb@ss. classic case of lack of instutional control…

robodawg

November 4th, 2011
10:46 am

If the Auburn game comes down to hitting a routine 27-yard field goal, I’d be all for putting in Bogotay. But if it was a 47 yarder, I’d probably stick with Walsh. Of course, I haven’t seen them in practice.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

November 4th, 2011
10:49 am

Ah the 2007 season

Just a glaring example of why this program will not play the big game because we will lose to 2 teams we shouldnt lose to every year

They may be on a roll...

November 4th, 2011
10:49 am

…but it sure ain’t like ‘07 – the schedule is all that has kept this “roll” alive, and it is highly probable that we lose to both Auburn, GT, and to whatever team we play in a bowl…

Athens= God's Country

November 4th, 2011
10:51 am

Bill

No. Its not even close.

jerry

November 4th, 2011
10:52 am

+1 on the black out just home game vs. auburn idea. That’s also my best memory as a Georgia fan, with my worst one sitting in the end zone wondering how Auburn managed to convert a 4th and… 27 was it? I like this idea.

robodawg

November 4th, 2011
10:54 am

At the end of the 2007 season, we and USC were the two most impressive looking teams in the nation. We’re riding some good momentum now, but I don’t think we are now where we were then. We need to beat an LSU or Bama before we can make those kinds of comparisons.

Athens= God's Country

November 4th, 2011
10:54 am

Flat Tire

GO AWAY! EVERYONE ON HERE IS SO SICK AND TIRED OF YOUR NEGATIVITY. WE DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR INSIGHT. A WIN IS A WIN IS A WIN.

GO AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Top Row Dawg

November 4th, 2011
10:55 am

Hey Bill, 1974, the year of our first Bowl trip to Orlando.

Hey come by and check out our program display down by the Dawg Walk, should be 50 programs and 30 replicas for the Auburn and Kentucky games.

Jacob

November 4th, 2011
10:57 am

Would it be against any NCAA rules for Kevin Butler to work with Walsh during the week? Given Butler’s ties to the program and his unquestionable success both in the SEC and NFL, I would think he could provide some help to Walsh.

Skipper

November 4th, 2011
10:57 am

Love the dawgs…..always have. Ain’t hatin’ on coaches, players, etc. However, when Crowell starts worrying more about playing than how his dreads look, and when he quits RUNNING to the sidelines after every little hit, and when he quits breakin the rules so often he gets suspended more his first season than most do in a career, and when he quits jawing and acting like he set some record after a small gane on a team with a losing record, maybe he will be okay. TRY not to do EVERYTHING a person with weak character does all at once! Make young man mistakes, but don’t do it all in a 24 hour period. These two walk-ons may not have his natural tallent, but by all accounts they ain’t feelin’ like the world owes them something! And I bet they don’t haul-ass to the sidelines after a little contact! I just don’t see the “roll” yet…..

fss

November 4th, 2011
10:58 am

hey all – i love the wins as much as anyone, but have we beat anyone with over .500 record?

SenoiaDawgs

November 4th, 2011
10:58 am

Yes to the black jerseys.

As for 2007 team while the similarities are there this team is not showing any signs of the high quality play of the 07 team at least Offensively. Now the D yes, if the offense grows in these last 4 weeks then yes but the O was already hitting on all cylinders in the FL game in 07.

Field is very bland now.

TroyDawg

November 4th, 2011
10:59 am

The new field paint design is terrible. It’s so bland and boring, bring back the old design from the mid 2000’s! Why did they get rid of the signature Georgia G’s at the goal line, that’s a Sanford Stadium tradition!! Now our field is so un-original. Whoever paints the field before every game must be getting really lazy…

Athens= God's Country

November 4th, 2011
11:00 am

Tech wears white for their home unis. Why not wear the black jerseys against Tech EVERY YEAR?

Athens= God's Country

November 4th, 2011
11:02 am

fss

You can only play the teams on the schedule.

Fridawg

November 4th, 2011
11:02 am

I’ve noticed the missing Georgia “G” at the goal line this season. I like a plain/traditional look for the field, but it could be touched up to have some more red/black elements as outlining.

I loved the original Blackout game, but I don’t want to see it until things are really rolling. I’d like to see the Dawgs firmly establish themselves as a national power before pulling that stuff.

Sailordawg

November 4th, 2011
11:03 am

I agree I think that the black jersey’s would be a great tradition, I like them a lot better than those nike uniforms at the beginning of the season. The first time I remember them is at the UF game and all the bulldogs got hyped and so pumped… the bama game was a disappointment though. I do see some things that remind me of the 2007 team. lets remember though Dawg fans, It really took until Staffords junior year to actually be a standout QB, Moreno was a sophmore and was turning all the heads in the SEC. have some faith and lets get thru the rest of this year the best we can and let this team continue to grow. I think that we are def going to turn some heads next year…

BankerDawg

November 4th, 2011
11:04 am

No black jerseys.

No, this team does not remind me of the 2007. If you are looking at record and opponent only, you can perhaps see similarities, but this team does not look at all like that team.

Not close.

DAWG with two bags over head

November 4th, 2011
11:06 am

I think it’s just a scheduling fluke that the teams are similar. I’m not sure this one can stay out of trouble long enough or play special teams well enough to beat AU and GT. The 2007 Team wasn’t great on defense, but the offense and special teams were outstanding. By the end of the season I think that could have beaten any team in America.

Rusty

November 4th, 2011
11:06 am

Wanna know the difference in the 2007 team and the 2011 team?

The 2007 team was good. When they beat Florida they played well and beat a good team. Other than the 2nd half against South Carolina, when has anyone really felt like we’ve ‘played well’.

Now the defense has played well but as a team, we haven’t played even close to a good or complete game. Its actually pathetic.

LkB

November 4th, 2011
11:07 am

Uniforms do not win games in the SEC. Line up and bust the guy in front of you in the mouth wins games.

Can't figure you out!

November 4th, 2011
11:08 am

The drug punishments should be the same at all NCAA schools and especially in all the conference schools. Just doesn’t make any sense that the AJC crucifies UGA for everything, but they didn’t really bother to mention the variations in punishments.

Fools Gold

November 4th, 2011
11:11 am

Not hardly, the 07 team improved each week. This team is the same ole team of the last three years. still have cancers in the program as well.

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

November 4th, 2011
11:14 am

Athens= God’s Country

Yea a win is a win and mediocrity continues and as it continues we all sit and wonder how the UGA program hasnt beaten a top 25 team in 2 yrs

But a win is a win

sogadog

November 4th, 2011
11:14 am

No more black jerseys or Nike combat please. Players should be focused on their assignments, not their attire.

charliescott

November 4th, 2011
11:16 am

Why not wear the black jerseys at home for night games? If the kickoff is in Sanford and after 7pm the DAWGS wear black.

The Truth

November 4th, 2011
11:22 am

The Dawgs still haven’t played and beaten anyone of consequence. When they beat a ranked, quality opponent I will take notice.

THE Dixie Redcoat Band

November 4th, 2011
11:22 am

Has UGA identified the coach who recruited IC? IC needs to go and we need to recruit more rb’s.

JimDog85

November 4th, 2011
11:23 am

Yes, bring back the black jerseys for Auburn! They are the best alternate uniform we have had. It reminds me of the Falcon’s throw-back uniforms which also look pretty cool.

UGA Insider

November 4th, 2011
11:23 am

We said Rusty, unfortunately, our season will be defined by what we do against AU and GT. All of our other victories have been against scrubbs. CMR is still on a very hot seat.

home&home

November 4th, 2011
11:23 am

The perfect answer to the black jerseys is to wear them in games where the home team wears white. In our case, that’s Tech in Atlanta and LSU in Baton Rouge.

vinny ocean

November 4th, 2011
11:24 am

No this isn’t like 2007. At one point in the season I likened it to that season, but it hasn’t lived up to it at all. In ‘07 the team got progressively better and better. The offense has not progressed nearly like it should have. I mean we are really lucky we were not playing more quality opponents this season. The South Carolina game is a clear example of that. We made a lot of mistakes in that game and they were a team that was able to capitalize on it. Their offense only scored 17 points I think, (other than a one yard run by garcia after a fumble was returned to the one). 28 points were scored on turnovers and poor special teams play. Those same trends happened in a number of other games throughout the entire season, except those teams didn’t have the offense to come back. The defense has been our saving grace this entire season.

The Truth

November 4th, 2011
11:25 am

The 2007 team had the talent to overcome poor coaching. This team does not.

EW

November 4th, 2011
11:27 am

Great stuff Bill, thanks for the effort.