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

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
2:56 pm

Sorry, wasn’t the 07 team exposed in 08?

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
2:59 pm

George, the 2002 were good and had some very talented players but weren’t as deep. 2007 was talented and deep, just not motivated.

ca dawg….LOL yes he would

ca dawg

November 4th, 2011
3:01 pm

i actually like the new font in the end zone. was never a fan of the blocky font we had there before. the new field is less busy and more clean-looking, which personally i like.

as far as the 2007 comparisons… well, let’s just wait and see. the 2007 team didn’t really take off until they beat florida. that’s where the swagger came from. our 2011 group has a better defense but is less consistent on offense and is horrible on special teams. i do think that beating florida is a HUGE psychological relief for the kids and coaches, and that they’re going to play with more confidence now that that game is in the rear view mirror.

it’s not out of the realm of possibility that our kids could play lights out football for the next month. i’m not holding my breath, but if i ruled it out then i wouldn’t be much of a fan. GO DAWGS.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
3:04 pm

WDE

Another recruiting class like last year, some emphasis on offensive execution, the defense continuing it’s course and Georgia is going to be force in the conference next year. We are at present only a couple of broken ankles away from a 7-5 season right now. Beating a team like Bama or LSU without massive depth just isn’t going to happen on most days. Their #2 and #3 guys are as good as their #1

You can't hold me back

November 4th, 2011
3:06 pm

Since the people on here are just fans typing I am pretty sure it doesn’t hurt to look forward
Pretty sure it won’t affect the team
At all
They can care less

Dreaming

November 4th, 2011
3:07 pm

ugab

November 4th, 2011
2:45 pm

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

_______________________________________________________________________________

Just not by GA

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
3:07 pm

GT Joe

Different teams. Apples to oranges. Yes several of the playmakers were the same, namely Stafford and Moreno but the defense was atrocious

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
3:08 pm

The defense is what made y’all’s 2002 team so good.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
3:14 pm

George

That is true. The days of Van Gorder and we had a number of headhunters on that team, very physical guys. Pollack, Thomas Davis, Boss Bailey, Greg Blue was a back up on that team I think

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
3:15 pm

All of those guys were Donnan recruits

George Stein

November 4th, 2011
3:16 pm

When did Seymour leave?

The guy that always scared me was Greg Blue. He just killed receivers coming across the middle. I expected Ogletree to do the same until they moved him ILB.

North ave. faithful

November 4th, 2011
3:16 pm

Just now getting to page 6 of the blog,but would like to just add,GTJOE PLEASE SHUT UP!!!! There i feel much better now, good luck to you dawgs(dont get to used to that),but i would love for us to both be 9-2 when we hook up at b.dodd.

WDE

November 4th, 2011
3:17 pm

@ARdawg agreed I think we need to add some depth at OL and that takes a couple of years to get the kids up to SEC standards..

gbal

November 4th, 2011
3:17 pm

Great idea in my opinion. Black jersey for home AU games. I say start the tradidion this year. No need to make a big deal of it…. A tradition that the 2011 class can suggest to CMR that the team start. Like it.

WDE

November 4th, 2011
3:18 pm

@North ave. faithful why thank you sir I’d like that very much also!

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
3:23 pm

Thanks for adding value to the blog, north ave.

I hope you just panhandle on north ave and didn’t actually attend the institute.

Stupid is the New Black

November 4th, 2011
3:24 pm

There is some similarity. 2007 was the beginning of the Great Decline. 2011 should be the end of it. Time will tell.

Realist

November 4th, 2011
3:28 pm

Yeh, King. They’ll be on a roll till they roll up against LSU or Alabama. Then they’ll get rolled. Of course that’s assuming they will get that far. No guarantee on that.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
3:32 pm

George I do not recollect when Seymour left. Blue was dangerous. I thought for sure Thomas Davis was going to hurt somebody bad. With the Willie Martinez era our defenses just turned into prevent milktoast. I remember that opening 09 (I think) game against Okie St how far our defense had fallen.

WDE, the OL was supposed to a strength last year and this one too. Much of the reason I don’t p1ss and moan much about Murray. Much that he has accomplished has been on his own running for his life

JRabDawg

November 4th, 2011
3:32 pm

I would like the black jerseys be worn at all night games.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
3:33 pm

Stupid is

I hope you are right

Reality Dawg

November 4th, 2011
3:41 pm

Okay folks, on a roll? seriously? come on now. we beat the worst florida team in 30 years… don’t get ahead of yourselves.

