Fan talk: A ‘perfect’ Stegeman moment, spring football concerns and more!

Georgia gymnastics great Karin Lichey was the star of Stegeman Coliseum's greatest moment. (University of Georgia)

Georgia gymnastics great Karin Lichey was the star of Stegeman Coliseum's greatest moment. (University of Georgia)

Two items of note to start us off: Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs begin spring practice Saturday (more about that below), and the votes have been counted from the eight weeks of 50th anniversary online balloting to pick the greatest moment in Stegeman Coliseum history.

Out of all the many memorable times at the Steg, the one that has been picked as the single greatest is Gym Dog Karin Lichey scoring a perfect 40 on her four events in a meet against Kentucky in 1996.

Lichey’s feat, getting a perfect 10 score on each event, is unequaled in NCAA gymnastics history. It drew nearly 70 percent of the vote (including mine), beating out the Georgia men’s basketball team’s 2004 upset win over No. 3-ranked Georgia Tech.

GTV talks to Lichey and former UGA gymnastics coach Suzanne Yoculan in a special video feature that includes footage from that unforgettable night. Great stuff.

Congratulations, Karin!

Now, let’s get to some Junkyard Mail …

Michael Johnson writes: Bill, I see all the sports sites that cover Georgia have run down the major theme of this year’s spring practice, which is the rebuilding of the defense, and no doubt all Dawgs fans are watching that anxiously. I’m especially worried about what Todd Grantham is going to do to come up with a stouter run defense, considering Alabama and other teams pretty much ran at will against Georgia even with all that future NFL talent we had last year. Do you agree? What are your other biggest concerns this spring?

You’re right that doing a better job against the run should be high on Grantham’s to-do list for this coming season. But that’s just one of the areas that concern me as spring practice gets under way. Overall, I feel really good about the level of defensive talent Georgia has already in Athens and on its way this summer, but you don’t replace the experience and production of the likes of Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo at linebacker and in the secondary overnight. For me, the key concern is whether Grantham and his staff are going to be able to identify enough playmakers in time to handle Clemson, South Carolina and LSU in September.

Special teams problems, like placekicker Marshall Morgan's inconsistency, are an ongoing concern. (Associated Press)

Special teams problems, like placekicker Marshall Morgan's inconsistency, are an ongoing concern. (Associated Press)

Another ongoing concern is special teams. I think punter Collin Barber was coming along pretty nicely by the end of last season, but placekicker Marshall Morgan is still wildly inconsistent and the Georgia coaching staff doesn’t appear to have a clue how to handle kickers with problems. I’m not sure that Richt studying up on kicking during the offseason is going to be enough to provide Morgan with the guidance he needs. Plus, Georgia’s production in the return game, both punts and kickoffs, was disappointing last year. Those are scoring opportunities we’re not exploiting, and that concerns me.

Lastly, I’ve got my fingers crossed about any “violations of team rules” that might result from the upcoming UGA spring break. With a September schedule like the Dogs have this year, this team certainly can’t afford to have a bunch of players missing those early games due to suspensions.

Several readers are concerned that UGA athletic director Greg McGarity’s tight-fisted financial policies are going to hurt the athletic program (mainly football) in the long run. Sam Kamar writes: Any idea why UGA lags behind: 1) still no indoor practice facility 2) hiring analysts to help evaluate/identify talent. UGA is sitting on a large amount of money and seems to be dragging their feet about doing the things that would help in recruiting, don’t you think? Along those same lines, 3rd Degree Dawg writes: I have 3 UGA degrees on the wall. That being said, I’m not sure that I’m all that excited about the “we’re above it all” stance that the AD is taking. It smacks of Michael Adams. The fact is the fan base is not going to continue to make the Athletic Department one of the richest in America if we are resigned to being the Harvard of the South academically and average as grits on the football field. And Chris Pugh writes: I find it very upsetting that UGA is not spending the money that Bama, LSU and Florida are spending on their programs. If we don’t change, I kinda see UGA always being behind Bama. What’s your take on that?

First of all, I’m not sure an indoor practice facility is the most important issue for Georgia’s program. While Jim Donnan badly wanted one and Richt echoed that desire early in his tenure, he later opted to get a renovated and expanded training facility instead, and I think that probably was the right call. Yes, many schools have indoor practice fields, but not all major programs think it’s necessary. Florida doesn’t. In general, I appreciate the fact that McGarity and his predecessors have conservatively managed UGA’s athletic resources. I certainly think he has a point that an arms race in which schools try to outspend each other on expanded recruiting staffs, giant media guides and lifesize posters of every recruit probably isn’t good for the game overall in the long run. But if the new rules aren’t overridden and Bama and others continue to aggressively reinvest their earnings in their recruiting efforts, I think Georgia is going to have to take advantage of the fact that it’s one of slightly less than two dozen college athletic programs in the country that actually turn a profit. As much as it might pain McGarity, he’s going to have to turn loose more of that $64.4 million in reserves if Georgia is going to keep up. And not just in recruiting. Already, UGA is way behind most other SEC schools in the amount and length of the contracts it gives its assistant coaches, and thus you’re likely to see Mike Bobo get an absolutely whopping raise this year just to catch up.

Fans are wondering if Ray Drew is going to live up to his advance billing. (University of Georgia)

Fans are wondering if Ray Drew is going to live up to his advance billing. (University of Georgia)

HarveyDawg writes: Bill, what are your thoughts on the Rev. Ray Drew? For a five-star recruit, his first couple of years in Athens certainly have been underwhelming. Now, I realize he was playing behind some experienced talent that’s going on to the NFL, but do you think he’s going to rise to the occasion now, or wind up being considered a bust?

I haven’t given up on the “pastor of pass rush” yet. So far, we’ve only seen him playing off the bench, and remember that he was moved from outside linebacker to end before he really had the size needed for that position. Now that he’s bigger and considered the favorite to be the starter at the other defensive end position, opposite Garrison Smith, I’m hopeful we’ll see evidence of what all that hype was about. But if not, there are others on the defensive line ready to take that spot, so Drew needs to make his move this spring. As Richt said recently, Georgia has “young players that are going to get their opportunity to show that they can play the game.”

David Gray writes: Bill, I am also a lifelong fan of the Dawgs. Both my Dad and I went to UGA. I wondered what your thoughts are on what Coach Richt is going to do about a recruiting coordinator to replace Rodney Garner? While I know the relationship between the position coach and the player is critical, it just seems like a really coordinated effort is called for. Although the position coaches are really effective in dealing with the the players that they may be directly coaching, some overall master coordination, consistent strategy, and effective contact/outreach is needed.

You’re right, David. In addition to having position coaches develop relationships with prospective recruits, overall coordination is a key to a program having consistently successful recruiting. From what Richt has said during the offseason, he appears to have concluded that he doesn’t really need one of his assistant coaches to be saddled with that responsibility on top of their on-field work with players and recruiting work at the specific position they oversee. Instead, it looks like former high school coach Daryl Jones, hired last year as director of on-campus recruiting, is going to coordinate Georgia’s recruiting, even if he doesn’t have that title. And, really, I don’t see a problem with that approach. Quite a few observers questioned whether Garner was really that effective as coordinator of UGA’s overall recruiting efforts in his latter years in Athens.

Coach David Perno's Diamond Dogs are off to a rough start. (University of Georgia)

Coach David Perno's Diamond Dogs are off to a rough start. (University of Georgia)

Moving over to a spring sport that Georgia used to be pretty good at, Ray Kunzer writes: Bill, I hate to sound negative, but why hasn’t Coach Perno been called out for the poor performance of the Diamond Dawgs? They have lost 2 of 3 to Georgia Southern, 2 of 3 to Belmont, single games to Georgia State and Kennesaw State. I do not think that any of these teams would be considered powerhouse baseball teams. I find that unacceptable, but I have not heard anyone in the media or otherwise calling Perno on the carpet for this terrible start of the season. This program has been floundering ever since they reached the finals of the College World Series several years ago, and that should not be happening at the flagship university of the state of Georgia. At this rate, we stand to be a bottom feeder in the SEC, which could mean that we would not even qualify for the SEC tournament. I realize that the season has just started, but it is certainly not shaping up to be a very promising one. All I have heard Perno say is,”we haven’t gotten any breaks.” Seems to me that against the teams we have played so far, breaks should not have been needed to beat them, decent showings by our talent should have prevailed. But maybe we do not have very good talent, and if not, why not? I would like to hear your thoughts on this troubling situation.

The Diamond Dogs are off to a rough start, and Perno is correct that his team has been pretty unlucky in losing a bunch of one-run games. But you’re right in noting that the level of opposition so far hasn’t been close to what Georgia will face in SEC play, so UGA fans have a right to be alarmed. Whatever cushion Perno had from Georgia’s run of highly successful seasons early in his tenure surely is gone now and I have a feeling that unless we see a major turnaround, there might be a new head coach next season. In the meantime, I hope Georgia’s struggles won’t deter fans from showing up at Foley Field. The Dogs pounded UAB 14-2 Friday night to open their longest homestand of the year, a stretch of nine games that also will see them facing Western Carolina, Liberty and Appalachian State before beginning SEC play at Texas A&M. Saturday’s game will be at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Turn out to support them, if you can.

And with the upcoming Jason Aldean show — the first concert ever at Sanford Stadium — in mind, Jim P. writes: Bill, Will UGA be covering the hedges with a light tarp or something else to protect them from people during concerts? I hope.

I put your question to UGA sports information chief Claude Felton, who responds: “There will not be a tarp covering the hedges; however, there will be security officers along the hedges during the concert.” Hope that puts your mind at rest, Jim.

One more thing: Last week my daughter Olivia wrote here about participating in UGA Miracle’s dance marathon to benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Not only did she have a great time (and manage to meet the challenge to stay on her feet all 24 hours), but the marathon raised a record $346,289.13 for the kids. Well done!

Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics? Or maybe a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? If so, send it to junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

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37 comments Add your comment

Malinda

March 2nd, 2013
10:49 am

Well done to your daughter, Olivia, and others for their hard work!

Thomas

March 2nd, 2013
11:26 am

Good job Olivia! I think early in the season our offense can make up for our defense. We should plan on them starting slow and being pretty darn good by the end of the season. I’m doubting they come out “stout” out of the gate.

Bulldawg35

March 2nd, 2013
11:45 am

We won’t spend the money and that’s a huge problem…I hope if we make the SECCG…..that we play Texas a&m and not Lsu or Bama…..because both teams have huge backs that run thru us like we are wet paper bags. In the last 2 years Grantham even with a defense full of future Nfl players has not figured out how to stop a power rushing attack

Jack Bull

March 2nd, 2013
12:54 pm

Our PK still scares the heck out of me. Sure would’ve been nice to playing for a FG at the end of the SECCG(if he would’ve made the 40 yarder earlier in the game).
Ray Drew is simply in the wrong scheme. He’s clearly a 4-3 DE, not a 3-4 DT. Same as C Washington.
Grantham put too much emphasis on his OLB. Always telling the kids, ‘you’ll be the next DeMarcus Ware’. Time he concentrates on stopping the run.
Bobo is the most under-paid, under-appreciated coach in the country. All he’s done is lead our offenses to average 39 pts a game(more than when Richt was the play caller).
I still see a QB controversy coming by the end of September, after Murray goes 2-2 during that month.
Fox and Perno, thanks for what you’ve done. Those programs are broke, and it’s time for a new remedy.

Bawbie

March 2nd, 2013
1:46 pm

FIRE DAVE PERNO Mr. Howdy Doody!

Bulldawg35

March 2nd, 2013
2:45 pm

I’m sick and dang tired of not having a full indoor practice facility!!!!!!!! That’s so behind the times to not have one. If we lose to sc this year, Mcgarity should pack Richts bags for him…..ray drew is just a big stiff de….that is not suited for the 3-4…..I’m also not sold on Jordan Jenkins, he looks slower than molasses.

Bill King

March 2nd, 2013
3:06 pm

Bulldawg35:
You must not have been watching the same Jordan Jenkins that most of us have seen.

Bulldawg35

March 2nd, 2013
4:02 pm

I know he had 5 sacks ….mr king. But he just don’t look like he tackles well in space. He looks suspect against the run game

Macclenny_dawg

March 2nd, 2013
5:24 pm

Bill,
Your daughter Olivia is a DGD!!! Richt studying kicking will not help our lack of production!!! I don’t understand Richt not acting on a problem right away instead he thinks things will work itself out!!! Our special teams have not been special in many years and we continue to also not name someone responsible!!! Now its beginning to look like our recruiting is next to follow that path!!! What happens when Grantham leaves we divide coaching duties to our position coaches??? Anyways do or die a Bulldawg till I die!!!! Go Dawgs!!!

Outer Banks Dawg

March 2nd, 2013
6:54 pm

Bill,

Can we vote to ban Bulldawg35? How bout Buckeye?

Which one of them is the former GTBob, ruining an otherwise interesting commentary?

Flat Tire Doesnt Live in Delusionalville Ga.

March 2nd, 2013
8:02 pm

LOL
LOL
LOL
LOL

:roll:

I guess Richt is going to Barnes & Noble to buy the famous Yellow colored book Kicking For Dummies

And we wonder why we cant win big games with more NFL talent than any school since 2001

says it all

Bulldawg35

March 2nd, 2013
8:12 pm

Outer banks….how about u just ban yourself!! You know people I remember all of the great defensive ends we use to have. Like Robert geathers……Q mosses…..David pollack…….David Jacobs…..will Thompson…..Charles grant…..Charles Johnson…..now we’re stuck with the most overrated player since mudcat Elmore……Ray Drew!!!!……I cry myself to sleep just thinking about the talent drop off we have on the d- line….now I’m maaaaaaadddddd!!!!!

Bulldawg35

March 2nd, 2013
8:28 pm

Maybe Richt and fox will go eat at the Waffle House again….maybe they should have a contest to see which one will put the most weight……fox better start eating more Richt is in the lead. Richt can go and speak to the b- ball team and motivate them to win a big game today against Tennessee. Problem is Richt can’t even motivate the football team to win a big game….maybe Richt and fox. Should switch jobs….I guarantee you fox couldn’t do any worse..l. I bet fox would love to coach the football team with all that talent

Bulldawg35

March 2nd, 2013
8:33 pm

If ray drew doesn’t do any better than corn Washington. Then dang we are in some big trouble…..the chickens may score 60 in Athens…..you know spurrier would love that……he would have 60 imprinted on his tombstone

RHall55

March 3rd, 2013
7:00 am

Why wouldn’t CMR want to ramp up his recruiting staff….the in-state efforts could have / should have been better than last year (glad CRG is gone….he got really got complacent these last years!!)…AU and AL have already ramped up their staffs,,,,hire great relationalship people and have them efficiently assist in this ever changing process…attack NORCROSS….BUFORD…and all the GWIN. COUNTY SCHOOLS…how much talent has been lost to the other SEC schools in this area!!!

Paladawg

March 3rd, 2013
8:07 am

Bulldawg35: Your grasp of football is exceeded only by your grammatical skills. Now hush up. The grown-ups are talking.

Spike

March 3rd, 2013
9:38 am

Bulldawg35.. Get some decaff.

Jim

March 3rd, 2013
10:06 am

I say nix an indoor pratice faciity and use a mud bog so the defense and learn to tackle and stop the run and the offense can learn to hold onto the ball. Give Bobo a raise and appoint a special teams coordinator rather than hie a special teams coach. Also get the back up QB some playing time. If it takes five years for the best we have (Murray) to come into his own, why will we not be supprised when our 5th year senior (Mason) plays like Joe Cox. Clue light?

Bulldawg35

March 3rd, 2013
12:39 pm

Pala……what the heck do you bring to the board little man…..that’s right absolutely nothing homeslice!! We finally won two in a row in baseball, hopefully we can keep it up. Maybe saban can let us borrow kamara for the spring. Saban didn’t need to kamara, he took him from us just to keep him from committing to Uga. Which means saban will sign anybody to keep them from us…..that’s why saban is the best recruiter in America

LawDawg

March 4th, 2013
9:14 am

Bulldawg35: First, learn to write a comprenhensible, grammatically-correct sentence. Second, if you expect a true freshman to be a perfectly polished player, you do not even begin to understand the first thing about college football.

LawDawg

March 4th, 2013
9:16 am

Also, I’m not sure what your point is on Saban. He is universally considered the best college coach of the era, so saying someone is not as good as him is like saying that water is wet. Unless you have some secret plan to poach him, evoking his name serves no purpose.

Columbus Dawg

March 4th, 2013
10:05 am

Sure was glad to read Coach Richt’s comments about the absence of fat asses on the D line. These players are BIG and LEAN and can move! If we could have only had Mayes and J. Taylor against Bama instead of the “Fat Boy on Roller Skates”. Everyone will see a HUGE improvement on D this year with the new linemen. I am so glad that Geathers declared, otherwise he would have been Richt’s default starter in 2013. Other than Jarvis, the Georgia Bulldog’s defense will NOT miss any of the other defensive players from 2012, nor will they miss the “other” Ogletree toker, I mean brother. With him and C. Washington gone, this should just about clean up the dirt in the locker room. More players are needed with Jordan Jenkin’s and Todd Gurley’s mindset. Maybe Aaron Murray should talk to the team before spring break.

Bulldawg35

March 4th, 2013
12:24 pm

Law poodle……first of all this is a sports blog and not a spelling bee. Second, would it change your pathetic life if I spelled every word correctly for you….I’m sorry brah, you are just not that important to me!! I do agree that I’m glad we have smaller quicker defensive lineman. Instead of fat Jenkins and geathers. Jenkins was great in 2011…..but he gained to much weight for the next season. He is not that strong either.

Football's not for wussies(tech)

March 4th, 2013
1:44 pm

Very concerned about the defense this coming up season. Our defesne under performed incredibly last season. I know that we only had 2 yeards, one play away from a NC…… yada, yada. However, to let SC do what they did to them. Look at the teams that put many yards on them. I respect Bama, so this is not a knock, However they should have NEVER given up 350 yards on the ground with those players on the field.
CTG will be exposed this coming season. I just don’t have confidence that he is worth all that money.

Bulldawg35

March 4th, 2013
2:14 pm

I agree, Grantham is just not the stinking answer!! No matter what size our defensive line is…..
Boise st
Sc
Lsu
Bama
Mich st
Tenn
Kentucky….all of these teams ran thu us like their is no tomorrow. We have not won enough games to make me forget about losses to Bama Lsu Boise st sc mich st…..these are the best teams we have played in the last two years and lost to all of them….our only win over a good team in the last two years was fla in 2012

Buzz-off

March 4th, 2013
7:56 pm

Chill guys…..the defense will be lightyears better this upcoming season. Count on it my friends!

zbulldawg

March 5th, 2013
5:38 am

This is the most talented defensive players the Dawgs have had in awhile.They can finally be two deep at every position. Which is a must in this league. Their quickness will rise havec on teams. We have recruited game breakers for the special teams. I predict these junkyard dawgs will be the dominating. But everyone seems focused just on those two pharses of the game. This offense will be off the chain. They will be exsplosive enough to give this young defense plenty of time to grow up fast.It will help keep the young defense off the feild so it can make adjustments as the game goes along. LET THE BIG DAWG EAT

Columbus Dawg

March 5th, 2013
7:14 am

Absolutely, zbulldawg, Big John Atkins will be an asset, and overall the new coach Wilson is motivated and has more D linemen to work with than UGA has had in a while. Wilson will make Grantham look much better this season. This is the team that is going to do it. UGA has Clemson and SC on the early schedule just like the old days. SC will NOT come into Sanford and win in 2013, make your bets now. Grantham sold out the defense in Columbia in 2012 to stop Lattimore, but the Evil genius sensed this was going to happen, and Lattimore was not even his game plan. Used Lattimore as a sort of decoy while Shaw ran around free and willing. The crowd in Columbia in 2012 was one of the best football crowds I have ever witnessed, and it will be close to that in Death Valley this year, but Dabo ain’t Spurrier, and Clemson just is not that good. They beat the Bengal Tigers, but LSU is falling. They were no where near the same team that UGA faced in the dome. Georgia has a real shot at it this year folks. Underestimate the Dawgs and you will lose the game and your money.

Brown Dog

March 5th, 2013
7:15 am

Columbus, awfully tough words about players you were or shipping a few weeks ago. 11-2 is still 11-2. You treat it like a landfill sandwich.

Brown Dog

March 5th, 2013
7:16 am

That should be “worshipping.”

Whiskey Breath

March 5th, 2013
7:58 am

Be careful putting yourself in the SEC championship game . I realize that is the Ga way,
but that schedule is going to keep you out. You have been playing so many patsy schedules
for years that you don’t know what it is like to go thru a gauntlet. None of us go thru unscathed including my beloved Tide. But hey, we can admit it, we just end up champions. Not you bulldykes,
you see the ring but not the bombs in your way. You won’t be able to recover from from the september . Spurrier will do his usual mine game and LSU will wear you out. I am always right.
Does Spurrier own you guys? That wise old fox is setting you up right now.

Bulldawg35

March 5th, 2013
10:59 am

Whiskey breath

I agree Lsu will run the ball down our throats just like they always do. USC east will beat us again because spurrier owns us. Florida will beat us because they have out recruited us the last 2 years. Tennessee will beat us, because of our recent struggles in Knoxville. Clemson will beat us because our secondary is very much suspect….and I’m not sold on our offensive line. Plus we always start out slow.

Flo- Ri - Duh

March 5th, 2013
1:28 pm

Richt continues to be stubborn about special teams – UGA desperately needs a special teams coach to work with the kickers. they did a better job of covering kicks and fake kicks last year but punt and kick off returns were non existent.
When you have $64 million in the bank you can afford a special teams coach. By the way signing the new D- Line coach to a ONE YEAR contract doesn’t show they recruits much confidence that he will be there long.

Flo- Ri - Duh

March 5th, 2013
1:30 pm

Bulldog and Whiskey Breath are the same Tech Nerd sock puppet. Get a life PUNK!

Flo- Ri - Duh

March 5th, 2013
1:31 pm

I meant Bulldog35 & Whiskey Breath are the same jealous Tech Fan…… don’t get mad at UGA – get a decent coach or get mad at TECH.

Bulldawg35

March 5th, 2013
2:24 pm

Let me tell u something duhhh…….that’s all we can do is beat up the weak tech school…..I wish we could beat up on South Carolina like that too. Richt will not win the mnc at UGA……because of his time management and the university’s refusal to spend more money for the football program…..just deal with homeslice

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