It’s high school graduation week for my UGA-bound daughter and so I’ll be on vacation and away from the Blawg. But to give you some Bulldog topics to chew over while I’m away, let’s go straight to the Junkyard Mail. …
Andy Mashburn writes: Bill, thanks for keeping the Bulldawg juices flowing during the offseason. Always enjoy reading what’s on the mind of the Bulldawg faithful! What are the chances of placing the Redcoat Band back in the student section? I read that the purpose of putting the Redcoats in the end zone was so that the stadium as a whole could hear them better. Personally, I loved the effect of the Redcoats in the student section with the college students. Seemed to add to the overall college atmosphere and experience of Sanford Stadium. In my opinion, they look a little lost and weak sitting in the end zone. Actually, I would even like to see them sitting a little higher in the student section. If you have ever visited Tiger Stadium at LSU, you know what I mean. Thanks and go Dawgs!
I originally was in favor of moving the Redcoats to the end zone, but I heard a lot of complaints that the bulk of the student section felt disconnected from the band, plus it didn’t help that they didn’t move the visiting band so you sometimes had the two bands sitting side by side playing at the same time. Perhaps it would have been better to put the Redcoats in the other end zone, which is part of the main student seating area. Anyway, I keep hearing that the Redcoats are leaving the end zone this coming season and returning to the main student section, and I asked a band member, who confirmed that is indeed what the Redcoats have been told. No word on whether the placement will be exactly where they used to be, but you’ve got a good point that higher up might work better.
Joshua Floyd writes: What is your take on the O-line coach [Will] Friend? Is he a step up from Stacey Searels after a year to review his work? How is Searels doing at Texas?
I think it’s too soon to say whether Friend is a definite step up. He managed to do a good job of juggling a very thin corps of linemen last season, and at times the line play was improved. But it was still inconsistent and they allowed too much pressure on quarterback Aaron Murray in some crucial instances. This is another rebuilding year for the line and while I thought the tentative starting lineup held up well against the first-team defense in the G-Day game, there still isn’t much depth. It looks like true freshman John Theus probably will wind up as a starter. I think we won’t know how good or bad this line really is until midseason. As for Searels, his first OL at Texas showed a 50-yard per game improvement over the previous season in rushing, but they didn’t have much depth and were inconsistent, especially in pass protection. Said junior guard/center Mason Walters: “I think we were the problem sometimes last year.” Reportedly, Texas had a good recruiting year for linemen. Head coach Mack Brown said the Longhorns’ OL is “so much better than what it was and still not where we need it to be.” So you could say their situation with Searels is much like Georgia’s is with Friend.
Travis Hill writes: Hey again Bill, Hope you are doing great. I hope the summer goes quickly for 2 reasons. First, I am a forester, and the heat is killer. Second, because I am always excited about the up and coming UGA football season. Besides all of the suspensions in the UGA secondary I think there are a lot of questions coming up this season. … I think the defense will be good to great. I am worried about the following 3 areas: 1. Offensive line. Our line has been good at times and horrific at times and this year it is looking like more of the same. If you look at Bama or LSU’s lines you will see solid lines each and every year. This is something we have to put an emphasis on in future recruiting. 2. Special teams. This is VERY scary for me to think about this year … a true freshman kicker and punter. Our special teams dropped off a lot when Coach Warren Belin left for the NFL. We really miss him for that. 3. Coaching. When you keep doing the same thing over and over again and your opponent sees that, he will use that against you. We have become way too predictable on special teams and on offense at times. I like Mike Bobo a lot. He is not that bad of an offensive coordinator, but he needs to learn to be a little more unpredictable at times. He needs to learn to change on the fly. When something is not working (small tailback up the middle) and you keep doing it, well, what is the definition for doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Insanity.
Can’t argue with your concerns, especially the OL and special teams. As for coaching: OK, I know some think I harp on Bobo too much, but I agree with you, Travis. I don’t think he’s a bad playcaller, but I think he still doesn’t adjust to the realities of a game quickly enough and sticks too stubbornly to his offensive script, whether it’s working or not. We saw that with the ineffective running game in the bowl against Michigan State. A bit more flexibility, and I think Bobo could develop into a first-rate playcaller.
On a related noted, Jeremiah Johnson writes: What ever happened to screens? Richt used them all the time with those tiny backs he always recruited, especially [Tyson] Browning. Weren’t some screens thrown during the spring game? Might we see some during the season? And might this be a good thing?
Yes, in the G-Day game the Black team, which started out with diminutive backs Brandon Harton and Kyle Karempelis, had most of its early offensive success using the tiny tailbacks as receivers on quick screen passes. You’ve touched on one of the things about our passing game that drives me crazy: Bobo’s insistence on calling so many of those slow-developing downfield passing plays, especially on third down. With a questionable offensive line, that’s asking a bit much of your pass protection. Better to get rid of the ball quickly. Georgia has some good possession receivers and yet doesn’t use the short passing game nearly enough.
On the subject of tailgating, which we touched on earlier this week, Cameron Pratt writes: Dear Bill, Back in 2007, I was a pledge for one of the prominent UGA fraternities and can offer a unique perspective on the “trash issue.” We held a massive tailagate on North Campus every week and had become very good at throwing it and cleaning up after ourselves afterwards. Despite the fact that UGA did not provide nearly enough trash cans for the number of fans who were tailgating on North Campus, my organization came prepared. We brought extra trash bags to utilize at our tailgate. During the Auburn game, I was one of the unfortunate souls who had to watch the game from the generator powered TV’s set up at our tailgate in front of the library. … I can say that once the game was about to kickoff, North Campus wasn’t actually that dirty. I’ve tailgated at the quad in Tuscaloosa and the Grove at Ole Miss before a big game, it was no worse than those tailgating areas. The problem was that during the game, literally DOZENS of homeless swarmed every trash can on North Campus. They were ripping bags apart and picking through them, throwing trash everywhere as they searched for things of value. By the 3rd quarter it was a disaster and there was not a single authority figure around anywhere to stop them. Once the game ended, all the mess got pegged on the fans. It wasn’t the fans, it was poor planning by those at the top. They set up North Campus tailgating to fail by not providing the proper resources (too few porta-potties, trashcans, police, and no clean up crew until the next morning). I mean seriously, only 20-30 porta-potties for 20,000 tailgaters (most of whom are drinking beer)? That’s just moronic. My guess was this was done on purpose. 2007 is when UGA started getting a lot of national press for being a “party school” and I think eliminating the festivities on North Campus was the administration’s way to combat UGA’s “party school” reputation. Unfortunately, that move has also deterred many young alumni who can’t afford season tickets from going up to Athens on gameday weekends.
Thanks, Cameron. You provide an interesting perspective on the trash problem. I don’t know whether your conspiracy theory has any merit, but I’ll agree that UGA didn’t help matters by not providing enough trash receptacles or toilets and definitely by not having enough university police in the area to keep better order.
Frank Lane writes: I was surprised that Drew Butler was not drafted. Heard he signed with Steelers but have seen no official news of that. What can you tell us about that?
It’s not that surprising for a punter not to get drafted. Many sign as undrafted free agents, as Butler did with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s expected to compete with Jeremy Kapinos, the only other punter currently on the Steelers’ roster.
Jerry Sherlock writes: Hey Bill, I saw recently that Athens has been named one of America’s Top 10 cities for affordable vacations and, as a UGA grad exiled to Ohio, I’m thinking about bringing my wife and kids to the Classic City to get in touch with my Red and Black roots! Got any recommendations on non-sports things I can do in Athens with my family?
While I’m an Athens native and spend a lot of time there, I thought I’d turn to a real expert to help you out: my niece April Moore Skelton, who’s an information coordinator at the Athens Convention & Visitors Bureau. Here are her recommendations:
Day hike and the Visitors Center at the State Botanical Garden: Let the kids blow off some energy on the hiking trails, then enjoy the cool of the tropical conservatory in the Visitors Center (free).
If they’re interested in a physical adventure: Rent kayaks at Big Dogs on the River and float the Middle Oconee (right off Atlanta Highway near the Howard Johnson).
Visit Active Climbing for climbing walls suited to any weather, any age group.
Take a flying trapeze class at LEAP Trapeze.
I would recommend the foodie family visit the Athens Farmers Market at Bishop Park on a Saturday morning for exploring and live music. (free).
And the Georgia Museum of Art (especially with the expansion) is phenomenal (and free) — they have kid-friendly activities and tours as well.
Hope these suggestions help!
Thanks, April! That’s it for now. I’ll be back the week after next.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg