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Friday, August 14, 2009

Cracking Open the Mailbag (8/14)

I've managed to reply to some Twitter questions during the past few months, but it's been a while since we've really done an old-fashioned mailbag. But I've had a lot of good inquiries lately -- both of the Twitter and non-tweet variety -- so I figured it'd be a good time to rectify that issue.

So without further a do, let's see what y'all are interested in talking about...

From Peter S.: Last year I met (freshman defensive end) Reuben Faloughi before a game and had lunch with him. He's a very smart kid who talked about going to med school after college. He's exactly the kind of student we want here at UGA, with or without football. I'm happy to see him making an impression in football -- he was tall and pretty slender as a h.s. senior but I know the coaches liked him for many reasons -- but I do hope that you will note that he's a Hope Scholarship kid with outstanding academics. ... I'm proud to have kids like him at UGA.

DH: Well said, Peter. It is nice to have reminders that college football is about more than just football.

I listened in on a bit of Anthony Dasher's interview with Faloughi last weekend, and I was immensely impressed by the kid. After Dash finished talking to him, a few of us media folks took a minute or two to discuss our thoughts on the walk-on defensive end. The general consensus: He looks an awful lot like Quentin Moses in terms of body type. As Peter said, Reuben's a very smart kid, too, so clearly he's got the goods to make a name for himself in Athens.

And apparently Mark Richt thinks so, too...

"Reuben is a guy who is competing like he wants to earn a scholarship. He's athletic, he's smart, he's very determined and focused," Richt said. "He's one of those guys that was very, very close to being offered a scholarship, but sometimes you just don't have enough to give out. We were thankful to get him because he did have some scholarship offers. But he's determined to not only be a Bulldog, but to earn a scholarship and earn some playing time."

And one more note... that slender kid has bulked up a good bit. Faloughi lied on his resume saying he was 210 pounds, but he admits now he was actually 205. But after a couple of months working out at Georgia, he's already up to 220 and looking a lot more like an impact defensive end.

From Jack W.: David, there was much talk, even at the Rome Bulldog Club about Brandon (Wheeling), mentioned without CMR being asked a question...yes, I am from Dallas, Ga and my wife taught him. ... fine young person....just thought you might know something.

DH: Indeed I do, Jack. I'll preface this by saying Rodney Garner is not the type of coach to needlessly praise his players. Ricardo Crawford could probably spend a few days telling you about that if you ask him. But here's what Rodney had to say about Mr. Wheeling...

"I'm excited about Brandon Wheeling. I like that kid. I like his toughness. He's a very quality, solid guy that I feel comfortable with putting him in the game in any situation, whether it be the game on the line or whatnot. He knows what to do, he understands our system, and he brings a toughness to the game. He is a naturally tough kid, and they just don't make naturally tough kids anymore."

By the way, my buddy Brian Perkins asked in a chat I did during the spring if I had any good ways of incorporating more Journey songs into the Georgia game day routine. One of my thoughts was to have the band play "Wheel in the Sky" each time Brandon Wheeling steps onto the field. So if the Redcoats buy into my plan, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for a lot of PT for Brandon this season.

From HVL Dawg: David, I saw in your tweet that CMR awarded a scholly to a walk on. I think he does that every year. Do you think he does it more than other coaches who are oversigning recruits?

DH: There's a good chance that the oversigning of recruits keeps many coaches from doing this, but it still a pretty common practice among most coaches. Richt has made a habit out of doing this with at least one or two players every year, and the practice has earned Georgia a good number of talented walk-ons, including last year's special teams captain, Andrew Williams. It also is probably the reason players like Faloughi came to Georgia.

From @shadcraft21: ask prince miller how Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo are coming along, south georgia native here.

DH: Didn't get to ask Prince, but I did get some details from a couple other Bulldogs.

Darryl Gamble on Rambo: "Baccari's making a lot of plays on the ball, catching interceptions, being in the right place, coming down and making plays on the running back."

Rennie Curran on Williams: "A guy that's till learning but has definitely impressed me is Shawn Williams. Looking at him, you see he's hungry, he's trying to make that big hit, be around the ball and make something happen. And he's got a little mean streak in him, too, and you always want to see that from your safeties. That's our last line of defense, so they've got to be the meanest."

From Travis H.: Has Drew Butler improved much as our punter for this season? Also do you have any insight on the kicking situation between Bogatay and Blair Walsh...I know in your last article you talked about them, just wondering if one is performing better than the other...

DH: The reports on Butler have all been pretty positive, but we aren't really going to know much until he does it on a Saturday. It's hard to simulate the rush properly in practice, and even during the scrimmages, the kicking is rarely live. The bottom line for Butler though is consistency. He has the leg to get the job done. It's a matter of making sure he's getting it done more often.

As for Bogotay and Blair... your guess is as good as mine. Neither guy is giving much away, and Mark Richt and Jon Fabris weren't exactly specific in their answers when talking to the Athens Banner-Herald the other day.

From Joe S.: Where can I go to get a good idea of a projected depth chart? OR do I need to wait a couple of weeks?

DH: Short answer, you need to wait a couple of weeks. And even then, I'm not sure how much difference it makes. Mark Richt will be the first to tell you that most of the "official" depth charts are simply rosters put together by the sports information staff that have little bearing on who actually plays.

Of course, this is a mailbag, so let's have a little more fun with it than that. From the reports I've gotten from players and coaches, here's how things look right now (the abbreviated version):

QB -- Joe Cox is the man, no questions. Logan Gray is looking solid at No. 2 but Richt refuses to make it official. Aaron Murray has an outside shot at the second spot and still may play even if he's No. 3 on the depth chart. Zach Mettenberger has a lot of work to do if he wants to move past any of the others.

RB -- Richard Samuel's scrimmage probably puts him in a front-runner's seat, but my guess is still that Caleb King gets a large share of the workload, if not the majority. Carlton Thomas remains the No. 3 guy, but I think Mike Bobo is still concerned about his pass blocking. Washaun Ealey and Dontavius Jackson are probably going to be shuffled to the back of the pack barring an injury, etc.

WR -- A.J. Green will be starting at either flanker or split end (he's been working at both) and Mike Moore is starting in the slot. In a three-wide package, Tavarres King is probably the nominal starter now, but Marlon Brown is clearly on the upswing and Orson Charles (while officially a tight end) can be moved out to what Richt calls a "Ted" position, which is still the tight end body type, but lined up in a wide receiver formation. All six of Georgia's wideouts will see ample playing time though.

FB -- It's Shaun Chapas all the time. Fred Munzenmaier will get some work, particularly at the goal line, but Chapas has a stranglehold on that job, no question.

TE -- Aron White is clearly the starter, but John Lilly and Mark Richt have both been very impressed with Arthur Lynch and Orson Charles so far. All three of those guys are going to have an impact, and Mike Bobo specifically said he hoped to scheme around the tight ends quite a bit more this season.

OL -- Bobo just discussed this the other day. The starting lineup is Trinton Sturdivant (LT), Chris Davis (LG), Ben Jones (C), Cordy Glenn (RG) and Clint Boling (RT). Don't expect that to change unless there's an injury. Vince Vance and Justin Anderson are backups at both the guard and tackle positions, and Chris Davis would likely slide over to center to spell Jones.

DE -- Rod Battle is the clear starter on one side, with Justin Houston likely being the starter on the other... except for that little suspension issue. That leaves Demarcus Dobbs as the next man up. Marcus Washington and Kiante Tripp are both behind them, with Cornelius Washington, Montez Robinson and Neland Ball further down the depth chart. This position still has a lot of room for shuffling though beyond Battle.

DT -- No questions here. It's Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens, with Kade Weston and DeAngelo Tyson behind them. We're likely to see a lot more of Weston this year than we did last year, too, I think.

LB -- Darryl Gamble is the starting Sam linebacker, Akeem Dent has the job in the middle and Rennie Curran is set at Will. Darius Dewberry will be the primary backup at Sam, Marcus Dowtin at Mike and Nick Williams at Will. Akeem Hebron, Charles White and Christian Robinson could see playing time, but that top six is looking pretty firm at the moment. Chase Vasser and Mike Gilliard are more than likely heading for redshirts or a lot of special teams work.

S -- Again, this position is completely settled. It's Reshad Jones and Bryan Evans as the starters. Baccari Rambo and Quintin Banks are probably the top two backups right now, but the reports on Shawn Williams have been glowing.

CB -- Prince Miller is set and unless he falls apart, Brandon Boykin will handle the other side. Sanders Commings is probably the top guy off the bench in a nickel package right now, but certainly we could see a good bit of Makiri Pugh as well. Between Branden Smith and Jordan Love, I'm guessing at least one will work himself into the discussion, but it's just too early to say on that yet.

As for the special teams, beyond Drew Butler I don't think any decisions have been made yet. And even if they had, I don't think Jon Fabris would tell me.

From Ludakit: You'll have to excuse me if you've already answered this somewhere else but there's been a lot of talk over pass breakups this season and this article was the first I've seen from any site mentioning that some of it is happening at the LOS. Do you know if a lot of the pass breakups are coming at the line or in coverage?

DH: I asked Rodney Garner about this, and here's what he said...

"The (defensive linemen) have been getting a good push and guys are getting a knack for getting their hands up and trying to bat balls, getting in the quarterback's window and vision area. They've done a good job with that, but we can still continue to get better."

I think the young QBs are still trying to learn and understand how to find the right passing lanes, and the second-team O line is perhaps not giving the QBs quite as much time as they need. More importantly, when you've got guys like Jeff Owens, Geno Atkins and Kade Weston charging up the middle, getting those throws off isn't easy on anyone. But I think Cox will be fine. He hasn't started since 2006, but the guy has played against SEC defenses and he hasn't shown any indication that his size is going to be an issue.

From Frank: Have you heard anything regarding a timetable for expanding Sanford Stadium?

DH: Right now, the only major capital project going on is the expansion of the Butts-Mehre facilities. I noted on the blog last week about some of the additions Mark Richt said are coming on that, but as far as Sanford Stadium goes, what ya see is what ya get for the foreseeable future.

From @Suthrn_Shepherd: who is the most difficult UGA corner to go against?

DH: I posed this inquiry to both A.J. Green and Michael Moore.

Moore's answer went back a ways: "Tim Jennings, by far. He was just so quick and fast. I was a freshman, but I think I'd like to take him on right now and see how we compare now. But he was definitely the best one."

A.J. stayed a bit more current: "Gotta be Prince. He's a great corner. He's so smart, and he's fast. You've got to be real precise to beat him."

A reporter then asked Green if Miller had been tougher to go against than Asher Allen. Turns out, Green only went one-on-one with Asher once, and it didn't go well for A.J.

"I don't care how great you be," Allen told Green, "you're still 0-1 with me."

From Jim F: Does UGA/ SEC conf. have any policy re: H1N1 outbreaks?? What % of team/ school infected before cancellation? cancellation or forfiet? Can infected players play? What assurances are there for opponents that all players are 'clean' on ther other side?

DH: This is an interesting question, and I passed along the inquiry to Claude Felton in the UGA sports information department. He said that, as of now, Georgia's football team is following the same guidelines as the rest of the university does -- you can find the school's H1N1 policies HERE.

Perhaps that's enough, but it will be pretty interesting to see if this becomes an issue as the season moves along.

From @Imprimatur: love your work. Read blog daily and subscribe to tweets. Could do without meal updates though. Text rates apply, etc.

DH: Fair point. I'll limit the off-topic tweets. But in case you were wondering, I had swordfish and a baked potato for dinner tonight. It was delightful.

From Will: As a quick side note to your links you posted for today (Saturday) - Florida being ranked #1 in recruiting may be the biggest croc (pardon the sort-of-pun). Every other recruiting site has their guys way down compared to these ESPN rankings, and theres no way they jump up that high before playing a down of senior year. This leads back into the whole SEC TV deal: good god, man, is this the kind of blatant bias that our conference signed up for. The kind that is currently financing our athletic renovations? If so, thats some pretty dirty money we're rolling in right now.

DH: Remember last year when ESPN ignored Knowshon's leap? I think I'm with Will on this one in taking a wait-and-see approach before I decide all should be forgiven. And more importantly, Georgia fans who tune in to the Worldwide Leader should probably get ready for a WHOLE LOT of Tim Tebow coverage during the next four months.

From Daniel G.: This is just a thought, but I am tired of announcers talking about how UF is going to walk through this season. They also usually state that the only hard game is in LSU.

Out of the past 15 years, UF has taken the week off before the GA\FL game 12 times. In those same years, UGA has only taken the off week prior to the game once - happens to be 2007 when we won. Gators have to travel to Ole Miss, while we have extra time to rest and prepare. Just a thought, but I would put this as a tough week for the Gators!

DH: I couldn't agree more. As Daniel also pointed out with some well-researched analysis, in the one season Georgia had a bye prior to the Florida game, the Bulldogs thumped the Gators 42-30 and partied in the end zone. In the two other years in which Florida played the week before the game, the two teams split the matchups, with Georgia winning in 2004 and losing last year.

The fact that Florida has had such a huge advantage in terms of preparation time for these games in the past 15 years is a much bigger issue than where the game is played. And if Damon Evans really cares about evening the odds with Florida, he should be less concerned with suiting up in Atlanta and more concerned with protecting the Bulldogs' schedule.

And if you check out the future schedules over at Sic 'Em Dawgs, that's not exactly happening.

From @allyugadawg: Just curious to know if Marlon's Grandmother (or Damon Evans for that matter) swung a switch at him for the facebook fiasco.

DH: The "fiasco" in question involved some scandalous comments attributed to Marlon Brown on Facebook last month.

As it turned out, the Facebook site was a fake, and it was not Brown who made the comments. That doesn't mean he didn't get some heat from it.

"I just got to school, and something already happened," Brown said. "I hadn't been at school a month and something was already stirred up a controversy about me."

It was a rough introduction to life in the SEC for Brown, and while he was aware of such stunts as the distribution of Knowshon Moreno's cell phone number by LSU fans last year, he was still stunned to see some pretty nasty words attributed to him.

"The thing about the Facebook is that I heard crazy rumors about it," Brown said. "Me and Coach Richt talked about it, and it was just crazy stuff."

Richt continued talking -- this time to his whole team. Following the incident, Brown said Georgia's coaches spoke to the players about closely monitoring what they write on social networking sites including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

From @dawgengineer: Is Prince Miller returning punts again this year and will he have any other special team responsibilities?

DH: Here's what Prince told me: "I think that's up to the coaches, but I plan to play the same rolls as I did last year."

Sound encouraging? Nah, I didn't think so either.

But while Miller may not be handling return duties this year, Branden Smith, Rantavious Wooten, Brandon Boykin and Carlton Thomas all have been doing this fall. I think all four could handle the job nicely.

From Old Dawg55: David, I have one comment/criticism to offer: get rid of the TV promos... you use up valuable column inches discussing (to most of us) inane TV scripts that we find meaningless. You're a football writer not a TV critic..make up your mind. You're a damn good sports writer so don't screw it up with the other drivel. GO DAWG!!

DH: Point taken, and I have no doubt that there are a hefty contingent of readers who don't care at all about "Lost" or various '80s pop culture. But I think the beauty of a blog is it gives me a chance to not just pass along UGA info, but also include a bit of my personality to the writing as well. I don't include much of it outside of my links posts, and, as this next email shows, you'd be surprised how many readers really enjoy the off-topic discussions.

From Jason: Your daily links are turning into a quasi-Drudge Report of sports/pop culture for me - and that's a huge compliment. Please don't lose the links to the non-Dawg stuff.

I would just advise good ol' boys like Mr. Old Dawg to ignore the stuff he doesn't like and mash away at the links that he does enjoy. Congrats on a great first year and I selfishly hope you stick around for awhile, with big annual merit increases/raises each year of course.

DH: Thanks, Jason. I'll keep posting the links as long as you guys keep reading them (and maybe even after that).

As far as your second point goes, however, as much as I appreciate the compliment, unfortunately the real world isn't quite so kind.

So, this is probably as good a time as any to let you know that the parent company of the Macon Telegraph is forcing employees to take mandatory one-week furloughs before December 6, 2009. These furloughs were just announced last week, which means I have no choice but to take it during football season.

While I hate to step away from our coverage during such an important time of the year, I'm also well aware that I'm hardly the only person suffering from the tough economic times we're living in, and that includes the good folks working at UGA.

So, the plan for now is for me to be away from the paper, the blog, Facebook and Twitter during Georgia's bye week. While I was not excited about leaving a week before things get heated up for Georgia-Florida, this seemed like the best possible option.

My hope is that this will be the last of these furloughs, and our coverage will continue uninterrupted beyond that. My concern, however, is obvious. As I've stated numerous times in this blog, the future of the newspaper as we know it is in serious doubt. I'm encouraged by the vast number of people who read this and other online sources of news, particularly the large following of younger readers that I have. The downside, however, is that until newspapers can find a way to generate the same revenue from an online product that they did from print, the future for people like myself and many other journalists far more talented than me, will remain in limbo.

OK, I can't end on such a downer, so let's do one more...

From @BPMackie: to Logan Gray: Would you rather beat the Gators this year or be able to see through women's clothing?

DH: I really considered asking Logan this, and if I'd had more time with him, I probably would have. But you know what's so great about this question? Georgia's hatred for Florida is so intense that people like Logan might actually have to think for a few minutes about the right answer.

OK, that'll do it. Remember, if you have questions, you can leave them in the comments, email me at or send me a message on Twitter at @Bulldogsblog.


Anonymous said...

Why is Vance Cuff left off your "depth chart", and why have we heard nothing about him recently? I know for a fact that he recently ran a 4.28 40 in practice and is trying to break Champ Bailey record at UGA in the 40, which is 4.24 I believe. Where's the love? Pretty good corner as well.

Unknown said...

I recommend that you blog what you enjoy...even if it's off topic.

It'll keep blogging from becoming so much like work for you. And I'm guessing that there's an element to the blog that's way outside of "work scope".

So "Lost" links are fine by me.

Doug said...

I think you should blog about what ever you want. I enjoy the non'bulldawg stuff and I'm sure a lot of other folks do also.

As far as your tweeting goes, I say tweet away. Folks subscribe to it and therefore they can un-subscribe from it.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...


It is insane how much good Dawg content you have on a daily basis. I also enjoy the off topic stuff and I am sure it is a nice diversion for you. That is going to be a tough, tough week without you. Can you please post your cell phone number before you take leave?

dean said...

Love the blog. You do a tremendous job.
I haven't heard anthing on AJ Harmon (the other AJ). What's going on with him?

Keep up the good work. We in Dawgnation appreciate it.