Archive for April, 2012

Fan talk: UGA’s football players must battle ‘soft’ reputation

Offensive lineman Cordy Glenn, just drafted by the Buffalo Bills, started 50 games for the Georgia Bulldogs. (University of Georgia)

Offensive lineman Cordy Glenn, just drafted by the Buffalo Bills, started 50 games for the Georgia Bulldogs. (University of Georgia)

Let’s jump straight into some of this week’s Junkyard Mail …

Robert Nesbitt writes: Junkyard, I heard on the [NFL] draft coverage of the 1st round something that has me hopping mad. Gil Brandt, the resident draft guru, was pontificating on why Cordy Glenn may not have been drafted. Gil indicated it is well known Georgia players do much better in the pros (than college)and that Glenn (and by association) other Bulldogs are soft in they way they play college ball. This burns me up, because the truth hurts. What are your thoughts?

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this rap on Georgia players. NFL scouts were dissing the strength and conditioning of Mark Richt’s players at least a couple of years before the head coach decided an overhall of the conditioning staff was in order. And while the team overall looked stronger last year, the …

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Major college football no longer afraid of the p-word

Finally, the national championship trophy (whatever they end up calling it) will be the result of a playoff. (Associated Press)

Finally, the national championship trophy (whatever they end up calling it) will be the result of a playoff. (Associated Press)

So, what do you think of the news that the conference chiefs finally are proposing a four-team college football playoff — and after years of shying away from the p-word they’re coming right out and calling it that?

There’s a lot still to be decided, including how the four teams will be selected, where and when the two semifinals and a championship game will be played, and what role the current BCS bowl games (Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar) will play in the new system. But it seems almost certain that with the expiration of the current BCS arrangement after the 2013 season, college football fans will at last get what they’ve wanted for so long: a playoff.

Whether they continue with the BCS name or not, the most likely outcome will be two playoff games rotating among the current BCS bowls and then the national championship game staged by the high …

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National media loves this Dawg — why don’t all UGA fans?

Sporting News ranks Aaron Murray one of the top 25 college players in the country. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Sporting News ranks Aaron Murray one of the top 25 college players in the country. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Matt Hayes of the Sporting News released his annual post-spring ranking of the top 25 players in college football, and two Georgia Bulldogs made the list, which was topped by Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley.

The first Dawg making the top 25 won’t surprise anyone: Jarvis Jones, who picked up an award as the nation’s top linebacker at the G-Day game, was ranked No. 5 on the list. The breakdown: “Disruptive edge rusher, sure tackler, defensive leader. The perfect combination.” And Hayes quotes an NFL scout as saying Jones is “the prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker. A top five [overall] guy.”

The other UGA player on the list? Aaron Murray, who some UGA fans don’t even think is the best quarterback on the team!

Hayes’ breakdown on Murray: “A fiery, tough competitor with good NFL measurables who has improved every season. Can he lead the Dawgs to a big season?” And an …

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Fan talk: G-Day surprises and the Aaron Murray ‘conspiracy’ theories

Ricky Lowe runs for a surprise touchdown during the G-Day game. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Ricky Lowe runs for a surprise touchdown during the G-Day game. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Let’s jump right into a sampling of recent Junkyard Mail …

Ken Crow writes: Bill, I really enjoy the Blawg and your down-the-middle approach to fandom. You’re not afraid to criticize when you think it’s warranted, but you remain supportive of Coach Richt and the program and don’t continually harp on the negatives. I also appreciate your obvious love for the school and your hometown of Athens. I really wanted to get to the Classic City for G-Day this year but wasn’t able to because of some family stuff. I enjoyed your report from the game and was encouraged by what you said about the quarterbacks, running backs and defense. So who surprised you most at G-Day?

Thanks, Ken. While I thought Jay Rome’s long touchdown catch-run was the highlight of the day, it wasn’t particularly surprising, as I’d expected him to do well. And I was pleasantly surprised by the play of the starting offensive line. …

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Spring practice didn’t answer Dogs’ biggest questions

Replacing the likes of Cordy Glenn on the offensive line remains a work in progress for the 2012 Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Replacing the likes of Cordy Glenn on the offensive line remains a work in progress for the 2012 Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

While Bulldogs fans did come out of G-Day reassured that the defensive front will continue to be a major Georgia strength and that prospects are encouraging at running back, backup quarterback and tight end, most of the major questions hanging over Mark Richt’s 2012 team won’t be answered until the fall.

The biggest of those uncertainties remains the rebuilding of the offensive line, because of the impact that has on other aspects of the game: running, passing, quarterback protection. While I was pleasantly surprised with how well the tentative first-team OL held up against one of the best defensive lines in the nation on G-Day, there still was inconsistency and not much depth — the second-team OL looked pretty woeful. Most observers see true freshman John Theus having a real chance to start come September if he lives up to advance billing.

On the …

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Richt: ‘You keep control of your team by disciplining your team’

Mark Richt makes a good case for how he disciplines his team. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Mark Richt makes a good case for how he disciplines his team. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Mark Richt has obviously heard the sniping out there that a rash of player suspensions on his team is somehow indicative of him not being in control of his program.

And he’s having none of it.

Richt did a good job Tuesday night at an Augusta Bulldog Club gathering of stating the case for his brand of discipline at UGA.

“A lot of people might think you may be losing control of your program because you have a lot of suspensions from the season, but the reality is that’s how you keep control of your team by disciplining your team,” the Athens Banner-Herald quoted Richt as telling the crowd of fans.

And perhaps in reference to how Urban Meyer is reported to have conducted business at Florida, Richt added: “If you notice, we’re not going to have any partiality between the kids that walk on or are starting.”

Richt noted past instances of players who had disciplinary trouble while in Athens …

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More for fans to like at G-Day than just glorious spring weather

G-Day left no doubt Hutson Mason will play if anything happens to Aaron Murray. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

G-Day left no doubt Hutson Mason will play if anything happens to Aaron Murray. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Fan expectations were low for Saturday’s G-Day game in Athens, what with some key spring story lines short-circuited by injuries to freshman tailback Keith Marshall and prospective two-way player Malcolm Mitchell. But in the end, as one of my brothers noted, it was the most enjoyable spring game we’ve seen in recent years thanks to some unexpected scoring by both the offenses and defenses.

The first half was typical for these intrasquad outings, as the Red team with the first-team offense went against the Black team with the first-team defense, resulting in a pretty even match that saw the Reds lead 10-3 at halftime.

However, with the coaches mixing it up more in the second half, the benches emptying and several players showing up on both teams, it got a lot more interesting than your typical G-Day, resulting in only a missed 2-point play preserving the Reds’ 32-31 win with …

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Oh, to be in Athens now that April’s there

Kwame Geathers was one of the stars of last year's G-Day game. (Associated Press)

Kwame Geathers was one of the stars of last year's G-Day game. (Associated Press)

To me, it doesn’t matter that the absence of some key players due to injury likely will make Saturday’s annual G-Day game even less exciting than the usual spring intrasquad meeting.

It’s still the Georgia Bulldogs suiting up Between the Hedges, and that’s enough to make G-Day a must on my sports calendar.

Saturday’s glorified scrimmage probably won’t reveal any new wrinkles — both offense and defense are usually ultra vanilla in these affairs — but Athens should be favored with glorious spring weather and seating is first come, first served, so my brothers and I usually wind up with a vantage point around the 50-yard line.

That’s where we hope to be Saturday as we watch the Red and Black teams kick off at 3 p.m.

True, this year there aren’t any really riveting G-Day story lines like the quarterback battle between Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Logan Gray two springs ago. But …

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Georgia players need to learn lesson from underachieving 2008 Dawgs

Christian Robinson believes this year's team is more mature than the Dawgs of 2008. (University of Georgia)

Christian Robinson believes this year's team is more mature than the Dawgs of 2008. (University of Georgia)

Last season, particularly after the 0-2 start, the biggest challenge for Mark Richt’s Bulldogs was blocking out all the fan and media talk about whether their head coach would keep his job.

This year, it’s a matter of the players trying to focus amid all the preseason hype about Georgia returning a lot of starters, probably starting the season in the Top 10, being favored to win the SEC East again and even figuring in some early BCS chatter.

Georgia’s been there before and it didn’t turn out so well. The 2008 Dawgs had lots of star power and even loftier preseason expectations, but proved to be a big disappointment.

Christian Robinson, who’s emerged as one of the more vocal leaders of the 2012 Bulldogs and who redshirted in 2008, told Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com that selfishness and immaturity were a problem for that team. Robinson maintained this year’s team is smarter …

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Fan talk: Looking ahead to Missouri … and LSU?

Zach Mettenberger had another good spring game ... this time for LSU. (Associated Press)

Zach Mettenberger had another good spring game … this time for LSU. (Associated Press)

Todd Grantham revealed this week that he’s already got his troops preparing for Missouri, whether they know it or not, and fans are also thinking about the trip to Columbia and beyond, as we find out when we check this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

Jon Wilhoit writes: Bill, How much fun would it be to have UGA and LSU back in the Dome for the SECCG? Murray vs. Mettenberger. Good vs. evil, and all that. Would be a lot of great conversation. Of course, if Mettenberger had the better game there would be a lot of Georgia fans second-guessing Mark Richt’s move to dismiss him — a no brainer then and now.

I’m not sure I’d quite classify it as good vs. evil, but, yeah, that would be a lot of fun. I first saw Mettenberger play when he was in high school in Oconee County and was a UGA commitment and I was impressed then with his size and arm. Then, two years ago, he outshone Aaron Murray and Logan Gray …

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