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 competition from Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley (when he arrives in the fall) spurs some mental and physical toughness on the part of Isaiah Crowell, but also how good a job Will Friend does replacing three starters on what was already an inconsistent offensive line. If Friend’s able to get improved OL play, that’ll also help Aaron Murray. And with two starters likely out for the first couple of games, developing some depth in the secondary is definitely the biggest task awaiting Todd Grantham’s defensive staff. Along those lines, a lot will be riding on how well Malcolm Mitchell handles a potential two-way role. Plus, there’s interest in seeing how Christian LeMay looks at backup QB after his redshirt year. And then there’s the need to revamp special teams, which thankfully appears to be a high priority with Richt this year, and not just because Georgia has to replace the starting punter and placekicker. I was encouraged that the head coach said recently that he’d brought in several NFL coaches to talk about special teams strategies and practices and that the Dawgs will devote more time to that this spring. And I like that he’s talking about loading up special teams with starters, though I think (hope) he was joking when he said he even told Murray “he may be covering kicks.”
VidaliaDawg writes: I was interested to see a discussion on one of the Nerds’ bulletin boards about whether Georgia Tech would be better off ending its every-year series in football with UGA. It appears some of their fan base, mainly younger ones, thinks Georgia has too many advantages in recruiting and the Jackets will never be able to get the rivalry back on an even keel, while the older GT fans can’t imagine not playing Georgia. Others said they want to keep playing Georgia but would rather it not be at the end of the season. Labor Day was mentioned as a good time for the two schools to play. I mentioned this to some of my UGA friends and they surprised me by saying they don’t consider the in-state rivalry a must any more and would rather give up Tech as a yearly rival than Auburn. Georgia not play Tech? That makes no sense to me! What’s your take on this?
I’m with you. I know some fans of both schools think the rivalry is not what it used to be, but for the most part in recent years the games have been close, exciting affairs, even if Georgia has won most of them, and the rivalry between the two schools is one of the most storied in college athletics. On the subject of moving the game, I know that has come up occasionally in recent years with the rise of conference championship games, but I don’t think that’s really a major problem. I can see how having the two schools open their seasons against each other might please the TV folks, but I really prefer to keep it as the regular season finale. As for having to drop either the Georgia-Georgia Tech or Georgia-Auburn rivalry, that’s a tough choice I hope UGA never has to make.
Justin Cade writes: Bill, As we all know, Rodney Garner is Georgia’s recruiting coordinator. However, I’ve noticed that most signees cite their relationships with Coaches Bobo, Grantham and/or Richt as being instrumental in their decision to sign with the Dawgs. Coach Garner’s name is hardly ever brought up unless it’s by a defensive lineman. I’m not suggesting that Coach Garner is doing a bad job, but rather just wondering what exactly his position as recruiting coordinator entails. Any idea?
From what I understand, the assistant coaches are the primary recruiter in their own area and Garner, as the coordinator (since 1998), simply oversees it all. If one coach is going to be considered the “point man” overall in recruiting, it’s Richt. He’s generally the one who closes the deal with recruits’ families.
Michael Foster writes: Which Dream Team members who were freshmen last year do you think will have the biggest impacts? I know Ray Drew’s name has been completely drowned out by the success of Jarvis Jones and the emergence of Cornelius Washington as a sure starter. When and how often will we see Drew? And Artie Lynch is projected to start at tight end. Is it realistic to think Jay Rome won’t see more than 50-50 playing time this year?
I’ll be surprised if both Ray Drew and Jay Rome don’t see considerable playing time this year, though I think perhaps Drew stands to see more reps early on. Of the other second-year Dream Teamers, everyone, of course, is hoping Crowell matures into the superb, game-changing back he showed flashes of last season (and that he manages to stay on the field more than last year). John Jenkins should have a big year on the defensive line and on the OL David Andrews may wind up as the starting center and Watts Danztler likely will see quite a bit of playing time. Mitchell will be a big performer, splitting time between offense and defense, and with Malcolm playing two ways Chris Conley might see more balls thrown his way.
Steve in Roswell writes: If you haven’t already done it, rank the games this year in order of difficulty. Personally I’m thinking the Mizzou road game Sept. 8th may be the toughest this season, but it would be interesting to read your perspective.
It’s kind of early to be handicapping the season, but at this point I’d say South Carolina definitely looks like the toughest game. Because Missouri is the conference opener and Georgia will be missing a couple of starters, that road trip could be the next toughest game. Florida in Jacksonville is always a challenge. After that, I’d say Auburn, Tech and Vandy would be the next toughest remaining games, with Tennessee possibly creeping into that group depending on how they do early in the season.
Norman Jones writes: Bill; I sat down in front of you (Row 46) for 36 years till I gave them up last year. Having to park futher and futher away, expense, and other interests finally got me to reluctantly let them go. I’m about your age and wondered what you think about these young bloggers who demand we challenge for a national championship every year and want Mark’s head otherwise. I want to win as much as anybody, but at what cost? We saw Vince field a few weak teams, but he always got us back on top and did it the right way. I think we have a coach now that is probably the envy of 90 percent of D-1 programs. I feel so lucky to have a coach who is such a class act that good kids want to come to Athens to play for. The what-have-you done-for-me-lately crowd drive me nuts, especially when they don’t have nearly the financial investment in the program us old timers do. Thanks for letting me vent.
I think those who were calling for Richt to be replaced after a couple of disappointing seasons should look at what has happened in Knoxville since Phil Fulmer was deposed.
Got something on your mind concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg