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

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
9:35 pm

Mosh
January 11th, 2014
9:28 pm
“all this…” . God, he’s got me becoming a grammar nazi….
________________________

Not a bad thing at all.

Good catch there, Mosh. You beat me to it.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:37 pm

Dawgnole

Like I said….you’re just an cop out wimp that pulls for two teams! You’re just a fan of whoever is winning! Why don’t you just leave these blogs for good. We don’t need some weirdo like you hanging around.

Tville Dawg

January 11th, 2014
9:37 pm

I am proud of our dawgs. Most people forget that these guys are supposed to be student athletes and that football is just a game to be played with integrity and honor. I think that our coaches have achieved that goal. I do think that they are overpaid as are all college coaches. However if I could make that kind of money I would not give a rat’s tail what anyone thought about my coaching ability. This win or go home attitude is down right ignorant as are most of the posts on this blog.
The one game that could be considered a bad loss this year was the loss to the Dores. There is no excuse for us to ever lose to them. The rest of the year could have been very different with a few less injuries and a good break or two.
I for one am a Richt fan. Will he ever win us a National Title? Who knows or cares. I am a diehard fan and hate it when we lose but I am still very proud to call myself a DAWG…………..no matter what our record may be.

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
9:39 pm

You have to be the same guy from ESPN blog a few years back…you did the same thing and drove me crazy.

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:40 pm

nole,

You’ve made an enemy in 3.5″….now yule pae thu pryce…he will make yoo luk rilly dumm…he is rilly smar and heel put yoo inn ur place..

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:42 pm

Gut

Go brush your teeth with some gasoline!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:44 pm

Okay…I will. If you’ll brush your tooth with Gerber’s baby food…

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:45 pm

I don’t care who you are…that’s funny.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:46 pm

Gut

Does your mommy know that your still up?? You should go cut her toe nails….you worthless skank!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:48 pm

nole,

I’ve already tried the grammar angle. They’re oblivious to it. It’s like hearing a teenager say…”like…you know what I’m saying…it’s like…awesome, dude…like…I ain’t…like… lying, man…like… no way…it’s like…”

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:48 pm

Gut

You probably have a mouth full of cavities from chewing tobacco…..what a loser!!!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
9:49 pm

Gutrake
January 11th, 2014
9:40 pm
nole,
You’ve made an enemy in 3.5″….now yule pae thu pryce…he will make yoo luk rilly dumm…he is rilly smar and heel put yoo inn ur place..
_____________________

You might have a point there. But you’re giving him too much credit with your spelling.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:49 pm

Gut

Poor little gut sack trying too make friends with nole…..dude you’re spineless!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:50 pm

Tville,

Thank you for entering some sanity here. I am proud of you!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:51 pm

Tville,

Never change…

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:52 pm

FSU got da best qb in sa nations best qb evea…so gweat! Haahaahhahga!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:52 pm

3.5″,

I don’t need friends. They drag me down and they never live up to my expectations. You, on the other hand, are an easy read.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:53 pm

FSU had to cheat to win against auburn….that QB should be in jail!

WhitewaterCenterBulldog

January 11th, 2014
9:53 pm

Horrible talk amongst you trolls! Great Fox and Dawgs Win today!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
9:54 pm

Gut

Liar….you bring them down to your dark miserable Pit of nothing….I guess that would be your basement.

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:54 pm

He is in jail. It’s called affirmative action…

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
9:57 pm

3.5″,

Put on your pajamas with feet in them, get your warm glass of goat milk and pull the covers up over your head. Dream of gutrakes and fireflies and all of the two letter-words you learned this week and then wake up to the smell of cat pee in your bed. Nothing is too good for you…

dawgfan

January 11th, 2014
9:58 pm

Yeah, if you’re getting paid alot of money to do something who cares what people think about your work? That’s how it works.

What barn was Tville Dawg born in?

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
10:00 pm

White,

I concur. Great win by the Dawgs!!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
10:02 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
9:37 pm
Dawgnole
Like I said….you’re just an cop out wimp that pulls for two teams! You’re just a fan of whoever is winning! Why don’t you just leave these blogs for good. We don’t need some weirdo like you hanging around.
_______________________

I’m a fan of BOTH–win or lose. Unlike you, who turns on “your” team when they’re down.

Did you miss the post where I said I’m NOT satisfied with UGA’s performance in ‘13. Or do you just choose to ignore it?

Nowhere have I said I’m happy with Richt! I just can’t stomach posters like you who come on here screaming but can’t put together a coherent sentence. You give REAL Dawg fans a bad name–and invite ridicule with your imbecile rants.

Take a step back and measure your words before you continue to reinforce the opinion that Dawg fans are dumbazzes.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
10:03 pm

Nole

I bet you walk around town with a FSU hat on and a UGA shirt! How stupid!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
10:05 pm

Tune in next week when you’ll hear 3.5″ say…

…the same thing.

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
10:05 pm

Tville Dawg
January 11th, 2014
9:37 pm
. . . The one game that could be considered a bad loss this year was the loss to the Dores. There is no excuse for us to ever lose to them . . . .
_________________________

Co-sign. And that was after we had a two-TD lead in the 4Q. Inexcusable!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
10:06 pm

Nole

How can somebody proclaim to be a die hard fan of two teams??? That’s like being married too 2 women at the same time! That’s just impossible! You go right ahead you big clown! Mr cop out!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
10:07 pm

Who really cares about the b- ball team! They will implode soon enough!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
10:07 pm

3.5″,

You sleep with two barbies at the same time…what’s the difference?

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
10:08 pm

I’m sorry…you sleep with Elmo and a Barbie at the same time…my bad…

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
10:08 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
9:52 pm
. . . Haahaahhahga!
___________________________

I rest my case!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
10:13 pm

WhitewaterCenterBulldog
January 11th, 2014
9:53 pm
Horrible talk amongst you trolls! Great Fox and Dawgs Win today!
_______________________

Ditto!

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
10:14 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
10:07 pm
Who really cares about the b- ball team! They will implode soon enough!
____________________________

And you call yourself a UGA fan?

Again, NO effort required to make you look like a fool. NO effort whatsoever.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
10:19 pm

Nole

You saying that I have turned on my team??? Well you have never even really been a fan of UGA! You’re a fan of a team that gas a criminal at Qb! You sound like a guy that like criminals anyways!

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
10:20 pm

Spelling and insults aside, I’m stunned at how anyone fails to see that Richt has burned out and his program is stale. Once the recruits decline and the high caliber talent is not there for him to coach down, his true colors may finally become evident to the last of you holding on to hope. I’m sure he’s a swell guy, but he missed his windows of opportunity and program is shot. It’s one thing if you’re satisfied with 8-10 wins a year and a New Years Bowl. The problem is that his peers play for national titles.

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
10:20 pm

Nole

Get a clue old geezer! He was talking about you as well! Duh!

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
10:25 pm

mosh,

Really? I know of only two of his peers that played for a national championship this year. He has over a hundred peers that don’t.

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
10:26 pm

nole,

I’m jealous. 3.5″ once gave me all of this attention…as he would say…bbbwwwwaaaaaggggghhhh!

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
10:26 pm

So, I guess I missed the fact that the SEC played for seven straight titles and won the majority of titles in the BCS era.

Gutrake

January 11th, 2014
10:30 pm

Gotta’ go…I’ll leave you with this…

“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”–Kant

Selah!

Mosh

January 11th, 2014
10:35 pm

and I’ll leave you with this: “ah shucks, we’ll get ‘em next year” – Mark Richt with yet another empty promise.

Snoop Dawg

January 11th, 2014
10:44 pm

Folks, keep your eye on the ball. Lakotos is just a diversion away from the real problem: Richt.

The buck stops with Richt, not Lakotos, Tereshinsky, Bobo, Grantham, or the other imbeciles he has collected and put on a swollen payroll while we have become the laughing stock of the SEC and the nation.

Ah yes…. Wait till next year, huh… Right…

Snoop Dawg

January 11th, 2014
10:45 pm

PS

McGarrity needs to go too. Hiring him was a(nother) BIG mistake…

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
10:51 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
10:19 pm
Nole
You saying that I have turned on my team??? Well you have never even really been a fan of UGA! You’re a fan of a team that gas a criminal at Qb! You sound like a guy that like criminals anyways!
__________________________

I’ve been a fan of UGA for longer than you’ve been alive, based on the incredible stupidity of your posts.

Oh yeah, how do you “gas” a criminal at QB??? And I sound like a guy that “like” criminals anyways???

Give it up, man. You’re digging yourself deeper and deeper.

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
10:55 pm

Snoop Dawg
January 11th, 2014
10:45 pm
PS
McGarrity needs to go too. Hiring him was a(nother) BIG mistake…
______________________

Couldn’t agree more! A coward who came in and immediately began weakening the Dawgs’ OOC schedule. The LAST thing a championship needs!

ClarkGableDawg

January 11th, 2014
11:06 pm

Mosh: How dare u say recruit decline to for Richt! We are at 15!

Bulldawg35

January 11th, 2014
11:13 pm

Nole

Why don’t you give it up redneck!! Nobody I’d buying your Disney crap! Isn’t past your bed time old geezer?

DawgNole

January 11th, 2014
11:21 pm

Bulldawg35
January 11th, 2014
11:13 pm
Nole
Why don’t you give it up redneck!! Nobody I’d buying your Disney crap! Isn’t past your bed time old geezer?
________________________

Nobody “I’d” buying . . .???

“Isn’t past” your bedtime???

Deeper and deeper, 35.