“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?
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.
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.
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.