Fan talk: Coaching changes, special teams, quarterback leadership, basketball Dawgs and more!

Secondary coach Scott Lakatos' departure appears to be of his own doing. (University of Georgia)

Secondary coach Scott Lakatos' departure appears to be of his own doing. (University of Georgia)

Let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail. …

Terry D. writes: Bill, I couldn’t help but notice Scott Lakatos, who oversaw our miserable secondary, announced his departure from the UGA staff the very same day Greg McGarity was having his annual sit-down/evaluation with Mark Richt. I know Richt previously had said he didn’t anticipate any staff changes — continuity rules! — but the timing here is awfully curious. What do you think, coincidence, or did Greg put pressure on the head coach to make a change?

Coincidence, I think. Yes, the secondary was the most disappointing area of this year’s team and it’s true that Georgia’s defensive backs showed little progress over the course of 13 games, at least a portion of which could be laid pretty fairly at Lakatos’ feet. But McGarity made it clear this week in his interview with the AJC’s Chip Towers that he doesn’t get into the hiring and firing of assistant coaches, so I think it’s highly unlikely the athletic director played any role in Lakatos’ departure. Plus, there had been rumors for quite a while about some sort of issue that the secondary coach was dealing with, which would jibe with his announcement he was resigning for “personal” reasons. In an interview this week, one of Georgia’s defensive back recruits, Shattle Fenteng, told the AJC’s Michael Carvell that defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said Lakatos had “some family issues he needed to take care of.” Whatever the reason, it does give Richt a chance to put someone with a fresh point of view in charge of the struggling unit. Which leads to our next letter …

Bob writes: What do you think about replacing Lakatos? How about a guy like Ron Zook in a dual role as DB and special teams coach? … Though Zook’s tenure as a head coach might not be stellar, I think a guy of his experience and profile could be a big plus.

Secondary coach would be quite a comedown for a former head coach and defensive coordinator, but, last I heard, Zook was working for a bank in Florida, so I guess he might consider such a move if he wanted to get back into college football that badly. But I think he’d be a longshot. The names that almost immediately started circulating include former Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who is no longer the hot commodity he once was when he was considered a potential candidate for the defensive coordinator’s job ultimately filled by Grantham, and Duane Akina, who coached defensive backs for Texas and might be a more likely consideration. But considering Grantham’s pro ball background, some sort of NFL defensive assistant might be a more likely prospect. That’s where Grantham found inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti. Along those lines, Shattle Fenteng told Michael Carvell that “Coach Grantham said he is going to try to hire someone within the next week. He’s waiting for some NFL guys to call him back. He said he wants to get a good coach so he can develop me to go to the NFL.” Another possibility to consider is that Richt might decide to go for a defensive backs coach who also has special teams coaching experience, allowing him to address another nagging and very serious problem with his team. Or he might use this staff opening to reshuffle some responsibilities among current assistants to focus more on special teams. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Speaking of special teams play, Pete Talmadge writes: Remember, Richt’s background was FSU under Bowden, who, for years, refused to give a scholly to a kicker. Only after “wide left, wide right” did he do so. How many guys did we send back to field punts? I lost track, but [Richt] decided on [Reggie] Davis for the Gator Bowl, a young, fast but untested “hands” guy who wasn’t going anywhere in the mud in Jacksonville. Predictably, he fumbled once, but then they sent him back another time as well? Fortunately, he ran away from the punt the second time, which is about as good as we can do. When you see teams execute some tricky special teams plays, you shake your head and realize that UGA could NEVER do anything like this. We can’t even find a guy that can catch punts. Pitiful.

Greg McGarity said it's Mark Richt's job to fix defensive and special teams problems. (University of Georgia)

Greg McGarity said it's Mark Richt's job to fix defensive and special teams problems. (University of Georgia)

Pete, I do take a small measure of hope from another comment McGarity made in his AJC interview, when he addressed this season’s breakdowns in defense and special teams play. “Everyone knows where are shortcomings are. It’s pretty obvious to everyone. There’s no sugar-coating that. We do have a lot of deficiencies. Those are the things … that are going to be addressed. As head football coach, it’s [Richt's] job to address those and learn from those and move forward. … But right now our special teams are a deficiency; they need to be a plus. It’s a three-headed monster — offense, defense, special teams. Right now we’re not special. It’s up to Mark to fix it.” Let’s hope that point was made strongly with the head coach this week.

Joe Burger writes: Hey Bill, My question looks ahead to 2014. In addition to the pure playmaking and talent we lose with Aaron Murray, his leadership void is what concerns me most. Murray (arguably) singlehandedly won us several games with his toughness and will (UT, LSU). However, with him departed, who steps in to fill the void (be it coach or player)? With huge question marks about the defensive secondary, the O line play, special teams ineffectiveness, UGA really needs someone to step up and lead this team. Without a true leader for this upcoming season, I feel another season of 5 to 7 losses is what we are headed for (but I sure do hope I’m wrong!) …

Well, my first choice, naturally, would be Hutson Mason. It’s always a strength for a team when the quarterback is a team leader, and while Mason might be new to the starter’s job, he’ll be a five-year senior and he’s shown in the past that he’s not shy about stating his preferences and exhorting his teammates. The only thing that gives me pause with Mason was his hesitancy and trust issues with his line and receivers in the Gator Bowl, but that hopefully won’t carry over into the new season. The Mason who led Georgia to a comeback win over Tech would do a pretty good job of stepping into Murray’s shoes as a leader. Elsewhere, some of the other rising seniors, like center David Andrews on offense and defensive end Ray Drew and linebackers Ramik Wilson and Amarlo Herrera on defense, seem likely to step up as team leaders. There’s no doubt Murray’s leadership will be missed, but I feel pretty good about that aspect of the 2014 team.

Roswell Dawg writes: Bill, Many folks in the Bulldawg nation, including me, are fed up with the mediocrity that our program has fallen into.  Very few are optimistic about next season since our leader thinks continuity after an 8-5 season is a good thing. It’s hard for us to overlook long-term problems like absolutely no attention to special teams, horrific secondary play, little if any in-game adjustments, lack of attention to recruiting and coaching offensive lineman, and lack of preparation, motivation, and discipline on and off the field. What do you think it’s going to take to turn this around? Many of us think it will take a change at the top, maybe all the way to the AD. Lakatos’ resignation gives some hope that we’ll go after the best DB coach in the country and perhaps also a special teams leader, but we’re not holding our breaths.

I’ll admit some of the nagging problems plaguing Richt’s program concern me, but keep in mind that the 2013 team had to overcome a horrendous rash of injuries to key playmakers. And the team, especially the offense, will be loaded again with superlative talent in 2014. Yes, I think special teams and secondary play need some drastic action, and I’m tired of spotty offensive line play, but I don’t think complaints about the overall level of recruiting and discipline are valid. You have to remember that most of the disciplinary problems that have cropped up for the Bulldogs have been for things that get passed over with a blind eye in many other programs. Calls for changes at the top are not warranted at this point, in my opinion.

Putting a more positive spin on things, Jim P. writes: All of the criticism is legitimate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a precursor to 2014. Let the Dawgs get healthy this offseason and see what happens. I’m sure a lot of coaches and players are staring in the mirror this offseason, with a strong will to improve. I just think we all need to chill out and not let our emotions get the best of us. We’re all feeling down right now. But we’re The Bulldog Nation! We will bounce back up!!

Thanks, Jim. We needed that.

Patrick writes: With Faton Bauta being a large running backup quarterback, do you see UGA bringing him in to run in short yardage situations, similar to a “Wildcat” formation? Also, do you think coach Mark Richt will go back to the backup having a guaranteed drive or 2 per game?

To answer your second question first, no. Aside from the David Greene-D.J. Shockley era, Richt has shown little indication to rotate his quarterbacks, preferring to stick with his starter. As for Bauta coming in for the occasional running play, we did see that briefly in the Gator Bowl and we’ll probably see it again, but it’s not something that Mike Bobo has had a lot of success with in the past. Actually, what might be fun would be to send in Bauta for what looks like a running play and then have him heave it downfield. Reportedly, he has a pretty strong arm and his passing game has improved tremendously, which is why he’s worked his way up the depth chart.

Mark Fox was understandably emotional after his team's win over Missouri. (Associated Press)

Mark Fox was understandably emotional after his team's win over Missouri. (Associated Press)

Jerry Phillips writes: Bill, I know you write mostly about football, but I’m wondering what your thoughts are about Mark Fox and the Bulldogs basketball team this season. The nonconference portion of the season was pretty underwhelming and I’m not real optimistic about how this no-star team will do in conference play. How about you?

I don’t get to attend many Georgia basketball games because of my work schedule, but my wife and I did make it to a couple of games at the Steg in December — both enjoyable wins over negligible opposition, one a last-second squeaker over Western Carolina. I didn’t leave overly impressed with Georgia’s talent level — or very optimistic about their prospects in the SEC this season and Fox’s chances of holding on to his job. Which is a shame, because I think that, in addition to being a nice guy, he’s a fine game coach and does well by his players. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to recruit much superior talent to Athens, and that’s a big problem. Of course, you never know how things will turn out. The roundball Dogs opened their conference schedule this week at Missouri, which had the nation’s longest home winning streak. I didn’t get to see the game, but my son watched online and called me with three seconds left to tell me that Georgia was about to knock off Mizzou, and that Fox was really emotional. No wonder; he’d just buried his basketball coach dad and his team had somehow won a shocker no one expected them to take. Whether the win over the Tigers turns out to be an outlier this season or shows what this team really is capable of remains to be seen. Offensively, the Dogs haven’t been that bad, though they lack a sparkplug like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Defensively they’ve been spotty. And the foul shooting has been pretty awful; that’s why the Missouri game went into overtime. Maybe the win over Mizzou will give them the confidence to step it up in league play. I think at best, though, Georgia looks to be a midlevel team this season. Whether that would be enough to save Fox’s job, I don’t know.

Go Dogs!

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

328 comments Add your comment

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:23 pm

…Richt’s tan…knock it down…special teams…Grantham…mommie…mommie…mama…mama…

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:24 pm

3.5″,

Dude, you’re just Third World stupid. No hope…

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:24 pm

Gut sucks

Anyways you’re a liar! You have been on the blogs before as paddy! You changed your screen name because you were embarrassed of it….I guess! Lol!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:26 pm

Gut sucks

Your opinion means very little to me….booger boy!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:26 pm

…mommie…mommie…mama…mama…Grantham…Grantham…Kool-Aid…Kool-Aid…woohoo…woohoo…no silver britches…no silver britches…bbbwwwwaaaaaggghhh…bbbwwwwaaaaaggghhh…over and over…

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:27 pm

If you were my little boy, I’d tear your arse up….and then make you smile about it…

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:28 pm

How was your possum sandwich the other day?

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
4:28 pm

Let’s keep trashing Richt until Gutrake has a complete emotional meltdown. Whose with me?

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:29 pm

3.5″ equals Third World Stupid. Plain and simple.

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:29 pm

dawgfan,

Are you the waterboy?

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:29 pm

Gut

I don’t think that possible sport…..when I’m probably older than you!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:30 pm

Dawg fan

I’m with you! Lol

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:31 pm

It would be impossible for you to be older than me. Well…I mean intellectually…

You sound like a child…

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:31 pm

Gut

You should go get a job as Richts butler……so you can lick his shoes!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:32 pm

Gut

Okay how old are you bro??

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:33 pm

Richt’s butler? To lick his shoes? Is that all you got? You’re kidding, right?

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:33 pm

Gut

How old are ya sport o?

