I’ve been battling Internet connection problems this morning, but finally have prevailed. So let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail. …
Jason Powell writes: Bill, what with just about every team in college football jazzing up their uniforms, I wondered if you’d heard anything about Georgia possibly breaking out the black jerseys again. I know a lot of fans soured on departing from the standard jerseys after the failed “Blackout” against Bama and the “fake juice” with the Grambling helmets and black pants against Florida, but the Dawgs also had a couple of major wins in the black jerseys and they looked really sharp. I know the players loved them, too, and today’s players generally want some variety in their uniforms. If Georgia sticks to its traditional uniforms, do you think it could hurt in recruiting?
Jason, I agree that the black jerseys looked terrific, and there’s no denying the players love them, but I have a hard time believing that any athletes in major college football make the decision on where they’ll play on the basis of variety in the uniforms. If that were the case, Oregon and its nightmarish wardrobe would draw every five-star player in the country. As for Georgia, Mark Richt was asked on Monday night’s “Bulldog Hotline” about another Blackout and he basically said he wouldn’t rule it out but didn’t see it happening again any time soon. He feels now that all the hype about the Blackout messed with the team’s focus. He also said that fans could do their own Blackout any time they wanted. As for the uniforms, Richt said that in the future, rather than trot out black jerseys as a surprise, he’d rather lay out an array of uniform options before the season, including red, black and white jerseys “and maybe even do something with the helmet.” That way, he said, the can “mix and match” and it’s not “some kind of secret weapon.” I’m not sure I like the talk about doing something with the helmet, unless it was maybe a retro silver helmet (hopefully not the one Nike had with the Pro Combat uniforms), and the “mix and match” idea is a little worrisome. While I’d love to see the red britches from the late ’70s and ’80s make a return and wouldn’t mind even the black britches, I’d add the caveat: only with the white road jerseys. I’d hate to see the Dawgs wearing red tops and black pants like they did against Florida once in the Jim Donnan era. Ugh. As for the black jersey, as I’ve said in the past, I’d like to see it reintroduced for a not-so-crucial game, like maybe homecoming, or perhaps be made a tradition for home games against Auburn.
Jeff Clark writes: I keep reading how everyone is so concerned about the effectiveness (or lack of) of the defense in the first half of games. While I do share some concern, we have to remember that we’re playing short-handed and have played 3 teams that we are completely unfamiliar with and/or had zero interest in playing. For once, the offense doesn’t appear to be an Achilles Heel for the team and should put up some nice numbers against the Vandy D. What are your thoughts on the defense’s ability to start fast this week since we finally have a familiar opponent? I think if Jarvis is back and they come out fast, this game could be over by mid 3rd quarter. Great blog and Go Dawgs!
I don’t think it’s fair to say Georgia’s players had no interest in Missouri. And in that game it was the offense that got off to the slow start, not the defense, which played pretty well the whole game. I think the level of opponent in the other two games was a factor, as were the missing starters and the problems in on-field communication caused by their absence. However, even with a couple of starters still missing this week, after last year’s confrontation between Todd Grantham and James Franklin, I don’t think motivation is going to be a problem for the Dawgs’ defense against Vandy. Barring any mistakes or special teams meltdowns on Georgia’s part, I think your prediction could be on the mark.
Jon W. writes: Bill, I like to scan the Dawg’s opponents’ local papers for info on the other team. In spite of all the nice-nice by Franklin and the “we’re just preparing like we do every week” from his players, this slipped out: “‘I see it as unfinished business,’ defensive end Johnell Thomas said after Vanderbilt’s 58-0 drubbing of Presbyterian on Saturday.” He was referring to the Dawgs game. Richt, Granthm et al need to appeal to the pups’ egos that this team thinks they are coming to Athens for a rivalry game. It’s time to make a statement.
I couldn’t agree more. There’ve been individual players who’ve had statement games so far this season (Jarvis Jones being the prime example), but the team overall has yet to turn in a performance that screamed championship contender. This home game and next week’s against Tennessee are great opportunities for the Dawgs to make such a statement.
Eddie Whitaker writes: Am I alone in believing that at least part of our “slow starts” on defense against the smaller schools is either A) Playing an extremely vanilla defense which honestly the players aren’t used to, and B) a bit of gamesmanship for the next week’s opponent? My thinking is this, we had a slow start and less than stellar showing in Week 1, but really put the clamps down on a pretty prolific Missouri offense. I still believe that we are spending most of the practice time preparing for the “real” opponents who are next on our schedule (Mizzou, Vandy). I just feel like when it really starts to count, our D will be as dominant, if not more dominant than next year. Though I do worry a little about still not having Rambo and Tree for Vandy (2 very selfish players, by the way).
It is true that Georgia’s defense against Buffalo and Florida Atlantic was fairly vanilla and the D looked much sharper against Mizzou. I think there’s something to what you say about looking ahead and working on upcoming opponents. I don’t believe we’ll see any of that against Vanderbilt, however. That would be an unwise and dangerous bit of gamesmanship. Vandy is not a pushover.
Keith McCants writes: I was watching the game between UGA & FAU and although it was late in the game, OLB #44 T.J. Stripling was very quick off the edges. Kinda reminded me of Thomas Davis during the Brian VanGorder era. Should the Dawgs use him in 3rd Down situations to add to their pass rush, & what happened to Ray Drew? I noticed that he didn’t play that much in the game against FAU & against Missouri. Has he fallen down the depth chart or is there some other reason?
I talked about Ray Drew’s slow progress up the depth chart last week but the quick version is he’s playing behind some veterans. As for Stripling, he had a sack in the FAU game and so far has two solo tackles and three assists. It’s been a long road back for T.J. from a serious knee injury suffered a couple of years ago against Colorado. But he’s gotten bigger, as Grantham wanted, and he says he now feels more comfortable making quick, sudden movements on the field. I think you’ll start to see more of him as the season progresses.
Chris writes: Bill, Richard Samuel is the ultimate Dawg, I wish we had a roster full of guys that had the heart of Samuel. He has switched to whatever position the coaches have asked him to play unselfishly to do what was best for the team. Now the guy has hardly been on the field in his final season. I thought he would be the full back this year. Why can’t the coaches reward this guy (who can play) by finding somewhere to put him?
Basically, Samuel hasn’t won the starting job at fullback, but he did win a hug from the head coach for his heads-up play on that fake punt in the Missouri game. For that reason, a lot of fans did think it was curious that he didn’t get any playing time in the FAU game. Richt was asked about that this week and all he said on Samuel was: “He still plays both positions — fullback and tailback. He just didn’t get any reps the last game.” I’m not sure what’s up with that.
Kelvin Phillips writes: Bill, I do not like the fact that [Todd] Gurley is returning kicks. I think the risk of injury is too great and he is far more valuable running the ball 15-20 times than returning 2-3 kicks. What do you think about that?
Yeah, there’s some risk in using your best tailback to return kickoffs, but the potential payoff outweighs that risk, I think. If you want a reminder, go here and watch that 100-yard return for a touchdown earlier this season.
Tracy in Indy writes: Hello Bill, I enjoy your Blawg and appreciate all the insight you provide not just in regards to UGA football, but all things UGA. I’m a displaced Georgian living up in the North (Indianapolis to be exact). I’m taking the family (wife and two sons 7 and 8 years old) down to Lexington this year to catch the UGA vs UK game and I was wondering if you’ve made the trip before. If so do you have any insight on where the UGA fans congregate before and after games? Restaurants and tailgating locations? Any other words of advice?
I have not made that trip. Readers, if you have any suggestions for Tracy on where fans gather in Lexington, please share them in the comments.
Jim Earing writes: Hey Bill, My family and I live in New York and will be attending the November 17th game against Georgia Southern. It’s our 1st game day in Athens. Do you have any advice on what we should look to do before and after the game? We should be arriving in Athens around 10 a.m. the day of the game. Thanks.
It kind of depends on what time the kickoff is. If it’s an early one, you won’t have much time for pregame activities other than the Dawg Walk, which takes place roughly an hour and a half before kickoff. If you’re not tailgating, you might want to head down for that and then join the crowd on the Tate Center Plaza, where you can eat in the Bulldog Cafe or get hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. from under the tent between the Tate Center and the UGA Bookstore. A visit to the bookstore for some UGA gear might be nice, too. You don’t say how old your family is, but if you have kids they’d probably enjoy trekking up to North Campus and the Chapel to ring the bell after the game. There are lots of good places to eat in town and Flagpole is a great place to check out what’s available. Downtown Athens has lots of offerings for postgame celebrations, though they tend to skew toward adult interests (drinking, music) rather than family fare. Hope you enjoy your visit to Athens!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg