First, let's respond to a few follow-up questions to yesterday's mailbag post…
Anonymous writes: Why would we NOT want to know who the walk-ons are? It is March and we crave football information, the more the better!
David: Fair enough. Here you go...
(Position, Year and High school in parentheses)
Cameron Allen (LB, RSo., Woodstock)
Josh Bodin (OL, RSo., Paragon Academy)
Taylor Bradberry (WR, RSo., Winder-Barrow)
Brian Brewer (RB, Sr., Brookwood)
Matthew DeGenova (DE, Jr., Jesuit in Kenner, La.)
Trent Dittmer (P, Sr., Cartersville)
Corey Dunson (DB, RFr., Radnor)
Scott Eichler (K, RFr., West Hall)
Eric Elliot (WR, Jr., Kennesaw Mountain)
Reuben Faloughi (OLB, RFr., Evans)
Nick Franks (TE, Jr., Bradwell Institute)
Chad Gloer (WR, Sr., Starrs Mill)
Jackson Griffeth (LB, RSo., North Hall)
Billy Johnson (Sn, RSo., Buford)
Kevin Lanier (FB, RSo., Marist)
Greg Lanier (WR, RFr., Habersham Central)
Rhett McGowan (WR, RFr., Calhoun)
Josh Murray (S, Sr., Tampa)
Cortney Newmans (TB, Jr., Mount de Sales)
Josh Parrish (OL, RFr., Wesleyan)
Ben Reynolds (OL, RFr., Bainbridge)
Derek Rich (TE, Sr., Gainesville)
Craig Sager (WR, Sr., Walton)
Blake Sailors (WR, RFr., Oconee Co.)
Josh Sailors (FB, Jr., Oconee Co.)
Jordan Stowe (K, RSo., Parkview)
Trenton Turner (TE, RSo., Woodward)
Wes Van Dyk (RB, Jr., Highland Park, Texas)
Jason Veal (LB, RSo., Parkview)
(Quick note, as a reader pointed out, there are likely a few names not on this list that are out there practicing. Ricky Lowe is one -- OLB, RSo. from Deluth. He's rocking No. 41. I know there's a No. 33 out there not listed, too, because I confused him for Chase Vasser just yesterday. the list I used is from Georgia's spring media guide, but the roster of walk-ons has no doubt changed a big since that was sent to the printers.)
Kathleen writes: My two-cent suggestion for transcribing your videos:
GET AN INTERN!
How fun would that be for you? An unpaid journalism student to transcribe your videos and get your coffee?
David: I can almost envision that process unfolding now...
School administrator: I’ve been reviewing Darren’s internship journal. Doing laundry, mending chicken wire, high tea with a Mr. Fletcher?
Me: Well, it all sounds pretty glamorous, but it’s business as usual at Dave-merica Industries.
School administrator: Far as I can tell, your entire enterprise is little more than a solitary man with a messy apartment which may or may not contain a chicken.
Me: And with Darren's help, we'll get that chicken!
Anonymous writes: Anyone who posts disparaging comments about the attractiveness of co-eds on other campuses ought to be required to include a picture of himself, so we can see what kind of stud is making these judgments.
David: And anyone who remembers the original picture of me that used to be posted in the top, right corner of this blog knows, I shouldn't be commenting.
Anonymous writes: David, love your blog, very informative. But for the love of God, please, no more Lost updates. You're not a tool so don't act like one.
David: OK, deal.
Ally writes: I gotta say, your episode thoughts are blowing my mind. Keep 'em coming!
David: Every time I think I'm out, they pull me back in!
I actually won't offer any in-depth analysis of last night's episode just yet, but I can say this: "Lost" has never had a dramatic line as thoroughly entertaining as Widmore solemnly and stoically announcing, "I think it's time you see the package."
Ah, immature humor always entertains me.
(OK, OK, two other minor thoughts...
First, I really hope they have a good plan for Desmond, rather than simply trying to force him back into the storyline at the end.
Second, was I the only one who was hoping that when Locke and Sayid took their guns on the outrigger, we'd get some closure on the scene where Sawyer & Co. were being shot at on the outrigger while time traveling last season? Of course, it didn't happen.)
OK, back to some regularly scheduled mailbagging...
Anonymous writes: Enough already about the Defensive Coaching Staff, what about our real problem ?
The Offensive Coaching Staff who the last 4 years have had 84 fumbles, thrown 56 interceptions and averaged # 96 in the Nation in Penalties?
David: This is a tough one to answer. I can tell you that Mark Richt is getting more involved in the offense again. Well, I told you that last night actually.
And I can tell you some stuff you've probably heard before. Or, more to the point, Logan Gray can tell you.
“I think the coaches are always trying to put emphasis on turnovers," Gray said. "Each practice we’re disciplining players for mistakes, penalties, turnovers, stuff like that. Hopefully that will lead us in the right direction. Since Coach Richt has been here, they’ve probably focused on reducing penalties and turnovers but for some reason the last couple of years we haven’t done that. So we’re just trying to get back to basics.”
Or I could let Mike Bobo tell you.
“Coaches are obviously stressing it every day," Bobo said of the turnover issues. "You’re getting disciplined after practice for any turnover. But I firmly believe you have to teach fundamental football and how to carry the football and quarterback drops and progressions. But I don’t want to talk it all the time to my guys. I want to live playing good fundamental football. If you do that, you’ll take care of the football. We’re not going to talk about it, we’re going to live protecting the football by practicing every day the way we’re supposed to.”
But it's probably Mark Richt who puts it most bluntly.
“I don’t think you can say (you’ve turned a corner) until you play the games," Richt said. "I really don’t. We continue to work extremely hard on the fundamentals of securing the ball, and the fundamentals of stripping the ball or punching the ball on defense to create turnovers. But until we start, we can say this, that and the other, but I’m not saying anything until we actually play some games and we can gauge whether we’ve made some improvement or not.”
Universal Remonster writes: I'm really impressed by logan's throws across the middle from this video and the last. They hit the receivers in the numbers almost every time. Murray looked good except for that one that sailed.
David: I've said for three years now that Logan looks sharp in practice, at least what I've gotten to see of him. He's got potential, but I've always wondered how well this offense fits him. Of course, the other issue is that what we see of him is limited to some early throws without pressure in his face. Doing that in more competitive situations is a different animal.
Lawson Bailey writes: I think Mett release looks slow because it seems that he has a small hitch in the throw. When the ball is at his shoulder to throw he brings it slightly forward and then back to start his throwing motion.
Murray looks ok, not very sharp on accuracy, but his ball is thrown much tighter than Metts. I would rather see overthrows on the deep patterns than the underthrow for the interception that plagued Cox last season.
Gray should look head and shoulders above the other 2 with it being his 3 year in the system. Gray should be able to run this drill in his sleep and did not separate himself from his competition
David: Again, not necessarily a bad take on the videos we've had of the quarterbacks, but we're analyzing just a very small percentage of what's actually going on at practice, which makes it less than ideal for extrapolating any grand notions about who might be ahead in the battle.
Anonymous writes: I don't think they should let Logan throw so much, he might hurt his fair catch waving arm.
David: OK, that makes sense, too.
Anonymous Suckup writes: Here's my question: how are the members of the press handled during a normal practice? Are you limited to a confined area? Or do you have some freedom to walk around to observe the different groups? Is there someone from the university keeping tabs on you to make sure you leave when you're supposed to? Or do they trust you to leave on your own?
David: We usually are allowed out for the first 4 or 5 periods of individual position practices. We don't often get to see the special teams work (which is usually done first) and almost never see any inside drills, pass skeletons or 11-on-11 work.
Our access when we're out there is pretty good. We're obviously not allowed to walk down the middle of the field while players are practicing, but we can pretty much go wherever we want, as long as we stay off the actual field.
I generally take a full lap from one end of the defensive practice field to the other end of the offensive practice field so I can a full view of a little bit of everything. Some days I'll stop and watch one unit for a bit longer if I'm writing about them that day or have a particular interest in how a player is performing. Sometimes something will catch my eye -- like Marcus Dowtin's showdown with Warren Belin the other day -- that will keep me glued to one area for a while, but usually I try to catch a little of each group.
Usually there's a former player or two, a coach I may know or, as is often the case, a few moments with Dave Van Halanger that I stop to chat with some onlookers, too. That can occasionally earn me a bit of insight I wasn't watching for during practice.
Again, what we're seeing is helpful, but it hardly paints a full picture. Most of that will have to wait for G-Day and then until the first Saturday that the games start counting.
Which leads me to...
Anonymous writes: Remember guys, they aren't going to show too much while the cameras are rolling.
David: This is really the big thing to keep in mind. We're not seeing 11-on-11 drills, and we have no idea how well the QBs are going to look in an actual game day situation. The scrimmage numbers give us a bit better idea, but then you hear from Logan that he essentially played only with the No. 2 unit -- which features an O line of freshmen and walk-ons at the moment -- and you can understand why his numbers may have looked bad on paper.
Let's talk more about all this after G Day.
HVL Dawg writes: Wootendaballcarrier!
David: Ah, I'd missed that.
Prince Lightfoot writes: Big East basketball, it's gouge-your-eyes-out-tastic!
David: We're quite possibly looking at a championship game matchup between Duke and Butler. The combined number of games I picked those two teams to win in this year's tournament? One.
I officially am retiring from caring about college basketball.
Tim writes: Any word on how Richard Samuel did in the scrimmage?
David: Samuel wasn't mentioned much Saturday, but I asked Richt about him specifically on Tuesday.
“He did good. I think he’s getting it," Richt said. "I can envision one play where he took on a fullback on an isolation block and played off the block to make the tackle right there in the hole. He looked like a linebacker, and he hasn’t played a lot of defense lately. He hasn’t played a lot of football his whole career, really, when you consider a lot of guys have been playing since they’re 5 or 6 years old. I think he’s catching on, but he’s like a lot of them that he’s still trying to get comfortable with the scheme. But he’s doing good. He’s sticking his face in there. … We did some 3-on-3 drills, too, and he had a couple plays where he shed the blocker and made the hit. He’s come along.”
Of course, I also asked Richt about Samuel's chances of playing this season, and there wasn't anything close to a full endorsement of getting him on the field. Richt said Samuel needs to show he can play at a high level and be competitive on the field. If not… "If he’s still finding his way a little bit, I don’t think we’ll be in a big rush to get him out there," Richt said.
Kevin writes: We now run a 3-4 defense. Is anyone concerned that the offense will now have to practice against this? Meaning, most other schools we will face run a 4-3, so will our offense be unprepared against the 4-3 now when they are always looking at the 3-4? Or does the practice squad step in during the practice weeks and give a 4-3 look? Can you tell us how this works?
David: This is an interesting question, because I think Kevin's thought process -- that practicing against a D you won't see often, if at all could have negative effects -- makes some sense. But to hear Mark Richt tell it, he's thinking the offense benefits from getting extra work against a scheme that other teams don't get to see very often. So at the very least, let's say there are two schools of thought on this.
Of course, the larger truth is that, as Kevin alluded to, once fall camp breaks and the team starts getting ready for Week 1, it doesn't much matter what scheme the No. 1 unit defense is running because they offense will be going against the scout team, which is mimicking that week's opponent.
Still, I talked to all-world quote machine Aron White to make sure I wasn't undervaluing the potential problems here.
“During the season, week to week it’s an adjustment because nobody’s defense is exactly the same," White said. "Every time coming into the fall, we go against our base defense for those first couple of weeks, and then they introduce our Week 1 defense and from then on, everything’s getting changed every week. So I think we’re used to adjusting on the run and new defenses every week. Is it going to put us at a disadvantage? I don’t believe so. Alabama did it week in and week out against their defense, and they won a national title. So I don’t think it’s going to be too much to overcome.”
At this point, can anyone be unhappy if White's making comparisons to Alabama? That's the standard, right?
In any case, I talked with several other players about this, too, and none of them seemed too concerned. Logan Gray actually was saying that it was a big adjustment to learn the 3-4 because he "had gotten used to" the blitzes and coverages in the old defense, which got me to thinking -- I wonder if the offense was so used to going against the same thing every week that maybe some liberties were taken? Could going against a defense that is so different actually force them to think more, react quicker and practice harder?
That leads to our next question...
Lee writes: Since were trying to break in a new quarterback and the new 3-4 defense this spring (and later in the fall), is there any concern that the QBs are learning to read and adjust to a defensive scheme they are not going to see a lot during the season?
David: Again, another fair -- and slightly more specific -- question. But again, it doesn't sound like the troops are too worried.
I talked to Aaron Murray about it, and while he said learning the 3-4 has been tough, he thinks it will help him -- or whoever starts -- once they go back to seeing the 4-3 each week.
“I think it’s actually going to make us better as an offense because things will be easier to pick up in the 4-3," Murray said. "Dealing with the 3-4, it’s just so much harder to pick up blitzes. If you’re able to pick up blitzes in the 3-4, when you’re in a 4-3 and you can’t blitz from different angles, it’s going to be easier for the offensive linemen to pick up. I don’t think it’ll be a huge transition.”
Anonymous writes: David, you really need a consultant to help you with your TV watching. Top Chef?????
David: Hey, don't knock "Top Chef." Any reality show in which the judges get drunk before announcing their votes is OK in my book.
Of course, I understand your concerns. I successfully avoided most reality programming for years, but unfortunately, my girlfriend has managed to allow far too much of it to infiltrate my life. Some of it isn't too bad. Some of it is awful. Here's how I'd rate them, from most acceptable to least acceptable:
Level 1: Acceptable for all occasions -- Any show that follows bas-a$$ people doing bad-a$$ jobs. Think "Deadliest Catch," "Ice Road Truckers" or "Survivorman."
Level 2: Quality programming for a niche audience -- Shows that cater to specific tastes, like "American Chopper," "L.A. Ink" or even "Top Chef." They're not going to be for everyone, but if you're into cooking, you don't have to be embarrassed to be watching "Top Chef."
Level 3: Acceptable, but don't advertise it -- This includes many of the more popular adventure game shows, including "Survivor" or "The Amazing Race." There's nothing wrong with them, and most of your friends watch them, too, but if you sit around discussing the previous night's episode at a bar, you immediately have to do shots of Jim Beam to regain your masculinity.
Level 4: Acceptable for unintentional comedy purposes, but completely unacceptable once you start caring about the results -- This pretty much covers anything on MTV or VH-1. Like, if you watch "Jersey Shore" because you think it's hilarious how stupid they all are, that's fine. But if you watch "Jersey Shore" and think, "I really dig the bump-it look Snooki has. I'm gonna get my girlfriend to wear her hair the same way," then you are officially dead to me.
Level 5: Acceptable only if your girlfriend wants to watch it and you recently commented that her butt looked a little big -- These include shows like "Project Runway," "What Not to Wear" and "American Idol." I've never seen Idol, but I know enough people who watch it that I assume there must be some value to it.
Level 6: Acceptable if you're bedridden due to a recent mountain-climbing accident and there's absolutely nothing else on TV -- These include the relatively brainless competition shows that offer little in the way of any skill or intellect on the parts of the competitors, but have a certain level of entertainment value that, at the very least, provides enough background noise that you don't have to listen to the neighbors' loud grunting noises at night. Think "Celebrity Apprentice" or "The Biggest Loser."
Level 7: Acceptable if you're 45, live in your parents' basement and work a low-level government job but still harbor dreams of moving to L.A. and becoming a star -- This includes most celebrity-based shows that follow around people who are incredibly boring or revel in the decimated lives of people who used to be famous. Think "Celebrity Rehab" or "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."
Level 8: Acceptable only if you're visiting a sick relative in the hospital who insists on watching -- This includes shows that I cannot possibly fathom the interest in, but seem to be popular with my mother, grandmother and extended family. Examples include "Dancing with the Stars," "America's Got Talent" and "Big Brother."
Level 9: Acceptable only if you committed a heinous crime and, rather turn yourself into authorities, you've decided to punish yourself by watching these shows -- "The Marriage Ref," "Rachel Zoe Project," and "So You Think You Can Dance" spring to mind here. I'd honestly rather serve 15 to life than be forced to sit through three episodes of awful celebrities preening for the cameras while making jokes about non-celebrities who are even worse. Oh Jerry Seinfeld, why have you forsaken us?
Level 10: Utterly unacceptable under any circumstances -- "The Bachelor."
(*Side note: While I stand by my categorizations, I'm certain I've watched at least one episode from each group.)
Travis writes: What are the odds on Toby Jackson ever (re)joining the team, and what would his likely roll be in a 3-4?
David: Jackson, a 6-4 defensive end from Griffin, was set to join the Bulldogs as part of the 2008 recruiting class, but that didn't work out.
He went to Hargrave with an eye on getting to Athens as an early enrollee in 2009, but that didn't happen either.
He was still set to join the team as a regular enrollee with the rest of the 2009 class, but again, academic issues got in the way.
From everything that I've heard, that was pretty much the last straw with Georgia, which has essentially washed its hands of him. With the new coaching staff coming in now and looking for "Grantham's players," I don't see that changing.
He's at Navarro Community College in Texas now, and according to Rivals, is on the radar with schools like Alabama as part of their 2011 class.
Jeff writes: Came across this story about Urban Meyer verbally assaulting the Orlando Sentinel blogger. Ever seen Richt get after a reporter? Couldn't imagine him going after someone like this. Thoughts?
David: This is a pretty old story by now, so I won't bore you with my take on it. I'm sure you could probably guess that…
a.) I'm on the reporter's side
b.) I'm glad I don't cover Florida
and c.) I don't exactly buy the apology that has happened since.
As to Richt, the closest I've actually seen him get to chewing out a reporter was when he shot back at one question about Mike Bobo's effectiveness following the Tennessee game last year. He also probably didn't do himself any favors with the "never been in the arena" talk after a bad loss. But all of that is a long way from tacitly threatening a reporter.
A perfect example is the Logan Gray punt returns. Richt obviously wasn't a fan of the criticism some of his comments engendered a few weeks ago. But his retort was hardly scathing. He handled it like an adult and a professional. There's a lot to be said for that.
Cojones writes: The reporter is a slug for leaving out clarifying quotes and even baited the reader with the title. Crier couldn't have had a better platform to take attention off him and Timmy. A poor article seeking sensationalism at the price of questioning the kid's team-member loyalty plus future and that stirs the pot as well as the team is all Poser Crier needed to carry his "I- champion-the-player!" banner yet 10 more yds upfield.
David: I'm guessing Cojones isn't far off in assuming that there's some tangential relationship between Meyer's reaction to the quoting of a perceived slight against Tebow and all the national attention that Tebow's draft stock has gotten by the likes of ESPN. It was a fuse that was lit weeks ago, and the Sentinel's Jeremy Fowler just happened to be there when the bomb went off.
I will say though, if you read the story that Fowler wrote, I'd hardly call it sensationalized. He didn't make that quote the lead of his story, and he did clarify.
