Let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail. …
Brownie Lawson writes: I know a lot of the Bulldog Nation has been watching the NFL draft, but I can’t really work up much enthusiasm for it. I’m happy if former Dawgs get drafted, but it’s not really that important to me, especially those players that left school early. But I seem to be in the minority. Bill, tell me why I should care that Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree went in the first round.
I understand where you’re coming from, Brownie, especially when it comes to those who didn’t play out their eligibility in Athens, but as with so many other things in the college game these days, it all comes back to recruiting. Kids want to play in a program that they see as a pipeline to the pros. That’s what hurts triple-option programs like Georgia Tech, which play a brand of the game foreign to what’s seen on Sundays. As Mr.SEC noted this week, “No school has matched Georgia’s level of consistency with regards to talent production. Before Mark Richt, since Mark Richt, 10 years, five years, last year … the Dawgs are always on NFL teams’ radars. It’s no wonder UGA has finished either first or second in the SEC East in nine of Richt’s 12 seasons in Athens.” So, Georgia putting more players into the NFL than a lot of comparable schools helps elevate the program and draw the attention of fresh recruits, as Richt noted this week. “I haven’t recruited many guys that didn’t think or weren’t at least dreaming about the NFL or hoping to be or expecting to be [drafted],” Richt said. “I think it’s exciting for high school kids observing Georgia and trying to decide, ‘Hey, would this be a good place for me.’ It’s a big a part of the recruiting process and what we’re trying to get accomplished. … It’s an important time for our current players and really for the future of our program, too.”
Jim P. writes: You mentioned our D-line size in a recent article. I wondered about that for a while, knowing that John Jenkins would be gone. Seems that one of the necessary requirements for a 3-4 defense is size in the line spots (particularly the middle). If a team can’t recruit that every year, their base scheme is in trouble. Alabama seems to be only one of few that recruits consistently to use the 3-4 well. Could UGA be in need of switching to a 4-3 temporarily? I understand Grantham does mix it up.
Yes, Georgia will be losing a big body in the middle in future New Orleans Saint John Jenkins. But the hope is that while Jenkins’ replacements might not be quite as big, they will make up for it in being a bit more athletic. You’re right, though, that Todd Grantham does indeed mix it up and is likely to do even more of that in the first couple of games of the season. That’s why there was all the emphasis this spring on getting Josh Harvey-Clemons comfortable playing the hybrid saftey-linebacker “star” position in the nickel package, in which Georgia essentially plays with an extra, fifth defensive back. Against a spread offense like Clemson’s, the Dawgs figure to be in their nickel package most of the time. Same with South Carolina’s three-receiver sets and mobile quarterback. Georgia actually plays its base 3-4 defense a lot less than most folks realize. Mike Thornton told the Macon Telegraph he estimated the team is in its nickel defense 70 percent of the time.
Silverdawg writes: Bill, like so many other Georgia Bulldogs fans, I’m worried about opening the season against the likes of Tajh Boyd and Clemson and South Carolina with Connor Shaw and Jadeveon Clowney, and wonder whether the coaching staff is doing anything to jumpstart preparations for those games. I didn’t hear much talk about that during spring practice, and I wonder if maybe they were working some on getting ready for the Tigers and Gamecocks in those closed scrimmages and just didn’t tell anyone?
Richt told the AJC’s Chip Towers that spring was pretty much devoted to working on fundamentals and determining a depth chart for the Dogs. “We didn’t sit there and say, ‘This is what Clemson does and let’s try to simulate that with the scout team’ or anything like that. We didn’t get into that.” But the coach said the staff will spend the summer getting ready for dealing with, say, South Carolina’s Clowney. “We spend a lot of time on our first two opponents so it will be a natural this year. It was about game six or so last year and we might not have sat there in the summer thinking about it as much as we’ll think about it this summer. Yeah, you’ve just got to figure out a way to get the ball off or a way to run the ball successfully and neutralize him in some way, shape or form.”
Chris Pugh writes: Bill let’s say I have just basic cable from the city I live in. Will the SEC Network take away from me watching my UGA games that are usually on ESPN or ESPN 2?
No, Chris. The games that are usually on CBS, ESPN and ESPN2 will still be on those channels. What will change is the games that in the past have been shown elsewhere. SportsBusiness Daily reported recently that the conference has reacquired the third-tier TV rights from its schools (the one game per season that usually wound up on CSS or pay-per-view) and is in the process of regaining its syndicated rights from Comcast and Fox Sports Net. The Fox deal ends after the 2014-2015 season, so after that all the games that used to be farmed out to those channels (the noon games, in particular) will wind up on the SEC Network. The satellite services and most cable systems are expected to pick up the SEC Network, especially in this part of the country, but if your basic cable subscription doesn’t include such sports channels, you may well have to upgrade in order to see all the Dogs’ games.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg