UGA football five-star QB signee Brock Vandagriff will not need surgery on the torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) in his right knee and will instead rehab, his father, Greg, told the Athens Banner-Herald.
Ron Courson, UGA football’s director of sports medicine, met Tuesday morning with the Vandagriffs and chose rehab as the best course of action instead of surgery that sometimes doesn’t completely repair the ligament.
“PCL surgery is not an exact science and they don’t like the results that they get typically,” Greg Vandagriff said. “It doesn’t guarantee that it is corrected and that most athletes at higher levels can play without a 100 percent functioning PCL.”
Courson and trainers believe with proper rehabilitation that the injury will not be problematic for the top-15 player in the 2021 class.
“Their studies have shown that they just need to build up the muscle around the quad, around the knee and it’ll take care of himself,” Greg Vandagriff said.
“We got to play one of our best games,” Smart said. “They’re an undefeated team so they have played really well. What gets you is you look and they have got nine seniors starting on defense. Nine seniors starting in college football. You got opt-outs, you got juniors coming out early and you got transfers, these guys got nine seniors. I mean that’s unheard of. I don’t know anybody that’s in the SEC that had nine seniors, because what happens is you’re always replacing players that either left early because they knew they could go play in the NFL or they weren’t playing and they transferred because they were supposed to be playing they felt they should have been. You just never seen nine seniors on a team anymore. So they all know the defense really well.”
That is certainly one way to level somewhat the playing field against a team that’s loaded with four- and five-star players. Dan Mullen made a living managing his Mississippi State rosters like that, and, to a similar degree, so has Stoops at Kentucky. Will it be enough Friday? I don’t know, but I’ll be watching to see how well these guys can confuse Monken and Daniels.
Some of you like to argue with me that player compensation is the bright line that’s going to ruin college athletics. If you’re one of those folks, you may not want to read this article.
… This was the year when athletic departments exposed themselves for what they really are: large businesses covered in nonprofit wrapping paper.
A coronavirus pandemic forced the whole enterprise to announce its priorities, which are even more skewed than we realized. There are thousands of people working in college athletics with excellent priorities, of course—people who value academics, relationships, integrity and personal growth. But those are not the qualities the NCAA system rewards. College sports, purportedly a celebration of amateur athletics, are an exercise in big squashing little: large conferences whipping small ones, and revenue sports hogging resources from nonrevenue sports.
… Universities are supposed to practice egalitarianism, or at least aspire to it. Future CEOs and artists share a campus, and that coexistence is an essential piece of the experience. This is especially true at state flagship universities, which are (or at least aspire to be) magnets for the finest students from all over the state.
And college athletics are supposedly the sporting version of this. For decades, administrators insisted that monetizing football and men’s basketball was a means toward a larger, more noble end: funding other varsity sports. As those NCAA commercials love to remind us, the overwhelming majority of athletes “go pro in something other than sports.”
In 2020, though, it became obvious that the apparatus that was supposed to support a larger infrastructure has overwhelmed it instead. Around the country, schools responded to their budget crunches by slashing nonrevenue sports, like huge law firms deciding to cut costs by slashing pro bono work.
College sports have been a hypocritical enterprise for a long time; any sober assessment of the last half-century reached that conclusion. But now hypocrisy is part of the mission statement. Football has been stripped down to what it really is: lucrative TV programming. In 2020, it didn’t matter whether playing was safe for surrounding communities or even whether students were on campus.
COVID has exposed college football for what it is: a commercial enterprise, nothing more, nothing less. Not that there weren’t plenty of hints and clues dropped along the way over the past two decades; it’s just raw and completely out in the open now. Combine that with the general cluelessness that your typical athletics administrator possesses…
Not everybody can win, but everybody can be obsessed, and everybody can market obsession. That is the prominent business model in college sports: Prove to your customers that you are as irrationally committed as they are. Schools are far more likely to be criticized for not paying obscene salaries to football coaches than for doing so. Which is why coaches’ salaries keep going up. These investments are so speculative, and so detached from the underlying economics, that it feels foolish to call them investments at all.
… and that’s how you wind up with Jimmy Sexton kicking ass every day and twice on Sundays. In other words, there’s nothing left to ruin.
I can’t stop some of you from continuing to be amateurism romantics, but you’re making bigger fools of yourselves with the passage of every year.
When two of Daniels’ teammates at Georgia were asked to tell a story about him on Tuesday, they began chuckling.
“Oh man,” left tackle Jamaree Salyer said, laughing. “A JT Daniels story? You got one Warren?”
“I don’t know, man,” guard Warren Ericson said. “JT is a character, man.”
Salyer came up with a story: During Daniels’ first start for Georgia, at home against Mississippi State, the quarterback was decked by a defender for the first time. Salyer wondered how Daniels, hit in game action for the first time since tearing his ACL 14 months earlier, would react.
Daniels got right back up.
“Hit me again!” Daniels told the defender.
“I think he threw a touchdown on that play, too,” Salyer said, and remembered thinking: “OK, cool, we got a tough kid. … He got up off the ground, kept throwing the ball, threw it and threw it and threw it for 400 (yards). Yeah, he’s tough.”
I can’t help but think there’s a missing expletive deleted from Daniels’ quote.
Georgia’ scoring average rose from 29 to 41.7 points per game since Daniels took over and its total yards jumped from 382.8 to 498.3. The Bulldogs passing yards grew from 209.3 to 279.7 a game and rushing output from 173.5 to 218.6. Third down conversion percentage zoomed from 42 to 67.
… and a positional one.
It’s a relatively small sample size, but Daniels’ 187.87 passing efficiency rating in his three games as starter, would rank fifth nationally in the NCAA stats which requires playing in 75 percent of a team’s game.
That would put Daniels one spot ahead of Trask and ahead of former Georgia and now Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence who currently rank 10th and 11th.
… Daniels has completed 66.7 percent of his passes against a schedule of Mississippi State, South Carolina and Missouri, teams that combined to go 10-20. The Bulldogs had a 52.4 completion percentage in the first six games with Stetson Bennett and D’Wan Mathis with a tougher slate.
It’s fair to note the level of competition Daniels has faced, although it’s also fair to counter with the point that of the six defenses Georgia faced before Daniels became the starter, Georgia’s passer rating exceeded the opponents’ defensive passer rating in only two of those, Auburn and Tennessee, and even in those two, it wasn’t by much. With Daniels in charge, Georgia’s offense is 3-0 in that regard, and by significant margins against Mississippi State and Missouri.
But I would argue that the greater impact has come strategically. Consider this quote from Eli Drinkwitz after Georgia dismantled Missouri’s defense:
On trying to limit George Pickens and his production: “Well, we gave up 316 yards rushing. We were trying to load the box and if you load the box you leave the wideouts one-on-one it is kind of pick your poison-type deal. We felt like we needed to stop the run and we weren’t able to do that unless we put extra people in there and that opens up the passing game. It just wasn’t very effective today.”
My fellow Dawg fans, as far as I’m concerned, “kind of pick your poison-type deal” is the Holy Grail. Kirby can have his impose your will, but I want a guy who can call a game for which the defense doesn’t have the answers. The last three games have shown me that Daniels has given Monken the missing element he’s needed to do just that.
And don’t think Cincinnati hasn’t noticed.
“I still don’t think he’s unleashed all he can do,” said Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell who is preparing his team to play Georgia Friday in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta. “When you run the ball, you got as good an offensive line as they have, you don’t have to kind of sit your quarterback back there and do all those different things. I can see where they’re probably slow in the maturation, and say, ‘Hey, just don’t get him everything. We might get away from some of the things we do really well just because he throws it so well, has such a touch,’ you don’t want to lose the nastiness and toughness that those guys up front bring.”
Dan Wetzel is concerned that college football is broken because the same teams keep showing up in that national championship room. Dan Wetzel, being playoff expansion’s biggest hammer, sees that as nothing more than another nail, which is only to be expected.
Expand the College Football Playoff
This might seem counterintuitive, especially in a season where there may only be two great teams (Clemson and Alabama), but while adding schools to the playoff might not alter the immediate result of who raises the trophy, it should greatly impact the future.
Dan throws a few other options in to give his expansion push a little balance, but it’s not hard to know where his counterintuitive heart lives.
He, too, goes all counterintuitive on our collective ass.
On the surface, the blowout nature of the CFP would argue against expansion. More (and probably lesser) teams aren’t going to make the CFP more competitive. But for some, anything is better than watching Alabama and Clemson again. If both win their semifinal games, they would meet for the fifth time in the seven years of the playoff.
Are things more interesting if Cincinnati and Texas A&M are in the mix this year?
I think we know the answer to that, Dennis.
Look, you guys are jaded and bored. I get it. But if you really want a more competitive postseason, you have to increase parity in the sport. The most direct way to do that is to reduce the 85-man scholarship limit. Let me know when you get Dabo and Saban on board for that. Until then, the cream will keep rising, no matter how big a cup you pour it in.
What often gets categorized as a Notre Dame problem is actually a major college football problem. A tiny group of teams have bolted away from the field simply because they are accumulating far more talent than their competitors.
The elite high school players are clustering at a small number of schools and creating an almost insurmountable gap between the very best and the rest.
That is something a sixteen-team playoff isn’t going to fix.
Q. How much have you guys kind of learned about each other over these past, what, four to six weeks? How much better do you know each other, know what you do well, know what you want to do?
TODD MONKEN: I think there’s a part of any relationship, I do think right away when we met there was a connection there in terms of what we were looking for and what he was looking for moving forward. I think that was a really good start. You don’t know anybody when you’re in the courtship stage. Obviously I’m different than what I might have been for a few weeks trying to recruit him than when he gets here. Good and bad. Some better, probably some worse. From JT’s end of it, I’ll just speak from my end of it, one thing about it is he’s a sponge. He loves to be coached, loves to have the answers, which is a huge start at the quarterback position. There’s a lot of things you can do with JT that you can keep it as quarterback control because he’s going to study the film, he’s going to want to know the answer. You don’t have to tell him everything. You don’t have to look to the sideline and change the play.
He can do that on his own. He embraces that challenge of being in control. That is stuff to being an NFL quarterback, the quarterback being in control. It’s been great. From the get-go it was. The amount of work that JT is willing to put in to be the player he wants to be. Very few people have a love of the process of playing the game of football like JT does.
It was hard at the beginning because we were building what we want to do offensively. Without a spring, it’s hard to put together what we want to do from different places I’ve been in the staff collectively. You’re going through things but there’s no guarantee. What we’re doing today could have been completely different than what we were introducing in May. It just is. I think we’re only going to get better and get on the same page more and more during the off-season and 2021.
Q. Todd, you alluded to 2021. When you look at the progress the offense has made as the season has gone along, where do you see it going with the number of returners that could be coming back for next season?
TODD MONKEN: Well, it’s exciting. When I first got here and I saw some of the young skill players, some of the freshmen wideouts, the backs we had, I think we have a chance to be really good on offense. I don’t know when, when it all comes together as a staff, when do I do it better for our players, when do our guys mature. George is still a young player as well. When those guys start to mature a little bit.
But we are excited about not only the guys that will be playing on Friday but the young players we have, especially at the skill positions. As we’re able to move forward, a guy like JT, who is certainly capable of distributing the ball, understanding where we want to go with the football. It’s an exciting time, especially for me. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to have a legit off-season, be able to study what we did, what the difference is that we want to change as we move forward. College football is different than NFL. There is a lot of differences that I think we’ll continue to build off of and develop who we are as we keep moving forward.
Did you catch that “I think we’re only going to get better and get on the same page more and more during the off-season and 2021.”? Well, I did. And I know Daniels said he hadn’t really spent time thinking about the NFL draft yet, but he also said this:
“I do feel like we’ve been really hot as of lately,” Daniels said. “There’s a lot of guys that have gotten a lot better. I think you’re seeing what that’s looking like now. Obviously a little later than we would have hoped. I’d love to play with this team forever. It’s an amazing team.”
No, that wasn’t meant as a guarantee of the future. But it does sound like Georgia has an offensive coordinator and starting quarterback who mesh well and know they can improve together. I would think that’s kind of hard to resist.
“And Georgia fans, don’t be turds. Enjoy this. Soak it up. It’s awesome. If you don’t win this year, it’s still not a failure. It’s a heck of a run. Back-to-back in the Playoff era hasn’t been done. So, to ask for a third I feel like it’s gluttonous. I feel like it’s not OK. But we’ll be in the mix.”-- David Pollack, On3.com, 5/9/23