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:33 pm

When you call me Daddy, I’ll tell you how old I am. I don’t do ebonics…

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:34 pm

Or his body guard! Which ever….so you can protect his feeling from the mean Internet! Lol

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:35 pm

Okay I’m going to guess 76 years old….5″2 and 450 lbs! Am I right?

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:35 pm

A body guard protects a person’s feelings? See what I mean…

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:36 pm

The only time you’ve been right is when you chose the right bathroom to go into…

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:37 pm

…and that was luck!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:37 pm

No I don’t….okay his personal feelings protector…..I think your pretty close to a severe melt down! What a shame! Lol!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:39 pm

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
4:41 pm

…woohoo…woohoo…special teams…special teams…Grantham…Grantham…Kool-Aid…Kool-Aid…knock it down…knock it down…Richt’s tan…Richt’s tan…losing recruits…losing recruits…

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
4:44 pm

What Time of the year do you hunt possum….season around right?

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
5:05 pm

In my opinion this is a critical hire for Richt. Richt better hire somebody that can get the job done! We can’t afford another year of horrible play from the secondary!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
5:07 pm

2014?
January 11th, 2014
12:14 pm

Only an unemployed ball coach would take the B back coaching job at Georgia . . . .
_______________________

Well, he’d stay unemployed then, because I don’t believe we have a B back coaching job at UGA.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
5:16 pm

I’m sick and tired of UGA not winning the sec! I wonder what it’s going to take to win it again?? As a fan I’m running out of answers!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
5:28 pm

Da Stats
January 11th, 2014
1:42 pm
. . . The info below shows UGA coaches, their records, and average losses over their last 5 years at UGA. Interesting to say the least.

Richt – 44-23 = 4.6 losses
Donnan – 40-19 = 3.8 losses
Goff – 36-21 = 4.2 losses
Dooley – 40 -17 = 3.4 losses
_______________________

Telling numbers there.

DawginColorado

January 11th, 2014
5:30 pm

Seems to me that this blog was totally wasted on this crowd. It doesn’t matter what is in the article, the answer is the same. All I see is a bunch of people that are throwing temper tantrums.

The issue isn’t whether or not more reasonable fans don’t think there are things that need changing. The issue is how we express it and handle ourselves.

I said it in the other blog… just look at this load of steaming bull hock that gets laid on these blogs and imagine how that would look in an email addressed to the AD of a major university? No wonder he doesn’t take those email seriously. They probably look like a 9 year old boy who forgot to take his ADD meds wrote them. Just like way too many of these posts do.

Really, people? You want a professional to take you seriously when the product of your angst is like this pile of horse droppings?

Put something coherent together and then maybe somebody might take you seriously.

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
5:32 pm

Gutrake
January 11th, 2014
3:06 pm
Truth is, if you boys had a brain, you’d see that my posts make as much sense as yours does. However, I don’t expect you to see that . . . .
____________________

. . . as yours “does”???

If YOU had a brain, you’d understand that you wrote that improperly–and you’d see that YOUR posts make no sense at all. However, I don’t expect you to see that.

Macclenny_dawg

January 11th, 2014
5:44 pm

Back when Smart was offered the defensive coordinator job some 4 years ago and turned it down Buck Belue gave three reasons why he did. The 1st was he didn’t want to coach with Gardner. They had some heated recruiting battles and wanted to bring in his own defensive line coach. The 2nd was he didn’t think the strength and conditioning program was where it should be. Richt said nothing WAS wrong. Although I think it has improved its still not top notch. That’s why our o line cannot dominate. The 3rd reason was Saban didn’t support a lateral move. But Richt could have gave him the title of assistant head coach and made it happen. These comments are all from Nelue someone with more insight of the program than any one on this blog.
This just proves Richt just doesn’t see some things that are obvious or he doesn’t care. Either way its not good for us. Kind of puts things into place on why we WANT GET ANY GOOD ASSISTANT COACH. But hey koolaid kids STAY THIRSTY MY FELLOW DAWGS!!!

