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

Skokie Dog

January 11th, 2014
6:51 pm

Bill King wrote, “Calls for changes at the top are not warranted at this point, in my opinion.”
Bill: What would it take to change your opinion? Would the ‘Dogs need to go 0-11 for five straight seasons, or would a string of 6-6 records be enough?

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
6:53 pm

Nate brown declined an UGA offer! Gee we just can’t pull in the best recruits! Nate is the best WR in the state of Georgia and he is going too Missouri! Way to go staff! Let the decline begin!

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
6:58 pm

8 or 9 wins a year and Richt is golden. He knows it too. It shows in the passion and enthusiasm, or lack thereof, that he brings to his job. There’s little to no ambition there for anything more. Just go through the motions, beat the teams you’re supposed to beat and maybe the balls will bounce your way (ie. easy schedule, other teams beating SC for us) for a magical 2 loss season.

That’s pretty much his outlook.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
7:04 pm

Richt should no longer be the coach….simply because duke finished with a better record. When duke out plays you….then it’s time to hang it up!!!!

Moist Dawg

January 11th, 2014
7:05 pm

dawgfan bulldawg35 and gutrake, why dont you loosers just kiss each other and get it over with. you three marys make me want to throw up.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
7:10 pm

Moist…

Your post are pretty dumb! I guess you still think the Michigan state DC is going to come here and coach defensive backs? Bwaaahhhhaaaabwaaahhha!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
7:12 pm

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!
______________________

How am I supposed to know what you “meant” to say? Say what you mean!

No confusion here; I pull for two teams equally–UGA and FSU.

Hairy Dawg

January 11th, 2014
7:18 pm

Haha the Vandy Commodes cant keep no coaching. Any coach that has one winning season trying to get away from those pointy heads. The Commodes just dont rate loyalty for coaching like Dawgs deserve.

And another laughing is how Satan and Bammers hired the joke of Lame Kitten. If he been there OC against Dawgs then we won the BCS. I cant wait to mash Bammer now that they got that clown OC.

Go Dawgs!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
7:24 pm

Dawg nole

That’s just weird that you pull for both teams! I bet you got one of those house divided tags on your 85 caravan…..disgusting!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
7:26 pm

Most

You also thought UGA was still going to Pasadena when they had 3 losses! Bhawaaaaabwahhhhaaaa!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
7:26 pm

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.
_____________________

Did we go 0-4 against those top teams? NO. So yes, you’re lying.

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
7:28 pm

What do you want to bet he was “DawgTide” this time last year.

You know the type.

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
7:29 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
7:24 pm
Dawg nole
That’s just weird that you pull for both teams! I bet you got one of those house divided tags on your 85 caravan…..disgusting!
_________________________

What’s disgusting is that your blog handle associates you with UGA.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
7:31 pm

Dawg fan

Lol!!!! Bwahhhaaaaaa!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
7:32 pm

Who did you pull for in the 2003 sugar bowl??? I bet you had a FSU hat on and a UGA jersey on and your favorite high school teams pants on! Bwaaaabwaaaa!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
7:38 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
7:32 pm

Who did you pull for in the 2003 sugar bowl??? I bet you had a FSU hat on and a UGA jersey on and your favorite high school teams pants on! Bwaaaabwaaaa!
______________________

“Bwaaaabwaaaa!”???

That pretty much says all we need to know about you. What class you have. That’s a fine image you project of UGA.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
7:42 pm

Dawg tide nole

Ha! Is that the best you have? I’m starting to think you’re moist dawgs cousin! Lol!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
7:45 pm

Their are some fickle fans on here! I bet y’all were the same Kool Aid fans who got mad at realist fans who wanted ray goof to be fired!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
7:53 pm

No wonder we are the laughing stock of the sec this year right along with Florida….we got beat by vandy’s back up QB….Pat Robinette! Haha! We stink!

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
8:03 pm

The coaching carousel continues and top tier coaches and those with upside get upgraded to storied programs, while this stale, vanilla program stays pat and folds…Mark Richt is the laughing stock of college football and the fans that still buy into his straight and narrow approach to coaching will get a spot in heavan and Orlando at best during bowl time. Richt had his windows of opportunity from ‘02-’07….if he did screw up that home game at SC in ‘07, that team would have beat LSU and went on to win the championship…even when he got one brief moment of luck in the six putrid years since then, he failed miserably to manage the last minute of the Bama game…folks, he’s a terrible coach and the posts that state he will remain until the money spigot is turned off are sad but true…how these stakeholders in the program cannot see the forest through the trees is beyond me…all you need to know as the measuring stick is that no one, and I mean no one, ever comes calling and says “yeah, Mark Richt would make us a better program; we need to get him to help us”. Never happen and it never will. It’s over and it’s been over for a real long time…..

Macclenny_dawg

January 11th, 2014
8:14 pm

Folks I am tired of hearing that we was 1 play away from playing in the national championship game. We did our same routine under Richt in that game. We played well in the 1st half. Saban made adjustments at the half and we did what we always do. Play about a half of football. We cannot play a full game of football. Take our foot off the gas as soon as we get a lead and never stay hungry. The only good thing about having Richt as our coach is like him we never get rattled. Never win championships when you never blow anybody out because the backups never get playing time.

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
8:20 pm

Mosh
January 11th, 2014
8:03 pm
. . . Richt had his windows of opportunity from ‘02-’07….if he did screw up that home game at SC in ‘07, that team would have beat LSU and went on to win the championshp . . . .
______________________

So if he “DID screw up that home game at SC in ‘07, that team would have beat LSU and went on to win the championshp”?

If he DID screw up that game (which he DID), how would the Dawgs have gone (not “went”) on to win the championship (not “championshp”)?

Hello?

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
8:33 pm

thank you for the English lesson j/o….I’m trying to emulate the reading level of the average bulldog player…grammar nazis really have no life…

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
8:35 pm

That’s all we have under Richt, a bunch of ifs.

If this an if that.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
8:35 pm

The only hope Richt has left is that every current sec coach will retire or resign!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
8:36 pm

Mosh
January 11th, 2014
8:33 pm
thank you for the English lesson j/o….I’m trying to emulate the reading level of the average bulldog player…grammar nazis really have no life…
________________________

Dolts who think poor grammar is the same as sloppy, lazy writing have no life. Who is “j/o”?

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
8:41 pm

well, check again dolt…I didn’t misspell championship and I made one error on did or didn’t…wow, pretty much all you can do is focus on that…I’ve laughed at your weak posts…you’re exhibit A for the reason why we settle for mediocrity…and j/o is jerk…off, which is you.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
8:43 pm

We have only landed one elite WR in the last 6 years and that was AJ Green! I guess the staff doesn’t think we need an elite WR! Smh!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
8:43 pm

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
8:47 pm

I love people like this joker dawgnote…the high and mighty fan that knows everything and it’s his job to save us from our ourselves….must be a cousin of Richt…

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
8:51 pm

Haha….that one was auto correct…another one for him to focus in lol

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
8:58 pm

Bulldawg 35 – I’m more concerned about the overall lack of depth, especially on the lines…and the recruits all around, not only WR, recognize that Georgia is a soft program that really has no upside with Richt at the helm…

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
9:03 pm

Mosh
January 11th, 2014
8:41 pm
well, check again dolt…I didn’t misspell championship and I made one error on did or didn’t…wow, pretty much all you can do is focus on that…I’ve laughed at your weak posts…you’re exhibit A for the reason why we settle for mediocrity…and j/o is jerk…off, which is you.
_________________________

So you’re a liar, too. Last time I checked, you don’t spell it “championshp.”

And you “settle for mediocrity”? I’d say that’s your problem. Proud of yourself, aren’t you?

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:05 pm

Mosh..

I agree I’m also worried about our soft line play. We can only hope Richt’s time is coming to a end!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:06 pm

nole,

“does” and “do’ are equally applicable in my statement. But you might not be aware of it. Not surprised…

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
9:06 pm

Mosh
January 11th, 2014
8:47 pm
I love people like this joker dawgnote . . . .
________________________

“Dawgnote”? LOL!

Still struggling with that typing, obviously. Let’s see if you can post WITHOUT a dumb mistake. Not much hope, is there?

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
9:08 pm

Gutrake
January 11th, 2014
9:06 pm
nole,
“does” and “do’ are equally applicable in my statement. But you might not be aware of it. Not surprised…
_______________________

Like I said, you wouldn’t understand.

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
9:08 pm

you have a dizzying intellect in choosing to be a grammar nazi and not make a relevant point on the subject at hand…you’re a complete tool….

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:09 pm

nole,

Kind of like 3.5″ is a “sad site” or a “sad sight”. Interchangeable.

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:10 pm

nole,

I guess you’re another Third World Stupid blogger. Like 3.5″…

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
9:10 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
9:05 pm
Mosh..
I agree I’m also worried about our soft line play. We can only hope Richt’s time is coming to a end!
______________________

To “a” end? LOL again.

You and you buddy Mosh are sharp as a tack. No wonder the Dawg posters are ridiculed.

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:11 pm

nole,

But what should I expect from someone suffering from cognitive dissonance….

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
9:13 pm

Mosh
January 11th, 2014
9:08 pm
you have a dizzying intellect in choosing to be a grammar nazi and not make a relevant point on the subject at hand…you’re a complete tool…
______________________

When you run your yap but can’t spell a two-letter word, you have no credibility. Troll on.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:16 pm

Dawg nole

That’s the best you have! Being the grammar police! Dude you’re such a wimp! I think you’re one disgusting moron who pulls for 2 teams!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
9:17 pm

Gutrake
January 11th, 2014
9:11 pm
nole,
But what should I expect from someone suffering from cognitive dissonance….
_______________________

You still on here moaning because you can’t communicate?

Well, what should you expect?

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
9:19 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
9:16 pm
Dawg nole
That’s the best you have! Being the grammar police! Dude you’re such a wimp! I think you’re one disgusting moron who pulls for 2 teams!
_________________________

Aren’t you happy knowing that nobody on here cares what you think? I don’t need my best to make a fool of you. No effort required.

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
9:25 pm

Dawgnote – you go ahead and keep churning out al this high and mighty garbage….it’s real noble work you’re doing….and two teams with connections to Richt? You sleeping with the guy or something? Do me a favor- when you’re in bed with him tonight, roll over and punch him in the kidney for me.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:25 pm

Dawg nole

You think anybody cares for your mindless drivel! Your opinion is worthless….nobody cares for another Disney fool like you brother!

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
9:28 pm

“all this…” . God, he’s got me becoming a grammar nazi….

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
9:32 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
9:25 pm
Dawg nole
You think anybody cares for your mindless drivel! Your opinion is worthless….nobody cares for another Disney fool like you brother!
______________________

Mindless drivel?

This from the mouth breather whose favorite line is “Bwaaaabwaaaa!”???

LOL yet again.