Mailbag: What’s wrong with O-line, who’ll play D-end and is it the end for Sturdivant?

mailbag(1)THE MAILBAG

“The Mailbag” is something I did fairly regularly over at the AJC Recruiting Blog. So I figured I’d lug it over here to the UGA Blog and see if it’s something you guys might want to utilize.

Each week, I’ll ask you to send in questions you’d like to see answered on all things Dog to UGAmailbag@yahoo.com. Being the first week, the volume of letters/messages I got this week was understandably low compared to what I generally received on recruiting. Hopefully that will pick up as I continually hound you guys to write in.

We’ll mostly talk football and basketball, but those who wrote in and/or read the Recruiting Mailbag know that I make it a point to not to limit topics. So we ended up occasionally talking “Entourage” and other such guilty TV pleasures (Modern Family, Survivor, The Office are some others I watch). But Georgia and SEC sports will, of course, be our bread and butter.

So that’s enough of that. Let’s rip open this first mailbag and see what we’ve got . . .

Patrick from Roswell asks: It seems like UGA has grabbed a bunch of 4- and 5-star running backs and wide receivers over the years that haven’t produced much. But to me, the bigger concern is all of the top rated-offensive linemen we have recruited over the last few years that seem to have disappeared. It seems that the physical tools of a top-rated OL would translate more consistently from HS to College than a RB or WR, so why is our line so consistently bad with all these top recruits we get? And can we blame the surprisingly terrible production from top running backs like Caleb King, Richard Samuel and Washaun Ealey on the line?

This guy didn't suck.

This guy didn't suck.

Neither did this guy

Neither did this guy

Chip: Tell the truth, you’re really “Tide Roll” who hijacks every blog every day to talk about this, right? . . . Nevertheless, Georgia has had some failures and misses on the offensive line in recent years and that has contributed to some recent struggles. But that happens everywhere. And it’s certainly not the epidemic you describe. Granted, the Bulldogs didn’t run the ball very well last year, finishing 10th in the league in rushing offense (142 ypg). But they almost never come in that low in the past. They were fifth in 2008 and consistently in the top third the rest of the decade.

As for individual linemen, Georgia has at least one drafted almost every year. Clint Boling, last year’s starter at left tackle, is projected to go as early as the second round in this year’s NFL draft. The Bulldogs have had two All-American offensive linemen in the last eight years in Max Jean-Gilles and Jon Stinchcomb, the latter of which is wearing a 2010 Super Bowl championship ring.

But I hear what you’re saying. Georgia has lost more than its share of offensive linemen the last few years. Austin Long (back) and Brent Benedict (knee) both came in with preexisting serious injuries. They were also 5-star prospects, so it’s understandable why the Dogs took chances on them (and the book on them isn’t written yet). Career-ending injuries wiped out a few other guys. I’d say it’s a run of bad luck more than anything.

Beach Dawg asks: Chip, glad to see you on the blog. My question does not really relate to UGA but I think most people want to know what’s happening at AJC Sports. Are you now officially not doing recruiting and how does you blog relate to Bill King’s blog?

Chip: I am no longer the recruiting reporter, though I will occasionally report on recruiting here and there. I’m the UGA beat writer. As for the blog belonging to Bill King, aka The Junkyard Blawg, I guess you could say our blogs are distant cousins. Bill is a dyed-in-wool Georgia fan who happens to work at a newspaper. His is a fans’ blog and he writes from that perspective. The purpose of this blog is to provide “news, notes and discussion about University of Georgia sports.” Or at least that’s what it says on the right of this webpage.

Abry Jones is the only D-lineman with any significant experience. (AJC photo)

Abry Jones is the only D-lineman with any significant experience. (AJC photo)

Bo asks: How is the two-deep rotation shaping up at D-line? I think we know who the starters will be, but how do the coaches feel about the drop off  between the first and units?

Chip: If you’re D-line coach Rodney Garner, the best thing you have to say about Georgia’s two-deep on the defensive front is you’ve got one. But Garner would say that if he still had Marcus Stroud backing up Richard Seymour. The truth is, the Bulldogs are largely unproven but not necessarily under-staffed up front. Kwame Geathers’ MVP-type play in the spring was a big surprise and a huge boost for the whole of the D-line. Along with JUCO transfer John Jenkins and redshirt freshman Mike Thorton, they appear to have solid depth at noseguard. At end, only Abry Jones with four starts last year has any significant experience. Deangelo Tyson is a former noseguard and Brandon Burrows, Derrick Lott, Dexter Morant and Garrison Smith are all young and inexperienced. But, as they say, they all came highly recommended, and at least a couple of them are going to have to step up and play. I like what I saw and heard out of Lott. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see the coaching staff to ask Ray Drew to try to play with his hand on the ground as a true freshman.

SUHatter asks: What is your opinion on the Hutson Mason/Christian LeMay situation? Who should redshirt and who should be the backup? And who is Mr. Brave, Dale Murphy or Chipper Jones?

Chip: Thanks for playing again, Hatter, and I like your questions. First of all, I see the Mason/LeMay “situation” as pretty much a no-brainer. I think Mason plays and LeMay redshirts. And that’s not because I think Mason is better than LeMay. LeMay may end up being better than both Mason and Aaron Murray. But LeMay, a midyear enrollee from Matthews, N.C., simply hasn’t had enough time in the UGA playbook. Mason, on the other hand, has spent a whole year mastering that side of the game. He was telling me after the G-Day game how he could’t believe how much better “it clicked” for him this time around. LeMay, of course, didn’t play his senior season in high school. So I say he redshirts and gets back into the race to backup — or possibly  beat out — Murray in 2012. If I had any doubts about that notion, Mark Richt erased them with his comments on the subject following the G-Day game: “I think Christian LeMay right now is only competing with the playbook,” he said. “Really you can’t play that position unless you know what you’re doing. I wouldn’t even say it’s a competition right now.” So there you go.

As for your brave Braves question, it’s not even close for me. Dale Murphy is “Mr. Brave.” And I think that’d be the case for the many of us who had the unique pleasure of watching Big No. 3 from $4 general admission seats at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Of course, they both rank behind “The Great and Most Honorable Brave,” Hank Aaron.

Sturdivant

Sturdivant

EaglesDawg72 asks: Where does Trinton Sturdivant go from here? Even if he is granted a sixth year of eligibility, how likely is it than an NFL team would take a chance on him?

Chip: If you ask me (and clearly you are), Sturdivant simply goes back to class. He’s actually quite good at that. A bright and affable young man, Sturdivant is pretty close to completing his degree in finance, as I understand it. I’m sure it’s very tough for Sturdivant — and many UGA fans — to let go of “what could have been.” Sturdivant was magnificant as a freshman, starting all 13 games at left on the 11-2 Sugar Bowl team. But I think after three major knee injuries in three years, it’s evident that his joints simply aren’t made for the wear and tear of football. Like they say, the NFL isn’t for everybody. Then again, neither is UGA’s business school.  Sturdivant has done well.

215 comments Add your comment

Father Flannigan

April 22nd, 2011
5:16 am

William

April 22nd, 2011
5:23 am

Second. And how many offensive linemen do we have total?

Father Flannigan

April 22nd, 2011
5:26 am

William…. In reality UGA has none in toal because these guys still couldnt run block through a wet parer bag if their life depended on it. In other words the O line stinks.

Father Flannigan

April 22nd, 2011
5:27 am

“paper bag”

Father Flannigan

April 22nd, 2011
5:28 am

its too early ” in total”

Victorious Sakrete

April 22nd, 2011
6:02 am

Trident Studvent is not a “affable” as you think.

JB

April 22nd, 2011
6:34 am

If we can’t run the ball this year( like last year), We are trouble.

JB

April 22nd, 2011
6:35 am

s/b IN TROUBLE

Old Boy

April 22nd, 2011
6:39 am

As a child of the 70’s and 80’s, it is no contest that Dale Murphy is Mr. Brave. The fact that he was gone when they finally got good tears my heart out. Not only was he a class act on the field, he was a class act off (no chance of him having a kid out of wedlock; he wouldn’t even put his arm around a woman who wasn’t his wife for a picture). I vividly remember playing youth sports when #3 was the most popular jersey in every sport. I really wish he was in the HOF, which I feel he would have been had he been on any Atlanta championship teams.

GaTruth

April 22nd, 2011
6:41 am

Murray was the 14th most highly rated QB in the nation last year – AS A FRESHMAN. Why would any noise be made about Christian LeMay coming in and challenging him for the starting job two years from now? Between now and then Murray will have had exponentially more time with the starters, against better competition, in-games, and with the coaches. If LeMay has any chance of competing for the starting position he has the talent of Matt Stafford and headiness of David Green. That’s a little hard to believe.

doggoneit

April 22nd, 2011
6:42 am

Father Flannigan-How has that power of positive thinking thing been working for you in your life?

BIG Dawgs Gonna Eat

April 22nd, 2011
7:14 am

ENOUGH with the negativity. Last year was a fluke. The Dawgs have the best talent in the country because we recruit from the best state for high school football talent. I know because I played in Cobb and would have been a Dawg but I blew out my knee my softmore season.

The Dawgs will crush BS State and whip the Lamecoks (both home games with the fans barking up a storm). Call me crazy but I could see us as the surprise of this season by winning our 6th National Championship and Murry as a Heisman contender.

Go Dawgs!

RomeDawg

April 22nd, 2011
7:17 am

I think the “Braves” question is a matter of genre, given the hatter didn’t even mention Hammerin’ Hank. I also would like to include John Smoltz in that discussion. Murphys case may be hurt by the fact his teams were perenial losers. Can you believe Murphy was ever a Philly? Blasphemy!!!!!!

mgdawg

April 22nd, 2011
7:19 am

I have to disagree with the patrick from roswell. Receiver and runningback should translate much better, other then blocking as a runnigback. A lot of offensive lineman in high school aren’t taught how to block in a pro style offense, a lot of times they just cut or lower their head, get on all fours, and run, what some coaches call railroading. So these guys have to be taught a new way to block, not to mention put on muscle weight instead of just weight.

Bulldog Sam

April 22nd, 2011
7:20 am

Father Flannigan, “proof” before you post.

georgia87

April 22nd, 2011
7:22 am

Considering how many injuries and difficulties we have had on the offensive line over the last few years, I have been consistently amazed that OL hasn’t been a huge recruiting target. If it can be said that one thing has contributed to Alabama’s success since Saban arrived (given that he is a defensive coach), it would be the O-line. They haven’t had a powerhouse offense, but they have had some big bullies that complimented the strong defense well. It seems to me that we concentrate on skill players too much at the expense of the O-line. A great O-line will make an average QB/RB look good. A bad O-line will make the best QB/RB ineffective. Just look at how many times Barry Sanders was tackled behind the line in his career.

tony

April 22nd, 2011
7:22 am

I think the biggest reason why our running game has decline since Mr.Richt took over the program is because he has the tendency to abandon the run and settle for the pass too often. Also, the state of ga is a runningback state which means the offensive linemans in this state are accustom to run blocking than they are accustom to pass blocking. That’s why this state produces so many good runningbacks. We won a nc in 1980 because of the run blocking not the pass blocking.

I did not see the g-day game but I did see a 6 minute clip on youtube. From that clip I still see a bunch of oversize offensive linemans that plays with no pride or mental toughness. A team with pride is a very hard team to beat because they’re willing to do the little things that most teams aren’t willing to do. I still believe it starts with coaching. I watched the oregon and auburn game and I can tell you that oregon undersize offense line was mentally and physically tough. Those guys had PRIDE! I believe if you gave the DAWGS oregon entire coaching staff, we will play for a nc 90% of the time.

georgia87

April 22nd, 2011
7:25 am

And Chipper has grown into the job, where Murph was forced to carry it. Chip has had great players around him until he became the center of the franchise. Murph had Rick Camp and Larvell Blanks.

JB

April 22nd, 2011
7:26 am

tony……………..As much as i want to disagree with you, I can’t. My eyes see the same thing. We are physically beat most games lately.

@BIG Dawgs Gonna Eat

April 22nd, 2011
8:11 am

Love the enthusiasm brother, but you need to stay away from the booze this early.

Tom

April 22nd, 2011
8:13 am

Which number will be smaller…….AJ’s draft position or his Wonderlic score?

Atticus

April 22nd, 2011
8:15 am

Georgia’s running game design is pathetic and it completely depends upon and very elite RB like Moreno. No counters, very little motion,and the blocking scheme is not designed for good cutbacks. It is a high school running game. Watch Alabama’s running game or Auburns from Tubberville’s era. THAT is the way to design a running game.

Beast from the East

April 22nd, 2011
8:17 am

Even though it’s old news, I still feel for Trinton. Wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Atticus

April 22nd, 2011
8:18 am

And Dale Murphy was SO MUCH MORE the Brave than Chipper. So much more class and maturity. Chipper is a great baseball player and a good guy now after learning some life lessons but Murph was class from Day 1. And Chipper wore that Gator shirt in Atlanta at the SEC Championship and that is inexcusable! :-)

Beast from the East

April 22nd, 2011
8:20 am

Atticus,
Why wouldn’t a guy from Florida wear a Gator shirt? Would you have preferred he wore the Green Bay logo? LOL!

Badgerina

April 22nd, 2011
8:24 am

Great article.

Atticus

April 22nd, 2011
8:27 am

How many many Braves fans are UGA fans??? He could wear it somewhere else but NOT Atlanta. :-)

Beast from the East

April 22nd, 2011
8:30 am

Atticus,
Point taken. Just poking some fun.

columbus UGA fan

April 22nd, 2011
8:35 am

“Then again, neither is UGA’s business school. Sturdivant has done well.” – Complete class sir. I could not agree more with his situation and he will do fine in life. Sure would have like to have seen him play this next season though.

tide roll

April 22nd, 2011
8:39 am

Chip, I’m afraid you may have insulted Patrick from Roswell. Congratulations on the beat writer assignment ! Look forward to the reports.

Dunwoody DAWG

April 22nd, 2011
8:44 am

Our offense has suffered because we have a very weak offensive coordinator. Bobo is a good family man and a nice guy – but who really expects Bobo to coach at a level of a Steve Spurrier or Charley “Fat Boy” Weis? You cannot tell me that we have the best offensive coordinator that we can afford in that job. I love the Dawgs and hope we pull it off this year, but we do need an upgrade at OC.

Zoli

April 22nd, 2011
8:49 am

What is up with Tide Roll’s infatuation with our O-line problems? Seems a little OCD if you ask me…

Reginald

April 22nd, 2011
8:51 am

Great stuff, this puts Bill’s blog to shame. I would say Chipper and Dale can share Mr. Brave, too hard to choose. I agree the offensive line stuff has kind of been some bad luck combined w/ other stuff, it’ll get better.

And ‘tony’, I’m speechless. You think the running game has declined under Richt? Ummmm, not quite. You think we were just pounding the ball on the ground under Donnan and Goff. Might want to go check the tape on that one. And saying UGA abandons the run and ’settles’ for the pass? When the run is working it isn’t abandoned, in fact the opposite is true. Bobo seems to be obsessed with a balanced run/pass offense and at times is willing to worry more about balance than what is working. How many times last year did drives stall out because we had to run for the sake of balance on 2nd down, leaving 3rd and long and then a punt?

chilidawg

April 22nd, 2011
8:54 am

The O-line has to function as a unit. If they are not, that’s on the coaches.

706 > 404

April 22nd, 2011
9:03 am

Any chance we can get Charlie Sheen to come mentor our baseball team??

What a joke.

AltamahaDawg

April 22nd, 2011
9:09 am

You don’t run on 2nd and long for the sake of running. You do it so that you have a shot at NOT having 3rd and long. Every team in the country does that. College and pros. Saw that exact same thing countless times in the Super Bowl just as an example. It’s a calculated percentage thing, we just haven’t been able to pick up much yardage lately (in any situation). Doesn’t make it philosophically wrong. No evidence last year to think a short pass was going to any more effective on 2nd down, was there? I also think this much bemoaned series of plays happened way less than folks are making it out to be. Pretty much it was if the 1st down play was an incomplete pass. Probably happens twice or 3 times a game.

But I agree that “we abandon the run when it is working” might be the silliest accusation going.

Dr. Phil

April 22nd, 2011
9:15 am

If Charlie Sheen visits Athens, please don’t let him in the locker room. Chipper has been one of the best hitters in MLB, and Murph was a great player and very nice guy, however Hank Aaron is Mr. Brave.

Paul N Destin

April 22nd, 2011
9:15 am

If you intend to run the ball in the SEC then you must get physical and that has been UGA’s downfall. It starts in the weight room and then to the field. It appears someone at UGA had made the call to try and get physical and not Richt. You can still run the ball with a average back if that bunch up front can get it down. The run will open the pass and things start to get better if that happens. I can’t imagine what would happen at UGA if that selected at great coach with all the talent in the state. If Nick Saban were the HC at UGA they would be in the hunt each and every year . The UGA situation with Mark is much like the Gator deal before the Ole BallCoach.

QB stats are nice but, um, ah ............

April 22nd, 2011
9:16 am

I wonder if the UGA players really take Aaron Murray seriously. I mean in the Liberty Bowl with those dumb Batman gloves, he lost a lot of respect with the alumni. He choked in the Florida game and in the SC and Colorado game and was horrible again in front of his native Floridians in the Liberty. He for me, is too up tight.

Can he throw for empty stats? Oh sure he can. Eric Zeir did and so did Stafford but they did not win big. Zeke Bratkowski did too in his era ( 50s) and he was a NFL legend later as a coach, etc. These QB throwers at UGA do not win big. David Green directed a balanced attack with Musa Smith and other backs and threw for EFFICIENT yards, that continued SCORING drives. Look at his W/L record.

Murray? He simply throws it as far as he can and always to Orson Charles, with him triple covered. I want to see Murray WIN some BIG games, besides a beat up UT or LSU-Lafayette or sad GT. This season he needs to lead UGA to major victories.

UGA man, class of 71 & 73

Reginald

April 22nd, 2011
9:16 am

And I get that Altamaha, I don’t cringe every time we run on 2nd down. I just felt at times last year we killed our rhythm w/ unsuccesful run plays on 2nd down. If we could’ve run the ball I wouldn’t have had an issue w/ the 2nd down runs. My issue was that Bobo didn’t recognize; “hey we suck at running, if we run we will still have 3rd and long, let’s just keep throwing”.

I’m not a Bobo hater though, players ultimately got to get out ther and make plays. That was just something that irked me last year, and it probably didn’t happen as much as I feel like it did.

nerds! nerds! nerds!

April 22nd, 2011
9:22 am

Gripe gripe gripe. Get to work people. Its 9:21. The coaches are in place bc they know what they are doing. You are on a blog at work being useless. Should you be fired? Get to work!

Go Dawgs!

P.S. I hope every opponent we face this year underestimates us!

Old Dawg

April 22nd, 2011
9:23 am

Chip, here’s a story idea. Several people have written about the new conditioning and nutrition program at UGA, but all of the stories have only interviewed coach Richt and Greg McGarity. I think it’s a huge investment for the program, and I think the readers would like to see what the football players and athletes from the other programs think about it.

Again, thanks for all you do.

gdawginkalamazoo

April 22nd, 2011
9:23 am

Glad to see you back on the Bulldog beat Chip.

AltamahaDawg

April 22nd, 2011
9:26 am

It irked me too, so I am with you. But it irked me because it wasn’t working. I just don’t think they had better options, or they would have been doing it.

Also consider this: We seemed to have the same issue when Matt Stafford was a Freshman. I don’t think Bobo got any wiser the next year, but the play selection sure seemed to look a lot better. Have to keep in mind that it’s the QB who ultimetely decides what to do, at the line, based on what he sees on 2nd and long.

Redner

April 22nd, 2011
9:27 am

I AGREE with Big Dawgs: this is likely the year the Dawgs surprise everyone and take home the NC. When we’re celebrating our 6th National Championship in early 2012, are all of you haters going to be celebrating with us or still bad mouthing our coaches and players.

Go Dawgs!

nerds! nerds! nerds!

April 22nd, 2011
9:28 am

Well said Altamaha Dawg. Most people on here know NOTHING about strategy in football. You run on 2nd and long to make 3rd down more manageable. 3rd and 5 is easier than 3rd and 10. Respect. Most trolls on here want a TD on every single play. Thats not how it works fellas.

Reginald
Its time to accept the fact that the players on the field last year sucked. I have. Move on.

Beach Dawg

April 22nd, 2011
9:29 am

Enjoyed your comments to the questions and welcome back to the “beat”

1eyedJack

April 22nd, 2011
9:32 am

It’s not just about size and brute strength on the OL, although, I must confess, those qualities are highly desirable. Offensive lineman need to be intelligent, maybe moreso than any other position, excepting of course, the QB.

From all indications, and from the scuttlebutt, CMR runs a complicated playbook, though some of our opponents might argue that point, and it appears some of our all-world recruits have trouble grasping it. A successful offensive line is a well-oiled machine, meaning many hours of repitition, sweat, blood and pain. Consistency, shared hardship, and knowing your colleagues strenghts as well as weaknesses.

So we need to recruit smarter offensive linemen and quit bouncing them around from position to position.

Those are my opinions, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others.

mark

April 22nd, 2011
9:34 am

I think the suggestion LeMay could take the QB position from the guy most think is the best in the conference is a real eye-opener. We should only hope LeMay is truly that good. Chip, I’ve read you for years and appreciate your work…tell me what you base that comment on? Do you and the staff really see LeMay being that good?? Sorry, I can’t go along with Murphy…granted he won the two MVPs and they won the division once but that era was so difficult to stomach. Chipper is a Hall of Famer, and played in the franchise’s best era. His only fault may be he’s not quite the public figure Murphy was but on the field the individual and team stats aren’t close.

1eyedJack

April 22nd, 2011
9:40 am

Murph was the man. Too bad he got wore down carrying the team on his back.