Fan talk: Coaching changes and Dogs vs. Gamecocks

Jay Clark in happier times with the Gym Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Jay Clark in happier times with the Gym Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Replacing a legend is nearly always a thankless job, but new head coaches rarely step into a more difficult situation than Jay Clark did following on the high-heels of Suzanne Yoculan.

Yoculan built the Georgia program into a national power, winning 10 national championships, including five consecutive NCAA titles to cap off her incredible career.

The drop-off during Clark’s brief tenure, unfortunately, was just as dramatic, with the Gym Dogs missing the NCAA tournament completely one year and never making it to the final six.

It’s a shame, especially since Clark was Yoculan’s longtime assistant and was instrumental in those championships. If Yoculan had gone ahead and hung it up when she first announced her retirement in 2007, instead of coaching two more valedictory seasons, it’s entirely likely that Clark, her designated successor, would have begun his head coaching career at UGA with two national titles. That, of course, would have built up more than enough credit for him to survive through a few lean years.

But that’s not the way it went, and while the Gym Dogs spent most of this season as a Top 5 team, they wound up finishing 11th in the recent NCAA tournament. So Clark’s resignation Friday doesn’t come as a big surprise.

I’m particularly sorry to see it happen, though, because Jay, a close friend of my brother Jonathan, is a UGA grad and, more than that, an ardent Bulldog fan through and through. As he told our Chip Towers Friday, “I’ll always be a Dawg. I’ve always loved this place and I always will.”

Here’s wishing the best for Jay Clark, a damn good Dawg!

Now, let’s get to some Junkyard Mail …

Ron in Asheville writes: Hi Bill, In the old days, I hardly gave the South Carolina game much thought. Now, I want the Dawgs to whip Spurrier’s team by 50 points. What are our chances of reversing the Gamecock win streak this fall?

Marcus Lattimore will be tough if he's healthy. (Associated Press)

Marcus Lattimore will be tough if he's healthy. (Associated Press)

As I wrote a couple of months ago, 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 for the Dawgs in 2012. True, the Gamecocks lose star receiver Alshon Jeffery, but they have highly touted freshman Shaq Roland coming in. Carolina does have to replace a couple of starters on the offensive line (not as extensive a rebuilding project as Georgia’s), but Connor Shaw looks to be coming along pretty well at QB and, of course, at running back Marcus Lattimore should be the class of the conference, if he’s fully recovered from last season’s injury. On defense, Jadeveon Clowney is back but the Gamecocks have to replace several key starters, so that’s probably their biggest question mark. I expect the Georgia-South Carolina game to be a close one, as usual. But fortunately for the Dawgs, the schedule again favors UGA, so even if Steve Spurrier manages to take his third in a row, Georgia still stands a good shot at winning the SEC East. And that’s what really counts.

SammyDawg writes: Bill, now that Michael Adams is on his way out, I think it’s inevitable that Vince Dooley’s name will somehow get attached to UGA’s stadium, don’t you? I don’t expect it to happen until after Adams is gone (he’s too small a man to make a magnanimous gesture like that), but I figure his replacement will want to heal the rift in the Bulldog Nation by reaching out to the Dooley camp. I favor Sanford-Dooley Stadium over Dooley-Sanford Stadium, but I’d be happy with either one. What about you?

Sammy, I think your analysis is probably spot-on. Between the two choices you offer, I’d tend to favor Sanford-Dooley, but I’ve actually come around to preferring Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium, which would allow the former coach-athletic director to be properly honored without going against the wishes of the Sanford family, who are on record as being against a hyphenated name.

Skyler Holcomb writes: Bill, First and foremost let me just say that I thoroughly enjoy reading your Blawg. It is by far my favorite source of information regarding my Dawgs. I know that the issue of drug testing and the possibility of uniformity has been a highly debated subject among universities and so forth, but my question is this, why would UGA pick the week after spring break to drug test the players? I agree with the university’s stance on drug related punishments, but come on. They’re just setting themselves up for failure if they test these 19, 20, 21-year-old kids the week after their one major break from school. What’s your stance?

I agree that testing right after students returned from spring break was not the most competitive move UGA’s coaches could have made, but perhaps they were looking to send a larger message to the players, who had been warned right before the break. If so, let’s hope it was received.

Jesse Murrah writes: Bill, I’d like to know more about our new kickers. Kickers are just about the most important players on any team, but they never get talked about until they miss. I have heard that one of our new guys kicked 98 percent of his high school kickoffs out of the end zone. It would be great if he did that 100 percent of the time with the Dawgs, eliminating kickoff returns (I’m thinking Honey Badger) and forcing opponents to start every drive on the 20.

Incoming freshmen Marshall Morgan (placekicker) and Collin Barber (punter) are considered the likely starters, though they’ll have to win the jobs in preseason camp. Morgan is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and reportedly has a very strong leg. It’s notable that while kickers are usually pretty much ignored by the recruiting services, he was generally considered a three-star prospect. He was extremely reliable kicking field goals in high school, hitting 15 of 16 his junior year and 10 of 12 as a senior. His longest to date is 59 yards, I believe. He’s the one you’ve heard about putting 98 percent of his kickoffs in the end zone. And while he’s seen as a placekicker, he can punt as well. Barber, the favorite at punter, is from Cartersville. He averaged 43 yards on his punts, was variously rated as a two-star or three-star prospect and was ranked as the No. 6 high school punter in the nation.

Traveling down a well-worn path, Zackariah M. Craig writes: What has Aaron Murray done that makes him untouchable as the starting QB? I would argue that UGA has won in spite of him. UGA has not beaten any team that had more talent than it has since Murray was the starter. In addition, Murray comes up small in all of the big UGA games. SC, UF, LSU, and Boise State were all poor games for him. 0-2 record in bowl games even though UGA had the better teams.  Is there anything that can happen this year to open up the QB competition?

Short of an injury to Murray, I think you better get used to him as Georgia’s starter. Meanwhile, here’s a reader who takes a different view of the quarterback situation …

Robert Clements writes: The thing that gripes me the MOST is the rentless bashing coach Mark Richt for playing Murray instead of [Hutson] Mason and the stupid statement that Murray has never beaten or has only beaten ranked teams a few times, blah, blah, blah!!!! Do you ever see them say Jarvis Jones or Tavarres King has never beaten any team? Football is a team game and if one or more don’t do their job bad things can and usually do happen. Nobody of sound mind actually believes CMR does not play the guys that give UGA the best chance of winning. At least the trolls have gotten off Isaiah Crowell while they are on Murray. IC, by the way, will be the top RB in the SEC IF he stays healthy.

You make a good point about it being a team game, though quarterbacks tend to get more than their share of the blame for a loss. As for running back, I don’t know if he’ll be the top back in the SEC, but a healthy Crowell certain should be among the conference’s best. And, fortunately, he looks to have stiff competition on his own team.

Stew Lipham writes: Heard on Dan Patrick show that Mo Lewis’ son is 6′8 in 8th grade and has two D1 offers, but not from UGA. For the love of our program, why not?!

Both New Mexico and Memphis have offered early scholarships to Chris Lewis, a 6-foot-7, 190-pound forward at age 14 who is already attracting a lot of attention. However, making scholarship offers to kids still in middle school isn’t the norm, though it’s certainly a good way for a school to get an athlete’s attention. Still, before his high school days in Milton are done, he’s likely to have lots of offers in hand, including one from UGA.

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

236 comments Add your comment

david

May 5th, 2012
12:02 pm

Murray is 0-2 in Bowls, but if the D makes a stop last year we beat MSU.

Birdhair

May 5th, 2012
12:04 pm

How many times will I adjust my mic this season? over/under 140

Just call me BOSS Techie!!!

May 5th, 2012
12:12 pm

Just call me BOSS Techie!!!

May 5th, 2012
12:19 pm

David,
I agree with you and I don’t remember seeing Murray on the punting team when Honey Badger blew the game open!!! Up to that point LSU’s offense was nothing compared to UGa and Murray, but the idiots still blame Murray. I agree it is a TEAM sport and we need to quit blaming one person. Good point about Jarvis Jones never beating a top 25 team…..guess he is the problem (not)!!!

UGA'05

May 5th, 2012
12:37 pm

6′7″ as an 8th grader?! What are we feeding these kids?

Dawg Haus

May 5th, 2012
12:39 pm

Morgan and Barber come to UGA ranked almost identically to Walsh and Butler, respectively. I don’t expect too much of a dropoff in the kicking game.

Dawg Days!

May 5th, 2012
12:39 pm

I’m of the opinion it’s Murray’s job to lose. Junior year coming up! Time to shine!

satxdawg

May 5th, 2012
12:39 pm

I wish people stop crying about Murray geez . Did it ever occur he don’t do good in big games because the oline sucks in big games ? Ever notice in big games he always running for his life . Yeah he make bone head decision sometimes. but its funny how fans watch a spring game and think one of our backups should be playing based off 2s vs 2s lol ! I truly believe if Murray had a bama type line he’d be on the heisman list somewhere . I mean come on our line got Dominated by boise and Michigan stated …

Just call me BOSS Techie!!!

May 5th, 2012
12:48 pm

You are so correct satxdawg!!!

Dawg Haus

May 5th, 2012
12:50 pm

Good point, satxdawg. It takes a whole team to lose a game, not one player.

Dawgfan

May 5th, 2012
12:58 pm

Anyone thinking Hutson Mason should be the starter has clearly forgotten that Murray threw the most TDs in a single season by a UGA QB, was close the year before, and is likely to break the all time record if he stays all 4 years. Mason will get his shot after Murray moves on, but by no means does he look like he’s ready to supplant Murray. His arm strength is pretty good, but he has not shown the ability to escape pressure and create yardage like Murray has (despite all the sacks). Murray definitely has a lot of gunslinger in him which can lead to INTs, but will also lead to some amazing TDs (anyone remember the 2 4th down TD passes against Florida???). Everyone needs to relax. Murray is the starter. If Hason was truly better, he would be the starter. Period.

Dawgfan

May 5th, 2012
12:59 pm

***If Hutson Mason – apparently this is combined into Hason

7576DAWG

May 5th, 2012
1:01 pm

Bill
Didn’t the rule concerning kick offs change this year. I think now Morgan will be kicking from the 35 yard line instead of the 30. If Morgan doesn’t kick it out of the end zone maybe it will land in the end zone. Opponents will definitely have to decide if it is smart to run it out when they will be starting on the 25 yard line, instead of the 20. If I am wrong concerning the rule change please correct me.

GtDawg

May 5th, 2012
1:06 pm

The Dawgs rebuilding their Oline can only be a positive thing. Go Dawgs.

BBall Power

May 5th, 2012
1:13 pm

Lewis is a VERY talented player, but still just an 8th grader. How many coaches who offer him now will still be at their respective schools in 4 more years? If Coach Fox is still at UGA, we will have a great shot at him. Oh, and plenty of kids have been great in 8th grade and then plateaued. Give it some time!

Dawg Haus

May 5th, 2012
1:20 pm

The new rules will make things interesting, 7576DAWG. You got it- they’ll be kicking off from the 35 and touchbacks will result in placing the ball at the 25.

ElvinBishopBand

May 5th, 2012
1:30 pm

Greg

May 5th, 2012
1:31 pm

The only reason MIch State was even in the game at the end was due to two 2nd half Murray int’s, one at the beginning of the 2nd half when another UGA score would have put us up by nearly 4 TD’s and a pick 6 later that made it possible for MSU to complete the comeback.

I think Murray should be the starter, but he has got a lot to prove in big games. He simply must quit making crucial mistakes or the Dawgs will continue to have a terrible record vs the better teams on the schedule.

Max Sizemore

May 5th, 2012
1:57 pm

I thought the Lewis kid was offered in BASKETBALL. And, yes, the O-line has a LOT to do with Murray’s performance.

