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Clear Example of How Talent Gap Has Closed

During the lean years in 2009 and 2010, Georgia wasn’t a very good football team. They weren’t particularly well coached, and the recruiting approach had left the cupboard bare, relative to our expectations as fans and the other elite teams in the Conference.

Talent has been back where it needs to be and the recruiting has ticked up a notch for future years.

This is no more evident with the situation at punter. Remember back when Drew Butler was on the team?  Drew was one of the best players.

Now, punter seems to be one of the biggest concerns and question marks. Not to discredit the importance of a good punter, because they are very important, but it says a lot when punter is one of the big areas of concern.

Unfortunately, it said even more when punter was one of the few positions of strength.


Random Musings on Fall Camp Eve

I used to start getting jacked up for football about May.  I used to spend countless hours watching old games, reading all the different magazines, and absorbing whatever nuggets I could.

Now, I generally try to wait until August before I start getting giddy.  I figured, if the players are getting into game shape now, it was good enough for me to wait also.  Plus, having a kid makes you devote your time to Elmo and Doc McStuffins.  And there is this pesky thing called a job…

At any rate, players reported yesterday and fall camp begins tomorrow, so consider this Thanksgiving with Christmas just around the corner. The calendar is playing a cruel joke on us this year, with Labor Day being as late as it possibly could be.  Just another week of anticipation!

Here are some thoughts as we begin the preseason in earnest:

  • How will Schottenheimer run the offense?  If there is one thing about an NFL offensive mind, compared to a college offensive mind, it doesn’t get too creative.  Now, Richt (and Bobo) aren’t exactly Picasso when it comes to offensive creativity, but they have their moments.  One thing I have noticed about LSU the past couple of seasons is gone are the days of LSU doing anything too crazy on offense.  I remember watching the LSU-Ole Miss game last year, and although LSU won, it was an ugly game.  For long stretches, it was like watching the LSU tailbacks run into a brick wall.  I kept on waiting for one of those crazy Les Miles plays.  It never happened.   Ricobo (we’ll see how this sticks) were more traditional in their approach, but at times did do creative things to spark the team.  Remember that long run by Aaron Murray against Tennessee in 2013 when everyone got hurt and nothing else seemed to work?

Scoring a ton of points is the new normal in the SEC…but there is inevitably going to be a 24-17 kind of slugfest game, and if the offense is stagnant, will Schotty’s mind be able to dial up           a play to get something going?

  • Someone new at wide receiver? The receiving corps talent and depth is at low point.  Sure, there are some talented guys there.  Malcolm Mitchell and Isaiah McKenzie have explosive speed, and Justin Scott-Wesley has been a target in the past.  But gone are sure-handed Michael Bennett and Chris Conley.  I don’t have stats to back me up, but it seemed like every single reception for Bennett converted a first down.  Of the newcomers coming in, the most highly touted recruit is 5 star Terry Godwin, but he seems like he is more like McKenzie with speed but not a lot of size.   I’d be curious to see if Michael Chigbu from New Orleans can be that guy.  Not often LSU lets one of their in-state guys get away, and he has good size at 6’2″ and 211 lbs.
  •  Obligatory Quaterback thoughts:  This is the talk of the offseson, but I think Brice Ramsey is the man.  He has highly sought after coming out of high school.  If Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and other big time programs want someone, they are generally pretty good.  And Ricobo have a good track record of developing quarterbacks.  I think Grayson Lambert will provide good depth, but when it comes crunch time, Brice Ramsey is the man.

Surely there are more thoughts, but these are the pressing ones.  Just a little while longer now…



BBQ Thursday: America’s Best BBQ

According to this article on CNN, Joe’s BBQ in Blue Ridge has been named America’s best BBQ joint.

Here is a comment from the site about Joe’s:

The pork and ribs are the standouts. Both were tender and packed with flavor, and smoked perfectly.

I am ashamed to say that while I have had BBQ in Blue Ridge, I have never been to Joe’s.  That is going to chang next time I’m up that way.

I’m curious now.  Have any of you ever been to Joe’s BBQ?  Do you think its ranking as the very best BBQ joint in America is valid?


Everett Golson To UGA? Pros and Cons

There has been chatter about Everett Golson going south of South Bend to end his college career.  He is reportedly visiting UGA today.  Do I think he will wear the Red and Black this fall?  No.  Do I think he should, or should UGA welcome him in?  I’m not sure.

The pros:

For all the snickering we’d like to make about Notre Dame, the fact is he has legitimate game experience at a “big time” program.  Though he missed 2013 due to academic issues, his first year in South Bend he led the Fighting Irish to the National Championship game.   That season included wins over Michigan State, Michigan, Stanford, and Southern Cal.  Three of those wins-USC, Michigan State, and Oklahoma-came on the road.  Now, last season didn’t fare quite as well, as Notre Dame lost five times, but did go on the road to Florida State (and lost in controversial fashion), and Notre Dame got blown out on the road against USC and Arizona State.

He has real game experience, and this real game experience includes going on the road in hostile environments much like he’ll see in the SEC.  That is more than we can say for the other quarterbacks currently on campus.

While I haven’t seen a ton of his games, I’ve seen enough and gleamed through the stats.  He isn’t a “running” quarterback per se, but he does have athleticism.  He can make some plays with his feet.

Lord knows, we have the scholarship room for him.  If not today, then by the end of the summer. I’ll get to this more in a minute, but doing this is not the normal MO for UGA.  Wouldn’t it be nice to take a chance to try and improve and get over the hump?

Overall, I think the experience he brings to the fold will be a huge benefit.

The cons:

Bringing in a stop-gap quarterback isn’t the Georgia way.  We develop our quarterbacks, and if there is one thing that Coach Richt does exceptionally well, it is produce outstanding college quarterbacks.  Why mess with that system?  Other teams have done this sort of thing with varying levels of success, but I’m not sure we need to take that risk.  Ramsey/Bauta/Park can develop into a competent SEC quarterback, and the strong running game that UGA is going to have will go a long way into helping this development along.

Plus, will bringing in someone at the 11th hour hurt team chemistry?  One thing you can’t say is the team quits on their head coach.  The players, despite the adversity surrounding the team (and a lot of times because of it), always play hard for their coach.  They respect Coach Richt.  Will making this kind of move jeopardize that in any way?

Everything is trending up.  Coaches are good right now.  Recruiting is going at a pace we haven’t seen before in Athens.  You’ve got Nick Chubb.  The quarterback of the future is set to enroll next year.  Why mess with a good thing?

Also, Golson is prone to throwing interceptions.  Last year, he threw at least one pick in 9/13 games.  Three of those games were multiple interception games, with Arizona State having 4 picks!  For a point of comparison, Hutson Mason threw 4 interceptions all season long.   We’ve all heard Coach Richt talk long enough to know what he wants in a quarterback-no mistakes.  I’ve heard him say that it should be the quarterback’s goal to see that every possession ends in a kick-a field goal, a PAT or a punt.  I don’t think you get that with Golson.

So what will happen?  Only two people know for sure.  Coach Richt and Everett Golson.   How will I react to the news, whatever way it breaks?

I don’t know.  But it will be interesting to see.


Appreciate Gurley

There is a lot of love going on out in the Dawgosphere for Todd Gurley this morning.  And deservedly so.

I’ve had this thought for a while, and last night cemented it.  I was going to do-and still will at some point-a post looking at all the major NFL talent that has passed through Athens and the inability to cash it in.

But that won’t be today.  No, today will be an appreciation of what Todd Gurley has given UGA and the fans.

You know, we UGA fans are a tortured bunch.  We want success.  We want championships.  When we get close, injuries and bad coaching decisions have derailed our hopes and dreams.  If you are a professional sports fan, the Falcons and Braves aren’t doing anything to help us fill the void.

But ultimately, sports for most of us is just a nice distraction from the mundane minutia of our everyday lives.  I get up, go to work, come home, watch toddler TV shows, and go to bed.  Thinking about the Dawgs (or other teams), talking about the Dawgs, going to the games, telling great stories, writing a blog, etc. is just a nice distraction.  As much as we enjoy the thrill of victory and agonized over defeats, all this is just window dressing in the game of life.  It doesn’t matter.  It is not high on the hierarchy of needs.  What does matter is being a good human, enjoying your 2-year-old, and overall trying (most of the time failing) to be the best version of yourself.

That’s not to say you don’t care.  I do care. Just from this past season, I’m still bitter about not giving the ball to Gurley on 1st and Goal in Columbia, about the performance in Jacksonville, and the decision to squib kick against Tech.  I’m still filled with joy with the memories about the Clemson, Auburn, Missouri and Arkansas wins.  Championships haven’t come as often as we’d like them to.  It has sucked in recent seasons to be so close and see the pieces in place, and the team for whatever reason not capitalize on all the opportunities to give us fans the championships we are lusting for.

But what hasn’t sucked was seeing Todd Gurley play on Saturdays for three seasons.  Previous tailbacks that came through here before Gurley felt entitled or got into real trouble.  Todd Gurley played hard every week and was a pure joy to watch and enjoy.  What didn’t suck was last night seeing him get choked up talking about his injury and suspension, a suspension which you could argue didn’t need to happen.  He was a kid you couldn’t help but to root for, and all fans rallied around #3.

Watching the draft last year, you see Johnny Manziel flash that smug grin and do his money hand symbol. This year, you see Todd Gurley be humble and sincere. What a dichotomy from one year to the next.

There have been great players come through the program in just the past 15 years-David Pollack, Jarvis Jones, Matthew Stafford, A.J. Green, Knowshon Moreno, Thomas Davis, David Greene, Aaron Murray, etc. They were all special players and meant something.  Seeing Todd Gurley play for Georgia was something just extra special.

Someone asked me before if UGA needed to win X, Y or Z for an upcoming season to be good season.  Not every season can end with trophies and confetti.  You just know it when you see it.  Sometimes things aren’t clear-cut.  You just know it when you see it.  Nick Chubb may be every bit as good as Gurley.  The aforementioned great players were special.

But Gurley was just something different, and you just knew it when you saw it.

I hope that St. Louis Rams and NFL fans everywhere can enjoy what we’ve enjoyed the last three seasons.

Thank you Gurley for the memories, special moments, and the fun distraction you’ve provided us.



Biggest Basketball Game In Over A Decade

Hey guys.  Been a while.

Not trying to use hyperbole, but tomorrow night’s game against Kentucky is the biggest basketball game in Stegeman Coliseum since Georgia beat Florida way back in the spring of 2003, that from my memory, was a thrilling game.  I was a Senior in High School, just found out that I had been accepted to UGA, and was watching that game on TV with the electric atmosphere and thinking to myself, “I can’t wait to be  a part of that.” 

I was wrong.   There hadn’t been a game with that kind of importance at Stegeman since then.  Sure, there have been some fun games, but none like that one.

Tomorrow night is the first big game like that in Athens in a long time.  12 years.

Go Dawgs.


Great Weekend For Georgia Basketball

You won’t find much talk about Georgia basketball around here.  For years, living in Macon, I hardly went to games.  I think in six years living in Middle Georgia, I only made it to a couple of games.  I went to an Alabama game for my birthday a few years back, and I went to the Missouri game last year when I was in Athens for work.  Georgia wasn’t great, and I didn’t have internet at my house to watch the weeknight games on ESPN3, so I didn’t get to watch as many games.  The affiliates down there didn’t carry the SEC weeknight games very often.  I’d catch them on Saturdays when I could.

We’ve now abandoned cable and are exclusively Apple TV, so I can now watch them regularly, and living closer to Athens now, I’m planning on going to a couple of upcoming games.  I’ve always liked basketball and growing up it was my favorite sport to play. My basketball career ended in 8th grade when I stopped growing and was no longer the size of a power forward and became the size of a guard.

My short and sweet take on the state of Georgia basketball:  Tyler Dawgden and others post about it more regularly, but I’ve often felt it was hard for Georgia basketball.  One, the fan interest just isn’t there.  Most fans are more concerned with the recruiting rankings than Mark Fox’s unit’s RPI.  The facilities have improved drastically.  Stegemen looks great now.  But for so long, Georgia basketball was an afterthought to fans and administration, and when good players and momentum finally came, the Jim Harrick scandal rocked it to its core.  There were so many challenges facing Georgia, and without the program prestige or commitment, that while Atlanta is a hotbed for talent, the talent wasn’t coming to Athens when other schools like Kentucky, Florida, UNC and Duke can come in and get the great ones.

The biggest challenge facing Mark Fox is his lack of recruiting, thought recently it seems that has gotten better.  Mark Fox is, I belive, a very good ball coach.  But his recruiting leaves a lot to be desired.  Only one player he’s brought in-KCP-could really start at programs like Florida and Kentucky.  Maybe Kenny Gaines.

But I watched the game Saturday and felt so much pride for the program.  TV said Stegeman was sold out (thought it appeared there were seats available).  Georgia knocked off Florida.  The hated Gators!  Georgia is relevent in basketball.  They have entered SEC play poised to make a march to March, instead of playing spoiler or the underdog role.

It’s all about expectations. I don’t want to accept mediocrity, but I know what Georgia is and understand its challenges.   I’d love for more than anything for Georgia to be able to make a postseason run.  But realistically, Georgia is where I’ve always wanted them:  fun to watch, competitive, and relevant.

I’d like more, but I’m happy with what we have now.  What we have now hasn’t happened in a long while.





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