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 in the G-Day game, only to wind up being dismissed from the team by Richt shortly after that because of his own poor decision-making off the field. As Artie Lynch, who caught a 39-yard scoring strike from Mettenberger in that G-Day game, put it: “The kid’s been gifted with an NFL arm and NFL size.” Mettenberger reportedly had a strong day in LSU’s spring game last week, completing 14 of 25 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns after getting off to a slow start. More notably, he allowed LSU’s offense to stretch the field in a way they haven’t been able to do over the past couple of years, completing four passes of 32 yards or more, including a 49-yard scoring strike. Having him start against his old team would be a great storyline, especially since he and Murray used to be roommates at UGA and are still friends, so I’m sure a lot of media types will be rooting for Georgia and LSU to have a rematch in Atlanta this year.
Scott writes: Hey Bill, Love your column and great insight. Like a lot of Dawg fans I’m sweating the trip to Missouri. It’s scary with the departures and suspensions in the defensive backfield going up against Missouri and its pass attack and their new receiver. However, it occured to me the other day maybe Mizzou will really want to test the Dawgs deep, which will give more time for the Dawgs’ pass rush to get to the QB. What do you think about that idea?
Assuming that Mizzou QB James Franklin is fully recovered from recent shoulder surgery in time for the game with Georgia (which the Missouri coaching staff officially believes is likely but some other observers think may be questionable), he might indeed test a Dogs secondary that will be missing some starters. But I think you’re right that Jarvis Jones and company are likely to give Franklin fits. And from what I saw of Missouri last season, I frankly doubt their defense is going to be of SEC caliber right away. So while that game looks like a bit of an early challenge for UGA, I don’t believe the Bulldog Nation needs to be shaking in its collective boots just yet. (A few more suspensions of key players and I’d be willing to revisit that opinion.)
Bailey Carter writes: So much is being made of some of the Dawgs supposedly flunking tests for marijuana use after spring break, which drives me crazy. If the UGA student body as a whole had been tested the week after spring break, what do you reckon the failure rate would have been? At least half, I’d say. Why are they even testing for pot use? It’s not like it’s a performance-enhancing drug!
The overall mandate for strict anti-drug policies at UGA — including drug-testing and harsher penalties than at other SEC schools for the athletic program — comes from the top. Faced with some high profile incidents and a growing party school image, President Michael Adams decided a crackdown on drug use at the university was in order a few years ago. I agree with you that perhaps marijuana use shouldn’t be something football coaches have to worry about, but the rule’s in place and the players know it and were warned not to get out of line during spring break. So if they got caught, it’s their own fault.
Monty Kennedy writes: So the Gators’ A.C. Leonard drags his girlfriend out of his apartment by her hair and took a nolo plea on a misdemeanor battery charge, and Will Muschamp still hasn’t decided whether he’s going to suspend him from any games. Meanwhile, Sanders Commings was only accused of pushing his girlfriend (and even that was disputed) and hadn’t even had his day in court but Mark Richt went ahead and suspended him for two games. What’s wrong with this picture?
In a completely fair world, UF and UGA would have the same sorts of punishments for similar infractions. But that’s not the world we live in. I have to say, though, if I were allowed to choose which coach and which approach to punishment I’d prefer to have, I’d stick with Richt, who’s not afraid to bench a starter for behavior he deems inappropriate. That’s something that has proved all too rare in recent years in Gainesville.
Jim Parry writes: I’d hate to see the promise of our 2012 season slip away before summer and fall camp arrives. Where are all the so-called upperclassmen leaders I’ve been reading about on this team this year? I love our Dawgs and remain optimistic, but this is starting to bring me down (and BTW, I support Coach Richt 100% — I’m in no way wanting anyone to blame him or call for his job over these off field issues). Also, a quick question on the viability of school presidents of SEC and other conferences developing an equal policy for drug tests and punishments. I love that UGA has higher standards than most every school in its discipline policies. But wouldn’t it be fair if other schools raised their standards to at least UGA’s level? It certainly would be nice to bring out in the open other schools’ violators and point out the hypocrisy of UGA haters and their schools.
And Eddie Whitaker writes: Hey Bill, Where is our senior leadership? I swear, every year is the same drill with arrests, suspensions. I know this is “broken record” stuff … but if I were a senior on this team, I swear I would go ballistic on these idiots!!!!!!
