It’s going to be the red vs. the blue from now on in Jacksonville, as University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley revealed this week that the two schools have agreed to both wear their home football jerseys in their annual game.
“It’s just something a little different,” Foley said. “To be honest, a fan suggested it. He sent me a picture of what they used to do when Coach Spurrier was playing. He had a blue jersey on and whoever was tackling him had a red jersey on.
“It’s a unique rivalry and just a little different something to do. There is no particular reason. Georgia agreed and we agreed. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to win the ballgame no matter what color jersey you have on. I think it’s just a little something that makes the game even more unique.”
I like it!
Now, let’s get to some Junkyard Mail. …
Phil Daly writes: Bill, I know everyone’s going to be watching the defense at G-Day, but I think I’m almost as concerned with having to replace three starters on the offensive line. What do you think are the key issues the Georgia coaching staff has to deal with in spring practice?
I don’t look for anything new scheme-wise this spring. Mark Richt said recently that the emphasis will be on fundamentals. “The better we can block and tackle, the better we’ll have a chance to make our systems go. You could have a great scheme and poor tactics, and you’re going to have no success. I’d rather have less of a scheme and more tactics and more fundamentals because I think we’ll have a better chance of winning.” Overall, the progress of the defense, specifically the secondary, will be of paramount interest to most fans. New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt told Chip Towers that rather than concentrating on the playbook, he’ll be determining who likes to compete and who can win one-on-one battles. The coaches on defense and offense both have said that everyone will pretty much get equal reps this spring in an effort to improve depth. It will be interesting to see how defensive backfield returnees Damian Swann, Shaq Wiggins and Brendan Langley fare, and how Tramel Terry and J.J. Green, transfers from the offense, progress. Tray Matthews is likely to be the favorite at one of the safety positions, but who will take over Josh Harvey-Clemons’ spot? Corey Moore and Quincy Mauger have the pole position. And it will be interesting to see whether Pruitt’s efforts to get the defensive line to slim down has any effect on their speed. On the OL, David Andrews, John Theus and Kolton Houston are penciled in as starters, with the main competition expected to be at the guard spots. A bunch of folks, led by Mark Beard, Watts Dantzler and Brandon Kublanow, will be in the mix. Elsewhere on offense, there’ll be a battle between Faton Bauta, Brice Ramsey and perhaps early freshman enrollee Jacob Park for the backup QB spot behind projected starter Hutson Mason, who will be trying to improve his footwork and communication with his receivers. With Todd Gurley expected to be limited this spring and Keith Marshall still rehabbing an injury, tailbacks Brendan Douglas and A.J. Turman will be out to make an impression in advance of highly touted freshmen Sony Michel and Nick Chubb arriving this summer.
Jim P. writes: Bill, I read an AJC article concerning the change in the targeting rule. Thank goodness for the change. But it looks as if they’re adding another bad rule. The article mentioned consideration of barring defensive players from tackling QB’s below the waist, while in the pocket. Tech’s coach Paul Johnson, who is on the rules committee, predicts it will pass. Although Johnson said he is against the rule. Where will players be able to hit and tackle anymore? This is as terrible a rule as the original targeting rule. They are shrinking a hit area to the size of a MLB strike zone. Please speak out against this.
Actually, the NCAA Football Rules Committee recommended a penalty for below-the-knee hits on quarterbacks who have both feet on the ground and are in a passing posture, similar to the NFL’s “Tom Brady rule.” Defenders would be assessed a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty, though the penalty would not apply if the “protected passer” became a runner during a play, the defender grabbed or wrapped the passer in an attempt to make a conventional tackle, or if the defender was blocked into the QB. The NCAA membership will have a 30-day comment period to provide feedback on the recommendation before it is considered by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel. Like any of these rules, of course, the devil will be in the details of exactly how officials on the field interpret and apply it. If a defender aims for a QB’s middle but the QB moves and ends up getting hit in the legs, is that a penalty? If the QB is technically out of the pocket does the rule apply? It could get messy once the SEC’s less-than-ready-for-prime-time officiating crews start trying to call this.
Lamar Westbrook writes: Hey Bill, as always, love reading your stories on Georgia! Here is why I am steaming about the coaches. Mike Bobo only makes $575,000 a year and that is sad. The last two coordinators on defense made more money than he does! Todd Grantham made $875,000 and looked like a deer in the headlights! They let Grantham use the “We are young on defense” excuse, and it was an excuse! Funny, Georgia’s offense lost guys all year long to injuries yet they did not make excuses, they just plugged young guys in and barely missed a beat! To me instead of excuses, you need results and if you made as much money as Grantham did, you better be ready to have your guys ready to play! Bobo should be making as much or more than Grantham or Jeremy Pruitt! I wish somebody would try to hire him; I bet Georgia would give him more then!
