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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Green still mum on inquiry

A.J. Green still can't talk about the NCAA inquiry. And the opener is days away.

Green has steadfastly declined comment on the NCAA inquiry, which became known last month. Head coach Mark Richt declined to say anything at his press conference earlier on Tuesday.

When the subject was brought up Tuesday night, and Green was once again asked if he was authorized to say anything, he smiled and said "no."

But it's four days till the opener, a reporter pointed out.

"Yeah, still can't say anything," Green said.

Green was then if there was any doubt he would play Saturday.

"No. No, I don't know," Green said. "Still can't say anything."

There still appears to be no worry from anybody at Georgia - Richt, Green or anyone - that anyone will be held out of the opener because of the inquiry. The best evidence for that is Green has been made available to the media repeatedly. (Other schools, such as North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama, have kept a lid on their players linked to the agent scandal.)

But it's still strange that no firm word has been given out on Green. If there was any worry about his eligibility, Georgia wouldn't play him in a game. At this point, Green seems all but certain to be out there against Louisiana-Lafayette - but we still await official word.

McGarity and Richt on off-field issues

I know off-field, behavioral problems aren't what anybody wanted to be talking about four days before the season opener. But hey, blame Washaun Ealey and Damon Evans for that.

Greg McGarity, the new athletics director, and head coach Mark Richt both addressed the issue in their press conferences today.

McGarity discussed the problem of player arrests on Monday. But a day later he was asked his approach considering what happened to his predecessor, Evans.

The new boss said he was aware that he's now in the spotlight.

"I think those of us in leadership positions take on a huge responsibility. Probably a life-changing responsibility," McGarity said. "Regardless of what happened in the past, I think the eyes are on you. Now with the advent of cell phone cameras and things of that nature, your life totally changes. I've been sort of in the shadows for 18 years, heck I could go in restaurants and nobody would know me. It was just like a life where you didn't have to worry about some of the public things."

Now, McGarity knows he's representing Georgia, and he has to "do as I say." (Like, say, don't get picked up for a DUI when you tell crowds before a home game not to drink and drive.)

"I know that coming in. There's no surprises there," McGarity said. "So you've got to always be aware that the eyes are on you, whatever you say."

On the heels of the Ealey arrest, the eighth time a Georgia player has been cited this year, Richt was asked Tuesday about dealing with the issue.

Richt's answer was that the only "flaw" is if players aren't being disciplined.

“As long as we have 18-22 year old guys who are human beings, they are going to make mistakes. That’s just all there is to it," Richt said. "If you don’t discipline it, you have a problem. If they don’t learn from it, then they have a problem. If it’s severe enough that they don’t belong on the team, then they go, that’s just the way it is."

New A.D. wants football team "in the hunt"

On his second day on the job, Greg McGarity was asked a thinly-veiled question about the future of the football program, and presumably head coach Mark Richt.

As you’d expect, the new boss demurred.

McGarity was asked Tuesday, during a quickie news conference at Stegeman Coliseum, about his expectations for the football program this year.

“You never put a win total on any sport,” McGarity said. “You just wanna be in the hunt. Every sport that we sponsor, you just want them to be in the hunt for championships. And there could be circumstances that lead you to not be in the hunt in a certain year due to various circumstances. But you want every sport at the University of Georgia just to be in the conversation. ”

McGarity later pointed out that the SEC is a “meat-grinder,” with as many as nine schools entering this season thinking they have a shot at the league title.

“I think it’d be really unfair to coaches to tell them you’ve got to win 10 games, 11 games, whatever that number is,” McGarity said. “It’s how people go about their work. Do you see improvements made. And do you see people giving 100 percent effort everyday. I think those are the things that I would be looking at that’s more important than a number of wins.”

In other words, McGarity wasn’t about to sit there and throw the gauntlet of expectations down on head coach Mark Richt. The belief continues to be, after nearly five weeks on the beat, that Richt’s seat is not quite as hot as you’d think if you listened to some national media types.

That could always change if the season crumbles, but at the moment you’d much rather be Richt than Les Miles.

Notes from Richt presser

Sitting here at Stegeman Coliseum, where we’ve just been through the first game-week press conference of the football season. Can you feel it? Oh, you can feel it.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt went over the entire Louisiana-Lafayette starting lineup, including special teamers and some backups. He did so for about 10 minutes. I’m gonna skip over this part for now.

There was a lot of discussion of Aaron Murray. The emphasis for Richt didn’t change from all preseason, saying the freshman didn’t have to be a hero, and keeping expectations low.

“Hopefully our fans will understand he’s a freshman. He’s a rookie, he’s gonna make mistakes,” Richt said. “He probably won’t be lights out as far as his accuracy, his decisions, all those things. He’s gonna be finding his way. Hopefully his teammates will help him out.”

I followed up by asking Richt if he worried that the freshman success of David Greene and Matt Stafford had raised expectations on Murray. The coach had an interesting response, by disagreeing with the premise. Greene had a good, “unscathed” freshman year, according to Richt, while Stafford had growing pains.

Still, Richt finished his answer by pointing out that Stafford won his final three games: At Auburn, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. That’s why people remember Stafford having success.

And that’s the point: The general working theory is that Stafford and Greene did well as freshmen under Richt, so if Murray doesn’t … You finish the sentence.

That may not be fair, because Stafford was a future No. 1 overall draft pick, and Greene was one of the best winners in program history.

On another front, could the backup quarterback be … Bacarri Rambo? Well of course not. Probably not. But Richt, when asked about the sophomore safety, got so fired up about his athletic ability that he said of Rambo:

“He’d be a heck of a quarterback too. He’s got a knack for doing some of those things,” Richt said.

That’s not as far-fetched, since Rambo played quarterback in high school. But I suspect he’ll stay at safety.

And last note, at least for now: Richt still wouldn’t answer whether everyone would be clear for the game from the standpoint of the NCAA inquiry.

“Well, this is a subject that I’m just not allowed to have any comment on,” Richt said.

Interesting that Richt (and A.J. Green and McGarity and everyone) continue to not comment. There’s still no sign that anyone is worried about players not being able to go Saturday. But if the school is completely clear in this particular inquiry, no one’s saying so yet.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sluggish practice, Mason status, etc.

Georgia held its last practice of the week in full pads. And head coach Mark Richt wasn’t too happy with how it went.

“I would have to say it left a little left to be desired,” Richt said. “I don’t think they were dogging it. But I could’ve liked to have seen a little bit more energy.”

Richt added that the fact it was the start of a fifth week of practice may have been why.

More notes from after practice:

- Mainly for injury reasons, Richt is a bit more up on his defense at this point.

“I think our defense is a little ahead of our offense, in that they’ve been a bit more healthy and been able to practice together more,” Richt said.

- There’s been much debate here on the blog about whether Hutson Mason should play this year. Or as soon as Saturday. So, because I do this for you, I asked Richt if they’d discussed Mason’s status yet.

“Yeah, but we haven’t told him anything yet,” Richt said.

So ask again in a day or two?

“Might have to ask me after the game Saturday,” Richt cracked.

Some other notes:

- Richt sort of cleared up who was starting at safety with Bacarri Rambo. The depth chart said Nick Williams, but Jakar Hamilton said he’d been told it was him.

Richt agreed that it was Hamilton and Rambo, but added that Williams “will play.”

- The only surprise in the official depth chart released Monday was Brandon Wood starting at one defensive end spot, with DeAngelo Tyson at nose tackle. Don’t expect that etched in stone.

“Depends on what day it is, I guess. But as of Saturday, maybe it was even Friday, I believe we were feeling like DeAngelo would start at nose.”

- Receiver Logan Gray “got through practice. You could tell it was still affecting him to a degree. But he got a lot of work in.”

- Receiver Rantavious Wooten, while also in a green jersey, went through drills. Richt thinks Wooten will play.

Hamilton on Ealey

Georgia safety Jakar Hamilton says he didn’t know his roommate, Washaun Ealey, had a suspended license when he let him use his car early last Friday morning.

But Hamilton also holds no grudge against Ealey, the Georgia tailback who not only dinged the car, but ended up in jail.

Ealey, a sophomore, spent six hours in jail after being arrested for leaving the scene after hitting a parked car with Hamilton’s 2011 Chevrolet Impala. Ealey was also charged with driving under a suspended license.

“Stuff happens,” Hamilton said. “If it was me or anyone else, my friends would’ve let me use their car. It’s just a brotherly type hood that we have. And I treat Washaun like he’s my own brother. I look out for him just like he looks out for me. Unfortunately that happened. It’s just a minor setback thing. It’s nothing really major. Anything could’ve happened. It could’ve beeen worse.

“But thankfully he’s back with us now, he’s still playing football, so that’s just water under the bridge."

Ealey has been suspended a minimum of one game by the Bulldogs. And his arrest was big news on Friday.

"People blew it up, of course that’s what’s gonna happen because you’re a superstar," Hamilton said. "But, I don’t hold no grudge against Washaun. He’s my brother, regardless of what happened to my car. That’s just a material thing.”

As for the car, Hamilton said “it can be fixed.”

Meantime, there’s an interesting bit of confusion regarding Hamilton at the safety position. The official depth chart released by Georgia says Nick Williams is starting at strong safety, and Bacarri Rambo at free safety. But Hamilton said he’s been told by defensive coordinator Todd Grantham that he’s starting at free safety, with Rambo at strong.

Either way, expect a lot of rotating.

“Everybody’s pretty much gonna get the same rotation,” Hamilton said. “The rotation is pretty good, it’s working pretty well right now. Bacarri can play both ways, Nick can come in on both downs, or me and Nick can play at the same time.”

McGarity starts early

Greg McGarity didn't wait until his official start date of Wednesday to get going. The new athletics director at Georgia was in his office Monday, and has begun staff meetings.

We spent a few minutes with the new man in his office on Monday afternoon. A few highlights:

- McGarity agreed that the spate of offseason arrests for Georgia athletes was "too much." Eight have been arrested this calendar year, most recently Washaun Ealey on Friday.

"I think it is a problem. And it's something we want to do a 180 on across the board," McGarity said.

The new A.D. said he wanted to study the reason behind the arrests, and see what preventive measures could be taken.

"I want to learn exactly why is this happening?" McGarity said. "I want to find out an accountability, how we deal with students being accountable. How we deal with students who elect not to do what the coaches tell them to do. That's what I need to learn, before I can really make an assessment. I think it's all an education. I do think there should be consequences for people who elect not to do what's in the best interests of the team. I think just making sure that kids know that when they do make mistakes, they're certainly embarrassing, they're usually selfish mistakes. They're not thinking about their team, they're not thinking about their parents, they're not thinking about the institution. I think that those are things that I need to find out about before I really make a decision."

Five of the arrests, he said, were related to driver's licenses not being renewed. (Five football players have been arrested since last October for having suspended or invalid licenses. Ealey was arrested early Friday morning on three charges, one of them hit-and-run, the other two for suspended license and failure to appear in court over a speeding charge.)

McGarity indicated he was happy with measures that have been taken to take care of the license issue.

"Knowing what I know now, I think we have that under control now," McGarity said. "So that should not be an issue in the future. If you eliminate those, that's probably five arrests that have probably gone away."

- McGarity didn't have much information on the NCAA inquiry, which reportedly involves an interview it held with A.J. Green in July. But McGarity did say he wasn't aware of any players behind held out of Saturday's opener, other than Washaun Ealey. (Tavarres King is also suspended for the game.)

"I'm aware of (the inquiry)," McGarity said. "Am I concerned? I think you're always concerned about an inquiry until a verdict is rendered. ... I’m not really sure what the status is on that. I’m sure I’ll be brought up to date here in the next day or two.”

- As for nonconference football scheduling, McGarity said he has "some ideas." But he wants to sit down to talk with head coach Mark Richt before saying anything.

“I’ve got some ideas in mind. Some different models. But I haven’t really talked to Mark. He’s got enough on his plate," McGarity said. "Maybe when the season slows down, or if ther’es time. You know we play 11 straight games, there’s no open weekend. But that’s something I would talk to him (about). But I’ve got some ideas that I’d like to present to him, and we can talk about it.”

McGarity also had a chance to discuss the men's basketball nonconference scheduling with head coach Mark Fox. The pair ran into each other at Sunday's women's soccer game against Kansas.

"It's been made extremely clear to the athletic directors and basketball coaches on what it takes to have a good portfolio of high RPI games, and eliminating the games that are (against) the teams with 250-320 range in RPI," McGarity said.

- Overall, McGarity said he didn't plan on making any immediate big decisions. He also has no immediate plans to bring any new staff aboard. His priority for the first "30-60-90 days" is to listen and learn.

He also told the staff not to see anything he told them as micro-managing.

“What you don’t want to do is come in and say, Well this is the way we did it at the University of Florida and this is the way we’re doing it here,” McGarity said. “That would be a huge mistake. Because there’s a lot of talented people on this staff. And there are probably ways that may be just as good or maybe better than the University of Florida. So it’s gonna be important for me to learn what everybody’s doing and then at some point in time talk about changes and how we may do things, and approach things.”

Finally, the Athens native and UGA graduate marveled at his new situation in life. He pointed out that while working in the same building for the 1980s, and until he left for Florida in 1992, he worked out of an old storage closet.

Now he's in an office, where you have to walk through a glass door that says "Greg McGarity."

"When you see your name on the door, you still have to pinch yourself that this is really happening," McGarity said.

The first depth chart of the season

Has too much been made of DeAngelo Tyson’s switch to end? Is Hutson Mason in line to get snaps in Georgia’s opener?

These questions and more are raised – and in the end probably overstated – as Georgia released a new depth chart on Monday.

The highlights, and my take on each:

- Tyson is listed as the starting nose tackle, ahead of Justin “Bean” Anderson, while Brandon Wood gets the nod at end.

MY TAKE: This runs contrary to what the coaches have been saying lately. But they’ve also been saying there would be a regular rotation, and it has sounded like Tyson could get an equal number of snaps at nose and end.

- Mason is officially listed as the backup quarterback.

MY TAKE: There’s a better chance now that Mason will get snaps and burn his redshirt, especially with Logan Gray’s injury. My guess, and at this point it’s only a guess, is that Mason will only play Saturday in the event of injury to Aaron Murray, and the team will try to go as far as it can this year without having to burn his redshirt.

- Christian Robinson gets the nod at the weakside linebacker spot, ahead of Marcus Dowtin. A healthy Akeem Dent is the other starter, ahead of Akeem Hebron.

MY TAKE: The coaches like Robinson’s leadership, and how he took charge as the front seven signal-caller in Dent’s absence. His versatility, the ability to play both inside spots, really helped him here.

- Nick Williams gets the nod at strong safety, with Jakar Hamilton the backup free safety to Bacarri Rambo.

MY TAKE: It had been trending in that direction, but I’d still expect Williams and Hamilton to rotate. Shawn Williams and Alec Ogletree are the next two strong safeties. Ogletree all but looks set to play as a true freshman.

- Kris Durham is the starter at split end, ahead of Marlon Brown and Michael Bennett. Behind A.J. Green at flanker are Rantavious Wooten, Gray and and Israel Troupe.

MY TAKE: No surprises here. Durham and Brown are probably even, as they’ll both start in the event of a three-receiver set. Bennett could still redshirt.

- Trinton Sturdivant is the backup left tackle behind Clint Boling. The rest of the starting line is as expected, and the backups left to right are Sturdivant, Tanner Strickland, Chris Burnette, Dallas Lee and A.J. Harmon.

MY TAKE: All the backups have already had a redshirt year, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them given some game action on Saturday.

- Tight end goes Orson Charles, Aron White and Bruce Figgins.

MY TAKE: They’ll all play, especially the first two.

- Caleb King is the starting tailback, Carlton Thomas the lone backup.

MY TAKE: Obviously Washaun Ealey is unavailable for at least one game. Fred Munzenmaier, listed as the backup fullback, could get a few carries.

- And lastly … Kiante Tripp is a backup end to Demarcus Dobbs.

MY TAKE: For the poster who kept asking about him … there ya go.

La.-Lafayette on prepping for UGA

Georgia’s switch to the 3-4 has already produced one benefit: Its opening opponent apparently has no idea what to prepare for – even though its coach knows Todd Grantham very well.

Louisiana-Lafayette coach Ricky Bustle indicated that his offense will basically have to adjust on the fly when it faces Georgia on Saturday.

“It’s tough when you don’t have any film on a team that you’re getting ready to play and they’ve made a chance in their defense,” Bustle said. “It kind of makes you keep things pretty simple. Because we do open up conference play the next week. You’re kind of guessing sometimes what Todd’s gonna do defensively … We just have to feel good about making adjustments.”

Georgia’s new defensive scheme is coached by Todd Grantham, whom Bustle coached when he was an assistant at Virginia Tech. Grantham also served as a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech, and Bustle said the two have stayed in touch.

“Todd and I have always been good, good friends and stayed with each other,” Bustle said. “He’s a fine football coach, and I’m sure he’s gonna be ready to get after us.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns, a member of the Sun Belt, are also very experienced playing against major-conference teams. They opened a couple years ago at South Carolina, and played at Nebraska last year. (Getting smoked, 55-0).

So when Bustle was asked about a “David vs. Goliath” kind of feel, he blanched a bit.

“I don’t approach it that way,” he said. “We want our kids to feel like they can go in on any given Saturday and win a game like that. And that’s what we’re gearing up to do. It’s a great tradition at Georgia, I played there myself (as an opposing player). … We’ve played enough of those that we’re not awed by the crowd, or awed by the atmosphere. We’re there to play.”

Monday morning notes

I’d be remiss if, on this first day of the first week of the football season, I didn’t open by discussing AMC television shows.

First off, congrats to Bryan Cranston for winning the Emmy. I know a lot of blog readers are big fans of “Breaking Bad,” and are happy about it. (I also though Jim Parsons was well-deserving for his best actor in a comedy series.)

Also, Sunday night’s “Mad Men” was a solid episode. Loved the flashbacks to Don Draper’s hiring by Roger Sterling, and the parallels with Draper’s current downward slope.

And if anybody noticed, very slick – or very presumptuous – of AMC to congratulate “Mad Men” on winning the Emmy for best dramatic series DURING the show on Sunday night, just a few minutes after it officially won it.

As for football, a few housekeeping things:

- Just to tie up a few minor loose ends from the Washaun Ealey arrest: The incident report, which became available on Monday morning, revealed that it was teammate Jakar Hamilton’s car Ealey was driving, Ealey struck a UGA-owned car in the parking deck, and Ealey actually returned to the scene after the police had identified him as the driver.

- Georgia begins a set schedule of practices this week. The team will have night practices Monday through Thursday, and head coach Mark Richt will have his first news conference of the season on Tuesday.

- As you’d expect, a ton of season predictions are rolling in. Chris Low of has picked Georgia to be the surprise team in the SEC, and Richt to be coach of the year – but Low picks Florida to win the East.

I’ll be making my own prediction soon (I know you can’t wait). I’ll also be averaging out the predictions you all have made on this here blog.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Preseason predictions

We now sit at under a week before Georgia plays an honest-to-goodness football game that counts in the standings. Thank goodness.

Time for some predictions. Feel free to answer the following, and at the end of the year the most accurate prognosticator gets … I don’t know … a free car.

(Matchbox car.)

Here you go.

Regular season record:

Bowl (if any):

Most surprising offensive player:

Most surprising defensive player:

Aaron Murray’s final stats (TD, INT, pass yards):

A.J. Green, plus or minus 1,000 receiving yards:

Total defense rank in SEC:

Finish the following sentence: In early December, the state of the Georgia football program will be …

Have at it, sports fans.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Akeem Dent speaks

Saturday was the first time we heard from Akeem Dent, the unofficial captain of the defense who's been out most of preseason camp after toe surgery.

But Dent is back at practice - and walking barefoot around the Butts-Mehre Building on Saturday. So I had to ask him if that was a good idea.

"I walk around barefoot in my house," Dent answered smiling. "I walk around barefoot in the locker room."

Turning serious, Dent added that he was "just happy to be back playing with my teammates."

Still, it's not certain that Dent will start in the opener against Louisiana-Lafayette. He admitted he wasn't quite at full strength yet.

"I'm close to getting back to where I was before the injury," Dent said.

The exact cause of Dent's toe injury also remains a mystery. He smiled when asked about it.

"It was something off the field," Dent said.

Saturday practice update

Washaun Ealey's suspension from practice only lasted one day. The tailback was back out there a day after being arrested.

(Head coach Mark Richt was not available after Saturday's practice, as he left immediately to go see his son Jon play for Mars Hill College in North Carolina.)

Ealey, as has been well-chronicled, is suspended for at least one game.

Other news and notes, from defensive players:

- Cornelius Washington missed practice for unknown reasons, though he was seen limping around. Fellow linebacker Darryl Gamble, who beat out Washington for a starting spot, didn't know exactly why Washington was out.

- Akeem Dent is a full-go at inside linebacker, although he himself said he's only "close" to getting back to where he was before the injury.

The rotation at the two inside spots comprises Dent, Christian Robinson, Marcus Dowtin and Akeem Hebron. That's according to Robinson, who said he isn't sure exactly who will play where.

The Mike is the strongside, and Mo is weakside. Dent and Hebron play mainly Mike (strongside ILB), Dowtin plays the Mo (weakside), and Robinson can play both.

- Branden Smith said he's the nickel cornerback right now, with Brandon Boykin and Vance Cuff the starters. But Smith added that he and Boykin will trade places at nickel-back in a lot of packages.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Player reaction

Carlton Thomas, who moves up to No. 2 on the depth for the first game, said Washaun Ealey apologized to his fellow running backs.

“Me and him had a one-on-one talk, and he’s just sorry that it had to go down that way,” Thomas said. “I mean, I feel him, because it could’ve been anybody at that point in time. Things happen, and you just hope that it works for the best in his favor.”

Tight end Aron White was asked what the latest arrest does to the team's image.

“I think that it definitely tarnishes our image, but at the same time I don’t think that we have any bad seeds on this team," White said. "We just have guys that have made silly mistakes for the most part and done things that they knew better. I don’t think we have any guys that are just bad to the core, did things intentionally to hurt people or anything like that. We’ve got a good group of guys, we’ve got a lot of leadership, but for whatever reason some guys have made some mistake.

Star receiver A.J. Green said the off-field incidents are a “distraction sometimes” but the team would move on.

“Everybody just makes mistakes,” Green said. “We’re gonna live with it, get better. We’re gonna welcome him back when he gets back.”

(And incidentally, Green said he still doesn't have the go-ahead to talk about the NCAA inquiry, but he has no expectation of not being able to play in the opener.)

Richt talks about Ealey

Georgia head coach Mark Richt talked about Washaun Ealey's one-game suspension after Friday's practice. He put the responsibility on Ealey, who he said knew he had a suspended license, yet still got behind the wheel.

“I’m not happy with it,” Richt said. “It’s foolish. He knew better. But no one thinks it’s gonna happen to them.”

And what will determine if he is reinstated?

“How he reacts to this,” Richt said. “And I’ve got some internal things for him to handle. And if he handles them the way he should. Behaves between now and the next one, he’ll have a pretty good chance of playing. But he’s gotta show me that he deserves to go back and not only play but also practice with the team.”

Richt also says he and the staff "stay on top" of players and drivers' licenses.

"There are some that fall through the cracks. But this one didn’t,” Richt said.

Ealey spent practice running with the strength staff. Richt did briefly talk to Ealey, informing him of the suspension.

“I didn’t plan on talking to him, because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind,” Richt said.

The coach also talked with the beneficiaries of Ealey’s mistake.

“I told Caleb (King), you’ll probably get more carries than you would’ve got. And Carlton Thomas, you’ll probably get more carries.”

He also told Fred Munzenmaier to “get greased up.”

Ealey out "minimum" one game

Georgia has just released a statement saying that sophomore tailback Washaun Ealey, arrested early this morning on three misdemeanor charges, will be suspended for a "mininum" of one game.

"I'm extremely disappointed in Washaun's lack of good judgment," head coach Mark Richt said in a statement. "He was fully aware of his suspended license and had been instructed not to get behind the wheel. As a result he'll miss the first game and will also be subject to internal discipline."

Ealey not at practice

Washaun Ealey was a notable no-show at Georgia's Friday football practice, just hours after he was released from jail.

We hope to hear a full take from head coach Mark Richt on the situation after practice.

In better news for the Bulldogs, they have their first-team offensive line back together for the first time in several weeks: Center Ben Jones and guard Cordy Glenn were both back in red and working with the rest of the offense. Jones had missed time after minor knee surgery and Glenn missed a couple weeks with mononucleosis.

The news wasn't quite as good for defensive end Demarcus Dobbs, who sprained his ankle earlier this week. Dobbs was expected to practice on Friday, but instead was sitting out, riding an exercise bike.

Receivers Logan Gray (sprained knee) and Rantavious Wooten (sprained knee) were still in green non-contact jerseys, but running around.

Why Ealey wasn't the starter

BEFORE Washaun Ealey ran into some, er, off-the-field problems, running backs coach Bryan McClendon on Thursday explained the reason that Caleb King had been given the starting nod.

“Right now it’s probably Caleb," McClendon said. "He’s just been more consistent in his pass blocking throughout camp right now. I think he’s worked hard at that, and both those guys have improved a bunch with that. But right now I would say it’s gonna be (King).”

But McClendon answered “sure” when asked if he still expected them to get a similar amount of carries.

“If everything stayed status quo with both of those guys, God forbid one of them get injured or something like that, then I think both of those guys are gonna go in and should share playing time and should split series.”

MY TAKE: Not a good 24 hours for Ealey, obviously. We're hoping to hear after Friday's practice whether, or how long, he will be suspended.

- McClendon also had this to say about true freshman Ken Malcolm:

“I think he has a few guys ahead of him. He still has a little work left to do as far as learning what to do. I think he does have a bunch of ability and can run the ball very well. But if you’re not running at the right spots, and not blocking the right people all the time that sort of hurts your chance of getting out there on the field.”

MY TAKE: Malcome may be on his way to a redshirt, unless Ealey misses a lot of time.

- Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who was critical of quarterback Aaron Murray’s decision-making in an earlier scrimmage, was happier with his performance on Wednesday. Bobo said he “saw improvement,” particularly in his check-downs.

“There were still a couple plays I’d like to have back where we didn’t make good decisions. But that’s gonna happen, I think we’re learning from those,” Bobo said.

“He is a freshman. And sometimes as a freshman you tend to have sometimes a little tunnel vision and don’t see the whole process of everything. But I think he’s getting there. And I think he’s progression at a rate that’s a little ahead of a normal freshman, because of the time and the study that he puts into it. He’s very diligent about his work.”

MY TAKE: Early in camp, Bobo took the tack of getting on his young quarterback, pushing him to get better. Now that the season is a week away, it's time to build him back up.

Grantham speaks, I blog

Let’s take a brief break from Washaun Ealey and his troubles to give you some actual football stuff. We had a chance to talk on Thursday to assistant coaches yesterday, and (as usual) got a lot of help from defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who is engendering a lot of goodwill in Athens so far among the media.

(I suspect fans will be a bit more concerned with how Grantham's 3-4 defense works. Hey, we all have our priorities.)

We touched base with Grantham on a number of topics, which I now present to you in handy note form.

- On why Darryl Gamble has the edge to start at one of the outside linebacker spots:

“The guy’s playing well,” Grantham said. “He really is. He’s making plays. He’s very relentless in his approach to the ball. He’s been productive in every live situation that we’ve had. He’s a guy that I really expect to come on and be a good player for us. He’s been a really good addition to us.”

That said, Grantham emphasized that Gamble, Cornelius Washington and Justin Houston will “roll” in and out of the game. Washington was expected to start opposite Houston entering camp, but slipped behind Gamble. Still, Grantham didn’t have anything bad to say about Washington.

“Actually Cornelius has done fine. He’s gonna play. He’s gonna be in the rotation,” Grantham said. “Our first three games are at noon and I think it’s important that you keep guys fresh because to win them you need to win them in the fourth quarter.…

"He’s done a good job. I just think to be fair to everybody, like I told you, when guys make plays and produce you’ve gotta reward them. So I think it’s more of a sense of production, rather than not doing what you’re supposed to.”

MY TAKE: All preseason, it seemed Gamble was inching ahead of Washington, so this was no surprise. But Gamble will have to be consistent, which he hasn’t been able to be in his career. Washington, a sophomore, still has the most pure talent.

- Grantham is optimistic about Akeem Dent’s return to form:

“He worked out the other day and did some team stuff with us,” he said. “He’ll do some stuff with us again (Friday) and Saturday, and will continue to progress as the week goes. We’ll monitor it and see just how much he can play next week.”
As for who will start at the two inside linebacker spots:

“If (Dent) is healthy, he’ll be out there,” Grantham said. “You know, Christian Robinson has really been the quarterback since Dent’s not been in there. And he’s done a good job of getting guys lined up, making the calls so guys can play fast, and he’s played his position well. And I think (Marcus) Dowtin has continued to progress, and he shows flashes of being a really good player. So I think with those guys right there we’re gonna try to mix and match and keep guys fresh, and play those guys.”

MY TAKE: Rotating is the theme here, obviously. I think Dent will play against Louisiana-Lafayette, probably alongside Robinson at the start. But the competition between Robinson and Dowtin (and Akeem Hebron could inch his way in there too) will go on for several games, if not longer.

- The plan remains for DeAngelo Tyson to split time between nose and end, but right now he appears set to start at end.

“Honestly I think he’s gonna play both,” Grantham said. “I think he’ll be in a rotation, and if he’s in a rotation, and let’s say Bean’s (Justin Anderson) not up for whatever reason, then I’d say he’ll be in the nose. But if Bean’s the next guy in the game, then (Tyson is) gonna play end.”

MY TAKE: The staff must have a lot of confidence in the pass-rush skills of Tyson, who has no career sacks. Or they want him on the end to help stuff the run, freeing Houston and the other linebackers to be really aggressive.

- Finally, the safeties.

“Those guys are all gonna play,” Grantham said. “I think Jakar (Hamilton) has done a good job in showing that he can handle it. And I think he’s a guy that can make plays for you back there. So we’re gonna find ways to get him in the game.”

MY TAKE: Reading between the lines, Hamilton is the first backup, so Bacarri Rambo will start at free and Nick Williams at strong. But the three will “roll” a lot, as Grantham likes to say.

Ealey out of jail

Georgia tailback Washaun Ealey was released from jail in Athens on Friday at 11:18 a.m., about six hours after being jailed there on two initial charges, then held on a third one.

Ealey was picked up originally on charges of leaving the scene after hitting a car, and having a suspended license. He was then held at Athens-Clarke County jail after a bench warrant was discovered.

The bench warrant was from Clarke County municipal court, for failure to appear in court after a previous traffic stop. Ealey was cited for speeding and not having registration while driving a 2004 Cadillac, according to records.

The total bond Ealey had to post, according to the Clarke County web site, was $3,480.

Head coach Mark Richt was scheduled to meet with the media, as normal, after Friday's practice.

“Coach Richt has been gathering information today on the incident," Georgia athletics spokesman Claude Felton said.

Ealey arrested

Georgia tailback Washaun Ealey was arrested early on Friday morning on charges of hit and run and driving on a suspended license; Ealey was also held on an outstanding bench warrant from July.

The municipal bench warrant was for failing to appear in court after a speeding ticket.

The charges are misdemeanors. Ealey was being held at jail on bond as of Friday at 11 a.m.

Ealey, 21, was arrested by the UGA Police, who said alcohol was not involved, and no one was injured.

Ealey, a sophomore, was Georgia’s leading rusher last year with 717 yards, and scored three touchdowns.

He was expected to share carries this year with junior Caleb King, who on Thursday was named the tentative starter by running backs coach Bryan McClendon.

There has been no comment yet from Georgia or head coach Mark Richt, which is understandable since Ealey was booked just after 5 a.m.

Jimmy Williamson, police chief of the university of Georgia, said Ealey was charged with two misdemeanors: driving on a suspended license and failing to obey "duty upon strike."

At 3:19 a.m., a vehicle made contact with a parked vehicle in the East parking deck at UGA. That was witnessed by parking service employees, who confronted the driver. The driver parked the car and left the scene.

Officers arrived and tracked the car to an Athens residence. They first talked to his roommate, who informed them it had been his roommate, Ealey, driving the car.

The police spoke to Ealey, and determined that he had been driving on a suspended license. He was subsequently arrested.

This is the eighth Georgia player to be arrested this calendar year. Tavarres King, a receiver, is suspended for at least the season opener after being cited for underage possession of alcohol.

It also follows the high-profile arrest of then-athletics director Damon Evans on June 30. Evans was arrested in Atlanta on charges of driving under the influence, and embarrassing details in the police report led to his forced resignation.

Ealey is also the fourth Georgia player in the past year to be charged with operating a vehicle without a license or with a suspended license.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The current lineup?

This isn’t set in stone, but based on what we know at this point, and relying on talks with coaches late this week, here’s a good guess as to what Georgia’s depth chart is a week from the opener.

(Note: I didn’t really list every backup. Consider this more a list of everyone who, at this point, is expected to play.)

QB: Aaron Murray …….. Hutson Mason, Logan Gray
TB: Caleb King ………… Washaun Ealey, Carlton Thomas
FB: Shaun Chappas …… Fred Munzenmaier
Starting WR (in three-set): A.J. Green, Marlon Brown, Kris Durham, Tavarres King (suspended)
Backup WRs: Rantavious Wooten, Logan Gray, Israel Troupe
TE: Orson Charles …… Aron White, Bruce Figgins, Arthur Lynch
LT: Clint Boling …….. Trinton Sturdivant
LG: Cordy Glenn …….. Dallas Lee
C: Ben Jones ………….. Chris Burnette
RG: Chris Davis ………. Tanner Strickland
RT: Josh Davis ……….. A.J. Harmon

DE: Demarcus Dobbs … T.J. Stripling
NT: Justin Anderson …. Kwame Geathers … (DeAngelo Tyson)
DE: DeAngelo Tyson … Brandon Wood, Abry Jones
OLB: Justin Houston
ILB: Akeem Dent ……. Mike Gilliard, Akeem Hebron
ILB: Christian Robinson .. Marcus Dowtin
OLB: Darryl Gamble …. Cornelius Washington
CB: Brandon Boykin …. Sanders Commings, Jordan Love
CB: Vance Cuff ……….. Branden Smith, Derek Owens
FS: Bacarri Rambo ……. Jakar Hamilton
SS: Nick Williams ……. Shawn Williams, Alec Ogletree

K: Blair Walsh
P: Drew Butler
KR: Brandon Boykin
PR: Branden Smith, Brandon Boykin, A.J. Green, Logan Gray

Gamble, King have starting nods

Lots of depth chart news emanating out of conversations with Georgia assistant coaches after Thursday's practice. Let's get to it:

- Caleb King will probably start at tailback over Washaun Ealey, according to running backs coach Bryan McClendon. That's a mild surprise. The pair will almost certainly alternate and they'll go with the hot hand.

"Caleb does sort of get the lean right now because of his pass protection," McClendon said.

- Darryl Gamble appears to have edged past Cornelius Washington to be the starter at outside linebacker opposite Justin Houston. That would've been a surprise before camp, but not after Gamble kept earning praise from coaches.

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said after Thursday's practice that Gamble would be out there, but Washington would play too. Gamble, a senior who's had an up-and-down career, impressed the staff with a good camp.

- Hutson Mason is definitely the No. 2 quarterback right now, according to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. That doesn't mean the decision has been made to burn Mason's redshirt. Logan Gray's injury factors into the equation too.

"He's pretty much No. 2 right now," Bobo said of Mason. "A lot has to do with Logan Gray's injury. ... That's a call (whether to play Mason) from a head coach, not me."

- The top two receivers, after A.J. Green, are Kris Durham and Marlon Brown.

"That's fair to say," receivers coach Tony Ball said.

Durham earned a heap of praise from Bobo for his performance in Wednesday's scrimmage.

Tavarres King is suspended for the opener. Otherwise, Israel Troupe, the injured Rantavious Wooten and Gray remain in the mix.

Michael Bennett will probably redshirt, it sounds like, but Ball hasn't committed to that yet.

- Elsewhere on defense, Akeem Dent is "on track" to play in the opener, and will obviously start if healthy. Otherwise, Christian Robinson and Marcus Dowtin have been the most impressive at the inside linebacker spot, and Grantham said those two and Dent would all rotate.

- Grantham also said that DeAngelo Tyson will play both end and nose tackle. He indicated that Justin "Bean" Anderson has retained his edge to start at nose, which would push Tyson to end. Demarcus Dobbs, who sprained his ankle earlier in the week, should return to practice Friday.

- The punt return job remains ... pun intended ... up in the air. The main kick returner will remain Brandon Boykin.

Loran Smith to the booth

Georgia ISP announced, in a sort of by-the-way fashion, that longtime sideline announcer Loran Smith is being replaced this season by Chuck Dowdle.

Smith will remain with the gameday crew, hosting the three-hour pregame show with Neil Williamson.

But Dowdle will now handle sideline duties and the halftime radio interview with Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt.

Dowdle recently retired after a quarter-century as sports director and anchor at WSB TV in Atlanta. He has already been hosting the Locker Room Show with Richt, and will continue in that role.

Buffalo is 2012 opener

This season, Georgia travels where the Buffaloes roam. Two years from now it'll play Buffalo.

(Too corny. Yeah, you're probably right. I apologize.)

The University of Buffalo announced on its web site Thursday afternoon that it will open the 2012 season at Georgia, on Sept. 1. It will be a one-game deal.

Buffalo is a member of the Mid-American conference. It went 5-7 last season, after which head coach Turner Gill left for Kansas. Gill had resurrected a program that was once considered the worst in Division I-A football.

The new coach is Jeff Quinn.

Buffalo also announced that it will be playing at Tennessee in 2011.

As for Georgia, its 2011 opener is also at home, against Louisville. The Bulldogs also host Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State and then play at Georgia Tech.

Georgia has opened at home all but two seasons since 1995. The exceptions were last year (at Oklahoma State) and 2003 (at Clemson).

Georgia hoops opens against Kentucky

The SEC schedule is out, and Georgia will open league play on Jan. 8 - that's a Saturday - at 4 p.m. against ... duh-duh-duh-duh!!! ... Kentucky.

Well, I'd say that's a good early-season barometer for the Bulldogs. The Wildcats don't have John Wall, DeMarco Cousins and Patrick Patterson anymore. But they do have Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter (presumably) and Terrence Jones. Top 10 national prospects all of them.

The full slate as announced on Thursday:

Jan. 8 vs. Kentucky, 4 p.m. (SEC Network)
Jan. 12 at Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. (SEC Network)
Jan. 15 at Ole Miss, 5 p.m. (FSN)
Jan. 18 vs. Tennessee, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Jan. 22 vs. Mississippi State, 4 p.m. (SEC Network)
Jan. 25 vs. Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Jan. 29 at Kentucky, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Feb. 2 at Arkansas, 9 p.m. (CSS)
Feb. 5 vs. Auburn, 1:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Feb. 12 at South Carolina, 4 p.m. (SEC Network)
Feb. 16 vs. Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Feb. 19 at Tennessee, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Feb. 24 at Florida, 7 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2)
Feb. 26 vs. South Carolina, 7 p.m. (FSN)
March 2 vs. LSU, 8 p.m. (SEC Network)
March 5 at Alabama, 1:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

While Georgia is expected to be NCAA tournament-caliber, it apparently still has to play itself into more prime time appearances. The Bulldogs will be on ESPN twice, possibly three depending on the Feb. 24 Florida game. It will also be on CBS on Feb. 19, in a Saturday afternoon tilt.

The good news for the Bulldogs is they only have one two-day turnaround - playing at Florida on Feb. 24, then coming back home to face South Carolina on Feb. 26.

It should also be noted on Feb. 8, Georgia will host Xavier.

Gamecock issues

And here I thought I was done writing about South Carolina.

My former newspaper, The State, is reporting that several Gamecock football players owe money to a Columbia hotel, as the NCAA continues to look into whether the players stayed at reduced rates. Head coach Steve Spurrier said as many as six projected starters could miss games if they are ruled to have received improper benefits.

Players have been late to practices this week, or have left early, as they're interviewed in the investigation.

Reports Joe Person:

Multiple sources said some players had been living at the Whitney since the spring while paying a rate of $450 per month. But officials determined players should have been paying about $1,200 a month, and players were told by school officials to pay the difference to the hotel.

For at least two players who had not made any payments, the resolution meant they owed the hotel close to $5,000, according to one of the sources.

As many as 10 players stayed at the hotel over the summer. The projected starters include tight end Weslye Saunders, MLB Rodney Paulk, DT Travian Robertson, S Akeem Auguste, OL Jarriel King and DT Ladi Ajiboye. Cornerback CC Whitlock plays in some nickel and dime situations too.

It's not clear yet whether this will stretch until the Gamecocks' second game of the year, against Georgia. But it's obviously a situation that bears watching.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Murray: "A little step forward"

Or at least that's how Georgia's starting quarterback characterized his scrimmage Wednesday.

Murray had a touchdown pass to A.J. Green, and no interceptions, going against a scout team. (Or Louisiana-Lafayette, as it was called to simulate the season opener.)

"I definitely feel like I took a little step forward today," Murray said.

Receiver Kris Durham, who had a good day, also complimented Murray's handling of the offense.

Head coach Mark Richt was a bit more guarded on the redshirt freshman's performance.

“He’s still learning," Richt said. "It wasn’t bad. But there were a couple times he could’ve made a better decision. But I’m just thankful it happened today … so hopefully he’ll learn from it.”

Something that may have had an effect: At least five or six offensive linemen were held out because of injury, including starters Ben Jones and Cordy Glenn. Trinton Sturdivant did play, however, as he comes back from knee injuries.

The Georgia defense seemed to have a better day, yielding only a field goal - which apparently was only allowed because the coaches wanted to see the first-team field goal defense. Or something like that. It wasn't quite clear.

Either way, cornerback Vance Cuff said the defense basically recorded a shutout.

Officially, the final score was Georgia 38, Louisiana-Lafayette 24. But that was after Richt spotted U-La-La 21 points.

As for the overall ramifications, Richt said there wasn’t anything “earth-shattering on the depth chart.” He would like to take another look at some of the scout-teamers, especially safety Shaun Williams, who had the day's most tackles.

We'll have more in Thursday's papers.

Scrimmage stats

First off, Georgia named its four captains: Shaun Chappas, Demarcus Dobbs and Vance Cuff, and Fred Munzenmaier.

Here are the stats, as provided by head coach Mark Richt. My apologies if they're not totally easy to read, but it's a bit of a scramble here. I noted players who were on the scout team.

Aaron Murray: 9-17-127 yards and a touchdown, no picks
Hutson Mason: 5-10-69, no touchdown, no picks

AJ Green: 4-40, 1 TD
Kris Durham: 3-78
Michael Bennett: 2-17
Israel Troupe: 1-19
Shaun Chappas: 1-11
That doesn’t quite add up to the official passing stats, as Richt observed.
“There’s three more catches somehow,” he said. “Somebody’s mom is mad when they read the paper.”

Carlton Thomas 5-26, 1 TD
Caleb King: ¬5-36, 1 TD
Washaun Ealey: 4-31
Chappas: 1-5
Fred Munzenmaier: 7-20, 1 TD
Murray: 1-(-6)
Branden Smith: 63-yard punt return, and a 31-yard kickoff return
Derek Owens: 41 yard KO return
Marlon Brown returned a blocked punt for a touchdown

Shaun Williams, played scout team, 11 tackles, 6 unassisted, 2PD
“It’s a good sign when the other team’s safety is making all the tackles,” Richt said.
Darryl Gamble, 8 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks
Vance Cuff, 6 tackles
“Very active day, played extremely well, Richt said. “(Cuff) did a good job on special teams too.”
Marcus Dowtin, 4 tackles
Chase Vasser, scout team, 5 tackles, 2 sacks
Demetre Baker, scout team, 2 tackles
D’Angelo Tyson, 2 tackles, 1 sack
Alec Ogletree, scout team mostly, 3 tackles
Kiante Tripp, Georgia, 3 tackles, 2 sacks
Jakar Hamilton, 1 tackle, interception he returned 42 yards, and a PD
Bacarri Rambo, 3 tackles, interception he returned 6yards for a touchdown
Derek Owens, scout team, 4 tackles
Nick Williams, 4 tackles, 1 sack
Brandon Wood, 2 tackles, 2 PD, 1 sack
Akeem Hebron, 1 tackle, 1 sack

Bulldogs on NFL number list

Alert reader Jon Schumaker points us to an interesting feature on The top NFL players by jersey number.

Four ex-Georgia players make the list, a pretty impressive number:

2 - Charley Trippi: A Hall of Fame halfback who played for the Chicago Cardinals from 1947-55. Trippi apparently benefited from the NFL later making its uniform policy more, well, uniform. The two runners-up, according to, were both kickers: David Akers and Steve Christie.

6 - Kevin Butler: The former Georgia place-kicker was one of the NFL’s best in an 11-year career. And like Trippi, he won a championship in Chicago, but this time for the Bears franchise. said the runner-up was punter Rolf Benirschke, and Steve Owens (who I don’t really know personally or professionally) as also worthy of consideration.

10 - Fran Tarkenton: Kind of a no-brainer for an all-time great NFL quarterback. Tarkenton famously noticed Thomas Davis wearing his old Georgia number a few years ago, and proclaimed that Davis was not only worthy of the jersey but one of the best players in college football. But Tarkenton has still ended up with by far the better career.

Incidentally in soccer, 10 is a magic number. In football, that only appears to be the case at Georgia. Tarkenton beat out Steve Bartkowski, Eli Manning, Byron (Whizzer) White and Jim Zorn. .. Wait, Jim Zorn? And Bartkowski over White, who won a Heisman Trophy and served for decades on the Supreme Court? Well, it is an NFL list, after all.

30 - Terrell Davis: He probably won’t ever make the Hall of Fame, but for a few years in the late 1990s there was no better tailback. He still holds the Denver Broncos’ franchise record for rushing yards (7,607) and was an NFL MVP (1998) and won a couple Super Bowls.

The only reason Davis may not make the Hall is he’s seen as a product of the Broncos’ system. But you could argue that no one besides Davis has done much then. (Like, say, Olandis Gary.)

Some other notables:

John Kasay (4)
was listed as worthy of consideration, along with Ernie Nevers, Reggie Roby and Adam Vinatieri. The runner-up at No. 4 was Tuffy Leemans (why of course!) and the best No. 4 of all time was some quarterback whose name I forgot because ESPN hardly ever mentions him.

Jake Scott (13) was also listed as worth of considering. The winner was Dan Marino, the runner-up was Kurt Warner.

Champ Bailey (24
) was listed as also being worthy of consideration. Lenny Moore – a Hall of Famer – was the choice, and the runner-up was Willie Wood (a star DB with the Vince Lombardi-era Packers).

Herschel Walker (34) was not even listed as his apparently high-quality number. The winner was Walter Payton (obviously) and the runner-up was Earl Campbell (shorter career than Walker, but better stats). Worthy of consideration, according to SI, were Dale Carter (a good safety, but really?), Cookie Gilchrist (google time), Don Chandler (ditto), Bo Jackson (similar career to Walker), Andy Russell (I believe that’s Conan O’Brien’s sidekick) and Thurman Thomas.

I don’t know, seems there should’ve been a good place for Walker. My guess is he would’ve made it if the three USFL years were included, but with this being an NFL-centric list, he was hurt a bit.

Richard Seymour (93) was another worthy of consideration. Defensive end John Randle, who recently made the Hall of Fame, was the selection, while Dwight Freeney (currently active for the Colts) was the runner-up.

Charles Grant (53) has 47 career sacks, but would have to do a lot more to even come close to’s accurate choice, Harry Carson.

If I missed anyone, let me know.

EDIT: Sorry, didn't attach a link the first time. It's up there now.

EDIT Part deux: Sorry again. I originally missed Jake Scott and Richard Seymour making the worthy-of-consideration list.

Mailbag time

First off, here’s my story from this morning’s papers on Georgia’s tight ends. Each of these guys is worthy of a story themselves, which may happen eventually if one of them emerges. But the way the coaches are talking, don’t count on it, it’ll be a committee approach unless there’s a rash of injuries.

I’ll also have a report later today after Georgia’s “practice game,” which will be as close to a preseason game as they can make it. (Except for letting them perform in front of the public and, er, media. But oh well.)

Assuming the stats they give us are accurate, you will want to see good performances from, well, everybody, or at least everybody that expects to play. It will essentially be Georgia’s first- and second-teamers against the scout teams, so if anybody struggles … Well that’s not good.

In the meantime, I thought I’d answer a few of your questions on the blog. At least those that were a) free of profanity, and b) in English.

(And by the way, thanks for all the suggestions on fantasy team names. So far "Favre Dollar Footlong" is the leader in the clubhouse, but I'm still open to suggestions.)

Got a lot of comments about the ranking of most important games. I couldn’t respond to all of them, so I picked a few out.

- It's SEC football. Ranking the games is like ranking methods of execution: there are differences, but the end result is the same. Whichever SEC game we lose is the most important.

Well put.

- I'd quibble somewhat. I think you're dead-on for number one, but I'd put Tech a lot further down as I don't buy that the rivalry outweighs the fact that it's a non-conference game.

I heard a lot of this sentiment regarding the Georgia Tech game, and I definitely see the point. The reason I ranked it No. 2 was that I felt it was important this year from a state-of-the-program standpoint. For a long period, which ended recently, Georgia was so up and Georgia Tech so down, there was hardly a rivalry. And who knows, the same may happen this year, depending on how each team does. But as we sit here in August, Georgia Tech is ranked ahead of Georgia, the game figures to matter a lot.

- After the last 20 yrs, UF must be number one. After the last 10 yrs Tech has become irrelevant, except to maintain control of in-state recuiting. Win the SEC and all else follows. UF, USC & UA are the top three, TENN, ARK and UK are next then Tech.

Another perspective that has a lot of credence.

- Does the comment about starters mean that they've either settled on starters, or have at least settled on the two-deep well enough, even if 1-2 might switch places?
Also, with all the green we've heard about, do they have the personnel to run a full simulation like this? Will we hear any remotely meaningful stats out of this?

They’ve settled on at least the two deep, while the starting positions seem to be very flexible. They plan on rotating at a lot of positions, especially safety, the defensive line, tight end, receivers not named A.J. Green, and tailback.
As for all the injuries, I’ll be interested to see if some of the green guys are held out, like Akeem Dent, Ben Jones. We’ll definitely ask after the scrimmage.

- I hope the injury bug is due to intense competition out there on the practice field.... and not the result of conditioning. Every year this happens.. our teams look winded and prone to injury starting off the season. CMR indicated he was making some changes to the W&C routine this past year...and not just changing up mat drills....What gains has he noticed this year versus previous years in fall camp?

Richt has mentioned a couple times that he was happy with the team’s conditioning, especially after some particularly hot days. As for the injury bug, the good news for Georgia is everybody is on track to be ready for the opener. At least at press time.

- I’d like to do a guest blog for you, to once again brag about how the feds got everything wrong, and struck out in court, and I will have my vengeance, as well as a lot of hair. Thank you.


- (Regarding punt returns) Hey Seth did (Branden) Smith give any indication why PR is up in the air - are they all good candidates or do they all suck :-)

That’s a question I plan to ask the special teams coach on Thursday. Normally when a decision like that hasn’t been made by now, it’s because no one has really earned much confidence. But they do plan to dedicate Thursday’s practice and much of Friday’s mini-scrimmage to special teams, so it could be fleshed out by then.

- Seth, please review your comma rules. Dawg fans are very particular about grammar.

Noted. I’ll also be keeping a close eye on my semi-colon and past imperfect rules.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Richt speaks, I type

Not much today in the way of injury updates or anything else revealing. The team just had a walk-through today, in anticipation for a full scrimmage on Wednesday.

And a serious scrimmage it will be.

The coaches will be in game position, the booth or the sidelines. They’ll play at least 30 minutes like a real game, transitioning from defense to special teams and so forth. They’ll go so far as simulate a coin toss.

This will be more about getting ready for the opener than deciding any starting jobs.

“We don’t get preseason games,” head coach Mark Richt said. “This is about as close as we’re gonna get to a preseason game.”

It’ll be simulated to the extent that it’ll be the Georgia players going against the scout team simulating Louisiana-Lafayette. So if “Georgia” wins the toss, it could elect to receive and Aaron Murray and company will go against the scout team. And vice versa.

But they will also interrupt play to simulate some game conditions, like an onside kick.

- The team just had a walk-through on Tuesday. The coaches briefed the scout team on how to line up as Louisiana-Lafayette. They also went over some offensive and defensive assignments, and did some conditioning.

- Asked to name their punt return guys, Richt said AJ Green, Branden Smith and Carlton Thomas, Bacarri Rambo and Logan Gray.

I also talked briefly with Smith about the punt return situation. Basically, it’s very much up in the air right now.

Regarding Hutson

Obviously when it comes to Georgia quarterbacks, most of the attention is still on Aaron Murray. As it should be.

But there’s still a lingering question: who would play if something untoward did happen to Murray. It especially needs to be asked after Logan Gray has had to sit out practice the past week with a sprained ankle. Gray, while still working at receiver, is still the presumed backup quarterback. But what if he’s not available?

Hutson Mason has had a good camp, by all accounts – although most accounts have mainly said it’s been a good camp for a true freshman. Head coach Mark Richt was asked Monday if a decision was forthcoming on whether Mason will redshirt.

“I guess we really haven’t thought much about it,” Richt said. “Every day you’re just practicing and coaching and teaching. We haven’t really gotten close enough to where we wanna say what we’re gonna do. But it’s coming up, we’re gonna have to talk about it pretty quick.”

If a decision is made on Mason, here’s betting it’s not written in stone.

Ideally, Murray will take every snap this year, or Gray would get any extra reps, and Mason will preserve his redshirt. Then the program would go forward next year with Murray a redshirt sophomore, Mason a redshirt freshman and Christian LeMay (presumably) a true freshman. That’s good depth at the sport’s most key position, something the team clearly lacks now.

Then again, with Gray’s injury fresh in their mind, the coaches could decide that Mason will have to be ready just in case. So when the Bulldogs get the game in hand (they hope) against Louisiana-Lafayette, Mason trots out there to get some snaps. I wouldn’t put my life savings on that happening. Then again, I don’t have much in the way of live savings.

Murray did have good things to say about Mason on Monday, namely for the true freshman’s poise.

“He’s surprised me a lot,” Murray said. “His, I guess you could call swag on the field, he’s definitely very confident out there. You can tell with his drop-back and his moving – he does a great job moving around the pocket.”

In fact, Murray said he’s occasionally used Mason as a model on how to do certain things in practice. And from personal experience, Murray thinks the new kid will benefit from his current practice reps.

“He’s going against our No. 1 defense. And he’s able to move around and make some plays, not only with his arm but his feet. I told him, Hey I faced the No. 1 defense all last year, I was scout team quarterback, and it really helps you. It helps you get your feet going, helps you make the reads faster, and things like that.

“Now I get at quarterback and (work) with the first-team offensive line, and it’s like Whoa. You feel like everything’s slowed down, you have time to make your drop, make your reads, it really helps you as a quarterback in that whole growing process.”

Most important games

My colleague Coley Harvey and I did a combined feature in today's papers, ranking Georgia and Georgia Tech's most important games this season, one through 12.

Here's a link to the Georgia list.

And here's how Coley ranked Georgia Tech's games.

Obviously it's hard to sit here in August and come up with a definitive list. So this is a lot of projection, and assuming things play out as expected. (Which they almost certainly won't.)

I was tempted to rank the South Carolina game first. But the rivalry aspect with Florida and Georgia Tech - and those team's high preseason rankings - trumped the early-season tone-setter of the trip to Columbia.

(But you might also notice that Coley only ranked Georgia as the fourth-most important game for Georgia Tech. Hmmm.)

Tennessee, as less important than the tilts against Kentucky and Mississippi State? Again, that's assuming the Volunteers are as down as they're expected to be. And it downplays the return of Derek Dooley. It's a nice story, but in the long run what's the importance of it?

Auburn as only the sixth-most important, behind Kentucky, is the one that could end up being ranked too low. But I gave the edge to the Kentucky game because its earlier in the season, midway through in fact, when the season is still being fleshed out.

And I could go on, but hey, I won't.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Monday night Richt report

The news was good on DE Demarcus Dobbs, who merely sprained an ankle. Dobbs missed Monday’s practice and was seen in a walking boot.

“I would think before the week’s out he’ll be back,” Georgia head coach Mark Richt said. “I don’t think it was too severe.”

- It was a busy day on the injury front, and not all because of bad news. (See previous post about seemingly half the team being in green non-contact jerseys.)

“A lot of guys that have been hurt are beginning to trickle back to the field, which is good,” Richt said.

Starting center Ben Jones had a rapid recovery, returning to the field eight days after minor knee surgery. (Well, minor to everyone except him.) But his backup, Chris Burnette, suffered a concussion a few days ago and was out of practice.

Receiver Logan Gray should be back in full contact mode by the end of this week, Richt added. Gray, who sprained his ankle last week, was jogging in green Monday.

Freshman DE Dexter Morant was out of Monday's practice after hurting his shoulder. Richt didn’t know how bad it was.

Senior ILB Akeem Dent got his first work with the other linebackers since camp opened. So did fellow inside linebacker Richard Samuel, but Dent is in much better shape.

“Dent has a lot more experience playing linebacker. Just reps, his whole life, playing linebacker, and throughout his career at Georgia. So it would affect him less than it would affect Richard,” Richt said. “Richard would need all the reps he can get.”

- Meanwhile, the team still hasn’t decided whether true freshman Hutson Mason will play this year. He’s getting second-team snaps now, but Logan Gray is still available to play if something happens to Aaron Murray.

Richt said such a decision was coming soon. (Of course that seems a very tentative decision, since you could foresee scenarios where Mason would have to burn a redshirt.)

- On other fronts, Richt still expects to play a lot of receivers and tight ends, and doesn’t seem too concerned with pinpointing a No. 2 receiver opposite A.J. Green. In fact, Richt said he expects to have a lot of substitution at every offensive skill position “except quarterback.”

- After three weeks, and now one day, Richt is getting antsy.

“It’s about time to play a game, really,” he said. “I’m real glad we’re breaking into scout teams and preparing to play an opponent.”

Dobbs hurt

Starting defensive end Demarcus Dobbs was in a walking boot on Monday and not in attendance at Georgia's first practice of the week.

No previous mention of an injury to the senior has been made, so presumably he was hurt in Saturday's practice. We'll update his status later.

Dobbs wasn't the only injury. Georgia had so many players in green out there they could have fielded their own team.

- DE Abry Jones, who also had not previously been known to be hurt, was on a stationary bike, though he was in white and fully padded.

- OLB Dexter Morant, a freshman, was not at practice and was seen walking with Dobbs away from the field.

We'll have updates on those guys too. Otherwise, the news was relatively good for Georgia:

- Starting C Ben Jones, who had his knee scoped eight days ago, was back out at practice for the first time since the surgery. He was in green, but going through drills.

(Meanwhile his backup, Chris Burnette, was also spotted in green before practice. So it may be one center out, one back.)

- Starting ILB Akeem Dent was going through drills for the first known time this camp. Dent (toe surgery) had heretefore just been working on the stationary bike.

- Starting G Cordy Glenn (mononucleosis) was also back out at practice for the first time since he got sick. He wasn't going through drills, but the fact he was healthy enough to be out there in the heat was a good sign.

- WR Logan Gray, who sprained his ankle last Tuesday, was running on the side, though not participating in drills yet. Gray was running with fellow receiver Rantavious Wooten, who's been out for awhile with a sprained knee.

- CB Vance Cuff, who dinged his shoulder last week, was in green, but participating in drills.

- LT Trinton Sturdivant (knee surgery) was on the exercise bike, after spending the past week or so practicing with the offensive linemen.

- ILB Richard Samuel (leg) was in green but going through drills for the first known time.

- Freshman CB Sanders Cummings was in green with an unknown injury.

I think that's everybody. We'll have a full update, or as best we can fully update all that, after practice.

To start the week ...

If you’re like me, you follow any situation involving cowbells any chance you can get. Well, luckily we have something.

Georgia visits Mississippi State on Sept. 25 – and I think we can all agree that there’s no better trip in the SEC than StarkVegas. The SEC has cracked down on Mississippi State’s use of cowbells, decreeing they can basically only be used on stoppages of play: After touchdowns, in between quarters, etc.

If the rule is broken, the school will first be fined $5,000, then $25,000, then $50,000. The fourth possible fine isn’t specified, but I’m guessing it has something to do with never being able to leave Starkville again.

(Don’t mess with the SEC league office. They have that kind of power.)

Meantime, Georgia returns to practice this afternoon after a 48-hour layoff. We’ll have a full report later – well, a full report of what we’re let in to see – but here are a few completely non-Bulldog related notes to fill some time:

- At the behest of David Hale, I finally started watching Breaking Bad. Impressive first episode. Very dark. I think they capture Albuquerque pretty well, having visited there. I’m curious to see where they go from here. Feel free to give me an idea, but no spoilers.

- Speaking of AMC shows, Mad Men was pretty good last night. Don Draper is such a complex character; I want to like him, then he does stuff like firing the babysitter for something beyond her help. (OK, you can argue that she should have known little Sally was up to something in the bathroom, but I would have been more forgiving than Draper.)

- And finally, the most important thing: I need a good fantasy football team nickname. I’m taking suggestions, with only two stipulations: It has to be 20 characters or less, and it has to be clever.

Preferably, we’re looking for some topical and relevant. But I'm not adverse to references to cowbells or, speaking of Will Ferrell, SNL Celebrity Jeopardy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dissecting the AP poll

The nice thing about the AP poll, as opposed to the coaches, is that it's an open book. So you can find out who to blame, who's an idiot, and who's really smart.

Not that it's subjective or anything.

In any case, here's the nitty-gritty as far as Georgia is concerned:

- The Bulldogs were left off of 25 ballots, out of 60 total cast. That includes ESPN personalities Kirk Herbstreit and Craig James.

- The highest vote for Georgia came from out west. Greg Archuleta of The Albuquerque Journal voted the Bulldogs No. 15. A pair of writers - one from Oregon, one from Kansas - had Georgia at No. 16.

- Coley Harvey of The Telegraph, who is the only voter from the state of Georgia, had the Bulldogs at No. 20.

Richt post-practice

Georgia got through a slight drizzle at practice on Saturday morning. They'll have fan and picture day later in the day.

The Bulldogs have two weeks to go in practice. They’ll have one more fundamental practice on Monday, then Tuesday break into scout teams.

Head coach Mark Richt was asked about being No. 23 in the AP poll, which came out in the morning.

“Exactly the same quote as the coaches poll, which is that I am, I’m thankful that we’re ranked," Richt said. "It’s important that we’re ranked. And I hope we play well enough to move up.”

- Vance Cuff just dinged his shoulder. The cornerback “ran into Bruce Figgins really hard. It looked like Cuff was the one delivering the blow, which he was. … But Bruce is still in a red jersey and Cuff is in a green jersey.”

- ILB Mike Gilliard (hamstring) was back in white.

“I don’t think he had any setback,” Richt said.

- And some talk of the secondary. Richt described it as some secondary guys with a linebacker’s mentality.

“I like the secondary. I like what I’m seeing,” Richt said. “I think we have some quality depth. I think we have some quality starters. And we’re still not sure who’s gonna start there.”

No. 23 in the AP

The AP poll, the granddaddy of them all, came out Saturday morning, and Georgia's distinction is the same as the coaches poll that came out several weeks before:

The lowest preseason rank since 2001, which was Mark Richt's first season as head coach.

The Bulldogs are ranked No. 23 in the AP, after coming in No. 21 in the coaches poll.

Alabama was the overwhelming No. 1, garnering 54 of 60 first-place votes. Florida came in at No. 4.

The rest of the top five was No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Boise State and No. 5 Texas.

Georgia Tech was No. 16.

Other SEC teams in the poll: No. 17 Arkansas, No. 21 LSU and No. 22 Auburn.

Georgia's preseason ranking in the AP the past decade, along with its final ranking:

2001: NR .... 22
2002: 8 ..... 3
2003: 11 .... 7
2004: 3 ..... 7
2005: 13 .... 10
2006: 15 .... 23
2007: 13 .... 2
2008: 1 ..... 13
2009: 13 .... NR
2010: 23 .... ?

Coley Harvey, my colleague who covers Georgia Tech for The Telegraph, is an AP voter. He detailed his picks in a blog post, which is linked here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A.J. the juggler

Pretty entertaining media session tonight with A.J. Green. The Georgia star receiver was wearing a Playboy All-American T-shirt, and joked that he also got a magazine with it.

Just for the articles, a reporter said to Green.

“Love the articles,” Green replied, to media laughter.

Green also said, with a smile, that he’d have to hide the shirt and Playboy sweatshirt from his mother, who was coming up Saturday morning.

There also came the revelation that Green was once a competitive juggler. No, really. He was on his elementary school juggling team, first picking up the skill as a second-grader.

“That helped with my hand and eye coordination a lot,” he said.

He can still juggle up to four things at a time.

“I can juggle everything: Pins, bowling pins, whatever,” Green said.

The craziest thing he can juggle? Metal rods, he said.

(There's a double entendre here to be done with the juggling and the Playboy thing. I'll let you figure it out.)

And, by the way, Green can also ride a unicycle.

Really. Who knew?

For more on all this, read Paul Newberry’s future story in the Associated Press.

Green was also briefly asked about his NFL future – “I’m taking it day-by-day” and the NCAA inquiry – which he still can’t comment on. He was hoping he could next week.

On the topic of Green and the NFL, quarterback Aaron Murray had a good quip.

“You never know, there might be a lockout,” Murray said, smiling. “I won’t complain too much if he wants to stay two more years.”

Richt speaks (briefly), therefore I blog

Mark Richt had to rush off to a speaking engagement so we didn’t get him for long after Friday’s practice. Here’s what he did have to say:

He was retroactively critical of Thursday’s practice.

“Did I tell you it stunk yesterday?” Richt said, looking around. “Well it did.”

He came to that conclusion after watching film on Friday. The effort was much-improved today.

So what was wrong Thursday? Just the energy wasn’t there.

“If we had played somebody in a real high-tempo offense, we would’ve been in trouble,” Richt said.

- In a stunning revelation, it helps Aaron Murray to have A.J. Green to throw to:

“If you throw it near him, if there’s a reasonable prospect of him catching it, he’ll catch it,” Richt said.

- The head coach didn’t want to rate how close Nick Williams and Jakar Hamilton are for the other safety spot.

“They’re both giving great effort,” Richt said.

- Guard Cordy Glenn, dealing with mono, has been doing some indoor conditioning, with a target of returning to practice the week of the opener.

Practice update

All's well on the Nick Williams front. The Georgia safety, who received an unspecified injury early in Thursday's practice, is going Friday in a regular jersey.

Tanner Strickland, a reserve guard, was in a green jersey. We'll ask about his status later.

I didn't see Mike Gilliard, the inside linebacker dealing with a hamstring injury. He may have actually been out there in a white jersey - we only got to watch two periods - or he might have been skipping practice. I just know he wasn't in a green jersey.

Speaking of green: Akeem Dent and Rantavious Wooten were still in them, and doing lateral drills, as they've done the past few days.

Opposing QB news

Georgia's first two league games are against South Carolina and Arkansas, which notably are among the few SEC teams with returning starting quarterbacks.

Well, hold that thought on one of them.

All offseason, Steve Sppurrier has been riding Stephen Garcia, who started all 13 games for the Gamecocks last season. And the Head Ball Coach has been praising Connor Shaw, a true freshman who enrolled early and went through spring practice.

Most assumed Spurrier was just trying to light a fire under Garcia. But a little more than two weeks from the opener, Spurrier has said Shaw WILL play against Southern Miss. Now it's just a matter of how much.

My former colleague and good friend Joe Person breaks it down on his blog at The State.

This obviously bears watching for Georgia. Will it be facing Garcia, as it expected, or will a true freshman be under center for the Gamecocks when the Bulldogs visit on Sept. 11?

You just never know with Spurrier. Danny Wuerffel is really the only quarterback that's ever had the HBC's full trust. Garcia has a lot of talent, and has done it in flashes, but he has a carefree attitude off the field - and sometimes on it - that has always made Spurrier blanch.

As for Shaw, having watched him in spring practice, he definitely has a decent bit of composure. He's a dual-threat kind of quarterback, like Garcia, who impressed coaches and teammates right away. But he's also still just a true freshman.

We'll see.

- Georgia's second league opponent, however, has no such quarterback issues. In fact Ryan Mallett had a huge night in a simulated scrimmage on Thursday: 31-38, 484 yards and five touchdowns.

It was against the second-team defense, but ... jeez.

Happy Friday

Thank (Whoever your deity may be, unless you don't have one) it's Friday ... Am I right people?

First off, my story in today's papers on Georgia's strategy in turning around its penalty problems.

I know a lot of you don't want to re-live last year, at least as it pertained to the penalties. But I lost a couple hours of my life Thursday going through the box scores and assembling a breakdown of what penalties were called on the Bulldogs, so here you go:

OFFENSE (55 percent)
Holding, offense ..............11-110 yards
False start ...................29-144
Personal foul, offense ........5-56
Illegal block, offense ........5-49
Unsportsmanlike, offense ......3-45
Clipping, offense .............2-30
Delay of game .................5-23
Illegal substitution, offense .2-10
Illegal formation, offense ....1-5
Illegal motion, offense .......1-5
Intentional grounding .........1-0

DEFENSE (30 percent)
Defensive pass interference ...9-106
Defensive offsides ............10-47
Personal foul, defense ........5-71
Face mask, defense ............3-33
Defensive holding .............1-10

SPECIAL TEAMS (15 percent)
Illegal block, .. ..............5-46
Personal foul ..................3-44
Face mask ......................2-30
Holding ........................1-10
Illegal formation ..............1-5

As I elucidate in the story, Georgia's emphasis is more on cutting down on "dumb penalties," to use the coaches' words. And if you count personal fouls and pre-snap penalties as in that category, then that's about half of last year's.

- In other news, Mark Richt's fully-clothed dive on Monday continues to make a splash - sorry - across the country. It was on "SportCenter" on top 10 plays of the day - and No. 10, as Richt noted Thursday.

"That's the second time I've been on there," Richt said, pointing to his basketball shot as the first.

The dive was also mentioned on "Pardon the Interruption." The show is being co-hosted this week by Miami Herald columnist Dan LeBatard, who talked about Richt learning to dive while going to Miami. (I believe Richt has actually said he learned it growing up in Boca Raton, Fla.)

Pretty decent pre-season publicity for Richt and Georgia, I'd say.

(And on a side note, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon cannot return to PTI soon enough. I don't mind Bob Ryan, but LeBatard ... no comment.)

- And finally ... Eh, I'll do another blog post on the other stuff.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Richt post-practice

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will call plays from the field again. Bobo had considered going back up to the press box, but dealing with the young quarterbacks was evidently a big factor in staying on the field.

Head coach Mark Richt said the defensive staff has also decided on who will be where on gamedays, but he wasn't sure on specifics.

- Meantime, the Bulldogs have broken into scout team work, for Louisiana-Lafayette. That’s a bit earlier than they normally would.

“This camp seems a little longer than normal," Richt said. "I think we’re ready to start focusing on someone other than our own team.”

They started earlier than they ever had, in order to accommodate the lack of more two-a-days.

That doesn’t mean everybody on the scout team now will be in the future, Richt added.

- Injury updates: If you’ve been hurt, you’re basically expected to return the week of the opener. In fact, inside linebacker Akeem Dent’s prognosis has improved again to where he could see live action in practice next week. Richt said the staff was “100 percent certain” Dent will practice the week of the opener.

- ILB Mike Gilliard (hamstring) is also very close. Cordy Glenn (mononucleosis) is targeted for the last week, along with Ben Jones (knee).

- Receiver Logan Gray is out 7-10 days after spraining his ankle. That’s a setback for a guy converting from quarterback who’s had a good camp.

- Richt wasn’t sure safety Nick Williams’ injury. Williams got hurt early in practice, but returned later in a green jersey.

“Whatever it was it wasn’t too severe because he was going full-speed in the end,” Richt said.

- True freshmen who will play: Safety Alec Ogletree almost certainly, while his brother Zander could also play because of his value on special team. CB Derek Owens will play too, especially on special teams.

Practice update

Receiver Logan Gray, who sprained his ankle on Tuesday, was not out there. He was in a walking boot on Wednesday.

Safety Nick Williams was shaken up early in practice, during the small portion that the media is allowed in. His exact malady could not be determined, but it appeared to be an upper-body injury, and he was walking around and joking.

Otherwise, nothing new. Akeem Dent, Rantavious Wooten and Mike Gilliard were in green non-contact jerseys but jogging on their own, as they were on Tuesday. Dent and Gilliard, both inside linebackers, were doing some lateral drills too.

More updates after practice, when Mark Richt speaks.

Mailbag time

I’ve been getting a lot of questions, on the e-mail and on this here blog, and sad to say I’ve been unable to get to all of them. Or even most of them. But now that I’m settling in a bit, hopefully I can get better about that.

The best way to handle it is probably through one big blog entry, or the ever-so-popular mailbag format. I understand my predecessor David “Dave” Hale went this way too, so I guess I can’t hurt to copy that too.

(Speaking of Dave, I got my first “Breaking Bad” disc in the mail Wednesday. So here we go.)

Anyway, on to the questions:

When the OC and the DC are preparing for their opponents, do they take notes on possible weaknesses for the other coordinator to exploit? I know they are getting their own game plan together, but because they are experts on that side of the ball, I would think they could see things the other one might not.
-Billy Wallace

Obviously I’m not in coaching meetings, but I know they do a good bit of that. It can depend on the staff, since head coaches delegates duties differently. Most of the time, the coordinators will worry about what will happen on their side of the ball, but if a staff gets along well, as most should, they will share information like that on a regular basis.

Seth, as Dawg fan living in Columbia I am familiar with your work. I was hoping you might comment on the differences you see so far in the two programs (S. Car & UGA). Is there a difference in athletic talent and so on and so forth?
- Anonymous

I’ll go into this further the week of the South Carolina game. But one thing I have noticed is that on a simple eye test, there isn’t a huge difference in size. The airport test, so to speak. South Carolina may actually have some bigger players, in terms of height, but it also has some smaller guys that will see playing time. Georgia doesn’t tend to have that. Take the inside linebacker spot: The Gamecocks have a 5-11 guy, Shaq Wilson, who will be one of their key players. Whereas the Bulldogs have a 6-2 guy, Akeem Hebron, who was a high-profile recruit, who has had trouble seeing the field.

Since you used to be on the USCe beat, how about giving us your perspective on covering Richt and Georgia vs. Spurrier and USCe? Are they as different as they look from a distance?
- SouthFl Dawg

As previously mentioned, I’ll delve further into this next month. But I will say they’ve been very different so far. Richt is much more accommodating with the media. Not that Spurrier isn't on the whole, but after a practice Spurrier just tends to want to get out of there. (Interestingly, we used to get Spurrier as he came off the practice field, while Richt comes up to an interview room and takes our questions until we don't have any more.)

(After James Wilder Jr. committed to Florida State.) I wanted (Isaiah) Crowell more anyway. The Huggins kid outta NJ is still in play. We will be fine. How is the Ken Malcome kid looking so far?
- Brian

When camp started it looked like Malcome would play. But he seems to have slipped into a tie for fourth on the depth chart. He’s definitely got talent, and he’s the team’s biggest back right now, but coaches have said he still has a lot to learn.

One question that's been lingering since David covered the Butts-Mehre expansion: how's the construction on the Stegeman renovations coming along? Any way you could post some pictures or video? I'm stuck in Iraq and would like to see some of the progress!
- Dawg521

First off, Dawg, thanks for whatever you’re doing in Iraq. My dad is actually in Afghanistan right now. (Private contracting business.) … As another blog commenter pointed out, they’re showing video updates of the Stegeman construction on My own insight, from driving past every day, is that they appear to be working very hard, so I’d expect them to be right on schedule. At least they better be, as much dust as they’re pulling up.

Why do we lose so many recruiting battles with FSU???? do you think they talk bad about Richt since he left??
- BZ

Richt’s been gone 10 years now, so I doubt that’s the case.

Hey Seth, can you have your links open in a new window. I hate having to come back here to read another article. Thanks and keep up the good work.
- Bizzaroneck

I’m looking into this. I’d prefer the new window too.

Seth, haven't heard much about the TE's lately. Would love to hear more about who sits where on the depth chart, the perspective of the coaches on two tight-end sets, etc.
- Anonymous

I’d expect Aron White to start, but get about as many snaps early on as Orson Charles. The coaches think they’re loaded at tight end. They’ve been kind of noncommittal about double tight-end sets, but I’d say you’re going to see it at least some of the time.

Why were you interviewing (Willy) Korn in his pajamas? That's kinda weird wearing another persons pjs. I'm just sayin.
- BK Dawg

To be clear, he was in his pajamas, I was not. It was winter break, and he was home all day, so he didn’t feel like dressing up. Which is fine, I want people to feel comfortable when they’re interviewing me. Well not TOO comfortable.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bean to start at nose tackle?

Justin Anderson was playing offensive line as recently as the Independence Bowl. If Georgia's season started today, the sophomore would be starting on the other side of the ball.

Bulldogs defensive line coach Rodney Garner said after Wednesday's practice that his tentative starting lineup - which he emphasized could change tomorrow - was Anderson at nose tackle, DeAngelo Tyson at end and Demarcus Dobbs at the other end.

Tyson was the favorite to start at nose tackle, but he's done so well in cross-training at end, that he has a good chance of playing there.

Anderson, known simply as "Bean" to everyone around the program, didn't even practice at nose in the spring, because of injury.

We'll have more from Garner on Anderson's rise and Tyson's cross-training in Thursday's papers.

In other news:

- Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, dealing with a number of position battles, said he was "honing in" on which guys will start, but didn't get specific.

Grantham also said a lot of players are being trained at different positions, but again did not get specific. By the sounds of it, Grantham was talking more about depth and not massive position switches: For instance, defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos said safeties Jakar Hamilton and Nick Williams were being trained at both safety spots now. But no safeties were switching to cornerback, or vice versa.

- Grantham also said that cornerback Branden Smith, who missed eight practices with academic issues, wasn't really behind in preparation because of the time off.

- Receiver Logan Gray turned his ankle in Tuesday's practice, but offensive coordinator Mike Bobo didn't seem too worried about it.

Wilder and practice notes

So by now you know that James Wilder Jr. did NOT commit to Georgia this afternoon, as had been reported that he would. The running back-linebacker, rated the No. 3 prospect in the entire nation by Rivals, instead went with Florida State.

This is why covering recruiting is such a hazardous business. In defense of, the original report may have actually been true at the time. Wilder may have picked Georgia, then changed his mind overnight. Who knows. We're talking about teenagers here. Just look at Dexter Morant.

In the long run, this probably isn't the worst thing to happen to Georgia. It still probably leads for Isaiah Crowell, out of Columbus. And, as I tweeted just now, after watching the first few minutes of Georgia's football practice, they appear set on continuing to play football here despite Wilder's announcement.

Speaking of which, practice notes:

- Receiver Logan Gray was in a walking boot, which is never a great sign. He rolled his ankle in practice Tuesday, according to We'll ask the coaches about it later.

- Otherwise, Georgia's players seem to be healing up, as evidenced by the empty stationary bikes:

LB Akeem Dent (toe injury), WR Rantavious Wooten (left knee) and LB Mike Gilliard (undisclosed injury) were all still in green non-contact jerseys, but were running around. That gives credence to head coach Mark Richt's hope that they'd all be ready for the opener.

S Bacarri Rambo, who's been dealing with a minor injury, was also in green but was going through drills with the rest of the secondary players.

- Receiver Kris Durham, who was hurt last week and skipped the scrimmage, was back in red.

- Starting guard Cordy Glenn (mononucleosis) still wasn't out there. Ditto for starting center Ben Jones, but he's not expected back for another couple weeks after having his knee scoped.