I agree that it would be more fair if all SEC schools had the same rules on punishments, particularly for common violations like failing drug tests, but I don’t think that’s very likely to happen unless the NCAA gets involved. As for senior leadership, well, maybe this current group is a bit lacking in that department. After all, Branden Smith is a senior and he’s been suspended. Ditto Bacarri Rambo. But there are seniors among the more vocal team leaders, including linebacker Christian Robinson and defensive end Cornelius Washington, and I’m hopeful they’ll have some serious come-to-Jesus moments with their teammates. Like I’ve said before, the coaches can’t be with these kids 24 hours a day. But in college peer pressure still carries considerable weight, especially in a team setting. Robinson has already said that after spring practice “we’ll definitely sit down as a group and lay down what our expectations are as far as holding each other accountable.” As he notes, “We have such a great opportunity. We don’t want to throw it away.” And as Washington put it: “You’ve just got to bring the guys in and tell them, ‘Look, you’ve got to eliminate the outside distractions and focus in on what’s most important, which is try to get to Miami next year.’”
Don Joel writes: If you take a look at five major sports at UGA — football, men and women’s basketball, baseball and gymnastics — only the latter has produced consistently with championships. And that’s one major reason why our program generally, excluding all teams but the above, is a trainwreck. Yes, I am aware of the SEC Championship game last year. I saw LSU devour us with 45 straight points, too. And it is my thinking that we have to win the SEC next fall — have to — because there is little opposition except for USC, maybe Florida in the schedule. Our schedule is a joke and I think encourages fans to think we’re a Top 5 team. Against Boise State, South Carolina, LSU and Michigan State (MICHIGAN STATE????) we were 0-4. Wow.
Remind me to ask Greg McGarity not to hire you as a motivational speaker. I’ll grant you that the football Dawgs’ 10-win run last season can’t disguise the fact that they lost to the four best teams they played, but winning the SEC East is the first step in any championship run and they accomplished that. Men’s basketball is admittedly an up-and-down affair at UGA, but while Andy Landers’ Lady Dogs haven’t won any championships lately, they still play at a fairly consistently high level. The Diamond Dogs have had a few off seasons but have also been pretty regular at making the NCAA tournament and it hasn’t been that long since they played for the national championship. The Gym Dogs might have fallen off from the pace of the Suzanne Yoculan era, but they’re still an elite program. Yes, there’s certainly lots of room for improvement, but I hardly think UGA’s athletic programs as a whole can be characterized as a “trainwreck.”
Lee Kennedy writes: Bill, I, like much of Bulldawg Nation, have not been a big fan of all of the “special” uniforms we have tried in the last few years. However, there is one uniform option that I have long thought would be a nice change of pace. For the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, I think it would be cool for both UGA and Auburn to wear throwback uniforms. I think this would be a “change” that the old timer die-hard fans could still appreciate, as well as the newer generations of fans. Also, it would help remind us all (especially the SEC scheduling department) of what a great and storied rivalry this is. What do you think?
I kind of like the idea of retro uniforms for Georgia-Auburn, and certainly many other schools have tried them. But I think one of the main reasons schools go retro is to spark replica sales, and that might be one reason UGA hasn’t gone at route so far. Aside from a plainer red jersey and silver britches, the most distinguishing element of a true retro UGA uniform would be the silver helmet, which wouldn’t feature the familiar “G” and thus would be less marketable. During the years after leather helmets gave way to hard ones, but before Vince Dooley introduced the red helmet the Dawgs still wear, the UGA helmet was usually plain silver (except in three games during the 1962 season when they affixed a square block G to the sides). I don’t know if the UGA Bookstore could sell many of those. Still, I’d love to see the old silver lids revived for a special retro game. And Georgia-Auburn seems like a great occasion for it. What do the rest of you think?
Ashley Sammartino writes: What are your thoughts on the possibility of Hines Ward to UGA? Good fit or not enough experience yet?
Ward’s years in the NFL might not equate exactly to coaching experience, but UGA has certainly hired assistants in the past who don’t have much on their resume (I’m thinking running backs coach Bryan McClendon). And Ward’s playing experience surely has taught him valuable lessons that he could impart to Georgia players. If he really wants to move straight into coaching, I think he’d be a valuable addition to UGA’s staff (assuming there was an opening). But I have a feeling Hines is more likely to show up in a broadcast booth before he winds up in coaching. Still, as he said after a recent visit to a Georgia practice, “I think I have a lot to give back to my alma mater and I want to see the Georgia Bulldogs win a national championship. So any experience or knowledge I can give to the football team to help them to get to that goal, so be it.” Go Hines!
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg