Monthly Archives: August 2008

Willie Martinez: You’ve come a long way, baby.

Those of us that sat in the Georgia Dome to watch the ill-fated 38-35 loss to West Virginia in the Sugar Bowl questioned whether the Georgia defensive staff was up to the challenge of gameplanning to stop the spread option offense.  We weren’t used to seeing a Dawg defense get shredded to the tune of 502 yards – especially by a Big East school.

Martinez went through a period of being compared with his predecessor’s success, and it wasn’t pretty.  But judging by the tone of this article in today’s Washington Post (h/t Bulldogs Blog), it looks like he’s gained some measure of redemption.

It made sense at the time. Preparing to face the No. 1 scoring offense in the nation in a BCS bowl on New Year’s Day, the Georgia coaching staff figured it would be wise to employ more speed than bulk. Relying on nickel packages that utilized one more cornerback and one less linebacker, the Bulldogs’ defense throttled Hawaii, 41-10, in the Sugar Bowl and provided an example of how to slow down the vaunted spread offense.

While the writer defines the term “spread” a little too broadly – Arizona State and Kentucky frequently employ one back sets with three and four receivers,  but they don’t run spread option schemes – there’s a lot of good stuff in there from the players and Martinez about what they try to do with the 4-2-5 scheme that has become a mainstay of Georgia’s defense.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

That lid’s not just been knocked off, it’s been thrown away.

If this Chip Towers’ interview with Mark Richt doesn’t get you pumped up about the future of the program, I honestly don’t know what would.

Here’s a taste, but go read it all.

Richt on if he thinks this is the way it’s going to be from how on:

“Yes, I think so. I think we’re doing a very fine job of evaluating talent and hitting on a high percentage of the ones we’re going after. I don’t know what the record is across the country but if you look at how many guys make official visits and, of those, how many commit and sign with Georgia it’s pretty good. I’ve forgotten the number now of how many you can bring in any given year but we haven’t even come close to bringing in the number of official visits we’re allowed to bring in because we’ve just really hit on a really high percentage of the guys we’re going after. If you get every other one you’re doing really good but we’re at a better ratio than that and have been there probably the last three recruiting classes.”

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Filed under Georgia Football

Opening day tidbits

Just a sprinkle for you this morning – focus on the games tonight.

  • David Ching drops the bomb on the Auburn faithful on his career move back to Athens.  I know how they feel.
  • Mark Schlabach is bullish on the Dawg D“Quarterback Matthew Stafford and tailback Knowshon Moreno are Heisman Trophy candidates and garner most of the attention, but Georgia’s defense — the fastest it has ever put on the field — will lead it to an SEC championship.”
  • I’m beginning to question Urban Meyer’s ability to see the future.  The Orlando Sentinel’s Jeremy Fowler is reporting that Percy Harvin may wind up missing the Tennessee game.  That’s serious.  And it’s interesting that there seems to be some tension building between the head coach and momma over Harvin’s return.  This one bears watching.
  • Discretion is the better part of valor:  Kade Weston won’t play against Georgia Southern.
  • The AJ-C has a list of places in Atlanta where you can go see Weston’s teammates play on Saturday.
  • And Jody’s back with his always excellent preview of this week’s game.
  • I dare you.

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Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, The Blogosphere

It’s about damned time.

Life has meaning again.

  • Aug 28:  Vanderbilt at Miami University, 7:00 PM, ESPNU
  • Aug 28:  Jacksonville State at Georgia Tech, 7:30 PM, ESPN 360
  • Aug 28:  Charleston Southern at Miami, 7:30 PM, ESPN 360
  • Aug 28:  NC State at South Carolina, 8:00 PM, ESPN
  • Aug 28:  Wake Forest at Baylor, 8:00 PM, FSN
  • Aug 28:  Oregon State at Stanford, 9:00 PM, ESPN2
  • Aug 28:  Troy at Middle Tennessee State, 7:30 PM, Gameplan
  • Aug 28:  Wake Forest at Baylor, 8:00 PM, FSN

Let the games begin.  Yowzer!

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Filed under College Football

Another good link

Leave it to College Football Resource to find another useful link.  This time it’s to a site that gives you access to weather information for every home college football game, Weather Underground (I’m guessing that these aren’t people that lived through the ’60s).

Here’s what they’re showing for Athens this Saturday, if you’re interested.

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Filed under College Football, The Blogosphere

Are you experienced?

God knows, I like to knock ESPN as much as the next college football fan, but I have to admit that there are a few redeeming things about the WWL.  Ron Franklin, for one.

Bruce Feldman’s another.  I don’t pay for ESPN Insider, so any time a post of his pops up for free over at ESPN.com, I take a look.  His most recent post concerns the importance of returning starters.  Now if you ask most pundits – everyone from Phil Steele to the current fans of the Florida defense – they’ll tell you that returning talent is a very big deal.  Feldman, on the other hand, says maybe that’s a tad overrated.

… There is some interesting stuff to sift through in that blog entry. [Ed. note:  link added.  Take a look at that post, too.] My three cents on why starting experience is important really has more to do with the fact that it should, in theory, tie in with a player’s grasp of his team’s system. From observing the Ole Miss Rebels, I came away believing nothing costs you games more than blown assignments. Usually you get that from inexperienced players. Then again, if you have some young players who are very sharp and have learned their system, maybe they don’t need to have been starters to prove their worth. And yes, I know success does breed success.

What I like is Feldman’s Exhibit “A” to illustrate his point here.

… Two teams lots of folks are high on this year — USC and Clemson — both return only one starting O-lineman. That would seem to be a major concern, but sometimes great coaching can overcome that. That seemed to be the case with last year’s Georgia team. Credit there goes to O-line coach Stacy Searles.

What I hope is that Feldman is able to write the same thing next year.

By the way, here’s the criteria that Feldman uses to evaluate the merit of a team in the preseason.

… So to step back a bit, how would you rank the following factors as the most important when it comes to projecting a team’s worth?

  • Perceived talent base
  • Star power
  • Returning starters
  • Coaching and team leadership
  • Schedule strength

That’s the order I have it in. Disagree?

In case you’re wondering, Feldman doesn’t pick Georgia to play in the BCS title game.

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Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

A certain memorable debut remembered.

Rivals lists the 10 most memorable debuts in college football, and #34 leads the pack.

“I knew Herschel was going to be a great player,” Dooley said last week via phone. “The question in my mind was how soon was he going to be great, particularly coming out of a Class A school, the smallest classification. I wasn’t sure.

“On the other hand, I was certainly going to give him the opportunity to see if he can make the adjustment.”

Walker was third on the tailback depth chart behind senior Donnie McMickens and sophomore Carnie Norris. Dooley planned to play each two series before putting Walker in.

By halftime, McMickens would be relegated to special teams and Norris would be a backup the rest of his career.

Nothing says serious like a tearaway jersey.

Nothing says serious like a tearaway jersey.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

So, how fabulous are these freshmen?

Marc Weiszer has a good post up projecting which incoming freshmen have the best opportunity to see the field this season.  Richt has been quoted as saying as many as twelve of them could play in ’08.  Weiszer sees ten whose chances to play he categorizes likely or better, with another two being 50/50.

What’s interesting is that Weiszer points out Georgia hasn’t had more than six true freshmen play in a season since 2003.  Richt has always been a big believer in redshirting.  Yet, here’s a year with as much at stake for Georgia as has ever been in the Richt era and the coach is looking at throwing a significantly greater number of these kids into the fire than he’s ever done before.

What do you think that says about (1) the talent level of this year’s class and (2) what Richt thinks his team can accomplish this season?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

How tough does the love need to be?

There’s a post up at The Wizard of Odds about Randy Shannon’s suspension of seven players for Miami’s opener with Charleston Southern.  Jay is of a mind that this is pretty weak beer.

… If Shannon were serious about sending a message to his players, he would have suspended them for a meaningful game, not Charleston Southern, the Hurricanes’ opponent Thursday night in Dolphin Stadium.

My question in response to this is what message is Shannon supposed to be sending here?  If it’s “you don’t follow the rules, you don’t play”, why does it matter what game a player sits out?  If it’s “you don’t follow the rules, I’ll make the entire team suffer”, shouldn’t the team have some input into the suspension process?

What makes this particularly tricky for me is that Jay goes on to point fingers at several other coaches for the way they’ve handled suspensions, including Spurrier, Richt and Saban.

… Shannon is not alone. South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier announced that starting tailback Mike Davis is among a group of players who will sit one game for missing class, but that game won’t be Thursday night’s opener against North Carolina State.

“It’s a middle-of-the-year game,” Spurrier said. “They’re all missing that same game.”

That means the Gamecocks will be short-handed against either Wofford or Alabama Birmingham. A big whoop-de-do about nothing.

Georgia’s first two opponents are Georgia Southern and Central Michigan, and that’s a good thing because Mark Richt has suspended six players. Rest assured they’ll be back for trips to South Carolina and Arizona State because the Bulldogs are gunning for a national title.

But nobody has made a bigger mockery of a suspension than Nick Saban, who ordered that receiver DJ Hall sit for Alabama’s game against Louisiana Monroe last Nov 17. With the Crimson Tide and Warhawks tied in the third quarter, Hall’s suspension was magically lifted

I hope it’s not the homer in me, but I’ve got a little problem lumping Richt’s approach in with the Spurrier and Saban examples.  Richt doesn’t pick and choose which games will be utilized for suspensions based on the opponent; instead, they’re served from the season opener and on.   Yes, Georgia Southern is a cupcake, but don’t forget that Richt suspended eight players in a road opener at Clemmins in 2003.  Or that Georgia has opened with opponents like Boise State and Oklahoma State in the two previous years.

You can argue that if the purpose of suspensions is to punish the player solely, then Spurrier’s position is defensible, although it certainly risks the perception of making the coach look weak on enforcement.  Saban’s decision to lift a suspension in mid-game, on the other hand, is hard to justify under any standard (other than, “I want to win the game no matter what”, of course).

To me, the most important factor in doling out this kind of punishment is consistency.  Every kid should know where he stands with regard to unacceptable behavior and how it will impact himself and the team if it happens.  And from the coach’s standpoint, the issue should be whether or not the established suspension policy is effective in curbing the bad actors.

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UPDATE: Stewart Mandel justifies my faith in him by returning to stupid with this post critical of the Wiz’ argument.  In justifying Shannon’s decision, Mandel writes

Mark Richt is one of the most morally upright humans on the planet — but he’s not stupid, either. There’s a reason his six players’ suspensions are conveniently ending just before the start of conference play. The entire Dawg Nation is looking to Richt to deliver them a national title this season. If Georgia were to inexplicably lose to South Carolina on a blown tackle by the backup to suspended linebacker Darius Dewberry, guess who’s going to get blamed? I’ll give you a hint: Not Dewberry.

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Filed under College Football, Crime and Punishment, The Blogosphere

One more day tidbits

We’re getting close.  Here’s a bunch of stuff to nibble on.

  • Brian at The Business of College Football updates what ticket values are in the market for the top 10 teams.  Overall it looks pretty stable, although if you want to see a game against a cupcake, it won’t cost too much.
  • Mark Richt sounds here like he’s channeling his inner Nick Saban:  “You guys worry too much about the depth chart,” Richt told reporters. “… These guys, they’re all going to play. Every week, it might change. One guy may be late for study hall, and the coach decides to start the other guy.” Testy, testy.
  • Congrats are in order to Mr. Gillett, who has landed a prestigious slot on Dr. Saturday, Yahoo!’s college football blog.
  • They’re getting a little cheeky these days at UCLA.
  • Major kudos to Orson at EDSBS for giving Smart Football’s Chris Brown a bigger platform to share his analysis.  His post on Nick Saban and Rob Spence is definitely worth your time, even without a game prediction.
  • It sounds like they’re pretty pleased about the new SEC TV deals in Starkville, Mississippi.
  • And giving credit where credit is due:  yes, Stewart Mandel knocked Georgia down a couple of slots in his final preseason power rankings because of Sturdivant’s injury.  But he also wound up ranking Florida lower at #7 due to Harvin’s and Ingram’s injury status.

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Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles, Strategery And Mechanics, The Blogosphere