Archive for August, 2012

Fan talk: Game day changes, Uga IX’s record, louder Redcoats, suspensions and more!

It's time once again to tee it up Betweeeen the Hedges! (University of Georgia)

It's time once again to tee it up Betweeeen the Hedges! (University of Georgia)

Last week when we took a look at game day in Athens, UGA sports communications director Claude Felton told us there’d be some more new wrinkles announced this week. True to his word, he’s passed along news of what will be different Saturday in Sanford Stadium when the Dawgs kick off a new season:

  • Expanded replay capabilities: more angles and looks, including plays under review.
  • The ability to go split-screen and show other games during timeouts as well as highlights from other games.
  • Interactive Twitter polls with real time updates on the video board.
  • The ability for fans to tweet comments to the board.

“In addition to the in-stadium enhancements,” Felton said, “we also are moving the location of the ‘Tailgate Show’ broadcast from under the bridge at Gate 10 to the Tate Center Plaza. This space is a great gathering area and a highly visible location.”

The “Tailgate Show” starts three hours prior …

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Question marks temper season predictions for the Dawgs

How many times will we be able to say this during the 2012 season? (Photo by Olivia King)

How many times will we be able to say this during the 2012 season? (Photo by Olivia King)

Even though I know in advance what he’s going to say, I always get a kick out of asking my brother Jon for his prediction of what sort of season the football Dawgs will have.

Just about every year it’s the same answer: “Undefeated!”

This year, thanks to the amped up preseason ranking Mark Richt’s team is enjoying, Jon isn’t alone in seeing a chance for Georgia to win it all, but the expectations of most fans I’ve heard from are slightly more modest, with the vast majority predicting regular-season records of 11-1 or 10-2 and probably another SEC East title.

That’s the way it generally went when I asked Blawg friends on Facebook for their opinion, though there were a handful of doubters who saw a 9-3 record (or worse). But considering the favorable schedule and all the returning talent, I think anything less than a 10-win regular season would be viewed as a disappointment by many in the …

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Fan talk: Dogs’ trouble with ‘broken field’ plays, tougher standards and more!

The Gamecocks' Melvin Ingram scores against the Bulldogs. (University of South Carolina)

The Gamecocks' Melvin Ingram scores against the Bulldogs. (University of South Carolina)

Let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail. …

Marion Campbell writes: I seem to see a general lack of good play in “broken field situations,” [like] fake punts, fumble pickups, interceptions, and returns that seem to go for way too many yards. The ball carrier passes right by our players, who don’t seem to know what to do. [Maybe they should] set up a time in practice with a special whistle, and when it’s heard the ball holder must give it to the nearest defender and everyone else must react immediately. I think if there was a better “damage control” on turnovers and fake punts, we could save more yardage than improved kick coverage could save.

That’s a good point, Marion. Too often the reactions we’ve seen from Georgia’s offense or punt coverage team to a turnover or fake make it look like something they’d never practiced — as if the players weren’t sure what to do in that situation. The …

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What could make game day in Athens even better?

game day redcoatsJust a little over a week from now a large segment of the Bulldog Nation will reconvene in Athens to cheer the Dawgs on Between the Hedges. It’s a time of year when optimism runs high and fans eagerly look forward to the tailgating, Dawg Walk, ringing the chapel bell and all the other traditions that make up game day at UGA.

It’s hard to beat a fall day in the Classic City watching SEC football. As my friend Steve put it this week: “How do you improve what’s already the greatest place and college stadium in America?”

Other devotees of the red and black think there’s room for improvement and that UGA perhaps ought to be looking at what some of its SEC neighbors are doing to improve the game day experience for their fans.

They’ve noted that Auburn is adding wireless internet access in the stadium and will allow fans to bring in tablets or even laptops. AU is also doing stadium tours on Friday nights and even experimenting with serving dinner on the field to donors and eventually …

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Richt has impressive company among coaches with no national title

Can Mark Richt be called a great football coach if he never wins a national title? (Jason Getz / AJC)

Can Mark Richt be called a great football coach if he never wins a national title? (Jason Getz / AJC)

USA Today’s Mike Lopresti had an interesting column this week discussing who is the best current college football coach without a national championship.

Naturally, Mark Richt’s name came up, with Lopresti noting that the coach “has survived the Southeastern Conference hothouse at Georgia for 11 years and won nearly 74 percent of his games.”

But Lopresti consigned Richt to the “resonable nominees” list along with Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema, Nevada’s Chris Ault (really!!??) and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly (who has the best winning percentage among the top 10 active coaches in career victories).

His main candidates, though, included Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, Boise State’s Chris Petersen, Oregon’s Chip Kelly, TCU’s Gary Patterson and his ultimate choice of the best coach without a crystal football: Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, who has 251 career …

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Fan talk: Offensive line worries, Redcoats say ‘Hail’ yeah, and more!

commit to the gThe UGA athletic association is asking fans to “Commit to the G,” whether it’s by buying a ticket to a game, making a donation to the Georgia Bulldog Club or even just wearing Georgia gear to work on Fridays. They’ve launched a special website as part of the campaign and are urging fans to interact on the Georgia Bulldogs Facebook page and on Twitter (@ugaathletics) where they want fans to use the #CommitToTheG hashtag.

As for wearing Bulldog gear on Fridays, beginning on Friday, Aug. 31, fans who submit photos in Georgia gear to fanupfriday@gmail.com will have the chance to win prizes. A different winner will be selected each week and the photos will be posted on the official UGA Athletics Facebook page. Fans can also participate by sending photos to the @ugaathletics official UGA Athletics Twitter feed, with the hash tag #fanupfriday.

Now, let’s catch up on some Junkyard Mail …

Brett writes: The offensive line is the major area of concern going into the season. How much …

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Mixed signals from Athens oddly reassuring

Mark Richt and his quarterback, seen here on the first day of camp, didn't seem to be on the same page about this week's scrimmage. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Mark Richt and his quarterback, seen here on the first day of camp, didn't seem to be on the same page about this week's scrimmage. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

There’s been an interesting contrast in statements coming out of preseason practice in Athens this week.

On the one hand you get the usual player happy talk, which we’ve had all summer (like usual). That relentlessly positive spin from players about this year’s team and how much better it is than last year’s team generally is good for getting the Bulldog Nation revved up but has proved in past seasons to be not a very good indicator of how things actually are going to go.

Sure, I always hope they’re right when they’re gushing about the up-and-coming talent, but they do tend to go a bit overboard.

Take this week, for instance. While the coaches are trying to keep the tone very even when it comes to the tailbacks, particularly Todd Gurley, star of the first two scrimmages, the players aren’t holding back.

Shawn Williams, in …

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A UGA tradition: Another Bulldog in the family!

UGA DadMy daughter and I always look forward to our visit every August to the UGA Bookstore in Athens.

Ostensibly, we’re there for Olivia to stock up on school supplies, but that’s only a pretext for indulging ourselves in a shopping spree among all things Bulldog. We usually ring out with a couple of bags full of new Bulldog clothing and memorabilia.

For me, that annual mid-August visit — parking in the Tate Center lot just outside Sanford Stadium (where they’ve erected a new arch over the gate), making our way through all the girls assembling for rush events, and just soaking up the energy of the Classic City and UGA campus awakening after a relative slumber in summer — truly marks the beginning of a new football season.

Last week was no different in that we left the bookstore loaded down and ready to cheer on the Dawgs, but it was very much different in another sense: Earlier that day we’d moved Olivia in to her dorm room where she’ll live for her freshman year at UGA.

Another …

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UGA fan talk: Do Richt and Bobo lack a killer instinct?

Do Mark Richt and Mike Bobo play not to lose? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Do Mark Richt and Mike Bobo play not to lose? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I’ll be off next week and away from the Blawg as we get my daughter settled in Athens — which is sure to get me even more primed for football season to begin!

In the meantime, let’s jump into some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

David Youngerman writes: Bill, I enjoy your blog and the attempts to stay grounded as a fellow diehard fan. With all the chatter around Top 5 question marks going into the season, I’m in agreement the OL, RB’s, and special teams are potential watch-outs (even though special teams is the only one that scares me). That said, my biggest concern going into the season isn’t one of those three topics and I’m worried my concern doesn’t get discussed more often. Recent years have shown a pattern (particularly from the offense) of not having the ability to close out a team when we have them down. I honestly believe this reflects Coach Richt and Bobo’s personalities as we repeatedly “play not …

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Best news for UGA fans would be no news at all

Kolton Houston can still practice with the Dogs while he's in NCAA hell. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Kolton Houston can still practice with the Dogs while he's in NCAA hell. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

For the fans who follow UGA football, it’s just about gotten to the point lately where the only good news is no news.

Unfortunately, there was news aplenty at Mark Richt’s first press session of the season to mark the beginning of preseason camp.

So we learned that the rumors about much-needed offensive tackle Kolton Houston waiting out an NCAA suspension for failing a test for a banned substance were true, and that despite his family’s assertion that the drug was given to him by a doctor after surgery and considerable evidence that there’s been no reuse since 2010, the governing body of college athletics won’t let him play until it no longer shows up in his weekly blood tests.

Oh, and we also got confirmation that NCAA President Mark Emmert is an arrogant jerk. You got a measure of just how badly Emmert has gotten under the skin of UGA officials in the fact that they released …

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