Archive for March, 2011

Jones’ ’screaming, yelling, pushing, going crazy’ fires up UGA offense

ATHENS — After being dominated by the defense in Tuesday’s practice, Georgia’s offense bounced back on Thursday.

“We looked a whole lot better than we did the other day,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “I feel like guys were a lot more energized.”

He attributed the difference to Georgia’s starting center.

Ben Jones got on us a little bit the other day after practice, really got us pumped up,” Murray said.

How did Jones do that?

“Just screaming, yelling, pushing, going crazy, being Ben Jones,” Murray said. “Which is a great thing because he’s not only one of the leaders of the offense but of the team. . . . You don’t want to mess up if Ben Jones is watching you.”

———-

Tailback Washaun Ealey missed his second consecutive practice Thursday because of a strained left hamstring. He was lifting weights on the side as the practice began.

Georgia lists Ealey’s status as day-to-day. The Bulldogs practice again Friday and scrimmage Saturday.

Also sidelined Thursday: offensive …

Continue reading Jones’ ’screaming, yelling, pushing, going crazy’ fires up UGA offense »

Ogletree’s move impacts Dogs at three positions

ATHENS – One decision is having ripple effects at three positions as Georgia’s football team continues spring practice.

The decision to shift Alec Ogletree from safety to inside linebacker bolstered his new position, created competition at his former position and freed Jarvis Jones to play outside linebacker rather than inside.

“The moves we made are good moves; I think we’re going to benefit from [them],” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said this week. “Those guys are doing good jobs in their new spots.

“The reason we made the moves was to create depth [at linebacker] and to get some guys that we feel can make plays closer to the ball. And it’s also created an opportunity in the secondary for someone to step up and take that position. The other thing is, anytime you can show players that [the lineup] isn’t etched in stone and that if you work hard you’re going to play, that’s a good thing.”

At inside linebacker, Ogletree is “a natural fit,” Grantham said, who is picking …

Continue reading Ogletree’s move impacts Dogs at three positions »

UGA, Fox discussing new contract; ‘not interested’ in any other job, he says

Georgia has opened discussions with men’s basketball coach Mark Fox about a new or amended contract that would increase his pay and demonstrate the school’s desire to keep him long-term.

Both athletic director Greg McGarity and Fox confirmed the contract talks in interviews Wednesday with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Yes, I have had a preliminary discussion with Mark,” McGarity said. “Over the next week, two weeks, we’ll sit down and try to formalize some of the things we have discussed.”

Said Fox: “Greg and I had a great initial discussion. We’ll continue that later. But this is the job I wanted and where I want to be, and I’m excited Greg and I had such a great meeting.”

With several high-profile programs –- including N.C. State, Missouri and Oklahoma -– seeking coaches, there has been speculation that Fox might be pursued for another job.

Although Fox’s agent has fielded a couple of feelers from other schools, McGarity described the contract talks as a “proactive” …

Continue reading UGA, Fox discussing new contract; ‘not interested’ in any other job, he says »

Sturdivant or Glenn at left tackle? Boykin as punt returner?

ATHENS — Barring injury, Trinton Sturdivant and Cordy Glenn surely will be Georgia’s starting offensive tackles this year. It’s not clear at this point, though, which one of them will play left tackle and which one will play right tackle.

Both are getting work at both spots during spring practice, new offensive line coach Will Friend said Tuesday night.

“Whoever wins that job,” Friend said, “will be the left tackle,” entrusted to protect quarterback Aaron Murray’s blind side.

Glenn started all 13 games last season at left guard and moved this spring to tackle, where he is “rusty,” Friend said, but “could be  a dominant player.” Sturdivant started seven games last season at left tackle, where he also started 13 games as a freshman in 2007 before missing almost all of the ‘08 and ‘09 seasons with knee injuries.

Kenarious Gates and Justin Anderson have been considered the leading candidates to start at the guards, but Friend said backup center Chris Burnette worked some at …

Continue reading Sturdivant or Glenn at left tackle? Boykin as punt returner? »

Hamstring injury sidelines UGA’s Ealey from practice

ATHENS – Georgia resumed spring football practice Tuesday with tailback Washaun Ealey on the sideline because of a strained left hamstring.

Georgia officially listed Ealey’s status as “day to day”; the Bulldogs’ next practice is Thursday.

“It’s nothing serious,” running backs coach Bryan McClendon said of the injury.

McClendon said Ealey and fellow tailback Caleb King, both of whom have been suspended twice since the start of last season for off-field issues, are having positive and productive springs.

“I do think generally they’re doing well,” McClendon said. “They’re coming out there and busting their tail, working as hard as anybody. They’re really being good teammates to everybody.”

Ealey, King, Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome are sharing the tailback snaps evenly with the first- and second-string offensive units this spring, McClendon said. Prized prospect Isaiah Crowell will join the competition when he arrives this summer.

Asked how the returning tailbacks have handled …

Continue reading Hamstring injury sidelines UGA’s Ealey from practice »

Former UGA assistant reaches Final Four with VCU

A few notes to start the day:

Jones

Jones

  • A former Georgia assistant coach is headed to the Final Four. Mike Jones, a member of Dennis Felton’s UGA staff for six seasons, is an assistant at Virginia Commonwealth, which will play Butler in a wildly improbable national semifinal on Saturday. Jones was let go by Georgia, along with the rest of Felton’s assistants, when Mark Fox was hired in April 2009. Jones landed a position a couple of months later on the staff of then-new VCU coach Shaka Smart. Jones is a 17-year veteran coach who also has worked at  West Virginia, Richmond, Furman and Howard.
  • It won’t go down in the annals of famously effective motivational speeches, given the Georgia women’s basketball team’s 79-38 loss to Texas A&M in an NCAA tournament Sweet 16 game on Sunday. But if you want to listen, here’s a link at georgiadogs.com to Herschel Walker’s pregame speech to the Lady Bulldogs.
  • After winning two of three games last weekend over No. 9 LSU, Georgia’s baseball …

Continue reading Former UGA assistant reaches Final Four with VCU »

Injuries end Georgia defensive end’s career

Georgia defensive end/linebacker Jeremy Longo, limited by shoulder and knee injuries the past two seasons, won’t play any more football.

Jeremy Longo

Jeremy Longo

Longo, a junior, will be medically disqualified “due to continuing injury issues,” UGA said Sunday.

Longo appeared in only seven games in the past two seasons, mostly on special teams –- three games in 2009 and four in 2010. He suffered a shoulder injury during spring practice 2009 and underwent knee surgery in January 2010.

Medically disqualified players remain on scholarship but do not count against the NCAA’s 85-scholarship limit.

Longo, who redshirted as a freshman in 2008,  is from Fort Lauderdale. He was named to the SEC academic honor roll in 2009 and 2010 and to the SEC freshman academic honor roll in 2008.

– Tim Tucker, AJC

Click for more UGA football coverage from the weekend:

Center Ben Jones changes numbers to honor his late father.

Saturday’s practice notes, including updates on Tavarres King and Richard …

Continue reading Injuries end Georgia defensive end’s career »

UGA practice notes: ‘Hard not to feel pressure’ in A.J.’s old spot, King says

ATHENS – Tavarres King, Georgia’s top returning receiver, is making the transition this spring from split end to flanker, A.J. Green’s old spot.

“It’s hard not to feel pressure when you’ve got big shoes to fill like that,” King said Saturday. “But I’m looking at it as a challenge; I’m challenging myself to be great.”

The change of positions, although not dramatic, is “a learning process right now for me,” King said.

“It’s a little different,” he said. “You got more space when you play flanker because it’s to the wider side of the field. Playing split end, I think you’ve got to be a little quicker and know how to operate in tight spaces.”

With the loss of Green, a projected top-10 NFL draft pick, and Kris Durham from last season’s team, one of the major projects of Georgia’s spring practice is rebuilding the receiver group.

“Guys are coming along,” King said. “Marlon Brown looks more and more like a great receiver every day. And Christian Conley [a 2011 signee who enrolled in …

Continue reading UGA practice notes: ‘Hard not to feel pressure’ in A.J.’s old spot, King says »

UGA’s Ben Jones honors his late father with change of numbers

ATHENS – Ben Jones, the Georgia football team’s starting center for the past three years, will wear a different jersey number for his senior season –- a long-planned tribute to his late father.

Ben Jones

Ben Jones

Jones is switching from No. 61 to No. 60, which was worn by his father, Steve Jones, as a high school player in South Georgia.

“My dad passed away when I was 10 … in a helicopter crash at work [as a forester],” Jones said Saturday. “He was a Georgia fan; he was the one that got me to watching Georgia; he actually graduated from Georgia with a forestry degree. . . . There’s no better year to wear No. 60 to honor my dad than my senior year here at Georgia, his favorite school and my favorite school.”

Jones said he wore No. 60 “all the way through since I was 10 years old” until he arrived at Georgia in 2008 and found the number unavailable because it belonged to fellow offensive lineman Clint Boling, who was one year ahead of Jones.

“I said, ‘I’ll just wait until [Boling] is …

Continue reading UGA’s Ben Jones honors his late father with change of numbers »

Attitude and defense are better, Dogs say

ATHENS – Thursday night’s post-practice interviews brought upbeat assessments of two key components of the Georgia football team: its attitude and its defense.

  • Without naming any past offenders, inside linebacker Christian Robinson made it clear he likes the attitude of this team better than last year’s.
Christian Robinson is a projected starter at inside linebacker. (AJC photo/Curtis Compton)

Christian Robinson is a projected starter at inside linebacker. (AJC photo/Curtis Compton)

“I think the guys that are here and that are playing right now and that coach [Todd] Grantham has trust in are those guys that stayed positive and kept working,” Robinson said. “Our whole thing is just being intense and doing what you’re supposed to, and I think the guys we have out there at this point are those guys who will make those plays and do what they’re told.

“I mean [if you have] a cancerous attitude, if you don’t have the right attitude, if you’re a ‘me’ guy –- we can’t have that. . . . I think the guys we have right now are the guys that are going to do it right, and you …

Continue reading Attitude and defense are better, Dogs say »

UGA’s Figgins feels old when telling teammates about ‘that Sugar Bowl’

ATHENS — Bruce Figgins‘ college football career began promisingly. He started the first game of his freshman season for Georgia in 2007 and even caught a touchdown pass in his debut. A few months later, he played in the Sugar Bowl as the Bulldogs routed Hawaii to finish the season ranked No. 2 in the nation.

Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

Figgins

Figgins

“It seems like forever ago,” Figgins, 22, said. “We talk about it in the locker room, and I say, ‘Man, I’m too old; I got to get out of here; y’all don’t know what I’m talking about.’

“Guys are used to Memphis and Shreveport and the Capital One Bowl,” he continued, recounting the Bulldogs’ more modest postseason destinations of the past three seasons. “All bowls are nice, but I tell them, ‘Oh, that Sugar Bowl!’”

One of just two players on this spring’s roster who appeared in that Sugar Bowl –- offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant is the other -– Figgins now finds himself adjusting to a new position in hopes of finishing his …

Continue reading UGA’s Figgins feels old when telling teammates about ‘that Sugar Bowl’ »

Here’s the week-by-week SEC football schedule…

The SEC today released the league’s composite 2011 football schedule. Most of the teams’ schedules, including Georgia’s, had been previously reported. But here’s the conference’s full week-by-week schedule (SEC games denoted by asterisks):

SEPT. 1

Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky (LP Field, Nashville)

SEPT. 3

Kent State at Alabama

Missouri State at Arkansas

Utah State at Auburn

Florida Atlantic at Florida

Boise State vs. Georgia (Georgia Dome, Atlanta)

Oregon vs. LSU (Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas)

Brigham Young at Ole Miss

Mississippi State at Memphis

East Carolina vs. South Carolina (Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte)

Montana at Tennessee

Elon at Vanderbilt

SEPT. 10

*-Mississippi State at Auburn

*-South Carolina at Georgia

Alabama at Penn State

New Mexico at Arkansas (War Memorial Stadium, Little Rock)

UAB at Florida

Central Michigan at Kentucky

Northwestern State at LSU

Southern Illinois at Ole Miss

Cincinnati at Tennessee

Connecticut at Vanderbilt

SEPT. 15

*-LSU at …

Continue reading Here’s the week-by-week SEC football schedule… »

Georgia’s G-Day game will be televised

Georgia’s spring football game will be televised on CSS, according to UGA spokesman Claude Felton.

The annual G-Day intra-squad game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on April 16 in Sanford Stadium.

Matt Stewart and former Georgia quarterback Buck Belue will call the game, with sideline reporting from Maria Taylor.

Georgia resumed spring practice Tuesday after a 12-day interruption for the university’s spring break. The Bulldogs will practice three or four days per week up until the G-Day game. The next practice is Thursday.

For a full report from Tuesday’s practice, please click here.

– Tim Tucker, AJC

Continue reading Georgia’s G-Day game will be televised »

Gator chomps and Bulldog barks followed Richt on spring break

ATHENS – Georgia’s football team switched gears from spring break to spring practice Tuesday — a rather jolting change.

Just back from the university’s spring break, which many players and coaches spent on the beach, the Bulldogs returned to the practice field on an unseasonably warm afternoon. They held their second session of spring practice, 12 days after the first.

“Spring break — for spring football, it really does stink,” coach Mark Richt said. “You get ‘em working; you get ‘em up to a certain point of readiness, mentally, physically. And then boom, they’re gone. . . . And we [coaches] are, too. Our minds — we’re out of here, too.

“It’s hard to just come back off spring break and just expect everybody to look great. But hopefully we’ll be locked in and ready to go from here on.”

Richt spent part of his spring break on the beach in Jamaica, and listen to what greeted him there:

“I’m not lying to you: The first time we laid down our stake at the beach — laid it down just …

Continue reading Gator chomps and Bulldog barks followed Richt on spring break »

UGA resumes spring football practice — for real this time

Spring break is over at UGA. Classes resumed Monday. Football practice resumes Tuesday.

The Bulldogs, you might recall, opened spring football practice on March 10, holding one of their NCAA-allotted 15 practices before dispersing for the university’s spring break.  Twelve days later, practice No. 2 is scheduled for late Tuesday afternoon, and spring ball begins in earnest now. The team will practice three or four times per week through the G-Day game on April 16.

Things will be hopping around the Butts-Mehre building Tuesday.  The activity starts at mid-morning with Georgia’s “Pro Day” — 14 players from last season’s team working out for NFL scouts in the weight room and on the practice field. And about the time the current Bulldogs are wrapping up football practice this evening, the Georgia and Georgia Tech baseball teams will be playing across the street at Foley Field.

Speaking of the baseball game: It starts at 7:06 p.m. and will be televised on CSS; it will be Georgia’s …

Continue reading UGA resumes spring football practice — for real this time »

UGA football ‘Pro Day’ will air online Tuesday (w/ list of participants)

Georgia’s “Pro Day” will be closed to the public on Tuesday, but you can watch it online at ESPN3.com.

Cassidy Hubbarth and David Pollack will describe and analyze the action, starting at 10 a.m. from UGA’s practice fields.  According to UGA, the event can be viewed at http://espn.go.com/espn3/index?id=162227

More than a dozen members of last season’s Georgia team, including projected first-round draft picks A.J. Green and Justin Houston, will work out for NFL scouts.

In addition to Green and Houston, other players scheduled to participate are: Clint Boling, Shaun Chapas, Vance Cuff, Chris Davis, Josh Davis, Akeem Dent, Demarcus Dobbs, Kris Durham, Darryl Gamble, Chad Gloer, Derek Rich and Kiante Tripp.

And among those expected to be on hand to watch: Detroit Lions (and former UGA) quarterback Matthew Stafford, the NFL’s No. 1 pick in 2009.

– Tim Tucker, AJC

———-

It was a busy weekend in UGA sports. For what you might have missed, click …

Continue reading UGA football ‘Pro Day’ will air online Tuesday (w/ list of participants) »

What you might have missed over the weekend…

It was a busy weekend in Bulldog Nation. So let’s start the week with a recap:

Wendy Trott

Wendy Trott

  • The UGA women’s swimming and diving team finished second in the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas. The Lady Bulldogs’ 394.5 points trailed only California’s 424. Georgia’s Wendy Trott won the 1,650 freestyle for the third consecutive season, and the 400 freestyle relay team of Morgan Scroggy, Megan Romano, Melanie Margalis and Allison Schmitt placed first with an American-record time.
  • The women’s basketball team, in the NCAA tournament for the 17th consecutive year, defeated Middle Tennessee State 56-41 in an opening-round game Sunday night at Auburn. Jasmine James scored 18 points, and Porsha Phillips had 10 points and 14 rebounds. The Lady Bulldogs advance to a round-of-32 matchup against Florida State on Tuesday night.
  • The gymnastics team finished third at the SEC Championships, behind winner Alabama and runnerup Florida. Georgia senior Cassidy McComb won the SEC all-around …

Continue reading What you might have missed over the weekend… »

UGA adds South Alabama to football schedule for $900,000 payout

Georgia has added South Alabama to its 2014 home football schedule, UGA athletic director Greg McGarity confirmed Friday.

Georgia will pay the Mobile, Ala.,  school $900,000, McGarity said, to make the trip to Sanford Stadium for the Nov. 8, 2014, game.

South Alabama’s 2-year-old football program has lined up multiple games against SEC teams. In addition to Georgia in 2014, the Jaguars will play Mississippi State in 2012, 2014 and 2016, Tennessee in 2013, LSU  in 2016 and Ole Miss in 2017.

South Alabama begins a two-year transition period to the NCAA’s FBS (formerly Division I-A)  level in the 2011 season.  Beginning in 2013, the Jaguars will be eligible for the Sun Belt Conference championship and a bowl berth.

The South Alabama game completes Georgia’s 2014 non-conference schedule, which also includes games against Clemson, Charleston Southern and Georgia Tech.

“Georgia has obviously built a great tradition throughout the years; they’ve won national championships and had …

Continue reading UGA adds South Alabama to football schedule for $900,000 payout »

UGA-Washington notebook from Charlotte…

CHARLOTTE – Isaiah Thomas, the Washington guard who was named for the former NBA star, says his name is a “blessing.”

Usually.

“I mean, if I don’t play well, people think, like, ‘Why is his name Isaiah Thomas?’ When I play well, it’s pretty cool. People compare us, even though we’re kind of totally two different players. But it’s pretty cool just to have the name and to be known for the name.”

Thomas was named for former Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas because his father lost a friendly bet on the Lakers-Pistons series in the 1989 NBA Finals. Thomas’ mother added an extra “a,” preferring the biblical spelling.

Thomas increasingly is known for his game, rather than his name, and he’ll undoubtedly get a lot of attention, from both the Georgia defense and the CBS announcers, in Friday night’s NCAA tournament game.

The 5-foot-9 Thomas enlarged his reputation by capping a remarkable performance in last week’s Pac-10 tournament with a buzzer-beating shot in overtime to win the …

Continue reading UGA-Washington notebook from Charlotte… »

‘When [Fox] first got here, we were a team full of problems’

Greetings from Charlotte, where the Georgia Bulldogs and Washington Huskies will continue preparations for Friday night’s NCAA tournament game. The Huskies flew in from Seattle on Tuesday, and the Bulldogs bused up from Athens on Wednesday. Both teams will have late-afternoon/early-evening press conferences and practices on Thursday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Before leaving Athens, the Georgia players and coach Mark Fox met with a much-larger-than-usual media contingent at their Stegeman Coliseum practice facility Wednesday afternoon. Some of the topics that I thought were interesting:

  • Washington was not only the first school to hire Fox as a coach, but the first to fire him. After working there as a graduate assistant for one season and as an assistant coach for another, Fox lost his job when the school fired head coach Lynn Nance and the entire staff after the 1992-93 season. I asked Fox how he handled that setback so early in his career. “As a young coach, it’s so hard to …

Continue reading ‘When [Fox] first got here, we were a team full of problems’ »

Video: Georgia-Washington preview

CineSport’s Noah Coslov chats with the AJC’s Tim Tucker about the Georgia-Washington matchup in the NCAA tournament:

Continue reading Video: Georgia-Washington preview »

UGA reports violation in Crowell recruitment, bars Richt from calling recruits next month

Georgia broke an NCAA rule in the recruitment of prized tailback Isaiah Crowell and will respond by barring coach Mark Richt from phoning recruits next month, according to a letter from UGA athletic director Greg McGarity to the NCAA.

An attempt by Richt in January to demonstrate the Bulldogs’ need for Crowell by having him stand in as the missing tailback in an offensive formation with current players resulted in a secondary violation of the rule against “game day simulation” with recruits, McGarity wrote.

Crowell signed with Georgia last month, and the school’s self-reported violation had the temporary effect of making him ineligible. But the NCAA staff, acting on a request in McGarity’s March 4 letter, already has reinstated Crowell’s eligibility, according to an e-mail from the NCAA to UGA on Friday.

McGarity told the NCAA that Richt did not believe the January scenario constituted a “game day simulation.” However, McGarity wrote that “as a result of the violation,” Richt …

Continue reading UGA reports violation in Crowell recruitment, bars Richt from calling recruits next month »

UGA players ‘jumped around like 7-year-olds that just won a Little League championship’ after NCAA bid

(Updated 9:30 p.m.)

ATHENS — After days of debate about whether Georgia would reach the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the verdict came quickly Sunday night: The Bulldogs are in.

Georgia will open against Pac-10 tournament champion Washington on Friday in an East Region game in Charlotte.  Game time will be approximately 9:45 p.m.

Georgia’s selection was announced early in the hour-long, nationally televised bracket unveiling, and the Bulldogs’ No. 10 seed revealed that they were not as close of a call as many analysts had projected. The Georgia players got the news while watching the selection show in the team’s locker room.

“They jumped around like 7-year-olds that just won a Little League championship,” coach Mark Fox said.

“I don’t think I’ve been that happy in a long time,” forward Trey Thompkins said, “just seeing our whole team jump around and throw stuff in the locker room and hug each other as much as we did. That was a blessing, just to be able to see our name as …

Continue reading UGA players ‘jumped around like 7-year-olds that just won a Little League championship’ after NCAA bid »

A new job for UGA grad assistant who coached in bowl (and other notes)

Emptying the notebook to start the weekend:

Hartley

Hartley

  • You remember Todd Hartley, one of the two UGA football graduate assistants who famously filled in as interim defensive coaches for the 2009 Independence Bowl after Mark Richt fired three coaches. Marshall University officially named Hartley to its coaching staff on Friday. He’ll coach safeties. The Georgia staff has known for several weeks that Marshall was hiring Hartley, who returned to G.A. duties at UGA after Richt hired new defensive coaches. Hartley, a Gray, Ga., native, graduated from UGA in 2008;   he and his wife have a four-month-old son.
  • Published heights and weights of athletes are not always reliable, but Georgia’s spring football roster, released this week, shows some substantial weight gains from the Liberty Bowl roster. Changes in Georgia’s strength and conditioning program took effect after the bowl. Four linemen are showing gains of 20-plus pounds: defensive lineman Kwame Geathers (from 325 to 350) and …

Continue reading A new job for UGA grad assistant who coached in bowl (and other notes) »

Yes, amid all the hoops, spring football practice also starts today

About an hour after the Georgia men’s basketball team finishes its SEC tournament opener against Auburn at the Georgia Dome this afternoon, the Bulldogs’ football team will hit the field in Athens for the start of spring practice.  I’ll be at the Dome, and Andy Johnston will be covering football practice. There’s much SEC tournament coverage on AJC.com today, but I know some of you might be looking for football fodder on the first day of spring ball. So here, culled from a full preview of Georgia spring practice that ran in Sunday’s paper, are three key issues facing the Bulldogs:

1. Rebuilding the receiver corps: While A.J. Green trains for the NFL draft, Georgia faces the daunting task of replacing arguably the best receiver in school history. The Bulldogs also must replace last season’s second most productive receiver, Kris Durham, who completed his eligibility. Rising junior Tavarres King, the leading returning receiver with 27 catches last season, will line up at flanker …

Continue reading Yes, amid all the hoops, spring football practice also starts today »

Can Dogs find their way from Georgia Dome to Big Dance?

Georgia coach Mark Fox speaks to his team at center court before Wednesday's practice at the Georgia Dome. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Georgia coach Mark Fox speaks to his team at center court before Wednesday's practice at the Georgia Dome. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

How many games must the Georgia men’s basketball team win this week to play in the NCAA tournament next week?

That question dominates discussions about the team entering the SEC tournament at the Georgia Dome.

Must the Bulldogs beat Auburn, their opponent at 1 p.m. Thursday, to reach the big dance? Must they also beat Alabama, which will face the Georgia-Auburn winner Friday? Or might the Dogs possibly slip into the NCAA tournament even without a win at the Dome because of a weak bubble field?

Similar questions follow two other teams into the SEC tournament — Alabama, which most “bracketologists” argue is in a worse position on the bubble than Georgia, and Tennessee, which the same experts contend is in a better position than Georgia.

Three other teams enter the SEC tournament with no doubt they’ll get NCAA bids Sunday evening — Florida, …

Continue reading Can Dogs find their way from Georgia Dome to Big Dance? »

Ten players to watch in Bulldogs’ spring football practice

Georgia starts spring football practice on Thursday afternoon. Here are 10 players whose progress, I think, will be particularly interesting to follow from then through the G-Day game on April 16:

1. Alec Ogletree: After starting four games at safety as a true freshman last season, Ogletree moves to inside linebacker, where defensive coordinator Todd Grantham says the former scout.com five-star recruit can be a “unique” talent.

2. Jarvis Jones: One offshoot of Ogletree’s move from safety to inside linebacker is that Jones, who was redshirted last season after transferring from USC, will settle at outside linebacker. It previously was unclear whether he’d play inside or outside.  Big things are expected and needed from him.

3. Bruce Figgins: It’s pretty unusual for a fifth-year senior to make a significant position change, but Figgins’ shift from tight end, perhaps the team’s deepest position, to fullback, perhaps its thinnest, qualifies. He could be a major contributor if …

Continue reading Ten players to watch in Bulldogs’ spring football practice »

Despite injuries, Thompkins is first-team All-SEC; Leslie second team

Despite an injury-plagued junior season, Georgia forward Trey Thompkins was named first-team All-SEC by the league’s coaches Tuesday.

Travis Leslie, also a Georgia junior, was named second-team all-conference by the coaches.

Thompkins leads the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding; he’s averaging 15.8 points per game, eighth best in the SEC, and 7.6 rebounds, fourth best in the league.  Voted the league’s preseason player of the year by the media in October, Thompkins has battled ankle, shin and toe injuries.

“He’s had a real tough go,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said on his weekly radio show Monday night, referring to Thompkins’ injuries. “Maybe once or twice all year, I felt like I saw him move around like he was healthy. That’s unfortunate because he’s a great player. And it has impacted him, it really has; he has not been as powerful because his lower body hasn’t been healthy.

“But hopefully we can continue to try to make him a little bit better every day so he can go into the …

Continue reading Despite injuries, Thompkins is first-team All-SEC; Leslie second team »

Pairing set: UGA will open SEC tourney vs. Auburn

After his team finished the regular season with a victory at LSU on Saturday night, Auburn coach Tony Barbee gushed: “I know this. There are a lot of teams in the conference that are heading to Atlanta saying, ‘I hope we don’t match up with that Auburn team.’”

As it turns out, the first team that will match up with Auburn in the SEC men’s basketball tournament is Georgia, which will play the Tigers at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Georgia Dome.

Tournament pairings were set Sunday afternoon, when Kentucky’s 64-58 victory at Tennessee finalized the SEC East seeds. The win clinched second place in the division for Kentucky (10-6 in the league, three games behind runaway East winner Florida) and left Georgia and Vanderbilt (both 9-7) in a tie for third place. Georgia is the division’s No. 4 seed because of two regular-season losses to Vanderbilt.

The Bulldogs thus open the conference tournament against the No. 5 seed from the Western Division, an Auburn team that finished 11-19 overall …

Continue reading Pairing set: UGA will open SEC tourney vs. Auburn »

Toe doesn’t keep Thompkins out of Dogs’ lineup

(Updated 1:45 p.m.)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Wearing a shoe with extra protection for his left big toe,  forward Trey Thompkins started Georgia’s game against Alabama this afternoon at Coleman Coliseum.

Thompkins had an ingrown toenail removed on Tuesday and was lifted from Wednesday’s game against LSU after aggravating the tender toe. Coach Mark Fox said on Friday that it wouldn’t be known until close to game time  whether Thompkins would play against Alabama.

Thompkins participated in pregame warmups today, at one point taking a brief break to allow an SEC Network cameraman to zoom in for a closeup shot of his left shoe.

Also, freshman backup forward Marcus Thornton, who missed Wednesday’s game with what Fox described as a deep elbow laceration, participated in warmups.

It’s going to be an interesting final weekend of the regular season for several SEC East teams.  Depending on what happens in three games this weekend, Georgia could be seeded anywhere from No. 2 to No. 5 in next …

Continue reading Toe doesn’t keep Thompkins out of Dogs’ lineup »