Time to dip into some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …
MonroeDawg writes: Did you see the latest from South Carolina? They’re so upset about losing the SEC East to Georgia that their athletic department is petitioning the SEC to change the rules so that games against your own division count a whole game while games against the other division only count half a game. They still can’t get over the fact that they beat Georgia and all the other SEC East teams this year but lost the division because the Dawgs had a better overall conference record. I can’t believe they’ll get anywhere with this. What do you think?
I think those grapes are mighty sour over in Gamecock country. The proposal you mention came from USC-East trustee Chuck Allen, who can’t handle South Carolina not winning the East two years in a row. One division title and suddenly they’re feeling entitled in Columbia! “It just seems fair that the team that won all its division games would be the division champ,” Allen whined. Of course, had the Gamecocks beaten Top 10 Arkansas this past season, I doubt anyone in garnet and black would have been arguing it should be worth only half a win in the standings. And let’s note that South Carolina’s other loss was to an Auburn team that Georgia beat like a drum. Anyway, I don’t think this plan will get very far. As Charles Bloom, the SEC’s associate commissioner, told The State newspaper, “The philosophy of the league has always been that all conference games are weighted the same.”
Jim, Class of ‘84, writes: Bill, who was our great trio? Was it Worley, Henderson, and Hampton that all played together at same time? Or am I mixing up classes? I remember Vince [Dooley] having a great trio that worked well together in the ’80s. With our recruitment and commitments of [Keith] Marshall and [Todd] Gurley … I believe we need to show these guys that it can work well for them to have multiple top-notch backs at same time at UGA. Of course, hopefully this makes [Isaiah] Crowell into a better back also. There have been many teams in college that have had high quality 3 and 4 deep backs. … Let’s let these kids know they can all achieve their goals with multiple talented backs on team.
All they have to do is look at the 2011 LSU team to see what multiple tailbacks can accomplish. But, to answer your question, Tim Worley, Keith Henderson and Rodney Hampton all played together only in the 1988 season, Vince Dooley’s last. Worley led the team with over 1,200 yards rushing, Hampton topped 800 and Henderson had just over 400 and also caught quite a few passes. They were part of a great stable of backs between 1985 and 1989 that also included Lars Tate, but the Dogs never had all four playing at once. In ‘85 it was Worley as the leading rusher, followed by Henderson (who played fullback) and Tate. In ‘86, Tate led, followed by Henderson and Worley. Worley and Henderson sat out the 1987 season, which was Hampton’s freshman year, with academic problems, so that year it was just Tate and Hampton. Don’t forget, though, that the Dogs have had tailback-by-committee situations in the Mark Richt era, too. In 2006, it was Kregg Lumpkin, Danny Ware and Thomas Brown. And the next year Knowshon Moreno and Brown alternated, though a gimpy Lumpkin was not much of a factor.
Chris Morley asks: Is our No. 2 QB better than our starting QB? Should the position be open in the spring? And Clay Brisbois writes: I know one of CMR’s most endearing qualities to his players is his loyalty, but I for one hope that the QB competition is opened up again this spring. Remember that [Aaron] Murray won and kept the starting job as a freshman not so much because he earned it, but because his competition selected out. I love Murray’s heart and passion, but I don’t feel like I saw as much improvement in him over the course of these two seasons as I would have expected. With another favorable schedule this fall, it wouldn’t be too much of a risk to try a new guy out, especially considering you’d have Murray to fall back on. Let’s give [Hutson] Mason and [Christian' LeMay and even [Faton] Bauta a chance to compete this year, and hold off on any redshirting until the fall for Mason. I’d love to hear your perspective on the possibility of opening up the QB competition.
I don’t think an open competition for starting quarterback is very likely. As we discussed this week, Murray, who set a UGA single-season record for touchdown throws, ranked second in the SEC in passing (220.1 yards per game), second in total offense (229.6) and fourth in passing efficiency (146.4). Yeah, he made mistakes at some crucial times, but overall he did a good job of leading Georgia’s offense. I don’t really believe Richt had him on the field and Mason on the sideline just out of loyalty, especially in a season where his job was on the line. Murray was the best quarterback Georgia had this season. And I don’t see that changing in 2012.
Barry Morton writes: Now that the Georgia-Florida game will cost $20 more per ticket, how much is UGA going to charge us loyal season ticket holders for Buffalo, Florida Atlantic and Georgia Southern? Don’t mind a modest increase for SEC games, but how about a break on the others? By the way, any idea on how much MIssouri will cost? Oklahoma State ripped us off.
Karen Huff of the UGA athletic office says the price for single home-game tickets will be $45 this coming season, SEC or otherwise. She said they don’t yet know the price for the Florida game or any of the away games.
Roger Hoy writes: Bill, As a UGA grad who lives in Nebraska I really appreciate your columns and the AJC coverage of UGA football. As a professor at the University of Nebraska, I also follow UNL football. I was really glad that UGA and UNL did not meet in post season but I suppose with the Big Ten SEC bowl pairings, it will now happen occasionally. It has been quite a contrast the past two years watching Aaron Murray and Taylor Martinez, as freshmen and sophmores. UGA fans should be delighted to have a quaterback as cool and competent as Murray. Just watch some footage of Martinez trying to throw for comparison. One other comment: I think that fans do not appreciate how much growing takes place between freshman and senior years for college students. I am amazed how freshmen arrive at UNL as kids and leave as adults. I think that the expectations we place on players like [Isaiah] Crowell as true freshman are way too high and we all need to realize that much growing and maturation still has to take place. I expect great things from UGA next year with so many players returning. There must be some real magic on the defense especially, as I think some players did not jump to the NFL so they could see how good they really could be next year. This is a real testament to [Todd] Grantham and Richt and the defensive position coaches for the environment they have created.
You make some good points. I think it’s way too early to write off Crowell. And if Murray can get a handle on his ball-security issues, the fan qualms about quarterback should be quietened. Best of all, returning just about the entire defense should indeed be a huge factor in the 2012 season.
Rodney Brown writes: Bill, just wanted to ask a question about the use of Nick Marshall. Do you see them using him as the emergency 3rd string QB? Seeing that Mason will redshirt, I think Marshall getting more utilization is a must to keep teams honest.
If Aaron Murray, Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay all were to get hurt then, yeah, I suppose Marshall might get the call as the starting quarterback. But in the meantime it would be nice to see Georgia make more use of him on offense, and based on what happened this past season with Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith, I think that’s likely to happen.
Finally, Heath Schoenfeld of Vero Beach, Fla., writes: Good morning Bill! As always, I love to read your insight into the UGA program. I had written back in the summer and you had posted my story of finally getting season tickets and taking my twin sons (and their Gator Mom) to their first football games. I just wanted to thank you for the tips. I was able to make the 9 hour drive for 4 games this year plus the Outback Bowl here in Florida. I wanted to send you a [photo] of the boys’ first game, which was Homecoming. I thought that might be the easier game to slide out of in case my 4 year olds started acting like 4 year olds. Sure enough, we had to scoot at halftime, but the game was comfortably in hand by then! The boys even got to ring the bell on the way across campus. Thanks again and I hope to see you next fall in Athens! Go Dawgs!
Congratulations on getting them started early as Dawg fans. With a devoted fan like you as a dad, those boys will likely be wearing red and black for the rest of their lives!
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg