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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mailbag: Of Samuel L., defense, recruiting and more

Georgia’s disappointing regular season has ended, leading to questions about staff changes, early departures and other important matters. So of course the most common question for the mailbag I got this week dealt with Samuel L. Jackson.

That heartens me, actually. There was a lot of curiosity as to why Jules Winnfield was on the sideline, wearing a Georgia shirt and hat. So I checked with UGA associate A.D. Arthur Johnson, who hung a bit with Jackson at the game. Here's the skinny:

Jackson has a nephew and some cousins who went to Georgia. One of his cousins is on the law school's alumni board. Jackson himself attended Morehouse College in Atlanta.

"He's a Georgia fan," Johnson said.

Jackson visited before the game with head coach Mark Richt, spent some time at the law school with his cousin, then went through the pregame Dawg Walk.

One things Jackson didn't do was give the pregame speech, as was rumored. Which is too bad, because it probably would’ve gone something like this.

But what else might he have done at the game? I looked up Jackson’s bio on and saw that he’s in a movie called: “xXx: The Return of Xander Cage” and thought he might be speaking with Zander Ogletree.

It also appears that Sam is appearing in three movies with revenge as a theme: “The Avengers”, “Vengeance: A Love Story” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.” So maybe he was going to sit down with Aaron Murray and discuss Nick Fairley.

Jackson is such a cool actor, I can almost forgive his work in the new Star Wars movies. The sad thing is that a lot of youngsters out there might know him mainly for a bad movie - “Snakes on a Plane” – and the very famous line that I can’t quote on a family blog.

No, what you need to know Jackson for is Jules Winnfield, quoting the Bible verse before shooting the hell out of people, discussing a Royale with cheese, and a wallet that reads … wait, I can’t write that either.

OK, on to a very long mailbag. I got enough questions that I'll have to do another one later in the week. If you have questions, send them in.

Not to jump the gun too much, but what do you think about next year? Aaron Murray was downright great for a freshman. We lose a couple great guys. One spectacular guy. New defense in its 2nd year, Aaron Year 2. Hoping we get out of this 2 year slump. ... Last question would be about bball. Think we will see some sparks and some awesomeness once Thompkins is 100%? These guys have a high ceiling in my opinion.
- Shawn Fort

Last question first – since that’s what everyone does when they get two-parters. The basketball team does have a high ceiling with Thompkins, Travis Leslie and the fast-emerging Gerald Robinson Jr. The problem is, the rest of the supporting cast is incomplete. I think they really need a consistent 3-point threat, the way Lee Humphrey was when Florida won consecutive NCAA titles.

As for football and next year: I could go on and on and on, but it will be interesting to see what expectations are, considering this team figures to lose its top offensive star and its two best defensive players. But if the Bulldogs can improve their running game and their overall defense, the win total should increase.

Why does Coach Grantham use such wide spacing between the Nose and Ends, particularly when teams like Auburn and Georgia Tech are having such success running the dive play? His 3-4 seems tailor-fit to stop pro-style running attacks, but what has he learned and what will he change moving forward to combat the teams that employ spead/option style offenses? (if at all possible, I’d love to hear an in-depth X’s and O’s explanation that CTG is known for—not simply a ‘we’ve got to get better at playing our roles’ type of coach speak)
- Jason Ferguson

Grantham, like all the coaches, is on the road recruiting this week, so I’ll have to ask him this (and a few other questions I got about the defense) next week. But here’s my read from having watched this season and spoken to Grantham each week: After 11 years away from the college game, it was inevitable that there would be things he would have to get used to. So much of this year was a re-learning experience for him. It’s also possible that Grantham had to get used to teaching his system to college players, rather than NFL guys who are more likely to pick it up quicker.

I will say that if the 3-4 didn’t work, teams like Alabama wouldn’t be employing it in the SEC. But Grantham has shown flexibility, using a 4-2-5 about 40 percent of the time. (Alabama does that too.)

Can you ask Grantham why Tyson played every snap? He was gassed while Geathers stood on the sideline.
- Timothy Moreau

Geathers did play, but not much. Tyson tied for the team lead with 16 tackles, so that needs to be pointed out too. But look, here’s the thing with Geathers: The coaches are trying hard to recruit a big, physical nose guard, including a junior college player that could play right away. What does that say about Geathers?

How do UGA fans during games compare to the other fanbases you've been around? I know that we get a reputation for being non-intimidating country club fans. Is that fair? And how do we make it better?
- Will Burgess

I don’t think it’s a wine-and-cheese crowd by any means. And I don’t think there’s any need for fans to start throwing batteries at the visiting team in an effort to be a tougher place to play. But Greg McGarity began looking into slight tweaks to the home environment – such as when commercials are played on the big screen. I suspect he’ll look at doing more. My own personal suggestion: Find a way to make the student section and band become a bit louder, a bit more of a factor in firing up the crowd.

