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

1969 Graduate

November 5th, 2011
5:25 am

One “running back” that may be a significant factor against NMST is our quarterback. He’s shown the ability to run pretty well.

If we can get the short pass game into a decent rhythm, and combine that with an occasional, deliberate quarterback run (and slide, I hope), it could be a nice showcase for our QB.

His major recent performance problem seems to have been overthrowing the long ball, and other decreased accuracy issues on long passes.

Perhaps a relatively empty Georgia backfield will force this option.

It could also be interesting to see how someone way down the depth chart performs. Like others, I would find it enjoyable to see the suspended players watch (on their dorm televisions, I hope) successful play by team players.

Knowing how Bobo calls plays though, anything could happen.

I hope we don’t put defensive players at risk by playing them on the offense, unless, of course, they already have a lot of practice time at offense, and we don’t need them on the defensive side this game.

I find it hard to imagine we wouldn’t need our good defensive players on defense against NMSU. New Mexico State is not incapable of scoring points.

It’s way too soon to be celebrating any more victories. We shouldn’t take anyone for granted, not even NMSU.

Go, Georgia Bulldogs.

Dwayne

November 5th, 2011
7:17 am

@ cadawg….because they are playing sorry teams.

Charlie

November 5th, 2011
7:27 am

It is beyond me how anyone can get excited over the fact that the only games we have won this year have been against unranked teams. Has our football program become so mediocre that wins over teams the caliber of Vanderbilt are considered a cause for celebration? Save the talk of being on a roll until we win against teams of consequence.

Dr. Morpheus

November 5th, 2011
8:23 am

The trolls will still ignore the facts and claim UGA is soft and the players are all thugs. A replay of the UGA-UF game happened to be on ESPN in my hotel room and I recalled that Walsh’s first FG of the game was straight and true. Also, IC ran very effectively at the end of the first half and beginning of the second. Let’s hope he gets his head straight and true, as well.

Niceville Dawg

November 5th, 2011
8:34 am

Charlie,we can’t control the schedule.We can’t help the fact that the teams we are playing have losing records.These schedules are set litreally years in advance.What do you expect??Everyone to not celebrate a win over a sub-par UF team….or a nail-biter over Vandy??As they say on TV……COME ON,MAN!!

bubba4dawgs

November 5th, 2011
8:52 am

After the loss to Auburn last year and particularly the manner in which it was won and Fairly obviously trying to take out Murray, I think we owe Auburn a big one! It’s pay back time and the black jerseys might just be an exclamation point to make. I.E., lights out for Auburn! The Dawgs need a big time win on this one regardless if Arkansas loses to South Caroline! Put this idea with the team and see how they feel. Oh, and don’t forget to put a zero “0″ on Crowell’s jersey. Make him earn his # 1 back! GO DAWGS!!

Geaux Crimson

November 5th, 2011
8:58 am

Bubba4Dawgs is a prime example of why Athens has a college to begin with. We need SOME place to locate all the dumbaZZes!!

Wavy Gravy

November 5th, 2011
9:04 am

@bubba4dawgs

Georgia used the same game plan against Florida this year that Auburn used against Georgia last year. Had they not relentlessly attacked Brantley, he would have continued to light up the scoreboard in the second half as he did in the first half.

Attacking the quarterback is a legitimate method for winning a football game. That is most likely the same strategy that will be employed by Georgia today to shut down the NMSU offense. The strategy only appears offensive to you when it is being used to defeat your favorite team.

Equalities

November 5th, 2011
9:08 am

Dawgs = Buffoons

Animal Lover

November 5th, 2011
9:22 am

How is Russ doing these days? Last time I saw him, he was eat up with mange, and he acted like he had worms.

UGA Vet

November 5th, 2011
9:33 am

Actually, the worms were introduced intentionally as an experimental therapy for his morbid obesity. ;-)

Geaux Crimson

November 5th, 2011
9:49 am

Well said Wavy Gravy!!

maddawg913

November 5th, 2011
9:51 am

joe cox

November 5th, 2011
10:01 am

richt calls for blackout if we make it to sec title game. players warm up with black shirts. quick change before coming out of the tunnel and the dogs are in all black for the first time ever (lids, shirts, britches). hey traditionalists: it helps recruit 16-18 year old kids. might give us a little edge in a game we will surely lose if we are still playing the way we are now.

Dwayne

November 5th, 2011
10:11 am

lol at animal lover and vet. just keep the poor mutt from you know who in you know where….. I’m still a Dawg fan, but funny is funny

Still@theKool-aidBAR

November 5th, 2011
10:18 am

a NEW 1980 DVD? Too funny. Dawgs need to win something so the 1980 can be put to bed.

LakeDawg

November 5th, 2011
10:20 am

Yeah, a win is a win. Hope Dawgs go 10-2. Good chance of that, but still not impressed with CMR. BTW If UGA goes 10-2 and makes SECCG, CMR should keep his job. However, I have serious doubts he can ever compete with the elite teams in the SEC and there is really no excuse for that at UGA.

UGA Vet

November 5th, 2011
10:25 am

@Still@theKool-aidBAR

There are still a few of us around who remember 1980. The DVD is for the benefit of those under the age of 40 who have never seen the Georgia football program rise to it’s true potential.

Tech should think about making their own DVD. Maybe it would help with ticket sales?

Still@theKool-aidBAR

November 5th, 2011
10:43 am

Tech has many Coffee Table Books about everything TECH. See Tech people read. UGA people watch TV or play with coloring books.

UGA Vet

November 5th, 2011
10:45 am

Well, Coffee Table Books have lots of pictures. That’s a good thing.

Tankerdawg813

November 5th, 2011
11:16 am

I love the idea of the Black Jerseys vs Auburn at home every other year. The air in that 2007 Auburn game was electric and the players/fans were louder than ever! Question for you, Do you think that the NFL hype around certain players on the team causes and on and off the field distraction?

tdog

November 5th, 2011
11:43 am

You have to be kidding me. We are on a roll over a bunch of bottom dwellers.

Wavy Gravy

November 5th, 2011
11:45 am

What is this “NFL hype” to which you refer?

Ace

November 5th, 2011
11:48 am

This 2011 team isn’t ANYTHING like the 2007 team. Murray–Mitchell–Crowell, arn’t anything like Stafford–Moreno–AJ Green. And Muschamp isn’t anything like Urban Meyer.

Just won 6 games against teams with a 2-6, 3-5, or 4-4 record.

Nothing special.

Isaiah Rolls It

November 5th, 2011
11:55 am

Isaiah is the only one rolling in Athens. He has the munchies too.

Isaiah Rolls It

November 5th, 2011
11:57 am

One Toke Over The Line is the new Thuga Fight song!

whatacrew

November 5th, 2011
12:11 pm

The dawgs “on a roll”?? Not hardly – when you compare WHO they have played in the last 6 games – plus this one. Come on – the COMBINED conference record of the 5 SEC teams UGA has played is a sorry 4-25. So – the dawgs on a roll?? Yea – as long as they don’t play a REAL team.

Vince Doodley

November 5th, 2011
12:12 pm

Joe Cox, your idea for all black at the SECCG is an awesome Idea. After all, you’ll be attending your own funeral. Frankly whomever goes from the East is going to get the same treatment SC got from Auburn last year. complete destruction from either Bama or LSU. It will be UGLY. UGA fans may well wish the super chickens take that one on again.

Point Made

November 5th, 2011
2:46 pm

Yes Bill…this year’s UGA team is on a roll just like the 2007 team…that is, they lost to good teams, and ran up some wins against bad teams. Perfect example.

AceDawg

November 5th, 2011
3:10 pm

I understand but totally disagree with UGA fans that would theoretically trade a UGA loss to New Mex State for an Arkansas win. Get your priorities straight Dawgs fans.

Numberwang

November 5th, 2011
4:14 pm

I’ve never seen such a bunch of whiner fans. These idiots will find something to complain about even if UGA went undefeated and won the National Championship.

63-16 against the Aggies… now it’s on to Auburn. We’re going to have to play lights out!

DawgByte

November 5th, 2011
4:17 pm

Any time you win 7 straight games, you’re on a roll. It matters NOT who we played. The team or the coach doesn’t pick the schedule. The fact is you’ve got to line up agains the other team and beat them. For seven straight games UGA has done just that. We’ve won more games this year than we did all of last year.

Please, do us all a favor and stop the whining and complaining. A win is a win – take it and be happy.

Forever-a-dawg

November 9th, 2011
6:47 pm

I’m sick and tired of fellow Dawg fans who don’t have any idea how to be happy unless they have something to whine about. Sure, this year’s schedule isn’t a monster but you play who is on the schedule.Will those same fans whine like a little girl if somehow this team and coaching staff pulls out an SEC title win this season? Either you back your team or you don’t.Let’s try something different for a change…shut the hell up and get behind this team.They fight hard every week.