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Friday, September 12, 2008

Bulldogs Blog Mailbag (9/12/08)

So Friday is essentially my only "off" day of the week. I still try to update the blog, obviously, but I don't have any interviews to do, practice to cover or stories to write for the paper. Of course, being as busy as I am, a few everyday things have been put on the backburner -- my car needs an oil change, I haven't shaved in two weeks, there's an odd smell coming from my refrigerator, etc. One of my chores today was to go through an enormous stack of mail and empty my checking account by actually paying bills for a change. And that got me to thinking -- it's been a while since we've opened up the Ol' Bulldogs Blog mailbag. (By the way, I think we need a better name for this feature. Any suggestions?)

So, in deference to my loyal readers (many of whom won't leave their names), let's sift through some of the comments and emails I've gotten over the past few weeks.

(NOTE: I have not changed the wording of any of these, but have abridged some of the comments to make them a bit more concise.)

Steve: I'm more and more intrigued by Tony Wilson. He hasn't made a huge impact on game day yet, but it sounds like he's almost a second wide receivers coach, even though he's still young. He sounds like he's earned a lot of respect in that locker room.

DH: I love Tony Wilson. He's the epitome of the small-stature, big-heart guys who tend to find a place at a higher level because they just work harder than everyone else. He's Georgia's Rudy, without Sean Astin's smug sense of self-importance. (Although, I do hate to disparage anyone who was in "Goonies.") Wilson has been battling injuries since the tail end of last season, and it has definitely set him back on the field, but the amount of respect he commands inside the locker room is second to none. As Kenneth Harris told me, the kid's got a coaching career in his future for sure.

NYCDawg: David, I second your concern with the DB's - is it me or does Prince Miller get burned a lot? He seems to miss a lot of tackles too. Not exactly the spot you want your weakest link to be when we play spread teams.

DH: Miller was burned badly twice against Central Michigan, but he's also the one who made the play on the ball that allowed Demarcus Dobbs to pick off the Dan LeFevour pass he returned for a TD. Miller, I think, is pretty indicative of Georgia's secondary overall -- sort of boom or bust. They play an aggressive style, and sometimes that's going to mean big plays and sometimes it's going to mean they get burned. You've seen the same happen with Bryan Evans last season. This wouldn't be nearly as big a problem, however, if the defensive line was getting more pressure on the QBs. So far, the sacks haven't been there and LeFevour, in particular, was able to break contain instead of being forced up into the line of scrimmage. Fixing that needs to be the D's top priority.

Anonymous: I didn't know I had a twin out there (die hard Iggles fan who also loves UGA). DALLAS SUCKS! DALLAS SUCKS!

DH: If the Eagles lose Monday and you don't see any blog updates by 1 p.m. Tuesday, send someone to check on me.

Anonymous suckup: I don't EVER want to hear Meyer flap his gums about sportsmanship again. He went out of his way to spout pious platitudes in the wake of The Celebration - referring to himself in third person, no less. And then he ran his FG unit out on the field with 30 seconds on the clock last Saturday. What a piece...

DH: David doesn't have nearly as much a problem with the FG as David does with the fact that, leading up to that, Meyer had a.) all his starters still on the field, and b.) threw a pass into the end zone before kicking the field goal. It's unfortunate that class and ability rarely go together. Luckily David is both a great blogger and a fine human being. David wishes everyone could be more like him.

Jeff: But coach, what if the line was 22.5 and you needed that field goal to cover...its okay then right?

DH: You know, I was out with some friends after the CMU game, and my buddy simply needed Miami to cover to win a three-team parlay. He was excited and offered to buy us all a round of drinks when the game ended. Now, as best I can figure, Urban Meyer owes me a Jack-and-Coke.

Anonymous: I'm a little confused by the whole kickoff issue. Some are saying that Walsh has been told NOT to kick it into the endzone, and that he's just struggling with the accuracy of his directional kicks; while others seem to be suggesting that he really IS trying to boot it into the endzone, and just coming up short. If it's an accuracy thing, my question is: Why in the world are we even bothering with directional kickoffs?

DH: To answer the first part of your question, it's a little of both. Walsh has been asked to do directional kicking some of the time, but has also been given the OK to boot it deep on other plays. The problem is, he's not doing a great job of either. His deep kicks haven't made the end zone and have lacked the hang time to let the gunners get sufficiently downfield. His directional kicks have lacked accuracy, as evidenced by the one that went out of bounds against CMU.

It might seem like kickoffs would be an easier job than field goals, but for many young kickers, it's not. A field goal in high school really isn't much different than kicking one in college. In fact, to some extent it may be easier at the college level, as your snapper, holder and protection are all likely better than what you had at the high-school level. Kickoffs, on the other hand, are rarely a big concern for many prep coaches. You line up, you kick the ball, you tackle the guy who catches it. There's not as much specializing or detail to it. So it may just be that it's going to take Walsh a little while to catch on. Fans just have to hope Georgia doesn't get burned too many times before he does.

Hobnail Boot: I noticed that John Knox was wearing #44 much like Ellerbe did last week. Has Knox taken Washington's # or is this just something the D guys are doing to honor a teammate?

DH: It's a tribute. Not sure how long it's going to go on for, but it's just something the players like to do for their injured teammates. If you noticed, Corvey Irvin sported Jeff Owens' number against CMU, and there was talk others would do the same throughout the season.

Cyber Dawg: The MEDIA IS BIASED. Period. They are biased like every other group in society, and that bias is based on their goals. It's a fact of life. So what is the media's "hidden agenda?" Well, it isn't to promote a certain team, and it's not hidden. It's obvious. News organizations in America are profit based, so their primary agenda is to make money and garner ratings.

DH: This, I think, is more what I was trying to get at in my relatively (if not at all intended to be) controversial posts last week. I do not think the media in general has an agenda in pushing teams, candidates, celebrities, etc. I think it has an agenda in pushing themselves, getting higher ratings, better circulation numbers, more listeners, etc. They publicize what sells, they play to their audiences and they focus on what will get the most attention. It's the reason people like Skip Bayless say ridiculous crap just to make people mad. It's the reason Howard Stern fills airtime with strippers. It's the reason Bill O'Reilly parrots Republican talking points and Keith Olbermann does the same for the Democrats.

Now, the bigger question here, I think, is why Georgia doesn't equate to good ratings for ESPN (or so the theory goes). If we can agree that ESPN wants to make money, and Georgia is a popular team, then why shouldn't Georgia show up on "SportsCenter" more often?

The answer finally hit me the other day. Georgia is too likable. Think about what you usually see on "SportsCenter." What makes the biggest stories? Just this week, I watched pieces on Jessica Simpson calling out the Eagles, Terrell Owens talking about Donovan McNabb, Vince Young wanting to quit football, Novak Djokovic getting angry with Andy Roddick... what do they all have in common? Controversy.

But the Bulldogs simply aren't very controversial. Outside of Auburn and Gainesville, there aren't large groups of people who hate Georgia the way there are groups that hate Notre Dame, the Yankees, Red Sox, Patriots and Lakers. Georgia basically has a bunch of likable characters, from its head coach to Stafford and Moreno to the guys way down the bench. But if you have people who like you AND people who hate you... well, ESPN doubles its potential audience.

Think about the three biggest stories over the past year regarding UGA. What have they been? Suspensions, the on-field celebration at Florida and the debate over whether they should get a shot at the BCS title game. What did all have in common? Controversy.

So, there's your problem, Dawg fans. Your team is simply too nice.

Redcake (from last Sunday): I am in the 1% of people starting Matt Ryan on their fantasy rosters today. Feeling pretty good about that decision. Just wish I had picked up Michael Turner as well.

DH: Scored 115 in Week 1 and lost. Expect to do the same this week. Why do I torment myself like this every year? Oh, I've got my fantasy baseball finals next week, too. I'm looking forward to a fantasy football loss-Eagles loss-fantasy baseball loss trifecta. I'm stocking up on whiskey just in case.

Anonymous: If you cannot see any bias in the media in favor of Barack Obama specifically or Democrats in general then you obviously have no perception and I will stop reading your blog immediately. Go Dawgs.

DH: Dear anonymous, if you cannot listen to opinions that differ from your own without getting angry, then I'm going to stop reading your comments immediately.

Anonymous: Politics schmolitics...Knowshon for president!

DH: Now, that's more like it. Of course, if Knowshon did run for president, ESPN still wouldn't show any highlights from the debates.

Anonymous: Is 70 lower than what (Georgia) could bring (on the road) last year? I thought 85 was the number?

DH: No, the SEC only allows 70 players to travel, and it was the same rule last year. What you may be thinking of, however, is travel for non-conference road games. There are not set restrictions there, however, the size of the plane the Dawgs take to the game does establish a number closer to around 85.

Anonymous: I understand you may not have time, but would it be possible for you to transcribe some of these conferences? I really appreciated that in David Ching's blog, because there was always fascinating information that never made it to the papers.

DH: Agreed, and I've tried to do this as much as possible. I'm not going to do it exactly as Ching did, but throughout the week, if you read the blog and my articles at and, you'll see just about every quote I get throughout the week.

The basic rundown is this: I've got to write a story and notebook each day for the paper. That's my priority in terms of quality material, so the best quotes tend to go there. I hope you're reading because, well, the paper is still what pays the bills.

I try to update the blog each day with a practice report that contains other quotes from coaches and players that relate to the news of the day. Beyond that, I may post a separate blog with quotes and notes related to a story I did for the paper, such as I did with my recent pieces on A.J. Green and on the depth of the receiving corps. Finally, every week on either Thursday or Friday, I'll post any other quotes that didn't happen to find a home anywhere else. I'm calling this feature the "Deleted Scenes."

I'm going to try to stick to a bit better schedule the rest of the season, although it's always subject to change. What you can count on though is this: Virtually every day I'll have a links post and a practice report post (assuming the team practices that day). Mondays, I'll have my grades for the previous weekend's games. Tuesdays will discuss Mark Richt's regular weekly news conference. Wednesdays will have a "Catching up with..." feature. Thursdays will include the "Deleted Scenes," and Fridays will be the "10 Questions" feature previewing the upcoming game. Then, of course, I'll have the live blog on Saturdays during the game.

If anyone has any other ideas or suggestions, I'm always interested in hearing them.

Anonymous: As a Journalist, you should read the book, "The Powers That Be"
written by David Halberstam. He wrote this book in 1979 to show that all media has a bias where liberal or conservative. The problem today is the internet and talk radio are the only outlet for conservatism.

DH: As a journalist, I highly recommend anything written by David Halberstam. He's one of the truly great journalists, and someone I've read quite a bit from. In fact, I've been tentatively making a list of things to blog about after the season is over, and I might start doing a weekly feature about a sports-related book of the week, of which Halberstam would certainly have a number up for consideration.

Anonymous (adding to my list of "Simpsons" quotes): Homer: Here's to alcohol, the cause of and solution to all life's problems.

DH: Oh, anonymous. You and your stories. Bart's a vampire. Beer kills brain cells. Now, let's just go back to that place where our beds and TVs is.

Jay: I am very concerned with the strength of our two lines of scrimmage. I don't see a dominating team. I see a team that is going to have trouble getting the tough yards. I may be over reacting, but I don't think so.

DH: I agree, Jay. The line is really Georgia's biggest concern on both sides of the ball at this point. This isn't much different from last season, however, when the O line was still gelling early in the year and the D line was having trouble getting pressure on the QB. Both situations improved dramatically as the season wore on, and by the end of the year, you could argue both were strengths of the team.

This year, I think Matthew Stafford has improved enough to keep defenses a bit more honest, and the pass protection has been good so far. I think the O line will be much improved by year's end, and the skill positions are good enough to make up for any weaknesses for now. The D line, however, is a bit more concerning, and it will really be tested next week against Rudy Carpenter and the Arizona State offense.

Jon Koncak's Thighs: So glad someone shares my disdain for Lou Holtz. How on god's green earth could ESPN ever, ever think that his "motivational" segments could make for entertaining tv. I don't even watch College GameDay Final anymore because of him; where am I supposed to get my highlights now? That slobbery SOB took them away from me. Screw you, Lou!

DH: This is my favorite commenter name of the year so far, hands down.

Anonymous: Anyone who appreciates Loose Boltz is not a true Dawg fan. He is terrible (save for the newspaper trick).

DH: Who knew reassembling shredded newspaper was so much easier than winning 10 games at South Carolina?

Scott: Dude, you're doing an awesome job, and your blog is like crack to me...but you're wrong about Holtz. When he first started there, I couldn't stand him, but now that he's embraced his niche as crazy old loon he's the best thing about ESPN's college football studio FAR.

DH: Is my blog LIKE crack to you, Scott, or are you actually getting into the hard stuff? I once helped finish off a bottle of Cuervo and decided it was a good idea to get 20 Krystal burgers at 3 a.m. With booze and drugs, your judgment really is the first thing to go.

I'm kidding, of course, Scott (though, sadly, not about the Krystal). If there's a market for "Hole in the Wall," then there's a market for Old Lou.

Thanks to all of you for reading. As always, I appreciate your comments. Have a great weekend and enjoy the game!


Mickey Shamrock said...


Love your blog, Eagles suck. Go Dawgs, and Go Cowboys! Love,

TC from Texas

Max Power said...

Ching set the bar high and you, sir, have met that challenge, if not surpassed it. You blow the ajc's coverage out of the water. Keep up the good work.