Archive for March, 2012

Fan talk: Should Georgia and Clemson meet more often in football?

Georgia-ClemsonMark Richt’s Bulldogs hold their first scrimmage of the spring Saturday, and Saturday is also the deadline for Hartman Fund contributors to get their football season ticket orders in. If you’re sending it in by snail mail, it has to be postmarked March 31. Or you can order online here.

Meanwhile, the uncertainty hanging over the Georgia-Clemson series in 2013-14 as the ACC goes to a nine-game conference schedule appears to have lifted.

After telling 790 The Zone this week that he was optimistic the games would be played, Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips (and doesn’t that sound like the perfect name for a Clempson AD?) was a bit more emphatic talking Friday to TigerNet.com. “Bottom line is this: We are going to play Georgia,” Phillips told the site. “I can’t tell you how we are going to put all of the pieces together, but we are going to play Georgia in 2013 here and in 2014 we are going to Athens. We’re committed to the Georgia series.”

Phillips went on to …

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Some thoughts on UGA suspensions, funny brownies and connecting the dots

Bacarri Rambo seems to have the worst luck when it comes to snack choices. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Bacarri Rambo seems to have the worst luck when it comes to snack choices. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Mark Richt’s Bulldogs entered the spring appearing to have many things breaking their way for the coming season, what with a favorable schedule and a bunch of starters returning, especially on defense. And yet some of those veteran players seem determined to take hold of opportunity with both hands … and chuck it out the window.

While Richt declined Thursday to confirm what’s up with Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree, there’ve been widespread reports that the two players will be suspended several games for “violations of team rules,” which is pretty well understood now to be official code for having failed a drug test.

(If there are any other kinds of rules being violated by UGA players, perhaps Richt and company should come up with new terminology since everyone’s going to think “failed drug test” from now on when they hear that phrase.)

Rambo previously was suspended for a game …

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Dogs continue spring experiments (UPDATED)

Aside from Kenarious Gates, the offensive line is still a big question mark. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Aside from Kenarious Gates, the offensive line is still a big question mark. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Some of the things you hear out of spring practice are reassuring — the defense is looking sharp, Isaiah Crowell seems more mature.

And then there are the spring experiments, which are more of a mixed bag.

I don’t think there was much doubt going in that Malcolm Mitchell can help the defense at cornerback, and the word this week that Richard Samuel is indeed cross-training at fullback makes sense. It’s a position where Georgia doesn’t have enough depth, while there are more than enough tailbacks.

I’m less sanguine about the fact that Kenarious Gates is the only offensive line player who has stood out to date and coach Will Friend is still shuffling people around, trying to find his best potential starting five.

David Andrews was expected to be first choice at center, but Friend is giving Dallas Lee a try there this week. Watts Dantzler started out as the lead right tackle, but …

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Fan talk: Will UGA keep on rolling as Tight End U?

Artie Lynch is big ... and grumpy! (University of Georgia)

Artie Lynch is big … and grumpy! (University of Georgia)

Spring practice shifts into high gear Saturday as the Dogs put on full pads for the first time. This is when the serious hitting starts and the competition for starting jobs really heats up. Speaking of which, a reader has a question about one of the more interesting spring battles as we dip into some of this week’s Junkyard Mail …

Poposhandarius writes: How are the tight ends looking? Will Lynch and Jay Rome be splitting snaps?

A lot of folks might have assumed that Rome will ascend to the starting spot this season since he was ESPN’s top-rated tight end prospect when he signed last year with Georgia (sometimes known as Tight End U). Rome redshirted last year and spent time on the basketball team. But towering New England Yankee Artie Lynch, a redshirt junior who has waited his turn behind Orson Charles and Aron White, isn’t going to step out of the way. Lynch told The Red and Black: “My goal is to be the starting …

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Dogs’ defense dominating so far … just like it should

Todd Grantham's defense dominated the offense Thursday, which should surprise no one. (Associated Press)

Todd Grantham's defense dominated the offense Thursday, which should surprise no one. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt said the Georgia defense dominated in the first day of competitive drills at spring practice, which should surprise … no one.

The shock would have been if Todd Grantham’s defense, returning nine starters from a team that ranked fifth nationally in total defense last season, wasn’t dominating early on.

After all, not only has the defense taken away one of the offense’s biggest weapons this spring in Malcolm Mitchell, but there’s a whole lot more that needs doing on the offensive side, what with rebuilding a line that lost three starters and getting the running game back on track.

Plus, as Aaron Murray noted to The Red and Black after the scoring of Thursday’s practice went to the defense, “Only a small portion of our offense is [installed], so we’ve got a long way to go, a lot of work to do. I’m not worried. I’m very encouraged with what we’ve done the first three …

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Whether it was the Steelers or UGA, rooting for Hines Ward is a family tradition

Hines Ward announces his retirement from the Steelers. (Associated Press)

Hines Ward announces his retirement from the Steelers. (Associated Press)

My 18-year-old daughter told me last night she was sad over the retirement of her favorite Pittsburgh Steeler, Hines Ward.