ARdawg

May 5th, 2012
2:05 pm

Bill,
SC had a good year 2 straight but, they were still SC and the benefactor of a down UGA, FL and TN. Spurrier is smoke and mirrors and Carolina isn’t much different than the days of Dr. Lou. A few standouts but nothing more. I say SC loses 4 or more games this year and a non-factor in the East. What say you?

Bill King

May 5th, 2012
2:12 pm

Max Sizemore:

Yes, of course, the Lewis kid was offered in basketball. I don’t believe anyone indicated otherwise.

kingdaddy

May 5th, 2012
2:14 pm

Thankyou Bill
You are truly a King for giving us something to talk about this weekend. I’ve been cracking G.T. jokes all morning. Glad to have some football conversation again. Sorry, but I’ve had enough of Dr. Adams…

Troup Co. Dawg

May 5th, 2012
2:16 pm

If we are going to win at power football which the SEC is, we should run more 2 TE sets, finesse will never beat any good defenses in this conference! Unless there is perfect execution, it is impossible! Just look at how Boise St., and UA get it done.

kingdaddy

May 5th, 2012
2:38 pm

Clowney made a couple of plays because of missed blocking assignments. It was M. Ingram that disrupted our offense and he’s gone. They’re missing OL and we’re missing OL. Ingram will hurt them more than they realize. Who is capable of taking his place as a disruptive force and don’t say Clowney??? We better be ready to play 4 quarters if we want to win this game. Anything less will be a loss for the Doggies…

chilidawg

May 5th, 2012
2:49 pm

When a pick-6 costs you a game, it’s usually not a team mistake.

the intangibles of AM's turnovers

May 5th, 2012
2:54 pm

In all of the games that UGA lost in 2011, Murray’s turnovers led to complete breakdowns on the D team and O team. In other words, we lose our edge or our grit, or toughness due to his always constant PIC 6s and Fumbled 6s. Same was true of the 2010 Florida game, where he so badly choked in regulation play and in OT ………………..threw the game away. One of the most bitter losses in my 50 years of following UGA, that game was.

Until Murray can stop that junk, he will continue to feast or strave UGA football, esxpecially head to head with ultra talented teams like UGA.

Aron ………………..prove me wrong.

UGA class of 71 & 73

DrHut

May 5th, 2012
3:17 pm

Clearly, with Murray’s nationally worst 14 interceptions, and nationally worst 33 sacks, and his career worst in UGA history 0-9 record against ranked teams, it’s more than obvious he’s a lock at QB. Those are just outstanding stats that would amaze even the most cynical analysts. As we say in Athens about Murray, nobody does it, worser. Here’s to 20 interceptions and 58 sacks and 0-12 lifetime record against ranked teams in 2012, since Richt is so impressed by such stats.

Dog4Life

May 5th, 2012
3:27 pm

Enter your comments here

Dog4Life

May 5th, 2012
3:30 pm

Bill, It is silly to suggest that losing to SC is okay as long as we win the east. That same scenario was offered to me 20+ years ago after Fla won their third in a row against UGA. Be careful what you wish for–to change the momentum and confidence of that game to SOS is a disaster for UGA. It is not always about the losses, but it is always about who you lose to. Rivalries must be taken seriously if we want to manitain the upper hand.

DrHut

May 5th, 2012
3:35 pm

Wonder how many yards Lattimore will gash us for this year, man, he usually shreds any run defense Grantham devises. I say he breaks 200 yards this time, and Garcia runs for another 100, and throws for 200 yards. Gonna be a long day.

DrHut

May 5th, 2012
3:36 pm

Clowney ripped through those 3 NFL lineman last year and won the game on the sack fumble, wonder how Clowney will do against lesser experienced talent? 8 sacks?

DrHut

May 5th, 2012
3:38 pm

Unlike Bill, I’m not resigned to Murray’s medicore starting status anymore than I was resigned to Richt’s decision to start Joe Terishinski. Richt was wrong then, and boy, is he wrong now.

DrHut

May 5th, 2012
3:40 pm

No one acutally believes Florida would have won 2 Natl Champ’s under Meyer without Tebow at QB, and no one believes Auburn would have won without Newton. Or Bama would not have won with AJ’s amazing passing performance against LSU.

The QB is the key. And Murray is 0-9 vs. ranked teams. Easy for most to see the QB is everything.

DrHut

May 5th, 2012
3:51 pm

South Carolina plays 3 top 10 ranked teams (LSU, Ark, UGA) and top 15 Clemson.

UGA only plays 1 top 20 teams, South Carolina.

Bill King

May 5th, 2012
4:14 pm

Dog4Life:
I’m not suggesting Georgia losing to S.C. again would be OK. I’m simply noting that even if they don’t win the game, they still have a good chance of winning the SEC East. And that’s a bigger deal.

Destin Dawg

May 5th, 2012
4:27 pm

DrHut.. Ark. and Clemson no tougher than Missouri at Columbia and Auburn … or Fla. at Jax… its about the same.. no excuses please… Go Dawgs !!

ElvinBishopBand

May 5th, 2012
4:29 pm

Murray…Big hat and no cattle….too short to play with the big boys.

SEC West

May 5th, 2012
4:29 pm

Gotta be nice to know that SC is your toughest opponent. Bama plays non-conference foe Michigan. LSU plays non-conference foe Washington. Auburn plays Clemson.Ole Miss plays Texas. And UGA steps out of conference to take on Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, and FCS opponent Ga. Southern. WOW. And you wonder why you get no respect nationally?

sadly, the history

May 5th, 2012
4:52 pm

of Georgia is littered with weak schedules and underperforming teams. That is “the Georgia Way”.

NCDawg

May 5th, 2012
4:57 pm

Aaron Murray is a good QB trying to become great. He tries too hard and when you do that the results are almost always bad. Prolonged slumps, batting, kicking, shooting, are always due to trying too hard. Human beings tend to over-do corrections in their behavior. A batter will change everything trying to get back into the groove. QB’s get alot of the blame when things go wrong offensively. Aaron Murray obsesses over his mistakes. There was an article written not long ago where Murray addressed his tendency to press too hard. After a while it becomes a habit because as a competitor you want to win badly and as a QB you sometimes feel like you have to make the play or carry the team on your shoulders. You can do that in basketball but rarely in football.

Murray squeezes the bar of soap too tightly in big games and it translates to turnovers. If he can master his desire to try too hard and let his teammates make plays as well, he can be really good. If not, then expect what you have seen his first two years.

NCDawg

May 5th, 2012
5:08 pm

@Sadly… the weak schedule is due to the way the conference rotates not the AD scheduling. Everybody schedules a creampuff once a year. Look at who LSU opens with, North Texas. Two weeks later it is Idaho. Sure they play Bama but that is conference scheduling. Their creampuffs are due to AD scheduling. Bama opens with Michigan but week 2 and week 4 are W.Kentucky and Florida Atlantic.
Georgia’s schedule will rotate back to a more challenging schedule probably starting next year.
As for the under performing teams… we will see.

NCDawg

May 5th, 2012
5:13 pm

SEC West… same answer to you. There have been plenty of times LSU and Bama plowed through creampuff schedules in the past and the SEC West was the “weak” division. It’s all cyclical. Do some research.

icedawg

May 5th, 2012
5:21 pm

It’s great having the Ole Ball Coach in our division. His move to SC has made the division even more competitive. Our schedule should work in our favour this year. The year we were rated pre-season #1 we had a brutally competitive schedule and got done in by it. Hopefully we’ll do well and I like playing SC a little later in the year. Hopefully we’ll have our “legs” under us and not defeat ourselves like we’ve done in years past.

SEC West

May 5th, 2012
5:32 pm

The past is just that…the past. Georgia is really in a no win situation regarding scheduling BCS conference opponents. Damon Evans had you on the right track scheduling the OK States and AZ States of the world. Colorado too. Problem is, CMR was supposed to win the big non-conference games. And we all know, winning big games isn’t really his strong suit. So, stick with the lousy home schedules with the Southern University, Louisiana Directional, and SoCon powerhouses. Leave the big-boy out of conference games to the big boys.

kingdaddy

May 5th, 2012
5:32 pm

All you crybabies grab a Binky and stick it in one of your pieholes. Y’all sound like the biggest bunch of whiners on this or any blogs I’ve ever read. Non-stop crying about our schedule, get over it and quit acting like it never helped your school at one time or another. You sound like The Soggy Bottom Boys singing “Constant Sorrow ” LOL… Grab some Midol already…

kingdaddy

May 5th, 2012
5:37 pm

SECw
You mean like L O U I S I A N A M O N R O E?????????????? LOL!!!

SEC West

May 5th, 2012
5:45 pm

@Icedawg
The year we were rated pre-season #1 we had a brutally competitive schedule and got done in by it.

Looks alot like the schedule the SEC west teams play every year. Difference being, they win regardless of the toughness of the schedule. UGA just complains about it.

this dawg want hunt!!

May 5th, 2012
5:54 pm

If Richt loses to S.C and the Ole Ball Coach 3 years in a row, he should be fired sunday morning after that game. If Richt allows S.C. to do something for the first time in history,and that is beat UGA 3 years in a row, he doesn’t deserve to head coach at UGA one more day. This guy has be given a free pass for 5 years in a row because he won 2 SECC. But there is an old saying that maybe McGarity and UGA fans should grasp, “What the hell have you done for me lately” As for Richt the answer is nothing. He made a pitiful appearance in the SECC game after not being there for

kingdaddy

May 5th, 2012
6:05 pm

SECw
It does no good to remind people like you about history. You only remember what is friendly to you ,and you block out the rest. What a joke, you act like you’ve never su*ked or lost a football game or had an easy schedule. Thanks for the laugh, cause every year is a new year. That’s why we play the games instead of just crowning someone champion at the beginning of the year. Keep telling yourself how great you are, just don’t throw your arm out of joint slapping yourself on the back. LOL…

this dawg want hunt!!

May 5th, 2012
6:11 pm

It’s really simple. If the phony Richt loses to S.C for the 3rd year in a row, he should be fired Sunday morning after the game. S.C. has never beaten UGA 3 years in a row, and if this loser of a head coach allows it to happen, then don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. Actually the door should have hit this clown’s ass on the way out several years ago. But pathetic UGA fans don’t know what the phrase “What the hell have you done for me lately” actually means. The answer for your wonderful coach is nothing. He has done nothing since 2005, and he will do nothing in 2012 either. He made a pitiful showing in the SECC game last year, and this clown will never get there again. He is the worst head coach in the SEC when it comes to evaluating asst. coaches and high school talent. He has 4 of the worst asst. coaches in the SEC on his offensive staff. Ball, Bobo, Friend, and McClendon, all are pitiful game day coaches.Yet, Richt gets a free pass on hiring these pitiful coaches. None of them have the resume’ to be coaches in the SEC, and none of them can recruit talent at the position they coach. Richt has proven he can’t coach, and he now has proven he can’t hire competent coaches. Bottomline, UGA has no coaches that can coach or recruit. That is a recipe for a total disaster, and after this year, all of you ignorant cool-aid drinking UGA fans will see what i’m talking about. UGA will not get to SECC game this year with Murray, BOBO and Richt, and after this year when all of the defensive talent is gone, Richt and Bobo want have anyone to cover up their pitiful coaching ability, and their favorite loser BOY Murray. UGA is a joke now, and it will be as long as Richt,Bobo, Friend, McClendon and Ball are in athens. Ask yourself one question blind UGA fans, how many schools have come after the worst Offensive coaching staff in the SEC(Bobo,Friend, Ball, McClendon????? The answer is (0) zero. Enough said. enjoy getting beat again this year by Spurrier, and Dooley for God’s sake. The nightmare continues in Athens!!!