Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The great signing day fallout

Ok, first off, this isn't the nicest post in the world. I'm gonna go ahead and lay some things out for you. We didn't get the "high dollar" players in this recruiting class. And what does that mean? VERY LITTLE. So many people are whining about Da'Rick Rogers running off to Tennessee "last minute." He didn't run off last minute. He ran off when TN said they'd give his buddy a shot at playing at a real football school, instead of Vandy. If TN wants to make deals like that, fantastic. Personally, I wouldn't want to see UGA do that. I wouldn't want to see us take ANOTHER QB who's gonna burn a scholarship for four or five years then leave us with very little in terms of production.

And NO, I'm not only talking about Joe Cox. Tereshinski, AJ Bryant, Blake Barnes...all of these guys are similar in that respect (Logan Gray will likely be added to the list).

But, I think it's time we shift focus for a second. What does "5-star" mean, anyway? If you read the comments to many blogs, you'd think that "5-star" means "championship." You'd think "5-star" means "Heisman." You'd think "5-star" means "record-breaking player."

In some cases, this might be true. BUT, what the 5-star rating ACTUALLY means is this:

"A potential immediate game-changer at the major college level who could push for all-conference recognition as a true freshman. Will enter college with elite skills needed to create mismatches against top-level competition. A future All-American candidate."

And here is 4-star:

"A potential three- to four-year starter at the major college level with the superior skills needed to see early playing time and make a significant impact during his college career."

Now, when you land a 5-star recruit, it can be a BIG boost for you. BUT, not having them doesn't mean your team is SHOT for the next 4 years. We didn't get Rogers....SO WHAT?


Raise your hand if you think Da'Rick Rogers was going to come in and unseat AJ Green as the #1 wideout. No takers? Ok, raise your hand if you thought Marlon Brown, last year's big "get" was gonna come in and be the immediate #2 guy. Ah...I see more hands. Well guess what - that didn't happen.

UGA didn't NEED to add a bunch of flashy 5-star recruits to its offense. You know where UGA could use a 5-star player? At QB. Guess what.....Aaron Murray was a 5-star recruit. Apparently, he was good enough out of highschool to potentially push for all-conference recognition. Now, he's had a year of seasoning at the college level. He should be REALLY REALLY good. That's if recruiting rankings mean anything. Oh yeah...and Lonnie Outlaw, the last-minute pull who's going to Hargrave first....remember his name in 2011. It just might be more well-covered than Da'Rick Rogers.

What DID UGA need, with a new defensive scheme and a depleted defense? Well, we needed depth on defense. Guess what....Out of 9 "4-star" recruits, 6 will be playing for Grantham. Oh, and he's basically getting another one in Richard Samuel, whose position change to LB Richt officially announced today.

We didn't get a Corner in this class. Well, the ones we had on the list were shorter guys, not the type that Lakatos traditionally recruits. He likes bigger, more physical guys...and UGA has a few of those on the roster. Also, Brandon Boykin and Branden Smith made big strides last year. I don't know that a hotshot 5-star was gonna like his chances to come in and play immediately. Not only that, but the defenders had very little relationship with the new D regime in Athens. The fact that we kept the ones we did is something that should NOT be overlooked.

UGA did pick up two of the top OL in the country this year, as well as another with great upside from SC. He could turn out to be another "overlooked" gem in the recruiting pool.

All-in-all, this class could have been better, it could have been worse. But, those of you who are looking for justification for your "Georgia is falling apart" rants should definitely look somewhere else. You ain't gonna get that from me. At the end of the day, it takes a "85" rating to hit 5-star status. Does anyone know what makes a player an 85 versus an 81? Anyone?

I sure don't.

Here's what I want to know.....are the kids going to show up to practice, show up to the weight room, give their best on every play, and work their tails off to win? If that's what this class is going to do, then I'm happy with it. The kids who acted like someone pissed in their cornflakes when the team made the best decision by firing bad coaches...well, I don't want them around. There were a number of high-quality kids who were redshirted last year. There will be a few studs in this class and there will be a few busts. That's the way recruiting works.

The fact is, we won't know FOR SURE about how this class shapes up for another two or three years. We'll get an idea this fall...and NEXT fall, we'll have a decent idea. But, it could be that a "40" rated WR who has height, speed and ball skills but was under the radar, may end up the biggest snatch, and Rogers becomes a distant memory. Only time will tell.

Until then, if you're in you're seventh year of "entry level" accounting or sales for some firm that you hate, working hours you can't stand and living vicariously through the LOI faxes of seventeen and eighteen year old kids....perhaps it's not THEIR life decisions you need to be evaluating.

Go Dawgs.

18 comments:

BulldogBry said...

(standing up and applauding)

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Fantastic post.

burt said...

For every 5 star Marlon Brown, there is a 5 star AJ Green that kept us from being 6-7 last year.

gene said...

I don't actually read your blog much but I see I'll have to change that habit. Anyone with this much sense deserves my look.

Bad said...

I agree. BUT...seeing as how we keep finishing behind FL at the end of the season, we are getting tired of finishing behind them in Feb. If Coach would have shown some secret ability to evaluate talent better than the "stars" we would all trust him completely. But it still seems they need to work harder or SOMETHING. FL has new coaches/no tebow and they locked down their guys. Saban just seems to out work everyone. What is going on? Heck Dooley kept the team from imploading in just weeks. What do we need to do? Can we talk to some kids who have been recruited and find out what it is about them? Don't get me wrong...I love CMR. There is no hot seat. Someone needs to do anything.

Ben Dukes said...

I really shouldn't have to tell you why players would choose to go with the teams that have dominated play in the SEC for the past two seasons. FL lost a coach to be a head coach of another team, that's not a firing. Students don't get bent out of shape about that. They say "well, he had to do what was best for him." But, when the guy a kid has built a relationship with gets canned, he can feel a bit slighted. They're teenagers...most of them always feel like somebody's out to get them.

Have we made up ground on FL? Well, we were 1-4 against them under Willie's tenure, and 1-3 in the years prior. So, I'd say no. BUT...I'll also say that we were blown out of the water more recently. Through the first seven years of Richt's coaching in Athens, the GA-FL game was a good game, a tight game. We won two of them, and lost the other five by a maximum of 14 points, with a low of 3. I'm not one who believes in "moral victories," but the game was generally a good game that would slip through the Dawgs' hands (Lito Sheppard INT, Injured DJ Shockley, etc). However, these past two seasons, when Martinez has been at his worst, we have seen just how much those athletes in FL can do when given opportunities.

I'm not saying Grantham will close the gap completely and guarantee a win against FL, but I do believe he will do a better job of coaching the kids up and putting them in position to make plays. Once you do that, it's Athlete-on-Athlete...and I like to side with the kids who have a chip on their shoulder.

That's us.

MarkD said...

Nice post, Dukes. I read some interesting commentary on Rogers that makes his defection a little easier of a pill to swallow: Apparently, despite his high-rating, opposing h.s. coaches have said his ethic is tragic (he gives up very quickly on plays in which he's not directly involved), and there's a strong possibility that he'll become academically ineligible. Someone with that much liability isn't worth a scholarship at UGA.

That said, I am troubled that even Coach Richt said he's worried that we don't have enough quality guys to qualify as a strong receiver corps. Couple that with the lack of a strong QB going into spring training (All the hooplah about Logan last year yet he was lackluster when he did get to play), and it's going to be an offensive struggle again next season.

To me, that frustratingly means we revert back to the Lean-on-the-Defense strategy, but when you consider the greater speed and distance that the 4th and 5th men have to cover in 3-4 blitz packages since they're not on the line, that means we're going to have an exhausted defense by the end of every game. Forget it if we lose anyone to injury.

So I agree with you wholeheartedly that we needed a high-recruit QB - Although, as a counterpoint, there is consensus among prognosticators that this class overall had no strong QBs, and some consider the QB we DID get, Hutson Mason, to be a potentially overlooked gem. We also needed strong guys at the skill positions - another WR to balance AJ. With just 1 strong receiver, Green will get smothered in coverage and we'll have to rely on a running game that wasn't that strong last year (and won't be supplemented much by the incoming class). The most difficult pill for me to swallow is the thought that UF's incoming class has more talent than our seasoned and current starting offense.

As a die-hard UGA alum, I am hoping for the best and anxious to see just how talented our incoming coaches are, but I'm admittedly expecting to say "There's always next year" yet again by season's end.

MarkD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MarkD said...

In response to the above post about the coaching change, more than anything, I hope that Grantham + Lakatos, coupled with Richt's newfound "resolve," will light a fire under Richt's rear-end and put an end to this whole, "Let's act kosher and unemotional and kill em with kindness" bit. His stoic demeanor, from what I've seen, really hasn't raised the emotion or excitement levels of the team. In my opinion, it all came to light when, just before we beat Tech, Richt yelled at his players for dousing him with Gatorade. Premature as the dousing may have been, an overwhelming part of me realized why the team hasn't been energized at all. All of me wished Coach would just allow his players to have fun. There's a reason the teamwide celebration worked a few years ago in Jax. Richt should re-read his own notes. Succumbing to ensuing criticism was not the correct path.

If nothing else, can we just get Van Gorder's crazy "double thumbs up" back? Such a small gesture yet sign of emotion and approval really did wonders for the defense during his tenure.

WEDDING OFFICIANTS OF GEORGIA said...

Great insight as always - GO DAWGS AND COACH RICHT!

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

RE: the record against Florida, especially recently.

The 2007 GA-FL game was also not determined by stellar defense on Georgia's part.

Paul said...

Recruiting stars mean something. Sometimes they can be wrong, but, in general, 5-star kids > 4-star kids > 3-star kids, etc.

I want us to do well, and I think we're really only appreciably behind Florida in the stars per recruit rankings. But let's not kid ourselves into thinking that good coaches can turn a bunch of Vandy recruits into an SEC championship team.

MarkD said...

Paul, I agree with you that there is validity behind star rankings (otherwise, why have them at all), but, just to throw in a counterpoint, neither Boise State nor TCU nor GaTech had Top 15 classes last year, yet they landed in BCS Bowls and we didn't, and USC was ahead of us in the class ranking last year, yet they barely held on to a Top 25 finish by the end of the year. And, to be frank, we recruited the #6 class but finished 8-5. So just as an engine is only as fast as its slowest part, so also is a football team only as good as the coaches who develop them.

Ben Dukes said...

Again, last year's class has little to do with success and failure of last season. You have to go back two or three classes to talk about "what these kids have done." Nine of UGA's signees last season were redshirted. The others (except Marlon Brown) contributed, and a few were gamebreakers in two seasons, (2011), those kids will ALL be seasoned, and we'll know how that class actually shook down.

As for the TCU and BSU comparison, I won't make it. Here's the thing...if either one of those teams was playing against Auburn, FL, Alabama, TN and LSU, they wouldn't have had nearly the success they did. I'm not saying they couldn't beat one of those teams in a bowl...I'm saying they wouldn't beat them all in a season, not even close.

We face the BEST the country has to offer, and if we're not going to do it with superior Athletes, we're going to have to do it with Superior Coaching. THAT is how Saban did it so fast at AL, and that is how Richt will have to do it.

Getting rid of Willie was the first good move. We'll see how well Grantham's D does.

Joseph said...

I'm trying to figure out what the hell MarkD is talking about. I don't think the problem is Richt not letting the kids have fun. I was at the ASU game this year. With the score tied in the fourth quarter, half our team was dancing on the side lines like a bunch of idiots who weren't into the game. If anything, Richt needs to be demanding more discipline from the team, not less.

On another note, I don't think a lack of talent is an excuse for not beating FL. In my estimation, we have approximately the same level of talent. Coaching has been the issue. And as far as the WR, Richt also said that the wealth of TEs should make up for some of the shortfall and I agree. GA has always been best offensively when we have had active TEs. I also don't know what Mark is talking about with the running game. It really came on at the end of the season, culminating in the complete distruction of tech. I think the running game will be a source of great strength next season.

MarkD said...

I wasn't at ASU so I'll just take your word for it - If we're undisciplined, that's an issue for sure. But we might be talking about two different things: It's wholly possible to be emotional and still be disciplined. Pete Carroll and Nick Saban's teams prove that. Trying to enforce unemotionality (if that's even a word) yet having a lack of discipline is not a good combination.

With regard to your runningback response, it's hard to accept any defense of an 8-5 season. You said that the running game "came on at the end of the season." Try the VERY end of the season... as in the very last game of the regular season. Is that even acceptable? Before that game and aside from Tenn. Tech, UGA didn't break 200 yards rushing in a game, we had three consecutive games with total rushing yards of 92, 45 and 89 yards, respectively, and we were only able to score THREE rushing TDs in the first EIGHT games of the season--That's 2/3 of the season! By year's end, we had 12 rushing TDs, as opposed to 24 the year before. Say what you will, but neither by statistic nor by performance, I didn't see any equal replacement for Knowshon on the field last year. No one stood out. And we only have one RB on the recruited class this year.

Pete said...

My, my, you're a pessimist... let me know when you'd like a refill on that half-empty glass, MarkD.

200 rushing yards in a game is an awful lot. It doesn't happen very often against good competition, unless you're a rush-oriented offense (like Tech, Navy, Nevada, etc). Gerogia is a balanced offense. I'd expect to see something along the lines of 150 rushing yards and 250 passing yards each game.

Back to stats... if you look at King and Ealy's stats for the last half of the year (taking out the games they didn't play or had very few carries), they both would be on pace for a 1,000 yard season over the course of a full season. Now, I know we expected more out of Knowshon than a 1,000 yard season... But, two is more than one! And that's from a balanced offense.

sanjeet said...

They're teenagers...most of them always feel like somebody's out to get them.

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