Wednesday, August 31, 2011

3 Keys to beating Boise St.

Aside from the usual items, such as winning the turnover battle, as well as the super smart-assed "score more points than them," let's take a look at three things that would go a long way toward "upsetting" the #5 Boise St. Broncos on Saturday night.

Hit QB Kellen Moore early

Moore was sacked just five times last year. That's just over a third of a sack per game. 2 of those sacks came in the game against VA Tech, not surprisingly. Equally unsurprising was the fact that Moore had one of his poorer games that day. The Dawgs will need to do all they can to rattle the Heisman candidate early. Sacks could be tough to come by, given Moore's quick release, but Georgia can still do well by (legally) hitting Moore and taking him to the ground as often as possible.

Keep Boise State's defense on the field

I'm not always the biggest proponent of the importance of time of possession, but the Bulldogs could set themselves up for a strong finish here by at least having some sustained drives. Even if they only end up in 3 points, or even no points, putting together some nice 4 and 5 minute drives will pay huge dividends as the game goes on. Boise State matches up ok with their first-stringers, but if the Dawgs can wear them down, the Broncos simply won't have the athletes at backup spots to compete.

Take advantage of size mismatches

This goes for the running game, primarily. Boise State has a solid and experienced center in senior Thomas Byrd. Be that as it may, he is 5'11" and 288lbs. Georgia will be rotating in a pair of 350 pounders at nose, so there will be virtually no chance for Byrd to block either one on one. Boise's starting right tackle is 278 pounds, so you would figure on him getting the majority of help with DeAngelo Tyson or Abry Jones, while leaving their NFL caliber LT, Nate Potter, to fend for himself. The Dawgs shouldn't have to worry too much up front, if they'll concentrate on getting a solid, straight-ahead bull rush and crash down on running plays.

On the flip side, Boise State's 4 down-linemen are definitely not small. But, again, Georgia has a huge size advantage. Georgia's smallest O-Lineman, Chris Burnette (6'2", 313) still outweighs BSU's biggest starting D-Lineman by 17 pounds. On average, Georgia's O-Line weighs 327.4 pounds, versus the Broncos front four averaging 281 pounds. It's never as simple as that, but frankly, a 46 pounds-per-man advantage is pretty ridiculous. Then, you throw in a 272 lb. fullback who outweighs BSU's biggest LB by over 30 pounds, and you've really got something.

So, don't worry about getting too cute, at least early on. Push on forward, and wear them down on the LOS, and then take your shots later when some of their quickness has been taken away.

Of course, there's so much more to winning than just these three elements. However, if the Dawgs can start off being successful with these, and avoid the big mistakes, will hopefully work out.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Boise St got plenty of help in beating VA Tech

Because I know how some people can get out there in the innerweblogosphere, I will preface this by saying two things: First, the following is not meant to suggest that Boise State wouldn't have beaten VA Tech otherwise. Second, the following is not a reason why Georgia will or will not win on Saturday. It's just a little food for thought...

Being that just about everything else has been discussed ad nauseum in leading up to the 2011 season, I figured I might as well revisit the crowning achievement of Boise State's 2010 season; the victory over future James Madison victim, Virginia Tech.

Boise St. was able to build up a 17-0 lead over the Hokies out of the gate. This was accomplished via 3 key plays. First, the mishandled snap to Tyrod Taylor which BSU recovered. Second, a blocked punt by Boise St. Third, a roughing the kicker by VA Tech resulting in a first down. I'll give BSU some credit for blocking a punt, even though there is a reason that this happens so infrequently (because it shouldn't be allowed to happen). The other two are just blind luck.

After the dust had settled and the Hokies gathered themselves, they outscored the Broncos 30-9, until a late, albeit poised and impressive TD drive by Kellen Moore and BSU pulled out the game in the waning seconds.

Again, this is not to suggest that Boise somehow didn't deserve to win. Besides, that was last year, and this is this year. I do, however, think it's worth noting that the Hokies had a nightmarish first quarter, and were still able to more or less dominate for the next 40+ minutes, before finally wearing down.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Richt is nothing if not unpredictable

What do a couple of years falling short of expectations lead to? Some changes in the coaching staff? Sure. A new style and attitude in strength and conditioning? Check. But, these days, you're seeing a bit more of a rogue attitude, with apologies to Sarah Palin.

Take this latest issue/non-issue with CB Branden Smith. He was seen in a walking boot and crutches the other day. That much has been deemed certain. Beyond that, though, there has been no addressing of it by Claude Felton or the coaching staff. Not even so much as an acknowledgement that he was in a walking boot, thereby suggesting he hurt his ankle or foot, at least in some capacity.

We add to that the whole "Who's #1?" issue/non-issue with him and Isaiah Crowell. It has been assumed, given Smith's role in past years and during G-Day that he will continue to see limited action on offense. Obviously, he and Crowell couldn't be on the field at the same time if they're both wearing #1. Yet, the players and staff elegantly dance around it with Baryshnikovian skill.

That's not to suggest that jersey numbers are the most important thing in the world, but you'd think there'd have been a decision made known unless there was something behind it.

There are also rumors swirling about former starting safety Baccari Rambo. After being penciled in (at least by everyone outside the program) as the starter up until fall camp, he's slowly being mentioned less and less, and coaches are reticent to even mention his name now during post-practice pressers. He's like a gridiron Beetlejuice.

Some think he may have gotten himself into some hot sauce and will be suspended for a game or two, or more. Others have either heard, or just flat-out made baseless claims that he's being integrated into a "wild-dawg" package. I know, I know. The Internets have never been a place for rumors, and shame on me for suggesting such a thing.

Ultimately, it could be as simple for Branden Smith as he did hurt his foot a bit, and there is not enough to go on to make any proclamations as to its severity. And, it could be that there are no real plans to integrate him into the offense any more than once or twice a game, and they'll just do that with Richard Samuel in the backfield (or nobody else in the backfield) to avoid any number conflicts.

Further, it could just be the case that Rambo has been outplayed by Sanders Commings and/or Shawn Williams (Commings has been playing just about every DB position under the sun).

Whatever the case may be, Richt seems perfectly happy to let the rumors swirl. After all, the more Boise State, South Carolina, and everybody else has to consider, the better off Georgia will be.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kellen Moore is SuperPoised, Crazy Leslie, and other things

We're officially one week away from the beginning of the 2011 college football season (FBS, Div I-A, Etc). There are some real titanic match-ups slated for next Thursday, too. Villanova at Temple in a battle for the Keystone State is particularly intriguing, as New Hampshire at Toledo. Or, maybe Mississippi State will be upset, traveling to a team that won one game last year. Seriously, though, I am ready to see some football that counts.

Was doing some thinking, and while I hope Georgia stomps a hole in the all-time-win-leader-to-be Kellen Moore's hiney, I am looking forward to seeing his biography hit the silver screen.

"6 Feet of Grit: The Kellen Moore Story" had a nice ring to it, with Jake Busey, progeny of the legendary Gary Busey, playing the title role.

The physical similarities are striking, and Busey proved he could "tackle" an action role with his turn in "Starship Troopers."

Alas, I'm not sure the Hollywood suits will go for it. So, Moore will have to make due pursuing his NFL dreams. Though listed at 6', most suspect he's closer to the 5'10.5" range. Good luck to him, but if he does make it in the NFL, it will likely be as a clipboard holder on the sidelines.

Of course, I don't mean to disparage him. He's put up some amazing stats during his time, as he moves up the list in various categories. He's still got a ways to go before catching the likes of Colt Brennan, who faced the Dawgs in '08 and...Moore's put up some ridiculous numbers. Also, Moore is majoring in communications, as evidenced by his skills in this interview clip.

Moving on, LSU coach Les Miles has certainly got his hands full of late. A drunken brawl outside a bar has left the status of his would-be starting QB, Jordan Jefferson, in doubt. He's also compiling quite a list of "Lesisms" during his time in Red Stick. Regarding the fact that players were out past curfew, Leslie stated that "first of all, they should not have been there. So first and foremost, I take discredit for that." Either way, it's enough to drive a coach mad.

At any rate, again, we're just a week away. Boy, it's funny how perspective affects time. This next 7 days will likely seem like an eternity. However, I'm sure if I had a spinal tap or full body cavity search scheduled for next Thursday, it would be here in no time. Yay.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Worried" about Johnathan Jenkins?

It's a safe bet that coaches and fans alike expected Johnathan Jenkins to take over the starting nose tackle job when he transferred from junior college earlier this year. After all, he had the type of size (currently listed at over 6'3" and about 350 lbs.) and athleticism that you look for when running the 3-4 defense. Further, the only other viable option was Kwame Geathers, who'd looked a bit out of shape and lost during his first couple of seasons with the Bulldogs.

Now, though, after both great improvement by Geathers and some minor injuries/setbacks for Jenkins, it appears that Kwame is set to open the season as the starter. But, does this mean fans should worry that Jenkins is not going to live up to the hype? Hardly.

We need to remember that Kwame Geathers is, himself, still just coming into his redshirt sophomore season. It's not as though he was just lazing around, and is now the starter by default. He was still in a learning process, and had seemed to break through during the spring, even before Jenkins arrived on campus.

As you break it down even further, you realize that this is the perfect scenario for the Dawgs at NT. First, you allow Jenkins to ease into the role, gaining valuable experience one piece at a time. Second, and more importantly, though, you've got two gargantuan players who can substitute in and out and remain fresh. Imagine offensive centers and guards who've been battling a 350 pounder all day, and yet he never gets tired, because there are two of him. That's just a lot of weight to carry around, so the fresher you can keep both Geathers and Jenkins, the better off the defense will be.

Assuming the minor hamstring pull doesn't keep him out too much longer, you can expect to see Jenkins playing some significant minutes against Boise St. next Saturday night. I think coaches and teammates still expect great things from him. So, don't worry that he's not starting right now. Be excited that Kwame Geathers was able to beat him out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

No news is good news on the Offensive Line

Let's face it. The big hogs up front on the offensive line are typically not the center of attention when it comes to the football news of the day, especially in the preseason. Sure, if you've got a 3-time All-American Left Tackle, or a unit that is recognized the country over as one of the most dominating in history, then you might get a few blurbs on "The Worldwide Leader." Beyond that, though, you're not likely to hear too many glowing points.

So, with Georgia's depth on the O-Line hanging by a thread, it has been a welcome thing that the starting 5 have not been in the headlines due to injuries, missteps, or any other such negatives.

New O-Line coach Will Friend, whose now-famous switch from a zone-blocking scheme to a more straight ahead drive blocking practice, is not given to hyperbole. He has, however, made some comments that lead you to believe he's not, at the very least, disappointed with what he's seen so far.

“Those guys have done nothing to lose their spot and have performed pretty good,” he said recently.

Despite the slight grammar faux pas, that's not the worst thing in the world to hear. With the exception of maybe opening a few larger-than-normal holes (wait, what?), the offensive line is, by nature, a unit whose goal is to not be noticed.

Don't get noticed by committing false starts, holds, etc.

Don't get noticed by getting burned off the edge and getting your QB killed.

Don't get noticed by getting completely blown up through the middle.

So, with just over a week left before the season opener, I am quite content to not hear much of anything about any of the offensive linemen from here on out.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Terrelle Pryor ruling is right on

With the news coming down this week that former Ohio State QB and tattoo connoisseur Terrelle Pryor would be required to serve a five game suspension after (presumably) being taken in the NFL's supplemental draft, many have spoken out both in favor of and against it. The truth, as I see it, is that he absolutely deserves this suspension, even though his transgressions occurred during college.

The primary concerns voiced by those opposed to the ruling are as follows. First, that a player's wrongdoings in college should not affect him after college (those being NCAA violations). And, secondly, that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been wielding too much power lately, and this is the latest example of him doling out punishments in situations where precedents don't exist.

While the second point might be a bit more reasonable from a general practice standpoint, the first is completely out of order.

Face it. College football is the lifeblood of the NFL. That is where players are groomed, both mentally and physically, for what is the single largest grossing professional sport on the planet. The two are inextricably linked, and what affects one will, in one way or another, affect the other.

Think of how many underclassmen jumped ship on the NCAA last year when it was learned that rookie salaries would likely be lowered (to a reasonable level, by the way) in 2011. Also, consider the rules in place for how long a player must wait after graduating high school before he is allowed to apply for the NFL draft (3 years). Just two examples of how the NFL has already been involved with college football on a fairly direct level.

This latest ruling may, in fact, set a precedent, but think of the precedent that would be set if no action was taken by Goodell, and accepted by the NFLPA. Any player who was projected as a future draft pick would have little other than his own conscience (and we've seen how well that works for some players) to keep him from breaking every NCAA rule under the sun. He would know that, if he did get caught, he could simply just jump ship and be picked up by any team looking for a man of his talents.

Quite honestly, Pryor should have been made to sit out a year. I'm not particularly worried about Ohio State's immediate future, as the program has gotten itself into a plethora (what is a plethora?) of other messes; I certainly don't feel bad for them. But, in general, you have a starting QB who broke some rules, and then gave his word that he would accept punishment and return for his senior season. Then, when more issues arose, he thought he'd just say, "To hell with this," and bolt for the NFL. He, in essence, gets of scot-free, while leaving his former team in a lurch.

If Goodell's suspension of Pryor is opening a can of worms, then not suspending him is opening Pandora's Box.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tavarres King, where are you?

Worried about the lack of supposed catches by Tavarres King o'er the first two scrimmages? Don't be.

I don't profess to know what exactly is going on at Georgia's scrimmages. I only know what I read and hear like 99.9% of the rest of the Bulldog Nation. What I'm hearing is that "TK" hasn't caught more than a ball or two over the course of the two scrimmages.

I've also heard that Bacarri Rambo has not been practicing with the first team defense, among other things.

Want to know how to tell how much of this is just the coaching staff trying to get a look at some unknown commodities? Just look at the starting lineups come the season opener.

There was a running joke that former Georgia RB Ronnie Powell was an All-American on G-Day and fall scrimmages, yet, he rarely saw significant action during the regular season. This is not meant to dump on Ronnie at all. He busted his hump and made it farther up the football ladder than most who play the game. I'm just making the point that you can't go by simple stats and recaps of a fake "game" with made up scenarios played behind closed doors (or gates, as the case may be).

So, I'll go on record as saying that, barring injury, I'll be absolutely stunned if #12 isn't lined up at wide out for the Dawgs on opening night, even if he's been the invisible man during the all important scrimmages.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

South Carolina is going to win the SEC East because of returning starters

That would be the conventional wisdom speaking.

Sounds, well, sound. After all, if you have a decent year in 2010, and you get a lot of those guys back, particularly the more impactful (which is actually not a word) players, it might stand to reason that you'll be better in 2011.

But, let's think about this for a second, and use South Carolina as an example. Who's returning? Let's take some key players and look at their situations, starting from the top.

QB Stephen Garcia returns for his senior season. He definitely took a step forward in 2010, with a solid QB rating, though he still was prone to throwing the ball to the other team. We're told we're getting a Stephen Garcia who's turned his life around, but dollars to donuts something else will arise. Even if it doesn't, is he really expected to be better than last year? Not really.

Then we look at WR Alshon Jeffrey. With over 1,500 yds and 9 TDs last year, he had about as good a season as a WR can have in college. He's an absolutely known quantity (a damn good one) that teams will scheme against. He'll get his yards and TDs, but honestly, is he going to have a better year than 2010? It's almost a statistical impossibility. Oh, and it becomes even more of an improbability when you look at his current physical conditioning...

Moving on to RB Marcus Lattimore. Tallying over 1,600 yds of total offense and 19 total TDs, he was who many consider to be responsible for uSC's surge offensively last year. He may actually do even better this year, but that will be more in the pass-blocking category. Still, moving from your freshman to sophomore year could yield some benefits, even after such a great rookie campaign.

On defense, the Gamecocks were very average last year, and they may actually improve under DC Ellis Johnson this season, especially with the addition of all-everything freshman DE Jadaveon Clowney. The Cocks return ~7 starters (always a wishy-washy number anyway, considering some guys don't start every game for various reasons).

Without getting into too much more detail, though, let me make my point. The Gamecocks lost 5 games in 2010, and they showed little to no improvement as the season went on. Each good thing was followed by a bad. They failed to handle any amount of success with more success.

You can talk about Georgia losing to UCF all you want, but getting outscored 82-34 over the last two games is hardly reason to be excited about the next year.

So, what is really so exciting and alluring about South Carolina returning a bunch of guys that, quite frankly, weren't all that spectacular as a whole in 2010?

Good teams can definitely take a step back if they lose a bunch of key starters (even though those key starters were not always key starters, either). However, returning a bunch of starters from a slightly above average team does not a championship season make. Just ask the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Georgia Bulldogs, and those teams were far better than the 2010 Gamecocks could ever dream of being.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Writing off Marlon Brown, others?

Any time a highly touted freshman arrives on campus, he of the 4 or 5 star ranking, he's almost always expected to be an all-conference performer right out of the gate. I won't broach the topic of the importance of star rankings here, as that topic has become as heated as abortion or the ending of The Sopranos.

Fairly or unfairly, many fans expect that, because the AJ Green's, Eric Berry's, and Marcus Lattimore's of the world exist, that all such high school phenoms should be able to waltz right in and put up similar freshman performances.

The fact is, these types of situations are the exception, not the norm. Not everyone is on the same timeline, and not every situation is the same.

Take Marlon Brown. After a dominating senior year in high school, he turned in a brilliant performance which included a 71 yd TD reception in the 2009 Under Armour All America game, sending his already high stock skyrocketing.

After he committed to Georgia, many believed he would be a mirror image of AJ Green, given his size, speed, and athleticism. But, things didn't turn out that way.

In the fall of 2009, Brown failed to make any significant move up the depth chart, catching just 2 balls (which came in a blowout at Tennessee, and were seemingly force fed to him just to let him catch a couple in his home state).

Then, last year, Brown slowly began to emerge from the shadows, notching his first TD reception in Colorado, though he still was largely unable to earn significant playing time. Of course, settling in behind Green, Durham, and Tavarres King can do that to a player.

Now, in 2011, Brown has worked his way atop the depth chart. While tenuous, it speaks volumes of a player who really does have the skills and attitude to be successful in the SEC, even though the road to the top of this hill (again, for the time being) may have been traveled by rickshaw, not rocket ship.

I'm certainly not saying Brown has "arrived." After all, he still has yet to make consistent positive contributions offensively. The point, though, is that many had written him off as a bust, saying he only appeared to be a special player because of the talent, or lack thereof, he played against in high school.

I personally am looking forward to seeing how he fares this season, and hoping for the best for him, and all others who've kept their noses clean, showed up every day, and practiced hard. It's not his fault that a couple of recruiting services saw some game film and a 71 yd catch in an all star game, and decided that he should be the next Randy Moss.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bulldogs "Man Up"

One of the hot topics in the blogosphere during fall camp was the issue of practicing 1's vs. 1's; the idea that pitting your first-string offense against your first-string defense created better competition and preparedness for both.

It's a simple enough concept to grasp. After all, it makes sense that if you're a receiver going up against a top cornerback, you're going to better know where you stand, and what your strengths and weakness might be.

So, when Richt clarified the Bulldogs will typically go 1's vs. 2's on both offense and defense, many, particularly those that love to question the coaching staff's methods, got a little antsy. After all, how could we possibly be prepared for Boise St. and South Carolina 1st stringers if we're not practicing against our own?

What those people may fail to grasp is that both offense and defense are predominately working on technique, communication, execution, and specific plays. In order to that, the coaches need to set up various scenarios. Hence, you're not getting the most out of each practice because either the offense or defense is constantly running "bogus" plays. Or, you're not getting the most out of practice because you're not concentrating on specific goals and improving where you're weakest. Either way, going 1's vs. 2's is a necessity.

But, fear not, armchair QBs and coaches. The Dawgs held what Richt deemed a "competition day" on Friday, in which several scenarios (down and distance) were set up, and the #1 offense and the #1 defense went at it (The offense won the day 3-2). The coaching staff, much more often than not, knows what you know (and plenty more). They do see the value in each side of the ball getting the others' best shot, at least every once in a while.

The point is, the ol' coach sees a far greater value in getting down plays, signals, techniques, reps, and every other what-have-you more. Besides, it's not as if the second team is composed of the little angels in Sister Mary Catherine's Little Fireflies Dance Troupe.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Jenkins' attitude contagious

Aside from maybe Isaiah Crowell, the first-year man most expected to contribute this year (at least by the Georgia fan base) would have to be Johnathan Jenkins. Even though Kwame Geathers turned some heads as the big anchor of Georgia's 3-4 defense at nose tackle in the spring, Jenkins was still thought to be the missing piece.

After arriving on campus at nearly 360 lbs, Jenkins has already shed some weight in the Georgia heat, dropping down to a reported 342. Almost as important as the weight he's dropped, though, have been the quips and slogans he's dropped.

The mantra of fall practice, especially from a die-hard fan's perspective, is to not read too much into what you're hearing from coaches and players. 98% of the questions (that's a documented stat, by the way) are loaded, and so we often get canned answers and coach-speak.

Example: How have fall practices been going?

Answer: They've been going great. Everybody has been working hard, and you can tell guys are really dedicated.


But, with Jenkins, you can definitely tell he's answering from a more personal experience.

When he was recruited, you can bet Georgia coaches pitched the absolute need for a gargantuan nose tackle with Jenkins' athleticism. In fact, while they certainly wouldn't have actually promised him the starting job, they most likely came as close to doing so as they ever have with a recruit. Nonetheless, John Jenkins truly understands that he has to prove himself. He doesn't seem to be moping around wondering why he's currently with the second-team defense.

Beyond that, though, is something Dawg fans have to truly love above almost anything else. Jenkins has effused pride in the Georgia "G." He genuinely understands how much the University of Georgia means to hundreds of thousands of people, and he appreciates the history of Georgia football. It's as if he considers it not only an honor to represent Georgia, but also a responsibility.

Remember the old knight in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade?" Of course you do. He spoke of how the honor was his to guard the Grail. Well, hopefully Georgia football is a little more fun and exciting than sitting in a dusky room penitently kneeling for a thousand years, but it's as if that's how Jenkins views his "job." I may have derailed a bit there.

At any rate, I say again that talk is talk, so we'll just have to wait and see what kind of impact Jenkins has on the field. But, if his talent in any way equals his attitude, enthusiasm, and outlook, I think it will be a lot of fun watching him play this fall.

Now, enjoy viewing the proper way to address a stare-down...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jarvis Jones a perfect leader for the defense

As is the case with many players at UGA, Jarvis Jones came out of high school with all the accolades and accomplishments you'd expect. So many, in fact, that then-powerhouse USC came calling from 3,000 miles away and convinced Jones to be a Trojan.

Then, just as the freshman linebacker was beginning to make his mark on the field, disaster struck. A freak neck injury left him wondering if he'd ever play football again. It left the USC medical staff wondering as well, and they refused to clear Jones to play.

Fortunately, other medical opinions were formed to the contrary. Jarvis Jones was granted a second chance to pursue his dreams at the University of Georgia. NCAA rules dictated that the now red shirt sophomore had to sit out a year, which was probably for the best anyway, as it gave him time to continue to heal and regain confidence in his spine.

Now, the former top-5 ranked linebacker/defensive end out of Columbus sits atop the Dawgs' depth chart at "Sam" linebacker, ready to announce his return in front of 70,000+ at the Georgia Dome on September 3rd. But, for a Georgia defense that struggled to find its identity in 2010, Jones represents more than just the position he plays.

There's something about getting a second chance. Football has generally come easy for every player on Georgia's squad until this point. Often times, these 18-22 year olds don't really know what it would be like to not have football. Jones does. He knows from 1st hand experience that nothing is given, and in fact, it can easily be taken away. He knows that it's nothing to be squandered.

Even after his return to the field was eminent, there was a new situation that threatened his playing time, as the NCAA began to look into potential improprieties stemming from a slush fund tied to his AAU team. There again, Jarvis Jones was in danger of having football taken away from him, if even for just a few more games.

So, you can bet that when Jones is calling for his teammates to push a little harder, or to work a little more, his words carry weight. Someone who has been through what he's been through, and has unquestioned talent and ability, has the potential to lead like few others.

Hopefully, it's a success story that's only truly beginning to play itself out.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Relax, it's just a scrimmage

You've likely heard/seen the initial stats from Georgia's first scrimmage today. If not, I bet you can find them. You seem like a pretty resourceful person.

The key takeaways, for those of you used to business meeting jargon, are that there were a lot of sacks, Crowell and Samuel were effective on the ground, Murray was efficient through the air, and Samuel fumbled once.

In reality, though, these are not important at all. They are interesting to see from the standpoint of finding out what guys were out there running around and making some plays, but for the love of all that is good and holy, I implore you to not read into these numbers any more than to say, "Neat."

We don't know the circumstances of any of the plays, we don't know how or why a play ended up the way it did, and beyond all that, it's a week into fall camp. If Georgia's starting O-Line gives up 10 sacks against BSU, then we might be in some trouble. I'm as interested as the next fellow regarding the stats from a general curiosity standpoint, but before any stats are officially entered for the 2011 season, consider them next to worthless.

