Archive for January, 2012

ABC: Always Be Closing

As Alec Baldwin once said, “Coffee’s for closers.”

When I used to drive the bus, I would always try and work as many shifts as possible on National Signing Day.  I would listen to 960 the Ref all day long and hear about the current class.  Several times, Granite and I would go to the Blind Pig for supper and review the big board that had all the new signees names written in on it.  I still am surprised that NeDarris Ward never panned out-I thought he was going to be the next Leonard Pope!

One trend that I always remember is that it seemd Georgia always lost a recruit or two on Signing Day.  The boring nature of Mark Richt even crept into NSD.  Most of the class was already locked up in advance and it seemed that the drama was taken out of it.  Last year was the exception with Crowell, and Marlon Brown was a big coup on Signing Day a few years ago.  But it seemed more often than not, Florida State, Clemson or even Notre Dame was winning the final battle at the last minute.

There are some big names still out there, and though I don’t follow recruiting as closely as others out there, I do find NSD very interesting.  I hope tomorrow is another big day for the Dawgs and Coach Richt and his staff can take a little walk down to Jittery Joes in Five Points and enjoy a nice, big cup of coffee.


Review of the movie “Moneyball”

My wife and I got Moneyball from the Red Box last Friday night.  It was a pretty good movie, although I am not sure why it is getting so much Oscar buzz.  I especially liked it becuase I was a big Oakland A’s fan about 10 years ago.   As I mentioned here before, my sister went to law school with Tim Hudson’s wife, Kim.  They were in the same class at Samfords’ Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham.  They would study and hang out.  When they first met, Tim was playing ball for the Huntsville (AL) AA team, an affiliate for the A’s (Mark McGwire played there also).  As Tim got promoted through the minors and eventually reached “The Show”, I continued to follow his career with great interest.  Even though I was still a Braves fan, I found myself rooting for Oakland and not missing a game if they were on TV. 

The A’s were good back then.  You forget how much talent that clubhouse had.  But something that movie never once touched on were the contributions of Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson and Barry Zito.   Look at their stats for the 2002 seaosn, the one which the movie took place: 

*Mulder went 19-7 with a 3.47 ERA, 159 K and a 1.143 WHIP

*Hudson wennt 15-9 with a 2.98 ERA, 152 K and a 1.255 WHIP

*Zito went 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA, 182 K and 1.134 WHIP AND won the AL Cy Young award.

The ONLY time one of the starters were really featured, it was during the film’s climatic scene and let’s just say it didn’t go well for Hudson.

Look, Billy Beane is a smart guy and did a good thing out in Oakland.  But come on.  To make a movie about the Oakland A’s success and not even mention the elite pitching that was going on in the Bay Area in the early part of this decade, and NOT mention Hudson, Mulder and Zito,  would be the same as making a movie about the Braves in the 1990s and only mention Fred McGriff and David Justice (who, speaking of, was mentioned more in the movie than the pitchers). 


A Closer Look At Aaron Murray’s Turnover Problem

If anyone out there thinks that Aaron Murray is not an elite SEC QB, then you shouldn’t take them seriously.  Aaron Murray has done more in two years at Georgia with less talent than his predecessor, Matthew Stafford.  Murray is on pace to absolutely shatter every single UGA record.  David Greene is the career leader at UGA for passing yards, and also holds the all-time SEC passing yardage record, with 11,528 yards. Murray, halfway through his career, already has 6,198.  So if he is able to avoid injury, there is a very good chance that Aaron Murray will leave the University of Georgia as both UGA and the SEC’s all-time passing leader. 

(On a side note, if this takes place, think about it for just a second.  The top two passing yardage leaders in SEC history will come from the school where Herschel Walker and Vince Dooley once roamed.  A true sign of Armageddon!)

If there is one distinction that Aaron Murray wishes he didn’t have, it would be his alarmingly high number of turnovers in the 2011 season.  In 2010, Murray was praised for protecting the football.  Yet a year later Murray, has supplanted Stephen Garcia with the dubious honor for having the most INTs in the SEC and has put out Cox like numbers in this area.  And that doesn’t include his fumbles.  I am not sure how many fumbles Aaron has had this season, but I can think of 3 or 4 very costly ones in the South Carolina, LSU and Michigan State losses. 

Some attribute this to a lack of ability.  Some attribute it to a lack of coaching.  Some attribute this to a lack of being able to win a big game against a big opponent.  I attribute it to something else.

I touched on this after the Mississippi State game, but it still holds true.  Aaron Murray has been the victim of a bad offensive line and inconsistent running game, and that is why his turnovers have increased so drastically from 2010 to 2011. 

I couldn’t find individual numbers for just Murray, but since Murray has taken a majority of snaps, let’s assume this is for mostly him.   UGA has given up 32 sacks this season-11th in the SEC and only ahead of Kentucky.  32 is a lot of sacks. Consider for a moment, that from 2007-2009, UGA gave up a total of 42 sacks in those three years combined.  

Do you really want me to hash out the inconsistent running game?  I think we all know about that without re-hashing it all again. 

For those naysayers who think that Murray should still improve, that a bad pass protection and an inconsistent running game should be no excuse; for the naysayers who say that this is his 3rd year in the system and he should be showing more progress; for the naysayers that believe Richt and Bobo aren’t doing a good job coaching their QB; for all the naysayers who think that because of his mistakes, Murray can never win the big one, then I have something for you.

In 2003, David Green was coming off an SEC Championship season, and his 45th year in the program.  David Greene is one of the best QBs in not only the history of the SEC, but of the NCAA.  He may not have been the most talented, but he was the quintessential “field general.”

Georgia had a pretty good season in 2003, my freshman year, and team went to the SEC Championship game for a 2nd consecutive year.   But individually, Greene had a fairly mediocre season.  Why?  Well, there were a lot of players that had to be replaced on the offensive line and the running game was inconsistent, at best.  You think it was bad in 2011?  In 2003, UGA had Michael Cooper, Tyson Browning and Tony Milton.  Kregg Lumpkin came on towards the end of the season, but for the most part, the UGA offense revolved around Greene. 

In 2003, UGA gave up a staggering 47 sacks and only had 3.4 yards per carry.  

See the charts below for more details (WordPress doesn’t do charts so well…sorry for the tight reading.  An easier to read PDF is here: Greene-Murray Chart):



  Completions Attempts Completion Percentage Yards Yards Per Attempt TD INT
David Greene-2003 264 438 60.3% 3307 7.6 13 11
Aaron Murray-2011 238 403 59.1% 3149 7.8 35 14




  TD-INT Ratio INT per Attempt TD % Difference from Previous Year INT % Increase from Previous Year UGA Sacks Given Up
David Greene-2003 1.18:1 0.03 -50% 27% 47
Aaron Murray-2011 2.5:1 0.03 31% 75% 33


So ask yourself:  did David Greene just all of a sudden decide he was going to be mediocre for a season, or did it have anything to do with bad pass protection and bad running game?  Did Richt and Bobo decide to stop coaching him up for this one season?

I am not trying to say Aaron Murray is as good as or better than David Greene.  Clearly Greene had all the intangibles to make him an all-timer.  In fact, I am putting Greene up on a pedestal even more.  If DAVID GREENE, one of the best QBs in NCAA history, a QB that is revered and renowned for his good decision making, can have a season where he turns the ball over more than usual because of the pressure, why is it unreasonable to think the same thing of Murray?

No excuses being made here, folks.  But when you are sitting around talking football with your friends and the smart ass in the group is complaining about Aaron Murray, you have something to share.


Lewis Grizzard Wednesday: Recruiting

We have done this one before, but this time a week from now the fax machines will be buzzing (why not switch to PDFs, people?  Hello this is the 21st century).  Anyway Lewis helps us keep the frenzy that is NSD in some perspective.

The Kid Who Could Have Been Somebody
This kid has eight brothers and sisters. His father is dead. His mother finds work where she can, mostly as a domestic. 

The family lives cramped in a small, run-down house in a mostly rural county. 

Sometimes, the kid shows up at school. Sometimes, he doesn’t. School is hard. The teachers talk about things of which he knows nothing. Maybe he would try if he understood what the other kids seem to understand. 

He comes home at night and nobody asks, “What did you learn in school today?” His mother is too tired from too many years of walking against the wind to care. 

But there is at least one thing that is special about this kid. He is big and he is strong and he can run fast. 

His teachers promote him along because they don’t think the kid has the ability to learn. 

But he can play the game. And when he is playing, only then is he living. He finds he is better than others in at least something, and that something is playing the game. Everybody needs a little self-esteem. Grade-point average a joke 

He still isn’t worth 2 cents in the classroom. But on Friday nights he owns the world. 

Nobody in his family has ever been to college. That’s a laugh. Nobody in his family even made it out of high school with a diploma. 

But his coaches tell this kid he might have a chance. He might have a chance to get an athletic scholarship. Maybe even to one of the big schools. Oklahoma. Alabama. Ohio State. Georgia. 

But there is a problem. This kid is a senior in high school and he can’t compose a simple sentence. He reads on a third-grade level. 

His grade-point average is a joke. He takes the Scholastic Aptitude Test. He doesn’t understand the questions because he can’t read them. He doesn’t even understand the test monitor’s instructions. He bombs. 

Perhaps a few years earlier, he might still have been able to go to college and play ball. The National Collegiate Athletic Association had not raised its academic standards for student athletes back then. Could have been somebody 

But now it takes a 700 on the SAT to be eligible for an athletic scholarsh ip. This kid couldn’t have scored a 700 with two brains. 

Before the changes in standards, maybe this kid could have accepted the scholarship and have been enrolled in some sort of developmental studies program where instructors gave him special attention, which might have just been able to fill the gaps left by his high school instructors and his home life. 

The kid could have played ball. He could have been somebody. And maybe by playing ball, maybe by having his horizons broadened by travel and by being around and learning from his coaches and teammates, he could have seen where he could go if he could learn to learn. 

Granted, it would have been a long shot, but stranger things have happened. 

But what’s the use of such conjecture? The NCAA finally got tough on academics and this kid got caught under the steamroller. 

Serves him right for being born into a no-win situation.

A Tough Decision To Make

So the Mrs. warmed up some left over chili and I am ready to nestle in to watch some TV tonight. 

My choices have been narrowed down to two choices and I am unsure what decision to make.  Neither one is very good and both will be very difficult to watch.

On one hand, in little over an hour I could watch Georgia get absolutely  destroyed by Kentucky. 

On the other, I could watch President Obama deliver the State of the Union.

Maybe I’ll just finish my book.


Sanders Commings Needs To Listen To Chris Rock

When I first heard that Sanders Commings was arrested the other night, I was thinking “Oh boy, here we go again.”  But when I heard why he was arrested, I was disgusted.

It is widely known around Athens-and we make no bones about it here on TGT-that the ACC PD and the UGA PD led by inept Jimmy Williamson get off on making arrests on petty crimes.  Most of the reasons the “rouge” football team at Georgia has gotten such a bad rap, similar infractions at other institutions would  not be such a big deal.  The over zealous police force combined with all the bars and temptations of downtown Athens is a recipie for police involvement on a Thursday-Saturday night.

But the crime of which Sanders is accused for is especially troubling.  This is not just boys being boys.  It is not a victimless crime like underage drinking or Ian Smith passing out in the bathroom at Amici’s. 

Now, I am going to wait for the justice system to play itself out here.  Innocent until proven guilty.  Sanders’ side has not come out yet, and there was no sign of injury to the young lady involved.  This could come out to be a story a few years ago where the football players involved in the incident were actually the peacemakers (can’t remember off the top of my head who that was, but you remember).  But according  to Emerson, this is not the first time a complaint has been filed at this house.  That is very troubling.

If it comes out that this was infact as bad as it appears, I would have no problem with Coach Richt dismissing Commings from the team.   Violence should not be acceptable; violence against women should be zero tolerance.  As a man, you just don’t do that.  This isn’t a drunken bar fight.  This is serious stuff that a man, a real man with honor, should not do.

Hopefully this will blow over and once the facts come out, the truth will show this is all a misunderstanding.  The team needs Sanders next season, especially with the deparure of Boykin.  But more importantly, a young man doesn’t want domestic violence and battery to follow him around for the rest of his life, in a paper trail and on the inside.

When I was thinking about this case, I remember a Chris Rock stand up bit where he talks about how to handle an unruly woman, and how you don’t hit her (very, very NSFW):


10 games is still 10 games

I was thinking, reflecting, back on the 2011 season the other day, as I often do.  These reflections coupled with a long text thread with Kensingtondawg last night made me think about this point even further.

Sure, Georgia lost 4 games to 4 really good teams.  But the Dawgs still won 10 games, and damnit, that still means something.

Now, the naysayers are going to continue to say that Georgia didn’t beat anyone of consequence.  Which is true.   But Georgia also didn’t lose to anyone to be ashamed of either, and that is more than most teams in the country can say.  Hell, that is more than Georgia can say, a year removed from losing to Colorado, Mississippi State and UCF.

Most of the top teams have inexplicable losses on their resume, but not Georgia. 

Michigan State lost to Notre Dame.  USC lost to Arizona State.  South Carolina lost to Auburn.  Clemson lost to NC State and Georgia Tech.  Michigan lost to Iowa.  Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech.  Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State.  West Virginia lost to Syracuse.   Nebraska lost to Northwestern.

The biggest problem the Dawgs have had over the last couple of years hasn’t been talent.  It hasn’t been Xs and Os.  And really, if you want to get down to it, it hasn’t been playcalling.  But what has plauged our football program is focus, heart and desire.   To win 10 in a row and not trip up shows the team has good focus, maturity and leadership.  Especially after the way it started. 

Again, like I said earlier, some perspective is needed when talking about the Dawgs in 2011.  Was it frustrating sometimes?  Sure.  But the right steps are being taken to get this program back to being elite again.  Considering how down it hit rock bottom in 2010, I’d say Georgia is heading in the right direction-for now.


Presidental Candidates as SEC Coaches

We all have wainted to do this post like this for a while, but just haven’t had a chance to yet.  Well, with the GOP Primary a game again with Newt’s big win in South Carolina, we thought we’d assign a current or recently former presidental candidate to a current SEC Head Coach.  Feel free to offer anyother suggestions in the comments:

Mitt Romney as Mark Richt:  A consistent, almost boring, personality.   Everyone seems to like him, but no one really wants him.  Come close to winning the big one a couple of times but couldn’t close the deal.

Newt Gingrich as Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier:  Undoubtedly the smartest person in the room, and he lets you know it.  Very successful and smart, but has some shady ethical practices.  No one really seems to like him.

Ron Paul as Les Miles:  Has some good ideas until he opens his mouth, and then you find out that he is just crazy.  His fans/supporters are just as crazy.

Herman Cain as Joker Phillips:  Duh

Michelle Bachmann as Bobby Petrino:  The hot, fresh, sexy pick that looks good at first, then you realize how dumb and seedy they are. 

Rick Santorum as Dan Mullen:  Young, up and coming guy who has some good qualities, but then you realize they are crazy.

Barack Obama as Will Muschamp:  Young, up and coming, but got the big job a little too soon.  Came into the big job under a lot of fan fare, but then quickly realized that once he was in it, was too deep in over his head.

Rick Perry as James Franklin:  Talks a lot to energize the base, but once he talks too much, all the talking gets him trouble and he eventually crashes and burns after some early success.

John Huntsman as Derek Dooley:  Both have really good hair.  Have worked under very successful bosses before, and have taken over the head job at a small, insignificant place before trying to get to the big time.  Both showed they are not ready for the prime time stage.


Let’s Talk Braves, Shall We?

Several quick thoughts about the Braves this morning:

This week the Braves avoied salary arbitration by renogotiating the contracts with Michael Bourn and Eric O’Flaherty.  We are about a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting, and an offseason that seems like at one time there could be some major shake ups has been pretty quiet. 

Sure, the Braves got rid of Lowe and didn’t resign Alex Gonzalez, but there wasn’t that big shake up.  A few weeks ago, it was being reported that the Orioles were interested in dealing star outfielder Adam Jones for Jair Jurrjens and possibly Martin Prado.  That fell through.

I am starting to be weary of Jurrjens.  He is a great young pitcher, and I have been a fan since he was traded to the team.  But after a while, you have to start being concerned about his durability.  I am afraid the Braves need to cut bait with Jurrjens and try and get something while he still has value. 

I think the return of Peter Moylan will help shore up the Braves’ bullpen, which was already strong.  The problem with Kimbrel and Venters was not their ability but their over use.  Having Moylan to come in to possibly spell them some nights is a big plus.

The problems that plauged the Braves last year may still be an issue again:  the offense.   Several players underperformed last season.  Prado, Heyward and Uggla need to have a full season of consistent batting.  I do like this lineup with the addition of Michael Bourn.  Martin Prado just insn’t made to be a leadoff hitter.  When the Braves offense is struggling, like it was most of last season, a leadoff batter like Bourn can really help a ballclub manufacture runs. 

Anyway, excited about the upcoming season.  I don’t think the Braves have retooled enough and the NL East has gotten tougher with Philly and Florida making big moves this offseason.  The Braves were very close to being a really good team any, so maybe big additions weren’t necessary.  The current players might be enough to get it done.  It will be a challene in 2012, but at any rate, it won’t be long before Opening Day is here.


Richt and Bobo Must Be Good Recruiters

Something I wanted to touch on last week, but I was vacationing on Friday and couldn’t get to it. 

Mike Bobo and Mark Richt must be excellent recruiters.  Why do I come to that conclusion, you ask?  It is quite simple.  No, it is not all the top 10 recruiting classes they have brought in.  It is not the NFL talent that has been produced.  It is not the fact that Coach Richt convinced all draft eligible juniors on defense  to return for their senior seasons.  No, I point to the recruitment of Hutson Mason as the reason Richt and Bobo can do so well at convincing young men to come to the University of Georgia.

When Hutson Mason signed his name on the dotted line, there was a QB battle going on at UGA.  Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger were both competing for the starting job.  Murray was the favorite, but Mettenberger was making strides to make it a legit competition.  Now, no disrespect to Hutson, and certainly not trying to disrespect a current player.  But both Murray and Mettenberger were fighting it out for the starting  job when Mason signed.  Murray was listed as the 3rd best QB coming out of HS that year and Mettenberger was listed as the 11th best.  Both competed in the Manning “Elite 11 QB Camp.” 

There were reports that Mason was unhappy with his amount of playing time and he was considering a transfer.  Now it was announced that he will redshirt to have some class seperation between him and Murray.

Mason signed on knowing he would be the thrid string guy.  He was a 3 star QB.  I don’t understand what changed from the time he signed to now.  Whatever BS Bobo told him, it must have been convincing.  This is what I would like to tell him: