Let’s see what folks are talking about in the Junkyard Mail. …
Garrett Kee writes: Hey Bill, fall is getting closer and closer and I’m getting more excited as each day passes by, just gotta get through these DAWG days of summer! I wanted to see what you thought about all of our RBs. First off, right now do you think any will be redshirted? I keep telling people who are doubting the Dawgs this year to just watch out and I use the LSU of last year as my example. As LSU used a running back by committee and had four RBs each get 7 TDs a piece, my question to you is can Georgia sort of repeat that? Obviously with the MANY talented RBs we have, Crowell, Marshall, Gurley, Samuel, Harton, and Malcome can Georgia achieve such success you think? Even though our O-line is in question (isn’t that every year), I feel that if all our RBs can be effective, we can wear down many SEC defenses because that is a lot of fresh legs coming in. Just wanted to get your thoughts on that! Go Dawgs!
I’m of the same mind, Garrett. I think the addition of Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley and the progression of Boo Malcome is going to be huge for the Dawgs this season, not only for what they can contribute themselves on the field but from what the competition with them will do to elevate Isaiah Crowell’s game. And I think you’re right to point to LSU last season as a prime example of what a team can do with four strong tailbacks. As for redshirting, considering how many backs it generally takes to get through a season, I’d be surprised if all of them don’t play this year.
Dooley Tate writes: Bill, what’s your take on Derrick Henry decommitting and the likelihood of him winding up at Alabama? What can Mark Richt and the Georgia staff do to stop Nick Saban from stealing our state’s best football talent?
I’m not as upset over the wavering of Derrick Henry as some folks are. Sure, from a perception standpoint it would hurt to have Bama (or anybody) poach our top-rated recruit, but the reality is that, as I noted above, Georgia is loaded at tailback, which is probably why Henry is looking elsewhere. Of course, Bama also is loaded at tailback, so if he does go there, he could wind up playing linebacker (which some analysts think is where he belongs anyway). As for what Georgia can do to stem the Tide in recruiting? Easy. Win the SEC. Or better yet, the BCS.
Matt McKinney writes: I am a UGA alum and currently a grad student at Mississippi State, and your column has helped sustain me through the dark spring and summer where all I hear about is these “other” Bulldogs; many thanks to you. I believe that a vibrant, authentic home atmosphere is the best recruiting tool available. I have noticed that the teams with the best home atmosphere, like Georgia, LSU, and Auburn, are the ones that maintain the “human element” to pre-game and in-game activities (e.g. focus on the band, team pre-game warm-ups, Dawg Walk), and the teams with the worst atmosphere, like Ole Miss — no disrespect to Grove-goers; they are super nice — seem to rely on canned music pumped in through speakers, scoreboard videos/graphics, and the P.A. to rile people. The latter is just boring, artificial, and ineffective, and reeks of an NBA game, and until Ole Miss, for example, can find a way to remedy that, they will never recruit well. What are the chances Georgia’s organizers are seduced by the convenience technology and pop-culture, and stray from what makes home games so darn exciting (big mistake, in my opinion)?
I think UGA already overdoes it a bit in terms of the canned pre-game music, but overall I think game day at Sanford Stadium features a pretty nice balance between the traditional on-field elements and use of the giant video screen to pump up the crowd. I really liked last season’s “this is Athens” video and I think using the players to deliver motivational messages to the crowd on the big screen is a good thing. I’d be interested in hearing what readers think of Sanford’s game day atmosphere, and if there’s anything you think needs changing.
Jim Cooney writes: It seems to me, and some of my Dawg friends, that since 2003, when Bartley Miller went out with shoulder problems, that we have been thin on the O-line. Sure, there have been some years where we had talent and depth, but generally speaking, it seems like we are lacking depth at O line. This year, 2 out of the now 19 commitments are O-linemen. Is there a reason why we do not consistently sign 4 to 5 linemen a year?
And Roy Brown writes: I’m a forever Georgia fan. Sure wish I felt better aout our O-line recruiting. We just lost out on 2 good prospects to South Carolina (uggh). It seems we struggle every year. Can’t someone address this problem, our track record is terrible. Does anyone give a flip? O-Line recruiting will make or break your team.
As I noted a few weeks ago, the offensive line has been a weak point for Mark Richt’s program in recent years and recruiting no doubt lies at the heart of that. Will Friend is only in his second year as OL coach and Georgia did manage to sign a five-star likely future OL star in John Theus (thank goodness!), but I’ve got to agree with you that it would appear a greater emphasis needs to be put on recruiting in that area. Since Richt can sign a larger than usual class this year, it’ll be disappointing, if not downright alarming, if there aren’t several offensive linemen in the class of 2013.
Jay Unger writes: Bill, in my view the current Georgia substance abuse suspension policy, while obviously well intentioned, is a case study in bad business and brand management. While I hate to use such corporate terms to describe collegiate athletics, it would be pretty quaint to ignore that aspect of it. Yet that seems to be what UGA is doing here. Andy Staples’ column, which was a refreshing island of honesty about UGA athletics in a sea of seemingly endless ridicule by the haters, puts everything in proper perspective. He pointed out the fact that the university is getting virtually zero cred for its stance on this issue. It seems to me that in the process it is rendering itself into an uneven competitive posture to virtually the rest of the conference and country. I know that doing the right thing shouldn’t be about receiving kudos, but from a business standpoint wouldn’t it be smarter to take this high road to the conference and beyond? In other words, be a force for greater change organizationally rather than unilaterally disarming to make a point.
Well said. For those who missed Staples’ Sports Illustrated piece, you can find it here. He wrote that “the Bulldogs’ substance-abuse policy is a prime example of the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished world of major college sports. Georgia tries to do the right thing by creating one of the toughest anti-drug policies in the nation, but that policy makes the Bulldogs the butt of jokes and could cost the football team wins.” He noted that it puts the program at a competitive disadvantage and harms the reputation of the school and its players. But athletic director Greg McGarity took a pretty firm stance. “If we get beat up for that, it’s fine,” McGarity told Staples, “because it’s the right thing to do” in trying to keep Georgia athletes from using drugs. I respect McGarity’s stance, but if that’s how Georgia’s going to continue to play it, then I think at the very least they need to go on a public relations offensive and campaign loud and long to get the SEC and/or NCAA to mandate a uniform policy. Frankly, I think it’s highly unlikely that such a policy would result, because it wouldn’t fit with other schools’ self-interest, but at least it would get UGA some positive attention to balance the unfortunate game suspensions that result from the school’s hard-line policy.
Jim Parry writes: Bill, Noticed an online AJC ad by the University of Florida trying to sell season and single game tickets. And so many must be available because the ad reads “Pick your seat for 2012.” This is funny on so many levels! First and foremost having to advertise in such a large manner in the first place. And advertise so far away as Atlanta, GEORGIA, and who knows where else! (regardless of an alumni base that got the heck out of that god-forsaken state. hehe). To be able to advertise to “pick” one’s seat sure gives the impression their ticket sales and/or fan support have substantially diminished! That will tell you where the state of their program is at the moment. UGA just typically has to worry about selling a few, extra tix a year to the non-competitive, non-conference foes that are on EVERY school’s schedule. And maybe wonder if a hung-over from Friday night, student body will show up on time for the big games or show up at all for the patsy games. But at least we know those seats are already sold. The Florida Lizards seem to have a totally different problem going on…..and I’ve just got one thing to say … HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!
Since Florida has long been a practioner of the cupcake theory of nonconference scheduling that UGA has now adopted, perhaps this should serve as a cautionary tale for the folks at Butts-Mehre.
We’ll answer more Junkyard Mail next week, so if you have something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg