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 fourth-quarter fade in the bowl game showed there’s still room for improvement in that regard. Of course, Georgia has still had 57 draft picks in the past 10 years (tops in the SEC), though the rate has fallen off somewhat in the past five years. Still, I’m not sure Brandt’s citing of the Dawgs’ reputation around the league for being “soft” was really at play in Glenn not getting drafted until the Bills took him in the 41st spot in the second round. There was some talk about him occasionally showing lazy technique, plus there probably were questions about his weight (somewhere in the vicinity of 345), though he’s shown himself to be remarkably quick for a big man. More likely there were questions about his suitability at tackle, since he was a guard for 32 of his 50 starts at UGA. Still, those 50 starts for a team playing in the SEC (tying Clint Boling’s record for a UGA offensive lineman) belie the “soft” tag and it should be noted that another draft guru, Jon Gruden, professed himself “shocked” that Glenn was still available in the second round. “I thought he was a legitimate first rounder. He’s handled consistently SEC competition,” Gruden said. But back to your overall point: Joe Tereshinski has only had one season to turn things around in the strength and conditioning department. It’ll take some demonstrable improvement there to get rid of the Dogs’ previous reputation among NFL types.

Terry Lively writes: Bill, I appreciate your insights. I just have to ask: Why do you think the Dawgs consistently struggle in recruiting the offensive line position? This is prompted by the most recent “should have had him” in Max Garcia. We have the need, we have the skill players and we have the offensive style (allegedly) that should make it attractive for MANY linemen, yet we always seem to lose way more than we win. Take Garcia — wanted to be closer to home, an OT (and Lord knows we need them), and we were his leader at least at one point … but we lost him. Tell me where I’m off in my assessment or why you think we are always lagging at that position. And by the way, yes I know it’s a long way to signing day, but we seem to say that every year down the stretch but don’t close well in this area, and right now out of 15 commitments we have ONE OL on the board. It just doesn’t make sense given the opportunity in Athens.

We all know the offensive line has been a weak point for Richt’s program in recent years and recruiting no doubt lies at the heart of that. Of course, Will Friend is only in his second year as OL coach but, yeah, letting Maryland transfer Max Garcia slip away falls on him. The Georgia native left the Terps because he wanted to play closer to home and listed Georgia as his favorite early on. You can’t say Georgia doesn’t ever get quality OL players, though. John Theus, who’ll join the team this summer, is a highly touted five-star signee. And while three-star tackle Aulden Bynum is currently the only offensive lineman committed to Georgia in the 2013 class, recruiting experts see the Dogs having a good shot at quite a few others, including five-star player Laremy Tunsil. The Dawgs are considered likely to sign several tackles and another center and guard or two. I’m not ready to write off Georgia’s OL recruiting just on the basis of not snagging Garcia.

Steve Yearta writes: First, I thought that we should be as good as last year; maybe [Aaron] Murray will make it through the season without throwing pick 6’s at inopportune times; the running back corps will be vastly improved; and the OL and special teams probably won’t be any worse; and we’ll wind up winning 10 and losing 3. Now, however, I’ve drifted to: the offensive line will not be, even with the starters healthy, a strength and if, heaven forbid, injuries occur, it will be a struggle to have any consistency; no, [Murray] hasn’t beaten a good team yet, and I have great concern about his effectiveness and health if the OL is ineffective; and considering the lack of attention to special teams under this regime who knows what will happen there? Obviously, my concerns are with the offense and special teams. I think the defensive line and backers are excellent and can probably cover up some deficiencies in the defensive backfield. I wouldn’t be surprised if we wound up losing 1 game or 5. Just too hard to read this team. Thanks for your blog!

You’re right that on first blush it’s easy to think that in 2012 Georgia should at the very least repeat as SEC East champ and perhaps be a bit better than the 2011 team. But, as you correctly note, there are a lot of questions still to be answered. As I’ve made clear here, Murray isn’t among my primary worries. I’m much more concerned about the offensive line and whether it will allow our impressive stable of tailbacks to get anything going. And, as you noted, there’s a huge question mark hanging over special teams play. Until we see how the freshman specialists perform and whether the offseason tinkering improves kick coverage, that must remain on the list of the Dogs’ major liabilities.

Will competition from new running backs provide a spark for Isaiah Crowell? (Associated Press)

Will competition from new running backs provide a spark for Isaiah Crowell? (Associated Press)

On a more positive note, Jerry Cochran writes: Bill, I truly believe Mark Richt’s team this year has a chance to be special. I know the offensive line has to be rebuilt and we’re going to be missing some starters in the secondary against Missouri, but I really feel Aaron Murray is about to come into his own and I’m just plain excited by the prospects in the running game. I think the addition of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley is going to spark Isaiah Crowell to fully live up to his potential and give Georgia the kind of versatility in the running game that LSU showed this past season. Am I being overly optimistic?

A lot depends on how the OL develops, in terms of both Murray’s progression at QB and the running game, but if that unit can gel before the South Carolina game, Georgia’s defense plays up to its considerable capabilities and the aforementioned special teams situation stablizes, the 2012 Dawgs certainly could be a Top 5 team.

Got something on your mind concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

466 comments Add your comment

Joey

April 28th, 2012
11:00 am

Pago Pago Dawg

April 28th, 2012
11:01 am

UGA a Top Five team?! Come on….

EastRomeDawg

April 28th, 2012
11:02 am

Could it be??

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
11:06 am

No, Murray will not suddenly get better this year. Murray had the most experienced o-line in 2010, went 6 wins & 7 losses. Had the biggest o-line in 2011. Both times Murray got sacked 25-34 times, and threw 8-14 interceptions.

It’s hard to recruit top o-linemen when your sacks are so high, and your running game is so bad, those are not the 2 things NFL scouts are looking for. So until UGA turns this around, in other words, until Murray leaves, don’t expect this to change.

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
11:09 am

The rush game did get 20% more productive vs. ranked teams, but Murray’s interceptions against ranked teams doubled, so there’s no link there, also, in the South Carolina game team ran for 200+ yards, still lost, keep dreaming though.

Destin Dawg

April 28th, 2012
11:14 am

THYE HAVE LOOKED FAT AND OUT OF SHAPE.. LAST COUPLE YEARS.. 4TH QTR. FADE !!

AltamahaDawg

April 28th, 2012
11:15 am

I read that 3 times and still have no idea what steve was trying to say there. If they play well, they will be good, if not, they won’t?

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
11:19 am

The o-line could play great, but if your QB happens to be, the most easy to sacks in the nation, and the easiest to intercept, then the O-Line will have a hard time. They could play good, like 2010, and go 6 wins, 7 losses. Just going to have to wait out Murray until things improve. Once he leaves, you’ll see sacks go back down to 10-12 a season, like under Cox & Stafford.

guillotine

April 28th, 2012
11:19 am

UGA is soft. They play finesse football in a power league. They can overcome softness with talent vs. Kentucky and Ole miss, but that won’t work against the Bama’s and LSU’s of the world for long. Only way that changes is with a coaching change. And yall don’t have the guts to pull the trigger on that.

Dawg'emout!

April 28th, 2012
11:22 am

Looked like a improvement last season, now will be the measuring stick to see if the dawgs can compete and live up to the expectations. different team from stafford/moreno, but still has the talent to become a great team in the SEC….

AltamahaDawg

April 28th, 2012
11:26 am

With Theus and a couple of others, (here and coming) they was no guaranteee that Garcia was going to be a starter at OT in 2 years when he was eligible to play again. Perhaps playing asap was more important than the exact location, still closer to home. Most accounts I read put “home” as really just the excuse the gave to get away from MD.

Not to say it wasn’t disappointing to not get him. Same as it was for UF/FSU to lose Theus who DID choose to play for Coach Friend.

Good news is, This is projected to be an exceptional year of OL recruits in the south.

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
11:27 am

Improvement isn’t Richt’s man strength, his teams usually lose more than the previous seasons, Richt tens to coast after a good year, all 4 first place SEC East finishes, were followed with a worst season in terms of wins. All 4 times.

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
11:30 am

you have a 0-9 vs. ranked teams QB, some of you tend to ignore that. Team didn’t go 0-9 because of the 0-line, run game, or being soft, it was mainly #11 sub par performances in big games.

Reality Dawg

April 28th, 2012
11:33 am

The Dawgs COULD be a Top 5 team, they COULD also be the #1 team, and monkeys COULD fly out of my ears. But it isn’t going to happen.

Reality check.

The only sure thing this team has going for it is a soft schedule. I have a feeling Missouri is going to surprise Georgia the same way Boise St. surprised us last year. I don’t think Richt can pull together a complete program.

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
11:36 am

7 out of last 9 seasons, Richt loses more games than year before. Last year, schedule was so easy any coach could have improved from a 6 win season. But, even with the 2011 easy schedule, team lost all games against ranked teams, 0-4, went 0-5 vs. ranked teams in 2010, barely finished top 25 with the easy schedule, Murray isn’t exactly Mr Clutch at QB, will be 2013, after he leaves, that you finally get a big win.

SSIgator

April 28th, 2012
11:38 am

“the 2012 Dawgs certainly could be a Top 5 team”

Why stop there? They can be anything they want to claim until September when they actually have to play a game. UGA – Home of the Pre-Season National Champions for over thirty years and counting.

SSIgator

April 28th, 2012
11:42 am

Robert Nesbitt writes: This burns me up, because the truth hurts.

Robert, this is the wrong site for the truth. Kool-Aid drinkers only please.

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
11:47 am

Ya’ll be nice, this is Richt’s vacation year. Mark Richt always follows up a 1st place East year with less wins, 0-4, richt tends to take vacations in the Fall in years like this.

supsalemgr

April 28th, 2012
11:50 am

Make or break year for Murray. Is he going to be in the Greene/Shockley tier or the Eric Zeir tier? He will have a lot stats, but how about some championships.

Ed Pilcher

April 28th, 2012
11:50 am

In the SEC, you need great defense & a good running game to control the clock, beat down the opposing defense, and show them that your o-line is better than their d-line. This finesse zone-read crap isn’t getting the job done against quality opponents. Remember 2002? We lined up, smacked ‘em in the mouth with Musa Smith and one hellacious o-line, excersized some personal initiative, and kicked some ass. Another example…..Alabama. This is what they do. Power running and great defense. No fat and out of shape linemen who play and block with flat and dead feet.

Nimrod Dawg

April 28th, 2012
11:51 am

We need to call for an old-fashioned Dawg Blackout for the Missouri game. Just sayin.

Dawgs 2012

April 28th, 2012
11:51 am

Dawgs are gonna be nasty this year. OL is a big area we have to be better at, but mark it down. They will be an extremely pleasant surprise to people. Throw theus in there and the OL is finally starting to develop the attitude they need to have. Good S&C program is getting it back to where it should be. D will be stout and Offense as a whole should be steady. Dawgs will be winning in 2012.

guillotine

April 28th, 2012
11:55 am

@Ed Pilcher

2002 was a Donnan squad. Big difference from recruits then til now.Maybe you guys should hire Donnan as recruiting coordinator. Couldn’t hurt.

Vance Duly

April 28th, 2012
11:57 am

Even if our offensive line exceeds expectations (which no UGA o-line has done in recent years), I’m not convinced that Coach Bobo’s play-calling and in-game adjustments would allow us the opportunity to be a “Top 5″ team. He takes his foot off the gas too easily, and that lets the other team back into the game at times. It creates opportunities for us to lose a game that we had in our hand (the last Kentucky loss, as one example). Against the best teams on our schedule, we often start the game looking sharp, creative and effective. Then, it’s like we lose focus and become mediocre offensively. (Boise St, LSU as two examples). Lastly, he has some tendencies in play-calling that are far too predictable. ….IF Coach Bobo is capable of calling 4 quarters of aggressive, innovative offense, instead of seeking elusive “balance” and “trusting the defense to hold a lead”, we would have a better chance of big success. GO DAWGS!

Figaro Newton

April 28th, 2012
11:57 am

It’s all there. An experienced team, a patsy schedule. This blueprint worked in 1980 and it can work again. The only wildcard is can we get another boatload of luck to fall into our laps like Dooley did. Can’t wait for the season to begin.

dogdawg

April 28th, 2012
11:58 am

If you think UGA has a problem,and wonder what that problem is, just watch the second half of the Mich ST game.3 runs up the middle and no gain with Sparty loading the box!!! Everybody knew Ritch was trying to sit on a lead when they got up 16 and LOADS of time left.With that kind of coaching we will NEVER get to the big game.Think Spurrier would do that?Think coach Gratham would do that if he was running the show? Yes Ritch wins games he’s supposed to win most of the time,but it seems like he plays to not lose and the good teams knows that.

guillotine

April 28th, 2012
12:00 pm

@AltamahaDawg

Every year is a good year for OL in the south. Problem is, CMR doesn’t go after quality olinemn. Just big guys who can eat up space for a second or two while his little scat backs can run around them. Finesse ball.

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
12:03 pm

The o-line could be all pro, and if your QB is last in the SEC in interceptions and sacks, like Aaron Murray was in 2011, it doesn’t matter.

Ed Pilcher

April 28th, 2012
12:05 pm

@ Guillotine.

We don’t need Donnan……Then Spurrier would have another joke to talk about when he mentions UGA arrests, suspensions, etc. Only this time, he would have a caoch to bash.

7576DAWG

April 28th, 2012
12:05 pm

Theus has said more than once if Mark Richt got fired he would be looking to change his commitment. Will Friend was not the reason he is coming to Georgia , it was always Mark Richt. Friend has no excuse not convincing Young to go to Georgia instead of Auburn. Friend got out recruited by Auburn. If Georgia loses out on most of the big name Offensive Linemen that are left not commented it would not surprise me at all to see another offensive line coach come in 2013. Even though I am hearing that Will Friend is a very knowledgeable coach and is very good as a coach , he does have trouble closing the deal when it comes to recruiting. . If Georgia doesn’t win at least 12 games this year with the easiest schedule they will have for the next 4 or 5 years don’t be surprised to see a few coaches gone.
Grantham is getting a lot of the targeted linebackers and other defensive players so I think the defense will be just fine, if not great . The coaches from the offense and especially Bobo has a lot to prove. Crowell did a great job last year as a freshman but one running back on a team in the SEC won’t last very long, ask Lattimore, and with Georgia signing Gurly and Marshall and Crowell and Malcome seeming to have grown up a lot since last year the running backs will not be a problem. If our running backs have some of the same problems as last year and if Murray’s has turnovers that hurt Georgia I think Bobo and Will Friend will be in trouble. I think McClendon has a lot to learn to be a running back coach but he is a very good recruiter which makes him safe. Why will Bobo be in trouble if the offensive line struggles in 2012 ? Because it is the offensive coordinators job to be the closer when recruiting if the line coach can’t get the recruit to commit. I think Georgia uses Garner as the closer for all linemen but he became lazy and soft with his success and Georgia is paid the price the last 3 years. I do think that recruiting technique at Georgia has improved for the better and we will see an improvement going forward.

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
12:06 pm

Murray will finish out his career in 2013, with 9-4 and 8-5 seasons in 2012/2013, losing to every ranked team in his entire career. Then the big years will happen, hang in there UGA fans. Just got a QB issue right now that Richt won’t address.

RamDog

April 28th, 2012
12:19 pm

@Bubbs

Good stuff, you’re right on the money, great comments. I think most fans feel the same way about QB A Muray.

7576DAWG

April 28th, 2012
12:23 pm

dawgdog
To a degree I agree with you. One of Mark Richt’s problems is when we start blowing out a team he uses it as a excuse to play the reserves. Georgia has blown big leads in the last few years because of this practice. A lot of people criticize Spurrier and other great coaches for running up a score but they do this because they know the other team can come back and win. Mark Richt has never learned this because he is afraid that he will read that he ran up the score. Mark Richt is always saying to his players let ” finish the drill” but our coaches need to demonstrate that they know how to ” finish the drill” themselves.

Jim Grabasski

April 28th, 2012
12:24 pm

Murray is just like Tony Romo. Both of them stink it up at crucial junctions in games. A pick-6 here, a fumble returned for a TD there, and, voila! You have Aaron Tony Romo-Murray.

Reality Dawg

April 28th, 2012
12:25 pm

If the NFL thinks your program is soft, you have a soft program. It’s Richt’s program. It’s his responsibility to turn it around. Unfortunately, it always takes him years to make changes that everyone (NFL scouts, journalists, former players, armchair QBs (sometimes even their wives), and even people on this blog) recognizes.

6857Dog

April 28th, 2012
12:25 pm

Bubbs: AMEN! Put in Hutson Mason or Christian Lemay. Seen enough of Murray. Time to win a game against a ranked team this decade.

Jim Grabasski

April 28th, 2012
12:27 pm

‘Course, if Murray would went to school somewhere with a decent OC and QB coach, he’d probably be playing so well, he’d be a Heisman front-runner by now. Cough, cough (Bobo’s coaching defeciencies) cough, cough…………

Numbokrucher

April 28th, 2012
12:28 pm

Bubbs–you are on to something. AMurray was indeed 12th in sacks and int’s in 2011. Our record was 1-4 when Murray had 2 turnovers or more in a game.

this dawg want hunt!!

April 28th, 2012
12:30 pm

Bill, you are a typical bulldawg fan that can’t seem to be able to face reality. As for the O.L recruiting, or should i say lack of O.L. recruiting. You say you aren’t ready to write off the O.L. recruiting as a big failure just because of Garcia. Try last year in state when the top 3 O.L. all which were 4 star prospects, and all 3 signed with SEC teams(LSU, S.C and Bama), and this year yet another 4 star O.L Outlaw commits to Fl. over the worthless Will Friend. So it goes much deeper than Garcia. But once again Richt gets a free pass for making another terrible hire for his staff. UGA now has the worst O.L coach, the 10th or 11th worst O.C. in the conference, and by far the worst Receiver coach in the conference. And Richt doesn’t get the blame for these terrible coaches. Richt, and all the coaches at UGA never are held accountable for their pitiful coaching during games, nor are they held accountable for their lack of recruiting efforts. The lameduck A.D. called McGarity is an even bigger problem than Richt, after all he is the idiot that recommended Richt get a raise and an extention. If the A.D. doesn’t hold the head coach accountable for the team’s performance, and the head coach doesn’t hold the asst. coaches accountable for their perfermance on the field and off the field in recruiting, then this lack of recruiting is what you get. UGA is a joke under Richt and this clown Friend. But what else would you expect from UGA under the 3 stooges leadership.(Adams, Mcgarity&Richt)

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
12:31 pm

Don’t blame Bobo, Bobo developed Stafford into the #1 NFL draftpick, and set the NCAA record for wins with David Greene. Blame lies elsewhere, in a jersey numbered 11……just look for the guy getting sacked 3 times a game.

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
12:37 pm

Friend’s o-line did great in the first half against SC, LSU & Mich State, then Aaron Murray started turning the ball over. Same ole story.

Haywood Jablowme

April 28th, 2012
12:38 pm

King, quit spouting off with the party line on Murray. One would think Bobo is right over your shoulders screening the blog before you post it. Murray is terrible at making decisions with the ball when the game is on the line.

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
12:40 pm

Congrats to Will Friend, 2 NFL draft picks this year, Cordy & Ben not too bad…..the man can coach em up.

GT Bob

April 28th, 2012
12:41 pm

I love hearing the Puppies whimper.

Ed Pilcher

April 28th, 2012
12:42 pm

GT Bob, you need to send Paul Johnson down my way if you really want to see how the Veer is supposed to be run.

Bubbs

April 28th, 2012
12:47 pm

Will Friend had never had a QB sacked more than 15 times in a season, until he started coaching Aaron Murray…..only so much you can do when your QB thinks he is Superman and refuses to throw balls away or hit short outlets…

Friend has coached up at least 1 OL to become all conference every season. Now, seeing 2 of his 5 starting O-Line become the 1st 2 UGA NFL draftpicks in 2012, impressive stuff indeed.

7576DAWG

April 28th, 2012
12:48 pm

Bubbs
I do blame Bobo. Yes he is the Quarterback coach and under his leadership has proven he knows that position well but he is also the Offensive Coordinator and when Murray is sacked 5 or 6 times a game it is just as much Bobo’s fault as the line coaches. So far Bobo has proven his worth as a recruiter and Quarterback coach but patience is running out for him to prove he can handle a Coordinators job.

RamDog

April 28th, 2012
12:48 pm

Bubbs, agreed, Will Friend’s track record is impeccable, surprised someone hasn’t snatched him away from us yet.

Ed Pilcher

April 28th, 2012
12:51 pm

Bubbs, if Jones and Glenn were such great linemen, how come Gholson was having his way with them like they were a couple of punks in a shower room scene during a prison movie at the Michigan State game?

Ed Pilcher

April 28th, 2012
12:52 pm

Just asking.