What are fans buzzing about? Well, let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail to find out. …
Randy Powell writes: Bill, I was shocked to see that after all these years Rodney Garner is leaving UGA. It seems like a lateral move, other than a pay hike, but I suppose I can understand the lure of returning to his alma mater. From our standpoint, just how disruptive do you think losing Garner will be to Georgia’s all-important recruiting class? And who do you think Coach Richt will tap as Garner’s replacement?
While there’s no way losing your recruiting coordinator in the midst of recruiting season can be seen as a plus, Garner leaving for Auburn is not likely to devastate Georgia’s incoming class. I think our Michael Carvell has a pretty good take on this situation. He notes that while Garner was considered one of the best recruiters in the business 10 years ago, his impact with the team’s current recruiting class was limited, especially after UGA hired Daryl Jones as director of on-campus recruiting. And while Garner’s work generally has resulted in strong classes at UGA, he’s been criticized in some corners for the lateness with which Georgia approached some key in-state talent. Also, Mike Bobo, Todd Grantham and Bryan McClendon are the Dogs’ ace recruiters, with Mark Richt a superb closer. As Carvell says, where the loss of Garner might be felt is with UGA’s defensive line targets, particularly Montravius Adams and Toby Johnson, since he would have been their position coach. Georgia apparently will hire a new DL coach to replace Garner. As for who will take over as UGA’s recruiting coordinator, a strong contender would be tight ends coach John Lilly, who did the same job at Florida State. McClendon is another possibility. While Bobo is one of Georgia’s strongest recruiters, I think it likely he’ll stay put as offensive coordinator.
Murphy Townsend writes: To what degree does Richt’s tweet about allowing the team to play wiffle ball instead of practice concern you? It concerns me somewhat, considering UGA’s fairly flat bowl performances under Richt (’01 loss to B.C., ‘03 and ‘04 scares to overmatched Big Ten teams, ‘05 obliteration at the hands of WVU, ‘06 close win vs VT, and the bad losses of ‘10 and ‘11). The comment reminded me of the story that came out of the ‘05 Sugar Bowl practices where Chester Adams sang a Christmas song which excused the team from a practice session; we all remember how that game worked out. After that loss, Richt said he would approach bowl preparations differently, but the team has since underachieved in bowls with a couple of exceptions. It seems that Richt views bowl games as exhibition games, which they are essentially, except for the fact that people spend a lot of money to go on bowl trips (my family included). Also, I’m sure that the players do have fun on these trips, but if truth be told, it would seem that they would be willing to put in more serious preparation in order to send their senior teammates out with a win and to close the season out on a positive note. What are your insights on this issue?
Amid some rainy weather, Richt let the team play wiffle ball last Sunday in place of practice to provide a break from the monotony of post-exams practice, much in the same way he usually does in August with a trip to the swimming pool. With no classes, it’s been pretty much all football for the players most of the past week and this was seen as a team-bonding experience. Also, bowl practices are considered a time to start preparing for next season, especially with the younger players, so getting another win is not the only thing on the coaches’ minds. Still, you’ve raised an interesting question about whether Richt puts enough emphasis on winning the bowl games. While a bowl trip is supposed to be a reward for the players, ending the season with a pair of losses like last year wouldn’t be good for the general morale of the program. Some coaches are all business all the time, but Richt isn’t one of them. And that’s not likely to change.
Travis Hill writes: Merry Christmas Bill, Hoping our boys play like champions in the upcoming bowl game. Other than our run defense the main thing that concerns me is our field goal kicking. It is still all over the place. You think Richt or one of our assistants could go visit Blair Walsh’s kicking coach for a few pointers? Our staff seems like they just cross their fingers and hope it all works out in the end sometimes.
Considering the success Minnesota Vikings special teams coach Mike Priefer has had in turning Walsh around after his disappointing senior season at UGA, I think perhaps Richt might do well to consult with him, especially if Georgia’s head coach really does plan on taking over coaching the kickers, as he suggested earlier this season. Priefer quickly diagnosed Walsh’s main problem, saying he was rushing his kicks at Georgia, and the results speak for themselves: With the Vikings, Walsh has set team records for field goals of at least 50 yards in a game (three) and a season (eight). He is 29-for-32 on the season, a 90.6 percent mark that makes him a possible Pro Bowl or All-Pro candidate, and his 119 points is a Vikings rookie record. So, yeah, I think a visit with Priefer sounds like a good idea!
Mike Darnell writes: Bill, Is it possible that Jarvis Jones would pose such a financial risk to an NFL team that he would not be drafted? The fact that USC’s medical team did not clear him to play has to mean something plus the big money associated with the NFL is a different ballgame altogether.
I think Southern Cal’s medical team simply blew it with Jones. UGA wouldn’t have cleared him for play if there was any residual problem and he’s held up well the past two seasons. I’m sure any NFL team thinking about signing him will have him checked out thoroughly but I’m sure just about any of them would be fine with the “risk” considering what an outstanding talent he is.
Keith Coggin writes: Mr. King, I hope you’re doing well. I really enjoy reading the Blawg, good work. I was hoping you could shed some light on the lack of playing time for Ken Malcome, especially in the SEC Championship game as we were running power. I don’t know the stats but [Todd] Gurley took the majority of the snaps against a big strong defensive corp. It seems to me that would have been a great way to keep Gurley fresh especially in the fourth quarter. What do you think?
Thanks, Keith. I think you’d have a hard time convincing me taking the ball out of Todd Gurley’s hands and giving it to Ken Malcome would be a plus, though I think Keith Marshall perhaps should have gotten a few more carries against Alabama. Malcome is a decent back, but he’s third-string at Georgia for a reason. As for Malcome’s recent comments that he was “not too happy” with the playing time situation, I liked what Mike Bobo had to say: “Well, if he wants more playing time he’s gotta prove it on the practice field. … The best guys are gonna play, really, regardless of age.”
Paul Krueger writes: Hey Bill, I have a new wrinkle for our offense that should be called the Wild Gurshall, in which we would direct snap the ball to Gurley and then run the option pitch to Marshall. I think they should debut it for the bowl game against Nebraska. Who would you tackle? How would you cover it?
I’d be surprised to see any new wrinkle like that installed for the bowl game, though a formation like that would certainly be pure Dawg porn for the fans! But I’m not sure it really would play to Gurley’s strengths as a running back.
Daniel Smith writes: Hey Bill, would like to get your input on something. With another record breaking year on his resume, do you think Bobo will get a substantial raise? He is making $335,000 every year. That’s cheap for a coordinator in this league. You surprisingly don’t hear about any offers to Bobo publicly. Will UGA bump him up to or over $500,000 to keep him around significantly longer?
Yeah, I’d say Bobo, one of the lowest-paid offensive coordinators in the conference, is due for a big pay raise next season. He may drive fans crazy sometimes, but Bobo is a big reason the Dogs have one of the nation’s best offenses.
Jon Herring writes: Bill, I was at the SEC championship game and I have to say it was probably the most exciting game I have ever witnessed. Not the best mind you but definitely exciting (a Georgia win would have made it the best). Cutting to the chase, do you think there might be a controversy in 2014 where one of the SEC division winners would decline to play in the SECCG because a loss in that game could knock them out of the 4 team playoff? I know it’s far fetched but the logic makes sense. Just like Georgia was penalized for winning the east, playing in the SECCG, and then losing where it kicked them out of a BCS bowl, I could see a scenario where there would be more risk of losing the game and not making the playoffs than playing in the game. An SEC championship is great but a National Championship is greater, IMO. Thoughts?
I don’t believe a team has the option of declining to play in the conference championship game, nor do I think it likely any team would consider doing so even if it could. But I do think the SEC, which had to pressure the Capital One to take Georgia this year, needs to do some more work in protecting the loser of its title match, and probably will.
That’s it for now. Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg
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