Let’s get straight to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail …
Not surprisingly, Jadeveon Clowney is on the minds of a number of UGA fans writing in this week. Bulldog Abe writes: Bill, I watched the South Carolina-North Carolina game and came away from it distinctly unimpressed. Clowney looked out of shape and winded and his numbers weren’t anything to get that excited about. Should we really be that worried about him? Meanwhile, Suzanne in Buckhead writes: Bill, I’m really worried about how Kenarious Gates and our offensive line will handle Mr. Clowney this week. They didn’t do such a great job last year, and based on what I saw at Clemson, I’m thinking we lose out mano a mano just in terms of talent. What can the coaches do to help out, in terms of strategy? And Danny, who says he’s been following the Dawgs since Kirby Moore was QB, offers a suggestion in that regard: Run straight at him. … I’m not saying run exclusively, but let him know we are not afraid to run at his [posterior]!
Abe, I wouldn’t judge Clowney (or any other top player) by their first game of the season. I expect Clowney to be as active as ever against the Bulldogs (and if you saw the past two years’ Georgia-South Carolina games, that’s not an enjoyable prospect). Suzanne, a few months back, Jon Stinchcomb talked with the AJC about how to contain Clowney and what he suggested was almost exactly mirrored this week by Mark Richt, who said: “There’s a lot of different things you can do on pass protection. One of the things is that if you slide your protection towards a guy like that, you free up your tackle not to block him one-on-one. Your tackle basically is responsible for taking him on an outside rush, but if he makes a move inside of him, there will be a guard waiting for him, so that’s one way. Another way is to try to even put a tight end to the side that he’s at and give him a little bit more to navigate as he’s coming through the line of scrimmage. The other thing is to have a back or a tight end off the ball who can chip on the way out. You can also design plays where you don’t hold the ball very long. Set your point, get up in the pocket and get the ball out quickly. There’s always your quick passing game where you may try to change up your blocking technique with the cut block from time to time. That might give him something to think about, but those are the things that you try to do. You can also sprint your protection to or away from him or move the pocket from time to time.” And Danny, yes, one of the ways of dealing with an aggressive pass-rusher like Clowney is either running right at him or throwing a quick pass right at the spot that he has rapidly departed. It’ll be interesting to see whether Mike Bobo employs that strategy at all Saturday.
Pete Talmadge is just one of quite a few letter writers upset with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. He writes: Bill, I agreed with your Monday AJC column — all is not lost and there is still a lot of football to play. There is no shame in going to Clemson and losing by 3, but what disturbs me is that we got out-coached on offense. I felt that Bobo did a good job of play-calling last year, but that he strangely reverted to form from previous years on Saturday. Example: First and goal from the five — we run all 3 downs up the middle to no avail. On 3rd down, Clemson had 11 in the box — Murray could have rolled right and walked into the end zone. SC poses a more difficult threat with their defense. Unless Bobo and company make some meaningful adjustments, it could make for another very long night vs. Spurrier, which might make for a very long year.
As I wrote earlier in the week, Pete, I think Bobo is a much better play-caller than he gets credit for, but Saturday against Clemson definitely wasn’t one of his more effective efforts. Let’s hope he mixes it up much more against the Gamecocks.
Lenny Daniel writes: Bill, The officiating did seem quite inconsistent Saturday night. On the crucial 3rd down play where the Clemson WR was bobbling the ball as he appeared to be going out of bounds, can the officials review that (since it’s not a scoring play) or do the Georgia coaches have to challenge it? I was disappointed that we didn’t challenge it, because it looked like he didn’t have possession and that was on the drive that eventually gave Clemson the 10 point lead and put the game out of reach.
According to the 2013 NCAA Football Instant Replay Casebook, reviewable plays include a pass “ruled complete, incomplete or intercepted anywhere on the field of play.” It says there are two methods to stop a game and review a ruling on the field. The replay official and his crew shall review every play of a game. He may stop a game at any time before the ball is next legally put in play if there is reasonable evidence to believe an error was made in the initial on-field ruling, the play is reviewable and the outcome of a review would have a direct, competitive impact on the game. And the head coach of either team may request that play be stopped for a review by challenging the on-field ruling. The key there is that the official has to stop the game before the ball is put into play. Even though there obviously was some question whether the receiver had possession of the ball when he went out of bounds, the replay official didn’t act quickly enough and neither did Richt, and Clemson went with what was a fast snap even for its hurry-up offense before the play could be reviewed.
Bill Schoolfield writes: Bill, Where were the UGA fans Saturday? Did Clemson not make available the normal allotment of tickets? I expect it to be hostile environment, but I couldn’t even detect a GA section anywhere.
UGA received 7,500 tickets to the game from Clemson, and the ABC cameras showed a section of fans in red briefly at one point in the game. But they obviously were overwhelmed in terms of noise by the home crowd, who kept up a constant din. Sanford Stadium crowds need to start doing likewise.
