Archive for February, 2013

To hit or not to hit: Richt faces tailback dilemma

Should Georgia's coaches allow full-contact hitting of Todd Gurley in practice this spring? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Should Georgia's coaches allow full-contact hitting of Todd Gurley in practice this spring? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Depth problems always raise the question of just how much full-contact hitting is wise in practice, an issue exacerbated by scholarship limits. It’s a question Mark Richt has gone back and forth on in the past, and now he faces the dilemma anew.

In a teleconference Richt and his coordinators held Wednesday with reporters it was revealed that the first half of spring practice will see tailback Keith Marshall sitting out with a hamstring injury suffered earlier this month running track for UGA. With “Boo” Malcome gone and signees A.J. Turman and Brendan Douglas not due in Athens until summer, that leaves starter Todd Gurley as the only scholarship tailback. The rest of the backs are walk-ons.

While Marshall should return for the portion of spring drills after the school’s spring break, Mike Bobo acknowledged that the situation is somewhat precarious. Should the …

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Fan talk: Murray throwing interceptions, team suspensions, likely starters and more!

One reader is concerned with Aaron Murray's tendency to throw picks. (University of Georgia)

One reader is concerned with Aaron Murray's tendency to throw picks. (University of Georgia)

Let’s get right to some Junkyard Mail …

Jon writes: I am very excited about what the next football season entails for Georgia, especially with Aaron Murray returning and most of the power offense from last season returning. Over the years I have come to love Murray’s aggressiveness. It has led to over 10,000 career passing yards and over 90 career touchdowns, but it also comes with 32 career interceptions. I don’t want to get too much into how it seems Aaron seems afraid/timid in big games because he played a great game against Alabama, but it seems uncharacteristic of a 3-4 year starter. Do you think that the offensive line having more experience this year will allow him to finally show every game just how great he is? Or should I be expecting to see the same 3/1 touchdown/interception ratio? As always, Go Dawgs!

I don’t think I’d use the words “afraid” or “timid” to describe Murray …

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Can UGA sit out an SEC arms race?

Greg McGarity doesn't like the new deregulated NCAA approach to recruiting. (University of Georgia)

Greg McGarity doesn't like the new deregulated NCAA approach to recruiting. (University of Georgia)

There’ve been some interesting discussions recently about the brave new world of college football that may result from the NCAA throwing out part of its rule book, and how Greg McGarity and UGA appear reluctant to follow the trail being blazed by Nick Saban at Alabama.

Even before the recent NCAA move, Saban was already lapping everyone else in terms of exploiting every legal avenue toward establishing an advantage for his Crimson Tide program, getting around the limitations on the number of assistants a school can have on its coaching staff by hiring off-field “analysts.”

Then, in January, the NCAA’s university presidents decided that in an age of texting and social media some of the rules governing recruiting had become pretty much impossible to enforce, so they passed legislation to eliminate a bunch of restrictions. Under the legislation, due to take effect July 1, not only …

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Grantham seems to have a handle on the major challenge he faces with Dogs’ defense

Todd Grantham knows what Georgia has to do to improve against the run. (Associated Press)

Todd Grantham knows what Georgia has to do to improve against the run. (Associated Press)

Back before last season was even over, a friend of mine was looking ahead to the way Georgia’s 2013 schedule is front-loaded with tough teams and lamenting all the personnel losses the Dogs were going to suffer on defense.

He summed up the situation for Todd Grantham pretty well:

“Next year,” he said, “Grantham is finally going to have to earn that big salary of his.”

After a Georgia defense considered one of the most talented in the nation underperformed for much of the 2012 season, the UGA defensive coordinator faces a major rebuilding project in replacing a dozen players.

Thankfully, now that he’s through with his NFL flirtation, he at least seems to have zeroed in on his biggest challenges.

Talking with ESPN’s Chris Low, Grantham acknowledged the Dogs didn’t do a good job against the run last season, especially in the SEC Championship Game, where Alabama’s ground attack racked up big …

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UGA makes right move switching unused student tickets to young alums

Putting young alumni in some of the unused student seats in Sanford Stadium is a good idea. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Putting young alumni in some of the unused student seats in Sanford Stadium is a good idea. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

I already covered a couple of weeks ago why I thought Mark Richt deserved a raise, so I’m pleased the UGA athletic board acted Tuesday to up his compensation and add a year to his contract.

Something else the athletic board did Tuesday is also worthy of comment: They cut the student allotment of tickets in Sanford Stadium for football games by about 2,000 and instead will make those tickets available to young alumni.

There were 17,910 tickets reserved for students last year, but on average only 11,802 per game have been used since 2009, according to UGA’s ticket scans. The highest student attendance during that period was at the 2011 Auburn game, when 15,450 used their tickets — meaning nearly 3,000 students didn’t bother to show up for the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry!

It’s embarrassing to have viewers tuning in for a nationally or regionally televised game see …

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Dawgs’ 2013 recruiting class: Solid, but no superstars … yet (UPDATED)

Despite some disappointments, Mark Richt was all smiles Wednesday. (Associated Press)

Despite some disappointments, Mark Richt was all smiles Wednesday. (Associated Press)

When the King boys were young, there were two kinds of Christmas mornings.

There were what we called “bicycle” years, when the bounty delivered by Santa was dominated by a shiny new bicycle or some other major gift. And there were other years when there weren’t one or two spectacular gifts but instead we got a whole lot of things we wanted … and even a few we needed.

The years with a new bicycle might have been more exciting, but we never really thought we had a bad Christmas Day.

College football’s national signing day is a lot like that for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Some years the program is rewarded with a burst of national excitement generated by a highly ranked recruiting class topped off by couple of five-star players donning a UGA cap on national television.

And then there are years like this one, in which Mark Richt signed his largest class ever and filled just about all his program’s …

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Fan talk: Should UGA give Mark Richt a raise and Mark Fox another year?

Who will Mark Richt sign? And does he deserve a raise? (Associated Press)

Who will Mark Richt sign? And does he deserve a raise? (Associated Press)

The Bulldog Nation seems a bit preoccupied lately with trying to read the signs and smoke signals and determine who’s going where on college football’s national signing day this coming Wednesday.

It’s like an old-fashioned cliff-hanger: Will a “confused” Laremy Tunsil escape the evil clutches of Hugh Freeze and return safely to the fold in Athens? (And just what kind of Kool-Aid is Freeze serving in Oxford these days?) Can Mark Richt lure Alvin Kamara away from “Nicky Satan” and his deer-antler spray?

Compelling storylines, all. But I’m not and never have been a recruitnik. I just can’t get too enthused about constantly following and fretting over the whims and mood swings of a bunch of 18-year-olds who are prone to change their minds every day or so.

I prefer to wait until we know how Richt and his staff actually did. So drop by after we find out Wednesday who the Dogs have signed, and we’ll talk a bit …

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UGA fans love Herschel, but will they eat his Mama’s Chicken and Bulldog Burger?

Herschel Walker is going into the restaurant business.

Herschel Walker is going into the restaurant business.

Names don’t come much bigger than Herschel Walker’s in college football. And nowhere does the legend of No. 34 loom larger than in Athens, where he won that Heisman Trophy and led the Georgia Bulldogs to a national championship.

For years, there’s been a sure way to guarantee a crowd in the Classic City: Announce an appearance by Herschel.

Now, Walker is going to see if he can use that popularity to launch a successful restaurant that bears his name and likeness and is, in fact, built around him.

Herschel’s Famous 34 Pub & Grill opens this weekend in the historic Michael Brothers Building (where Davison’s used to be) at 320 E. Clayton St. in downtown Athens.

While the official opening to the public won’t be until 1 p.m. Sunday, the place had a “soft” opening Thursday night and marketing chief Mark Kooyman said Walker will be at the restaurant around 5:30 p.m. Friday for the ribbon-cutting and then will be holding a …

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