Can you give us an update on T.J. Stripling? How is his knee? Also, do we know how Lonnie Outlaw, our 11th hour signing-day receiver from Wilcox County has fared during his Juco year?
- Dave in Fort Lauderdale

According to the national junior college web site, Outlaw caught 19 passes for 290 yards this year, with two touchdowns. It might not sound like much, but GMC had a lot of other guys catching passes too. As for Stripling, he’s been on the sideline since his injury, and at this point the coaches are hopeful he’ll be ready for spring practice.

Why do we keep missing out on the Cam Heywards, Greg Reids, etc? Have you noticed our coaching staff being any more or less aggressive about recruiting in-state studs-particularly on the O-Line and D-Lines? Also, seems like our coaching staff has no motivation to move up - with MAYBE the exception of Grantham. Van Gorder always wanted to prove himself at the highest level. He was supremely motivated, and it showed on the field. Who on our coaching staff is primed to be a head coach some day?
- Geoff Sandels

Georgia still tends to get its pick of the in-state recruits, with some guys that slip through – you can throw Cam Newton in there too, although there might be some, er, mitigating circumstances there. One factor that may have hurt Georgia lately is the resurgence of Alabama, and the past two years, Auburn. If that doesn’t happen, Isaiah Crowell may be committed to Georgia already.

Grantham just got here, after dropping down a level, so I’m not sure he’s ready to get out yet. As for the rest, I think it was evident last year that the staff had gotten a bit stale, and Richt shook things up. This time around, after even a worse record, he says he doesn’t plan any changes. But let’s see how that turns out: the key is he doesn’t PLAN any changes. But if certain coaches come to him and say they may have another opportunity, Richt may not fight as hard.

Any update on which redshirts might be impact players next year? We hear a lot on Richard Samuel, Jarvis Jones. Are there others?
- David Jones

You named the top two guys. The defense will need impact guys, and those two have that capability, along with the returning Marcus Dowtin. Otherwise, Michael Bennett kept drawing raves and probably would’ve played if the receiver position wasn’t so deep. A.J. Harmon wasn’t a redshirt, but he rarely played, and this team will need a right tackle next year.

What do you think of our chances to land elite recruits like R. Drew and I. Crowell?
- Logan Hinton

Ray Drew, the defensive end from Thomasville, told recruiting web sites last week he was down to six schools, including Georgia. The rest are Clemson and four SEC schools. Trying to predict what a teenager will do from there is something I try not to do. Crowell is a three-team race between Georgia, Auburn and Alabama. The Bulldog coaches are selling him hard on immediate playing time, which is a good drawing card considering that Auburn has Michael Dyer two more years, and Alabama has Trent Richardson.

Why wouldn’t TCU go to the Big 12. It would make sense geographically.
- Chase Moroy

Oh, I think TCU would love to go to the Big 12, the problem is the feeling isn’t mutual. The four Texas schools would consider the Horned Frogs to be a threat, recruiting and market-wise. That left TCU deciding between staying in a non-BCS league or going to the Big East (which shouldn’t be in football, but is.) And as people have pointed out, from Fort Worth the travel to the Big East schools actually is about even to the Mountain West.

Which TV shows are you watching? Have you been keeping up with "Boardwalk Empire" or "Sons of Anarchy"? Also, where are you on "Breaking Bad"? I would imagine that the off-season would be more conducive to your TV watching and our discussions thereof.
- Carter

I tried the first episode of “Boardwalk” but couldn’t make it through. I may try again now that work has freed up a bit more time. As for “Breaking Bad” I’m waiting for the third season to become available on Netflix or On Demand.
So in the meantime, it’s “Dexter.” I was a bit ambivalent about this season, and whether the storyline was grabbing me. But I’m getting there now. I’m interested to see what happens with Lumen (played by Julia Stiles) and whether her character carries into future seasons.


Anonymous said...

Everybody strap in, I'm about to open some f'ing windows

Anonymous said...

If you couldn't make it through ep 1 of Boardwalk, then you won't make it through the first 4. After that, it starts getting really good.

I've loved The Walking Dead.

Anonymous said...

I heard Samuel L.'s daughter is married to a UGA art professor.

Are we expecting Lonnie Outlaw to join the Bulldogs? When?

Anonymous said...

Seth, what is the comraderie like between the coaches? Especially b/t the def. position coaches. Have you noticed anything on/off the field?

gatorhater27 said...

They said on the radio Saturday afternoon that Jackson's daughter is enrolling in law school at UGA.

Anonymous said...

Hearing some good vibes about Crowell, very encouraging. I think last week's performance by our RBs, indeed the whole year of issues with fumbles, has to make him think he would get early playing time. IC could be a difference maker, we need a back that can break the big plays. And our first game will be on a big, national stage.

MauiDawg said...

Seth, PLEASE...PLEASE ask CMR his reaction to Samuel L Jackson on the sideline!...and if he'll let him do a locker room speech (maybe not CMR's style but what the heck!)

If 2LiveCrew can get the U pumped during Richts days there, why can't we get Samuel L Jackson to hang around more and spread some of that bad mother effer attitude!

Seth Emerson said...

Ladies and gentlemen,

I've added some detail above on Jackson's visit and connections to UGA.

Brad said...

Scott Blair goes for the extra point, misses, cut to Samuel L. Jackson "I'm sorry, did I break your concentration?"