Pooch kicks: Hungry defense, fullback challenge, rethinking Vandy

Todd Grantham keeps reminding his defense of the four losses last season. (University of Georgia)

Todd Grantham keeps reminding his defense of the four losses last season. (University of Georgia)

Georgia’s defense returns nine starters from the unit that ranked No. 5 nationally last year, but looming early-season suspensions apparently have a lot of folks taking a wait-and-see attitude, as an ESPN.com poll shows the Dawgs coming in fourth in a “best defense” vote, behind South Carolina, Alabama and LSU.

Still, as ESPN’s Edward Aschoff notes, “at full strength, this defense will be a handful, especially with one of the best linebacking corps in the country” and a potent starting secondary.

But I’m glad to see that Todd Grantham and his crew are reminding their troops there’s still much room for improvement. Rising senior linebacker Christian Robinson told ESPN that this spring the players dwelled on the 35 points given up to Boise State, the 45 to South Carolina, the 42 to LSU and the 33 to Michigan State — all losses.

“We’re not perfect, so when we go in our meeting rooms we watch the tape and there are always things to get better at,” Robinson said.

Mark Richt summed it up well: “You’re really not a great defense until you play great and we haven’t done that in 2012. We haven’t had a chance to do that yet. There’s an anticipation of having a chance to be pretty good if everybody keeps it together, stays healthy and does their part.”

Better than pretty good, actually. As Robinson said, “We have an opportunity to do something special, as a defense and as a team. If we go out and do what we know and what we’ve learned, we could be one of the best ever to play at Georgia.”

A FULLBACK BATTLE?

Freshman fullback Quayvon Hicks won’t report to Athens until June 4, but he’s already thrown down the gauntlet to junior Zander Ogletree, the presumed starter (assuming Richard Samuel doesn’t move over from the crowded tailback corps). Speaking to the Athens Banner-Herald, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Hicks said of 5-foot-10, 224-pound Ogletree: “Zander Ogletree, I think, is a great man, but in SEC ball, you’ve got to have the size and I think that’s what he’s missing right now. I think I can come in and become great teammates with him and we can do this thing together.”

Of course, we’ve heard big talk from players arriving on campus before (remember the “Hitman”?), but Hicks, who won the Class AA discus throw this week at the state track meet, was rated as the No. 3 fullback prospect nationally by Scout.com.

If he lives up to his billing and his big talk, it’ll be great to see fullback once again become a strength for the Dawgs.

NOT YOUR FATHER’S GEORGIA-VANDERBILT

OK, so as we’ve discussed, Georgia’s home schedule is a bit lackluster this year and that’s probably one reason I’m hearing a lot more fan chatter about the Vanderbilt game than you’d normally expect. But thanks to last year’s close one with the Commodores in Nashville and the post-game fracas between Grantham and Vandy coach James Franklin, the Dawgs and the Dores actually looks like a pretty compelling story line this year.

As the Macon Telegraph reported, Richt was even asked about it at a fan gathering this week in Macon and joked that he might have to send Grantham upstairs to the booth for that one. He added: “I don’t think we’ll have much trouble getting jacked up to play the Vanderbilt Commodores this year, I’ll tell you that.”

Just what UGA football needs: Another meaningful SEC rivalry!

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

166 comments Add your comment

Spike 80DF

May 11th, 2012
10:43 am

we know the defense will be stout….offense needs to stop turning it over.

Hiram Dawg

May 11th, 2012
10:43 am

Columbus_Dawg

May 11th, 2012
10:43 am

Raleigh

May 11th, 2012
10:44 am

JBGibson

May 11th, 2012
10:55 am

I genuinely hope Vandy, Tennessee, Fl…(I can’t bring myself to spell the name without feeling dirty), and Kentucky are all better this year. Why? Because if these are all “good” teams and the Dawgs can beat them soundly, then everyone will have to shut the hell up about the cupcake schedule and we can prove to the rest of the country that we are a legitimate SEC team again. Then again, if they are good teams, and we lose one or two, then it just proves that we still have a bit farther to go.

LogicalUS

May 11th, 2012
11:01 am

The Boisy – UGA game was on ESPN Classic Monday which showed this “Top 5″ defense getting shredded like a piece of swiss cheese?

So I thought…maybe it was just a one off, even thought the greatest DC in history had an entire summer to prepare for Boisy, and they improved dramatically so i went and looked at their last game and geez…there was this “Top 5″ defense getting shredded by MichState’s TE like a another piece of swiss cheeze. Could not be the same defense, so I went to the SECCG and there was this “Top 5″ stout defense getting absolutely mauled by LSU, who in just a scant 4 weeks would get held scoreless by Bama?

So where is this spin of a dominating stout defense for UGA coming from? They certainly seem to be lambasted repeatedly and often for an elite defense.

OldFan

May 11th, 2012
11:15 am

As both Bill and LogicalUS point out, 35, 45, 42, and 33 sure don’t add up to a stout or elite defense. Whip a good offense by dominating on defense, and I’m with you. Otherwise, it’s the same old story: UGA can beat less athletic teams, and that’s about it.

Frank Lane

May 11th, 2012
11:16 am

What happened with Drew Butler and the draft

DePort

May 11th, 2012
11:18 am

Those stats are flawed – the Defense had alot of starters missing for the first two games which inflated the score and many of those points scored at the SC game was from special teams and turn overs – The LSU game was again special teams and turnovers and when they did score it was because they were aroud the 20 yard line with their backs to the goal… so basically MSU scored a good bit on the D but didnt the offense turn the ball over for a short field a few times in that game too? Looks like to me its the Defense that is keeping us in the games and that is why they are definitely a top 5 D!

BigRedandBlackDawg

May 11th, 2012
11:20 am

Mark it down. The Dawgs will run the table, beat LSU in Atlanta and win they’re 6th National Championship.

How do I know this? The Dream Team has a full year in what is tradetionally the best football program in the country, the defense is stacked and our QB is a legit Heaisman Trophy candidate.

I also know we are loaded with the kream of the crop of high school football talent from the best state for high school talent in the country. I know this first hand becuause I played in Cobb Co. and would have been a Dawg but I blew out my knee my softmore season. Even though I didn’t get to play for the Dawgs, I’m a proud alum and will be at every home game to watch this championship season.

Go DAWGS!

Spike

May 11th, 2012
11:23 am

Vandy. Bring it on….

Joey

May 11th, 2012
11:24 am

Our return teams and QB gave up half of the points in the 4 losses, but don’t let facts get in the way of your bashing, you morons.

It’s called a “box score,” by the way – gives an educated fan lots of info on games. Try it sometime . . .

Spanky

May 11th, 2012
11:25 am

One game at a time, fellas!! We do have the potential to be awesome, but one more suspension just might mean the difference between a win and a loss… It would be nice to see a resurgence of a new “Junkyard Dawgs”!!

Sam

May 11th, 2012
11:27 am

Not all of those 45 points in the USC game were the defenses: I recall an INT for a TD. Also the special teams blunders and fumbles put the defense in very tough spots.

That said, the team lost the games against any reasonably good teams and that has to be corrected on both sides of the ball (and special teams).

Joey

May 11th, 2012
11:30 am

Nice enthusiasm, BigRed, but didn’t we have all of that in ‘07 and ‘08? Truth is Richt always loses a game or two (occasionally several) he shouldn’t, which keeps UGA from the Big Game.

THWGT

May 11th, 2012
11:35 am

Last year the defense gave up 17 points to USCeast, 28 points came from offense and special teams. I’m more worried about those two legs of the proverbial stool. A team must dominate two out of three phases in order to consistently win games. I sure hope we’re better on offense and special teams; otherwise, results will not be much different then last year’s.

bubba4dawgs

May 11th, 2012
11:51 am

Most concerned about the OL! This just has to be a mighty good year for the Dawgs! If they get to the Big Dome, I know they will be hungry, very hungry and will play their hearts out to win! I can’t wait until Sept. Meanwhile, all Dawgies, pleas behave and stay outta trouble! We can’t afford to lose anyone!! GO DAWGS!!

chilidawg

May 11th, 2012
12:00 pm

Exactly what I was thinking, DePort. In those four losses, how many points were the result of pick-6s and short fields?

SSIgator

May 11th, 2012
12:06 pm

“Just what UGA football needs: Another meaningful SEC rivalry”

I wonder who that could possibly be. It certainly isn’t the Gators in the last couple of decades. Bill must be refering to Auburn.

Spike 80DF

May 11th, 2012
12:12 pm

that ship has sailed ssigator, spurrier & meyer are long gone. what happend to willy’s guarantee this past year? i’d be worried with that goofball in charge.

Spike 80DF

May 11th, 2012
12:23 pm

Meaningless Poll

May 11th, 2012
12:37 pm

Who participated in this ESPN.com poll? Their fan poll of the top 25 (prior to the bowls) teams left UGA out, and had Auburn in the top 20. If fans voted, this “poll” means less than fan opinions, because some trolls have nothing better to do than multi-vote for their school. Absurd…

Quayvon Hicks has the size of a beast, but he did play at AA level football. We’ll see how that translates for a true freshman in the SEC. Hope he turns out to be a star.

Let’s play DOWN Vandy, instead of up. The players know what went down last year. No need to have them so hyped that they trip over themselves in an effort to lay down (legal) licks.

wrong again

May 11th, 2012
12:37 pm

You can’t put that 45 point South Carolina game on the defense. The offense scored 3 TD’s against our defense. They had one fake punk go for 68 yards, one INT returned and one fumble recovered for a TD. The only real knock on the D from that game was that Lattimore had 176 yards rushing.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

May 11th, 2012
12:54 pm

#5 UGa v #1 Bama at 5:30

nobody wants to talk about the UGa v Bama match up? The Recruiting blogs are all Bama v UGa.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

May 11th, 2012
12:57 pm

D ranked #5……………….BUT…………LOST every HARD Game/Team they played. #5 against the bad teams and HOW will they do this year? They should be #1 going into the USCe game and how will they do after that? Should Be #1 against the WEAKEST SCHEDULE the WORLD has ever seen. the SECCG will EXPOSE the UGa D. like last year and in the Bowl game.

Number34

May 11th, 2012
1:00 pm

Hey Bill, just wanted to let you know all is good down here below the gnat line.

The Ol Bawl Coach

May 11th, 2012
1:01 pm

Let’s see about this phat loudmouth Grantham’s defense:

1. Gave up 35 against a bunch of 2 star athletes.
2. Gave up 28 against VANDY and within inches of losing the game.
3. Gave up 20 against the absolute worst Gator offense since Emmit Smith.
4.Gave up 42 against LSU in virtually a home game.
5. Choked when it mattered against Mich St in a disgraceful quitting performance.

Oh, I forgot about the performance against my drunk QB Steven Garcia.

Keep on worshiping him doggies and Richt I would worry about him stabbing you in the back like he did Romeo Crommel in Cleveland.

The Ol Bawl Coach

May 11th, 2012
1:02 pm

Spike 80fool, dont worry about Champ, even the Zooker owned UGA.

McDawg

May 11th, 2012
1:09 pm

one game at a time

Still@theKool-aidBAR

May 11th, 2012
1:12 pm

U People do know it is not as much about University against University anymore. Yes U carry your Car Flag high, but with big Money it is Coaching Staff against Coaching Staff. There are SEC coaches that Fear UGa’s Offensive TALENT but not Richt/Bobo’s Offensive minds. More SEC coaches Fear UGa’s D Talent and GRANTHAM’s MIND.

Sam

May 11th, 2012
1:13 pm

The Ol Bawl Coach,
You would think that a fan of Floriduh or South Cackalacky would know that Spurrier is the “Head ball Coach”, not the Ol Bawl Coach. I would not call anyone else a fool until I at least know what to call my teams coach.

Chris

May 11th, 2012
1:13 pm

It’s funny reading posts from UGA bashers. Facts are facts and stats are stats. Everyone has a favorite team and want them to win. Why, though, do people come on this blog and say things that they certainly would never say face to face with a UGA fan, or any other team fan for that matter?

SSIgator

May 11th, 2012
1:17 pm

“I don’t think we’ll have much trouble getting jacked up to play the Vanderbilt Commodores this year, I’ll tell you that.”

This is the level that UGA football has finally achieved? Is this what Richt is so proud to call “The Georgia Way”? Wow, what a con artist.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

May 11th, 2012
1:17 pm

CHRIS…………what makes you think we would not say it to your face? Are you thinking that we fear you posing physical violence would change our argument?

Desert Fox

May 11th, 2012
1:17 pm

Agree w/LogicalUS. Would add the Boise D outplayed the GA D in that game. When it came to the UGA D stopping the 4 teams GA lost too they couldn’t do it consistently and ended up losing in the end. They’re one of the better D’s in college FB but not one of the best. Maybe they could be but all the suspensions, defections and suspensions have to have an accumulative affect on that side of the ball. Even vandy made them look suspect.

I’d have to say I’d be filled w/enthusiasm for the D had it not been for all the turmoil its gone through in the off season. Still holding my breath for the next hammer to fall. Still, they have a chance to be better than last season if they can come together once they all get back on the field. They’ll need more help then they got from the O last season in the 4 losses. Against better or equal caliber opponents the D alone cannot win games on their own as shown last season. The offense cannot put the D in a position to lose. Otherwise, it’ll be a repeat of last season.

Chris

May 11th, 2012
1:20 pm

Kool-aid –

I said nothing about physical violence, but now I know you’re one of those types of people. Very classy!

Class of '98

May 11th, 2012
1:21 pm

Offense and special teams gave up 28 points against South Carolina.

Still@theKool-aidBAR

May 11th, 2012
1:22 pm

SSIgator UGa is now one of the EDUCATION Teams in the SEC. The fans Bully TECH fans then cry Academics to the SEC powerhouses.

DIT

May 11th, 2012
1:32 pm

Great thing about last year is that it is over. Only the Bama people have the rights to brag. Yes, UGA gave up many points to good teams. Not all was because of the defense. Bash all you want, but any student of college football could see that UGA’s defense has the potential very good this coming fall.
Every person should be talking the same about their own team. The one’s that bash the most are the one’s that UGA beat last year. Hmmmm.
On the other side, if the strength & conditioning, special teams, ball control(running game) and offense can’t get it done Dawgs could have the best defense and still lose 2 to 3 games.

roughrider

May 11th, 2012
1:44 pm

UGA will be an average team this year because of the O line. When you can’t run the ball , you are limited in what you can do.

Ohio Dawg

May 11th, 2012
1:55 pm

Do y’all even WATCH the games? The special teams and offensive turnovers are the reason we lost 3 of those 4 games.

Cdpridg

May 11th, 2012
2:02 pm

kool aid if you didn’t enjoy being bullied you would get a life son and get off the Bulldawg blog daily….same goes for the SSI fella….some folks enjoy being inferior

Nimrod Dawg

May 11th, 2012
2:02 pm

Wrong Bozo. We lost those games because we didn’t call for a black-out.

AltamahaDawg

May 11th, 2012
2:07 pm

Shouldn’t those of you that are so quick to point out the issues with the offense last year at least admit the defense did have some let downs that very much contributed to the losses? Nobody is going to accuse you of liking Coach Bobo to even talk about the defense needing improvement.

Considering they were pretty bad in 2010, they were one of the most improved Defenses around in 2011, but they did give up some drives and points late in the game. It still counts, the points still are part of the final score. yes even the point that you can;t hang on Murray, still get put up on the scoreboard. They have a LONG way to be a championship defense. Do seem to have the players starting to look like one now though.

Pilfer Dawg

May 11th, 2012
2:08 pm

SSI and STILL- Why aren’t you more interested in your team instead of obsessing over the dawgs in these blogs? Are you really that creepy?

Pilfer Dawg

May 11th, 2012
2:10 pm

And also you guys know you wouldn’t say it to anyone 3 pant sizes bigger than you are so you get on a UGA blog to run your mouth.

Pilfer Dawg

May 11th, 2012
2:11 pm

really classy guys, really classy

AltamahaDawg

May 11th, 2012
2:14 pm

It works both ways. If you don’t let the other guys score, the offense can basically sit on the lead, and TOs do not happen nearly as often.

Everybody wants to talk about a TO at “the worst possible time”. What made it the worst posible time in the first place, was thay the other team was starting to drive and score to tighten up the game, in the first place.

AltamahaDawg

May 11th, 2012
2:16 pm

Actually Ohio, it was the inability to run the ball effectively and consistantly that lead to the losses. You are talking about symptoms, not causes, IMO.

SSIgator

May 11th, 2012
2:29 pm

Still@theKool-aidBAR, lets get a room at Days Inn so we can obsess about the Bulldogs together.