Category Archives: Georgia Football

Lots of options

Just a reminder of who’s on the roster at offensive line going into spring practice:

Returning Starters/Contributors:Isaiah Wynn (Sr.), Lamont Gaillard (Jr.), and Dyshon Sims (Sr.)

Notes: Georgia loses Greg Pyke, Tyler Catalina and Brandon Kublanow from the 2016 season and that leaves three holes to fill. Right tackle, left tackle, and center. Gaillard is the favorite to step in at center although Sims has worked there quite a bit since last season’s bye week before the Florida game. Sims will also battle at left and right guard while Wynn gets looks at left guard and left tackle. All three improved as the year progressed in 2016 and will be light years ahead of others in regards to their knowledge and practice of the scheme.

Contenders: Pat Allen (Soph.), Kendall Baker (Jr.), Chris Barnes (RFr), Michael Barnett (Soph.), Aulden Bynum (Sr.), Ben Cleveland (RFr.), Sage Hardin (Soph.), D’Marcus Hayes (Jr.), Solomon Kindley (RFr.), and Sam Madden (Soph.)

Notes: This will be a big spring for each of these contenders and for difference reasons. It’s probably now or never for guys like Allen, Hardin and Madden. If they don’t make a move in their third year in the program, there’s a good chance those players from the 2016 and 2017 classes will leap over them. For guys like Bynum and Baker, time is running out in general.

Then you have Hayes, who’ll be given every opportunity to win a job at tackle. At 6-foot-6 the raw ability is there. Early word is that he must get in shape in order to win a job. Barnett has been working on the offensive line for just four months now, so he might need some time.

That’s thirteen; that’s also before you get the studs coming in for August.  That’s a lot of bodies to sort out between now and Appalachian State.

If you read Rowe’s analysis, things are pretty much in a state of flux, which is to be expected, given the hopes for Hayes to start at left tackle.  If he does, that probably cleans up a lot.  If he doesn’t, we may be looking at a situation very different from last year’s when the lineup was essentially settled after Catalina arrived.  If that’s because of competition — and you have to hope with the quality of the incoming class, it would be to some degree — well and good.  If that’s because they don’t have enough kids step up to play at an SEC level, get ready to pull your hair out again over the play calling.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“Who replaces Isaiah McKenzie?”

It’s a good question, but the more relevant one is who blocks for who replaces Isaiah McKenzie?

Even with McKenzie, Georgia’s return teams have been substandard for years.  Here’s how they’ve ranked in conference play for the last four seasons:

KICKOFF RETURNS

  • 2016:  9th
  • 2015:  12th
  • 2014:  7th
  • 2013:  14th

PUNT RETURNS

  • 2016:  6th
  • 2015:  5th
  • 2014:  5th
  • 2013:  14th

McKenzie certainly had a noticeable impact on punt returns, but overall, that doesn’t exactly paint a picture of excellence for Georgia’s special teams.

As Seth notes, it’s not as if Smart lacks for options when it comes to returners.  But it won’t matter much if they can’t find some players who can set up the returns with consistent blocking.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Close, but no ceegar

Your reminder of how 2016’s 7-5 regular season could have been:

Georgia is one late, fourth-down touchdown catch by Isaiah McKenzie (against Missouri) away from going 0-4 last season against the teams it will face in this four-game stretch. Of course, the Bulldogs also came close to going 3-1 against Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mizzou and Florida.

The only game that was out of reach was a 24-10 loss to Florida where Georgia mustered all of 164 yards of total offense. But had the Bulldogs not surrendered an unbelievable Hail Mary touchdown on the final play against Tennessee, and had their offense not faltered late in a 17-16 loss against Vanderbilt, the narrative from Kirby Smart’s debut season as Georgia’s head coach would be slightly more positive. As it stands, it was a disappointing first season for Smart marred by losses in three of the four biggest games on the schedule: Georgia Tech, Florida, Auburn and Tennessee.

“Slightly”?  Win those Tennessee and Vandy games, and they roll into Jacksonville with a 6-1 record, 4-1 in the conference, and a completely different mindset.

Of course, they’ve got to run the same gauntlet again this season, with only one of the four games in Athens.  If we’re looking for a measuring stick for improvement in Smart’s second season, it starts with going better than 1-3 (barely) against that bunch.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Are Sanford Stadium improvements a zero-sum game?

Bulldog Illustrated asks the musical questions,

It all depends on one’s perspective. On the one hand, there is indeed an issue with long lines at the facilities on game day at Sanford on the north side, and by half-time or the end of the game, the conditions in the restrooms are not the most pleasant. So fans do have a point here. Then on the other hand, the football team has been in need of new locker rooms for a while now and that along with having an area to host recruiting prospects on game day at the stadium will help the football program in the recruiting war. Infusing more talent into the football team’s roster and the ability to keep recruiting at a high level to keep the rosters stocked with talent is part of the recipe for a championship program.

And it’s not like fans are not happy to hear about and see the renovations, but the question is why cannot both needs be addressed? We would like to hear your thoughts and opinions. Are you happy with the proposed renovations? Would you rather the north side facilities be addressed first?

Why, indeed, can’t both needs be addressed at the same time?  It’s certainly not a matter of resources.  The athletic department is awash in money and donors have repeatedly stepped up to the plate to provide additional funds for major capital projects like the JPMIPF™.  You would also think there would be certain efficiencies to be gained by having a general contractor work on both projects together, rather than at separate times.

Is it a matter of not feeling confident about walking and chewing gum at the same time, that B-M can only focus on one stadium job at a time?  (Given that this is the same bunch who couldn’t keep track of a condom provision in a rapper’s contract, don’t be so quick to dismiss the possibility.)  Does McGarity think there’s a financial advantage in spreading the work out, that maybe donors will contribute more generously if the requests for contributions are spaced in time?  That’s certainly an issue to which he can bring laser-like focus.

Or is there really no choice at all here, and the notion of upgrading the facilities on the north side of the stadium merely a pipe dream of the fan base as opposed to an item on the B-M to-do list?  I know what Occam’s Razor suggests.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

Kirby gets a break.

This is good news.

I’ll be interested in seeing the details on how they dodged the bullet on one of the stranger brain farts of 2016.

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Filed under Georgia Football

What never was and what could be

David Wunderlich offers a tale about Georgia’s in-state recruiting since the 2002 season that provides an interesting contrast between Richt’s final years and Smart’s first two.

We’ve all lamented the disintegration of the 2013 class, but David notes that the class was a disaster not just because of who came and went, but also because of who never made it in the first place.

It didn’t have the lowest percentage on the chart, but the 2013 cycle was the nadir for Richt and in-state recruiting.

The top seven prospects in Georgia went out of state. Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top recruit, went to Ole Miss; to be fair, his brother already being in Oxford played a role there. Richt lost out on a pair of defensive linemen after that in Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams, guys who anchored Auburn’s defensive renaissance in 2016.

Fourth was Vonn Bell, who went on to star at Ohio State. Fifth and sixth were Alvin Kamara and Tyren Jones, a couple of guys who went to Alabama but didn’t stay long. Kamara eventually ended up a big contributor for Tennessee. Seventh was Demarcus Robinson, who became one of Florida’s top receivers in 2014 and 2015.

Georgia took a quarterback in 2013 with Brice Ramsey. He ended up a better punter than signal caller. Ramsey’s inability to fulfill his 4-star rating is why Georgia got the Greyson Lambert experience after Hutson Mason graduated. Another quarterback from Georgia who came out of high school that year was Alpharetta’s Joshua Dobbs. If 247 Sports has it right, UGA didn’t even offer Dobbs a scholarship.

Further down the list, UGA offered but couldn’t land Loganville’s 4-star running back Wayne Gallman. He and the next year’s 4-star Georgia product Deshaun Watson were obviously a huge part of Clemson’s amazing run the past couple of years.

That’s a lot of whiffing for one class.  Granted, the lack of success at running back can be partially attributed to Georgia’s giant haul in 2012 with Gurley and Marshall, but given their history with injuries and suspension, a top-flight back in the 2013 class sure would have been a big help.

Meanwhile, check out Smart’s trend line.

uga-ga-bc-pct

It’s not at Richt’s peak, but it’s certainly headed in the right direction.

That being said, it’s worth pointing out that, as the overall talent pool in this state has grown significantly over the last decade, it’s going to be nearly impossible for Smart to match Richt’s highest percentage levels, as they’re aren’t any more scholarships to offer.  What’s going to matter more, anyway, is if Smart can eliminate the dramatic swings that you can see beginning with the 2005 class.

Plateaus can be beautiful things.  Especially when they represent two gifts in one.

Even so, UGA secured 11 of the top 16 players within its home territory. Even better, the Bulldogs boxed out a lot of their direct competitors. Rival Auburn had signed 14 combined Peach State blue chips in the previous three cycles, but it only got one this time around. Florida nabbed two blue chips in 2016 but was shut out in 2017. Tennessee had signed at least one Georgia blue chip every year since Lane Kiffin arrived in Knoxville in 2009, but the Vols too came up empty.

Can Smart keep up that level of production?  That’s what we’ll have to wait and see.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Throwing away the throwaway year narrative

Judging from these pieces in SI.com and CBSSports.com, I don’t think the national media is jumping on board the Jeff Dantzler train.  If that kind of thinking gets picked up by the talking heads at ESPN this summer and fall, that’s gonna make for some tough sledding trying to defend another subpar season without at least a divisional title.

By the way, for those of you who want to argue that Job One for this staff is something other than cobbling together a functional, competent offensive line, there’s this analytic bit to ponder:

… Georgia’s offensive line (it ranked 101st and 113th, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards and Power Success Rate statistics in 2016)…

Pretty, that’s not.  Time for Mr. Pittman to work his magic.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles