Bradley’s Buzz: ESPN likes the look of the 2009 Bulldogs

The Worldwide Leader gushes over UGA

Breaking down its Top 25 for 2009, ESPN.com lavishes so much praise on its No. 16 team (link requires registration) you wonder why the team in question — namely, Georgia — isn’t ranked, like, No. 6. I’m usually pretty high on the Bulldogs, but I’m not as optimistic about these Dogs as Chris Sprow seems to be.

It’s Buzz policy not to quote overmuch from a linked article — that’s why there’s a link; you can read it yourself — but because ESPN’s Insiders is a pay site and not everyone has $39.95 to burn, I make an exception. So here goes. Mr. Sprow writes:

• “Last year, Stafford had plenty of weapons to utilize, but he was always on the run. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Stafford was drilled 93 times last season, up from 77 as a sophomore. Because of that, a Georgia offense that still managed 31.5 points per game [third in the SEC] was too star-driven. [Offensive coordinator Mike] Bobo admits that Stafford had a tendency to [focus on] his most reliable players while on the run.”

The 2009 Bulldogs are more apt to:

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• “While the previews will say the Dawgs get back seven starters on offense, Bobo contends they get back eight … and that’s just on the offensive line. ‘We actually have eight guys back [on the O-line] that have started games for us, and we can move them around if we have to,’ Bobo says. Because of that, he thinks [Joe} Cox will be able to get more options involved. And he'll need to. 'Right now, we really have just one proven playmaker, but it's not how we'll play where we're just tossing it to [A.J. Green]; you’ll see us spread it around.’ ”

• “When Georgia gets expected improvement in the secondary from a team that picked off only 11 passes last year [eighth in the SEC] and up front from a team that sacked the QB just 23 times [ninth in the SEC], perhaps even against this schedule you could see a jump.”

• “For as good as the Dawgs looked on paper to begin last season, injuries, combined with star reliance, made that paper flimsy. This year, with Cox in charge and more healthy depth on both sides of the ball, on paper maybe it’s not as pretty, but it feels as thick as a phone book.”

Me, I say Georgia faces more “ifs” than “absolutelys” this time around, which is why I picked the Bulldogs to lose four games. But there is a chance, as Sprow suggests, Georgia could figure things out in a hurry. Still, I keep coming back to this: Minus two players who went in the top dozen of the NFL draft, a lot of guys must pull a heavier load.

Regarding a former Falcon …

Don’t know about the veracity of this, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes the Patriots might be interested in Michael Vick. And now you ask: To play … where?

At last check the Pats had a QB. (I forget his name. Y’all help me here.) And Florio never quite says what New England might do with Vick. Make him a backup? A red-zone QB? The Wildcat implementer? Ambiguity aside, it’s a great rumor.

More gushing, this time about Hanson

In his ESPN.com blog, Buster Olney quotes Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell as likening Tommy Hanson to Dwight Gooden: “[Gooden] was the same, in the way he knew he belonged, and every fifth day he knew he was going to kick someone’s butt.”

I wish McDowell would say something half that good to me. But I get the feeling he doesn’t like me. He has contracted the Smoltz disease, I fear.

Laying down the Law on the Braves’ draft

I wondered what the Braves were doing last week, and I was encouraged to find I wasn’t alone. Keith Law of Scouts Inc., writing for ESPN.com’s Insiders, was left bewildered by the whole Braves’ draft (requires registration), not just the Round 1 choice of Vandy lefty Mike Minor.

Quoth Law: “I’d love to know what happened in Atlanta to change its scouting philosophy; this is a team that would typically shy away from college players in general and college pitchers in particular, and the Braves went as college-heavy as any team, including taking a low-ceiling college arm in Mike Minor with the seventh overall pick in the draft. They took Princeton’s David Hale at [No.] 87; Hale has a good arm but mediocre command and wasn’t that successful in getting Ivy League hitters out, which is a big red flag for someone who can sit at 92-94 mph.

“Their third pick was Mycal Jones, a short [listed at a generous 5-foot-10] and slight [165 pounds] shortstop from Miami-Dade JC who can run but plays out of control at the plate and in the field. They didn’t take a high school player until the 10th round; last year, they started out with three prep arms and took only one player from a four-year college in the top 10 rounds. Money could be part of the explanation, but not all of it.”

With that, another meeting of the Frank Wren Fan Club is in session. First on the agenda, how do you “play out of control at the plate”? (And don’t say, “Be Jeff Francoeur.”)

121 comments Add your comment

Mitch Cumstein

June 15th, 2009
6:43 am

I, for one beleive the Dawgs will be much improved this season. The lack of star power is what has them behind the eight ball, but that is what also will create an atmosphere of teamwork, thus leading to wins. Dawgs will be top 8 in the nation by the 3rd game of the season.

ImADawg

June 15th, 2009
7:03 am

Be Jeff Francoeur!!! (Sorry, had to do it)

Baracked the vote!

June 15th, 2009
7:22 am

I don’t know what the Braves are doing in the draft, or on the field. this team is becoming increasingly disfunctional. the SS-2nd base combo is minor league defensively, the mclouth trade was no help, and tommy hanson could not consistently get his curve ball or his slider over for strikes friday night. of course, they should have another high draft pick next year so they can proceed to screw that up as well. or draft a high prospect and trade him, along with a few others, for a mediocre major leaguer or a six month rental job.

MiltonDawg

June 15th, 2009
7:29 am

I think the Dawgs will surprise a lot of people. Majority of Offense/Defense starters returing..including the line on both sides. Won’t be a perfect season, but we may just end up suprising people. I see Vick used a WR or KR..he probably still has some speed to him. Braves??? I would love to know what’s going on with them? We get blown out by the O’s who 10 games (or so) under .500, and we play them like we’re a little league team.

ivan

June 15th, 2009
7:42 am

This year I will take tech over ga

[...] Mark Bradley | ajc.com – [...]

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
8:08 am

So will I, Ivan.

MightyQuinn

June 15th, 2009
8:09 am

The question about Vick is, will he be willing to take a “special weapon” role with a club? Or does ego demand, as the SI cover on him a few years back, “I AM a Quarterback”. Of course, if no one will hire him otherwise, he may be forced to take the freak show route. But no one should hire him as such if he still believes he can QB fulltime, because then his presence will be an even more disruptive force than it is already going to be. Whoever takes him (and I am certain SOMEONE will) will be taking a high-risk high-reward gamble.

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
8:13 am

That’s absolutely the question, MQ.

MightyQuinn

June 15th, 2009
8:22 am

I remember a game when they put Shaub in at QB and put Vick either in the backfield or out in the flat, I don’t remember which. They only did it one or two plays, but I remember thinking that it could have been a tremendous attack. I am sure it was ego that wouldn’t allow Vick to accept such a role then (the SI cover statement again) but my god what a weapon he could have been/still could be in that type role. I know its just a pipe dream and could never had happened but the thought of Vick in the backfield with Ryan and Turner with Smith and now Gonzales on the ends makes me want to be an offensive coordinator!

TROTTINGHOME

June 15th, 2009
8:28 am

Baltimore embarrassed us. Someone on the coaching staff needs to go.

[...] In his AJC blog, Mark Bradley writes that ESPN likes the look of Georgia 2009. [...]

Cuz

June 15th, 2009
8:36 am

Look a picture of AJ Green catching the ball at Arizona State during a goldout. I bet they never have one of those again. Oh the humiliation.

Cuz

June 15th, 2009
8:41 am

I don’t know the name of that New England Quarterback but I hear he is the husband of Giselle Bundchen. Not too shabby no matter how sorry a QB he is.

Jack G.

June 15th, 2009
8:41 am

TROTT

The word is not Someone, its Everyone.

Cuz

June 15th, 2009
8:43 am

Has the Georgia Tech Dungeons and Dragons Fantasy League started their draft yet? If they have could you post a link for it Mark?

Bill

June 15th, 2009
8:46 am

I keep saying for the Braves.77-85.Mediocrity starts at the top.That means you,Liberty Media and Frank Wren.

Nuggs

June 15th, 2009
8:51 am

Vick should be willing to be a long snapper or a holder if that means he gets an NFL paycheck. If he’s not willing to show that sort of humility, of course I’m stretching on those actual positions, then he hasn’t learned a darn thing in prison.

I think UGA gets off to a slow start, maybe even 0-2, but will finish strong only losing to the Gators down the stretch and end the year 10-3 again.

Dawg A

June 15th, 2009
8:55 am

Mark , I am looking in the AJC archives ….. did you pick the majic or the lakers?

doyle, Atlanta

June 15th, 2009
8:55 am

I easily remember (yes, I’m that old) the doubts about my beloved Dawgs the year after Hershel jumped to the USFL. Seems we had a pretty decent year after all (beat #2 Texas in Cotton) as the entire team stepped it up. Maybe I’m just getting senile, but this years team has a whole lot of the same feel as that one. Go Dawgs!!

RxDawg

June 15th, 2009
9:04 am

Well, the good thing is it wont take very long to find out how good UGA is. I love being “under the radar”, but with our schedule we wont stay there very long if we start winning. Heck, if we win our first 3 games it will probably bring some pretty heavy national attention. The game that scares me the most (in the begining of the season of course) is Arkansas. We go to OkSt, then the war of a game with USC, then we travel back to Ark. Meanwhile, Arkansas plays Missouri St (ha!), then their off, then they have us at home. Yeh….thats probably going in the books as an L. It will take some good focus and discipline to win that game.

Trip

June 15th, 2009
9:07 am

I wouldn’t take five Mark Richt’s for Paul Johnson

exNFLplayer

June 15th, 2009
9:10 am

GT will finish 3rd in their division. Defense will cost them games. PJ historically doesn’t get better on defense because his offense requires the best athletes on that side of the ball. Fortunately he has Gailey’s extremely good recruiting class in the house. I still contend that PJ’s approach will be proven or disproven when his recruits are on the field.

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
9:15 am

Magic. In six. More about that to come.

GTSteve

June 15th, 2009
9:15 am

UGA will be out of the top 25 after the first week…….no way they win at OSU

[...] In his AJC blog, Mark Bradley writes that ESPN likes the look of Georgia 2009. [...]

Otto

June 15th, 2009
9:21 am

UGA faces fewer ifs this year than last. The lines are much more solid and UGA has a better QB.

MilitaryDawgInDC

June 15th, 2009
9:22 am

phil steele is much more accurate in his prognostications, and he has UGA as a dark horse for the NC…Mark, you hate UGA and it’s obviously in your diatribe. UGA will smash the nats, and restore order in the state….

MilitaryDawgInDC

June 15th, 2009
9:23 am

mark, your’re killing me man..File that with your, braves will with east in 2008. They are the real deal this year..LOL

MilitaryDawgInDC

June 15th, 2009
9:25 am

GT will lose at least 4, maybe 5…the junk offense won’t be such as mystery this year, and you have no DL..

Manny

June 15th, 2009
9:28 am

That point really needs to be emphasized further. If you hire Vick, you are hiring a QB, period. You can do all kinds of funs stuff with him, but you are really hiring a QB.

Let me tell you why: He has won with a mediocre team at QB. Forget his stats, except for one: He has won much more than he lost playing QB in the NFL. He went to the playoffs and was a perennial playoff contender with a team with not a lot of tools except his feet and Crumpler’s hands. (Roddy White wasn’t the Roddy White of now.)

So let me tell you why I am harping on that. If he goes to a team and that team starts to have QB issues- or if the good QB gets hurt; people will want Vick under center. And remember this feeling Falcons fans?- whenever Vick was under center, you felt that you was always in a game. Why? Because Vick is capable of a big play with both is arm AND his feet.

So all I am saying is this: When you hire Vick and line him up at wideout or tailback or clipboard duty- if and when you start to get shaky, you will have to put him under center eventually.

Dawg A

June 15th, 2009
9:29 am

I thought you picked the Magic……. I feel better about my dawg’s chances against G.T.

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
9:31 am

Pretty much everybody is more accurate than I am, prediction-wise. More about that to come.

IC

June 15th, 2009
9:33 am

I think GA will be fine this year it depends on the first game. Ok state is going to be in the top ten. I really believe we will beat them. I think our “D” will show up this year and play hard every game and quarter, If not someone should be leaving Athens an I am not talking about players!!! This should be a very interesting year, we have strong O-line/D-line but the speciality guys need to step up.

Manny

June 15th, 2009
9:33 am

The Bulldogs, by the way, will not lose 4 or 5 games. That’s wishful thinking by some people. I see the Bulldogs losing 3 games next year. I don’t see 4. (And Mark Richt haven’t lost 5 games since he has been head coach.)

TommyP

June 15th, 2009
9:34 am

I hope someone starts a website or at least keeps up with the Frank Wren moves in Atlanta.

Mike Bobo 17 INT

June 15th, 2009
9:35 am

The media typically does not pay alot of attention to the UGA program, so I suspect someone within EPSN felt sorry for this program, and tried to throw them a bone.

UGA will go 8-4 at best in 2009, and I suspect they will lose the opener to OSU, because they are no accustomed to opening on the road against at strong opponent. They typically prefer to open at home against Parkview HS, or Agnes Scott.

Dawg A

June 15th, 2009
9:36 am

Mark , I am just messing with you! I really enjoy your blog’s and enjoy reading your articles. WOULD YOU PLEASE DO A ARTICLE AND POLL ON WHAT YOUR READERS THINK ABOUT THE BRAVES KEEPING COX! I think you might be surprised with the responses. Thanks!!!

Mark Bradley

June 15th, 2009
9:37 am

I seem to remember the media rating Georgia fairly highly this time a year ago. But maybe I’m wrong about that as well.

RxDawg

June 15th, 2009
9:43 am

Mike Bobo 17 INT, your credibility and the wisdom of your words is immeasurable.

Paul

June 15th, 2009
9:44 am

I guess UGA is done this year because they lost two guys to the first round of the NFL draft…That makes sense. I remember in 2002, no one went in the first round off of that team, and in 05 only Pollack found the first. Georgia has talent and can be successful w/o Stafford and Knowshon.

UGA’s rushing yards never went up on average with KNowshon in the backfield…so, again this year, we will split carries with 3-4 very talented backs – instead of one guy – and we will be fine.

Cox won’t throw 10 INTs either, IMO

Mac

June 15th, 2009
9:45 am

I said last summer and fall that the Falcons had a Bennett, Lebaron, Braatz feel about them. That 1977 team overachieved in getting to .500 and setting an NFL record for fewest points allowed. Then the Smith, Dimitroff Falcons went out and overachieved at an even greater level.

I’ve been saying this Georgia team has a John Lastinger feel about it, i.e. post-Herschel/Belue team that beat a superior opponent in the Cotton Bowl. Can’t wait to see how accurate that feel is.

Preston

June 15th, 2009
9:49 am

Mike Bobo 17 INT, so does just about everyone else.

[...] forwards and looking backwards Jump to Comments Citing a Mark Bradley post that in turn quotes from an ESPN paid site is no doubt one the greatest sins I’ve ever [...]

siskel_god

June 15th, 2009
9:53 am

I think the Braves just wanted some advanced arms, guys who only need 2-3 years in the minors instead of 5-6. You got Lowe for 3 more, Kawakami for 2 and Hudson and Vasquez for next year if you want them. Somebody is gonna have to fill those spots, and if you go outside the organization for FA’s you can always trade to fill holes.

Bulldawg

June 15th, 2009
9:54 am

get a job GTSteve! damn laid off computer consultant!

JB

June 15th, 2009
9:55 am

Georgia will have a better team this year. A better record, maybe not. We have a schedule that most SEC teams don’t/won’t play. Look at Bama and Gators. Weak. The O line will be deep and great this year and will make our Average SEC backs look better than they are. Cox will be fine. He will be put in a more controlled passing game and it will be effective. Mark knows Willie’s job is on the line. Dawgs will be much improved on the D side of ball. 8-4 worst case, 10-2 on the high side.

Preston

June 15th, 2009
9:58 am

This is actually quite funny. Tech wins for the first time in 8 years and they rank them one spot higher than UGA. Okay, but don’t get your hopes up too high because LSU exposed how to defend that offense and don’t think the rest of the college football world wasn’t watching. I’ll guarantee you that they won’t finish the season ranked higher than UGA.

Gatorzone

June 15th, 2009
10:01 am

UGA will be better than people think. I am concerned about them this year more than last. I think with them not relying so much on 2 players will make them more dangerous than before.

JB

June 15th, 2009
10:03 am

Hey boboo 17……………………LSU 38-3…… a romp…..you guys didn’t even show up…..you sucked………couldn’t find the end zone with Daniel Boone……………An SEC team …Wow.
Our 3 point loss to ya’ll was a FLUKE. You know it. The world Knows it. Paul Johnson knows it.
You won, we tip our hat. You lose this year. Now, sweep your campus for more terrorist.