Daily Archives: March 26, 2018

GATA-ing every day

Andy Staples visits Athens (nice thumbs up for Pulaski Heights BBQ at the end) and comes up with some terrific quotes from some of Georgia’s players about last season.  I’m gonna list my favorites.

  • Imagine for a moment being a Georgia Bulldog at 12:08 a.m. on Jan. 9. Rodrigo Blankenship has just kicked a field goal from across the South Carolina border to secure a three-point lead in overtime of the national title game. Davin Bellamy has just sacked Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa for a loss of 16 yards. Never has a true freshman backup quarterback looked more like a true freshman backup quarterback than Tagovailoa did on that play.Now imagine being a Georgia Bulldog at 12:09 a.m. on Jan. 9. Tagovailoa has picked himself up, taken the next snap and launched a rocket. DeVonta Smith has zipped past the cornerback, and the safety on that side doesn’t have enough time to rotate. Smith catches the ball and crosses the goal line. Confetti falls. Just like that, it’s over.

    Georgia offensive coordinator Jim Chaney described the feeling perfectly to tight end Isaac Nauta earlier this month. “He said it was like getting just one bite of filet mignon when you’re starving,” Nauta says. “You want to taste it again.”

  • “It just kind of happened so fast,” defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter says. “We looked at it one game at a time for so long. Then you looked up and you’re like, ‘Whoa. We’re playing in the SEC championship.’ And it kind of wasn’t even like the SEC championship. Auburn beat us, and we just wanted to play them again. … Even when we played Oklahoma [in the Rose Bowl], it felt like a regular season game.”
  • Blazevich, the tight end who was one of the more respected seniors on last year’s team, said something illuminating as he stood in front of his locker following the Bulldogs’ SEC title game win against Auburn in December. He listed the goals he had for his final collegiate season when it began. “We need to get Tennessee back. I need to beat Florida once in my career. I want the chance to play in Atlanta,” Blazevich said. “Those were my three things.” By that point, Blazevich had realized his expectations were far too modest. “How much did I underestimate myself and this team?” he said. “It taught me a lot. It revealed a lot to me.”

Wow.  Smart did some kind of work managing last year’s team’s expectations and focus.  The trick, of course, is finding what works for this year’s bunch.

Here’s an example. Coaches select a handful of players and place them into two teams. Players from competing teams pair off. They then stand facing one another and hold a 45-pound plate straight out in front of their chests. The first player to drop his weight in each one-on-one matchup loses. Once the rest of the players learn what the competition is, they must decide which team they think will win. There are punishments for the losing team and those who back it that serve as motivation for next time, but more than anything, the coaches are watching to see which players their teammates gravitate toward. The competition described above is less a test of strength than a test of will. The players who win support from their teammates again and again probably are the ones those teammates will listen to in the fourth quarter.

If that sounds intense, this spring’s practices might be even more cutthroat. Nearly every coach says every position is open. That isn’t usually the case. When Smart says it this spring, it’s mostly true. “That’s when you know you’re starting to get your program where you need it to be—when there’s not that first level of ones and a huge drop-off,” Smart says. “We’ve got more up in the air out of the 22 than we’ve ever had as far as the jobs go.” Says defensive back J.R. Reed: “It just brings the best out of everybody. If you have no competition and people think their spots are secure, they get lazy. They start to get complacent and practice starts to get sloppy. Here, you’ve got guys that are fighting for positions.  Practices are going to be great.”

“Practices are going to be great.”  I think these guys are gonna be alright.

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Filed under Georgia Football

ESPN (!), bringing the Dawg porn

In an article about the 25 best college offenses over the next three seasons, well… get that cold shower ready.

1. Georgia Bulldogs

2018 future QB ranking: 1

2017 future offense ranking: 13

Scouting the Bulldogs: Is Kirby Smart, a career defensive coach, building an offensive juggernaut in Athens? It sure seems that way. The quarterback position is secure with Jake Fromm‘s emergence as a freshman in 2017, along with the signing of Justin Fields, ESPN’s top-ranked recruit in the 2018 class. Although Georgia loses standout running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, D’Andre Swift (618 rush yards, 7.6 yards per carry) is entering his sophomore year. The Bulldogs also signed Zamir White, ESPN’s top-ranked running back and No. 15 overall player in the 2018 class, and James Cook.

“That next back is going to be a dude,” a defensive coordinator who faced Georgia last year said of Swift. “He hurt us more than the other two. I don’t think that’s going to fall off very much, and then they have Zamir White coming in.”

Wideout Terry Godwin is back for one more year and tight end Isaac Nauta could play two more seasons. Georgia has made some of its biggest gains on the line, a potential weakness entering last season. Tackle Andrew Thomas is only a sophomore — “He jumped off the tape like he’s going to be unbelievable,” an SEC defensive coordinator said — and Georgia has loaded up on ESPN 300 linemen in the past two classes, including 2017 five-star tackle Isaiah Wilson and the top two guards in the 2018 class, Trey Hill and Jamaree Salyer.

Man, that’s a lot of rat poison.  Be still, my heart.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

We’re gonna miss him.

Obviously, you don’t lose a player of Roquan Smith’s abilities without concern about how they’ll be replaced, but if you ask me what aspect of his game will be missed the most, it’s not a close question:  his play in pass coverage.  Check out this thread on Twitter for an idea of that:

I’m not sure Georgia’s ever had a better ILB in pass coverage.   Mel Tucker’s got his work cut out for him this season.

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Filed under Georgia Football

When your minor leagues have minor leagues

Kirby has a coaching clinic scheduled for month’s end for high school coaches around the state.  He’s got some big names — Bill Belichick (New England), Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams) and Dan Quinn (Atlanta) — who have agreed to speak and he’s quite proud of what he’s put together.

But that’s not the most interesting part of what he had to say about it.  This is:

“…I’m trying to give back to them because they are our feeder program. The state of Georgia has the best high school coaches in the country because our state education system is such that they get great benefits, they get great pay. So if they’re developing tough, hard-nosed, disciplined football players, guess who I get to inherit. It’s somewhat of a minor league for us so I believe that should give back to them.”  [Emphasis added.]

I give him credit for being brutally honest there.  I also give him credit for doing all he can to make sure the guys responsible for the feeding are made to feel motivated to send their kids Smart’s way.  He’s got a huge advantage over out-of-state competitors and every little thing that helps him keep the state fenced when it comes to élite talent is worth pursuing.  (Not to mention you realize what a disadvantage Georgia Tech is at resource-wise, even before you get to Johnson’s personal charms on the recruiting trail.)

Still, I can’t deny that I detect a whiff of sausage there.  Ah, well, you do what you gotta do, I suppose.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Today, in moolah

[Ed. — In case some of you snowflakes aren’t tipped off by the header, this post is about your least favorite subject.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.]

Just thought I’d share a little round-up of what’s happening on the economic/player compensation front this past week…

  • Eastern Michigan decided to drop four varsity sports in a cost-saving move.  The move affects 58 male student athletes and 25 female student athletes, and will ultimately save about $2.4 million.
  • Maybe that’s even true, but it’s worth considering this post on opportunity costs and Title IX. Bottom line is that it’s hard to get a handle on things like this because athletic department bookkeeping is such a murky business.
  • I probably scour the Internet more than most folks, so it may be more apparent to me, but I’m seeing more and more of these kinds of opinion pieces cropping up lately.  NCAA, when you’re losing place like the Deseret News
  • “Big-time college football and basketball now produce about $8 billion in annual direct revenue. This is nearly 40 percent more than the entire National Basketball Association (the average NBA player makes $6.2 million).”  Add to that the part of the $16.49 billion in gift income raised by P5 schools in fiscal 2017 that can be attributed to sports and you are talking about some real money.  Real enough for there to be plenty to spread around to the kids who help bring it in.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Smart talk

If you didn’t hear Saturday’s post-practice presser, here you go:

Lot of interesting tidbits there, and by that I don’t mean the Stetson Bennett love.  Biggest surprise I heard was how well the receivers group is progressing.

Bottom line is that he thinks the team has a lot of promise, but a long way to go.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Musical palate cleanser, it was the sixties, man edition

Someone asked me in the comments what I thought about Quicksilver Messenger Service.  My response was that outside of a couple of songs I love, they never really did it for me.  It’s a little strange, in a sense, in that Dino Valenti was a fantastic singer and John Cipollina was a tragically underrated guitarist, but the band’s history was chaotic, to say the least, and that’s probably why they never really developed a lot of traction with me.

Still, there are those two great songs, “Fresh Air”…

… and “What About Me?”.

Too bad they couldn’t keep their shit together.

If you want a good taste of Cipollina’s talent, here’s the band in one of their many re-groupings, in 1975 at Winterland, performing “Fresh Air”.

Dude definitely had some serious chops.

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