March Madness at UGA means spring football!

It's a big spring for Caleb King. Photo by Jason Getz, AJC.

It's a big spring for Caleb King. (Photo by Jason Getz, AJC)

Ladies and gentlemen, March Madness has officially arrived and that can mean only one thing at Georgia — time for spring football practice!

That’s right. While all those other fools pour over brackets trying to figure out if Sienna has a backcourt that can hang with Ohio State’s, we’ll be finding out where Clint Boling might line up on the O-line, whether Caleb King has, uh, moxie, and if there is a Division I defensive end somewhere in Athens-Clarke County. And some other stuff.

The Bulldogs trot out onto the Woodruff Practice Fields for the first of 15 practices — including the April 11 G-Day Game — on Tuesday afternoon. Fittingly on St. Patrick’s Day, there will be a bunch of players in green jerseys, which also signifies they’re injured.

Actually these players never really stopped practicing. Football is truly year-round these days and, other than spring break and a brief respite after the Capital One Bowl, these players have been running, passing or kicking on those fields every day. But now the coaches join them and the early competition for playing time will heat up. And we’ll be there to chronicle every minute! Well, at least whatever minutes they let us come out and see. But the post-practice interviews, we’ll be all over those. Woo-hoo!

As you might be able to tell, I’m a little jaded about spring football practice. Other than the occasional injury — OK, in the case of Georgia, daily injury — I’ve never found them particularly newsworthy. Especially now that they allow us to actually observe for only a short while each day. Used to be we would watch intently all day every day and form our own opinions about who might be able to do what. Now we watch them stretch, run a couple of drills and maybe do a little kicking. Then we’re ushered out like school children when recess is over. That’s somewhat understandable in the fall when the coaches hide under the paranoid possibility that plays will be leaked to opponents. Doesn’t carry much weight in March.

But I digress. Tim Tucker and I will do our very best to provide as much insight and commentary as we can under the circumstances. The tentative schedule calls for the Dogs to be on the field Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of this week. They go only three times the next week (3/24, 3/26, 3/27).

So in order of importance, here’s what I think are the three priorities:

(1) Find a killer defensive end if you have to create one out of a wideout;

(2) With all due respect to the other tailbacks, find out what Caleb King is made of;

(3) Determine who is your backup quarterback (Joe Cox is “Da Man,” as you all well know).

But that’s just me. What do you guys think?

Some links:

No. 1-ranked Diamond Dogs avoid sweep.

Here’s the AJC’s Georgia football spring practice preview by Tim Tucker. . . .

Wouldn’t be a blog without something from UT’s wacky Lane Kiffin, right? Big surprise here but the Knowville News Sentinel got to the bottom of it and Kiffin denies the “go to South Carolina and pump gas” comment. We know because Ed Orgeron says so,.

137 comments Add your comment

RAMBLE ON!!!

March 16th, 2009
8:43 am

Is it true the diamond dawgs were number one and got beat by Bama, JUST LIKE FOOTBALL? Maybe ya’ll have BLACKED THAT OUT.

Wait till the Jackets beat the diamond Dawgs, JUST LIKE FOOTBALL 45-42.

Atlanta Jackets

March 16th, 2009
8:52 am

We own this place! LOL! Ramble just burned you if you didn’t notice. Ramble on, Ramble On!!! ROTFLMAO!! LOL!

I hear the Robot just scored again!

Bama Man

March 16th, 2009
8:53 am

Your little pups played a real team and showed just how weak your schedule before SEC play really was. Congrats on your baseball folding like a lawn chair just like your football team.

MiltonJeff

March 16th, 2009
9:04 am

RambleOn & Atlanta Jackets: you guys are so cute together. Do you both of you log on at the same time and discuss what your going to post on a Dawg Blog? Please remind all of us what GT did last year in baseball. Anybody? Didn’t think so. 38-3 LSU wins in your own backyard. PATHETIC!!

Boston Williams

March 16th, 2009
9:12 am

I always snicker when UGA fans start stroking their egos at the beginning of the season for BB, BskB, and FB. Each time the first two fall on their face, the fans immediately fast forward to “talking” about how great the FB team is going to be, alas, only to witness the FB team suffer the same fate as the other two sports. Go UGA girls gymnastics!

Chip Towers

March 16th, 2009
9:33 am

How about hearing from some UGA fans?

Bulldawg Billy

March 16th, 2009
9:36 am

looks like lots of schools would kill for uga’s fan base.

2N4YEARS

March 16th, 2009
9:45 am

Series Originated 1893
Overall Record Georgia leads, 59-39-5, including 33 of the last 44 games. Go Buzz that.

Atlanta Jackets

March 16th, 2009
9:45 am

Dawg Fan, you can’t envy what you don’t have!! Burn!!! LOL!

Atlanta Jackets

March 16th, 2009
9:46 am

[Private Message] Chip, how do I edit a comment?

AceDawg

March 16th, 2009
9:46 am

GTech fans pride themselves in basketball yet were just as bad as UGA this year despite far greater recruits on paper. I’ll take being a UGA fan having to deal with one year of Tech winning in football over the totality of what GTech sports is any day. The LSU drubbing you took in the bowl game took the polish off that victory in the big picture, although you have indeed earned the right to brag for a year.

Anyhow, Chip – I agree with all three of your concerns, although part of me actually thinks that Richard Samuel could be the more gifted between he and King. I wish both could be out there. Getting some great D-Line play is key though since Martinez won’t blitz and create a pass rush through schemes himself. Don’t we recruit speed and talent at D-Back so they can cover downfield while we blitz? Prove me wrong Martinez! Dawgs fans don’t have any personal grudges with you as a person, so we hope you prove us wrong with on the field results.

what?

March 16th, 2009
9:49 am

we were actually number 2 when alabama beat us in football. what were yu guys ranked when lsu beat you by 35?

what?

March 16th, 2009
9:51 am

can’t envy what you don’t have?? Actually, why would you envy what you do have? moron. no burn, sorry!

GeoffDawg

March 16th, 2009
9:57 am

That would be a heck of a baseball score rambler. Lol at BF Dawg Fan’s comment.

I agree about the need to produce more pressure on the QB with our down linemen. Figuring that out is hopefully a top priority for CWM and his staff this spring.

Also, IMO, Caleb King can separate himself as the premiere back if he can only demonstrate consistency in his blocking. Until then, CMR will probably give Samuel the most carries (assuming he doesn’t fumble) and I can’t say I blame him.

Chip Towers

March 16th, 2009
10:04 am

Let’s try to stick to the topic and not play “my team will beat up your team” today children. What do you think are the priorities for Georgia football this spring? Practice begins Tuesday.

GeoffDawg

March 16th, 2009
10:13 am

Obviously, staying healthy is vitally important for the team this spring but that being said, you don’t want to practice with less intensity either. Figuring out how to do that? I’ll leave that up to the guys making a lot more money than me.

Also, somebody has got to yank a knot in the tail of the defense to eliminate all the stupid, drive saving penalties committed last year. That ridiculous hand to the QB facemask which continued an early Alabama drive last year comes to mind. In my mind, that set the tone for the whole first half debacle. That kind of thing cannot be allowed to happen again this Fall.

DawginLex

March 16th, 2009
10:25 am

I want to see if Logan Gray can be a solid backup and if he is close to Cox in ability. If not, Murray or Zac Met are going to have to lose the redshirt like MS did. I would like to see Logan be able to get some packages built into the offense but if he doesn’t have the arm strength and is run only, forget it.

I want a solid OL set heading into the fall. No shifting players and making them learn new positions. I want a DE that can GET SACKS. No mor of this finesse crapola. I want to see if Jeff Owens has a backup to run stuff the middle. Jeff will be fine but obviously after last year, you need more than one.

Somebody needs to step up and be the #1 running back, heads and shoulders above the rest. Is Caleb that guy?

To Rambler, are you really predicting that the nerd herd will beat UGA in baseball? How many choke jobs does it take?

reservoirDAWG

March 16th, 2009
10:35 am

Chip, I think you nailed it with the DE comment. Cox will be fine and the other skill positions are looking good as well.

FalconDawg

March 16th, 2009
10:41 am

Chip dog fan checking in ilove how these losers have nothing better to do except patrol are blog i wonder why? (they have nothing to talk about on there own) I really love how the haters keep showing how pathetic they are. Yes UGA is number one in baseball that rocks. Chip, i really feel are defense will be night and day when compared to last year. The depth we have this year is unreal. Cox’s backup has to be logan gray, what about john delureal is he still in the mix? One thing that was good about last year, we still remember and Coach Richt knows how to rebound from a bad season!

DawgGirl32

March 16th, 2009
10:41 am

Priorities? I think you hit all of them. We definitely need more of a pass rush. I think the bowl game showed promise of that, though.

We definitely need to figure out this tailback situation. My personal opinion is that Caleb King will have a great year. I’m actually interested to see how Carlton Thomas will do and if Waushaun Ealy will get a redshirt. I would think that after redshirting Knowshon and seeing how that played out Mark Richt might be pretty hesitant to do the same to Ealy. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

I can see any one of the 4 great QBs we have step up this year. The question will be: who’s getting redshirted between the 2 freshmen?

I agree with GeoffDawg that the absolute main priority, though, is getting everyone healthy without losing intensity. That’s a tough one.

dude

March 16th, 2009
10:43 am

I’ve got a few questions. Has Orson Charles startes taking classes? Is he looking to play TE, or reciever? With his size, speed, & hands wouldn’t he be another weapon at reciever since we also recruited another top TE from Mass.? Does anyone know who are the top prospective DE’s going into spring?

rickyt

March 16th, 2009
10:55 am

I agree with the ends and the runningbacks. as far as the backup qb i think we redshirt the freshmen. we can always take a shirt off. i’m interested in logan grey. can the dawgs use him to losen up the offense. i heard he was going to play receiver. can they get him the ball in motion, use him behind center on some plays?

RedGADawg

March 16th, 2009
11:02 am

You hit the hot spots, need rush from ends, who can carry load from backfield, Cox is fine, Gray needs to step up and prove he can relieve if needed, not sure it is bad if one of freshmen QB’s sees some action, give some space for eligibility, DAWGS have four good ones to work with, ATTITUDE and DEFINITON of FALL GOAL will be critical coming out of SPRING! Last year there were to many lapses when attitude was UGA talent would win, saw in AL, TECH, FL games that team can not relax, Richt has to build “Killer” attitude, take no prisoners, put game away. Quality of individuals on team is outstanding, can coaches motivate to reach a higher level. It doesn’t take a Heisman Trophy candidate on team, it takes a team playing together for the same goal!

nola dawg

March 16th, 2009
11:04 am

did anybody hear colid cowheard’s (ESPN radio) rant last week about being a real man? one example he used on “not being a real man” is posting on your rival’s msg board. It was prefect Ramble On, that’s you sparky. Go away loser.

Chip – really like your 3 thoughts going into spring.

#1 has to be the DE. I said all year that was the “thing that was missing”.
#2 – a safty that wants to hit. Is Q. Banks finally healthy? I thought he was supposed to be that G. Blue type safety.
#3 – the TBs that red-shirted, are they ready?

Good topic Chipster… keep em coming this week!

GeoffDawg

March 16th, 2009
11:05 am

Dude – I doubt Orson Charles is attending classes at UGA yet. He didn’t decide between UGA and USC until long after the semester would’ve started.

SOUTHGADAWG88

March 16th, 2009
11:14 am

Chip I’m sure you have seen these kids in practice more than any of us ever will.Who do you expect to have a break out year?

DawgOnTOUR

March 16th, 2009
11:20 am

Boston Williams, the comment you made earlier about UGA Gymnastics is way off base and you should check yourself before you go barking and nipping at our heels…4 NATIONAL CHMAPIONSHIPS IN A ROW and undefeated so far this season!!! I put that up against ANY team in ANY sport ANYTIME. Coach Yoculan has built the program to become the elite of the elite…I don’t care what you think or what sport you play, these girls are athletes at the highest level and deserve any and all of attention that they garner. The sport of girls collegiate gymnastics is losing one of if not the greatest coach in the history of the sport. Her record makes the almighty Bear Bryant look like a Pop Warner coach. Dog fans everywhere should have enough respect for her and the program to defend her…but why the hell should we have to defend her on our blog anyway? Go back to the beehive and worship your queen…

As for football, CHip you are right…we have to find a stud at DE this year. The only other thing I would add is to continue to do the little things right. No penalties, tackle at the first point of contact, win the turnover battle, and all of these start with the mat drills. CMR will have them ready to invade Stillwater in the fall!!! GO DAWGS!!! Sic ‘Em!!!

Right On Time

March 16th, 2009
11:21 am

Priority #1: Evaluate frosh QB’s for backup role. If Logan Gray had
any shot at being a quality backup would he be returning punts?

Pririty #2: Anything and everything is open on the “D”. Make every single player (other than Curran) earn or re-earn PT, then do it again in the fall.

Priority #3: Put King in a batting cage ala Happy Gilmore to toughen up. If that does not work it has to be Samuel…who is his backup, Carlton Thomas?

Priority #4: Threaten them so badly that no player even thinks about getting in trouble this summer. Maybe put players with an accountability partner.

Prority #5: Can special teams be special again?

Coach S will take care of the O-Line, no worries there.

Bill W.

March 16th, 2009
11:22 am

Hey Chip. Thank you for the article and topic. AT DE I’m anxious to see Kiante Tripp in the position and how Neland Ball has improved. I think for next fall if we can have a healthy Cornelius Washington and maybe the new kid coming in, Montez Robinson maybe one of those two can emerge. We’ll see. IMO Caleb will step it up. Two years ago Thomas Brown said that King seemed more elusive than Knowshown. I think he will prove to himself he can handle the position. Samuel right behind him and maybe Ealy surprising some folks. I think Cox will be like David Greene in a sense. Smart, calm, clutch and a leader. Looking forward to G-day.

PTC DAWG

March 16th, 2009
11:28 am

I agree about finding a DE. It’s a MUST.

And I want to sincerely thank all the GT fans who keep the comedy coming. It’s really nice that we were able to do so much for your ego.

What's the scoop on Moody

March 16th, 2009
11:40 am

Anybody heard about incoming frosh Moody getting his scholly yanked? What’s the story?

innocent bystander

March 16th, 2009
11:46 am

I know I should be worried about losing 70% of our offense with Stafford, Knowshon and MoMass but I’m not. I feel Joe Cox can have a DJ Shockley year at a minimum and our improving situation with a recovering and maturing offensive line is going to make those young tailbacks look really good. It’s been often remarked that the Alabama meltdown after losing Andre Smith corresponds to the magnitude of our injury problems on the offensive line last year.I think the analogy is apt.We will be healthier and older.I feel great that Coach Ball is going back to the position he feels most comfprtable with and where he achieved at a high level at Virginia Tech.I think we’ll put up lots of points. And I fear we may need to.
Our long term defensive trending is no reason for optimism. But returning Jeff Owens and having Geno Atkins and Kade Weston as seniors is a really positive prospect.It was not a normal year for Coach Fabris who’s worked miracles with d-ends in the past. I think he will be back on form next year. He was working with the young the raw and the hurt last year. Our linebackers will be very very solid. Remember Marcus Washington was starting two years ago. And Rennie Curran is a still developing phenomenon. It’s cornerback and safety which provide the question marks. Reshad Jones has all the physical tools but has yet to prove himself consistent.Asher Allen had a sub-par year partially due to injuries. Two interceptions against Hawaii and 0 for 2008 in interceptions for Asher. And we have to assume that his replacement will not be able to perform to the level where Asher would have been. CJ Byrd is gone. The secondary is the one place where we can be burned for points in a hurry.That’s what gives us worries in the Spring–defense and especially the secondary.

Tech Fan Here

March 16th, 2009
11:50 am

What’s the general feeling about Joe Cox? Are you guys excited about him or would you rather see one of the up and coming guys take over? Just sort of curious who y’all think will be leading the team throughout the year.

Bill W.

March 16th, 2009
11:57 am

Chip Towers

March 16th, 2009
11:59 am

dude: As an alert blogger pointed out, Orson Charles won’t start taking classes until this summer at the earliest. And personally I wouldn’t be looking for a lot out of him this first season. Georgia’s pretty well set with Bruce Figgins and Aron White and several others at that position. . . .

SOUTHGADAWG: As for potential breakout years, I’d say LB Nick Williams, S Quintin Banks, WR Michael Moore, TE Aron White, TB/KR Carlton Thomas and OL Justin Anderson.

Feverdawg

March 16th, 2009
11:59 am

(1) After last season, defensive end is maybe the position I have the most Questions about. Can Rod Battle stay healthy all year, and progress on the form he showed as a sophmore. What will D. Dobbs and Justin Houston be able to do with the experience they gained last year, can they take that next step to being a consistant force on the outside. Can Neland Ball, Cornelius Washington or Jeremy Longo be that disruptive factor our defence needs at the D end position. And will this move back to the position prove to be the answer for Kiante Tripp.

(2) At tailback I am confident that we have talent, alot of talent. What I wonder about is can C. King be more aggressive blocking and hitting the hole. R. Samuel looks the part, with his speed, size and power, but will his vision of the field improve. I’m exited to see C. Thomas this spring. His skill set could bring alot to our offence. Don’t forget about D. Jackson, he drew alot of praise from coaches last spring. So it’s unfortunate he will be out this spring. All in all I am confident in our backfield.

(3) Chip you’re right Joe Cox is Da Man, and I can’t wait to see him in control of our offence. I have complete confidence in his ability on the field and in the locker room. The Question really is how much did it hurt Logan Gray’s progress at the position by working so much on special teams last season. Will he be able to lock down the back up spot, and maybe even play a little in some special packages. Logan looked really good in last years sring game, and if he can continue to grow as a Quaterback, maybe we will not have to force one of our outstanding incoming freshmen into early duty.

GO DAWGS

Mike

March 16th, 2009
12:01 pm

Hey Chip …. yep, it’s that time of the year. At least for some ” semi ” football. You listed some sound priorities to follow during the spring. One thought …. what is the approach regarding ” revamping ” the Defense ? Certainly injuries ; critical penalties, etc., played a huge role last season. But the ‘08 D was one of the worst tackling defenses I’ve ever seen at UGA. Just food for thought …… keep up the good work !

getthepicturenow

March 16th, 2009
12:03 pm

Well Chip, I’m eager to see these guys attitude’s for spring ball. Are our defensive lineman hungry? Can Justin Houston and Demarcus Dobbs play every snap the way they showed flashes of at times last year? I want to see Joe Cox take this Qb spot by the throat. He needs to have no confusion on sets or personel or formations. I want to see AJ Harmon compete. I want to see Caleb compete. And I really want Reshad to prove he can lead. I think the biggest question for me is..Are our guys satisfied with last year? And i don’t think they are!! I hope we can stay healthy. Great Blog Chip, read it as often as i can.

WePeeYellow2

March 16th, 2009
12:20 pm

1) The offensive line, yea uga is supposed to have a healthy bunch of linemen this year, but will the play improve, Searels, is good coach, but will the team chemistry be there?

2) The D, change the scheme or get more aggressive. Do what you have to do to get to the QB, stop relying on excellent DE play for pressure, teach the DB’s to cover and the safeties to tackle, and then bring the kitchen sink! I hate watching the D give up drive after drive after drive against good teams, UA, UF, GT in the second half, heck even UK was driving in the closing min until the turnover saved us.

3) Find a feature back, even if you have to convert a player, remember Verron Haynes, the converted LB that played FB?

4) Will the kicking game be better or more of the same, it seems more and more teams are putting a premium on special teams, will UGA have better special teams play or will it just continue to be acceptable?

go DAWGS! GT = Georgia Toilets, and you know what you do in toilets…

David

March 16th, 2009
12:25 pm

Chip, I agree with your assesment. Defensive end is the #1 priority. I also think LEADERSHIP and how they address special teams is important too. We were horrible in special teams last year, especially kick return and kickoff coverage. Another question is Blair Walsh. And yet another is the TE.

DEFENSE needs to be much improved or the question of Martinez will get even more traction.

lawzoo

March 16th, 2009
12:42 pm

Dude, Orson Charles didn’t decide between ga. and UCF until recently. So, he can’t be in “classes”.

Chip Towers

March 16th, 2009
12:42 pm

Looking into the Moody scholarship yanked thing. Nothing so far.

GeoffDawg

March 16th, 2009
12:48 pm

lawzoo – you’re thinking of Kwame Geathers. Charles was down to Georgia and Southern Cal.

Huh?

March 16th, 2009
12:53 pm

1) The defense needs to grow a pair. Priority #1 is to have a physical spring with an emphasis on fundamentals and plenty of contact. If they all get injured then so be it. They won’t do the team much good healthy if they whiff on tackles, can’t get off blocks, and play with absolutely no sense of urgency whatsoever like last year. This is the first priority by a long shot. Nothing else will matter if this is not corrected. We will not have a snowball’s chance in hell at beating Florida or any other top SEC team if the defense does not improve in a big way. Thanks.

mcdawg

March 16th, 2009
1:00 pm

Leadership is huge and was sorely lacking

with all due repects to the talents of Stafford i never got the sense that he took ownership of the team and w/ J. Owens and Marcus Washington out-there was something missing in that regards on the D

i think Cox can answer that question on Offense

this is R. Jones year to really step up and be the ALL-SEC (American?) he is capable of being

A. Allen’s departure will hurt so corners a big question-ilike B. Evans at Safety

looking forward to what K. Tripp can do at DE

really like how C. King ran with the ball towards the end of the year-powerful runner -i think we will be fine at TB

kw

March 16th, 2009
1:01 pm

1 – toughness & depth on o-line

2 – cox’s leadership on o

3 – curran’s leadship on d

4 – coaching & consistency on d (i.e., stop the trend of having one or two games a year where the d gets figured out or folds)

5 – catching passes by receivers

6 – developing depth at qb & rb

Fletch

March 16th, 2009
1:01 pm

Moody’s scholarship yanked bc of “behavioral issues”…don’t know what that means. Now on with the jokes from the techies.

Mort Merkel

March 16th, 2009
1:04 pm

File an opening meetings law violation complaint. It’s a public school team practicing on public property.

haney

March 16th, 2009
1:05 pm

As for what UGA needs to be working on this spring, I say tackling drills should be a top priority on the defense. Back to the basics of football boys. As for the offense, obviously we need someone-Caleb King-to step up at the RB position. I have watched him play HS many times, watched him in limited action last fall, the kid has outstanding ability. What he needs is to get his confidence back while also realizing his time is now. With Knowshon around, he just didn’t get a chance to do much. That changes now and with Samuel out, as well as DJackson, Caleb has a chance to shine and I am hoping he will.

One thing I firmly believe when it comes to QB and RB this season in Athens, sure, those guys are replacing 1st round NFL picks BUT, the OL they will be playing with should be so much better than what those two guys had in front of them, they don’t have to be as much a superstar as just solid.

I also hope the kicking team gets in a lot of work. Our defense had problems last year but I honestly believe if we could find a kicker that could boom the ball into the zone every kick, forcing teams to start at the 20 instead of the 40 is a BIG deal.

kauai dawg

March 16th, 2009
1:15 pm

I think the biggest issue is the pressure from the DE and the hard hitting safety. We always had the reputation of an attacking D and last year, due to injuries we were soft. Without the pressure our DBs looked vulnerable. So pick up the pressure and have a head hunting safety for over the middle patterns and that will be solved. Owen back in the middle will help tremendously as well to clogg it up. The LBs concern me a little. Go DAWGS!