First off, the quote in question was eight paragraphs into the story, so the reporter was certainly not playing it up.
Secondly, here's the sentence that immediately followed the quote in the original story:
"Thompson’s comment was either intentional or he meant to say Brantley’s a more conventional style of quarterback."
It's not Fowler's job to interpret quotes for you. That's the reader's job. When reporters tell you what they think players mean, that's when you lose objectivity. When they tell you what the player said and allow you to form your own opinions, we come a lot closer to that goal of objectivity (assuming the correct context is added).
Moreover, even the headline wasn't completely sensationalized. It read, "Florida Gators Receiver Deonte Thompson Sounds Happy to Usher in Post-Tebow Era." It doesn't say, "Thompson Slams Tebow as Not a Real QB."
(I should also add that readers should be careful not to blame writers for bad headlines. In 95 percent of the cases, the reporter didn't write the headline. An editor did. Same with captions on photos and subheadlines in the paper.)
So I don't see this as Fowler's fault in the least. That's a reporter doing his job, and it's an ethical stance I'm not going to argue with. He decided the quote had merit, offered context, and it was used properly in a story that needed to be written.
I can see the other side of the issue though.
A few weeks ago, we were interviewing a Georgia player about an issue not related very closely to Xs and Os. He gave a quote that, even as the words still hung in the air, we all looked at each other and shook our heads -- at least metaphorically. What he said sounded bad, and it was something that no doubt could have been sensationalized and played up and driven a ton of Web hits while filling message boards at rival schools.
But here's the thing: I know what the player was trying to say, and what he actually said was just a bad way of getting his point across.
So what were we reporters to do?
Before you answer, I want you to think about the current state of journalism and about what's happening to professional journalists. The ethical lines are being blurred because it's hard to take a stand anymore. While the institutions we cover are doing more and more to push us away, the institutions we work for have fewer and fewer resources to back us up, and the people who read our work have less and less tolerance for any material they disagree with, regardless of whether or not it is accurate, objective or important.
Paul Finebaum, a guy I often disagree with, wrote a brilliant column in the wake of the Urban Meyer situation that sheds a lot more light on what we sports writers are going through. I'd highly encourage you to read it, because it hits the nail right on the head down to the very last detail.
And before you shake your head and say, well that's only at Alabama or Florida, I assure you, some of it is happening at UGA, too. It's a tough road for us. (HERE or HERE for some examples.)
I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me or anyone else covering the beat. We do our jobs, and we don't need a pat on the back at every step of the way (although it's nice to get them from time to time).
But before you offer blanket criticisms of the media, I hope you'll consider what that might mean down the road. Because the direction right now is clear: We're headed down a path where press releases are what you'll be given access to, and the folks writing anything more often won't care too much about the ethical dilemmas that surround the job. They'll care about what drives Web views, because that's what keeps them in business.
As for the quote from the Georgia player, the player in question provided other valuable quotes that covered essentially the same topic without being needlessly incendiary. The player in question had never said anything problematic before (as far as I know). The story in question was not something immediately impactful for the team or the fans.
With all of that in mind, none of us ran the quote (again, as far as I know).
But think about all those details that went into making that decision. I'm on a competitive daily beat, and if some national writers had been there that day, it's doubtful we would have been able to reach a consensus on not running it. I have a good rapport with the other writers there each day, so we can find this sort of common ground.
I know the player in question pretty well, so I also know what he was trying to say and I have the background on what he has said in the past to use as reference.
And I know what has and hasn't been written, which stories are essential and which are not, and I always have a good idea of what the fan reaction will be because I see and hear it every day.
All of that is what a daily beat reporter does. But I definitely have my concerns that we're a dying breed, and I have even bigger concerns about what happens after that. Not for me, but for everyone who has relied on good journalists over the years -- even if they didn't know it.
Sorry for the soapbox moment, but I care deeply about the future of journalism, and too often all the little things that go into being a good journalist get overlooked.