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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mailbag! Get your mailbag!

Hey ... how are ya? Good? Got your Christmas shopping done? Me neither. You know how everyone just says, "Oh get me anything, it'll just be good to see you again and be in your company ..."

Yeah, that's crap. They want good gifts. If you give them a dud, they put up a good face, they pretend to like it, but you're a smart guy. You know they don't like it, and they know you know. Merry Christmas, jerk.

But anyway ... Here's the mailbag!

1) If Grantham didn’t have the right personnel this past season to make the 3-4 work, what gives us hope that he will have them on next yrs D? Houston is supposedly moving on to the NFL, our D line, LB, and secondary will effectively be the same units. I know we have some recruits, but how often do you see true freshman starting day 1 in the SEC? Am I missing something here?
- Matthew Alexis

No, you’re not missing anything, it’s genuinely a cause for concern that a defense that largely struggled will likely be losing its two most productive players. That’s why the next few weeks of recruiting is key for Georgia: John Jenkins, the nose tackle from Mississippi (not the shooting guard from Vanderbilt) could start right away, and defensive end Ray Drew would be in the mix too. Among players on the current roster, Jarvis Jones and Richard Samuel could contribute right away at linebacker. At nose tackle, the staff is holding out hope for Kwame Geathers. And everybody but Vance Cuff (and perhaps Brandon Boykin) returns in the secondary – but they better use their experience to play better on third downs.

2) Do you think Richt made a mistake by not hiring a 4-3 DC? In today’s SEC, and especially with the down seasons we have had, did Richt really have a season or two to completely rebuild the D? Would simply improving the 4-3 D have been a smarter decision?
- Matthew Alexis again

The proliferation of spread offenses was a big reason for the switch, although ironically arch-rival Florida is now shifting back to a pro-style attack. Either way, I think Richt still feels that in a speed-oriented league, the 3-4 is the best way to combat it. If he’s having any regrets, it’s too late now. They’re committed to this scheme and recruiting for it.

What are your impressions of Grantham as a communicator? When speaking with him, is he the kind of man who, in your estimation, is persuasive? Could he sell ice to an Eskimo?
- Anonymous

I think Grantham’s method of “persuasion” is a lot different with recruits than it is with current players. A former player told me that he’s a lot more like Brian VanGorder – who wasn’t afraid to call out players in the film room, and use salty language while doing it. Willie Martinez was a lot more laid-back, which may have been part of his undoing.

Who is the most vocal coach at the limited practices you have seen? Player?
- Anonymous

Scott Lakatos springs to mind first, though others could have a different impression. It probably depends on the practice. (Plus Lakatos had a lot to get ticked at this year.)
Player-wise, we actually asked Grantham yesterday who would be the leaders on next year’s defense. He listed Justin Houston and Brandon Boykin (if either returns), then Jarvis Jones, Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree.

On offense, it tends to be the linemen and the seniors.

Do you agree with the Rivals selection of Nebraska's Taylor Martinez over Aaron Murray for 1st team All-Freshman?
- HowMuchYouBench (via Twitter)

First off, having just come from the gym, I can report that I don’t bench very much. Someone needs to get me in touch with Victor Conte.

Secondly, I doubt Murray is losing much sleep over it, but yeah, he probably should’ve gotten the nod, based on stats, and the fact his coach never got so ticked at him it led to a national story. The reason Martinez got picked probably had everything to do with Nebraska having a better record and being in its conference title game, while Murray’s great freshman season, as I’ve said before, was overshadowed by Georgia’s mediocrity.

Based on team position needs and D scheme, how is recruiting shaping up?
- Joe Mac (via Twitter)

Nothing much has changed since earlier this week, when I posted the recruiting blog. Although Georgia did lose out, as expected, on JUCO defensive end “Tank” Carradine. Which is unfortunate, because I would have loved writing “Tank” and making Kung Fu Carradine references for the next couple years.

Hoops question: What should we look for in the remainder of the non-conf schedule from the hoop Dawgs?
- NCDawg.

Taking the Xavier game out of the equation, since it falls in the middle of SEC play, the remainder of non-conference play should be a great chance for the Bulldogs to flesh a few more things out: The rotation, who can the 3, and continue to get used to playing at full capacity, with Trey Thompkins back. Something else that needs to get settled: Travis Leslie, who is off to a slow start.

I'm curious about how much time we are looking at before CTG believes he has a fully functioning unit? I understand the personnel issues, most notably at NT, so I can see why UGA wouldn't have the same immediate change as other programs have seen (MSU for example), but how long approximately are we looking at before we do see change? Are we talking one recruiting cycle or four?
- Anonymous

I think they were hoping to see improvement this year – and they did, but in small doses. The failures were spectacular (at South Carolina, Arkansas in the final minute, and so forth). If I could predict when (or if) the defense would be much better, I’d be writing you from Las Vegas right now, not my home office in Athens.

Mr. Blog Man, For the mailbag- I just watched the Richt press conference at I noticed a significant improvement in the quality of the sound, lighting and speed of the video download. Is this a McGarity influence or did Claude just figure out how to host a higher quality presser on his own?
- Anonymous

Honestly, I have to plead ignorance on this one. Since I’m at all the press conferences, I don’t watch them on replay. If it has improved, I would ascribe it to someone behind the scenes, and just the natural progression of technology. Greg McGarity and Claude Felton have an awful amount of stuff on their plate, so I suspect this doesn’t reach their pay grade.

Seth, any word as to why (Isaiah) Crowell backed out of his official this past weekend? Rumor is something about a friend’s party being more important. Curious if I’m the only one to have heard this.
- Logan

I’ll have to plead ignorance on this one too. But I’d caution everyone not to get hung up on the whims of teenagers. It’s why I don’t cover recruiting on a day-to-day basis. From a reporting perspective, I cover recruiting from a big picture angle (who has committed, who they’re still after, how it fits into the team, etc.) I do know the sentiment among the experts, the ones who do cover it daily, is that Georgia has the best chance for Crowell AT THE MOMENT. But again, we’re talking about teenagers here.

Would "Mr. Blog Man" fit on the back of a jersey?
-Ubiquitous GA alum

You better believe, we’re going to find out soon.

What exactly is your job? Seriously I would like to know. Like do you solely get paid by the newspaper you work for? Do they say you have to have this blog and be on Twitter or is that your decision? You don't make any money from this blog right? What are you paid to do by the newspaper you work for? Just to cover all Bulldog sports?
- RayJayCrowell

Thanks for asking, and hopefully I can give you a full, albeit condensed answer: I’m the UGA athletics beat writer for the Macon Telegraph and Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, as well as a bunch of other McClatchy papers that share material. But I report directly to the bosses at The Telegraph. My job is to cover every sport, but mainly football and men’s basketball, on a daily basis: That means covering games, writing features, reporting news, chasing down arrest reports … all that fun stuff.

The blog and Twitter feed are not mandated, and essentially are extra and meant to complement and help promote the stories in the paper. But in this day and age, clearly a blog and Twitter are more necessary. The first priority will always be the daily coverage in the papers. (And when I say papers, I don't literally mean just the print form, since it all goes online and plenty of people read it there too.)

The blog is fun, and a useful place to post news when it happens, but no, it doesn’t pay the freight.

6'2, 175? You don't have the right body type to be a sportswriter!
- Anonymous

In defense of my profession, the stereotype doesn’t fit as much anymore. My former partner on the South Carolina beat is a triathlete who is running in a marathon soon. And I’m not afraid to say that when we ran a 5-mile race a couple years ago, I still kicked his butt.

But the problem with being a runner is that it’s hard to put on muscle. Unless Victor Conte returns my call. We’ll see.

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