Stupid is the New Black

November 4th, 2011
3:45 pm

It’s a Jelly Roll. ;-)

love it

November 4th, 2011
3:46 pm

Enter your comments here

North ave. faithful

November 4th, 2011
3:47 pm

Lets see GT,clemson beat VT by 20-3.So you should be betting every penney you got right now on GT, idiot. And no i wasnt even smart enough to panhandle on North Ave. but my son goes to GT.

love it

November 4th, 2011
3:49 pm

love the black out. i think it should be done every auburn or tech home game. BY THE WAY, WE LOST TO BAMA IN 08 BECAUSE THEY WERE A BETTER TEAM. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BLACK.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
3:49 pm

Reality

It is as close to a roll as we have had in years, I’ll take it

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
3:51 pm

love it

You are partially absolutely correct. A better team is a stretch but certainly out played

GT Joe

November 4th, 2011
3:51 pm

Faithful: transitive property doesn’t work in college football. Ask George Stein about that.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
3:52 pm

love it
That is a stinging memory and the blackout was part of it

Reality Dawg

November 4th, 2011
3:54 pm

Why mess with tradition? Black was lame.

WDE

November 4th, 2011
3:57 pm

@Reality Dawg lets see what would you rather we do anyway you slice it we beat the last 6 teams on our schedule ? And we beat the hated gators..so what if they weren’t world beaters when they beat us they darn sure count it no matter how good we are or aren’t .

Stupid is the New Black

November 4th, 2011
3:59 pm

The reason the blackout leaves a bad taste in Georgia fans’ mouths is that it was just one more example of CMR believing that gimmicks could replace hard work and dilligence.

The black jerseys actually look pretty sharp.

Reality Dawg

November 4th, 2011
4:02 pm

Wow WDE, all I said was let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

Burma Shave

November 4th, 2011
4:03 pm

Crowell won’t last
Another year
Send him home now
And all will cheer

BURMA SHAVE

Dwayne

November 4th, 2011
4:05 pm

They are NOT on a roll. Win all remaining games and it will be because the “D” carried them. Having 1/3 of your team playing well is not being on a roll.

george

November 4th, 2011
4:05 pm

how beat beating a ranked team before you start spweing this garbage. good grief

ca dawg

November 4th, 2011
4:06 pm

ARdawg: your points about our depth vs. bama and lsu are well-taken. i remember watching the 2007 game in tuscaloosa and thinking that we won not because our best 22 were better than their best 22, but because our best 50 were better than their best 50. the tables have obviously turned, and we’ve got to establish quality depth if we want to get back in the conversation.

ca dawg

November 4th, 2011
4:12 pm

@ dwayne: O is averaging 31 points and game (despite 12 missed FG’s) and is 3rd in the conference in YPG. explain how that’s bad.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
4:12 pm

Stupid is

The Black jerseys were sharp and you make an excellent point. There seemed to be a belief we beat AU that first time because of them which was kaka. Then the expectation that because we wore them we win. Bama fixed that in a hurry. I like the red but I am a traditional kinda of guy. Make the black an alternative home jersey fine, but for the love of Pete, leave the gimmick aspect out of it.

Stupid is the New Black

November 4th, 2011
4:13 pm

Saban was coaching Mike Shula’s players in 2007. He still took you guys to OT.

Stupid is the New Black

November 4th, 2011
4:15 pm

Agree 100% ARdawg.

Too much magical thinking these days. That’s what prompted my screen name.

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
4:18 pm

ca dawg

I agree completely. I thought we should have hammered Bama in that game and we should. We were “that” much better than them, deeper and more talented. The tables have certainly turned. Not to belabor the point but, thats the coaching difference

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
4:24 pm

Stupid is

Every time you see a coach promoting something such as a blackout/whiteout whatever, you are looking at a coach with something to cover up or hide.

It’s football, demm the gimmicks, leave it all on the field

Stupid is the New Black

November 4th, 2011
4:26 pm

That’s the beauty of football. Usually (but not always) the best team wins, and it comes down to quality players, quality coaches and hard work.

no dog

November 4th, 2011
4:34 pm

Mr Bill, your “hot” team in 07 did not even play for the sec champ…if arky does what y’all hope, you might this year. If you do, will you win?

ARdawg

November 4th, 2011
4:39 pm

no dog

If we get to play in the Dome, we will compete

Kyle

November 4th, 2011
4:44 pm

No black jerseys!!! Period….Maybe in 2013-14. Let ‘em collect some dust…we learned out lesson with thinking jerseys actually make a difference in a game….(rolling of eyes)

Stupid is the New Black

November 4th, 2011
4:44 pm

This SECCG is going to be a challenge for whomever wins the West. It will be a huge game for either South Carolina or Georgia. It will be a trap game for LSU or Alabama.

Hard to get up for a game that appears this lopsided.

evil empire

November 4th, 2011
4:44 pm

it has got to suck to be a life long uga fan…no past, no present, no future…LSU/BAMA…uga/nmst…hahahaha…