Fan talk: Freshman tailbacks, Pruitt’s ‘dime,’ unionizing, Andy Landers and more!

Sony Michel comes to Athens as a highly-rated five-star recruit. (Eric Gay / special)

Sony Michel comes to Athens as a highly-rated five-star recruit. (Eric Gay / special)

I spent a couple of days this week recuperating from some oral surgery, but I’ve been keeping track of Georgia spring practices, where Jeremy Pruitt seems to have brought a fresh new energy to the entire team, not just the defense. Offensive line shuffling continues and their performance so far appears to be lagging a little behind the rest of the team, but good things are being heard about names like J.J. Green, Leonard Floyd, Jonathon Rumph and, thankfully, Todd Gurley. The Dawgs hold their first scrimmage Saturday, so that’ll no doubt give us more to talk about.

In the meantime, let’s get to some of the Junkyard Mail that’s arrived this week. …

Peoples Champ writes: What you think about Chubb & Michel? And could we be in for a major ground attack, with the 6-headed monster?

I don’t know about a six-headed monster, but even with J.J. Green moving over to defense, Georgia certainly will be stacked at tailback with a pair of five-star recruits joining an already talented corps of backs when Sony Michel and Nick Chubb arrive this summer. I know the question has been raised in some quarters about whether the Dogs have too many tailbacks and can keep all of them happy and on the roster but, as was driven home by last season’s injury situation, you can never have too many tailbacks in the SEC. Assuming everyone enters the fall healthy, you’d expect Gurley and Keith Marshall to get the biggest chunk of carries, with sophomore Brendan Douglas and redshirt-freshman A.J. Turman also in the mix.

Incoming freshman back Nick Chubb is also a five-star recruit. (Alexander Acosta / special)

Incoming freshman back Nick Chubb is also a five-star recruit. (Alexander Acosta / special)

As for the two celebrated newbies, both will be allowed to compete for playing time, Mike Bobo has said. I think it’s likely at least one of them will see some action this fall while it wouldn’t surprise me for the other to be redshirted. Which will that be? Hard to tell. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Michel, out of Plantation, Fla., was the more highly touted recruit as the nation’s No. 2-ranked running back prospect, and is considered the speedier back and perhaps more of a home-run threat. He’s also considered more of a threat catching the ball and might get a shot at kick returns. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound Cedartown product Chubb, who was the No. 8-ranked back in the nation, is generally viewed as more of a physical, grind-it-out back but also has shown some explosive break-away speed. Anyway, the biggest plus to Georgia adding Michel and Chubb to the roster is that if the Dogs lose Gurley (or possibly Gurley and Marshall) to the NFL after this season, there will be a couple of very talented backs in the line to take their place.

Annie Perry writes: Bill, I’ve been hearing a lot this week about Jeremy Pruitt introducing a “dime package” to Georgia’s defense, and that seems to have a lot of folks excited. I know the “nickel package” is when a linebacker is taken out and a fifth defensive back is put on the field, but I’m not familiar with the dime package. What exactly is that?

We could be seeing more of Georgia's defensive backs on the field at one time this fall. (John Kelley / University of Georgia)

We could be seeing more of Georgia's defensive backs on the field at one time this fall. (John Kelley / University of Georgia)

Basically, a dime package is when you use six defensive backs. The nickel name makes sense since it involves five, and they just went with the next coin up for this package, which some teams call a “six-pack.” In the very rare instances when a seventh defensive back is inserted in the game, that is sometimes called a “quarter” package. And in prevent situations against “hail Mary” passes, an additional defensive back may be used, and that’s sometimes called a half-dollar package. The reason so many folks are excited about Pruitt employing the dime in Athens is that he used it with success at Florida State, while Todd Grantham didn’t employ the dime much and didn’t use it at all last season, preferring to stick with the nickel package and its “star” position (a hybrid linebacker-cornerback). In recent practices, Damian Swann has been moving into the box in the “money” spot (similar to the “star”) in dime situations, leaving either Ramik Wilson or Amarlo Herrera as the lone inside linebacker. The dime package is used in particular in third-and-long situations and is considered a good way to combat short slant passing routes across the middle of the defense, where a traditional linebacker might not be fast enough to cover. Since the Dogs have been burned by such plays, the use of the dime package sounds like a great idea, though it sometimes can be vulnerable to unexpected running plays.

Doggy Daddy writes: Bill, after the National Labor Relations Board ruled this week that Northwestern football players are university employees and should be allowed to unionize, I’m seeing lots of dire predictions about what this could mean to the future of college football. I know there’s quite a bit of pro-union sentiment among Georgia’s players, so should I be worried?

First of all, the Georgia Bulldogs aren’t likely to unionize because even if the NLRB ruling is upheld, it only applies to private schools. Plus, Georgia is what’s called a right-to-work state, and even if athletes were considered employees, workers at public institutions aren’t allowed to unionize in this state. If private schools can unionize but public colleges can’t, might that give the private schools a recruiting advantage? Possibly. One thing that is likely to happen, though, is this movement bringing some long-needed changes to how the NCAA governs college football. While the first thing some people think of when this subject comes up is players being paid, that’s not actually the main emphasis of the current unionization movement. They’re more concerned with better disability insurance for players and former players, the time requirements on players (who usually aren’t able to manage part-time jobs in addition to playing sports) as well as players getting a share of the merchandising money that schools make off their efforts. It’s also likely to add momentum to the idea popular among coaches at major colleges (especially in the SEC) that players should be either paid a stipend or scholarships should be adjusted to cover the “full” cost of going to school. The NCAA has played ostrich on these issues for too long, but the rise of a union movement may at last bring some action there. Bottom line: I’m not sure unionizing is really in the best interests of college players (if you’re an employee, after all, you might be called on to strike and also can be fired) but the NCAA and its member schools do need to do a better job of taking care of student-athletes.

Andy Landers' teams have made it to 20 consecutive NCAA tournaments. (Associated Press)

Andy Landers' teams have made it to 20 consecutive NCAA tournaments. (Associated Press)

Ron Olliff writes: For 2 decades SEC women’s basketball was Tennessee and Georgia and no one else. The last few years have seen several schools pass Georgia where it is now in the lower half while Tennessee has been able to stay on top even with a coaching change. Now after that humiliating first round loss last week, isn’t it time for the AD to consider putting [Andy] Landers out to pasture with a gold watch? Last year’s Sweet 16 was aberration. He is getting outrecruited and the play of team is poor.

I’d say you’re overstating your case a bit, Ron. Landers’ Lady Bulldogs started this season with 11 straight wins and were ranked as high as No. 15 in the nation before going 0-4 to start SEC play. Yes, they finished in a five-way tie for sixth place, but they also made their 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance (the fourth-longest active streak in the country) and, contrary to your recollection, made the Elite Eight in 2013. Yes, it’s frustrating that the Lady Dogs haven’t made it further in recent years and haven’t won it all, and this year’s team definitely seemed to run out of steam late in the season. But Landers’ record isn’t exactly one that would point toward the need for immediate regime change, either. And since the 61-year-old head coach signed a three-year extension last summer that takes him through the 2017 season with a pay hike, I’d say it’s a good bet he’s not going anywhere unless he decides to retire.

Finally, here’s an update on last week’s report on the UGA hockey team’s upcoming sold-out debut at its new home rink at the Classic Center in downtown Athens:

Poster for the upcoming hockey game in Athens. (UGA Hockey)

Poster for the upcoming hockey game in Athens. (UGA Hockey)

Before the 7:30 p.m. April 9 meeting with Georgia Tech, there’ll be pre-game entertainment starting at 5:30 p.m., including an Ice Dogs Walk, a player autograph session, kids’ activities like a bouncy house, face-painting and games, and music, plus an appearance by Hairy Dog and the Hockey Ice Girls. The Ice Dogs Walk will be open to the public outside the Classic Center, starting at 5:30 p.m. at Dirty Birds restaurant on Washington Street and continuing through the main entrance of the Classic Center on North Thomas Street.

The Ice Dogs will play all of the 20 home games in their 2014-15 season at the Classic Center between September and February, and on Tuesday, April 8, fans can come check out the new rink and be the first to purchase season tickets at Select-A-Seat Night, in addition to seeing the Ice Dogs practice. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the Ice Dogs practice at 7:30 p.m.

Reserved seating season tickets are $185, and premium reserved seating is $260. Fans can go to ClassicCenter.com to buy tickets, call 706-357-4444 or visit the Classic Center box office at 300 N. Thomas St. in downtown Athens. Go here for additional information on the team.

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

46 comments Add your comment

LoyaltotheG

March 29th, 2014
12:45 pm

Bill–While I appreciate Landers’ contribution to building the UGA women’s basketball program and tradition, there is absolutely no doubt the guy and this program has been passed by. Yes, that Elite 8 last year was an aberration. It’s been over 10 years since he’s won an SEC championship (tournament or reg. season), and I believe last year’s E-8 was the closest he’s gotten to another Final Four. Programs like USCe and UK have passed him. I understand that what he’s accomplished is HOF (where he is rightly a member), but too many girls are leaving this state to play for programs that couldn’t hold a candle to UGA/Landers back in the 80s and 90s.

BigDawg

March 29th, 2014
1:12 pm

LoyaltotheG— I couldn’t have said it better myself. Coach Landers needs to retire.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

March 29th, 2014
2:40 pm

Wait a second;

Landers hasnt won an SEC championship in 10 years

The football team hasnt won and SEC championship in almost 10 years and has put more players in the NFL than all the schools in the SEC the last 13 years and more players than every school in the FBS except one and we are talking about Landers being fired

wow

Rabuin Dawg

March 29th, 2014
4:04 pm

Loyal, spot on with your comments. I guess Andy is a “lifer” for sure. It seems as though most of the talent in this state in mens and womens bball are avoiding Athens at alarming rates. What a shame that they don’t seem to want to play for The University of Georgia, but I guess they see “greener pastures” elsewhere.Oh, Flat, don’t you know that UGA is primed again for SEC greatness? UGA, where ‘hope springs eternal” every year until we lose 3 or 4 games! I am sure the “kool aiders” are talking up championships as they do every Spring. Richt and Landers,” lifers” till the end!

HotDawg

March 29th, 2014
4:51 pm

The Ice Dawgs! ….Now that’s cool !

Mutely

March 29th, 2014
4:53 pm

Do you think Pruitt will finally bring about the attitude change that has dogged UGA forever? Do we no longer have to settle with being mediocre, can we finally dream Nat Champ and actually achieve it. Now the question is if Pruitt brings the attitude change how long will he stay? Will he finally be the one to put Richt out to pasture. Can UGA handle being an elite team, never has in the past.

,

Skint

March 29th, 2014
4:56 pm

Typical UGA way. Landers has become irrelevant in the SEC. More talent leaves this state because they don’t want to play for a has been. Time to eat his contract.

Get The Picture

March 29th, 2014
4:59 pm

Players already get paid, full ride scholarships. I have children in their 30’s with kids of their own who are still paying off student loans. What would most of these kids on the football team be doing if not for their scholarships, passing sat’s, keeping passing grades and part time jobs working their way thru UGA, I doubt it.

HotDawg

March 29th, 2014
5:01 pm

Andy can stay forever…..DGD
Some of you people would kick your parents to the curb. Sickening.
Worry about important things in life. The womens basketball team being down is not. Andy is a great human being, mentor, and teacher to many. His service to the University has been a blessing.

Dawgmeat

March 29th, 2014
9:20 pm

Landers teams will always win 20 games, will always win one game in SEC tournament, will always win one game in NCAA tournament. Will never get any better due to good players going places that compete for championships, and will probably never be any worse due to getting 2nd tier players good enough to win what they do. Other programs have passed Lady Dawgs, but what we have is good enough for ladies BB.

dawgfan

March 29th, 2014
10:44 pm

The similarities between Landers and Richt are striking.

Close but no cigar.

DawgVoiceofReason

March 29th, 2014
11:15 pm

Bo Ryan 13 years without making a Final four. He will NEVER do it. Oh wait. Never mind.

Dog4Life

March 29th, 2014
11:32 pm

UGA actually made a final 4 in 1983. Lost to Valvano’s NC St. That was a scrappy team Banks, Fair etc….(UGA)

HotDawg

March 29th, 2014
11:34 pm

Never say never.
Negative posters don’t want person or team to succeed. That would go against all their negative comments. As they think their negative comments make them smartest person in the room. They are unwilling to give credit for most anything.

HotDawg

March 29th, 2014
11:40 pm

Congrats Wisconsin. Bet they had some of the same type negative comments throughout the years, as we see on all the Georgia blogs.

CaliDawg

March 30th, 2014
12:01 am

Although I agree Landers has been toiling in mediocrity for years…not one mention of inferior facilities when it comes to the Women’s team.

Phil Foolmer

March 30th, 2014
12:14 am

Fire Landers? They are called fair weather fans for a reason.

RED DOG 77

March 30th, 2014
12:27 am

The similarities between dawg no fan and dog poop are striking

Jeffery Stubbs

March 30th, 2014
1:22 am

Bill, JJ Green has been playing the money position quite a bit & had 7 tackles from that spot in the first (controlled) scrimmage.

dawgfan

March 30th, 2014
9:11 am

It sounds like Landers has trouble winning the big games too. He and Richt are kindred spirits.

But if we all think enough happy thoughts I’m sure it’ll happen one of these years. They just need more time.

gtcaryd

March 30th, 2014
10:15 am

How can you fire a guy whose danced 20 straight years?

SoCalDawg

March 30th, 2014
11:00 am

Sorry Bill, but Andy Landers has been getting greatly out-recruited by other programs, even in the state of Georgia (Connecticut has grabbed top players from Georgia who went on to become big stars). The only reason UGA ran off 11 straight wins w/top 15 ranking (which is far below where the Lady Dogs would normally be back in the day) was because of a very weak schedule. Love Andy, but it’s time for a change.

DawgVoiceofReason

March 30th, 2014
12:30 pm

Love doesn’t mean what it used to mean, apparently.

Ted Striker

March 30th, 2014
8:27 pm

Landers has a long-standing track record of overall success. While it’s always good to evaluate ways to improve, he’s not on the hot seat, nor should he be.

DawgOne

March 30th, 2014
10:15 pm

Anyone up on the dwags standing in the Fulmer Cup race?

Anyone… Anyone…

Dog4Life

March 31st, 2014
9:19 am

Yes, we still remain light years behind penn state!!!!

DawginColorado

March 31st, 2014
9:29 am

HotDawg – the need to be “right” about everything is typical of people with negative attitudes. They always think THEY can do it better. They are nothing but consistent complainers. They are never satisfied. Most, (I won’t go as far as saying all) will complain even if things are going very well.

There are certain people on these blogs that will fault find even if the teams are winning championships. It’s just their nature. Watch what happens if the football team makes it to the SEC CG. Watch what happens if they WIN the SEC CG. You’ll still see the same comments from the same people. And you’d think we’d finished the season with a losing record if you didn’t know better.

dawgfan

March 31st, 2014
9:48 am

“There are certain people on these blogs that will fault find even if the teams are winning championships.”

Sure there are. So why don’t you go ahead and provide us some examples. I’m particularly intrested in football here. What were are all these critics saying when the football team won all those championships that you say they won? I’m sure you’re not just making stuff up and talking out of your arse at all. You would never do that.

I look forward to your response.

Joey

March 31st, 2014
10:56 am

I think the Landers/Richt comparison is valid. Both very successful coaches, with multi SEC Titles, but with their programs declining in the 2nd half of their careers, with maybe a nice season here and there.

Let’s face it, Richt brought UGA out of the mediocre mess we were in, and has even finished near the top of the polls a few times.

But most true Dawg fans will admit that he has done less, with fabulous talent, than probably any other coach in the NCAA.

Richt is a great man, a great recruiter, and a great face of our football program, but I don’t believe anymore he can win a national title for UGA. Some great victories, but also too many head-scratching losses, which kept some of his better teams ‘02, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘07, ‘08, ‘12 from even getting in the Big Game.

I will pull for Landers and Richt every single game they coach at UGA, because I am a Dawg fan.

But as a Dawg fan, I will know that we have already seen the best of both of them.

DawginColorado

March 31st, 2014
1:21 pm

NOT dawgfan… you have to be kidding. You do it all the time. Does this sound familiar: ” nothing positive happened this season”. For months all the complaints were that Mark Richt can’t beat Top 10 teams. So they do it, twice, and guess what? You ignore it. You act as if it didn’t happen. Why? Because it didn’t fit your agenda. And you and others will do the same if the Dawgs were to win the SEC or the Nation Championship.

Nailed you with your own asinine quote. You can’t deny it. All you can do is offer convoluted reasoning why those wins over LSU and SC didn’t count. You sound like the sociopath Tech fan that hangs out elsewhere on these blogs. The same one that thinks that wins over Top 10 teams only count if they are ranked at the end of the season. Guess what, they do count. And SC ended up #4 in the final poll so that even eliminates that line of thinking.

You’ll change the benchmarks you set to suit your agenda and the evidence is all right here.

dawgfan

March 31st, 2014
2:02 pm

LOL. Speaking of moving benchmarks, you didn’t say anything about beating Top 10 teams. You said championships. Do I need to post your direct quote again? On second thought, you don’t move benchmarks. You pull them out of your rear and make it all up as you go along.

So I’ll ask it again, what were these critics saying when Mark Richt won all those “championships” that you claim he won? I’m not talking about in the fairy tale future never never land that you’ve made up in your head. I’m talking about RIGHT NOW. When did this happen and what did all the critics say?

Quit while you’re behind clown.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

March 31st, 2014
4:16 pm

Yea we beat 2 top 10 teams then lost to Vanderbilt; barely escaped against an abysmal Tennessee team; lost to a poor Nebraska team; looked terrible and lost against Missouri; lost yet another season opening top tier opponent

but we really only beat 1 top 10 team; LSU as we know wasnt a top 10 team last year

Rhall55

March 31st, 2014
7:03 pm

Yep….and time for CMR to win a NC!!!

Terry School Dog

April 1st, 2014
1:17 am

Flat rubber and other nerds: Pruitt(which u terds lusted for)…Fresh RBs..and an enthused CMR!.

NoAxeToGrind

April 1st, 2014
5:33 am

I do not think any UGA fan has to worry about SEC championships or National Championships comming from Richt any time soon…..let’s say the rest of his career…..unless he figures out the necessity of a geat offensive line. You can’t play ACC football in the SEC.

Hairy Dawg

April 1st, 2014
6:37 am

First it Coach Richt now it Coach Landers. It never ending from bad fans how they act bad by not supporting good coaching.

That great news how we stock piling RB talent to get mean and tough with smash mouths other teams. Everybody always talking how one pass kept us out a winning against Bammers. But Bammer kept running ball all game and now Dawgs can to. With that many good RBS we just cycle them in for fresh man that can batter defense to wear down D. Then we hit big play over top with pass that set up by runnnig game. Football real simple games when you got good RBs. You line them up and smash other team till they quit. That how champoinships won and Dawgs do it now by mashing other team from running ball. We just got to keeps reloading RBs each year in case we play dirty team like in Knoxville that try hurting Dawgs Gurely and Marshall. With new 5 star recruit we learn lesson of getting enough RBs to do job even through injureis that happen.

Buzz-Off

April 1st, 2014
7:16 am

You are spot on Hairy Dawg!!! The pessimists will keep on finding fault no matter what happens in Athens. Next thing you know they will be complaining about our equestrian coach!!!

dawgfan

April 1st, 2014
7:36 am

You’re wrong Axe. Mark Richt is now “enthused.” This is our year.

I went to a palm reader to confirm this. The stars are aligning.

PRPL DAWG

April 1st, 2014
12:01 pm

Two things, folks.

1) look around and notice how mnay coaches of these sports – football , men and women basketball- have been fired , then note what the school did fter the firing. Be careful what you wish for.Does anyone remember Goff, Donnan, Jursa?
2) For all who are so critical of lack of perfection, the Book of Matthew records that Jesus said ( goo philosophy even if one is not a Believer): Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement you judge you will also be judged. Who among you aare the very best in the country at what you do?

GO DAWGS!!

DawgVoiceofReason

April 1st, 2014
12:12 pm

Dawgfan

Today’s the day we celebrate you and your kind. Lol. No need to respond. You’ve got nothing to contribute. Never have. Never will.

dawgfan

April 1st, 2014
12:20 pm

Yet you keep not only reading my contributions but also responding to them.

Always have. Always will.

dawgfan

April 1st, 2014
12:23 pm

PRPL DAWG, nobody is demanding perfection. We’re demanding more than Richt has given us in the past 8 seasons.

Please let us know what the Bible says about Richt’s deplorable 5-20 record against Top 25 teams the past 5 seasons.

Hairy Dawg

April 1st, 2014
7:51 pm

And here is what Good Book say do with them that not exposing talents by doing things like punt fumbling, throwing ints, dropping passes, flopping round on ground instead of blocking, and missing the tackle.

“He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”

DawgVoiceofReason

April 1st, 2014
8:02 pm

Dawgfan = Human Centipede. Spews it and swallows it at the same time.

Also doesn’t know the meaning of the word “no”. But then there are a lot of words he doesn’t know the meaning of. Also doesn’t know what a fool he is or that today is his special day.

RED DOG 77

April 2nd, 2014
12:24 am

DawgVoiceofReason…………..Sorry I missed the party, Hope lots of fun and games were had by all on dawgnofan’s special day…………..Today……..er..a……well yesterday when dawgnofan got on that short bus of life, forgot to brush his teeth…………er….a………tooth…….with soiled drawers and all struck out to do great damage to someone with a click of the mouse and a stroke of the keyboard……………only to find out………….no one is listening………….kinda makes ya feel sorry for the little fool……………naw

Terry School Dog

April 2nd, 2014
12:55 am

Dawg Voice of Nuthing is not unlike Mr. T Brown! Says zero and hates…though loves 8-4 Richt seasons like 70% of other Dawg bozos.