Daily Archives: March 23, 2022

Spring practice: twenty minutes beats nothing

A cool thing happened yesterday.  Georgia — okay, Kirby Smart — allowed the beat writers covering the team to observe twenty minutes of practice.  You may not think that’s much of a big deal, or who needs the media, but let me tell you, as a blogger doing the best he can during the slow time of the offseason, both Smart and the media are deeply appreciated for this.  I’ll take whatever I can get.

Off my soapbox, here are a few observations.

First off, look who was there:

— Welcome back Arik Gilbert. The LSU transfer is working with the tight ends after being away from the team for personal reasons last season.

He looks every bit the 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds listed if not more. He caught a short pass over the middle during one drill.

Good for him to make it back.  If he’s got wide receiver skills to go with that frame, that’s gonna really be something.

Here’s the way the two-deep on the o-line shaped up yesterday:

Also of note, the Bulldogs’ first-team offensive line was lining up in position drills as left tackle Broderick Jones, left guard Xavier Truss, center Sedrick Van Pran, right guard Warren Ericson and right tackle Warren McClendon. Second team, at least for the brief viewing period, appeared to be LT Earnest Greene, LG Micah Morris, C Austin Blaske, RG Devin Willock and RT Amarius Mims.

Don’t forget they’ve still got Ratledge to work back into the mix once he returns from his lisfranc injury.

Some good, some not so good news on the injury front:

— Wide receiver Arian Smith was in a black non-contact jersey but was running routes on air and making catches after sustaining a broken leg last season. He hauled in a pass in the end zone from Carson Beck after the redshirt sophomore turned back to make the grab.

— Tykee Smith had a brace on his surgically repaired knee after tearing an ACL last season. The West Virginia transfer DB is out for the spring.

The quarterback rotation was exactly what you’d expect.

The quarterback order Tuesday was of little surprise: super senior Stetson Bennett took the first reps followed by sophomore Carson Beck and redshirt freshman Brock Vandagriff.

As was Kirby’s post-practice fretting.

In short, Georgia’s gone back to work.  When does G-Day get here?

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Filed under Georgia Football

Change in their pockets

I know that some of y’all see nothing but doom and disaster ahead for college football recruiting because of NIL compensation, but maybe some deep breaths are in order before you jump off the ledge for good.  Just ask Kirby Smart.

Smart isn’t naive that there is probably greater potential for NIL money at a bigger school like Georgia, but also said that’s not why prospects sign with a specific school.

“You’re probably recruiting the wrong guy if that is all they are making their decision based on,” Smart said. “Recruiting is always propaganda. It’s how you use it. The sell, when you’re selling the development of a young man from Jordan Davis, and you’re selling the look at what he became, that’s much more enjoyable to sell than to sell what he made in NIL.”

Also, here’s something similar from one of the folks running Classic City Collective:

“99% of kids are not selecting a school solely based on NIL,” Hibbs said. “This is just a new thing to add on top. If you and I were to be taking a new job, we would ask a list of questions. And one of those would be: What are my opportunities to earn money here? I think kids will not select your school solely based on NIL, but they will drop you from their list if there’s not a plan and they don’t see any opportunities.”

There are two things to consider before giving up.  As I said in the comments the other day, it won’t be long before every recruiting powerhouse has an associated collective up and running, so in the near future, the NIL money’s gonna even out, which takes you back to the programs that are run better than others maintaining their existing advantage.  Along those lines, if you’re a highly sought after recruit, you’ve got your sights set on playing in the NFL, so, while the short term money’s certainly an added benefit, you’re still going where you believe you have the best chance of enhancing your talent for an even bigger pay day.

Now breathe.

23 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Recruiting

Longer and leaner

Brooks Austin notices a trend in who Georgia is after to play outside linebacker.

Take a look at the players Uzo-Diribe has offered and prioritized at the position in the recent months:

  • 2023 EDGE Bai Jobe – The No. 1 player in Oklahoma, Jobe is a 6’5, 220 pound converted basketball player and a direct sign of Uzo-Diribe’s ties to the midwest and his preference of projection and length.
  • 2023 EDGE Caleb Herring – The No. 1 defender in the state of Tennessee, it didn’t take long for rumors of a 6’6, 215-pound EDGE defender playing inside linebacker at the Pylon 7on7 for Uzo-Diribe to offer.
  • 2023 EDGE, Gabriel Harris – Recently on a visit to Athens, the 6’4, 240-pound edge defender out of Valdosta is already SEC playing weight.
  • 2024 EDGE, King Joseph Edwards – 6’5, 230, by now you should have noticed a theme here.

Uzo-Diribe is clearly seeking length here, and so is Georgia. The Bulldogs rounded out a 2022 OLB class prior to Uzo-Diribe’s arrival that saw four Avatars enter the equation.

  • Mykel Williams – 6’5, 245
  • Marvin Jones Jr. – 6’6, 235
  • Darris Smith – 6’6, 230
  • Carlton Madden – 6’4, 240

Nolan Smith has been an incredible football player and leader for Georgia, Chazz Chambliss will likely turn out to become the same. MJ Sherman was a promising prospect in high school and is on the verge of a promising junior campaign in 2022, but physically they are much different than what Georgia has coming their way.

  • Nolan Smith – 6’2, 240
  • Chaz Chambliss – 6’2, 250
  • MJ Sherman – 6-2, 250

He’s attributing much of that to Georgia’s new OLB coach, but it sounds more like Uzo-Diribe is doing a good job following on a change implemented before he got to Athens.  In any event, it sounds like rangy is the new (red and) black at the position.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

“He’ll be the first to tell you he can still grow and get better.”

A reminder of this tidbit from Mike Griffith:

Offensive coordinator Todd Monken told a group of boosters at a closed session that Stetson Bennett would be the starting quarterback after Bennett as much as spelled out that it would be a requirement for him to return to Georgia.

I questioned the implications behind the phrasing.  Surely Kirby Smart wouldn’t flat out allow a player to threaten successfully to be guaranteed a starting job?

Well, whadd’ya know?  Straight from the horse’s mouth comes this:

“There was a bunch of private conversations that we won’t go into, but it was more so just, you know, how we’re going to do this year,” Bennett said. “I wanted to hear what Coach Smart had to do. I mean, honestly, I know, like, he’s in charge and we’re going to follow it by his playbook. But I just wanted to know, you know, for me as it was time for me to be a little selfish while I was making that decision. And then now, I’m all aboard. So I wanted to hear a few things, and he told me — some of them were what I wanted, some wasn’t. They were closed-door conversations, but in the end I thought that for me I wanted to come back and play football at the University of Georgia.”

If he wanted an assurance he wasn’t going to be sent to the back of the depth chart line again, that’s totally fair, given his accomplishments in 2021.  And it sounds like that’s what he got from the head man.

Smart characterized his talks with Bennett after the title “as a couple of conversations just in passing. He reached out a couple of times and just said he really wanted to come back and wanted to continue to get better. There wasn’t a lot there. It wasn’t a lot of questions and things. It was more he feels like he’s grown as a quarterback and he knows that we showed a lot of confidence in Stetson if you didn’t notice.”

Again, fair.  Again, not a blank check.  Both know that Bennett has to show further improvement, or risk demotion, because that’s how Kirbs rolls ($$).

On the field, Smart pointed to decision-making, mentioning Bennett being late to throw the ball over the middle a few times late in the season. Bennett did cut down on his interceptions last season, but there can be even fewer this season, Smart hinted, with spring practice being a springboard for that, now that he’s getting the first-team reps.

“He made some really good plays for us with his feet, his legs, his decision-making, but you want to take out some of the bonehead throws, some of the bonehead mistakes that he sometimes makes,” Smart said. “It’s easy for him to say he hasn’t had an opportunity to correct those mistakes because the guy was taking (third-team reps) at this time last year. … He’s done some really nice things this spring, but that should be expected for a guy with his experience level.”

Bennett, for his part, pointed to a couple areas of emphasis: Avoiding turnovers and negative plays, which he called “an uncalculated benefit” if a quarterback can pull those off.

Might have been easier to just say, “be better on third downs”, but you get the drift.  In any event, I expect Stetson’s up to the challenge.  He’d better be, anyway, because there’s some talent behind him on the depth chart.

19 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Junior be flingin’

Evidently, the Laner didn’t take kindly to Jimbo Fisher’s “clown” remark.

“I’ve obviously said a lot about NIL from the beginning of it,” Kiffin said. “Let’s make sure that we understand I love that the players are getting paid, and I just say how it is.

“I guess I got called a clown before for saying how it is. NIL has a lot to do with where players go, and to not think that is crazy.”

Not that he’s slowing down…

Um… does a Portal King outrank a Portal Master, or vice versa?

12 Comments

Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

Opening a new front

While the NCAA tries to keep head down in the hope the whole amateurism debacle somehow staggers on, zombie-like, this happened, and who couldn’t have seen it coming?

The National College Players Association is taking another step in its pursuit of having college athletes paid.

NCPA executive director Ramogi Huma on Tuesday filed a civil rights complaint on behalf of the organization with the Department of Education, asserting that all 350 NCAA Division I schools are violating Black students’ civil rights by colluding to cap athlete compensation. The NCAA limits what schools can provide to athletes in terms of athletic scholarships and, for the most part, prohibits any direct pay from schools to players.

When I ask who couldn’t have seen it coming, this is what I mean:

The filing is the latest chapter in an athletes’ rights movement that has generated sweeping changes to archaic NCAA policies governing athlete compensation and transfer policies. Last month, the NCPA filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against the NCAA, Pac-12 Conference, USC and UCLA. The goal is to affirm employee status for Division I basketball players and FBS football players. The moves from the NCPA are separate from reforms around name, image and likeness (NIL), which allow athletes to earn compensation from endorsement deals, appearances and other ventures.

As much as Emmert would like for it all to go away — or have Congress step in — it’s not gonna happen.

Before filing the complaint, NCPA leadership met with Department of Education officials, encouraging them to enforce civil rights laws to address this issue, Huma told SI. Officials were prepared for Tuesday’s filing and will now further investigate the issue in a process that is expected to be slow. The same goes for the charges the NCPA sent to the NLRB, with some experts believing a ruling could be more than 18 months away.

“There are plenty of federal agencies that already have the power to enforce existing laws,” Huma says. “We are blitzing the federal agencies to get them to use their authority.”

And once a door opens, it’ll never close again.  You’d think the NCAA would have finally learned that lesson, but apparently not.

10 Comments

Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

The birth of a meme

Methinks this is a wee bit over the top, but consider the source.

And there was much social media mockery thereafter.

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Filed under Social Media Is The Devil's Playground

Georgia in Jeopardy

I don’t know if you saw this last night, but if you didn’t, you need to.

Even better was Stetson’s response when he learned about it.

Bennett got a text earlier informing him about his latest claim to fame.

“I hope they got it right,” Bennett told reporters.

The contestant nailed the answer like Bennett throwing a 40-yard touchdown pass to AD Mitchell in the fourth quarter.

Bennett said the question gave away a lot.

“That’s kind of helping them a little bit,” he said. “I hope they weren’t like, ‘Who’s the quarterback?’ Nobody would have got that.”

Well, I don’t know about nobody

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Filed under Georgia Football