A quick point on the mailbag: I still have a handful of questions sitting on my desktop, but I either haven't gotten sufficient answers to them yet or I'm holding off on replying so I can write a longer post on them later. So if you've emailed me an inquiry and I haven't responded, there's a good chance I'm still planning to do so.
For the rest of you, here are a bunch more answers to your burning questions…
Brent writes: Do you think that CMR will use more two TE sets this year to take advantage of the four quality TE’s we have and help take some pressure off the depleted WR position?
David: At the Macon Bulldog Club meeting a few weeks ago, Richt told fans he expected more two-TE sets this year than in any season since the Randy McMichael-Ben Watson heyday. That was more than enough to excite a few members of the Bulldog faithful.
I revisited the issue with Richt this week though, and he backed off that sentiment a bit.
“We’ll have it ready, but a lot’s going to depend on how does Durham come back," Richt said. "You don’t just have receivers competing against receivers. You have a third receiver competing against another tight end coming in the game. You have fullbacks competing.”
His point is that, if you put a second TE in the game, you have to pull someone else from the lineup. Is that going to be Shaun Chapas, who is as good a blocker as any of Georgia's TEs, and a decent weapon out of the backfield, too? Or will it be the third receiver like Durham, for example? The answer may still be that a second TE in the game is the right call more often than not -- but the point Richt wanted to make, I think, was that it's very good to have options.
“I think we have enough tight ends right now that are mature enough that we will be very legitimate playing with the two-tight end set,” he said.
Mario writes: Have you heard anything about the UGA VIII mascot search? I haven't heard anything about it since the bowl game. If we don't have an UGA VIII by Kickoff, will Russ be standing in? He is 2-0 after all, and Aaron Murray and Todd Grantham could use a little winning luck on the sidelines!
David: Yes indeed. In case you missed it, I wrote about the search for Uga VIII on the blog earlier this week. Bottom line: There are plenty of options right now, but none will be ready for Week 1, so Russ will have a shot to extend his winning streak a bit longer.
Here's my question though: Could Georgia possibly retire Russ while he's still undefeated? That'd be like taking a pitcher out of the game while he's throwing a no-hitter. Perhaps we need Jim Joyce to make that call.
Joeski writes: David, I'm afraid that you're going to have to start deleting the anonymous moron's posts... not only does he pointlessly ramble, he's also factually inaccurate.
Seriously David, this schmuck really degrades the quality of your blog with his false statistics, his flawed knowledge of football, his nonsensical ramblings, and even his turgid style of writing. I hope to God he is also lying that he is an alum, because he certainly tarnishes the academic reputation of UGA, and I like my diploma to mean something.
Please start deleting this garbage.
David: Ah, our pal Mr. Anonymous. He really has created a bit of a stir at our once cozy little blog, which I imagine was his hope all along.
In truth, I'm really not sure how best to handle this situation.
It would be easy, of course, to point out the absurdities of his comments.
For instance, when he compares Dooley's run from 1980 through 1988 to Richt's nine years in Athens, I could easily mention how stupid it is to cherry pick the best nine-year run of Dooley's career and compare it to Richt's.
Or I could point out that in Dooley's first nine years on the job -- a far more apt comparison -- his winning percentage was .711, which pales next to Richt's .769.
Or I could point out that, if you're reasonably comparing Richt's numbers to the greatest coach in Georgia history, you probably aren't making a valid argument for firing the guy.
Or perhaps I could point out how unlikely it is that Caleb King has been injured "all four years he's been at Georgia" since King has only been at Georgia for three years (and only injured during one -- a year in which he continued playing despite a broken jaw).
Or I might mention to Anonymous that, if he's going to cut and paste his diatribes from the AJC's blog, he could at least do us the courtesy of deleting the parts that refer to other comments that don't appear on my blog.
But something tells me all of that would only serve to further encourage our friend. And why would I go to all that trouble to make him look silly when he's doing a great job of it himself?
The other thing I could do would be to simply delete his comments, as Joeski (and others) have suggested. I've considered it, but I'm also exceptionally cautious about censorship -- no matter how ridiculous the material being censored might be. My livelihood depends on free speech, and I'm reluctant to curb that freedom under any circumstance, particularly when it becomes a slippery slope once you start deciding what is worthy commentary and what isn't.
You don't have to be a Mark Richt fan to read this blog. In fact, I strongly support the expression of differing opinions, and I'm usually pleased to see the debate carried out in a sensible way. Of course, I also support the rights of deposed Saudi princes to access any funds they have frozen in off-shore accounts, but there's a point in which their best efforts go from free speech to obnoxious spam -- and as one reader pointed out, my Memorial Day post included 709 words written by me and 1,649 words written by Mr. Anonymous.
So instead of jumping to the realm of censorship, and rather than simply ignoring the growing problem, I'm going to propose a compromise.
Ideally, Mr. Anonymous will reconsider his approach. If he'd simply like to rationally and concisely note his ideas when they are pertinent rather than rehash the same rambling, 1,000-word diatribes, then we're good.
If you're not so inclined to disagree in a more mature manner, Mr. Anonymous, here's what I'll do for you: You email me with your name, address and phone number. I'll then let you know the next time Richt will be meeting with fans in person, and I'll supply you with an introduction. That way, rather than clog up my blog with your opinions on his failures, you can tell Richt how you feel in person. Since you're so vociferous and passionate here, I'm sure you'll have no problem removing the cloak of anonymity and telling Richt to his face why he's such an awful coach.
I look forward to seeing how it all turns out.
Fratt Stinchcomb writes: Any idea of the (hoops) schedule next year yet? I looked on the UGA site but couldn't find anything. Just trying to do a little predicting about the season before it gets here.
David: As I wrote last week, the Georgia Tech game appears set for Dec. 7, and the Dawgs will play in the Old Spice Classic -- also featuring Cal, Temple, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Manhattan and Boston College -- Nov. 25, 26 and 28. Beyond that, however… everything is still up in the air. Mark Fox said no contracts have been agreed upon with any other non-conference foes yet, and he said trying to agree on deals has been tougher this year now that Georgia appears to be a more competitive opponent.
Pete writes: Good news, this frees up another scholarship for next season. Time to start extending the "Dream Team" concept to basketball...
David: I'd be a little bit careful what you wish for, Pete. On one hand, the five players who have left Georgia in the past two years were none starters, and only Anyaorah probably had a legitimate chance to develop into one at Georgia. So the end result of the departures probably won't dramatically impact the product on the court this season. Plus, all five were Dennis Felton recruits, and there was bound to be some of those players who felt they didn't fit under the new regime.
But… that's also a lot of depth that has departed, and if Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie leave for the NBA as expected after the 2011 season, here's what will be left: Gerald Robinson, Dustin Ware, Vincent Williams, Marcus Thornton, Cady Lalanne, Donte Williams and Sherrard Brantley.
While I think a couple of those guys -- Thornton and Robinson in particular -- have a chance to be very good SEC players, there are just two on that list who have played a minute in an SEC game so far.
So yes, Anyaorah's departure -- and the other transfers -- open up some scholarships for potentially better players to come in next year. But there's now quite a bit of pressure on Mark Fox to land a number of solid recruits in 2011 or it's going to be tough to field a solid starting five.
South FL Dawg writes: To tell the truth, I've been envisioning Malcome at fullback after Chapas and Munzenmeier graduate, because it seems like Charles White fell off the face of the earth.
David: Interesting idea, and I'll admit, one of the things that probably struck me the most about the post-spring depth chart was just how many walk-ons were listed ahead of White at fullback. Malcome's size and powerful style might make him a natural fit at the position, too. Plus, with the long history of NFL fullbacks at Georgia, it's not the hardest position change to sell a guy on. My guess, however, is a lot will depend on whether Georgia lands a top tailback in this year's class. If it does, then I think Malcome to fullback has a lot of potential.
JPerez writes: Sad to see no mention of the Hold Steady concert from last weekend. Thought it was a kick ass show.
David: You're totally right… I should have made a point of writing about it earlier in the week. I guess my problem is, while I'm a huge music fan, every time I try to write about concerts or offer a music review, I end up sounding like my mom does when she tries to talk about sports.
