Saturday’s game against Kentucky is the last chance to see the Dogs play Between the Hedges this season and a limited number of unclaimed UGA student tickets went on sale to the general public Thursday morning. If you’d like the chance to see Georgia try to clinch the SEC East in person, Georgiadogs.com has the details.
Now, let’s get to some Junkyard Mail. …
Brady Johnson writes: I heard one of the guys on the post-game radio show speculate after the Auburn game that if Georgia wins the SEC Championship that Russ will earn full “mascot” status and be buried inside Sanford Stadium with his forebears when he goes on to that great fireplug in the sky. Since it’s pretty obvious the new Uga isn’t going to be introduced this season, what do you think is the likelihood of that?
I don’t know if Russ will ever be declared on official mascot, but if Georgia wins an SEC championship on his watch I think he certainly deserves to be acknowledged inside Sanford Stadium. I think it would be a great idea for him to be buried with the Ugas, but if that doesn’t come to pass he at least ought to get a plaque or some other permanent honor. Even Mike, the predecessor to the Uga line, is honored with a statue (in front of Memorial Hall). Russ deserves no less.
Brian Stewart writes: I know most of the praise this year is going towards the defense (and rightfully so) for this run the Dawgs are making. My question is why the offensive surprises, like the strong O-line play and phenomenal play of the wide receivers, has gone largely under the radar?
Well, I’m not sure you can say they’re going under the radar any longer, but the answer probably is that the injury-plagued offensive line progressed slowly and the wide receivers are mostly very young. There’s still room for improvement with the OL, but coach Will Friend has done a terrific job with very little depth. As for the receiving corps, the sparkplugs there have been a terrific batch of freshmen who certainly are on the radar now.
Beach Dawg Living Happily Among Gators writes: Bill, It is obvious that the 2011 “Dream Team” recruiting class has made significant contributions to the Dawgs’ success this year. I found it very surprising that UGA was able to have that much success after the dismal 2010 season capped by a very embarrassing bowl loss. The opposite seems to be happening this year — very good season, so far, but Coach Richt does not seem to be attracting the top in-state players. Your thoughts?
As our recruiting expert Michael Carvell notes, Georgia’s recruiting efforts had to weather an 0-2 start and lots of speculation about the head coach’s future but are beginning to gain some momentum and the Dogs are in the running for some highly rated players. Just as it was too early to write off this season after the first two games, don’t dismiss Richt’s 2012 recruiting efforts until we see which players he lands.
Kelly from Buford writes: Junkyard, do you know the status of Kolton Houston? I heard rumors of a NCAA investigation and noticed he hasn’t been dressed out. It would be nice to have him in the mix with the loss of Dallas Lee.
Houston has been unable to play because of an unspecified “NCAA issue,” according to Richt. There’s been no official word, but at this point it looks like Houston won’t be available until next season (hopefully).
Rontavius Smith writes: Hey Bill, seeing how the Dawgs have improved greatly under [Todd] Grantham, I believe he deserves to get a big increase to his pay and to give him a contract extension when they give Richt one. I believe when a team is doing well that it’s not [right] for all the credit to go the head coach because success is achieved by a team and right now the team has the coaches and players to do big things. In your opinion why wouldn’t UGA do everything in their means to keep Grantham?
I’m sure Richt and athletic director Greg McGarity want to keep Grantham and will do whatever is reasonable to keep him. He’s already one of the most highly paid assistants around but a raise after this season would seem likely. And possibly an extension, assuming Richt gets one, too. But if his agent isn’t just blowing smoke and Grantham really does have NFL defensive coordinator or college head coach offers on the table, it’ll ultimately come down to what direction he wants to take his career. A personal choice, in other words, not just money. Frankly, though, it sounds like a negotiating ploy.
Jax Dawg writes: Do you think Drew Butler’s punting struggles have come with the new punting protection formation that UGA is using this year? I’m by no means a special teams expert, but it seems that with the three defenders directly in front of Drew he is not taking his usual steps before he punts it away.
I’d say it’s doubtful the formation is the problem. Butler punted well for most of the season and has only recently had a couple of off games. And let’s not forget that the one blocked punt came when the Dogs weren’t using that maximum protection formation. I think more likely the recent shanked punts are a concentration problem on his part that he can fix.
Matthew Cafaro writes: Bill, the people who said Richt needed this WHOLE season to see if his new decisions and appointments would work out were right. That still does not erase the fact that Richt’s success as a head coach is extremely dependent on having not only a competent defensive coordinator, but one who is the yin to his yang. So, let’s say Georgia wins the SEC next year and contends for a BCS Championship, two possible scenarios, and Todd Grantham leaves to become a DC in the NFL or a CFB head coach. Good for him, of course, as he saved Richt’s job just as sure as [Brian Van Gorder] had a huge hand in Richt’s early success. If that scenario presents itself, will Richt make the same mistakes of the past, coming off a successful season? Will he promote from within, someone who is not qualified to be a DC? Someone who is NOT the fiery, passionate DC this team needs to balance Richt’s cool, even temper? I can’t say I trust a “fat and happy” Richt to make the right decision. An “under fire” Richt made decisions to save his job. … Does a comfortable Richt make those same kind of “out of the box” decisions when he needs to replace the man who saved his job?
If Grantham leaves, I’d be surprised if Richt didn’t look outside the program for a similar replacement. He’s a smart man and I think he recognizes the same factors that you cite. In the past, I think his judgement in promoting Willie Martinez was colored by their close friendship.
Eddie Whitaker writes: Hi Bill, love your work! My question is regarding our QB situation. Currently we have [Aaron] Murray, [Hutson] Mason and [Christian] LeMay. Sounds like (if recruiting holds true) we have Brice Ramsey coming in and then “the next Tim Tebow” [Faton Bauta] who just committed for 2013. Do you see LeMay transferring? We will soon have quite a logjam at the QB spot.
No, I doubt LeMay is going anywhere. If any of Georgia’s quarterbacks transfers, it most likely will be Mason, though that’s by no means a foregone conclusion. Mason also could take a redshirt year in order to create some class separation. But if he stays and plays next season I think it’ll be a terrific battle for the No. 2 spot and his experience will give him the edge over LeMay, who missed his senior year of high school football.
Jon Wilhoit writes: Bill, always enjoy your work. In order for the Dawgs to continue to resurrect to the expected level of competitiveness, Isaiah Crowell has to make a statement, a claim, to the role of “every-down SEC tailback”. He has flashes of promise. He makes rookie mistakes. Those are the edges of the issue. If he cannot carry the ball for an entire drive, if he cannot become more effective as the game wears on … he will be just another back. And, it will be no one’s fault but his own. He has the tool. Does he have the heart?
I think he’s getting there. He’s been playing banged up and has had to get used to that but Crowell said this week that he knows staying in the game is “what I haven’t been doing well” and he’s trying to improve. Richt noted this week that in the Auburn game Crowell didn’t ask to come out, unlike earlier games. Early in the season, the coach said, “he’d run one or two and then he’d come out. Then he’d go back in and then he’d run a couple more and then he’d come out. This last game he wanted to keep getting it.” Richt attributes that to Crowell’s stamina improving. As that happens, I think No. 1 will reach his full potential.
Alex Richards writes: Great to see the fellows put 4 quarters of complete football together against a legitimate opponent. While the Dogs need to keep playing well to clinch and beat the trade school, I hope this quiets all the haters out there calling for a new coach. Not only is Richt first class, he is a solid, solid football coach. Yes, the program dipped but his leadership has held steady throughout. He’s worked through a myriad of issues on field and off, given support, encouragement and rope to his coordinators and it’s paying off. Most importantly, he and his staff have recruited better in the last couple of years and it’s paying dividends. Players matter more than coaches. Look at Auburn from a year ago. What are they now? What are they without Cam and Fairley last year — average at best. Look at invincible Nick Saban and Alabama. When they met LSU who could match up athlete to athlete what happened? Look at Florida this year. All I’ve heard is what a great d-coordinator Will Muschamp is. Not so much this year. His o-coordinator is one of the most gifted offensive minds football has ever seen. Florida’s offense was pitiful this year. PLAYERS MATTER MORE THAN COACHES. Watching our team right now, it’s obvious that our players are more talented than most SEC teams (minus Alabama and LSU). I’m tired of hearing how a guy like Kirby Smart is the “answer” to Georgia’s woes. He may be a fine head coach one day, but I for one think that hiring a guy like that is a lot more risky than letting a guy like Mark Richt do his job. I’m telling you, I could coach for Nick Saban, run Hightower and Upshaw and that secondary out there and get some impressive results too. I’m not slamming Smart. Just asking the Bulldog Nation to let a great man and great coach lead our program for many years to come. Get united behind this guy, what looks to be a pretty good staff and some talented YOUNG players that are about to make it to the SEC Championship Game! Go Dawgs!
You make an excellent point. Even great coaches falter if they don’t have the right mix of talent on the field. Richt’s Dream Team signing class was a big step in the right direction.
Jason Bledsoe writes: Bill, I really enjoy reading your blog and your knowledge of the Georgia football team. This 2011 bunch has accomplished something that has been done since Herschel Walker was running between the hedges. They have beaten Florida, Auburn, and Tennessee for the first time since 1982. If we beat Kentucky how do you like our chances in the SEC championship game? I think it will be a heck of a game whether it is LSU or Alabama, our defense can play with anybody and our offense has more fire power than both LSU and Alabama. Go Dawgs.
Whoever represents the SEC West in the championship game probably will be favored, but if Georgia continues to play like they did against Auburn I think the Dogs could make it a terrific game, especially if the defense has a good outing. That would be the key in my mind, because I believe Georgia could move the ball and score against just about anyone right now.
Toby Carmichael writes: I have just one question. Where is all the negativity that you expressed about the Dawgs at the first of the season? Maybe another one. WHERE ARE ALL WONDERFUL FAIR WEATHER FANS THAT WERE CALLING FOR A GREAT COACH TO BE FIRED?
OK, let’s be straight on this: I wasn’t one of those fans calling for Richt to be fired. And I think you misrepresent me in your reference to “all the negativity.” I certainly pointed out problems throughout the season, but after the opening loss to Boise, when others were ready to write off the season, I wrote: “As I was trudging back to the car Saturday night with my wife and brothers, we found ourselves doing something that ran counter to the general mood of the evening: accentuating the positive. That long touchdown pass to true freshman Malcolm Mitchell was a thing of beauty, as he turned on the afterburners, catching the perfectly thrown ball from Murray in stride. That young man is going to be a Georgia football hero before very much time has passed. We also noted what a fine performance transfer linebacker Jarvis Jones turned in. And while tailback Isaiah Crowell’s debut was nowhere near Marcus Lattimore standards, he showed flashes of what is surely to come. So if you want to throw up your hands and declare this another ‘lost’ season on the basis of one game that Georgia really had very little chance of winning, go right ahead. I prefer to think about the blur that was Mitchell as he literally blew past Boise defenders. The story of the 2011 Georgia Bulldogs still has many chapters yet to be written.”
And after the loss to South Carolina I wrote: “Most of the Georgia fans I’ve encountered actually came away from the South Carolina game feeling encouraged by what they saw — a promising team that fought hard, didn’t give up, and which lost mainly because of mistakes, not lack of effort or talent.”
As the Dogs have cut out the mistakes and the young talent has begun to mature, success has come. There’s a big difference between “negativity” and realistic appraisals, which is what I try to offer here.
Brandon Giddens writes: Hey Bill, what are the odds of Georgia vs. Boise State in a bowl game. I would love to see what Georgia can do against them now that we are on a roll, and have ton’s more confidence and game experience. Great Blawg and GO DAWGS!!!
I don’t think a rematch between Georgia and Boise State in a bowl game is very likely. But if it somehow were to happen, as I wrote last week, I think the Dogs would do much better against the Broncos than they did in the Georgia Dome opener. The defense has improved considerably since then and the offense has gotten on track. It’d be a good game.
Luci writes: Dear Mr. King, LOVE your column. I regularly read it on Facebook.Will you please explain the issue about jean shorts? I am a 2nd generation UGA alum living in Central Florida with my husband (Volunteer fan, not alum) and our two sons who are 3rd generation UGA legacies. It is challenging to raise little Bulldogs here in Florida and I am careful to never, ever dress them in orange and blue together. They listen to the Redcoat CD regularly and are learning all the cheers (ages 2 & 4). The older one went to the Coastal Carolina game this year. I digress. Besides not dressing my boys in orange, I also refuse to put them into jean shorts and am just curious of the real story, as I have no clue. I had no luck with google. If you ever have the time, will you please explain the jean shorts thing? Thank you again for all your stories. They are awesome and I so enjoy getting news on the Dawgs! Sic ‘em!
Well, the main thing with jean shorts, or “jorts,” is that they’re awfully silly looking. I remember first seeing them on some elements of the NASCAR audience and I’m not sure exactly when they started to be associated with Florida Gators fans, but it became the pejorative of choice for Georgia fans traveling to Jacksonville mainly in the past decade. By the way, congratulations on keeping your children out of orange and blue, surely the most obnoxious of all color combinations in sports!
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