Bulldog WRs' stock rising

Obviously, the 2011 season has yet to begin, so we're not going to act like anything has been accomplished yet. Further, we don't want to pretend that talk and glowing comments about Georgia's WR corps are anything more than that. However, it's encouraging to know that a couple of guys have been singled out for their performances and effort thus far.

At SEC Media Days, the talk was about Malcolm Mitchell, the highly touted (how many times have you heard that phrase lately?) incoming freshman who not only possesses elite quickness and speed, but also an incredible work ethic.

Now, over the past day or two, QB Aaron Murray has been singing the praises of junior WR Marlon Brown, who was likewise highly regarded coming out of high school, and whose 6'5", 220lb. frame and sheer athleticism suggest he has the tools to be great.

And, of course, there's the "old man" of the group, Tavarres King. Don't look now, but TK has put together a very solid first couple of years, and could easily end up eclipsing the 2,000 yd receiving mark by the time he's done.

Nobody is suggesting that losing AJ Green is going to be easy to weather. He was probably the most dynamic and game-changing WR to ever play at Georgia. However, a lot of these younger guys are no slouches in the athletic department, and appear ready and willing to make their own mark.

Bringing up the name Herschel can lead to a lot of emotions for Dawg fans, but just to point out that losing an elite player does not a season ruin...

In Herschel's Heisman campaign of '82, he rushed 355 times for 1,752 yds and 16 TDs, an amazing season to be sure. The year following, though, the Dawgs went 10-1-1, and had their top 3 rushers (the dreaded running back by committee) rush 327 times for 1,383 yds and 16 TDs. Granted, there's a whole lot of other factors and effects to consider with a guy like #34 in the backfield, but from a sheer production standpoint, the dropoff was limited.

So, again, we'll have to wait and see what actually happens on the field throughout the season, but there's at least hope that AJ's departure simply means an open door for others to step through.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is Boise State's defense really dominant?

Normally, this would be the type of subject I would not broach until game-week, or there about, but it was something I looked into and had been thinking about.

While the Broncos' offense gets the most notoriety, you've doubtless read by now that their defense is also an immense strength, having ranked #2 in the nation in both scoring defense and total defense in 2010. That alone means that, any way you slice it, they are talented and well coached.

Having said that, it must be stressed that many of their gaudy (or in the case of defense, miniscule) stats are the product not only of Boise St. being very good, but their competition being very bad.

In the 2010 regular season, the Broncos basically played 3 games that an objective football fan would consider to have been against decent competition: Virginia Tech, Oregon State, and Nevada. Against those three teams, BSU gave up an average of 29.3 points per game. Hardly dominating.

As you sift and search through the various scores of the rest of their cupcake schedule, you'll find that the same teams the Broncos were beating up on, other BCS conference teams whipped as well. Cases in point...BSU beat LA Tech 49-20, Texas A&M beat LA Tech 48-16. BSU beat Toledo 57-14, Arizona beat Toledo 41-2.

Look, I'm not trying to get into the "Team A beat team B, and team C beat team B, so this and that would happen" type of scenario. I'm simply supporting the idea that Boise St is a good team that padded its national rankings via the sisters of the poor, and was completely lack-luster from the defensive side of the ball any time they went up against solid (not even top-rate) competition. You'll find it's a trend. Virtually every team in the WAC last year that BSU pummeled was similarly beaten by pretty much every out of conference team they played.

It's pointless to sit here and say that Georgia (or any other team) "would have" run through BSU's schedule, so I won't do that. I will, however, point to what actually did happen last year, and recommend that everyone just pump the brakes a bit with regards to the suffocating, dominating, punishing, stingy, or otherwise dominating defense of the Boise State Broncos.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Freshmen nearing tipping point for significant playing time

Although the Dawgs are just 4 practices into the fall schedule, you can bet coaches and players are already forming opinions on who will play a significant amount, who might get some special teams and mop-up duty, and who is looking like a redshirt candidate.

Mark Richt and Mike Bobo have become especially enamored with the phrase "their heads are swimming (or spinning, depending on the day)." Makes sense, because the college game is simply so much more involved with regard to responsibilities and reads on dozens upon dozens of plays. Then, there's the fact that they're adjusting to being away from home, not being the big man on campus, the speed and toughness of the college game, and numerous other factors. It's tough.

That being said, teams can't afford to slow up the pace of getting ready for both the season and the first opponent for the sake of bringing certain freshmen along slowly. It's a "throw 'em in the water and see if they can swim" mentality. Although, necessity and lack of depth can sometimes dictate whether a few select guys get a little more attention.

Ultimately, a guy like Isaiah Crowell is not going to redshirt unless he is just completely lost out there (which all reports indicate is coming along nicely). The need is just too great, and the upside is too appealing. But, for others who are waiting in line behind several veterans, they are nearing a point where coaches are looking at them and saying, "he's just not ready."

Taking all that into account, though, it's interesting to note that the Dawgs have precious few positions where depth is a non-issue right now. Cornerback (and nickel) are looking pretty full, and there will be one or two candidates for a redshirt at WR (though most expect Malcolm Mitchell to play early and often).

Put simply (too late, right?), the Bulldogs may be forced to play a few guys who, in another year, would be redshirted.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What do we want to hear (or not hear) out of fall practice

After a test day and general acclimation period today, the Bulldogs begin preparations for the 2011 season in earnest on Thursday. While there will doubtless be reports of which incoming freshmen are standing out (which will lead to speculation that anyone not mentioned is struggling), who's improved the most, and who has stepped up as a leader, there are a few other things to look for. Bear in mind, you can't always believe what you read, and more than that, there are simply going to be a lot of things that fans and reporters simply aren't privy to.

1) No injuries, particularly on the offensive line. This goes without saying about as much as you don't want to hear about an injury to your starting QB. Dawgs simply can't afford it.

2) Richard Samuel hasn't missed a beat, and has improved, since he last played running back in 2009.

3) Crowell is challenging Samuel for the top spot. If Samuel is actually competing and looking good at running back, then this will be a welcome sign.

4) Nobody can block Johnathan Jenkins. As good as Kwame Geathers looked in the spring, if the Dawgs O-Line (particular Ben Jones, one of the best centers in football) can't take JJ one on one, then that will bode well for the Bulldogs defense.

5) Alec Ogletree is tackling everybody. It's funny, but Ogletree's move has been a two-sided coin during the off-season. It seems as though nobody's particularly worried about the move, and yet there's only been minimal talk that he's going to shine (which I think he will). He's currently listed at 236lbs, and presumably can still motor. Dawgs are hoping he's a bit taller version of Patrick Willis (I realize this is still wildly premature).

Of course, there are several other thing we hope to hear, but they tend to be part of a zero-sum game. For instance, you don't want to hear that Aaron Murray is throwing any picks, but yet you don't want to hear that the defense isn't making any interceptions. You don't want to hear the the D-line is getting blown up up front, but you don't want to hear that the O-line can't open any holes, either.

Aaah, the fun of fall practice. In the end, I guess you just want to hear that everybody's working their butts off, and nobody's getting hurt.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Can Orson Charles really be a premier weapon?

During his recruitment, Orson Charles had as much fanfare surrounding him as any tight end you're likely to find. Part of that was that he had all the quickness and ball skills of a wide receiver, built into a tight-end's body and mind. It also didn't hurt, especially in the eyes of Georgia fans, that he accidentally busted Florida's BCS National Championship trophy (Still holding out hope that maybe, about 20 years down the road, he'll tell us he did it on purpose).

Make no mistake. Charles has made an impact. In just two years, he's amassed about 50 catches and 800 yds, including 5 TDs. He's also averaged over 16 yds per catch, a lofty number for a tight end.

But, despite the accolades, achievements, and numbers, I'm still left wondering just how much impact a tight end can really have, particularly in the passing game. After all, he's not even running a pattern on all passing plays, and it's just not something you see all that often (it does happen, though. Antonio Gates has basically been San Diego's leading receiver for the past 5 years).

That is why it's heartening to hear that the Dawgs may try to move Charles around a bit. He was described by Richt as being the best receiver the Bulldogs have right now, bar none. He's also seemingly taking on much more of a leadership role, and he'll need to have some numbers and big plays to back that up.

So, what do you think? Can Orson Charles really be a big-time weapon overall, or will he just be a big weapon for a tight end?