Georgia and Georgia Tech will meet again in football Saturday in Athens — sort of.
Brett Johnson and Paul Floyd of UGA’s Redcoat Band tell me that the Redcoats’ football team will be playing something called the White Team, an unofficial aggregation allegedly consisting of band members from that school on North Avenue, at noon Saturday at Southeast Clarke Park, 4440 Lexington Road in Athens.
Just in case you might be one of those folks who mistakenly considers the members of the band to be anything less than gung-ho iron men, you should know that they play full-contact tackle football and, Brett noted, like rugby, “the only padding is a mouthpiece and hopefully forgiving grass.”
Sounds like the sandlot games my brothers and I used to love playing with our friends when we were kids (only we didn’t even bother with the mouthpieces).
Saturday’s game, dubbed Band Bowl III, is the third annual clash since the series was revived after an undertermined number of years off (no one recalls exactly). The Wreck won 28-7 in Athens in 2010 and the Redcoats took a 14-7 victory last year in Atlanta, so this is the rubber match of the current series.
Brett said that “because of the unpolished enthusiasm of both rosters, the teams lean heavy on solid running games and sound defense. This produces old-school football in an authentic form. A nuanced part of the in-state rivalry, the passion for the game outweighs the hatred between the two squads who shared a few laughs after last year’s hard fought game.”
Among the highlights of last year’s game were a successful Redcoats goal line stand led by since-graduated defensive tackle and sousaphone player Nathan Lawrence and a deep fade caught by sophomore saxophone player Carl Schmidt. The game is played by NCAA rules and is officiated by volunteer intramural officials. The clock is run flag football-style, meaning four 15-minute quarters and a 15-minute halftime. There are no goal posts, so no field goals. Extra points are decided NFL Blitz-style — you can choose a “free” extra point or try for 2 from the 3-yard line. The ball is put into play from the 40-yard line with either a kick from a tee or a punt. There is no rushing of a punt. All special teams plays are two-hand touch for safety purposes. All other plays are live, tackle football.
Sounds like a lot of fun. If you see this in time and are in the vicinity of Southeast Clarke Park, stop by to cheer on the Red and Black and get a taste of football a bit like the way it started out in early gridiron days.
Now, let’s get to some Junkyard Mail …
Jim Parry writes: Bill, It’s disgusting how conferences are throwing traditions out the window on what seems to be a daily basis. The SEC schools thrive on tradition. Our alumni and fans (at least ones over 25) are as stubborn (in the best way possible) as they come to changes. From uniforms and cheers, all the way to scheduling. I will find it very sad if the oldest rivalry in the South [Georgia-Auburn] comes to an end as an annual series. The SEC stands out on top, with only a couple other conferences that try to hold on to most of their traditions. Heck, too many like the Big (L)East never had any traditions, and look at them now.
You’re preaching to the choir with me, Jim. Having to discontinue Georgia-Auburn and Alabama-Tennessee would be pretty major collateral damage in exchange for adding Missouri and Texas A&M to the conference. Especially if it’s done just to avoid adding a ninth conference game. But those nonconference cupcake games are moneymakers and that’s what rules in the $EC.
Mark D. writes: I read this week that Coach [Todd] Grantham has that NFL mentality, that he wants his starters to play for the entire game if they can. The obvious upside to that is that he’s playing at all cylinders till the closing whistle. But isn’t there an obvious downside? Unlike in the NFL, where even the bench players already have a lot of experience under their belts, the underclassmen at the college level are still young guys trying to learn and develop. Isn’t Coach Grantham doing the future defense a disservice by not giving the second- and third-string players a chance to gain experience and development? On the same token, last season exposed another serious downside to Coach Grantham’s philosophy. Whenever teams started playing under a quick gun, no-huddle offense, our D-line got gassed so quickly. Isn’t Grantham’s personnel scheme placing dangerously heavy reliance on a select few players?
While Grantham likes his starters to play as much as possible, backups did get playing time this past season. But you make a good point, especially about giving younger players game experience. It’s an argument that proponents of guaranteed playing time for the backup quarterback have made as well. If Aaron Murray takes all the meaningful snaps at QB, an injury to him is going to mean a dramatic drop-off in game experience when the second-stringer takes over. For some reason, though, Mark Richt and Mike Bobo turned the page on that approach after the David Greene-D.J. Shockley era was over.