Anyway, I caught The Hold Steady at the 40 Watt last Thursday, and the show was phenomenal -- high energy, great set list, awesome time all around. See… can you believe I'm not working for Rolling Stone?
That was actually the opening act to my concert weekend, too. I saw Neil Young at the Fox Theater in Atlanta last Sunday, which was also an enjoyable show, but absurdly expensive and he played for just under 90 minutes, which may mark the shortest concert I've ever been to that didn't involve a band angrily storming off stage.
As for future shows… May I suggest getting your tickets for The Morning Benders and Broken Bells at the 40 Watt on June 11. I'm actually not as enthralled with Broken Bells as I thought I'd be, but I absolutely love the Morning Benders and can't wait for the show.
Oh, and one more concert tidbit: I was actually hoping to make it up to NYC a couple weeks ago to see Band of Horses and Pearl Jam at the Garden, but I couldn't put the whole trip together in time. I was bummed, but now even more so. One of our readers, Scott, was at the show and said it was great, and also included a link to this YouTube clip of Pearl Jam and BoH's Ben Bridwell doing "Hunger Strike." Damn, I'm jealous.
Brian writes: I saw the Vance Cuff thing and I was impressed. But do you have any other numbers from this "mini-combine"? I know that the athletic dept doesn't publish these kinds of numbers anymore, but word often gets out.
David: Sorry, but I don't have any of the numbers. Perhaps a few will get out after players are made available for interviews more, and Dave Van Halanger typically releases the end-of-summer workout numbers in July. But as for the spring combine numbers, where Cuff reportedly clocked in with a 4.2 40 time, they won't be released -- which, as it turns out, is a bit of a double-edged sword for Richt.
“Sometimes guys get bent out of shape like, oh that 40 time may hurt me or if my name isn’t in the top 10 it might hurt me," Richt said. "But for the most part, I think it would have been positive. We’ve got some big, strong guys.”
Anonymous writes: "Sometimes capitalism is hard to defend."
Come on Hale. What is harder to defend is your decision to actually purchase the coffee.
I am sure price controlled coffee would taste great.
David: I always knew I had more Friedman economists reading this blog than Keynesians. But that's the problem with you monetist school proponents. You have no taste for sarcasm.
Seriously, I was joking. It was a joke. And not even a very good one since, to some degree, the market created by the Hilton is anything but capitalist.
I complained about the price of a Starbucks coffee at the hotel where the SEC meetings took place. That price was so high because Hilton uses artificial barriers of entry into the marketplace, thus allowing specific retailers to artificially inflate the price of the products they sell. Like at a sporting event or concert, customers are less inclined (or prohibited) to leave the venue to make a purchase, therefore the venue itself becomes the marketplace. And since the venue allows just one retailer to sell their product on the premises, a monopoly is created. In a properly functioning capitalist marketplace, a monopoly wouldn't exist because another vendor with a substitute product could enter the marketplace and sell at a reduced price, causing all prices to fall to a point in which marginal cost meets marginal revenue.
So… the Hilton Starbucks isn't functioning under a pure free-market capitalist umbrella. So, what I should have written is: "Monopolies are hard to defend sometimes."
But that wouldn't have been as funny. Aside from the Community Chest card stating that I won a beauty contest, monopolies rarely are.
By the way, this answer marks the most I've used my economics degree in a decade. I'm going to forward this to my parents to prove their student loan money wasn't wasted.
SECC in '10… Please writes: Just back home from Destin (i highly suggest club 10), it's great. Actually came back from the trip with a girlfriend. Which leads me to my question. I'm a student at UGA and my girlfriend is a cheerleader at LSU...what are the chances Richt can light a fire under Miles' ass to get the Bayou Bengals to ATL and visa versa?
David: Allow me to pass along a little bit of advice that I've picked up over the years.
1.) What happens at places with names like "Club 10" should stay at places with names like "Club 10." Don't believe me? Imagine telling your kids one day, "Well the first time I met your mommy I was doing body shots of warm tequila off her at Club 10 in Destin."
2.) Having a girlfriend in college is roughly the same as Michael Jordan playing minor league baseball in 1994. You're wasting your prime years. (Although, admittedly, the cheerleader aspect may create a loophole.)
3.) A long-distance relationship is doomed to failure, particularly when you both have routine, convenient access to massive quantities of alcohol. Proximity of one member of said relationship to New Orleans increases the likelihood of problems tenfold.
4.) If you insist on breaking the first three rules, I'm not necessarily saying you're wrong, but I am saying you're no longer allowed to question Les Miles' decision making techniques.
I'm kidding, of course. Or am I? Either way, good luck to you both, and if we all end up in Atlanta the first Saturday in December, the first round of drinks is on me. You pick the bar.
Anonymous writes: Does CMR see any true freshman starting this year?
David: Hard to say until they actually start practicing, and so far, only Kolton Houston has -- and he's not cracking the starting line up.
Richt pointed to outside linebacker and the defensive line as places where the depth chart might allow a true freshmen to earn some extra PT, but even in those situations, I just don't see how any of the freshmen are going to crack the starting lineup right away.
My best guess is that you won't see any freshmen starting in September, but after a few weeks into the season, there's a chance that Garrison Smith, Alec Ogletree and one of the OLBs could be pushing for a starting job. But the biggest impact of this year's class in 2010 may well be the depth they add, which is a good indication of how much talent was already in Athens.
John writes: Was curious if you have a list of jersey numbers for the incoming freshmen who weren't early enrollees like #66 Kolton Houston.
David: Unfortunately, there's no list yet. That's probably a week or so away still, as players are still trickling back onto campus. But I did confirm that Ken Malcome will be Georgia's new No. 24. Demetre Baker reports he'll be wearing No. 52, Brandon Burrows will wear No. 41, and Hutson Mason tells me he believes he'll be donning the No. 14 jersey.
ChicagoDawg writes: Can you elaborate on your comment about Ealey having "gained a bit of a reputation for stirring the pot"? The Spring game swing at Williams is well known, but I was unaware about this developing reputation. Especially given the opportunity to exploit the Spike eye gouge affair, which he seemed to diffuse.
David: Truth be told, I probably shouldn't have written that the way I did. The comment probably stirred the pot a bit too much, too. But following the swing Ealey took at Nick Williams during G-Day, I got more than a few reports from folks who said Ealey had instigated the situation with Brandon Spikes during the Florida game last year, and I've had a number of fans bring up some rather questionable posts and pictures on Ealey's Facebook page -- all minor things, but put together it's easy to see how a reputation could develop.
Again, a potentially bad reputation is not the same as saying Ealey is a bad guy. I don't believe he is. But, given that the public doesn't get a chance to see much of Ealey behind the scenes, he'd probably be wise to be careful about what he does let fans see. In fact, that's probably true for all of Georgia's athletes who, more and more often, are letting people behind the curtain via Twitter and Facebook without always considering that some of those people won't like what they see.
Andrew writes: I did have one question about (Hutson) Mason: I only saw him play once, on the internet no less, against Colquitt County. The game is on Georgia PBS, and may still be there. I was not overly impressed with his work that night, I believe 1 td/5ints. Of course, this is a snapshot of his work (N=1) but have you seen or heard anything aside from Andre Ware/David Klingler numbers that make you feel overly optimistic that he will be a player?
David: The game is still up on the PBS site, if others want to check it out. (Warning: Given the fact that Mason may be getting serious playing time this year, you might want to skip it.)
Lassiter came into that game 12-0, but Mason was dreadful against Colquitt County, tossing five INTs without a touchdown.
Does that mean he's going to be terrible at Georgia? Certainly not. Everybody has their bad games, and this was clearly one of Mason's worst. But his overall numbers as a senior were spectacular.
It's really impossible to make any comparisons yet for a guy who hasn't even taken a snap during a college practice. At just 190 pounds, Mason definitely needs to fill out some. And while he matured throughout his senior season at Lassiter, college is a big transition. But there's potential there, and ideally he won't be asked to do too much too soon.
In an ideal world, maybe he becomes a David Greene-type of player (although it won't likely happen as a freshman the way it did for Greene). Or he could be another Joe Cox type of guy -- gritty leader with a questionable arm who serves as a bridge between two more productive QBs. Even the latter wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, as long as that bridge isn't being employed this season.
Anonymous writes: Appreciate the outreach, but, respectfully, 99% of your readers don't care (about softball). If there isn't already, I think that a blog for softball, women's b-ball, etc. would find a few followers. I just doubt that there's a lot of overlap between that hypothetical blog and your readership.
David: Fair enough, but the team is playing the WCWS, and I'm sure there are some fans interested. And what I think some of my readers fail to consider is that, I'm never shortchanging you on football stuff when I write about other things. If I have football info, it gets posted. So the rest is just a bonus. Enjoy it if you like, and if not, there'll be another football story around the corner.
Jferg writes: My "original" question for two-a-days was: "how can I be an assistant or intern for the day and get a set of field passes for a home game"?
David: Well, JFerg, your advice to hit up Another Broken Egg for breakfast while in Destin has you in very good standing for the job. My bananas foster pancakes were absurdly good (although they looked like you could put sparklers in them and give them to children on their birthdays). Now, if you'll just wash my car, mow my lawn and grab a sixer from the Bottle Shop, I'd say we have the makings of a serious employment opportunity for you.
Anonymous writes: In the past, we've talked about the importance of a WR emerging as a counterpart to Green. Kind of like MoMass and Green two years ago. This spring it seems that several showed promise: TKing, Wooten, Durham, but none of these has clearly emerged to claim the position. Are we going to have someone at the other WR spot to take pressure off Green? Thanks.
David: I'm reluctant to predict that Georgia will have someone turn in a performance like Mohamed Massaquoi did in 2008 because, frankly, those performances don't come around too often. But I do think there's a good chance that Georgia's receiving corps can be very good. I've heard from numerous sources that Mark Richt and Mike Bobo are both very excited about the prospects for Kris Durham and Tavarres King this season, and both have also lauded the progress made by Marlon Brown, who Richt said might be "the most physical receiver we have." Add that to the stellar group of tight ends, and the biggest question mark in the passing game might be, just how often will Aaron Murray throw the ball?
In any case, here's Richt's synopsis of things: "I like how Tavarres and Durham played. The other receivers are coming. You've got tight-end play with Aron White and Orson Charles is pretty darned good. Even in the spring game, you saw what Artie (Lynch) could do. Bruce is coming. We've got more than just a couple tailbacks and A.J. Green. We've got some guys that have got a chance."
Justin writes: Quick question I wonder if you have noticed that GT replaced their defensive coord the same year UGA did, and at the same time, they are also running a 3-4 now. do you think this is any kind of coincidence, they are trying to keep up with the dawgs in my opinion. Would love to hear your thoughts in a mailbag or something. Thanks in advance
David: I don't know that it has much to do with Tech trying to keep up with Georgia so much as it is both teams are trying to be ahead of the curve in what could become a widespread trend throughout college football in the coming years.
First, you have Alabama winning a national title with the 3-4. That's enough to spark some copy-catting alone. Second, you had some very accomplished coaches available in Al Groh and Todd Grantham, both of whom run the 3-4. As Mark Richt has noted, it wasn't so much about the system for Georgia as it was about getting the best guy for the job. And third, the 3-4 simply makes a lot of sense to run at the college level.
The 3-4 is definitely a bit more nuanced than the 4-3, which can be a drawback when you're tasked with teaching it to 18-to-22-year-old kids. But… that nuance makes life a lot more difficult for opposing quarterbacks, too. While at the NFL level, you'll find 10-year vets who can read a 3-4 with ease, in college, even the most experienced QBs only have a year or two of playing time under their belt. So why not run a D that puts pressure on a player who generally is ill-equipped to make those quick decisions? The 3-4 also allows for a bit more flexibility in terms of how you use personnel, and for teams looking to get the most out of players, my guess is you'll see more and more programs jumping on the UGA and Tech bandwagon.
Marc writes: just curious after your two a days and reading the writing styles of many other beat writers. (Your the best by the way, without patronizing). My question is this, now that your journeys have now brought you to the deep south...what's your take on the differences you have noticed among journalists from different regions e.g. journalists from the north and south? Would you say there's a difference specific to football journalists as well? I know this would be making a generalization but is that a fair question?
David: Many thanks for the kind words, Marc. I think the mistake people tend to make in judging the media is assuming there's a grand plan to create a certain style. The truth is, most of the time, the media reflects the community it covers. Don't believe me? Check out how much The Big Lead -- which is essentially a Diet Deadspin -- just sold for.
The site is mostly pandering, ESPN bashing and gossip, and but it sells because people want to read it -- not the other way around.
As such, New York and Boston media tend to be a lot tougher on the players they cover, as are their fans. Philly media are critical almost all the time -- as are their fans. Media on the West Cost tends to be a bit more laid back, just as their readers tend to be. Competition also creates a bit more of a hard-nosed effect. The more reporters in an area, the harder they have to fight to get a story.
And as for the writers around Georgia? I'm probably a bit to bias to judge.
Rob writes: Didn't the Senator have an article a few weeks ago about how returning starts on the offensive line was one of the better indicators of a team's success? I can't remember exactly, but it just seemed weird to me to get two different stances on the same issue so soon.
In addition to that, I know that Phil Steele uses returning starts on the offensive line as one of his biggest predictors of success. I'm not saying you're wrong or your facts are wrong, it just seems like you could have a bit of a sample size issue.
David: The Senator did write about this a bit last month, but his theory was actually much the same as what my numbers illustrated. In fact, his summary was this: "A significant lack of returning starts on the offensive line is a negative; otherwise, experience on the o-line isn’t that big a deal."
Of course, I don't have the tools or software or time to do any significant regression analysis over more than just one season, so inherently there are going to be concerns of sample size. And obviously my rather simplistic analysis doesn't consider that different teams run different styles of offense that can either accentuate or reduce the significance of their respective offensive lines. And while what might be true one year (as the WSJ article pointed out about 2008) may not be true the next (as appeared to be the case in 2009).
But I think the biggest point of my post on offensive lines was this: Returning starts aren't nearly as important as returning talent. Or, as Phil Steele put it: "Experience on the O-line is not the only criteria for an offensive line’s potential for the next year. You have to add in the Blue Chips, how last year’s line performed (ypc rushing and sacks allowed), size, etc. That is how a team like Florida can be just #32 in career starts returning but rated as my #4 OL this year."
Alabama overcame a lack of returning starts last season by bringing in new talent. In Georgia's case this year, however, the Bulldogs are lucky enough to have both.
NCDawg writes: Another interesting view would be to consider starts from bench players. Offensive lineman get hurt; it's a tough job. I would expect depth at O-line is important to winning throughout the season. Can any team match Georgia's starts from bench players? How many teams even have bench players with starts?
David: I investigated this, too, and really it's a non-issue. No team has a bench player with more than a handful of career starts other than Trinton Sturdivant, who I think we can effectively call a bit of a wild card. And the thing to remember about Georgia is that, while A.J. Harmon and Chris Burnette could be very good when given the chance, and while Tanner Strickland has been on the team for a while -- none of them have ever started a game. In fact, other than Sturdivant, the only non-starters on Georgia's roster who have starting experience are both playing on the defensive line now. (That'd be Kiante Tripp with 3 starts and Bean Anderson with 12 starts.)
Dawg19 writes: I see Alabama is playing at Duke. I will probably take a beating for this question, but I'm curious how often the defending football champion plays the defeding basketball champion in either sport. I imagine it's fairly often.
David: You actually have to go back a pretty long way to find the answer. The last time it happened was in 1993, and it also involved Alabama playing an ACC foe. The Tide, coming off their 1992 national title, beat North Carolina (the '93 hoops winner) 24-10 in the Gator Bowl.
As for the last time it happened during the regular season, you have to go back two years earlier when Georgia Tech (co-champs in 1990 with Colorado) visited Duke (the '91 hoops champ) and won 17-6.
So, in each of the last two times it's happened, the football school has won. And I'm guessing that's a trend that will continue this time around, too.
Texas Dawg writes: Walsh himself just said that with the new kicking away strategy he is "hoping" (hoping) he will kick the ball for a touchback around 30% of the time 30%. And if we say those 8 additional touchbacks gain a total of 80 yards (assuming kicks that would have landed on average at the 10), assuming Walsh has 77 kickoffs again in 2010, that's an additional 1.03 yards per kick.
1. Fonking. Yard.
This kickoff thing has been so stupidly blown out of proportion more than any I can ever remember in several decades as a sports fan. DHale, let's go. You're better than this. Help stop the madness.
David: I'm with you to a point, Texas, but this is one of those cases in which the stats don't tell the whole story.
Yes, on the whole the difference between booting it deep on a kickoff and what Georgia was already doing was minimal, statistically. But it wasn't about the aggregate, it was about the individual moments -- and those lapses are well chronicled.
The problem was never the philosophy of directional kicking. The problem was that the philosophy did not fit Georgia's strengths, and Georgia's coverage team was unable to routinely execute the philosophy properly. The result of all of that was a handful of nice place, but far too many bad ones. On something like kickoffs, there may not be a huge difference between an average return of 20 yards or 21 yards, but there's a big difference in how you get there. It's great if each return is roughly 20 yards. You know what you're getting. In Georgia's case, some returns were 20, some were zero, and far too many were 40 and 50 yards. Much like with pass defense, Georgia simply gave up too many big plays.
Of course, to your other point: Any fans who are expecting Blair Walsh to boot touchbacks on 80 percent of his kickoffs this year are going to be very disappointed. Thirty to 35 percent would be a good number.
Trey writes: Hey David, how bout a lost post breaking down what happened....I'm so confused.
David: What happened was, after all hell broke loose on the island, Miles had an emotional farewell with Trapper John and Klinger; Kate, Sawyer, Ben and Desmond were sentenced to a year in a Massachusetts jail for laughing at Hurley as he was mugged; and Jack woke up in his old house from "Party of Five" and realized the whole thing had been a dream. Then, the screen cut to black in the middle of a Journey song. What's so confusing about that?
Anonymous writes: Man, you sure do watch a lot of TV, Mr. Hale!!
David: It can't be all football blogs and relationship advice, Anon. I need my "me" time.
Coon Dawg writes: "Justified" is one of the few I watch. Most of the shows you mention are for metrosexuals.
David: Surely you're not referring to "Project Runway"!
Anonymous writes: Your silence regarding the LOST finale is deafening. Please post soon.
David: OK, fine. I guess eventually I have to cave and address the 1,200-pound polar bear in the room.
In last week's mailbag, I hinted that I didn't enjoy the finale. That's not true. I actually thought it was an exceptional 150 minutes of television. There were a ton of emotional moments, some great callbacks to previous episodes (like Jack and Locke looking down the waterfall), and the action scenes were all done very well. I'll admit, the room got dusty a few times.
But what was great about the episode is also what made me so unhappy in the end. The finale was all about remembering the high points of the show. It was a retrospective as much as it was a coda. And that was great, because I've truly loved those moments it reflected upon. But the only way I can say I really liked the finale was to judge it in a vacuum without considering everything that came before, and I can't do that.
Essentially, my feeling is this: The episode was great, but it sort of ruined the series for me.
Now, I write that acknowledging the following:
1.) I didn't demand answers. I was OK with letting a lot go. I didn't need to know who shot at Sawyer & Co. on the outrigger or why Jacob could leave the island and Flocke couldn't.
2.) I loved the "Sopranos" finale and, although I wouldn't call it great, I have a genuine appreciation for the "Seinfeld" finale. So I'm not simply a person who can never be satisfied by an ending.
But the way "Lost" wrapped up was, in my opinion, an insult to anyone who cared about the show all along.
Yes, the writers always said it was a show about the characters, and in many respects the finale did them justice. But it was also a show about the mysteries, a show that begged its audience to analyze every detail, to hypothesize about what each word meant, to dig deeper every week.
As it turned out, 95 percent of that was just a tool to lead viewers on, and there was never a payoff.
Two lines from the finale really summed things up for me.
"Trust me, everything matters." -- Jack
This was essentially what the writers said all along. "Trust us. We have a plan." But what was that plan exactly? In the end, it was all pretty arbitrary. We don't know what the island was or why it was so important. The vast majority of the mysteries we followed for six years led nowhere. Even stories developed earlier this season -- like Dogan and the temple -- turned out to be irrelevant in the big picture. How can that happen? They knew they only had a handful of episodes left and instead of taking time to wrap up shorelines from the first five years they created more that had no impact on the conclusion.
The finale was great at reminding us of the high moments of the show, but looking back… Did the hatch really matter? Did the freighter really matter? Did Sun's baby really matter?
After watching the finale, all I could think about was… no, none of it really mattered.
"Those were Jacob's rules. You can do things differently." -- Ben
That was Ben's advice to Hurley on how he could handle being the island's protector. It was a lot like Jacob's answer to Kate about the list of candidates -- "It's just a line of chalk on a cave wall."
In the end, this is what the first five years (and then some) meant. It was all arbitrary. The rules could be changed at any time. It was all, metaphorically speaking, a line of chalk on a cave wall. So why the heck did we invest so much time in trying to figure out what it all meant?
There were other aspects of the finale that bothered me, too -- and not just Kate's absurdly ripped shoulders that were a little too female bodybuilder-esque to have her delivering a baby in a strapless dress.
In retrospect, the alt-universe was really a worthless and contrived storyline that's only use was to afford the show an opportunity to inject emotion into the finale. I'd have been OK with that if the ending had made more sense. Why, for example, were so many of the island's key characters not in the church, but Penny -- who never set foot on the island -- was? And why would Shannon be Sayid's traveling companion and not Nadya? Or why would Aaron be there, but not Ji-Yeon? And if this was all essentially purgatory, why could Keemy die and why did Jack randomly have a son and why, for the love of God, did we need to spend sooooo much time learning about this world during the entirety of Season 6 when in the end it was all The Matrix -- a false universe designed to delude its inhabitants from realizing the truth? Again, the payoff spoiled the journey.
And all of that isn't to say that I'm angry I watched the show now. There were moments during the run of "Lost" -- Charlie sacrificing his life, holding his hand up with the note "Not Penny's boat" or Desmond's frantic phone call with Penny aboard the freighter or Boone telling Jack it was OK to let him die -- that I would put on par with any moments on any show in TV history. I'm glad I watched them, and I didn't need context for those moments.
But what's sad for me is, knowing what I know now, I don't think I can re-watch those episodes now and enjoy them the same way.
When I was 23, I moved from Delaware to San Diego. I had never been West of Chicago at that point, so the whole thing was an adventure. My roommate and I drove across the country -- leaving during a blizzard -- and it was one of the best experience of my life. We went to Graceland in Memphis (where we asked if we could take pictures on the toilet Elvis died on), ate a steak as big as my arm in Texas (the car ride after that was uncomfortable to say the least), watched the sun set over the Grand Canyon (a moment lessened somewhat by three fat Midwestern women next to us talking about going to the mall afterward), and stayed up all night gambling in Vegas (calling our friends on the East coast who were already at work for the day that morning). Legitimately, a life-altering journey.
But as great as it was, when I finally got to San Diego, I was thrilled that the trip was over. You couldn't have paid me enough to get back in the car and drive back in the other direction. I wouldn't have traded the journey for anything, but I also never wanted to do it again.
That's sort of how I feel about "Lost" now that it's over. I have no regrets about investing myself in the show the way that I did. I enjoyed almost every minute of it. But it will be a long time before I want to go back and watch those old episodes again, and that's kind of a shame.
Alright, I'm wrapping up my time in Destin, but I'm hoping to have another mailbag in the next week or two, so feel free to send in some more questions and I'll do my best to keep getting you some answers. Have a great weekend!
Friday, June 4, 2010
A quick point on the mailbag: I still have a handful of questions sitting on my desktop, but I either haven't gotten sufficient answers to them yet or I'm holding off on replying so I can write a longer post on them later. So if you've emailed me an inquiry and I haven't responded, there's a good chance I'm still planning to do so.