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
5:50 pm

That’s funny DawginColorodo because all I see is a bunch of Kool Aiders like you whining and crying because there are people out there not buying the BS hype anymore. All you Kool Aiders do is whine. You never challenge us on our opinions. You never tell us how we’re wrong. You just whine and tell us to go away.

Sorry pal but not happening. This is how it is until Richt gets up off his azz and wins something or leaves.

I suggest you get used to it.

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
5:53 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
4:20 pm
. . . When people just go to the games fora good time they go for the wrong reasons…you go to support the team . . . .
_______________________

So you can’t have a good time while you support the team?

Hello?

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
5:54 pm

I think my points are quite coherent and valid by the way DawginColorodo. For instance, my biggest gripe with Richt is that he cannot beat the top teams. Please feel free to cite me some facts on how I’m wrong about that.

Otherwise, QUIT WHINING.

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
6:08 pm

DawginColorado
January 11th, 2014
5:30 pm
Seems to me that this blog was totally wasted on this crowd . . .
just look at this load of steaming bull hock that gets laid on these blogs and imagine how that would look in an email addressed to the AD of a major university? No wonder he doesn’t take those email seriously . . .
You want a professional to take you seriously when the product of your angst is like this pile of horse droppings?
Put something coherent together and then maybe somebody might take you seriously.
______________________

Co-sign.

Bill King

January 11th, 2014
6:16 pm

Mark Fox’s Dawgs now 2-0 in conference play!!!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
6:17 pm

dawgfan
January 11th, 2014
5:54 pm
I think my points are quite coherent and valid by the way DawginColorodo. For instance, my biggest gripe with Richt is that he cannot beat the top teams. Please feel free to cite me some facts on how I’m wrong about that.
Otherwise, QUIT WHINING.
________________________

Some RECENT facts on why you’re wrong about that: SC and LSU this this past season; fla in 2012.

And NO, I’m not happy about the team’s performance in 2013.

QUIT LYING.

Macclenny_dawg

January 11th, 2014
6:18 pm

Dawg basketball playing inspired!!!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
6:19 pm

Bill King
January 11th, 2014
6:16 pm
Mark Fox’s Dawgs now 2-0 in conference play!!!
______________________

As unlikely as it seems, wouldn’t it be nice if they could use these two surprise SEC wins to make something of this season?!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
6:23 pm

Poor strength & conditioning! Poor O-line and secondary play! I just wonder how long Richt will last under these circumstance’s???

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
6:31 pm

Dawg nole

What I meant is they go to get drunk they could care less about the out come of the game. They even get so drunk they can even cheer….the ones who are not drunk are walking around all game and not even paying the game any attention…..anyways you must be confused on who you pull for!……meh!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
6:37 pm

Yep the b ball team is playing more inspired than the football team! Wooooo hoooooo!

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
6:44 pm

I’ll give you SC and Florida in 2012. LSU did not finish in the top 10 and is not a top team (quit lying). That’s a grand total of TWO in the past 5 seasons.

Richt cannot beat top teams. I’m not lying. Just sharing an opinion that is well founded. I’m sorry it makes you cry.

Damn Disgusted Dawg

January 11th, 2014
6:44 pm

Duke plays better ball than we do.

maconexpress

January 11th, 2014
6:45 pm

@dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
1:05 pm

I forgot about that little outburst. I have no doubt that he knows what he’s doing. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s doing just enough work to keep his job and dupe these ******** into their endless optimism about “next year.”

Richt is no dummy folks.
____________________________________________________

If he’s that kind of a man he’s only hurting himself.(Galatians 6:7,8)

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
6:47 pm

We played 4 top 10 teams this year and went 1-3, but I’m lying saying Richt can’t beat top teams?

Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.

Skokie Dog

January 11th, 2014
6:48 pm

McGarity is quoted as saying, “Right now we’re not special.” Give the man credit. He can summarize a situation succinctly.