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?

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383 comments Add your comment

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
2:17 pm

GT Joe

The results of said schedule. Quit being a moron

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:18 pm

You’re right, ARdawg. That’s the point I was trying to make, too. Comparing scores is fool’s gold.

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:23 pm

No George, I was merely pointing out that Bama and LSU have destroyed Many teams of UGA’s caliber by 30+ pts, so “I can see either team beating UGA by 30+”.

If high schoolers beat 3rd graders on a math test by an average of 50 points, then you would expect average high schooler A to beat average 3rd grader B by about 50 points.

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:25 pm

I’m not comparing scores, this is a very subtle difference that I don’t expect either of you to understand.

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:26 pm

I guess my point is that the performance of a team can change from week to week, GT Joe. That and, if your point is right about UGA playing a weak schedule so far, we don’t know enough about UGA yet to make a determination.

I think Bama or LSU would beat them. Heck, most UGA fans probably think they’d lose to either of them. But who really cares. They want their crack at them and I don’t blame them.

We’ll get our chance at UGA in three weeks. I hope we win, but I’ll continue to be embarrassed by fans like you that come and smack talk all the time. Show a little bit of class and grow up already.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
2:27 pm

GT Joe

Your logic is flawed and you won’t accept it. It is fueled by your hatred. Third grade math tests aside, football teams, no matter who they are, usually match up differently. Different strengths and weakness, motivations and talent on any given day. When you can figure those out, try handicapping

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:28 pm

Ok George, so now facts are “smack talk”.

kevin

November 4th, 2011
2:29 pm

The 2007 team was a better team. By year’s end, not team in the country was playing as well (an argument could be made for USC, but it’s a losing one I think). That said, this year’s team is certainly encouraging and it’s wonderful to see a UGA team led by defense again.

While Crowell certainly has had some endurance issues, he is on pace to put up top 5 freshman numbers at UGA as well has finish #1 or 2 in the country in yards by a freshman RB. When fresh, he has looked magnificent at times, showing that he can run tough, is shifty and explodes through the hole. By next year’s time, with better conditioning, there is no reason to think he will be anything short of amazing. While the “toughness” concerns are valid, UGA fans should be ashamed for being so dismissive of his input thus far.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
2:30 pm

George it has been a while since I have said this to a Tech fan but, it is a pleasure having you in the discussions. I have said it before btw. You are a good balance from most of the Tech fans that come here. Please come back more often

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:30 pm

Okay guys, I changed my mind.

UGA IS ON A ROLL! I have no facts to back it up, but they sho’nuff is on a ROLL!

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:30 pm

Good lord. I give up, GT Joe. I now find myself in the unenviable position of siding with UGA fans. Thanks for that.

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:32 pm

Thanks, ARdawg. The point that a lot of folks miss is that there is a civil way to have a difference of opinion. I rarely come to the UGA Blog (Blawg?) because I’m humiliated to see the way Tech fans act here.

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:33 pm

George Stein: “I guess my point is that the performance of a team can change from week to week, GT Joe.”

Well thank you for this tidbit of information. I had no idea. UGA is on a ROLL fellas!

kevin

November 4th, 2011
2:33 pm

GT Joe,

Winning 6 games in a row is almost by definition, “being on a roll”.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
2:34 pm

kevin

Even with how the 2007 season ended, pounding Hawaii and wishing we had USC. There wasn’t a better team than UGA at the end of the year. That team IMHO is 2-3 times better than 2011

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:35 pm

Good point kevin, I’m in complete agreement. UGA is definitely on a ROLL.

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:35 pm

OMG. Clearly you don’t, GT Joe.

Georgia has benefited from playing lesser competition. Who friggin’ cares? Show me ONE team that hasn’t. And if you know so much, why do we even play the games? Sheesh.

DawginLex

November 4th, 2011
2:36 pm

GT Joe

Who played QB for florida versus LSU and Alabama?
How many yards did Florida have passing in the 1st half versus Alabama?
Who played QB in that half?
How many yards did Florida have in the 2nd half versus Alabama?
Who played QB that half?

Thanks for playing

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:36 pm

George: Perhaps you missed ARdawg calling me juvenile, a moron, and having a crystall ball up my azz? Did I call him ANYTHING?

LOL. Love the civility.

kevin

November 4th, 2011
2:37 pm

ARdawg,

I completely agree as did Herbstreet and Corso who both explicitly said “UGA was the best team on college football” in 2007 when talking about BCS bowls.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
2:37 pm

George
That’s understandable. On occasion I will venture to the Tech blogs and witness the same thing you do here. It isn’t very encouraging to stay. All too often you get lumped in with the other fans and no real discussions can take place

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:37 pm

lex: relevance?

DawginLex

November 4th, 2011
2:38 pm

George Stein is one of the reasons that I can successfuly converse on the GT blogs.

GT Joe-not so much

Bama Rolling to Another Title

November 4th, 2011
2:38 pm

LOL

True Dawg Fan and Low “Life” Country Bum

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:38 pm

He was right about each one of those things, GT Joe.

DawginLex

November 4th, 2011
2:38 pm

You compare scores of Florida versus LSU and Bama but you ignore the fact that their QB did not play.

Kmac

November 4th, 2011
2:39 pm

NO! That team could beat anyone at the end of the season.

WDE

November 4th, 2011
2:40 pm

@ARdawg as far as how they ended the season I agree 2007 was a better team. But let me run this by you if 2011’s team wins the East even if they lose the title game they will have won the East and only lost to two teams that were higher ranked 2007’s squad lost to two unranked teams..then it get murky….would be a nice discussion to have if it came to it.

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:40 pm

You UGA fans are making me blush!

There are several UGA fans that represent your school well on our blog, ARdawg. Lex, Dawglasville, TampaDawg, and BankerDawg to name a few. I prefer not to think of the ones that don’t.

ugab

November 4th, 2011
2:41 pm

Black Jerseys worked the very 1st time we used them for the Auburn game. After Auburn, Black out was a bust. It looked good to see fans and players blacked out. MR can’t get his team pumped up enough to do a blackout. The 2007 team is totally different than this year’s team. The dawgs can beat any team in the nation. The dawgs always beat theirselves. How many years have we needed starters on special teams? We are supposed to have the nations best kicking game. ??? Offense is up and down. Defense is doing good

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
2:41 pm

kevin

With the loss to FL and TN, even though at the end of the year we were quite likely the best, we got what we deserved. No napping should be permitted for championship teams

Ludatripp

November 4th, 2011
2:41 pm

The red outline around the field looked awesome and I miss it! Black jerseys for every Auburn home game would be great too. Its only once every two years and it would fire the players and fans for what is always an important game for us.

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:41 pm

Thing is, Lex, who cares who played QB. Comparing scores is so fundamentally stupid it makes me crazy. UGA lost to South Carolina. South Carolina lost to Auburn. Auburn is going to lose to UGA next week. Can anyone make that make sense???

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:42 pm

Um did Brantley actually “play” against UGA? Looked like he had a broken ankle, he was probably about 50% in that game.

Regardless, I was giving you a body of evidence, multiple examples of LSU And Bama pounding teams of similar quality to UGA.

ugab

November 4th, 2011
2:43 pm

DawginLex

November 4th, 2011
2:43 pm

not really but you have to admit that a healthy Brantley or even a gimpy Brantley is light years better than 2 true freshmen with the deer in the headlights look

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:44 pm

How someone can read what I wrote and think I’m comparing scores is so fundamentally stupid it makes me crazy.

DawginLex

November 4th, 2011
2:44 pm

yep, he played and threw for 245 yards. Limited but still WAY better than the 2 freshmen

huge difference team psyche wise too

ugab

November 4th, 2011
2:44 pm

AUBURN IS LOOKING GOOD. MR BETTER BE READY. GO ARKANSAS!

DawginLex

November 4th, 2011
2:45 pm

Ole Miss ran for 220 yards on Auburn.

If we don’t do the same, I will be the first to ask for a new coach in Athens.

ugab

November 4th, 2011
2:45 pm

Lsu and Bama can be beaten. You will see this weekend.

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:45 pm

Agreed, Lex.

I’m through with you, GT Joe. I hope you’re only 12 years old. At least then I’ll have some hope that one day you’ll grow up.

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:46 pm

Well, one of them HAS to lose, ugab.

DawginLex

November 4th, 2011
2:46 pm

Later boys. Have a good one

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:47 pm

be civil george. sheesh.

You are starting to embarrass me as a GT grad.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
2:48 pm

WDE

Good question, Should UGA win the east and play in the CG, they would have to win it to even be in the same discussion as the 2007 team. 2007 had the most talent amassed (and wasted) of any other team Georgia has had in recent memory. They never jelled until after the thumping at J’ville.

I do believe if we make it to the Dome, Georgia will be very “scary” competitive but we just don’t have the horses to beat either LSU or Bama. They are just 3 deep at every position and very solid

93 Dawg

November 4th, 2011
2:48 pm

I’m so glad to hear someone mention the Sanford Stadium field paint. I’ve been asking different people all season if they knew why it changed. I noticed it during the Miss St. game and think it looks awful. They REALLY need to bring back the old endzone font and the goal line “G”. That’s when you know you’re watching the DAWGS! And I will be tomorrow…

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
2:52 pm

The 2002 team was pretty good, too, ARdawg.

ca dawg

November 4th, 2011
2:53 pm

only flat tire could argue that 2007, a year in which we finished #2 in the country, is a good example of why richt should be fired. you could hand this guy a briefcase full of cash, and he’d just complain about how heavy it was.

WDE

November 4th, 2011
2:56 pm

@ARdawg I’d like to see us get to the title game but we are a year away (at least) talent wise to play with those two toe to toe.