While you’re right about the defensive coordinators making a lot more than Bobo, Grantham’s salary was $850,000, and that’s also what Pruitt is being paid. I agree that the difference between that and Bobo’s pay seems out of kilter considering his importance to the program and the success his offenses have had. It may be a case of a home-grown employee who’s worked his way up the ranks not getting as much respect as a fresh new “star” brought in from the outside.
Stephen Segrest writes: What do you hear about Xzavier Ward? Last spring, he won the right offensive tackle position, but seems to have fallen off the radar screen.
Another case where your spring stars often wind up riding the bench in the fall. Ward, a rising junior who was offensive recipient of the True Grit Award at the conclusion of spring practice last year, was slowed during the season by a knee injury and never became a part of the regular OL rotation. He’s still on the team, though, and will be competing to crack that rotation, along with Greg Pyke, Zach DeBell, Hunter Long, Josh Cardiello and Aulden Bynum.
Danny Davis writes: Bill, I was shocked to see that the CSS cable sports channel is shutting down June 1. Without them, where will I get my “SEC Tonight,” Gym Dogs, “The Dawg Report” with D.J. Shockley and college baseball?
Yes, as my colleague Rodney Ho reported, CSS, a regional sports network run by the Comcast and Charter cable companies, is shutting down after 15 years in anticipation of the arrival of the new ESPN-run SEC Network in August, which would have taken away a good chunk of CSS’ programming. The SEC Network is expected to carry a full slate of SEC completion, in addition to football and basketball, so that’s where you’ll find the Gym Dogs and Diamond Dogs in the future. Assuming, of course, that your cable or satellite provider signs on to carry the channel. It’s considered likely that Comcast and Charter, which carried CSS, will sign on to carry the SEC Network, but that hasn’t happened yet. Neither has DirecTV, as UGA athletic director Greg McGarity noted recently. Chances are these systems eventually will come to terms with ESPN but they might take it down to the wire in order to get the cost of carrying the channel lowered. If you want to lobby for your cable/satellite provider to carry the SEC Network, go to GetSECNetwork.com.
Taylor Williams writes: I am an avid reader of your Blawg. My parents went to UGA and are season ticket holders. I graduated from Wake Forest last May and am now pursuing a law degree at Tulane in New Orleans. I am a die-hard college football fan, but my favorite team will always be the Dawgs. ACC football just doesn’t do it for me. However, I still cheer for the Deacs and split my time between Athens and Winston-Salem during the fall when I can make it back for games. I’ve had the opportunity to attend many ACC and SEC games in my life, and I wanted to get your opinion on the state of the conferences and see where you think the biggest differences amongst teams in the two leagues lie. My general inclination is to think that it is not so much the skill players as it is the big boys up front on both sides of the ball. However, even lesser ACC teams and even Vanderbilt have seemed to close the competitive gap somewhat over the past decade. Your recent question about best sports memories stumped me for a little while as I was trying to write down and remember all of the events I have been blessed to attend. However, I came to the conclusion that it was not so much the games I enjoyed as getting to spend a Saturday afternoon in Athens with my dad. Thank you so much for all you do for the Bulldog Nation. Your Blawg is by far the best coverage of the week and I hope you continue to update us for many years to come.
Thanks, Taylor! I’d say you’re right that the difference between most SEC and ACC teams is in overall size and speed rather than in the skill players. I think the greater depth found on most SEC benches is a factor, too. And from top to bottom, the SEC is still generally a stronger conference than the ACC. As for greatest sports memories, I think yours is among the best answers I’ve seen. Those Saturday afternoons at Sanford Stadium are some prime bonding time for parents and kids and make for wonderful memories!
One final note: Richard Judy, a Blawg reader who’s a 1973 UGA grad, has written a new novel, “Thru: An Appalachian Trail Love Story,” based on his many years of hiking the trail. All proceeds benefit the Appalachian Trail Museum. The book is available at Amazon and at a few retail locations. Judy notes, “I have spent my entire adult life screaming about Georgia football, but I have always gotten off the couch as well to hike all over the world.” He hopes UGA sports fans “might like to read about an unathletic grad who still found a way to get physical in the mountains.”
Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at email@example.com.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg