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:
“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 to kickoff.
Now, let’s get to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail …
Buckhead Bulldog writes what he’d like to see done to enhance game day in Athens: Bring back large rec vehicles on campus. Allow parking up near Herty Field — that was a great scene years ago. Put the band back where it was — they need to be with the rest of the students and where the team can hear them. Put cops on the street before and after game to direct traffic. More concession sellers in the stands. Bring back the GA Railroad from Underground Atlanta to the cemetery. More trash cans for tailgates. Has the Senior Walk returned? Tell the Jackson County Sheriff to put a deputy to direct traffic at I-85 and Jefferson Highway before and after games. Keep ticket price at $40 — did you see SC @ $70? Do NOT upper deck the bridge end zone (will eliminate wind factor and ruin view). That’s all for now.
Some of what you want isn’t very likely to happen, especially the ticket prices, but the Redcoat Band is returning to where they were before last season (and there’s more news about them below) and the athletic association has announced the new season will bring several new concessions dealers plus increased stadium coverage by vendors as well as credit and debit card capabilities. Vendor staffing has been increased by more than 20 percent. As for the Senior Walk, that had already been discontinued several years before I graduated in 1974, so dream on …
Jackie Cottrell and Chris Mashburn both want to know: Does Russ start at 14-9 or 0-0 now that he is Uga IX?
I put the question to Karen Huff of the athletics office, who says the record of Russ as interim mascot (14-9) will carry over to Uga IX. He’ll be formally installed as the mascot before the Florida Atlantic game. And, I must add, it’s about time!
Mitchell Sinyard writes: Mr. King, do you know the time for the Dawg Walk, Saturday? We enjoy your blog!
Thanks, Mitchell. The athletic office says this week’s DawgWalk will be at approximately 10:40 a.m. Saturday.
Andrew Smith writes: Hey Bill, We all know that our interest level in the actual game Saturday will wane as the quarters pass and the subs come in. I will be watching for a couple things throughout:
1) Penalties: If the team is undisciplined against Buffalo imagine the scenario against much more athletic teams.
2) Total Defense: Can the team stay focused all four quarters and pitch a shut out? Or will attention fade and Buffalo squeak out some points.
3) Conditioning of Mitchell: Will Malcom be ready for two ways in the heart of SEC play?
4) Running Backs: How close are Gurley and Marshall to stepping in and becoming playmakers? Can we get away from a running back who is mainly there to block?
Just some thoughts for pondering over the game day fare.
All good points, Andrew. And that’s about all we can expect to glean from a game like the one against Buffalo, since we’ll likely be seeing extremely vanilla schemes on offense and defense in order to give Missouri as little information as possible to work with.
Brent Jarnicki writes: I read numerous reports this week that the SEC will now allow the bands to be amplified. I think this would greatly resolve the ongoing issues of fans in Sanford Stadium not being able to hear the Redcoats from many sections of the stadium. If the Redcoats were “mic’d up” so to speak, and it was done correctly so it’s not blaring, but loud enough to hear them well from anywhere in the stadium, it would really energize the whole crowd, not just the student section they sit in. All the experiments and various opinions of moving the Redcoats to the West Endzone just for the entire stadium to better hear them would be resolved. I’ve been to a college game where the band was piped in through the speakers, and it greatly improved the overall atmosphere. Any word on if the Redcoats will take advantage of the SEC’s newest idea to improve the gameday experience, and get “amped up” this season?
You’re correct that the SEC has announced that in addition to expanded video replays (as referenced above), another policy change permits bands to be amplified and allows them to play longer before the ball is snapped. And the Redcoats, who will now be sporting all-silver instruments, will be taking advantage of this. Brett Bawcum, assistant director of bands at UGA, told me this week: “We’re actually just returning from a meeting on this very subject. Athletics is planning to amplify the band through on-field speakers in order to avoid delay issues with the house speaker system. It is my understanding that we will be amplified at any time we are permitted to play. Under the new policy, this includes the time from the whistle until the center takes his place over the ball. We have obviously never done this before, so I’m sure we will learn a lot about how best to do this over the first couple of weeks. We’re excited about being heard in more areas of the stadium.”
UPDATE: Brett Bawcum just sent a note that the amplification is being postponed. Here’s what he says: “I have learned that plans to amplify the band are being postponed. I still expect it to happen sooner rather than later. But it sounds like the technical staff realized that amplifying the band is more complicated than was first thought. Sending the signal through the house isn’t an option because of the delay. I know they are looking into how to do this, and I appreciate that they’re waiting to implement in order to do it right.”
Tom Winder writes: Bill, I’m puzzled by all the talk this week about whether former walk-on Merritt Hall will be a “starter” at fullback. I keep reading that technically he won’t be a starter in Saturday’s game if the Dawgs open in a set that doesn’t require a fullback. Is that the rule? Do you have to be in the game on the very first play to qualify as a starter?
That’s certainly how the sportswriters covering Georgia seem to view it, but Mark Richt doesn’t appear to agree. When that point was made to him at his press conference this week, he replied: “I don’t know if that’s right or not.” He then added that Hall is the “starter on our base unit.” It seems to me that if you’re the first fullback in the game, you’re the starting fullback, whether you’re in for the very first offensive play of the game or not.
Jason from Athens writes: I know all the talk in the West is about Bama and LSU again this year and who will win the SEC and National Championship. But, what about Arkansas? They get an Alabama team at home the third week of the season, while Alabama will surely still be trying to get their defense to jell together. I think all three teams will split with each other this year, all 3 teams will finish 11-1 and be ranked in the top 10. If that’s the case, as long as all 3 are ranked within 5 spots of each other, I say Arkansas wins the West by virtue of the tie breaker and not having been to ATL the longest and will play UGA for the SEC Championship. What are your thoughts on this prediction?
Arkansas has a lot of talent, but without Bobby Petrino calling the plays for the Hogs, I don’t think I’d bet on them finishing the season tied with LSU and Bama.
Cleveland Williams III writes: Bill, What’s with everything I read stating that Alec Ogletree will be suspended for two games for violation of rules on drug policy? I know Coach Richt has not made an announcement but I have never read anything about him being suspended for this policy before. I know he was suspended for theft by taking for a scooter helmet, but nothing related for drug policy unless it was never reported.
And on the same topic Joshua Hewitt writes: Hey Bill, I am having very serious doubts as to the suspensions for Rambo and Ogletree. Had they indeed failed a drug test and were going to be suspended, I believe it would have come to light by now. This is not like CMR to withhold such serious information, but then again it could be a good sign as to a new coaching attitude. Do you think this could just be the case of some bum scoop being spread around or am I the only one thinking this?
Basically, what we’re dealing with so far is an unconfirmed report based on what a high school coach says, since to avoid giving a competitive advantage to its opponents UGA has decided not to make an announcement about the status of Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo. It’s true that Ogletree’s previous suspension had to do with his arrest for misdemeanor theft and had nothing to do with UGA’s drug policy. So if Ogletree is suspended this season for a violation of the drug policy, it would be the first time that has happened, and that might mean he’d only be suspended for one game (Buffalo). We just don’t know. Since this would be Rambo’s second violation of the drug policy (assuming the report is correct), a four-game suspension would most likely be the result. But it’s all up to UGA to decide and they’re not talking so far.
Finally, Todd Miller sends in this year’s Bulldog prayer offered recently at East Metro Bulldog Club:
Tonight, O Lord we come before you as the loyal members of the Bulldog Nation to thank you for the blessings of being a Georgia Bulldog.
Tonight we thank you for the memories of the legends that have graced the hallowed grounds “Between the Hedges.” We are grateful to the have seen Fran throw, Jake play defense, Herschel run, Lindsey catch Kevin kick, Pollack sack and David put on a pair of hobnailed boots.
We thank you for the sounds of “Glory Glory” and “The Battle Hymn,” finding them more noble and pleasing to the ear than the notes of “Rocky Top.” We thank you for the ringing of the chapel bell and that we do not delight in tossing toilet paper over dead oak trees.
We pray Lord that we will be forever grateful that we have a coach that doesn’t throw visors. We are blessed that a bad day in Athens is far better than a good day on North Avenue and for that we give thanks.
As we gather tonight in anticipation of a grand season of barking, hunkering and celebration let us remember that by your grace we are Bulldogs but it is by choice that Gators wear jean shorts.
Indeed, tonight we humbly thank you for all your blessings. We are indeed grateful for our blessings not only as devotees of the Red and Black but as citizens of this great nation.
Above all we thank you for the grace and love you have shown us through your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray.
Amen. Thanks, Todd.
I’ll answer more Junkyard Mail next week. Do you have something you want to discuss concerning the new football season or UGA athletics in general? Got a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? If so, send it to email@example.com.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg