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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Recruiting: Hoops team adds another commitment

Georgia men's basketball head coach Mark Fox said his team wasn’t done recruiting for 2011, and most took that to mean Kevin Ware or Ryan Harrow. Either of those could still happen, but for the moment it turns out Fox meant yet another post player.

John Cannon, a 6-foot-10 center from Burnsville, N.C., told the Dawg Post’s Fletcher Page that he has committed to Georgia. Cannon was also considering Northwestern, as well as being a preferred walk-on at North Carolina.

The Bulldogs are in dire need of post players and have already signed three: 7-footer John Florveus, junior college prospect Tim Dixon and Nemanja Djurisic, who is 6-foot-7.

The team’s marquee recruit is wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a McDonald’s All-American. None of the post players is considered a program-changer, but they add depth after the loss of Trey Thompkins to the NBA draft, and the graduations of Jeremy Price and Chris Barnes.

Georgia could also still be in the mix for Ware and Harrow, although each situation is up in the air - especially Ware.

Ware, a 6-foot guard from Conyers, originally signed with Tennessee, then committed to Central Florida two weeks ago. But he decommitted this week after revelations in a New York Times article about a runner associated with UCF.

At this point it’s not clear if any NCAA issues would affect Ware or just UCF.

Harrow is an N.C. State transfer who would be eligible after sitting out the 2011-12 season. The 6-foot point guard from Mariette has said Georgia will be on his list.

Fox cannot comment specifically on recruits, but he reiterated this week that the team is actively recruiting for 2011, adding that scholarships will not be an issue.

“We have some flexibility there. We’re still recruiting,” Fox said in Macon on Thursday. “The hard thing for us is losing those two early. You lose them early to the draft, but you really lose them so late it’s really hard to replace them with players of the same quality.”

Kris Durham gets drafted higher than expected

A few months ago, Kris Durham wasn't considered a good enough prospect to be invited to the NFL draft combine. On Saturday, the Georgia receiver was drafted anyway - and in the fourth round.

The Seattle Seahawks used the 107th overall pick to tap Durham, a 6-foot-5 Calhoun native.

Durham had injury issues until 2010, when he emerged in the early absence of A.J. Green to be the team's go-to receiver. Even when Green returned from suspension, Durham had his moments, including a big first-down catch at Auburn. He finished the season with 32 catches for 659 yards and three touchdowns.

Still, there was no guarantee that Durham would even be drafted. He didn't receive an invite to the NFL combine in February, while eight other Georgia teammates did.

Clint Boling joins A.J. in Cincinnati

Could two starters on the 2011 Cincinnati Bengals' offense be rookies from Georgia? It's possible now.

The Bengals followed up their selection of receiver A.J. Green in Thursday's first round by tapping Clint Boling in the fourth round on Saturday. Boling is a versatile lineman who can play guard or tackle.

“There are a couple other guys from Georgia up there, too," Boling pointed out in a conference call with Cincinnati media. "Dennis Roland, Geno Atkins, and A.J. just got drafted, so we’ve got a couple of guys up there. I’m just really excited to be a Bengal.”

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said they would start Boling out at guard.

“He’s a big man, he’s got some strength, and he really is a competitor," Lewis said. "I feel he’ll come to Cincinnati and both add some depth and have the chance to compete on the interior of the line. He was in Mobile (for the Senior Bowl) on the other team (the South), so we got some exposure to him personally down there as well.”

Boling was basically a four-year starter for the Bulldogs, earning 49 starts, most at left tackle. But he also shifted to right guard, including during his senior season. That versatility will enhance Boling's chances of getting on the field for the Bengals.

ESPN analyst Todd McShay called Boling a “great value pick.”

“I think Boling will come in and legitimately compete for a starting position," McShay said during the ESPN draft broadcast. "He had some minor character issues, maybe that’s part of the reason he drops.”

(Boling was suspended the first game of the 2008 season because of a DUI.)

That makes four Georgia players to be picked so far. (Justin Houston and Akeem Dent were third-round picks). It could be awhile before another Bulldog gets picked: receiver Kris Durham, fullback Shaun Chapas, defensive end Demarcus Dobbs offensive lineman Josh Davis and cornerback Vance Cuff are all candidates.

EDIT: Literally as I was writing the above paragraph, the Seattle Seahawks picked Durham with the 107th overall pick. Another example of my idiocy.

Friday, April 29, 2011

NFL Draft day two: Houston falls to third round, Boling waits

10:22 p.m.: Third round ends

Clint Boling will have to wait another day, as he remains on the board as the second day of the draft ends. That's a bit of a surprise.

Kris Durham, Shaun Chapas and any other draftable Bulldogs will also wait till Saturday's final day.

10:04 p.m.: Akeem Dent is an Atlanta Falcon

Turns out, Akeem Dent is a third-round worthy talent, at least according to the hometown team.

The Atlanta Falcons just used the 91st overall pick to pick Dent, the former Georgia inside linebacker. A bit of a surprise that Dent goes before Clint Boling, but Dent had moved up in scout's eyes lately.

9:45 p.m.: Justin Houston alludes to his "poor decisions"

Justin Houston fell further in the NFL draft than he anticipated. And the former Georgia linebacker blamed himself.

The Kansas City Chiefs chose Houston with their pick in the third round, 70th overall. Houston had been projected as high as the late first-round, but it was reported this week that he tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine in February.

Houston seemed to allude to that on Friday in a conference call, answering “no sir” when asked if he was surprised to fall in the draft.

“Me and my agent talked. Because of some of the poor decisions I made, it probably put me in this position,” Houston said.

Houston said he discussed the situation with the Chiefs before the draft.

“I feel like I was very honest with them. Just told them it was a mistake that I had made. I’m putting it behind me. I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I think they trust me. They took a chance, and I’m going to make them proud for taking a chance.”

9:10 p.m.: Houston gets ripped by ESPN analysts

Todd McShay and Jon Gruden didn't mince words when discussing Justin Houston after he was picked by Kansas City.

McShay said Houston wowed him at the combine with his physical skills, but ...

“The problem is this guy doesn’t play every single down like it’s the last play of his career, which drives you crazy because he has so much potential,” McShay said.

Gruden called Houston the most disappointed guy he studied in the draft.

“I don’t like guys that don’t play hard all the time," Gruden said. "This guy has to pick it up and be an every-down player at the next level.”

8:55 p.m.: Houston to the Chiefs

The longer-than-expected wait is over for Justin Houston. He gets picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs - a team that likes SEC players - with the eighth pick in the third round, or the 70th overall pick.

That's clearly a lot lower than Houston would have expected, but the Chiefs might be a good fit. They're a 3-4 defense and were reportedly eyeing Houston in the second round.

Does it mean that Houston made a bad decision by leaving a year early? I know people will say that, but there's no guarantee he would have been picked higher next year. Plus, you have to see how his career ends up.

That said, the poor decision by Houston apparently came a bit before the combine.

8:40 p.m.: Houston has a draft problem

Whoa, we knew Justin Houston's stock had dropped a bit, but now it's more than a bit. The second round has come and gone, and the former Georgia linebacker is still on the board.

Was it entirely that reported positive marijuana test? Or was that indicative of other concerns - either character, or whether he could fit in a 4-3 or pro 3-4? Who knows, but Houston has lot a lot of money, obviously.

Clint Boling is also waiting for his name to be called, but that's not a major shock. You'd expect that Boling and Houston should get selected in this third round, but you never know.

6:24 p.m.: A.J. Green has his new quarterback?

Houston or Boling haven't gone yet, but the third pick in the second round had a Georgia connection: The Bengals, who picked A.J. Green on Thursday, nabbed TCU's Andy Dalton.

Assuming Carson Palmer eventually leaves the Bengals - he's demanded a trade - that makes Dalton the man most likely to be slinging it to Green.

5:59 p.m.: Day two begins

Welcome to the second round of the draft, where Justin Houston almost certainly will be picked and Clint Boling could be as well.

There's also an outside chance that Akeem Dent will go in tonight's third round. He's considered a mid-round pick, anywhere from the third to fifth rounds.

We'll have updates as warranted tonight.

A bit more from Richt on displeasure with Ealey

There were more than a few eyebrows raised the other night when Mark Richt said this about Washaun Ealey, his embattled tailback.

““Washaun has a ways to go still to show me that he deserves to start or even play right now,” Richt said during his speaking tour in Augusta.

Richt was asked Thursday night in Macon to expand on that.

“The bottom line is we don’t have a tailback right now that deserves to start, in my opinion,” Richt told my colleague Mike Lough at The Telegraph. “We don’t have a guy that has proven he can do all the things that we’re going to ask that guy to do. Washaun is one of them.”

So it isn’t quite clear whether Richt meant Ealey was coming up short off the field – he was suspended earlier in the spring, and later reinstated – or just on the field. He missed most of spring practice with a hamstring injury. It could be both, although in Macon Richt emphasized his discontent with the tailbacks’ on-field decisions.

Richt said it was “consistency period. Hold onto the football. Block. Don’t stumble through a hole that’s gaping. Make a good decision and hit it, you know.”

Speaking before the entire crowd, Richt expressed similar frustration, according to Lough:

“All those guys have had ample time in my opinion to take a hold of it,” Richt said, pointing also to upperclassman Caleb King. “No one has. That’s been the most disappointing (thing for) me probably the last couple seasons is that, that position didn’t get solidified by somebody there who was capable.”

If you needed more evidence that Isaiah Crowell will be given every chance to start right away, there you go.

Richt: 'I've coached football for 25 years, so I know what the hell I'm doing'

Mark Richt got a bit feisty in Macon last night.

It happened when the Georgia head coach was pressed by a fan during a question-and-answer period last night, as reported by The Macon Telegraph's Mike Lough:

“I’ve seen teams throw the ball and win the national championship; I’ve seen teams run the ball and win the national championship,” Richt said. “Believe me, you can win the SEC doing it more than one way. Steve Spurrier, when he was at Florida, he chunked the ball, and he won how many SECs?”

And then the temperature rose a little bit more.

“I see your frustration, I understand your frustration,” Richt said, politely but sternly. “I wasn’t born yesterday, I’ve coached football for 25 years, so I know what the hell I’m doing, OK?”

You can read the entire story here, including what the fan said to raise Richt's ire.

The moment was reminiscent of a couple instances last December in the lead-up to the Liberty Bowl: First, when the normally polite Richt dropped a "damn" in a press conference, and second, when he defended his record by pointing out he was one of the top five active coaches in terms of winning percentage.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

NFL draft blog: A.J. Green goes fourth overall to Cincinnati, which he calls "best fit"

11:40 p.m.: Another day of waiting for Houston

The first round has ended, so Justin Houston will have to wait another day to be picked.

The former Georgia linebacker was once considered a likely pick for the late first round, but his stock dropped a tad as the draft approached. The reported positive test for marijuana - which happened at the combine in February, and became public this week - didn't help.

Remember, though, that Houston actually got a second-round grade from the NFL draft advisory board when he was considering going pro. So this isn't much of a surprise.

And there was only one linebacker taken in the first round: Von Miller, second overall by Denver. Houston could also qualify as a defensive end, depending on which team picks him. We'll have to wait till Friday to find out.

11:15 p.m.: Marvin Lewis on his new receiver

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis listed several factors that stood out about A.J. Green: his understanding of the game, his "radius" in catching passes, ability to run after the catch, and his willingness to improve.

“As we began the draft process, I had a lot of people speak to me about what a dynamic player he is," Lewis said. "He gives us a great threat, plays at a high level, does a great job running after the catch and has been a complete receiver. We’re excited to have him join our football team.”

Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden - whose brother Jon is quite vocal on the ESPN draft broadcast - said he had Green rated as the top player in the draft.

"I’m a little bit more excited than anybody else here, I guess," Gruden said. "I mean, I feel like I just got up on Christmas and opened up my favorite present. I’m so fired up. Not only is he a great player, but you meet with him and he’s a great person. He’s got a great attitude, he wants to work. He can do everything a receiver needs to do to be great — already."

Gruden was also asked to compare Green with Julio Jones, after the Atlanta Falcons traded up to get the former Alabama receiver.

“We were high on Jones, also. If A.J. was gone, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we took Julio," Gruden said. "I like Julio. He’s a big, strong receiver. I think the thing that sets A.J. apart up from Julio is just his natural ability to adjust to the ball and catch everything. Julio had some uncharacteristic drops; A.J. — never. He’s got great hands, and I think that sets him apart from Julio. Obviously Julio ran a faster time than him, he’s a big guy and he’ll do some great things in the NFL, also. We like them both.”

10:15 p.m.: Green sees similarities between Bengals offense and Georgia

Here’s a bit of what Green had to say on the conference call with the Cincinnati media:

- On what it was like to be picked fourth overall:

“It was a great feeling. It’s everything I’ve worked for until now,” Green said. “And just walking across that stage was unbelievable.”

- Green said the Bengals were the best fit for him.

“I felt like we ran some of the similar things at Georgia and I can adapt well to it,” Green said.

- Green was asked by what it was like playing for a freshman quarterback.

“It was just sometimes frustrating, but all I could do is do my job. He’s a great quarterback, and he’s going to be a great one,” Green said of Aaron Murray.

“I played with three different quarterbacks in my three years at Georgia, so I feel like I can adapt to anything.”

- Thanks to Chad Ochocinco’s proclivity for social media, Green was asked if he was on Twitter. He said yes, but only about once a week.

“I’m a guy that prefers to be behind the scenes and be a low-key guy,” Green said.

9:30 p.m.: More on Green, and other stuff

We're waiting to hear from Green and the Bengals. (They're holding a conference call up in Cincinnati, and I'm hoping to get a transcript.)

A quick note about receivers going high in the draft: The previous receivers to go in the top five were Calvin Johnson (second overall in 2007), Braylon Edwards (third overall in 2005), Larry Fitzgerald (third in 2004) and Andre Johnson (third overall in 2003). There was also Charles Rogers, who went second overall in 2003. That one didn't work out so much.

Meanwhile, the first round is almost halfway over, and the SEC rules: Five of the first six picks, and seven of the first 15.

The latest was Nick Fairley, who goes, incredibly, to Detroit, which picked Ndakaman (uh, spelling) Suh last year. Yes, the same Lions who also have Matt Stafford. Hopefully Fairley stays away from spearing that former Georgia quarterback during scrimmages.

The watch is on now for Justin Houston, a watch that is likely to wait until Friday night, when the second round starts. But you never know, the way SEC players are going off the board.

8:25 p.m.: A.J. Green goes to Cincinnati

The mock drafts, and Chad Ochocinco, ended up being correct. A.J. Green goes fourth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals.

Green becomes Georgia's second top-five pick in three years (Matt Stafford the top pick in 2009) and and the 26th first-round pick in school history. Other than Stafford, he's the highest Bulldog pick since Garrison Hearst went third overall in 1993.

8:05 p.m.: As expected, Cam Newton goes first overall

I'm on record not agreeing with the pick. Carolina didn't take the best available player. They took the best available quarterback - maybe.

Cam Newton has led a very charmed life lately, despite his transgressions: A Heisman trophy, a national title, endorsements, now the top overall pick.

I'll be curious if everything is still going his way in five years. I'll be even more curious how he reacts to playing on a team next year that isn't that good.

7 p.m.: Mr. Blog Man decides to do an NFL draft blog

Just turned on ESPN's pre-draft show - which began immediately after the end of last year's draft - to see A.J. Green in the green room at Radio City Music Hall. Green looked very debonair, with several women around him making up his clothing.

Of course earlier in the day Green tweeted that he was looking for a barber. So I guess the degree of planning only went so far.

The conventional wisdom is that Green is likely to end up going fourth overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. That team's big star, receiver Chad Ochocinco, has been pretty vocal that he'd love for the team to pick Green.

It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Carolina Panthers could pull a shocker and pick Green with the first overall pick. But all signs point to the Panthers taking Cam Newton.

And that, in my opinion, will be a mistake. You've got the character concerns - in addition to the NCAA stuff and the laptop/academic issues at Florida, Newton also seems a bit too self-glorifying than I'd be comfortable with in my franchise quarterback.

Yeah, everybody at Auburn said he was a great teammate, never had any issues. But he was only there one year, and it's pretty easy to be a model teammate and everyone to love you when you go 14-0.

Plus, the Panthers appear to be leaning towards Newton simply because they need a quarterback. (Jimmy Clausen apparently is already an afterthought.) If it were me, I'd take the best available player: and arguably that's Green, or LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, or Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.

But hey, what do I know.

Besides Green, the other local angle tonight is Justin Houston. That pesky conventional wisdom now has him slipping out of the first round, partly because of the character concerns arising from the reported marijuana test. But it only takes one team to decide they love Houston's explosive ability. Will someone near the end of the first round (New England, maybe?) take a chance on the ex-Georgia linebacker?

I'll chime in here throughout the night with updates. Feel free to join in the discussion.

Recruiting: When Floyd gets out of Dodge, he'll come to Georgia

The Georgia football team got its fourth – but so far highest-rated - recruit for the 2012 class on Thursday.

Leonard Floyd of Dodge County High School committed to the Bulldogs, according to various reports. He is listed as a four-star prospect by, and also had offers from Alabama and Florida.

Floyd’s position destination remains an open question. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 217 pounds, he can play defensive end or he could also play receiver.

“I think I will probably play defense, but I don’t know yet,” Floyd told Chad Simmons of “They talked to me about outside linebacker, wide receiver and tight end. I will play anywhere.”

Georgia also has commitments from receiver C.J. Curry (Gainesville), tight end Ty Smith (Moultrie) and kicker Marshall Morgan (Fort Lauderdale, Fla).

Citing desire to be 'proactive,' UGA gives Mark Fox a raise and extension

The UGA athletic association executive board has approved a $400,000 raise for men's basketball head coach Mark Fox, who also had his contract extended by one year, through 2016.

Fox, who just finished his second year at Georgia, will now earn $1.7 million annually. Athletics director Greg McGarity said that would put Fox among the top half of his peers in the SEC, around the middle.

“I know it sends the message to coach Fox that he is the man that we know can lead our program and can build our program the right way," McGarity said. "And we know that takes time, and he’s off to a great start.”

The buyout on Fox's contract was not altered.

“(Greg) came to me with the idea of making some changes in my contract. And so I appreciated that," Fox said. "I think anyone, everyone likes to hear that they’re doing a good job. So for him to do that made me feel good.”

UGA president Michael Adams led a teleconference on Thursday, when the contract was approved.

"Mark has been extraordinary and brought a new level of excitement to our
basketball fans," Adams said.

McGarity said the contract was not a reaction to any other schools coming after Fox. The athletics director said he began thinking shortly after he was hired, last August, that Fox deserved a raise.

"At the end of the day you're just trying to treat people the right way," McGarity said. "It's our job again to be proactive here. I don't want to be reactive, and I know in a perfect world sometimes you have to be reaction. But trust me, this was all proactive, and you go ahead and let individuals know that you're paying attention to this. You don't have to worry about knocking on (my) door to say, 'Hey I think I deserve a raise.' ... This was all initiated by us, it was not initiated by Mark."

McGarity said they were also working on new deals for Fox's staff.

Meanwhile, Fox said that he and his staff were still 'actively recruiting for 2011." He can't be specific, but N.C. State transfer Ryan Harrow, a point guard, has said he's interested in Georgia.

Fox will enter the 2011-12 season in a bit of a rebuilding mode, after Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie left for the NBA draft. Thompkins' departure was long expected, while Leslie, after a week of not saying if he'd sign with an agent, recently announced that he would.

“We’re going to have a young team," Fox said. "We’re losing a great player, somebody’s who’s really improved in the last couple years. … Early entries make you a little greener than you want to be, but it’s something that gives younger kids more opportunity too.”

Without airs, A.J. Green set to soar into NFL

Here is my story from this morning's papers on A.J. Green - and a bit on Justin Houston. One former Georgia star has overcome an NCAA suspension to have character be a positive for NFL teams - while the other has questions.

ATHENS - A.J. Green walked into a conference room one afternoon in September, and the questions came firing: Did he know that selling his jersey was against NCAA rules? How well did he know this so-called agent? Why did he put his eligibility in jeopardy?

Through it all, the Georgia receiver never asked officials standing behind him for a bail-out. He answered the question, then waited for the next one. After a few minutes, it was over.

"He was probably more forthcoming than he needed to be or could’ve been,” said Claude Felton, UGA’s associate athletics director for communications.

In the end, Green’s four-game suspension by the NCAA last year became the only blip in a career marked not only by spectacular plays, but an unassuming manner. That’s one reason why Green -- who plays a position known for prima donna behavior -- is expected to be one of the top picks in the NFL draft Thursday night.

But the off-field factor may be swinging in the opposite direction for another former Bulldogs player.

The rest of the story addresses Houston's situation, and includes quotes from Green, Akeem Dent and NFL analyst Wes Bunting of the National Football Post.

Here are also some quick-hitting comments from Bunting on the other Bulldog prospects in tonight's draft:

- Bunting called Houston a "one-trick pony" as far as his pass-rushing, in that Houston has to win with his first step, and has trouble getting off blocks.

- Clint Boling projects as a late second or early third round pick. Bunting believes Boling is best suited at left guard.

“The versatility helps," Boling said. "He’s not a guy you’re going to win because of at the next level, but you can win with.”

- Akeem Dent has NFL size and was productive as an SEC linebacker.

“That’s two things he has going for him," Bunting said. "He’s gotten this buzz all of a sudden, that he’s a mid-round prospect. … Me personally, I still see him as a late-round type of player.”

- Fullback Shaun Chapas may or may not be picked, but he can stick on a roster.

"He can catch the ball and lead block," Bunting said. "He just needs to stay healthy. His medical history could prevent him from being drafted, and not many fullbacks get drafted to begin with."

- Kris Durham is a “sneaky athlete," according to Bunting. The senior receiver has that “strider speed down the field, where the further down the field he gets the faster he gets.”

He could get drafted, and have a solid career as a fourth or fifth receiver type, according to the analyst.

- Defensive end Demarcus Dobbs probably won’t be drafted, but has a chance to make a roster.

“He’s a physical guy, he can give you two downs,” Bunting said.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An administrative note ...

... The executive committee of the UGA athletic association has arranged to hold a teleconference for Thursday at 11:30 a.m. The item was added to the UGA master calendar on Wednesday.

Welch Suggs, a spokesman for the president's office, could only say that the call was to address a "personnel matter."

He couldn't be more specific, but Georgia has been working on a new contract for Mark Fox, who just completed his second year as men's basketball head coach. And the athletics department has invited members of the media to listen in on the conference call, something they probably would only do for certain higher-profile sports.

Fox's current deal run through 2015 and pays him $1.5 million a year, which is in the lower half of SEC head basketball coaches.

We'll have an update and news tomorrow after the call.

Diamond Dogs inching closer to NCAAs

One quick blog note: We’ll return to the post-spring depth chart series next week, once we’re done with the NFL draft. But before we get to that, we’d be remiss if we didn’t catch up with the Georgia baseball team.

(We’d also be remiss if we didn’t keep using the royal “we.” It really is fun.)

The Bulldogs had a heart-warming night on Tuesday, and not just because they beat Georgia Tech 6-4. Injured outfielder Jonathan Taylor made it to Turner Field to meet with his teammates for the first time since March 6, when he sustained the serious neck injury.

Taylor, who is undergoing rehab at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, shook hands and spoke with his teammates in his wheelchair. Here's the write-up on UGA's web site.

Georgia then went out and rallied to beat Georgia Tech, a good win for the Bulldogs’ resume’. Their overall record (22-20) isn't overly impressive, but their hopes for the NCAA tournament rest on its SEC record (11-7) and it’s RPI rank (18th as of Wednesday, according to

This projection on has Georgia making the tournament as a No.2 seed, and playing in a regional hosted by Georgia Tech.

Georgia’s remaining schedule has a home series against Arkansas (28-11, 9-9), followed by road trips to Auburn (22-17, 9-9) and Kentucky (20-22, 4-14), and finishing at home against Vanderbilt (35-5, 14-4). There are also mid-week games against Mercer and Kennesaw State.

There weren’t very high expectations for the Bulldogs this year, particularly coming off last year. So to make the NCAAs would be a huge lift, especially after the Taylor injury.

In order to make it, Georgia probably needs to put a bit more distance between its Ws and Ls, rather than just rest on its RPI and schedule strength. Although that did work for the Georgia men's basketball team.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

N.C. State point guard is transfering, and Georgia is on his list

Ryan Harrow, who was N.C. State’s fourth-leading scorer as a freshman this year, is transferring and will be taking a look at Georgia.

The Bulldogs badly need a point guard after next year, and Harrow would seem to fit. The 6-foot-1 product of Marietta’s Walton High School was the Gatorade player of the year in Georgia after the 2009-10 season.

Harrow averaged 9.3 points and 3.3 assists last year for the Wolfpack. He started 10 games and appeared in a total of 29.

Georgia wasn’t involved much with Harrow out of high school because he committed early to N.C. State. But he said Tuesday that the Bulldogs would be in the mix this time.

“I’m considering (Georgia). Yes sir,” Harrow said during a phone interview. “I haven’t really made any decisions on where I’m going to go yet, but Georgia is on my list.”

N.C. State fired head coach Sidney Lowe after the season and eventually replaced him with Mark Gottfried, the former Alabama head coach. Gottfried announced Harrow’s transfer on Tuesday, calling it a mutual decision, and saying Harrow would be released to any school outside the ACC. Per NCAA transfer rules, Harrow will have to sit out the 2011-12 season.

Harrow said he didn’t have a timetable yet, adding that he wants to set up a list of schools to visit.

“Me and my mom really have to talk about what fits me,” Harrow said. “But Georgia would be one of the schools on my list.”

Report: Houston failed drug test at NFL combine

Two days before he's expected to be picked early in the NFL draft, a report has emerged that former Georgia linebacker Justin Houston tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine in February.

FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported on Tuesday that Houston and Iowa defensive lineman Christian Ballard both tested positive.

“If it is true, I’m in shock," Steve Pennington, who coached Houston at Statesboro High School, said. "And disappointed in him, and for him.”

Houston left Georgia after his junior season, when he had 10 sacks to lead the SEC during the regular season. He is projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick.

The failed drug test isn't good news, but it's also not necessarily devastating. Calvin Johnson also reportedly tested positive for marijuana before the 2007 draft, but was still picked second overall.

“If it is true, and that’s a big if, you only get one chance to make a first impression," Pennington said. "That’s something that I think Justin will have to work extra hard to prove his trust and accountability to whomever selects him.”

Post-spring depth chart: Offensive line

Will Friend said when he was hired in February that every offensive linemen started fresh with him, meaning a new chance for anybody who hadn’t played much, and something to prove for those who had.

By the end of spring camp, the Georgia line did indeed look almost completely different from the way it ended last season. But it ended up having as much to do with necessity as it did Friend’s fresh impressions.

Who ends up where on the line remains a mish-mash of possibilities after a few weeks of shifting players around, and one major injury. A few incoming freshman could end up factoring in, but not as much as on other units.

Here’s a position-by-position look at the line after the spring - with "top starter" in many cases being really, really tentative - along with the chances it looks like this for the Boise State game:

Cordy Glenn (Sr.)
Top backup: Brent Benedict (R-Fr.)
Also: A.J. Harmon (Jr.), Kolton Houston (R-Fr.), Austin Long (R-Soph.), Hugh Williams (walk-on, R-Fr.)

CHANCES IT STAYS: 90 percent. … Glenn was working at both tackle spots with Trinton Sturdivant before the latter’s injury. Now Glenn is set at the position, for better or worse – and given his skill experience, it’s probably for the better. The backup spot is in more turmoil. Friend wasn’t able to give a lot of guys reps at the left tackle spot until late in the spring and Williams ended up starting for one team on G-Day. Ideally the coaches want one guy to emerge as the third tackle and be the main backup at both spots – but first they have to settle on the right tackle starter.

LOOMING: Zach DeBell and Watts Dantzler have the size for tackle, but they’ll need to put on weight. Friend has said that he’ll play any freshmen if they show they’re ready. But the guess here is it will happen only out of necessity, at least at the tackle spots.

Kenarious Gates (Soph.)
Top backup: Houston.
Also: Dallas Lee (R-Soph.), Josh Bodin (Jr.), Benedict.

CHANCES IT STAYS: 60 percent. … Gates seems set to start somewhere, and left guard is the most likely option. But it could still be right guard or right tackle. You can’t rule out Justin Anderson or even Chris Burnette ending up here either. The backup spot is kind of a muddle – just like every backup role on the line. Lee had a lost spring because of injury. Benedict and Houston were working at guard and tackle.

LOOMING: Hunter Long, the brother of Austin, wouldn’t seem likely to be pressed into duty right away. But if the coaches aren’t in love with any of their options, he could be. Who knew Gates would end up starting last year?

Ben Jones (Sr.)
Top backup: Ben Reynolds (R-Soph.)
Also: Chris Burnette (R-Soph.)

CHANCES IT STAYS: 90 percent … Jones is the unofficial captain of the line, and one of the leaders of the entire offense. The 10 percent is for the backup spot, because Burnette would be the first option if he doesn’t win the right guard spot. A freshman could also factor in the situation.

LOOMING: David Andrews isn’t the most celebrated offensive line recruit, but he may have the best chance to play right away. If Chris Burnette (the former backup center) wins the right guard spot, and Andrews outplays Reynolds, then Andrews could see some time.

Chris Burnette (R-Soph.)
Top backup: Houston, Benedict, Lee.
Also: Justin Anderson (Sr.), Gates.

CHANCES IT STAYS: 30 percent. … Burnette had a good spring, but his position is still tenuous and he’ll have to earn the starter position in August. Justin Anderson is at least a 50-50 shot to end up at guard, and Gates could still end up on the right side. The backup spot is similar to tackle: The coaches would like to find a top backup for both guard spots, but first need to settle on who starts where.

LOOMING: Hunter Long, and possibly Andrews.

Justin Anderson (Sr.)
Top backup: A.J. Harmon (Jr.)
Also: Austin Long, Benedict, Houston, Williams.

CHANCES IT STAYS: 40 percent. … Anderson isn’t even assured of ending up at right tackle, but that’s the plan for now. You can’t rule out Gates being shifted to right tackle either. The backup spot is intertwined with the left tackle position; the team is looking for one player to show he can be the main backup at both spots.

LOOMING: See left tackle.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Post-spring depth chart: Skill positions

Georgia hasn’t yet released an official depth chart – and why should it, considering most position rankings will be moot once the recruits step on campus. But we’ll take a stab at where things stand after G-Day.

For the purposes of this blog, we will not include the incoming players on the depth chart. But they bear mention with each grouping. I also assign a percentage to the chances the depth chart looks like this when Georgia runs onto the Georgia Dome field to take on Boise State.

We weigh in today with the offensive skill positions. Not that the linemen don’t need skills. But we didn’t make up the term. So anyway:

Aaron Murray, (R-Soph.)
Top backup: Hutson Mason (Soph.)
Also: Christian LeMay (Fr.), Parker Welch (walk-on, R-Fr.) Greg Bingham (walk-on, R-Fr.).

CHANCE IT STAYS LIKS THIS: 95 percent. … The 5 percent is for whether Mason will actually play this year or the team will try to get him his redshirt back. But there’s no doubt right now that Murray is the starter – after all, many consider him the SEC’s top returning quarterback – and that Mason is best equipped to play next.

LOOMING: None. … LeMay is the only quarterback recruit, and he enrolled early.

Caleb King, (Sr.)
Top backup: Washaun Ealey (Jr.)
Also: Carlton Thomas (Jr.), Ken Malcome (R-Fr.), Alex Parsons (walk-on, R-Soph.), Brandon Harton (walk-on, R-Soph.)

CHANCE IT STAYS: 10 percent. … There’s at least one newcomer who should vault into one of the top two spots. King had a better spring than Ealey, who was hurt the vast majority of time. But coaches said no one separated themselves, and no one else really stood out. King gets the edge because of his better spring and experience, but you get the feeling that everything will reset to zero once preseason camp begins.

LOOMING: You may have heard of Isaiah Crowell. He’s still the best bet to be the starter against Boise State. Yes, that’s not a certainty. But let’s put it this way: Of the five scholarship tailbacks, almost any of them could start the opener, but the one who seems certain to at least get multiple carries is Crowell.

Zander Ogletree (Soph.)
Top backup: Bruce Figgins (Sr.)
Also: Dustin Royston (walk-on, R-Soph.), Chris Young (R-Soph.)

CHANCES IT STAYS: 50 percent. Ogletree and Figgins should both get plenty of time. Figgins is likely to get the nod if he masters the blocking scheme after his move from tight end. For now, Ogletree gets the (slight) nod because of his experience.


Tavarres King (Jr.)
Top backup: Israel Troupe (Sr.)
Also: Rantavious Wooten (Jr.), Chris Conley (Fr.), Taylor Bradberry (walk-on, Jr.)

CHANCES IT STAYS: 60 percent. … King is set at the top spot, but the rest is up in the air. Bennett seems likely to play somewhere, as does Conley. Troupe gets the nod as the top backup because of experience, but his playing time is far from assured. Wooten didn’t help himself in the spring, and missed G-Day with an undisclosed injury. Wooten and Troupe should play too, but it could be at split end, or the third receiver spot. And how much any of the backups play depends on whether they can hold off the recruits in August.

LOOMING: Malcolm Mitchell is likely to play receiver and not cornerback, and is just as likely to see the field against Boise State. Justin Scott-Wesley could also figure in the rotation, though that could take longer. Don’t count out Sanford Seay either.

Marlon Brown (Jr.)
Top backup: Michael Bennett (R-Fr.)
Also: Bennett, Wooten, Conley.

CHANCES IT STAYS: 45 percent. … Brown will be the favorite entering camp, but he’ll have to hold off Mitchell, Bennett and possibly Conley. Wooten and Troupe can also switch to the other side of the field too.

LOOMING: See above.

Orson Charles (Jr.)
Top backup: Aron White (Sr.)
Also: Arthur Lynch (R-Soph.)

CHANCES IT STAYS: 85 percent. … Charles had the edge entering spring and separated himself through a strong set of practices. But White, who was injured, will still see plenty of time. Lynch made the smart decision by redshirting last year, but will still be fighting to see the field at the team’s deepest position.

LOOMING: Jay Rome was one of the team’s highest-rated recruits, but whether he plays this year remains an open question. The Bulldogs don’t really need him unless there’s an injury, but Rome is also so good he may force the team to use him.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Richt calls the 2010 season 'my fault'

Mark Richt is in the early stages of his spring speaking tour, which means getting quizzed by fans and media about next year, but also the last one. Occasionally that leads to some interesting answers, and the Georgia head football coach offered one last night in Jacksonville.

According to the Florida Times-Union:

Richt admitted to the crowd that he felt the Bulldogs lost some close games last year because the other team played harder.

"That's embarrassing," Richt told the audience. "It's our shame and it's my fault. We're not going to let that happen again."

Richt also shrugged off a question about his job status, and said he "wouldn't trade (quarterback Aaron Murray) for anybody." He also didn't say anything inflammatory, or at least apparently didn't, about new Florida head coach Will Muschamp.

The next scheduled stop on the speaking tour is Wednesday in Augusta.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Post-spring mailbag: Crowell's number, Ogletree's move, gardening tips and so, so much more

Thanks as always for your intelligent, deep and probing questions. Both of them. The rest of you …

Just kidding. I said gardening hoes were up for discussion, and by golly some of you wanted to discuss them. Or at least hoses. In any case, the result is a long mailbag, which I’m happy to post in full form.

I’ll start with a subject that drew multiple queries:

How is jersey issue going to pan out for Crowell & B. Smith. Both #1, and both will play (at least some) offense, right?
- Howmuchyoubench (via Twitter)

Kudos to Richt for doing what's necessary to sign Crowell, but do you see the Crowell/Smith number sharing working out? I think using mutually exclusive players on one side of the ball is necessarily predictable. Hopefully this only a one-year plan.
- Logan

They’re both going to wear No. 1, as far as we know right now, which means they can’t play at the same time. Remember, at this point Smith is still a defensive player who will just make cameo appearances on offense. It’s clear that Mike Bobo would prefer a bigger role for Smith, but for now he’s just a part-timer.

1) what kind of impact do you expect Nick Marshall to play next year? Or will we have to wait to see him get a chance?

2) Is Corey Moore expected to make an impact this year? I could see him taking over the safety spot opposite rambo by season's end (ala Ogletree)

3) Ray Drew has now been added to the UGA track team to throw discus. As a former track and field athlete, I think this is awesome, but some tend to disagree. What are your thoughts on this move, Seth?
- Stafford’s Lost Razor

So greedy with the questions. But I’ll indulge you:

1) Marshall at this point seems likely to play. While they have a lot of defensive backs coming in, Marshall and Damian Swann are the top two rated cornerbacks, so it will depend on how they look in practice, whether Sanders Commings moves to safety, and if guys like Jordan Love and Derek Owens show they can be nickel and dime backs. This also assumes that Malcolm Mitchell will play offense. There’s been talk of getting Marshall some snaps at quarterback, and having seen him play I think he can. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

2) Moore is the top-rated safety recruit, so my guess is he plays right away too. But like the previous question, it depends on where Commings plays, and how Shawn Williams, Jakar Hamilton and Mark Deas perform in camp.

3) I don’t think it can hurt or help for Drew to dabble in the discus on the side. I’m sure Joe Tereshinski will account for it when he designs Drew’s offseason program.

Do you see Grantham stacking the line with Jenkins and Geathers against Tech? … Who do you think will end up being the punt returner?
- P1Owe

There’s a looooonnnng time between now and the Georgia Tech game. But if all goes as planned that sounds like a good strategy. More immediately, they seem serious about playing Jenkins and Geathers together, but at whose expense (replacing Abry Jones in a 3-4, or going to a 4-2-5) and how often in a game? My guess you’d see them on the same line less than 50 percent of the time, but that’s only a guess.

They had four guys returning punts in spring practice: Tavarres King, Carlton Thomas, Branden Smith and Brandon Boykin. Since Boykin is returning kicks, my money is on Smith. But I wouldn’t put an extreme amount of money on it.

While the move of Ogletree to linebacker seems to have helped things, is there any concern about what it's done for the safety position? How's that looking coming out of spring?
- MarkS31

No one could really get a handle on the safeties since they were so riddled with injuries this spring. Shawn Williams was the only scholarship player who was healthy by the end. That helped make him the tentative first-teamer opposite Bacarri Rambo. But you’ve still got a ton of other guys that will have a say in that.

It does seem that Ogletree’s move makes the safeties much weaker, but the coaches swear that there was less depth at inside linebacker, which was part of the reason the move was necessitated.

1.) If the state of Alabama threatened to secede from the union, do you think anyone would stop them?

2.) Who do you think will be the starting Outside Linebackers will be when they lineup against Boise State?
- Anonymous

1) It really is unreal what’s going on in that state right now. And it doesn’t help that you have some carnival barkers in the media there that stoke the flames.

2) Jarvis Jones will be the starter at one OLB spot. The other will most likely either by Cornelius Washington or Ray Drew. If I had to guess now, Washington because of his experience.

Am I the only one who thinks Harvey Updyke is lying about being attacked? No witnesses, no camera, he didn’t see who did it? In an attack like that, the attacker would usually confront him first and then punch… I think it’s self-inflicted or staged and he’s using it to bolster his case in court about being allowed to move to Louisiana.
- K

Far from the only person. I guess he was supposed to speak this afternoon, so this may be outdated by the time it’s posted. Let’s just hope this sordid story goes away sometime soon, but that’s doubtful.

Do you think Harvey Updyke’s punishment will be for him to partake in a Alabama highway beautification project in tree planting?
- Anonymous

Perhaps, but wouldn’t this expose him to too many passing Auburn motorists?

I recommend the thumb over the end of the hose. I feel it gives you more control and I'm a cheap bastard. What are your thoughts?
- Not Anonymous

I agree. I like the way it sprays, and I also like to think a little thumb moisture just makes the day go easier.

Do our coaches regularly check our players social media pages? Some things that are posted on them are questionable at best.
- Anonymous

Not sure the coaches have the time, but I’m sure other staff members (graduate assistants, for one) are assigned to keep checks. Mark Richt said on Wednesday that if they see something questionable, they warn the players, then indicated that there isn’t a second warning.

Speaking strictly about Twitter, I don’t know if I see anything too over the line from the Georgia players. Branden Smith’s is rather melodramatic, yes, but on the other side Brandon Burrows is downright hilarious. I’d enjoy having him do a guest mailbag at some point.

As for other social media, frankly I don’t stalk the players’ Facebook pages very often. In fact I’m not “friends” with any of them. My rule is that Facebook is for personal stuff and I let them have their space there, while Twitter is more of a free-for-all.

Keep in mind, these are still 18-to-23 year olds. Of course some of the stuff they post there is going to be “questionable.” I shudder to think about some of the things I would’ve posted at that age if there was a Facebook or Twitter. Hell, some of the stuff I post NOW isn’t too smart.

I rarely water my garden - do you guys really water yours? Seth have you ever tried "Square Foot Gardening"? My yield is phenomenal. You better learn how to grow veggies.
- Suomynona

I actually don’t have much grass in my yards, but there are plants that need watering. My … er, significant other, I guess I’ll call her … just planted some veggies and flowers and such at her house, and is very proud of them. I have a friend in D.C. who has been growing garlic, and that sounds simply awesome. I LOVE garlic. The problem is that Archie the dog has now taken to chewing grass, like he’s a cow, and his breath is already bad enough. I don’t need a lab running around the place burping up garlic all the time.

Since the band is being moved to west end zone, is there any chance they'll also move the mic man? possibly to a place outside of the stadium during games?
- Anonymous

Am I sensing a healthy dislike for the mic man? Unfortunately I don’t really notice him too much, as I’m in the press box frantically blogging/tweeting/taking notes/drinking soda/punching Marc Weiszer/going to the bathroom.

It seems like UGA players have been staying out of trouble this offseason or have not been paying close enough attention.
- Josh D. Weiss

From everything we can tell they’ve been behaved. (And I say it with the caveat because of the Marcus Dowtin situation last year, which only came out six months after the fact, because it happened up in Maryland.) The other thing is that so many of the previous infractions have involved ticky-tack stuff – suspended licenses, for instance – that easily could be avoided. And they’re being avoided. So far.

I know you haven't been here long, but I'm curious about a policy Richt used to have. When he first got here, he didn't allow players to have hair coming out of their helmets (he rather famously told Tony Gilbert he had to cut his). It appears that team rule went by the wayside around 2006 or 2007 (I remember seeing a lot of Bryan Evans's long hair from the back as he hopelessly chased some receiver down the field). Any insight on the rule change?
- Bryan Grantham (still no relation)

Sorry Bryan, I honestly don’t know. Can anyone help him out here?

What date do incoming players join in summer?
- Anonymous

Depends. Most, especially those qualified and admitted quickly to Georgia, will come the first summer school semester. Others will wait. And some may come for May-mester. Jenkins was one recruit they were trying to get to Athens in May.

Cheetos or Cheese Puffs?
- Anonymous

Cheetos. I like the crunchiness.

Seth, who would you redshirt Lemay or Mason? and why. This also might make a good poll question for your readers since it will be a slow time between now and when UGA is in the CWS.

Also wanted to add Jason Heyward is overrated, looks hurt and tired and should be traded before he has the same value as Frenchy did when he was cast off.
- C

Since Mason knows the offense much better, you probably want to play him in case Murray gets hurt and redshirt LeMay. But that decision doesn’t have to be made now. LeMay might always look good enough in August that they decide to do the reverse.

I don’t think Heyward is another Franceous. Besides being a lefty, Heyward has much more bat and eye control.

Personally I like the fancy sprayers, but that's just me. Once they break though, and they always do, the thumb method works about as well. On football, what do you thing the odds are of us going 2-0, 1-1, or 0-2 to start the season?
- Anonymous

How about these quick, seat-of-my-shorts odds: Fifty percent chance the Bulldogs are 1-1, thirty percent they’re 1-1 and twenty percent they’re 0-2. The relative optimism is due to both essentially being home games. On a neutral field, I’m not sure Georgia is really better than Boise State or South Carolina right now.

Since Verne Lundquist's football play-by-play is deteriorating with every passing year, what can we do to have him replaced by Gus Johnson? I think a Johnson/Danielson team would be a winner for CBS and the SEC.
- Rob

I love Verne, but I love Gus even more. And not just because when I was younger Gus – as a local Washington sports anchor – came and spoke at my high school. Gus brings life to every game. He’s kind of like ketchup, sugar or any tasty condiment: Add him to any event, and it’s that much better. I know a lot of people disagree, and think he’s over-the-top. But while I don’t want a screeching maniac in a play-by-play announcer, and I’m tired of Dick Vitale’s antics, I also don’t want the snoozy, sultry tones of someone like Jim Nantz.

Would you be in favor of starting Seth's coed carwash? Of course you would never get any work done with that going on outside your window.
- Anonymous

Now this is the kind of thinking that made America great.

Is Jason Heyward overated? What more frustrating watching Uga football last year or Braves this year?
- Anonymous

Where’s all this hate for Jason Heyward coming today?

Do you see D'Angelo Vickers as more of an offensive guy or a defensive guy? Maybe play both ways?
- That’s what she said

That would be D’Angelo Vickers, the new Will Ferrell character on “The Office,” for those of you who need to know. I don’t really have a good answer for you, other than one of the funniest things my friends and I have done is decide that for an entire weekend we would say “that’s what she said” only when it didn’t make any sense. So you’d have the following exchanges:

Person A: Hey, do you remember the name of that Italian place we went to in Tuscaloosa?
Person B: That’s what she said!
Person A: (Perplexed look).

Trust me, this is hours of fun. Feel free to steal the idea.

When Donald Trump becomes President and armageddon rages, would owning a sustainable garden be more of a benefit or do you expect our economy to continue on a gold/silver bartering system?

My other question is can you tell that our guys have benefitted from the new strength and conditioning program/facility? Do they look leaner or at least MEANER? I'm hoping that someone rips off Stephanie Garcia's head - or whoever lines up at QB for SC.
- Geoffrey

Well done on blending the Trump and gardening questions. I would point out that the way it looks we may already be approaching a gold bartering system. And I have to think that makes Run DMC happy.

As for strength and conditioning, I’ll refer you to my post Tuesday on the top storylines from spring practice.

May I recommend Home and Garden and TV Guide for a lot of these bloggers...Seth, will you finally answer this question: Who picks up the very expensive tab for sending non-qual players to Hargrove Mil or any of the other alternative venues..and how can that sit well with the NCAA??
- OldDawg55

Look, it’s late April, 99 days until the start of fall camp. Please forgive those who don’t mind a bit of offseason fun discussing non-football issues, especially when we also address every football and sports question too. … The prep school educations are not paid for by Georgia or any college or university. At least they're not supposed to be. Who actually pays for it varies player to player. Sometimes it’s the family, sometimes the prep school gives them a scholarship, etc.

TV Question: Do you have any hope for HBO achieving "The Sopranos" or "The Wire" kind of quality again? The dramas aren't bad, but nothing like those older shows, or like Madmen now on AMC. Any thoughts on "Game of Thrones," or AMC's "The Killing" or "Breaking Bad?"
- Anonymous

I haven’t been able to watch much of “Boardwalk Empire” yet. I used to really like “Big Love,” which is in its final season, but I think it jumped the shark a bit last season. I hear a lot of good things about “The Killing” but haven’t seen it yet. I still need to get to the third season of “Breaking Bad.”

But basically, you have it right: “Mad Men” replaced “The Sopranos” as the best drama on cable, and probably all television. If anybody at HBO ever passed on “Mad Men,” they have surely been fired by now. “Dexter” is up there too, but it went a bit downhill last season.

Why do our players keep getting concussions? Are they teaching these guys how to tackle properly? I don't recall so many concussions (during the season and during spring) in past, but maybe I'm just getting old.
- Tess

There were a bunch of concussions this spring, but as I said last week the team seemed to just be handling every case cautiously. Brandon Boykin – as I also pointed out last week – was held out of the spring game with a concussion, but he wasn’t so out of it that he couldn’t pick a team – the winning team, as it turned out – or give us lucid interviews a few days before the game.

1) Now that Tompkins and Leslie are gone, what are reasonable expectations for our record next year? Over or under 15-15 (6-10)?

2) It seems we have a lot of players switching between offense and defense (Smith, Anderson, Samuel). Do you think this impedes their development?

3) So we move Ogletree from S to ILB and now the coaches are saying that we have depth issues at Safety. Is this a case of filling one hole and creating another?

4) Your thoughts on the Carver situation. Does this mean we will stop recruiting Bonner?
- Eric

Wow Eric, even more greedy than the first guy. But my summer has begun, so I’m in a good mood:

1) The addition of an elite recruit like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the return of two senior guards, means the team shouldn’t bottom out. Not saying they won’t, but they shouldn’t. If I had to guess right now, I’d say it’s a solid NIT team, fourth or fifth in the SEC East, depending on who returns to Tennessee.

2) Anderson and Samuel’s switches were permanent, Smith’s is not. (For now.) Certainly it hurts their development, but every program does it.

3) The depth issues at safety were because of injuries. It definitely remains an open question whether moving Ogletree was the right move, but when you look at the relative depth at safety and inside linebacker, the latter spot definitely would have been thin without it.

4) Mark Richt and his staff are handling the Carver situation delicately, declining to comment publicly. But while they haven’t said so publicly, as I’ve said before I think the odds are good that Bonner will go somewhere other than Georgia. It would be one thing if it were an issue away from the team. But this involves, allegedly, a theft from seven different current members of the team.

What is Samuel L. Jackson's connection to UGA? Is he just a fan, or does he have a relative that attended? Or does he like the letter G and the colors red & black?

If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be, and why?
- Mr. Bixby

This came up late last year when Jackson attended the Georgia Tech game. Jackson, who went to Morehouse, has a nephew and some cousins who went to Georgia, and one of his cousins is on the law school’s alumni board.

I think I’d love to be a pigeon, because there are a long list of people I’d like to literally crap on.

How big is Kwame Geathers really? I've heard everything from 320 to 350+. I get that it's not an exact science and list weights are always iffy, but what would your guess be? And is Jenkins really 360+ you think?
- NateDawg

I haven’t weighed them personally, but the coaches said Geathers was 340 at the end of spring, and Jenkins was 361 when he visited a couple weeks ago.

Not exactly a question but to be fair to Natalie Portman "Your Highness" was filmed after "Black Swann". Danny McBride actually said that they just got really lucky getting her before she won the Oscar.
- Anonymous

That’s true, but Portman and her people had to know she had a good shot at some hardware after Black Swan. To go from that to “Your Highness” is, well, unusual. Nott that I want to knock McBride, who is hilarious.

Call for the mailbag

The spring game has come and gone, so it's time to wrap things up the only way we know how: By answering reader mail.

Of course, you don't have to just ask about football. Here are a few other topics worthy of discussion:

- The Georgia baseball team's chances to make the NCAAs, the men's basketball team's offseason, or any other Bulldog sports.

- Donald Trump.

- Gardening tips.

- Do you like the show "Chuck?" Also, are you liking Will Ferrell being on "The Office"?

- Why is Natalie Portman following up her Oscar with "Your Highness" and "Thor"? Can't anyone get her some Shakespeare, or at least Elmore Leonard?

- Gardening hoes.

- Hosing your garden.

That said, I suspect football will dominate discussion. Feel free to ask anything. Well, almost anything. As always, post your questions below, or send me an e-mail (

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Richt on Murray, tweeting, the tackle spots and plenty more

A few notes from Mark Richt’s appearance on the SEC post-spring practice teleconference on Wednesday – along with my take on each of them. Or in some cases, not much of a take.

- Richt continued his policy of not saying anything about the recruit theft story:

“There’s not gonna be any comment on this. First of all, it has to do with prospects and all that kind of stuff. The bottom line is we’re just gonna make any comment on it.”

He added: “Sorry.”

MY TAKE: As I’ve said previously, Richt doesn’t want to wade into the situation publicly, given the sensitivity of the Carver-UGA relationship.

- Speaking of Carver, Tuesday’s big non-story was Isaiah Crowell not starting a Twitter account. Someone started one under the tailback recruit’s name, but it quickly turned out to be a fake.

Richt pointed that out, showing that he was aware of the situation. Then he reiterated that he’s not going to clamp down on players using the social media tool – as certain other coaches have done.

“I know it’s such a big part of the social life of these kids,” Richt said. “I’m really not looking to shut it down. They sacrifice enough with the time they put in for school and football, with all the things we ask them to do. … But if a guy’s irresponsible with it, normally there’s a good warning the first time around.”

And then, presumably, they have those privileges yanked.

MY TAKE: As someone who makes a living with the written word, I think Richt’s stance is admirable. And the Georgia players certainly do seem to enjoy their Twitter.

- Quarterback Aaron Murray showed some improvement over spring practice. Richt said he saw some better touch on Murray’s passes, but what stood out the most was Murray standing in the pocket a bit more and letting plays develop.

“I think he’s much more comfortable with our system overall,” he said. “I think he’s learned to stay in the pocket a little bit longer, especially when he knows something’s about to break big, he’s willing to stay in there (and wait to throw it).”

MY TAKE: Not my take, but writer Edward Aschoff posted this blog saying that if he had to pick a “franchise player” among current SEC players, he’d take Murray. His colleague Chris Low said he’d take Alabama tackle Barrett Jones.

- Asked about the backup left tackle spot, Richt said it comes down to who ends up at right tackle, then they’ll work from there. He said they’re looking at Justin Anderson, Austin Long, A.J. Harmon and possibly Kenarious Gates at tackle.

“I think a lot is going to depend on who is gonna be the starting right tackle, and then my guess whoever we think the third-best tackle is, he may end up having to cross-train from the left and right aside,” Richt said. “We do have some true freshmen too who could end up playing so well they throw their hat in the ring.”

MY TAKE: That’s the first time since Trinton Sturdivant’s injury that a coach has mentioned Kenarious Gates for tackle. We’ll see. Right now the best bet is Anderson at right tackle and Harmon or Long cross-training.

- Finally, Richt’s overall summation of spring practice:

“I think we got better. I think we practiced with the right amount of intensity. We competed well. Guys who were competed for jobs, guys who were competing offense vs. defense. I liked what I saw.”

MY TAKE: That’s about what you’d expect him to say.

Some notes from other coaches on the teleconference:

- South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier said the decision on Stephen Garcia will probably come some time over the summer. Garcia is set to graduate soon and thus, as Spurrier pointed out, would be eligible to transfer anywhere and play immediately. But the ball coach expressed the hope that Garcia would re-join the team with “a better attitude” than he’s had.

“We’ll check his progress and see how he’s reaction to some certain issues,” Spurrier said. “We’ve all three (Spurrier, the athletics director and school president) sort of given him some guidelines.”

MY TAKE: Garcia will probably be back for the Gamecocks, but it’s not certain yet.

- The former Florida coach and the current one have divergent views on over-signing. Will Muschamp said Florida had “no need” to do that. But Spurrier said that with the academics of the state of South Carolina, “it would be helpful to over-sign.”

MY TAKE: Spurrier is right about the academics in the state of South Carolina. Then again, that’s true for most of the SEC. And it doesn’t mean it’s right to over-sign. Credit Spurrier for his honesty, but he seems to be on the wrong side of the prevailing wind on this issue.

- Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley said his “honeymoon is over” and was when last season, his first in Knoxville, began. He was asked what he hoped Volunteer fans see from him and his program.

“I hope they see a coach who wants to be here,” he said. “I hope they see a coach who appreciates the history and tradition of Tennessee football. And I hope they see a coach who has a good systematic approach in getting them to represent the team on and off the field in what they expect.”

MY TAKE: I used my line on Twitter - "there was a 10-second run-off before Dooley's appearance on the teleconference" - so I have nothing left to say here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Top storylines to emerge from spring

On the whole, spring practice didn’t move the needle much for the Georgia football team. There were no grand pronouncements about position battles, no starting controversies that were settled.

But a month of workouts and drills wasn’t totally uneventful. Here’s one man’s ranking of the most important stories in the aftermath:

1. Trinton Sturdivant’s injury

It’s never pleasant when the major event of a practice or game is an injury, and it was downright gut-wrenching when it happened a third time to Sturdivant. The senior left tackle now has to decide whether to continue his career, either by trying to get a sixth year or going pro. It remains unknown what he’ll do.

The immediate result to his team was a juggling of the line. Cordy Glenn became the left tackle by default, leaving center Ben Jones as the only player who will start at the position he had all of last year. Justin Anderson now seems the favorite to man right tackle, but that’s not settled yet.

The only good news for Georgia is that it won’t have to trot out a bunch of freshmen or first-year starters. Between the above three players, guard Kenarious Gates and possibly Chris Burnette (the favorite at right guard), there’s plenty of experience to go around.

2. Kwame Geathers’ emergence

Every spring, a player or two becomes The story only to end up a flash in the pan. But Geathers seems different. For one thing, he’s a Geathers; there’s sort of a history there.

The Georgia coaches also seem serious about getting Geathers on the field one way or another: either by subbing Geathers liberally in at nose tackle for John Jenkins, or playing Geathers at end in some alignments.

If Jenkins hadn’t signed, Geathers play’ this spring would have been even more pivotal. Now, it looks like the Bulldogs have gone from badly needing a big, physical nose tackle, to having two of them.

3. Alec Ogletree’s move to inside linebacker

This actually happened before practice started, but it qualifies for this list because Ogletree – who only played safety in high school – got his first experience at his new position in practice.

So what’s the early verdict? He seemed to play pretty well in the spring game, notching a couple nice tackles behind the line on run play. And defensive coordinator Todd Grantham concluded practice by saying it had convinced him that moving Ogletree there, and Jarvis Jones to outside linebacker, was “100 percent the right thing.”

Of course, it’s too early to say that for sure. Any conclusion on that will have to wait until the season – and not only to see how Ogletree fares, but the safeties.

4. Tailbacks: It’s still Crowell’s job to lose

Anyone was kidding themselves if they expected Mark Richt to suddenly have an awakening and say Washaun Ealey, Caleb King or anyone other than Crowell was likely to start. But you could have seen the coaches finishing the spring by singling out one or two incumbents to compete with the incoming freshman.

Instead, Richt and Mike Bobo both said that no one had separated themselves. That was easy to say with Ealey, who missed pretty much all of spring with a hamstring injury. But King had a strong spring from all reports, and Ken Malcome had a good finish on G-Day. Still, Richt said no one had won the job. Translation: Isaiah, we await thee.

5. Branden Smith’s increased role on offense

There was only one genuine surprise on G-Day, and that was how much Smith was involved in the offense. Statistically it was only four touches, but he did a lot with them, including a catch-and-run for the game’s first touchdown.

Afterwards, it was hard for Bobo to hide that he REALLY wants to use Smith on offense. Grantham said there was no fight to prevent that, but there was also no indication from Grantham or Richt that Smith would be more than an occasional weapon for the offense.

Smith also had a good spring at cornerback, so Grantham isn’t eager to give him up. It will bear watching this fall to see just how much Smith really gets to play on the other side of the ball.

6. Still issues at receiver

Marlon Brown didn’t quite grab the No. 2 job. The other incumbents, Rantavious Wooten and Israel Troupe, were quiet. And by the way, Tavarres King still has to prove himself as a No. 1 option. That could still end up being Orson Charles, the tight end.

Chris Conley, one of two true freshmen in camp, looks like he’ll be a factor, but didn’t quite make a huge leap. Redshirt freshman Michael Bennett had a solid, but apparently not spectacular, spring.

So expect Malcolm Mitchell to get a long look when he arrives this summer.

7. Christian LeMay’s development

The other early enrollee, LeMay got a chance to at least throw the ball around a bit. Remember, this is a kid who didn’t play high school ball last year. And his presence expanded the amount of scholarship quarterbacks to three, so Georgia is grateful for that.

But the spring did little to resolve how things will be handled this fall: Will LeMay redshirt, or will he be the backup so Hutson Mason can get his redshirt back? Stay tuned.

8. Sanders Commings’ possible move to safety

This has been rumored for awhile, and coaches pooh-poohed it right up until it happened late in practice. And only then it was still out of necessity, with injuries to Bacarri Rambo, Jakar Hamilton and Mark Deas. Then Commings got hurt too, and missed G-Day.

The indication is that Commings probably will end up at safety, but that’s by far a certainty.

9. New leadership in the locker room

The new leader of the defense is Christian Robinson at inside linebacker. As last year’s leader, Akeem Dent, watched for much of practice, awaiting his NFL draft fate, Robinson took on a larger leadership role. He knows the defense, and as he becomes a fourth-year junior also is taking on more responsibility in the huddle.

On the offensive side, quarterback Aaron Murray – a good friend of Robinson’s – took on a larger role. That’s what you’d expect from a returning starter at the most critical position. But Jones also emerged as a vocal presence, stepping into his role as a senior and the most experienced veteran on the offense.

10. Bigger, stronger and faster?

Whether or not the change in the strength and conditioning program pays off could end up being the story of the season. But less than four months in is too early to draw any conclusions, especially when the Bulldogs are only knocking each other around.

The safest way to put it right now is that players said the workouts were indeed tougher and were paying off, and Richt said he could tell a difference. But frankly you wouldn’t expect them to say anything else.

So, continuing the overall theme of this spring, stay tuned.

Monday, April 18, 2011

An update on the Bonner/Carver story

Here’s our latest on today's big news: Three Columbus Carver High School football players, including highly-rated recruit Deion Bonner, being charged with theft from current Georgia players. Thanks to Chris White of the Ledger-Enquirer for his hustle in Columbus, where this is obviously big news.

Carver head coach Dell McGee said the three players would be suspended for the first five games of next season. As for whether Georgia’s offer still stands, McGee told White that he didn’t know what would happen. From the above-linked story:

McGee said he spoke with Georgia coach Mark Richt and said the Bulldogs coach viewed the alleged thefts as an isolated incident.

“(Richt) said these were just 16-, 17-year-old kids, that kids do different things, and it’s part of growing up,” McGee said. “It’s just an isolated incident that occurred. I know our program doesn’t stand for those types of things, and I don’t want to be represented by that.”

As for Georgia and head coach Mark Richt, they continue to decline comment on the matter.

Richt is kind of in a sticky position. According to NCAA rules, the program can at least confirm whether or not it is still recruiting a player.

But given the past tension between Georgia and Carver – which has only recently been smoothed over – it’s easy to see where Richt would want to let McGee and Bonner do the public speaking.

Still, I think it’s fair to say it would be a surprise to see Deion Bonner in a Bulldog uniform next year.

Three recruits charged in football locker thefts

Three visiting recruits from Carver High School in Columbus, including highly-rated defensive back Deion Bonner, were implicated on Monday in the thefts from the Georgia football lockers last week.

Bonner, one of the top recruits in the state of Georgia for the 2012 class, was charged and arrested on one count of theft-by-taking, according to UGA police chief Jimmy Williamson.

Bonner, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior, is a highly recruited defensive back with scholarship offers from a long list of schools including Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Miami, South Carolina and Southern California.

Marquise T. Hawkins, a sophomore running back, was charged and arrested on two counts of theft-by-taking. A third person, who was unnamed because he is under 17 years old and considered a juvenile, was charged with three counts of theft-by-taking.

Bonner and Hawkins were booked at the Clarke County jail on Monday at 9:05 a.m., according to records. They were released about two hours later after posting bond - $1,500 on each charge.

All three players have been removed from the Carver football team as of Monday, reports The Ledger-Enquirer's Chris White.

UGA spokesman Claude Felton said the team was declining comment for the moment.

On April 8, seven Georgia football players reported items stolen from their lockers in the Butts-Mehre building. There were eight reported items with a total value of $1,990, according to the incident reports. They ranged from an I-phone, with a case, valued at $500 taken from defensive end Abry Jones, to a $30 pair of Nike slippers taken from Jordan Love.

The lockers were not locked, according to the incident report, but access to the Butts-Mehre facility was secured by a fingerprint code.

Williamson said a search was performed last week in Columbus, and some items were recovered. But the electronic devices had already been sold away, he said.

Williamson said checks of Facebook were "helpful" in the investigation.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hutson Mason and his "sticky situation"

Quarterback Hutson Mason graded his performance in the Georgia spring football game as a B-minus or C-plus. He passed for 109 yards, but also threw the game’s lone interception.

Still, he finished the spring as the clear backup to starter Aaron Murray, as true freshman Christian LeMay continues to learn the playbook.

That doesn’t guarantee that Mason won’t redshirt.

“I don’t know man. It’s a sticky situation that I’m in,” Mason said. “The only thing I’ve tried to do is just compete every day. I’ll evaluate myself and my situation when it comes to that time. But you know, they just tell me to go out there and compete every day so that’s what I’m doing.”

Mason elaborated on the “sticky situation” by saying it was just that he and Murray are both sophomores. He couldn’t redshirt last year because the team only had two scholarship quarterbacks. Now the team also has Christian LeMay, but he’s a true freshman.

When head coach Mark Richt was asked Saturday about the backup quarterback battle, he said: “I think Christian LeMay right now is just battling the playbook. Until you really know what you’re doing, you really can’t compete at quarterback.”

But LeMay isn’t being ruled out as a factor. He showed a good arm and athletic ability on G-Day, and led the game-winning drive. (Richt said it was just LeMay’s turn in the rotation.) Richt also said he expects LeMay to be a factor in the competition in the fall, so no decision has been made on who will redshirt, if anybody.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, also the quarterbacks coach, summed up the quarterback situation this way:

“I think we’ve got two very good ones in Aaron Murray and Hutson Mason. The other guys are battling it out. (Walk-on) Parker Welch has done a lot of nice things. He’s improved tremendously all spring.

“Christian LeMay I think has a chance to be a very special player. He’s extremely athletic and has a very good arm. He’s just a freshman here and it’s really tough for any freshman to come in and really know what to do. But he’s shown us the ability … that we think he could do a good job.”

Mason was asked Saturday if, ideally, he would like to redshirt in order to be a year behind Murray – and potentially be in line to be the starter down the road.

“I haven’t thought about it much because I don’t want to make an impulsive decision right here and say I wish I did (redshirt),” Mason said. “It would probably be something I would have to sit down and think about what’s best for my future. I don’t want to say yea or nay right now.”

Mason added: “I’ll worry about it when I cross that bridge.”

Saturday, April 16, 2011

G-Day: Holdovers play as the future awaits

You can read my story from G-Day here at this link. Here are the opening few paragraphs:

ATHENS - The moment Isaiah Crowell made his entrance to Sanford Stadium on Saturday, he was immediately swamped by autograph-seekers and fans asking for pictures.

It was a fitting scene, even though Crowell wasn’t going to play a second in Georgia’s spring football game.

There was little drama in the game, as so many position battles and other issues are in a holding pattern. That’s thanks to the impending arrival of an elite recruiting class, headlined by Crowell, as well as a few others who attended Saturday’s G-Day.

Even head coach Mark Richt spent much of the postgame news conference discussing the future, rather than the players who had just completed an 18-11 win for the Black team over the Red.

“The guys that are here currently realize there’s a pack of Dogs coming to try to get playing time and try to win jobs,” Richt said. “So I think that’s going to really ignite and excite our program.”

The remainder of the story has a run-down of some of the other highlights, as well as more analysis and quotes from Richt.

Smith stars on offense on G-Day - but what about the fall?

The fact that Branden Smith played so much on offense on G-Day was a surprise to many – including Branden Smith.

“I didn’t even know I was going to play any offense at all today, until (offensive) coach (Mike) Bobo told me to get in,” Smith said. “So you know, I’m here.”

That he is, and it appears that Smith, who started at cornerback, could be in for a larger role on offense.

Yes, we’ve heard that before. But Bobo made it clear afterwards that he wants to use Smith on offense.

“He was such a weapon you had to get the ball in his hands," Bobo said after the spring game. "And Branden has shown the ability to do that, and we’ve got to find more ways to get him the ball.”

Smith has played offense before, but said he didn’t see any action on that side during spring. But he ended up getting a lot of touches throughout the G-Day game, finishing with two catches for 38 yards, including the game’s first touchdown, and two rushes for 11 yards.

The problem is that Smith wears the same No. 1 as incoming tailback Isaiah Crowell, and you can’t use players with the same number at the same time.

“We need to figure that out, because he needs to be on offense,” Bobo said.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham shook his head when asked if he would have to “fight” to keep Smith on defense.

“There ain’t no fight,” Grantham said. “Anything to do to help us win. Obviously he’s not going to be a full-time guy there. He’ll be a role player. But anything that can help us get explosive plays, because he’s an explosive guy.”

Then Grantham pointed to Smith’s touchdown, when he took a receiver screen and went 28 yards down the sideline for the touchdown. Smith put a nice move on fellow cornerback Derek Owens in the process.

“He caught a hitch and went the distance and it wasn’t even a vertical route,” Grantham said. “It was basically a one-yard route, and the guy missed the tackle, and he’s got the ability. Those things can help you. And if we put points on the board, then that makes it more fun on defense.”

Head coach Mark Richt said he expects to use Smith on offense “maybe as much or more” as he did last year. (Smith had six rushes for 46 yards and two catches for 17 yards as a sophomore.) Then Richt added that he’d like to use another cornerback, Brandon Boykin, on offense as well. Boykin was out for G-Day with a concussion.

But on Saturday, the focus was on Smith.

“In the huddle they just told me what I’d run, and me and Aaron just connected together,” Smith said. “It was just out of the blue. It was just running in the dirt, that’s all.”

Bobo compared it to how Champ Bailey was used, gradually increasing the amount of plays he had on offense. Bobo sounded hopeful he could do the same with Smith.

“It depends on what happens defensively and who steps up," Bobo said. "If he’s going to be a 70, 75-play player on defense, it’s hard to get him on offense."

G-Day game blog

0:20 left in game

The Black team has taken over after the Red couldn't convert on fourth down. Now I'm headed down to the locker room. I'll have updates from down there in a bit.

First impression: I don't think we learned too much today, although some things were reinforced, such as Kwame Geathers' strong spring. The defense won the day, but the offense had flashes.

2:53 left in the fourth quarter

Well, who knows how much to look into it, but freshmen Christian LeMay and Ken Malcome looked very good leading the Black team drive to a touchdown.

LeMay looked poised leading the four-minute offense down the field, accurate with his throws and running straight ahead on a few runs. And Malcome finished off the drive with a 12-yard run, after some other nice throws.

Aaron Murray passed to Taylor Bradberry for the two-point conversion to make it 18-11.

Now Parker Welch, not Hutson Mason, is on the field for the Red team to try to tie the game.

6:59 left in the fourth quarter

While the offense (and excitement) was sparse for much of this game, we might at least have some drama down the stretch. And we still have an unusual score.

Carlton Thomas barreled into the end zone to give the Red team an 11-10 lead. (They failed on a two-point try.) Hutson Mason was the quarterback on that drive; the No. 2 quarterback has had a mixed day, looking poised on some throws, but also tossing the game's lone interception and missing on some other passes.

The defense has been the star of this game - with even the best offensive player being Branden Smith, normally a defensive player.

9:06 left in third quarter

Branden Smith, for what it's worth, is so far my story of the spring game so far. Playing more on offense than expected, he just scored the game's first touchdown, taking a receiver screen from Aaron Murray and going down the sideline for a 28-yard touchdown.

That now gives Smith 38 receiving yards on two catches, to go with a four-yard run. He's behind only Aron White (two catches for 40 yards) on receiving yards so far, while Marlon Brown has a game-high three catches.

Halftime: Red leads, 5-3

Ah, what a score. We can only hope the second half features a bit more action. Or maybe not, if you're rooting for defense. Whatever you like.

A few good defensive plays to note near the end of the half: A sack by Jarvis Jones, and five-yard tackles for loss on runs by Alec Ogletree and Kwame Geathers.

Now it's time for the quarterback shootout, featuring Matt Stafford, D.J. Shockley, David Greene and Eric Zeier. At least we'll get some offense now.

5:56 left in second quarter

It's still kind of a snooze-fest here. Sorry, maybe I'll have more to report as the game goes along.

Parker Welch got a long series at quarterback ... That's what you need to know so far. (Apologies to Welch and any family members reading the blog.)

Caleb King did have a good run there, and is the tailback star so far just by virtue of not fumbling.

On the other hand, Marlon Brown completely whiffed on what would have been a long completion from Aaron Murray. Technically Brown is still the No. 2 receiver, but that status is tenuous and won't last for long if he doesn't show any dependability.

5:05 left in first quarter

If you like offense - and it seems most of the fans here do - then it got boring here pretty quick for you. It's been a defensive battle after the Red team's opening drive ended in that goal-line fumble - which only turned out to be the first fumble for poor Carlton Thomas.

He turned it over again on the third drive, setting up the Black team's field goal. They now lead 3-2.

Branden Smith has stood out so far, only because of how he's been used on offense: He got a pass on the second drive, then a carry out of the backfield. It looks like the coaches are experimenting a bit more with him on offense, which would be a good idea given the lack of playmakers to emerge so far.

9:35 left in first quarter

No, this isn't a baseball score: The Red team has a 2-0 lead after each team had two possessions. Although the Black team only had one play, which resulted in a safety as Aaron Murray couldn't escape the rush.

Carlton Thomas got the start on the Red team's opening drive, and had a few good runs - then fumbled at the goal-line. Caleb King is now in there for the second drive.

Hutson Mason looked good on that drive, with a 36-yard completion to Aron White on the first play. But you have to remember that he's going against a depleted secondary, as will be Murray.

12:45 p.m.: Injury report

By my count, there are 60 scholarship players on the spring roster, and 12 of them will be inactive today.

Brandon Boykin, a captain who helped draft the teams, headlines the list of players who are in shorts and won't play today. As expected, Washaun Ealey (hamstring) is out, and receiver Rantavious Wooten (unknown injury) is also not playing. The others we already knew about: Bacarri Rambo, Jakar Hamilton, Sanders Commings, Washaun Ealey, T.J. Stripling, Dexter Morant, Trinton Sturdivant and Jordan Love. There's also Jeremy Longo, who has retired because of a chronic knee injury.

SIDE NOTE: Boykin is pretty pumped up, slapping hands with teammates and such. You have to admire Boykin: He drafts his team, then has the good sense to get hurt so he can either say he picked such a good team that it didn't need him - or that it would've won if he had played.

G-Day is here ...

... And here's a look at who's out today, who's stock is up, who has work to do, and more.

This blog will be updated in the lead-up to the game, and then of course we'll live blog - because that's what we do - during the game.

One reminder about coverage: The game is on CSS everywhere. It will be on ESPN3 (online) as well, but my understanding is it will be blacked out in areas that have CSS.

11:40 a.m.: The early report

It's turning into a sunny day in Athens, but kind of brisk. Yours truly thought he'd be fine wearing a short-sleeve shirt, a decision I'm regretting at the moment. Then again, I'm in the shade of the press box, so denizens of the rest of the stadium might end up in better shape.

"Feels like football weather to me," Vince Dooley just said during a brief turn at the microphone at halftime of the alumni flag football game.

It's halftime of that flag football game, and the players have gone to the locker rooms, presumably to take in oxygen, or drink heavy amounts of liquor, or both. The Black team leads the Red 20-7, despite the Red team getting a nice contribution from Garrison Hearst on a catch-and-run. Just like he used to do it for the 49ers.

11:50 a.m.

One of the flag football team coaches was just asked what he told his players at halftime:

"I told them to remove all their belongings before the team comes back," he said.

Okay ...

12:15 p.m.: Actual G-Day game depth charts

Who knows how much they'll actually stick to these, but here are some things that stick out:

- The Red team's starting left tackle is Cordy Glenn. The Black team's (protecting Aaron Murray) is Hugh Williams. But obviously they won't allow quarterbacks to actually be sacked. Or at least they'll try not to let them.

- Kenarious Gates is listed as the right guard for the Red team. He had been occupying left guard during practice. The left guards on each team are Kolton Houston and Ben Reynolds.

- Chris Burnette is listed as the starting center for the Black team, even though he's become the favorite to start at right guard.

- A.J. Harmon and Justin Anderson are listed as the right tackles.

- At receiver, youth prevails on the depth chart: Chris Conley is ahead of Rantavious Wooten on the Black team, and Michael Bennett is ahead of Israel Troupe on the Red.

- How decimated are the safeties with injuries? Starting at free safety for the Black team is Connor Newman, and starting at strong safety for the Red is Eric Elliot.