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 fake punt last year in the South Carolina game was a perfect example. I’m sure they actually have practiced what to do in those instances, but Georgia’s general lack of success at handling those shifts in direction might be a sign that even more practice is needed, particularly on special teams. Supposedly, the coaching staff is paying more attention to the latter this season. Time will tell.
DW writes: Hi Bill, I enjoy your column. I will not go into some drawn out pish posh about Richt’s philosophy on breaking team rules but it occurred to me that given the way other coaches handle misconduct (see the latest in Spurrier mocking an underage drinking incident), and the fact that Branden Smith is not being suspended, do you think Richt is being tight lipped about Rambo and Tree because he is pondering suspending them for games other than the first two (which has been the norm)? It has always grinded my gears that the other programs in the SEC pick and choose which games to suspend a player from, depending on the opponent. I have never faulted Richt for this and applaud his doing so. However I wish he would consider this puts us at a disadvantage. Your two cents on Rambo (4 games) and Tree (2 games)?
Pish posh??!! That’s a new one for me. Anyway, I think Mark Richt is avoiding announcing in advance the status of Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree simply to keep the other teams guessing. But I have a feeling if those two had somehow managed to escape their much-rumored suspensions, we probably would have heard it by now, as we have with Branden Smith. It’s true, Georgia’s stricter standards on disciplinary problems do give other teams an advantage. But I don’t think lowering your standards is ever a good idea.
Rodney Brown writes: Bill, I look forward to your blog more than any other writer on the AJC and I thank you for your candor. Do you think that we have become predictable in our playcalling, or special teams formations and coverages, offensive tendencies, etc? Our defense is our greatest asset right now because we switched to the 3-4 and those zone blitzing schemes are hard to effectively game plan against. I recognize that the no-huddle speeds the game up, offers more offensive plays and keeps the defense on the field, but if the plays themselves are basically the same a coach would call in a West Coast offense, what do we gain from all the hurry-up? Hopefully Bobo has learned to be unpredictable so that even with our deficiencies, we have opportunities to surprise everyone.
Rodney, I think you’ve put your finger on the biggest problem with Bobo and Georgia’s offense in recent seasons. Let’s hope he’s come to the same conclusion.
David Rosenberg writes: Bill, I read your comments about Bobo and his tendency to go away from things that are working. I think Bobo displays a lack of understanding in one part of football: SYNERGY. I love that word. There is a synergy and an interconnection between all phases of the game … offense, defense, and special teams. You have to be able to read each side of the ball. Know when one side has been working much harder than the other. If the defense gets a bunch of three and outs, then you know they are not tired. If they have been on the field for several sustained drives or numerous times because of turnovers, then you have to know they are getting tired. So, if your defense is tired, the last thing you want to do is force them back on the field immediately. If the clock and score allow, the offense can slow the pace, use the game clock, run short to intermediate plays, or whatever. I think Bobo’s tendency to go away from things that work and seemingly not be aware of the condition of the other sides of the ball have led to things like our defense being gassed against teams like Michigan State and others. Just a thought.
Many of us have had the same thought, David, particularly after the fourth quarter of that bowl game against the Spartans!
Phillip Joiner writes: Bill, I was looking at the depth chart for THIS season and started wondering about the long term success of the program. A few things I noticed about what 2013 may look like:
1. Our entire O line will return and they will be blocking for one of 3 great signal callers and at least 3 experienced running backs. All tight ends will return and while we will lose [receivers] Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, we will still have Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Conley, Justin Scott-Wesley, Mike Bennett, Rantavious Wooten and the multiple 4-stars coming in. Offense looks to be in amazing shape.
2. Special teams will be seasoned after trial by fire in ’12 and should be a reasonable strength.
3. Dawg fans probably worry about our D for 2013 — assuming Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree go pro. But we are still stacked. D line probably has Ray Drew and Garrison Smith rushing the passer and Kwame Geathers and Michael Thornton filling the middle. Linebacker features Reuben Faloughi, Ramik Wilson, Amarlo Herrera, Chase Vasser, T.J. Stripling and 2 guys who are big time freshmen this year in Josh Dawson and Jordan Jenkins. Secondary has Mitchell potentially, Damian Swann, Corey Moore, Marc Deas and the hopeful star turn of Josh Harvey-Clemons.
None of this accounts for 30+ freshmen in a top 5 class. I think we are set up for a nice long run at the top.
Certainly, Georgia has an impressive stock of young talent at a lot of positions, and while the defense could suffer some pretty big losses to the NFL after this season, the offense should really come into its own next year. There’s good reason to be optimistic, particularly if the problems with special teams play are solved.
Steve Yearta writes: Bill, I just don’t have the confidence yet to believe Georgia will maintain (much less improve on) a # 6 ranking very long into the season. Despite the namby-pamby home schedule we have for the most part being an advantage I see danger at Missouri, South Carolina, and always Jacksonville. Mark Richt teams are notorious for finding ways to lose and playing down to weaker opponents. The brilliance of his first few seasons now seems to be a flash in the pan. Am I just being a nattering nabob of negativism?
Love the Spiro Agnew reference, Steve. But, yes, I think you are being a bit too negative. Read Phillip Joiner’s letter above and see if that makes you fee a little better.
Bruce Eklund writes: Bill, By giving ‘x’ walk-on scholarships, does Georgia decrease by ‘x’ the current high school athletes that they can bring in on scholarship?
Watch those x’s Bruce, they make me think of algebra, and that still gives me a headache. But to answer your question, no. Those scholarships awarded to walk-ons must be renewed each year and that only happens if there’s enough room on the scholarship roster. As long as Georgia doesn’t sign more than the SEC 25-player signing cap between Dec. 1 and May 31 and the total number of scholarships doesn’t top the NCAA limit of 85, they’re OK.
JC Harris writes: Hi Bill, I was thinking the other day about what we as fans could do to show Richard Samuel how we appreciate him. Remember in the Herschel days when the stadium would rock and one side yell Herschel, the other Walker? We haven’t done that for anyone in a long time. I think Richard deserves a shout out like that from the fans — maybe on Senior Day when the seniors are introduced before the game. I think that would be awesome — and probably jack him up so much he’d run right out of the stadium! I obviously can’t “get the word out” or organize something like that, but you could help me do that (assuming you like the idea) since you are read by tons of fans.
I think that would be a great idea to show Samuel fans appreciate his team-first attitude, though I don’t see why it needs to wait until the end of the season. But short of the cheerleaders getting involved, I’m not sure how you get something like that started. Anyone else have an idea?
Bill Ramsey writes: Mr. King, I don’t often comment but enjoy reading your perspectives on UGA football. I wonder if you see any connections between Richt’s interesting comments about not pursuing certain recruits based on issues of character and the apparent determination of some of our most talented comits to miss all the safety-nets in place to save them, especially in the backfield: Crowell this year and Caleb King last. It comes to mind because King continues to live out a self-destructive script, having just been kicked off the Vikings for an assault arrest. It almost makes me a believer in destiny. Thanks.
Sometimes, coaches guess right as to which prospect is a good bet, sometimes they guess wrong. And sometimes they get lucky and dodge a bullet, as Richt appears to have done when Da’Rick Rogers reneged on his commitment to UGA and instead signed with Tennessee — which recently kicked him off the team after what ESPN.com says were multiple violations of the school’s substance-abuse policy for athletes. Losing Rogers, who last season led the SEC with 67 catches and was second in the conference with 1,040 receiving yards, is a big blow to Derek Dooley’s beleaguered program.
I’ll answer more Junkyard Mail next week. Do you have something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season or UGA athletics in general? Got a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? If so, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg