Monthly Archives: February 2010

Be the ball, Danny.

Well, everybody in Athens sure sounds fired up these days.  Just listen to Marcus Dowtin:

“I look at the guys at my position and the people around that position with the Cowboys, and I just see the energy and how people are flying to the ball. It’s exciting. It’s something new and it’s something that other teams won’t be used to. With the athletes we’ve got, I think it’s going to be a shock to everybody.”

What’s the energy source, you ask?

The process is pretty simple, Dowtin said. Grantham explains how to run a certain play or coverage. He then goes to the chalk board and draws up the Xs and Os to make sure his players understand. Then they move to the film, where Grantham shows his former Dallas players executing the play at full speed.

“He basically says, ‘Put yourself in those positions and see yourself making plays,’ ” Dowtin said. “And that’s what you do to learn it.”

There’s an enthusiasm that comes with that type of education, too, Dowtin said. There’s a sense among the players that they’ve been let in on a secret, that this new coaching staff has unlocked some hidden potential the rest of the world wasn’t sure existed. Now, they simply can’t wait to unleash on the opposition this fall.

Admittedly, the mockery is a little unfair, at least in Grantham’s direction.  If you read the rest of Hale’s article, it’s clear that Grantham’s got a very strong sense of organization and good grasp of both an overall coaching philosophy and mastery of the details to enable that.

The question is how soon that translates into a sea change in attitude amongst his charges.  Getting pumped up watching Cowboys tape is fine.  Overcoming this sort of thinking is a lot harder.

… Speaking of which, this year’s mat drills supposedly have been the toughest ever but more A grades than ever are being given. The boys are really getting after it, Richt says. The team is really into it this offseason. There’s a lot of excitement. They’re working harder than ever, harder even than last year when we were told they were really into it and excited and working harder than ever.

Though now we’re hearing that not everyone was working all that hard, at least according to A.J. Green, who said “we thought things were just going to be handed to us and didn’t work as hard as we should.”

That, of course, contradicts all the energy and leadership talk we heard during the 2009 offseason.  And how that team, fresh off the loss of Stafford, Moreno and Allen, could have believed that things were simply going to be handed to it is rather astonishing.

At least it was until you saw the Tennessee game.  This year’s staff has its work cut out for it.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Excuses, excuses

Sounds like a bit of seed-planting making the rounds in Baton Rouge:

… Miles knows the climate. He will not speak about it specifically in public. But he knows what the score is. He is well aware that he has not received a raise nor has his contract been rolled over the last two years, which decreases the amount of money he will be owed through his buyout should he not be retained for the 2011 season. He will have four years remaining on his deal after the 2010 season, which means with a $3.75 million a year salary, he could receive as much as $15 million should he be fired. A possible NCAA investigation into recruiting violations by Miles’ program could give LSU cause, however, and decrease the buyout significantly.

Sure, sure, that doesn’t sound like much.  But ask Mike Leach about what a school is capable of blowing up if it sees an opportunity arise to wriggle out of a big buyout.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Too much information

I keed, I keed.

Seriously, how’d you like that massive data dump that emanated from Butts-Mehre yesterday?  We’ve got defensive players lining up every which way, players getting reassigned to new positions, lots of “nothing is etched in stone” talk from the head guy, the ghost of Fabris being exorcised with the new special teams coaching assignments… you name it.

There were even tactical changes announced, for those of us looking to grasp at any post-Martinez straws we can find:

On the secondary:
“It’s going to be a little different philosophy. We were more of a boundary corner and a field corner, not to say that we won’t continue to do that, but the boundary corners in our old scheme were counted on to do a lot of run support. I don’t know if we’ll doing quite as much of that. … We still may go left-right in that regard. I think we’re going to be experimenting a little bit at the corner position. You’d like to have safeties that can play both the strong and the free. That’s ideal really in any defense. …We’re just going to be mixing and matching with these guys a little bit to see who can do what.”

Certainly, any talk-is-cheap caveat you want to toss out about now is appropriate.  But one thing that strikes me after reading this…

Georgia’s players aren’t the only ones getting used to all the changes around the football offices. Richt said he has done his best to soak in some new ideas that Grantham and fellow first-year assistants Scott Lakatos and Warren Belin have brought to the table, too.

“It’s a healthy exchange of ideas,” Richt said. “A lot of times you spend a lot of money to fly around to different schools to get details of what’s going on, but how much can you get in a one- or two-day period compared to a guy just being there, living there.”

Richt already has decided to implement two suggestions of his new staff.

First, he’ll be going back to a Monday through Thursday practice schedule, with walk-throughs on Fridays. Last season he had the team practice on Sunday and gave the players Monday off, but he has since reconsidered the plan in light of some input from his new assistants.

Grantham also suggested revamping the daily meeting schedules, so rather than open with special teams work, Richt will address the entire team first, then break off into special teams and segment meetings. Richt said it’s a schedule used in the NFL and makes organizing meetings much simpler…

and this

–Wondering why Georgia is starting spring practice Thursday before the university goes on spring break and then is resuming workouts on March 16?
Bobo said the main reason is that it allows for extra meeting time.
“We’ll basically do that first practice again when we get back,” he said. “We’re going to install the same thing twice.”

… is that it appears the coaching staff is shedding some of the complacency that dragged it down the past few seasons and starting to think about and question the way the program goes about its business.  There are no guarantees that any of this winds up making a big difference, but in my mind it still beats the “when you’ve got enough talent, the rest will take care of itself” attitude that’s characterized Georgia football for a while.

Now if they can just get past the “all he’s ever wanted to do” mindset…

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Hey, ACC, it’s your mockery now.

The ACC gears up for its inaugural appearance in Shreveport.  Feel the excitement.

The closest Atlantic Coast Conference school to Shreveport is Georgia Tech, some 597 miles away in Atlanta. Seven members of the Southeastern Conference are within that range.

It doesn’t seem like the geographic appeal of the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl would be too great for the ACC, but that’s hardly the case.

The conference recently dropped primary tie-ins with bowls in San Francisco and Boise, Idaho. Relatively speaking, Shreveport seems just around the corner.

As slogans go, “The Independence Bowl – at least it’s not in Boise” lacks a little pizazz, doesn’t it?

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On the orange-tinged horns of a dilemma

Tucked inside this article about how Tennessee is restoring its three-strikes policy for student athletes’ drug testing is this gem:

Carpenter added that UT is also considering some type of gun policy for student athletes, but there are legal issues attached to it.

Does that mean what works at convenience stores may not work so well in the locker room?  Or that it’s hard to conceal a weapon under a jersey these days?  Damn those pesky legal issues.

Now you really begin to see the genius in hiring Derek Dooley.  He’s a football coach!  He’s an athletic director!  He’s a lawyer!  It’s like getting three for the price of one (less than one, actually, if your baseline is Junior).

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Crime and Punishment

All I want.

In response to this poll, I can honestly say that I don’t care what the next mascot looks like as long as he’s got some of this in him:

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Filed under Georgia Football

There’s more to it than directional kicking.

The new kid on the block has some big shoes to fill.

Richt said that Warren Belin will coach the kickoff-coverage team, Bryan McClendon will handle the punt return and block units, and John Lilly will coordinate special-teams meeting and practice schedules. All of those roles previously were handled by Jon Fabris, fired in December.

The good thing is that there’s nowhere to go but up.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Footloose: inviting the snark

Damned if these quotes don’t make you bite your (virtual) tongue.

“It’s a whole lot different, especially with the footwork that Coach (Scott) Lakatos is teaching us,” Rambo said of working with his new defensive backs coach. “Most of the people in the NFL run the same thing as Coach Lakatos is teaching us. It’s a whole different footwork thing from Coach Martinez.”

And not to bash Willie Martinez, but here’s how Branden Smith discussed learning that new footwork:

“Backpedaling, coming out of the breaks, turning – those are different,” Smith said. “The footwork that Coach Lakatos is teaching us right now, I’ve done it in high school, so it’s nothing new and it’s easier to learn.”

Good enough for high school and the NFL.  Easier to learn.  One day, somebody will explain to me what was going on with the defensive staff over the past three seasons.

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Blind Sided

You know, for a guy who’s got a lot to say (h/t The Wiz) about a lot of things, Ed Orgeron sure is tight-lipped about one incident:

Question: Soon after you arrived here, the controversy arose regarding your contact with Tennessee recruits and/or their parents. Has anything come of that?

Orgeron: I don’t want to comment on that. Everything’s good.

Q: So there have been no repercussions from that?

Orgeron: I don’t want to comment on it.

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Filed under Coach O Needs Another Red Bull

Butts-Mehre roundup: everybody’s talking.

Except for Searels, of course.

Seriously, lots of stuff to digest, courtesy of the beat writers who’ve done a great job feeding us with something to tide us over for a week or so until spring practice gets underway.

Here are a few quotes I took away and some observations:

Mike Bobo and the quarterback situation. Obviously, this is an area that’s going to get an enormous amount of scrutiny all the way into the fall.  I’m not going to speculate on the winner of the battle right now, but two quotes from Bobo are illuminating in terms of his mindset.

First off, it sounds like he learned something from the last time Georgia went into a season without an established starter at the position.

… After Shockley led the Bulldogs to the ’05 SEC title, Tereshinski was listed atop an ’06 spring depth chart based on seniority and was followed by Barnes, Cox and Stafford, who was an early enrollee. Nobody emerged that April, and it wasn’t until 13 days before the opener against Western Kentucky when head coach Mark Richt announced Tereshinski as the starter and Cox the backup.

“We probably should have weeded it down a little bit sooner from my personal experience of it,” Bobo said. “It’s just tough to get that many guys quality reps to get them ready for the season, so I don’t see us going that far this year.”

Does that mean that we should expect some weeding out at the position in the spring?  Sounds like it to me.

And here’s a bit of a surprising mea culpa.

Bobo acknowledged that inexperienced quarterbacks –- all three candidates are inexperienced –- tend to be susceptible to mistakes. But “we just have to do a better job of managing that position and managing those mistakes this year where [last] year we probably didn’t,” he said.

Everybody better get on board the turnover margin train this year.

Shifting sands on defense. It sounds like Grantham has already started down the path of personnel evaluation.

–Get to know your new Georgia defensive terminology. The inside guys go by “mo” and “mike.” Marcus Dowtin says he’s playing the “mo” along with Christian Robinson.
“I kind of wanted to play outside, but Coach (Todd) Grantham wants me to play a certain spot so that’s what I’m going to play,” said Dowtin, who said he’s happy with the way he’s adapting to the new system.
Akeem Dent and Darryl Gamble are lining up at the “mike.”
“As far as I can see I think the mike position will have a little more stress on them then they had in the 4-3 defense,” Dowtin said. “Linemen will be able to come a little quicker but we’ll be able to adjust to it easily.”

–Gamble said that Justin Houston, Cornelius Washington and Montez Robinson are slated to be outside linebackers in the new 3-4 scheme.
Grantham “told us right now you’re here, but you might be somewhere else by the time camp comes around or even after camp,” Gamble said. “You might be playing another position when the season starts. Pretty much you try to learn everything that’s going on so you won’t be lost.”

I bet that’s not the last time we hear the word “lost” when it comes to defense.  But as long as it’s limited to spring and fall practice, that’s okay.

Trinton Sturdivant has a new nickname. Via David Hale,

“When we’re talking about our objectives as an offense and what we want to accomplish this spring, we want to establish depth at the offensive line with out counting on Trinton Sturdivant,” Bobo said. “He’s a luxury. We think he’s going to be back, he’s ahead of schedule, he’s doing great, but we have to establish depth besides him.”

In each of the past two seasons, Georgia shuffled replacements at left tackle after Sturdivant’s injuries, and in both cases, it took the offensive line a while to find its groove.

So this season, Bobo hopes to have a group ready to play with or without Sturdivant – which likely means opening with senior Clint Boling filling the left tackle job, where he worked at the ends of both the 2008 and 2009 season and performed well enough to earn All-SEC honors.

Of course, while that’s the plan for now, it’s certainly not etched in stone if that luxury becomes a reality, Bobo said.

“If we get ‘The Luxury,’ he’ll probably be at left tackle,” Bobo said of Sturdivant. “Whoever those best five are, we’re going to put them in the best position where we think they can be successful. If Trinton’s out there, and he’s one of our best five, my bet is he’d be at left tackle.”

Nice luxury to have.

There are a lot of decisions left to be made. As is indicated in Hale’s projection of a depth chart, that’s especially true on the defensive side of the ball.  And then there’s the fate of directional kicking…

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