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Friday, August 22, 2008

Bulldogs Blog Mailbag

So, I realize that I’m the guy with the blog, but I’ve also been in this business long enough to know that doesn’t necessarily make me the expert. In this age of instant information, it’s often the readers are as good a source of information as anyone else. So, I’m always happy to have input, feedback, questions and comments from those of you who read the blog or my work in the Telegraph, Ledger-Enquirer or on Scout.com.

Having said all that, I know not all of you go through and read the comments, and the emails I get usually are just correspondence between myself and one of my readers. That, however, doesn’t mean the information isn’t worth sharing with everyone else.

So, allow me to join the not-so-exclusive fraternity of writers who use their readers as a free source of content, by opening up our first (but hopefully not last) edition of the Bulldogs Blog Mailbag…

(SIDE NOTE: All comments/questions are unedited. Many comments are posted as anonymous, so I don’t have screen names or real names for them, thus forever leaving their creators to lament their lack of free media publicity.)

From Anonymous: People sometimes underestimate the importance of special teams. Your opponent is rarely more vulnerable than when they're kicking or punting to you, and a guy like Moreno could really change a game with a big return. I'm all for putting him back there, but the other guys better make their blocks!

DH: Good point, but I think you’ve also uncovered the big worry about putting Moreno in the punt return game, too. With all the preseason injuries, most people have focused on how that affects the offense and defense, but where it will likely show up the most is on special teams.

Those guys running down the field and making blocks are the ones either missing because of injuries or stepping into other roles to fill a void caused by the absence of an injured veteran. Coach Fabris told me he counted 15 green jerseys among his punt return team last week, and that can have a dramatic affect on how prepared those guys are for game conditions.

I tend to agree that Moreno as a return man makes a lot of sense in terms of playing the field-position game, but it’s got to be a concern putting him behind a group of inexperienced and possibly unprepared blockers.

From Anonymous: Cowherd is awesome. NEVER compare him to Skip Bayliss again. Skip Bayliss is a f**king moron.

DH: This, of course, was in response to me calling ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd the second most unprofessional person working in sports. True, I probably exaggerated that. I’m friends with at least four or five people in the business less professional than him. So, I take it back. Cowherd is no more than the sixth most unprofessional sports “journalist.” At least, however, we can happily agree on who No. 1 is.

From Jamar: With the rash of injuries at D-end, do coaches seem all that concerned that conditioning, technique and fundamentals may be lacking this year? It seems like without an opportunity to practice, we may not have the pass rush that we had last year. And that's gonna be vital if we're supposed to beat LSU or Florida. I've heard Fabris say he hasn't had a DE close to 90% healthwise, but considering that, how does he plan to make sure these guys are ready to play this year?

DH: You’ve hit on what might be the single biggest concern heading into the season. At one point last week, Jarius Wynn was the only scholarship D end practicing fully. Fabris has moved tackles Corvy Irvin and Brandon Wood out to the end positions just to field two units at practice.

Considering Rod Battle is the only D end in camp with experience as a starter, you have to wonder how this will all shake out as the season kicks off. Fabris said this is the worst rash of injuries he’s seen in any camp in his career, and it’s clear he’s concerned about the ends. Still, Georgia’s pass rush started slow last year and ended up leading the league in sacks, so there is hope. I would be worried, however, about the Arizona State game if the pass rush isn’t running at full capacity.

From Anonymous: Love your work on the Blog! However, you've GOT to learn how to spell "Searles." It's SEARELS. (see your Ledger article on the offensive line)

DH: Seriously, I am a moron sometimes. I’ve also made the mistake of referring to Asher Allen as a safety at least twice. I don’t get it. It’s not that I don’t know this information, I just keep screwing it up. As the coaching staff would say, I’m not taking my film-room knowledge onto the playing field.

I’m calling it a mental block – a case of the journalistic yips. Back in the day, I used to confuse Foreigner and Supertramp, too, which there’s no excuse for. (Supertramp and Styx, maybe, but definitely not Foreigner.) In any case, my newspaper’s mental health insurance is too pricey, so this is a problem I’m just going to have to work through on my own.

From ChicagoDawg: It would be interesting to know what the story is with Bean Anderson. Seemingly, it was his starting gig to lose going into Fall camp -- even before Sturdivant went down. Here we are 2 weeks out, 2 men down (#77 for the season and #60 for the first game) and he is likely to end up 2nd string. I wonder if it is lack of intensity, inconsistency or just getting beat by the better man (i.e. Vance & Glenn). I thought early on the coaches were using the Glenn cheerleading to keep Glenn's head in the game, but primarily to rattle Anderson and bit and get him motivated.

DH: This is a tough one to answer with any confidence because, the fact is, even if Bean was a huge disappointment, I don’t think any of the coaches would come right out and say so (other than Searels, and he doesn’t speak to the media – probably because some media members can’t seem to spell his name right).

The evidence, however, clearly shows Anderson has not performed up to expectations. This is a guy who seemed like a strong possibility for the starting lineup in the spring, and now with two starters out (Clint Boling and Sturdivant) he’s still nowhere close. You don’t have to be Carnac to read between the lines here.

Still, Vince Vance was in a similar situation last year – slow to come around to Searels coaching philosophy, behind in his development but with a great physical frame – and he’s one of the most improved players in camp during the preseason. So perhaps there is hope for Bean in the long run.

RichtFan: how about (post GSU) boling at lt backed up by Glenn. tripp at rt, bean at lg, davis or vance at lg and jones at center?

DH: I think there’s a real chance this could happen, but it’s all up in the air right now. I know Richt and company would love to let the line gel, but there are literally a dozen people looking for playing time and only a couple guys with guaranteed jobs.

Kiante Tripp will definitely be a starter, but whether he stays on the left side or goes back to the right is up in the air. Boling will definitely get back into the starting lineup when he returns from suspension, but where? Josh Davis simply isn’t strong enough, in my opinion, to hold down a starting job, so Boling will probably end up at tackle. My guess is he’ll be on the right side unless Tripp really struggles. Chris Davis has a job locked up, but where he’ll play depends on Jones.

What it really comes down to is the two freshmen. If Glenn plays well, Jones probably spends most of his time on the bench. If Glenn struggles, Jones will end up playing a lot of center with Chris Davis sliding over to guard. I doubt Georgia Southern answers this question with any certainty, but Central Michigan could give us a much better clue.

From anonymous: No one ever seems to mention Chris Little. I know he was hampered by injury last year. What's going on this year? Is he just not panning out? I remember him being as highly recruited as anyone.

From Steve Norris: I really haven't heard much about DeAngelo Tyson. I would think he'll definitely be a redshirt situation. Have you heard much about his progress?


DH: I put these two questions together, since the response is about the same. Both players are suffering from two major problems: injuries and a numbers game at their respective positions.

Tyson is at best sixth in a defensive tackle rotation at this point, and possibly as low as eighth. The 300-pounder has plenty of potential, but his learning has been hampered by nagging injuries that have kept him out of practice at various points this summer. More importantly, however, he doesn’t stand much chance of landing playing time. With Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens the clear starters, and Kade Weston, Corvy Irvin, Brandon Wood and Ricardo Crawford all in line for playing time, Tyson is almost certainly in line for a redshirt season (as is fellow DT A.J. Harmon).

Little is also pretty far down the O-line depth chart, but has a chance to earn some PT. First, he’ll need to get back on the practice field, and he has shown a penchant during the past two years for getting hurt. At this point, he’s behind Vince Vance and Tanner Strickland on the depth chart, and those two have been among the most impressive linemen in camp.

“Not that Chris couldn’t make a move,” Richt said, “but he got his foot banged up, and that has set him back right now.”

From anonymous: Welcome to Athens. Your blog has become a must read for me. Thanks for the good work. Next time I'm in Athens I treat you to some partying at Toppers. I can tell from your mug shot that you are ugly as hell but those girls at Toppers won't mind when I show them pictures of Ben Franklin.

DH: I’m not sure how to feel about this one. On the upside, he likes my blog. On the downside, he thinks I’m ugly as hell. But on the upside again, he’s willing to throw some hundos around on a trip to Toppers. Oh well, my standards aren’t high anyway.

Well, that’s it for this week. If you have questions you want answers to, send them to me at dhale@macon.com or dhale@ledger-enquirer.com or simply post in the comments section.

Thanks again to all of you for reading. Have a great weekend.

3 comments:

Brandon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brandon said...

David, I love the new "mail bag" idea! The last comment actaully made me "laugh out loud" (as corny as that sounds) and I think its cool that you have a good sense of humor about all this stuff...I'm sure the poster was meaning it all in fun too. Your doing a GREAT job with this blog....it's my first stop every morning! See you guys at Toppers and GO DAWGS!

Ben said...

I was the anonymous coward who posted the comment about Moreno returning kicks. Good point about how all the injuries could affect the blocking on punt returns.

Love the blog. Keep up the great work!