It’s time to catch up on some of the Junkyard Mail. …
Michael Ruffin writes: Hey Bill, How do you think [Aaron] Murray’s decision to stay at UGA affects the other quarterbacks on the team? I kind of figured [Hutson] Mason might be looking forward to being the starter for two years instead of one. And what about [Christian] LeMay and [Parker] Welch … and others coming in?
Murray returning was the best news Mark Richt could have gotten for the 2013 season. He’s a veteran leader on an explosive, prolific offense, and I think he showed in the Capital One Bowl that he’s turned the corner on stepping up in big games. Shrugging off the two early interceptions to have a record day passing was big for Murray’s future. Richt summed up the situation pretty well this week: “Hutson’s to the point where he certainly knows what to do. He’s ready for the next step, which is playing time. What that looks like I don’t know. But these other guys still have to learn and perfect and get to the point where they’re ready to go. Aaron is obviously the starting quarterback. He’s the guy right now; everybody knows that; there’s no question about that.” As for Mason, I’m sure he’s personally disappointed but deep down he’s got to know Murray as starter is best for the team. I expect we’ll see quite a bit more of Mason than we saw of the other backup QBs this season, though Richt has declined to commit to a David Greene-D.J. Shockley sort of rotation. As for the others, well, Welch is a former walk-on who is fine in mop-up duty. LeMay still hasn’t convinced me he’s ever going to compete for starter at quarterback. I think ultimately he might wind up switching positions, if he stays at UGA. Faton Bauta impressed a lot of folks with his work as scout team QB this year, and I think we might see him in the “Wild Dawg” in some red-zone situations. He’s another who could wind up being used in another position, possibly as a receiver. And I expect incoming freshman Brice Ramsey, who many have pegged as Georgia’s quarterback of the future, to redshirt this coming season while he learns the system.
David Hammock writes: Dear Bill, Once again at the Capital One Bowl game, the Georgia Bulldogs appeared to be undisciplined and out of control with numerous and uncessary personal fouls and once again the coaching staff and especially Coach Mark Richt seem totally unconcerned nor did they respond to such unacceptable actions. Once again the coaching staff lets such actions go unpunished or at least not addressed in a timely manner in stark contrast to the reactions of the Nebraska coaching staff. When, IF EVER, is Georgia coaching staff going to get the message and properly address such unacceptable behavior?
I’ll agree that Georgia’s seven penalties for 76 yards in the bowl is too many, but it wasn’t out of line with the way the 2012 season generally went, and at least a couple of those calls seemed bogus to me. For the season, the Dogs averaged 6.86 penalties per game, with the Ole Miss and Auburn games (in each of which they had only three) being the least-penalized and the Florida game, with a whopping 14 penalties for 132 yards, the most. In the two losses, they drew six (South Carolina) and seven (Alabama). Nationally, Georgia ranked 70th in penalties, which was better than LSU (86th) and Florida (112th), but far worse than Bama (seventh) and South Carolina (20th). Richt has acknowledged that he’s torn between wanting to reduce the number of flags drawn and not wanting to stifle his team’s aggressive style of play. “You don’t want to have a lot of penalties that can hurt you and can cause you to have to punt and let your opponent get in field goal range and make a field goal where they maybe wouldn’t have,” Richt said after the game with the Gators. But, he added, “I don’t want to lose intensity. You want intensity with discipline. I didn’t want to slow down anybody’s ability to keep their blood hot.” Overall, I think Georgia does draw too many penalties, but your characterization of the team as “undisciplined” is a bit strong. And let’s remember that quite a few of the flags drawn this season were false starts by a young offensive line.
Jason Rhodes writes: Hi Bill, “The sky is falling” tends to be the general take on the prospects for the Georgia D next year, but somehow I have a feeling we’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. It seems that Todd Granthams’s become something of a magnet for defensive talent out of high school, and I’m guessing that there will be some pretty incredible athletes on the defensive side of the ball for Georgia next year. Sure, they’ll be inexperienced, but if the offense lives up to its billing and puts up somewhere around 40 points a game, that should provide something of a cushion for the learning curve. How many “this guy will probably wind up in the NFL” type athletes should we expect to see on D next season? I’m hoping/expecting that your answer will be “quite a few.” Thanks for a great Blawg.
Georgia will be much more inexperienced on defense, having lost a dozen veteran players, but you’re right that the offense is likely to pick up the slack. Still, as Richt noted, “We’re not losing everybody. There are still some very good defensive players that will be sticking around and a lot of young ones that are waiting in the wings and have been working hard preparing for their moment.” And there do indeed appear to be quite a few defensive players who have great potential, most notably linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who many expect to pick up where Jarvis Jones left off as a pass rusher. In his freshman season, Jenkins finished the season with eight tackles for loss, five sacks and 22 QB hurries. The loss of Kwame Geathers at nose guard will hurt, but there’s some up and coming talent at that position, including Mike Thornton, Jonathan Taylor and Chris Mayes. Garrison Smith brings back a lot of experience at defensive end and it looks like Ray Drew is finally coming into his own at that position. Amarlo Herrera has a lot of experience at linebacker. And while the secondary will be inexperienced, with the exception of Damian Swann, Sheldon Dawson, Corey Moore and Josh Harvey-Clemons look very promising. “I think we’re going to be very athletic. I think we’re going to be a fast defense,” Richt said. “I think we’re going to have guys with the skill sets to go get it done, and then it’s just going to be a matter of how quickly can they begin to play championship-style defense. That’s going to be the big push.”
Jim P. writes: Bill, I saw the Lizards were publicly humiliated at the Sugar Bowl for lack of interest/attendance. Reminded me of an e-mail I sent to you (that you put in your blog) before the season started, about how embarrasing it was that UF resorted to advertising at AJC online to try to fill unsold season tickets. So it doesn’t surprise me their fickle fan base didn’t show up for a BCS bowl this year. Also, what will the visor coach at South Carolina complain about this year, now that UGA’s schedule gets incredibly tougher? And haven’t checked, but did the SEC schedule cycle get a little lighter for SC this year? If so, will the visor coach complain then? Not when he’s got the light schedule, and I guarantee Mark Richt won’t make a public spectacle when SC has it a little easier. And speaking of schedules, have you seen the cakewalk the Bamards should have next year? What a gift for the presumed preseason #1. That would have been a nice schedule for UGA when they were the preseason #1 in 2008. But like I said schedules are cyclical.
Yeah, the scheduling cycle has definitely turned for next season, with the Gamecocks facing Arkansas and Mississippi State out of the SEC West while Georgia picks up LSU in addition to permanent rival Auburn. It will be interesting to see what Steve Spurrier has to say about that considering all the whining he did this past season.
Rick Martin writes: With the recent news about UGA making the highest profit of all SEC schools don’t you think we should be getting more for our money? It would seem that with that much money that UGA should have an indoor practice field, a better basketball program, and perhaps a football national championship or two. Maybe some of that money should be spent on football analysts like Nick Saban has.
You’re referring to the recent report on the most profitable football programs in 2011-12, which saw Texas on top with a profit of $77.9 million, Michigan in second place with a profit of $61.6 million and UGA third, with a profit of $52.3 million, just ahead of Florida ($51.1 million), Alabama ($45.1 million), LSU ($44.8 million), Auburn ($43.8 million), Notre Dame ($43.2 million), Arkansas ($39.9 million) and Nebraska ($36.4 million). And you raise an interesting point. Alabama, for instance, had more gross revenue than Georgia ($82 million compared with $75 million) but made less of a profit because it spent more money on its program ($36.9 million compared with UGA’s $22.7 million). In fact, Alabama had the highest expenses of any program, and with another BCS trophy in Tuscaloosa it’s pretty clear they’ve gotten their money’s worth. I’m glad that UGA’s athletic leaders are obviously good money managers, but a good case could be made for reinvesting some more of that profit in the program, and, as you note, Saban’s use of “analysts” to supplement his NCAA-restricted coaching staff at Alabama is just one example of where some of that profit could be well spent.
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