Daily Archives: April 12, 2013

Drum roll, please.

If you’re wondering who will be wearing the pants in this ESPN/SEC partnership, nothing says “Southeastern Conference” like basing the SEC Network’s studio headquarters in a state that doesn’t actually host an SEC team.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Keeping ‘em on their toes

Mark Richt wants you to know that if you think you’ve got a handle on Georgia’s starting lineup, you are sadly mistaken.

“If you’re working out this summer thinking you’ve got something nailed down, you better re-check your thinking,” Richt said. “We’re going to have 29 practices in the fall and probably about at least 20 of them before we nail down who’s going to start across the board. It’s going to be a lot of competition.”

There’s uncertainty everywhere you look (okay, not in the offensive backfield)!

“This is a year in particular … We still don’t know for sure who’s gonna play where, who’s gonna start,” Richt said. “We have a good idea of knowing who’s gonna play. But I can’t think of a year where I’ve had more uncertainty as far as who’s gonna start. But I feel like we have the right ingredients. I feel like we’ve got the right talent base. It’s just a matter of who’s gonna win it (the starting job), and are they gonna be mature enough to play well enough early enough, especially with how the season begins.”

When Richt was asked which positions are open: Richt’s first response was all the D-line positions.

“I think we’re gonna have … a lot of guys playing, but I’m not sure who’s gonna start. I think that’s up for grabs,” Richt said. “I think just about every one of those positions are up for grabs, as far as the D-line.”

Then Richt said the secondary remains up for grabs, other than cornerback Damian Swann.

“I’m not convinced we’re settled on who’s gonna play the middle linebacker positions for us. I’m not 100 percent certain who’s going to start on the perimeter, other than I can safely say Swann’s going to be one of them. There’s some guys that have earned the right to be No. 1 at the end of spring but we’ve gotta see if that’s where they end up. In the fall there’s gonna be more competition coming in. So we’ll see there.”

And don’t forget the offensive line.

Georgia’s overall offensive depth chart is largely settled entering the fall, but the offensive line could be the one area to watch in August. Friend has taken a close look at reserves Xzavier Ward, Mark Beard, Austin Long and Watts Dantzler this spring and said he is perfectly willing to reshuffle the starting lineup if one of them seizes a job.

“I guess if there is a time to mess with it, it’s right now,” Friend said. “So we just wanted to take a look at some things. That way there’s some guys that have played some different spots where if we need it in fall camp, it’s not the first time that they’ve done it. Those are some plusses.”

What to make of all this up-in-the-airity?  Do I really think that the coaches are that far in the dark about who should be out on the field?  Grantham’s comments in the spring make me doubt that’s the case.  Do I think that after last season, Richt is concerned about a highly ranked team in the preseason being complacent at the season’s start?  Hells yes, I do.  You can get by a Buffalo without giving 100%.  That won’t work against Clemson in a road game opener.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Who pays to play?

John Infante’s post about paying young basketball players is a useful exercise in trying to climb out of the box the NCAA’s amateurism standard has placed college athletics.  Rather than putting the burden on the schools to change, he’s looked instead for a path to incentive the NBA to abandon the way it does business.  The sooner the pros will pay a kid, the more pressure that takes off the colleges to do so.

Paying college basketball players without fixing the system immediately below it also threatens to simply shift problems downward. To fix basketball, everyone needs to get what they want. The best prospects need the shortest path to a pro career. The NBA needs a system to evaluate players before they are drafted or signed. And the NCAA wants a supply of talented players who are committed to college.

Read the whole thing.  I’m not suggesting it’s a complete panacea.  And I don’t know how much of what he proposes translates neatly to football.  But it’s a good place to start a discussion about how to fix things.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

They asked; I answered.

The guys at the great LSU blog And The Valley Shook had five questions for me about Georgia’s spring.  Let me know what you think I got right and and what I got wrong.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“In this day and age, playing 70 snaps as a D-lineman is counter-productive.”

I think if you ask most Georgia fans to name the team’s biggest mystery of last season, they would point to the defense against the run.  Part of what contributes to the mystery is why the performance so badly failed to live up to the talent level.  Early season suspensions, opponents’  reluctance to test the passing defense, a sense of complacency – you name it.

But the one thing that seems to get the most blame is this:

In diagnosing the problem, many around the program have pointed to stamina: The above five players were the only ones who really saw action during key times, and Jones missed the final half of the season with an injury. So it was no accident that, for instance, the run defense broke down in the second half against Alabama.

Smith thinks stamina was a big problem.

“Last year there were times I basically played every snap, didn’t get a break at all,” said Smith, a senior who will be the lone returning starter on the defensive line. “The thing is, even though I was still playing as hard as I could, if you cut that in half, and you get that much fresher with the reps, somebody else playing with you, you could be that much better just getting the rest time.”

That sounds convincing, until you look at the game log for last season.  Georgia’s most dominant stretch on run defense came in the three games after Jones was lost for the season.  It was with the Georgia Southern game that the wheels started coming off the wagon.  Now maybe there was some cumulative effect over the course of the season that took its toll.  Or maybe the key was the number of carries defended in a game:  with the exception of the Florida game, the yards per carry average was noticeably worse when the opponent rushed the ball forty times or more.

Anyway, the buzzword now seems to be depth.  The coaches want to spread the number of snaps around to keep linemen fresh, which would be a different approach from last year.  But that was said then, too.  In the heat of the battle, it all comes back to the same thing.

Head coach Mark Richt said there was rotating last year, but when Jones got hurt last year the staff didn’t really replace him.

“At the end we probably didn’t have enough guys that we felt comfortable putting in there,” Richt said. “That was the main reason. We got a feeling that we’re gonna have a higher comfort level with more guys than a year ago, basically.”

G-Day left me hopeful in that department.  Hope ain’t the same thing as trust, though.  We’ll soon see if the change from Garner to Wilson makes as much difference in the fall as they’re saying it does now.

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Filed under Georgia Football