Olivia had become quite a Steelers fan over the past couple of years, primarily because of Ward (and in spite of Ben Roethlisberger), and frequently watched their games on TV. Ward has quite a following among her age group thanks to his stint last year as the charming guy with the infectious smile who won “Dancing With the Stars.”

But my daughter’s Ward fandom is really just carrying on a family tradition that goes back to when she was just a baby and her older brother and Dad were following the exploits of one of the Georgia Bulldogs’ most versatile players ever. My son Bill has a photo of himself posing with Hines on the field at Sanford Stadium before an August scrimmage and on the wall of his old room there’s a picture of Hines in the black britches from that win over Wisconsin …

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Losing a legend: Furman Bisher

Furman Bisher (AJC file)

Furman Bisher (AJC file)

It’s the end of a era in sports journalism with the loss of Furman Bisher.

I grew up reading his column in the afternoon Journal, which I delivered in Athens, and always watched the Sunday football season TV show he hosted with other Atlanta sportswriters. The man who hired me straight out of college, Jim Minter, was one of the regulars on that show.

Years later, after starting out on the morning Constitution (as did Furman), I switched over to the afternoon cycle and spent quite a few years on the Journal, which was Furman’s newspaper home for so many decades. I once mentioned him to a friend in New Jersey, and my friend knew Bisher from his work in the Sporting News.

I didn’t work with Furman directly but always got a kick out of seeing him in the newsroom, usually grousing about something. One time he got on the elevator with me and was fussing and fuming about something. Then he looked up at me and winked. Like he was saying, “I have to keep up my …

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Fan talk: Burning questions for spring, ending the Dogs-Jackets rivalry and more!

Getting Isaiah Crowell back on track is a top priority for UGA. (Associated Press)

Getting Isaiah Crowell back on track is a top priority for UGA. (Associated Press)

If your bracket’s already broken, perhaps some spring football is just what you need! Mark Richt’s Bulldogs begin practice Tuesday and will hold 15 practices over a four-week period, winding up with the annual intrasquad G-Day Game at 3 p.m. April 14 at Sanford Stadium. If you’d like to check out the 2012 roster and other tidbits about the team, you can find the 2012 Spring Media Guide online here.

Now, let’s dip into some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

Ricky Pepper writes: Bill, it’s that time when all the sportswriters are trotting out their “burning questions” for the spring, so what do you think are the burning questions facing Mark Richt and his team? Mine mainly concern the running game and depth in the secondary.

I think you’re on the mark, Ricky. Boosting the running game is indeed a major item on Richt’s 2012 to-do list, and that involves not just seeing whether the addition of …

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Early projection for season sees Dawgs standing pat

sec-pinwheel-logojpg-f806e20b1171f261RPI pioneer and BCS expert Jerry Palm came out with his ridiculously early bowl projections this week for CBSsports.com.

Palm has LSU winning the SEC championship and meeting Southern Cal in the BCS Championship game. With the SEC champ headed to the national title game, he sees the Sugar Bowl taking Alabama to play West Virginia of the Big 12 rather than the SEC runner-up, which he once again predicts will be Georgia. He has the Dogs playing Big 10 runner-up Nebraska in the Capitol One Bowl in Orlando.

So obviously he sees Georgia losing to LSU again in the conference championship.

(Some of you might ask, if the SEC champ normally goes to the Sugar Bowl and instead goes to the BCS, why wouldn’t the No. 2 team in the conference take their place in the Sugar? Because that’s not the way the bowls work! The loser of the SEC championship game usually doesn’t get a BCS bid because they’re usually not the second highest-ranked conference team in the polls.)

Palm has 10 of the SEC’s …

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There just may be a silver lining in Dogs’ secondary scramble

Malcolm Mitchell may wind up a bigger star on defense than he was on offense. (Associated Press)

Malcolm Mitchell may wind up a bigger star on defense than he was on offense. (Associated Press)

UGA had intended Monday’s press gathering with Mark Richt to mainly be about Richt and Todd Grantham’s already expected contract extensions and a look ahead to spring practice, opening March 20.

Unfortunately, the spring break trouble bug bit early, resulting in starting cornerback Branden Smith getting busted for pot in Alabama. Thanks to Georgia’s policy on such things, he’ll miss at least the opening game and possibly the Missouri game as well. With Sanders Commings already suspended for those games and depth problems resulting from dismissals and transfers, suddenly the previously somewhat casual Malcolm-Mitchell-to-defense spring experiment has turned into possibly a career-changer for the rising sophomore wide receiver.

As it stands now, Richt said, Georgia’s top offensive playmaker from last year will be a full-time cornerback in the spring and probably to start the …

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