Daniel Colding writes: Hey Junkyard Dude, I am a bigtime UGA Fan. How many more Recruits do you thing UGA will sign for 2012 and who? What about the 6′7″ 350 lb. O-lineman Claudyson Calixte from the College of Sequoyas? I see on ESPN.com he is considering us. I would love for them to add a couple more bigguns on the O-line. Thanks, man.
Junkyard Dude is no recruiting guru, but from what I read most of those who follow that aspect of the game closely expect UGA to add a few names to the 2012 signing class before the season starts. In particular, DawgNation reports Fehoko Fanaika, a top JUCO offensive lineman at College of San Mateo in California, is getting a close look by Georgia. And defensive back/athlete Mario Alford, a real speedster, of Georgia Military College in Milledgeville is another player who might wind up in Athens before very long. Oh, and Dude, you’re welcome!
Bilbo700 writes: Bill, Two things about the debate among fans about Mike Bobo’s value to the UGA program really bother me, irrespective of how I personally feel about him. First, I often hear fans defend his performance by saying things like, “Bobo didn’t throw that interception” or “it’s not his fault the back fumbled in the red zone.” I think as the OC, Bobo is at least indirectly responsible for everything his offense does, and logically, if Bobo can’t be blamed for terrible execution, he also shouldn’t be credited for exceptional execution — Bobo also doesn’t make one-handed catches or break tackles. Second, I often hear that Bobo is an exceptional recruiter — he very well may be a standout in what has become a very competitive enterprise. But with some of the inherent advantages UGA has in recruiting (only in-state recruiting powerhouse, only in-state SEC school, enormous local talent pool, proximity to Atlanta, solid academics, track record of sending players to NFL, strong fanbase, and even popular uniforms), I’m not totally convinced Bobo deserves all the credit he gets for recruiting. Do we really believe having a different OC, who would likely have a more impressive resume and better name recognition, would hurt us substantially in recruiting? I’m curious to get your (and your readers’) thoughts.
I’ll grant you that the argument about coaches taking the blame/credit for what happens on the field cuts both ways, though perhaps the position coaches figure more directly in that than the offensive coordinator. (Of course, Bobo is also the quarterbacks coach, so give him the credit or blame there.) But while you’re correct about UGA having a lot of positives that attract recruits, I don’t it’s accurate to say that the big-name signees Bobo has been credited with landing would have come to Athens no matter who was recruiting them. Too many players on signing day cite the personal relationships they forge with the coaches recruiting them for that to be the case.
Andrew Smith writes: Hi Bill, I’ve been contemplating UGA’s tendencies when favored. When reminiscing on past seasons I find myself more comfortable with and even relishing being the underdawg rather than the anticipated favorite. It has seemed as though the Dawg coaches and players feel the same. In your opinion, will the 2012 Dawgs be able to take care of business when favored?
While most coaches (though not necessarily the players) would rather enter a game as the underdog, I believe the only time Georgia was favored during the 2011 season and didn’t win was the bowl game against Michigan State. In the losses to Boise State, South Carolina and LSU, the opponent was favored. So I don’t believe you can say that the Dogs can’t handle playing as the favorite.
Seth Ford writes: Dear Bill, Thank you for your dedicated insight into all things Georgia! Am I the only fan frustrated with Aaron Murray’s receiver selection? Aside from the rare fullback or tailback screens (which were commonly executed poorly and/or defended well), I rarely saw him resort to a screen or short pass to the flat. Particularly with [Brandon[ Boykin or [Branden] Smith in the backfield, it was amazing how much space the opposing defenses would give those guys as they ran to the flat — probably because they knew we never throw to them! Murray never even looked their way, opting more often than not to force a ball downfield to a triple-covered Orson Charles than give the open back a chance to make a play in space. Five-yard passes can get you 20 yards as much as a 20-yard pass can! I see David Greene’s ability and willingness to use these short passes in key situations as a big reason he had the success he did. Keeping the defense honest in these areas of the field would probably open other things up, too! Your thoughts?
I’m with you on this. I think reading defenses and going more quickly to the second and third receivers instead of trying to force a play to the primary receiver is one of the areas where Murray needs to make the greatest improvement.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg