CBB1 asks: I read your story about the Georgia baseball team and its chances of making the NCAA tournament. My question is, has an at-large team has ever gotten in with a losing record?
Chip: I turned to my old friend Jim Callis of Baseball America for this (Jim and I went to college together and worked alongside each other at the school newspaper). As luck would have it Jim had recently answered a question on this specific subject for the “Ask BA” feature he does for his publication. Interestingly, the question came to him from Stephen Hartzell of 960 The Ref’s “Morning Show” fame, so clearly it’s on a lot of folks’ minds.
Anyway, Callis said the NCAA informed him that an over-.500 record is a requirement for making the NCAA tournament field of 64. Since the field expanded from 48 to 64 teams in 1999, only two teams have made the NCAA playoffs with a record of just one game over .500: UCLA (30-29) in 1999 and Houston (29-28) in 2001. Both teams received No. 3 seeds, with the Bruins winning one regional game and the Cougars going two and out.
Callis said if the Diamond Dogs can finish the regular-season where it is now — three games over .500 — not only are they “a lock to get in,” he projects them as a No. 2 seed. But, he said, finishing a few games above .500 is important to protect against going two-and-out in the SEC Tournament.
Georgia, Callis points out, is among 12 teams that finished within five games of .500 earned berths in NCAA regionals. The Bulldogs lost seven games in a row to finish 30-27 but managed to reach the finals of the Atlanta Regional in 2002.
RHall55 asks: Can you provide an update on any junior college players UGA may be looking at?
Chip: Defensive end Jalen Fields and wide receiver Lonnie Outlaw are 2010 signees who are currently attending Georgia Military College in Milledgeville. They both have told me they plan to re-sign with the Bulldogs, hopefully in December. Other than that, I don’t know of any specific JUCO prospects Georgia is presently considering. I could see the Dogs possibly trying to find another defensive lineman, however.
TV’s Devon Wade fromEvery time I watch my beloved Bulldogs play I find that my heart beats a little faster each time the Dawgs kickoff coverage team heads on the field. I know in theory this team is supposed to be made up of talented freshmen, who have not found their way on to the two-deep yet. My question is when is going to seriously address the lack of tenacity the kickoff coverage unit has had in the last couple years? Do they not practice special teams coverage a lot?
Chip: Well, Mr. Wade, I believe your fears are largely unfounded. At least they were last year. Georgia actually led the SEC in kickoff coverage in 2010. The previous season Georgia finished eighth in the league, but assistant coach Warren Belin took over last season and obviously got that fixed. The question now is how they will be now that Belin left to join the Carolina Panthers’ staff. But overall I expect the Bulldogs’ special teams to be a team strength this season. Punter Drew Butler and place-kicker are both All-America candidates and Brandon Boykin is a record-setting kick returner. If you’re looking for something to fret about, I’d be more concerned about the O-line and pass defense if I were you.
Keith McCants asks: LT- Cordy Glenn, LG- Kenarious Gates, C- Ben Jones, offensive line when Georgia opens with ? Will Chris Burnette be a factor this
Chip: I don’t think it’s safe to assume anything about the offensive line this year. I think your left side and center positions are pretty solid. As for the right side, I’m hearing some very good things about Burnette and he may end up as your starter at right guard. Anderson will likely alternate with Harmon and Glenn at both tackle positions and the starter at right tackle will probably change often. If we learned nothing else about new offensive line coach Will Friend, it’s that he juggles the depth chart constantly based on practice performances. I’m sure he’ll do the same on a week-to-week basis in the fall.
John Vaughn of Newnan asks: Chip, with Richt’s admission that he will have more time for “coaching duties,” can we expect to see any major changes in offensive or defensive strategy?
Chip: I would not expect any major strategic changes in 2011. Richt is a staunch believer in a balanced, pro-style offense and I don’t see that changing. As for the defense, Richt has given total control of that to defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Based on the new and improved personnel on that side of the ball, I’d expect a very aggressive philosophy with the front seven.
Patrick Green asks: I didn’t get to see the spring game (only drawback to DirecTV is no CSS) but how did Ken Malcome look and is he a viable candidate to push for major PT this year? Also, who is the best option for us as a between-the-tackles pounder at RB?
Chip: Mr. Green, I believe Malcome is your answer to your second question. As for your first, I thought Malcome looked very good in the spring game and he’s looked good in every single practice in which he’s been healthy and full go, according to UGA coaches. Therein lies his problem. He has had a little bit of trouble staying healthy during his short tenure in Athens and that probably has something to do with his physical style of play. But as he gets bigger and stronger through training, I believe he’ll become more effective on the football field. Eventually I think him and Isaiah Crowell could make a good inside-outside tandem. And don’t take Washaun Ealey for granted. If he can get his act together off the field, he’s a pretty darn good, between-the-tackles runner.
One more thing about Malcome. His friends and family call him “Boo” and he’s told me that’s what he hopes to be known as by Georgia’s fans.
Daniel of Gulf Shores, Ala., asks: Do we know for sure that the JUCO transfer Jonathanhas even qualified to enroll yet?
Chip: I tried to reach Big John to get some drop-dead confirmation on this but haven’t heard back. But I did see on his Facebook page that he has finished exams at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and gone home to Meriden, Conn. He also said there he’s “ready to be in Georgia on June 3.” I know this: The Bulldogs are ready for him to get there.
Remember, to have your question answered in The Mailbag, send it to me at UGAmailbag@yahoo.com.