Beach Dawg Living Among Gators writes: Bill, as always I continue to appreciate your candid views of our beloved Dawgs. Yesterday your radio cuz, Bill King, posed the question as to how much Aaron owns the responsibility for the recent dismal record against ranked teams. While he never answered the question, he went on to say that Aaron’s body language (primarily eyes) does not say winner! Your thoughts please on Aaron’s level of ownership against ranked teams — I tend to put the majority of responsibility on the coaches, mainly Bobo! Do you believe that Aaron has the “killer” instinct?
That’s bull. Unless the radio Bill King (no relation) has been down on the field playing against Murray (which he hasn’t), he has no idea what his eyes are showing. I’ll grant Murray doesn’t always keep his cool in the pocket like, say, David Greene did, but this whole Murray-against-ranked-teams thing overlooks the fact that he doesn’t play those games by himself. It’s a team game and generally when Murray doesn’t play that well you can bet his offensive line hasn’t played well. As for a killer instinct, just look at those key downs against Florida the past couple of years when he delivered big-game passes on the money. Of course, part of the credit there should go to his receivers, who made spectacular grabs. Like I said, it’s a team game.
Chuck Corley writes: I urge you to please ask the Bulldog Nation to give a long loud standing ovation to Kolton Houston when he is introduced on Saturday. Kolton never lost faith and after 3 years of NCAA stupidity, he finally has joined his teammates on the field.
Assuming Houston’s name is announced to the crowd at some point, I’d say a loud ovation will be pretty much a given.
Ron writes: Hey Bill, I saw on the UGA facilities [Twitter] page (@UGAFACILITIES) a picture of a new addition to Sanford: 2 sections of seating right by the bulldog statue in front of the [East] end zone. Personally, I like the new seats. Your thoughts?
My first inclination was that these were seats for the recruits. I asked UGA sports information chief Claude Felton, and he sent along a statement from Jim Booz, senior associate atheltic director for compliance. It said: “Thanks for your inquiry. Please understand that due to NCAA rules, we are not able to elaborate too much about the location of seats for prospective student-athletes. Yes, we have changed seat locations for some prospective student-athletes. Members of our staff have worked hard and put forth much effort related to this move and we do believe it will benefit the University of Georgia and our prospective student-athletes.” That sounds pretty much like a nonconfirmation confirmation, to put it in Watergate terms.
Bulldawg Babe writes: Bill, you’re the man with the (gameday) plan, so I’m hoping you can answer several questions for me. Firstly, what time will the Dawg Walk be? In the past, I believe it was supposed to be an hour and a half before kickoff, right? Also, has UGA done anything to upgrade the gameday experience in Sanford Stadium this season? Most pointedly, has anything been done about improving wi-fi access? Thanks!
This season, the general rule is that the Dawg Walk will be 1 hour and 50 minutes (approximately) before kickoff. This week, the Dawgs are scheduled to walk at 2:35 p.m, with kickoff at at 4:31 p.m. I asked Claude Felton about wi-fi and he said “there are no changes this season in stadium wi-fi access although research is continuing on the subject.” As for other game day changes, the two biggest are that all tickets will be scanned at the entry gate (which might slow things down a tad, so you might want to enter the stadium earlier than in the past) and there’ve been some additions to the concessions offered (Chick-fil-A, Papa John’s, Sonny’s barbecue and Subway), plus free refills on the largest sizes of souvenir fountain drink cups and popcorn buckets and more vendors out in the stands. There’s also a parking hotline to assist fans with directions, public handicap lot availability, the East Campus gameday shuttle and other gameday information (706-425-3052). And for the first three home games, when it likely will be hot, misting stations for fans will be located near Gates 2, 7 and 10. Also this season, on Fridays before a home game, an exhibit of historical football memorabilia from the UGA Athletic Association Archives will be displayed, and guided tours of the three Special Collections galleries will be offered each home game Friday at 3 p.m. at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries, 300 S. Hull St., located near the intersection of Baxter and Lumpkin streets. The building and exhibit galleries are open to the public Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 1-5 p.m. on non-home game Saturdays.
Our Ice Dawg correspondent Connor Kelly writes: Hi Bill, Just wanted to let know the Athens-Clarke County Commisioners voted 6-3 to approve an ice arena being built in the Classic Center! Looks like it won’t be too long until UGA fans and students can cheer on the Ice Dawgs without ever leaving Athens.
That’s great news, Connor. I’m adding watching a hockey game in downtown Athens to my UGA Bucket List!
Finally, Jim P. writes: Bill, Which do you like writing more about, the Dawgs or music? Your column a while back about concert experiences showed great passion for both. Keep up the great work.
Jim, I’ve been fortunate to write plenty about both of my favorite subjects over the years, having served as the Constitution’s rock and pop music critic and publishing a Beatles magazine in my spare time as well as being the Junkyard Blawger. I’ve had a lot of fun over the years interviewing lots of music legends (from Brian Wilson and Billy Joel to Tammy Wynette and Frank Zappa, plus three Beatles) and seeing many great concerts. But I grew up a Georgia Bulldogs fan and there’s no bigger thrill for me than a big UGA win. Thankfully, I don’t have to choose between the two interests.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg