Friday, February 26, 2010

UGA QB Shuffle : 3rd time's the charm.

Ok, we are again, a year experienced QB. We've seen this. 2006. 2009. 2010. Three out of the last five seasons, UGA has headed into spring practice with no experienced QB starter on its roster. Yes, Joe Cox had "A" start before last 2006, where he led the team to a 2nd-half deficit and had to be bailed out by future #1 draft pick (a distinction I have to use since he never won a championship or a national award) Matt Stafford.

"Wow, Dukes...sounds like you're a bit on the negative side today."

Not at all! I'm just stating facts. Deal with it.

Here's the thing...I read a comment by Mike Bobo this morning that has me a little rattled. On the subject of Logan Gray, this is what he said:

The thing about this kid is, all he’s ever wanted to do is help Georgia and play and compete,” Bobo said. “And that’s what he wants to do this spring at quarterback.'

Now, why would this bother me? Well, it sounds a great deal like what we heard concerning Joe Tereshinski and Joe Cox leading into their senior seasons. All they'd ever wanted to do was help Georgia. All they'd dreamed of was leading the Bulldogs to a championship.

You know what? When I was at Georgia, all I ever wanted to do was help my team win...and the coaches decided THAT would be best accomplished by keeping me on the sidelines. I don't disagree. I wasn't the biggest, strongest or fastest player...but I had a great deal of heart. My grit and determination earned me the respect of my peers, sparse playing time, a Varsity Letter, and a pair of awards. THAT'S ALL. NEVER would you have heard Jim Donnan say "We're gonna start Dukes at defensive end because all he's ever wanted was to help this team."

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Bobo's gonna use that as his sole indicator of who the starter should be. BUT, twice in the past four seasons, (06 and 09), a QB who was woefully undertooled for the job won it. Now, I'm the first to say that 09 was a direct result of a lack of preparation by the staff. I don't mean they didn't prepare Cox. I think Joe Cox was as prepared as he could be coming into the season. He didn't get much playing time in '08 because '08 was a tragically underperformed season. What I mean is, I don't think the staff did a good job of preparing for life without Stafford. There were reasons to believe he might return in '09. He had a goal to win a title, he didn't do it. He was a Heisman name...he didn't even come close in '08. I don't know that Joe Cox ever believed he'd start another game at UGA after Ole Miss in '06....until Stafford declared.

Then, the "Oh crap" moment. Cox realizes he's the guy....and that there's nobody else who's even CLOSE to being in contention. Not only that, but there's nobody in the SYSTEM who's being prepped for life after Cox. So, we're fortunate to score two TOP QBs in the '09 recruiting class. Logan Gray, while he may be a fantastic athlete - Which, I might add, is only hearsay as far as I'm concerned - was never going to challenge the 5th year man for the job. His reads and mechanics were still FAR too underdeveloped (as seen in the few appearances he had). I mean, if this is a kid who was going to challenge Cox, you'd think we woulda seen him during actual competitive moments throughout the season...but much like many 2nd stringers before him, he was a mop-up guy (And vs FL, wasn't even successful in THAT role).

The last time UGA had a TRUE QB competition was back in 2001-2004...Green and Shockley. These were two guys with all the tools to win, and with all the tools to lead the team to championships. How do I know? They both won SEC titles. In 2006-2009, we had one QB on the roster with those tools...and he bailed before succeeding in that goal. In 2010, the coaches will have to discover if any of the current crop of QBs have those tools. And THAT is what this QB competition should be about. It shouldn't be about who has the most time in the system. It shouldn't be about who "really wants to help the University of Georgia..."

NEWS FLASH:::: Kids don't take scholarships to schools, hoping to NOT play and help their team to a championship. Dumb argument.

The competition absolutely HAS to be about which one of these guys will have the best chance to lead this team to a championship in the next few years.

"DUKES! Don't you mean, NEXT YEAR?!?!"

Hell no, I don't mean next year. Do I think we can win a title in 2010? Yes. Do I think we will? I have no clue. But, that's not the point. The point is, in college ball, you're never thinking only about this year. In the pros, you can do that. You can spend a bunch of money, fill up your roster with ringers on one-year contracts, and give it a go. In college, you can't. You always have to be preparing for the seasons to come. You have to DEVELOP your roster.

We spent 2009 suffering through an 8-5 season, only to enter 2010 with no solid QB experience. I dare say we could have gone 8-5 and played Gray, Mettenberger and Murray throughout the season. In essence, this spring's QB competition should have played out on the competitive fields of the SEC's stadiums last fall. Murray was hurt, and Mettenberger "didn't know the playbook" well enough, I know. But, Mettenberger could have trotted onto the field with a total of five plays in his head, and run those five plays. He would have known what it's like to face defenses full of SEC stars playing at top speed. And he would have learned. At the tail end of the season, Murray would have been able to do the same. Logan Gray would have had a chance to mature as a QB instead of a fair-catch punt returner (another thing that bothers me about his supposed "athleticism"....why do the coaches only have him fair-catch the ball? Just to give him time on the field?) And hey, who knows? Perhaps giving Cox some in-game relief would have decreased the probability of late-game mental and physical fatigue resulting in disasterous turnovers and losses (Kentucky).

Ok, so what's this "Third time's the charm nonsense?"

Well, it's Richt and Company's third opportunity to do the right thing, and pick the right guy. In 2006, they went with the "Hard working special teams guy who wants to help the team win" Joe Tereshinski. WRONG.

In 2009, they went with the "all he ever wanted to do was lead UGA to a championship guy" Joe Cox. WRONG.

In 2010, they have the chance to ignore the "hard working special teams athletic guy who has always only wanted to help UGA win" Logan Gray and go with either the "all the tools to be an all-american Freshman" Aaron Murray or the "Howitzer Arm and playmaking ability Freshman" Zach Mettenberger. Let's hope they make the right decision.

Go Dawgs.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Football scores plummet as NCAA revamps rulebook

I'm a little heated this morning. I actually read the report last night, but given hours to sink in, the information has me steaming. Apparently, the NCAA rules committee is considering a pretty major change to the "Taunting" penalty, making it a live-ball foul. Under the new rule, if a player commits this foul on say, an 85 yard touchdown score, the score will be nullified and a fifteen yard penalty will be enforced from the spot of the foul.

What's my problem with this? COME ON! If you can't see the problem here, call Stevie Wonder..because HE can.

Honestly, this is another example of a bad rule that is going to cause problems in NCAA football. First of all, how does a referee decide what IS and what IS NOT taunting? Last season, UGA was flagged for celebration on a touchdown play when (i think) Caleb King dove into the end zone. He was diving to evade a tackle, but apparently that didn't matter. The ensuing kickoff was from the 20 yard line. Now, though, we'd lose the points and be forced to replay the down from the 16. What if a kid points up to the stands as he's crossing the 30 yardline with no one around him. Is that a foul? I'm willing to bet that some hack official will call it. Not all officials (most likely one who has some bone to pick with either the kid, the school, or his own athletic dreams that never came true), but someone will call it.


Holding, Pass Interference, Offsides, even the weak "Hands to the face" rule on the QB....these rules are all OBJECTIVE. It either happens, or it doesn't. There's no room for a referee's "judgment" call on whether or not a foul even exists (we'll get to interpretation of events later). As seen in the UGA v LSU game last season, the refs don't have the best "judgment"when it comes to unsportsmanlike acts. So, under this proposed rule change, instead of defining EXACTLY what the ref can and can not call, Oregon AD and committee chairman Mike Bellotti wants to allow referees to, at their own volition, change the outcomes of games.

Here's a scenario for you.....

Texas leads Alabama by 5 in a national title rematch with seconds to go. McElroy hits a wide-open Julio Jones on the Texas 40 yard line as time expires. Julio pumps his fist, and points to the crowd behind the endzone as he crosses the thirty and heads for the endzone. As he reaches the endzone, he kneels, places the ball on the ground, and seems to go into prayer. The team runs to join him, and they grab him, lifting him into the air. It's an amazing comeback victory and yet another fantastic chapter in the history of college football.......Only, there's a problem. The head referee, an Auburn grad, dropped his little yellow flag back at the thirty. The Call? Taunting. The score is erased. Alabama is given the ball on the Texas 45. Texas drops eleven players into coverage, and a hail mary pass is knocked to the ground at the 1.

Tell me...which is the better ending? The one where the kids on the field defined it, or the one where the official did?

Know what my biggest problem with this is? THERE'S NO ACCOUNTABILITY FOR REFS. The refs that botched the UGA-LSU game...they worked another game the next week...and screwed IT up, too. Only then were they suspended. Still, the teams they screw over don't benefit from that at all. UGA doesn't get those fifteen yards back. They don't get to kickoff to LSU and put them deep in their own territory. No, instead, they get an "L" (in part) because some hack official "Didn't like the way that kid was actin'".

Even the OBJECTIVE fouls get screwed up fairly often. People aren't actually offsides, players get held and not called, a WR pulls on a DB, causing the DB to fall, and when the DB falls on the WR's feet, tripping him, the DB gets flagged for Pass Interference.

How do we fix all of this? 1st, we get rid of the celebration and taunting fouls completely. Just get rid of them. There's no need for them. Football is an EMOTIONAL game. Kids are gonna get fired up. They're gonna celebrate, they're gonna taunt. It's no big deal. No player out there is gonna get his heart broken because some other kid taunts him. Now, if I were Bellotti, I'd get rid of those rules...but do it QUIETLY. Even better, leave them in the rule books...but tell the officials that they'll be fined $20,000 for each celebration or taunting foul that they call. That way, the fouls don't get called, but the kids still don't commit many, because they're illegal. Win-Win!

2nd, calls like pass interference, late hits, helmet-to-helmet, etc...need to be REVIEWABLE. It's unfair to get too angry at an official whose head is on a swivel and catches the tail-end of a vicious hit, tossing a flag because it SEEMS like it was a helmet-to-helmet (Reshad Jones, LSU). Still, the call was wrong. Reshad struck the WR's SHOULDER, not his helmet. Things that happen in an instant are subject to interpretation of the official. The problem is, the officials often get things wrong. When they do, replay should be able to overrule the call on the field. There should be an official in the booth who is not only presiding over the actions of the players (Stepping out of bounds, crossing the plane) but also those of the officials. If a ref blows a call, and it costs a defense 30 yards of field position, or even worse, a score, then there needs to be accountability!

If I were Mike Bellotti, THAT is how I'd look to preserving the integrity of the game. But worrying about a kid's "Eye-black" (oh yeah, I didn't even mention the proposal that will require that all eye-black be ONLY logos, writing, symbols, etc. No Bible Verses (Tebow) or "I Run This State" slogans (UGA RBS)) or whether he taunts another player isn't gonna cut it. I hate to tell Mike Bellotti, but it isn't the kids who but a black mark on NCAA's the jerks in charge.

Go Dawgs.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

College Football Playoffs...

::::::::::: This is a repost of a previous blog. I'm reposting it because my blog now updates on various sites, and I found the insight of "Dante" in the comments particularly interesting. Simply thought a few others might like to view it.:::::::

Lately, I've been reading a great number of opinions on how college football should crown its champion. A couple of years ago, I came up with a formula in which there would be only 96 D-I teams, in 8 conferences of 12 teams apiece. The playoffs would consist of 8 conference championship games (round 1) and then a 4-week seeded tournament of those conference champions. Why? Because the logic follows: the best team in the nation MUST be the best team in their own conference. From there, the best team in the nation must be able to prove it on the field. There is no "seeded disadvantage" for the BEST team in the nation, because they should be able to beat the other teams. So, the 8th seed couldn't complain about playing the 1st seed, because if they're actually the best, they'll win. Now, here's the kicker...there's no "home field advantage" in the playoffs. All playoffs are on neutral sites, (aka "bowls") and the "big four" would become the "big six", including both the quarter and semi final rounds. The National Championship game could then either find a permanent home, or continue to rotate among those big six stadiums. Personally, I'd love to see it find a permanent home.

Anyway, I was looking over some previous blogs this morning, and I ran across one I wrote in 2007. It offered a perspective that was quite different for me. It came before LSU won the title with 2 losses, and before Alabama won it as the first 14-0 champion. Give it a read, if you'd like.

Oh, and afterwards...yet another thought on the whole thing.

I was doing a little thinking about the current incarnation of the BCS in college football. While most fans agree that it is a bad solution to a horrible problem…there's no real champion in college football...conferences like the PAC-10 eat it up. They love it. They're traditionalists.

Traditionalists will argue that this is the way it's always been, and the way it should stay. They are proponents of the old bowl system…where teams just hoped to get invited to a bowl, and if they did so, great. Then, numerous media groups could vote on who THEY thought the best team MIGHT be.

That made sense in 1929, when money was scarce and traveling from one end of the nation to the other for the purpose of football competition was a much larger ordeal. Now, though, many of the top teams in the nation have either their own planes, or the easy ability to charter them. Their coaches are being paid in the millions. Simply put: the money is there, the time factor is nonexistent.

Bowl games today don't mean nearly as much as they did under that old system. People like to point to the pageantry and tradition of games like the Rose Bowl…but the fact remains, it's a football game in a stadium. That's all it is. If there's not a championship attached, it really doesn't mean much. There are far too many bowls. It takes 6 wins to get into a bowl. There are 12 games in the college football season. So, what we're saying here, is that we want to reward mediocrity. Is 50% really a good thing? If your auto mechanic was 50% sure your car was in good shape, would you want to drive it out into the desert for the weekend? If your paycheck came, and only 50% of your hours were on it, would you be excited? Or, would you feel great about having a spouse who's faithful 50% of the time?


50% is not something to be proud of.
*** 2010 note: Joe Cox was 50% accurate...anybody love THAT?***

Now, let's look away from those teams who are scratching and clawing just to get into a bowl…and look to the elite. The top 20 or so teams in the nation all have the same goal at the beginning of the year: to go undefeated.

Now, a lot of people would say that the goal is to win the national championship. Well, I defy that. See, in today's college football, playing for the national championship is almost synonymous with being undefeated. I know, I know, I know…there has RARELY been an undefeated team in the national championship game. True. But, ask any fan of any of the major schools the first thought that crosses his mind when his team loses its first game. Almost unanimously you'll get something along the lines of "Well, we're screwed now. Hope we can at least win the conference."


Because we live in an era that most people never thought would happen. We live in an era of Playoff College Football.

"BEN! There's no playoffs in college football!"

Bull. If you lose a game, you pretty much lose the championship. That's a playoff. It's the longest playoff series in sport. College football playoffs start in September and end in January. The sad thing is….there's not really a regular season. There aren't expendable games. When you lose, you fall. The distance you fall from a loss is WHOLLY disproportionate to how you will climb with a win. Not only that, but the amount of falling and climbing is largely based on a subjective component of human voting.

So, welcome everyone, to the 2007 NCAA Football Playoffs. It's the most convoluted playoff system ever created, consisting of 119 teams, with only about 8 having a legitimate shot at the title. The rest are just there to create drama and Cinderella stories. Enjoy the only playoff system where the teams that lose are still allowed to hang around just to screw up things for the winners.

It's gonna be fun!

A different opinion:

Why do we NEED a playoff system? Why do we NEED a "champion" to be determined on the field? It's for one thing - PRIDE. It's so we, as fans, can go into our offices and brag about how OUR team has done. This past season, when Alabama won the title, Alabama fans were proud of their team...and many SEC fans were proud that a team from their conference won the title. yes, there's an insane amount of arrogance surrounding our beloved conference, and I'm infected by it.

BUT, I went to highschool with a guy who was adamant that SEC fans couldn't claim BAMA's championship. He's a Bama fan...and insists that other SEC fans have done NOTHING to earn the title. They didn't cheer for 'Bama during the season. They were haters. They didn't deserve to revel in the victory. Now, this is a guy who never played a game of football in his life. In fact, I don't remember him even being a fan of football in High School...and we're a pretty tradition-rich program. (LaGrange High...GO GRANGERS!) So, I had to remind him that in actuality, he had done NOTHING to create that championship..that he hadn't earned it, that he hadn't put in any work. As such, he had the same ZERO right to claim the title as any other SEC fan.

And this got me thinking...what is it about the games that these 18-22 year olds play that has us in such a fit about who the champion is? Perhaps that's where the University Presidents have it right. At the end of the day, the game is a competition and the bowls are rewards for a job well done. Not every team is going to be good enough to win a title, but some of the "lesser" teams do actually deserve a reward. I'll be's damned hard to win a football game. It's even harder to win 8,9,10 games. Personally, I think 8 wins should get you into a bowl game. That's a 2/3 season. It ain't great...and you shouldn't be considered for any "elite" bowl or a title or anything. But, a reward is warranted. As for the "championship" of the nation, it's pretty subjective...especially in a sport as SINGULAR as football.

"Dukes...what do you mean by "singular"?"

Well, in baseball and basketball, you will play a team a few times before the end of the season. You will get numerous chances to redeem yourself or prove you are consistently better. In football, your entire season can be destroyed when a longsnapper screws up on a potential gamewinning fieldgoal. That's tough. You could be the best team in the nation, but on one rainy Saturday, you lose everything because the conditions are better than you. And that's just how it goes.

Not only that, but when you start to do a playoff system, you are defining who the champion is by a set of rules and stipulations. At the end of the season, you are going to know DEFINITIVELY who the best was. As such, you're going to lose one of the greatest components of college football - conjecture. There's going to be less to talk about. There will be no "BCS dispute articles" to be written. Gone will be the "if we'd have played in that game" talk...because it will be simple - your team wasn't good enough. No excuses, no doubts. There will be ONE best team in the nation every year, and the other 118 will be NOT best. No discussion. No argument.

Are we sure we want that?

Go Dawgs.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A quick thought on Recruiting 2011

Georgia signed 19 recruits last week. That means next February, UGA could sign 37 recruits and still be within NCAA rules. Now, it's extremely doubtful that UGA will be doing that, but it is certainly allowed. As opposed to this season, when UGA's losses were minimal, next season, graduation and the NFL draft will very likely deliver a much stronger blow. Both offensive and defensive line as well as the linebacking corps are quite full of upperclassmen. AJ Green could very well leave for the NFL after next season as well. It's doubtful that Caleb King would leave, unless UGA meets with incredible success next season. But, stranger things have happened.

As I counted it, UGA has at least 18 scholarship players set to graduate after the 2010 season. Add to that any juniors who may depart, and there are a good number of slots opening in the scholarship rotation. So, for the 2011 class, UGA will be in a very good position to sign more players than the NCAA limit of 28.

But, how does 18 vacated scholarships = 37 available?'s not that those 18=37 available. The fact is, there will likely be other scholarships that come open. Somebody will get hurt, somebody will leave the team, somebody will transfer out. And, we don't need 37 available scholarships. We need there to be 37 players who we really love and want to bring in within the next 365 days. Example:

37 players sign in Feb 2011. There are 20 available scholarships. 2o players enroll for fall ball. 7 players don't qualify and go to Georgia Military for a season. In December 2011, another select group of Seniors and Juniors declare for the draft, and the remaining ten players enroll in January. Is it likely? No. But, it's possible.

Here's a thought - could it be that next year's crop of recruits is better suited to fill UGA's future needs than the current group was? Could it be that UGA signed a smaller number this year because they know more solid top targets exist in the recruiting pool of 2011? I have no idea. But, I could definitely see it. Florida signed 16 players in month after winning a national title. Are we supposed to believe that only 16 players wanted to play for the University of Florida? No. But, we see that this year, they signed their full 28, with 17 being from the ESPN top 150. In 2010, the Gators signed more top-flight talent, than their total signees of 2009. Why? Because they had a solid team in place for 2009. They didn't have to fill many holes, so they could afford to sign fewer players. They could afford to wait, and get more marquee players 12 months later.

Did UGA think this way? There's no telling.........but I'll be very interested to see what recruiting moves are made in the next few months before G-Day.

Go Dawgs.


Dawgs '10....Who we gonna throw to????

So much noise has been made about the defection of Da'Rick Rogers, you'd think Trinton Sturdivant will be lining up in the slot. We have seven WRs on scholarship right now, and even though that's not a HUGE's two more than you'll find on most NFL rosters. Chew on that one for a while. Also, there are 5 walk-on receivers currently on the roster. I'm not saying any of them is Jerry Rice (or even Damian Gary), but you never know what a brilliant winter and spring can do for a walk-on (read: Tra' Battle). This year, we say goodbye to two receivers, Michael Moore, and Vernon Spellman. Don't tell me you don't know who Vernon Spellman is. You know you remember his 4-yard catch against Tennessee Tech.

Unless you don't.

"But Dukes! Da'Rick can walk on WATER. He woulda been fantastic for us this year. Without him, we'll be wandering the desert of the SEC basement!" (Pause to recover from the backhand I just placed across your cheek)

We will have other receivers come in for 2011, the year when Rogers would have likely cracked the rotation. So, let's worry about 2011 later. For now, I want to talk about 2010. I ran across "Bernie's Dawg Blog" this morning, where he was discussing a serious lack of production from the WR spot, outside of AJ Green.

On the plus side, we lose very little at wideout this year. No disrespect to Mr. Moore, as I feel he was CLUTCH. But 25 catches for 249 yards is hardly a flying buttress of receiving support. The 5 TDs are nice, of course. In fact, of the WRs, only Wooten matches Moore's 1 TD for every 5 catches mark (Aron White beats them both with a TD on every third catch). At the end of the day, the 2010 WR corps will be very similar to the 2009 corps, with the notable exception that Marlon Brown will have had a year to work on his routes, downfield blocking, and attitude.

But, as for production, let's look at the numbers. Below are the receiving stats for each game, by AJ Green and others by position.

OSU = AJ: 4-52-0 WR: 4-13-1 TE: 3-58-0 RB: 4-39-0
USC = AJ: 6-86-1 WR: 5-50-1 TE: 2-38-0 RB: 4-27-0
ARK= AJ: 7-137-2 WR: 8-155-1 TE: 3-83-2 RB: 0-0-0
ASU= AJ: 8-153-1 WR: 6-62-0 TE: 2-16-0 RB: 1-11-0
LSU= AJ: 5-99-1 WR: 3-59-0 TE: 3-32-0 RB: 7-39-1
UT= AJ: 8-60-0 WR: 8-64-0 TE: 0-0-0 RB: 4-28-0
VU= AJ: 3-95-1 WR: 3-45-0 TE: 3-35-0 RB: 7-53-1
UF= AJ: 3-50-0 WR: 4-50-1 TE: 3-44-1 RB: 1-20-0
TTU= AJ: DNP WR: 5-43-1 TE: 7-112-1 RB: 2-10-0
AU = AJ: 3-19-0 WR: 3-109-1 TE: 1-34-0 RB: 2-11-0
KY = AJ: DNP WR: 7-205-2 TE: 4-73-1 RB: 1-13-0
GT = AJ:DNP WR: 4-49-1 TE: 3-30-0 RB: 1-3-0
TAM= AJ: 6-57-0 WR: 2-34-0 TE: 4-34-2 RB: 3-39-0

TOT= AJ:53-808-6 WR: 62-938-9 TE:38-589-7 RB: 33-293-2

If we take out Michael Moore, we find that the WR totals drop to

WR: 37-644-4

What does all this mean? I dunno...just thought I'd look into some numbers.

Actually, what I came up with was that AJ Green made up for 28% of the catches, 30% of the yardage and 25% of the TDs last season, and that seems about right to me. The #1 receiver should be skewing higher than everyone else, and the deviation isn't THAT large, especially considering the fact that AJ is going to be on the field on almost every play, and the others are going to be substituted around depending on offensive packages. Perhaps the problem isn't a lack of production by the receivers other than AJ, but rather a lack of production IN TOTAL by our passing offense. We had 875 fewer passing yards this season than in 2008 (and we didn't make it up in the running game where we rushed for just 165 more yards than in 2008).

Now, what else do we see?

Well, we see a strong up-tick in the receptions by TEs. This is due to two things. 1st, better talent at tight-end. I said it at the end of 2008 - the graduation of Tripp Chandler would usher in a new era for the tight-end at in which the QB wouldn't fear throwing the ball to them. I was right. 2nd, a QB who couldn't trust his laser arm to deliver precision mid-range passes to WRs with good coverage men on them (a la Matt Stafford). Instead, he could hit athletic tight-ends who were often covered by linebackers with weaker coverage skill-sets. Cox had to play the mismatch game, because he wasn't going to out-talent many DBs. He could place deep-balls well, but the 20-yard out was never going to be his specialty. He just didn't have the arm strength.

Which, I might add, brings me to my next point. I have yet to uncover the statistics of "thrown-to" versus "caught" for our receivers. I would love to know what the statistics show about Cox's 56% accuracy. The 15 INTs don't help that stat, but more importantly, I'd like to know if the receivers other than AJ were doing a good job of catching the ball when it came to them. I remember fewer drops this season than earlier in the 2000s, surely...but I remember a few big drops as well. If we're going to truly analyze the production numbers, we have to know if they're low because people weren't catching the ball or because Joe wasn't getting it to them. We do know that 15 times, the answer seems to be the latter. (And yes, I know he had some tipped balls and such that led to picks...but there's no stats on that either).

Let me add this, though, since I don't have thrown-to verses caught numbers: I can't say who can compliment AJ with production in terms of catches...but often what's important is what a receiver DOES with the ball once he has it. Now, to THIS point, UGA has reason to be optimistic. Did you know that among returning wideouts, AJ actually has the LOWEST per catch average? Now, it's unfair to place him against Israel Troupe, who only caught 4 balls all year. His 22.5 YPC is hardly an accurate assessment of what he'll bring to the table - unless it is. But, against players with at least 13 catches, there's only ONE who has as low a YPC as Green, and that's Aron White. TKing picks up 20.9 ypc and Wooten grabs 19.7. We actually have big-play receivers...we just have to get them INVOLVED in the passing game. Mike Moore had the lowest YPC among active receivers, with 10. Of course, most of his catches seemed to be on clutch short-yardage plays when he had to slide between a safety and linebacker to make a big catch.

Long story short, 17 players caught balls for UGA last season. Fifteen of them are returning in 2010. Kris Durham also returns. Bruce Figgins also returns. If we're looking for a deep threat to compliment AJ Green and stretch the field, we have that in King and Wooten. If we're looking for a big-body possession guy to make clutch catches, we have Durham and I think Troupe will fit into that role as well. As for auxiliary, the jury's still out on Marlon Brown. Though, I do think it's funny that his only catches last season came against TN. Do we need more young talent? Of course - we can never have too many playmakers. But, I see Branden Smith stepping in and doing a thing or two on occasion.

Oh, and one more thing - we have a brand new hot-shot quarterback (no matter which freshman gets the job, it's true) and he'll have a gang of experienced targets to hit. He'll have an experienced line in front of him. And, he'll have a group of solid runningbacks (both RB and FB) to pick up blitzes, and occasionally for him to check down to.

Do I think that QB will come in and toss 25 TDs like Stafford or even 24 like Cox? Not necessarily, but I do believe he's going to have a much easier break-in than Stafford did in 2006. Can April get here fast enough?


Friday, February 5, 2010

Why did we lose who we lost?

Earlier I was over at Paul Westerdawg's blog ( where he was talking about "border defense." Apparently, one of the biggest problem for people with class is that UGA didn't lock down its top talent. Below is my response as to factors that may have come into play.

I can give you a couple of reasons for what we "lost out on" on the offensive side of the ball.

1) QB - Richt made it clear for a long time that he wasn't going to take a QB in this class. That means, many prime quarterbacks no longer looked at UGA. When Richt finally said, "we're gonna need a quarterback," many decisions had already been made (mentally, if not publicly). But Hutson Mason, always a Dawg fan, was immediately interested. The guy was a record breaker and a winner. I don't know the level of competition, and when I saw him in the North-South game I didn't know what to think. He didn't amaze me, but he kept plays alive, and he had very little practice time. Anyway, that's QB.

2) RB - First off, Ken Malcome is a 4-star recruit, the same as the two Georgia running backs rated above him who went to Miami and FL. His rating is an "81" while theirs is an "83". What's the difference? I certainly don't know. It could be as simple as a 40 time. Now, how can we "let" these players get away? Well, we certainly weren't going to take three running backs. Storm Johnson, the highest ranked back of the bunch, wasn't even offered by the SEC. He signed with Miami after looking at Michigan State, Penn State, Oregon and UNC. His 40 time is 4.54, so I'm guessing the SEC schools thought he was too slow. OR, they decided that he won't perform well against the top defensive talent in this conference. He likes to run east-west a great deal...something not great against a speed defense.
As for Mack Brown, he was offered by UGA, FL, OU and AL...just like Ken Malcome. We got one, FL got the other. Sorry if I don't feel terrible about the loss.

3)WR - Da'Rick Rogers was the guy. I think that story has been beat to death. I've seen many comments saying he's a slacker, he gives up on plays, he's all flash and has attitude problems, etc. I don't know about any of that. I know the guy was stuck hip-to-hip with his QB, and when TN knew they could get a top WR by offering a weak QB, they did it. Personally, I'm glad UGA didn't take that approach.

4)OT - Let's look at where Ju'Wuan James (83) ended up - Tennessee. The 2009 UT team had two kinds of tackles, Seniors and Freshmen. The Seniors are gone. The Freshmen are sophomores. James has 4-year starter potential, and there's not a long list of experienced players in front of him. If he's the guy who wants to play NOW, UT is a better choice. UGA has a much more experienced roster at tackle, and a 2010 OT coming in knows he's probably headed for a redshirt. That may not have sat well with James, but it was apparently ok with Brent Benedict, another top 150 recruit.

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.