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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Media days may be over, but discussion isn't

From Mike Lough, subbing in for Seth Emerson:

There'll be more coming, but here's one man's look before he departs the fill-in role today or tomorrow.

There'll be more coming, but here's one man's look before he departs the fill-in role today or tomorrow.
Georgia can lose the first two games and still go 8-4, for all sorts of reasons, but obviously with caveats.
The Bulldogs HAVE to get through August and the first two games in quality health, especially at those two main spots, and we all know which two main spots. By then, players have a month of practice and two games, and depth will be developing.
And since most teams' starters are pretty equal, it's about the depth, and Georgia has at least some in every area except running back and the O-line.
The Cocktail Party?
Florida has assorted issues, and I'm not enamored with Charlie Weis in the least.
But Florida has Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, LSU and Auburn before the pre-Party week off.
That's a slate of five bowl teams, with three games on the road. By the time they play Kentucky, the Wildcats - who beat South Carolina last year and were competitive in almost every loss (except to UF) could be a confidence-boosting 3-0. In football. And they host the Gators, who host Tennessee the week before.
Georgia is, right now, better than five of the seven pre-Florida opponents, and close with Boise State (especially at the Dome) and South Carolina. You can't in any fashion overlook Tennessee and Mississippi State, who are close to Georgia's level, but MSU is in Athens and will have played Auburn and LSU, so the West Bulldogs might be a little banged up.
And right now, with absolutely nothing having been done in practice or the training room, I'm picking Georgia over Florida.
So after eight games, it's nowhere near a stretch to be looking at a 6-2 UGA team, or 5-3, which equates to 5-1 or 6-2 in SEC play. And the Bulldogs are equal to or better than Auburn, and a notch above Kentucky and Vandy.
They're also better than late-season non-conference opponents New Mexico State and Georgia Tech.
South Carolina is the wildcard, courtesy of its quarterback position. If Stephen Garcia doesn't make or struggles, don't be surprised if Connor Shaw is pretty dang good.
The schedule is favorable for the Cocks, with Auburn, Kentucky, and Florida at home. They get Tennessee after a week off and after the Vols have played Georgia, LSU and Alabama on consecutive Saturdays.
In the world of reality and logic, the only unforgivable SEC losses are - sorry, Cats and Dores - Kentucky and Vandy. UT was one player - one player too many - away from a winning season, Florida is Florida (at least against Georgia), and any road game (like Ole Miss) in the SEC can be trouble.
And take a Valium in regards to Isaiah Crowell. He doesn't have any real leadership at the position in front of him, like Knowshon Moreno did with Thomas Brown. Don't put the world on his shoulders, and he'd better not try to put the world on his shoulders or the football will hit the ground and he'll start to Ealey his blocks.
The offense, I suspect, will show us some different things, some better things, some surprising things, all of which will mask that it'll probably be a little conservative early on.
What does 7-5 or 8-4 mean for Richt?
Yes, Richt the coach benefits from Richt the man, and here is where it happens: the quality of football can trump the record in terms of giving him more time. Did they play on their toes or on their heels? Were they in it at the end or just made the game close? Were they fundamentally sound (especially on defense, which has been brutal in recent years and was the reason for those first three losses a year ago with wretched coverage and tackling)?
If they have that sharpness and some swagger and remind you of 2002-05 and 2007, then you just can't cut him loose, because four years are more important than one, and if they do all that, then they've likely put 2010 in the "exception" file.
And let's not forget the recruiting. While recruiting "rankings" are a tremendous sucker bet (uh, yeah, the best programs are going to get the best potential), people buy into the hype, and Richt's newbies this year and already in coming years are, on paper, of great possibility. At least they've been top-flight high school players (like those signed by the top 40 programs anyway).
So a decent-looking 7-5 and 8-4 and an all-SEC quarterback back, loads of freshmen who will likely have an impact and others of note ready to join The Nation in a year or two, and you dump your entire coaching staff despite good-looking football?
Because you have a blood oath that who is going to take the job? Remember, coaches don't make lateral moves, and no job is nearly the gig its fan base thinks. And there are more and more "big" jobs in big conferences paying big money.
Richt knows what's on the line. That he doesn't jump around and yell or scowl doesn't mean he doesn't know. No coach is going to say, "holy crap, if my butt gets any hotter, I'm gonna name it 'The Microwave.' What the hell have I been doing?'
He likely/hopefully knows he and his staff have made some serious recruiting blunders as far as character goes and having more than enough offensive linemen.
Memo to coaches: you can never have enough offensive linemen.
Richt is showing a little bit more of the edge that his players see, from the shocking "hell" he dropped in Macon at a summer Bulldog Club gathering to seeming more aggressive and blunt in his assorted media appearances.
He almost has a little bit of a "I ain't dead yet, you (expletives deleted), and I'm going to show you." Granted, he won't answer why it took 6-7 to do it, but coaching brings out smothering stubbornness and quiet arrogance.
We all know about Richt the man and his humility. If Georgia does what he expects, he may not actually say "I told you so," but people will feel as if they've been told.


Clearing out the SEC Media Days notebook, part I:

NO. 34 IS SAFE

All sorts of games get played during the recruiting process, which now includes unofficial offers to sophomores and commitments long before a player is close to high school graduation.
One is the promise of a jersey number.
The early commitment of high school sophomore Stanley Williams of Apalachee to Georgia reminded head coach Mark Richt of another precocious youngster, Ernie Sims.
Richt, then at Florida State, remembered seeing Sims in junior high and being floored by his potential.
He was too young to be a prospect, but eventually, he narrowed his choices to Auburn, Georgia and FSU.
And he wanted to wear No. 34.
“Florida State had Ron Sellers, retired jersey,” Richt said. “ ‘We’ll give you 34.’ Auburn, somehow, through the grapevine, they said Auburn said, ‘you can wear that 34 (of Bo Jackson).’ “
There was no such option coming from Athens.
“I’m at Georgia, I just got there,” Richt said, starting to laugh. “The last thing I’m gonna do is give Herschel Walker’s number away. I don’t care who he is.”
Richt told Sims no deal, although Walker did contact Richt later and say it was OK to use his uniform.
“I said, ‘Herschel, there’s no way I’m giving up your number to anybody,’” Richt said. “We didn’t get (Sims), but I don’t think that was the reason.”

MURRAY READY TO GO

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is more likely to make more plays from the pocket than taking off. Richt doesn’t want to change too much simply because Murray has experience.
“He navigated it so well and now you’re sitting there saying, 'OK, well, now turn him loose,’ ” Richt said Thursday before the SEC Media Days session began. “Well, you better be careful because a year ago, that wasn’t your philosophy, and he did very well.”
Decision-making has improved, too.
“I think Murray will make more plays from the pocket than maybe he made a year ago,” Richt said. “He’ll be more apt to stand in there and throw it rather than take off and try to make something happen with his wheels.”
One issue is adjusting to new receivers: there’s no A.J. Green and Kris Durham running routes. Obviously, the other wideouts have to step up.
Murray is taking in stride the pressure of being only a sophomore and earning consensus preseason all-conference honors, and center Ben Jones fully expects his quarterback to at a minimum equal the hype.
“I’m glad he’s on my team,” Jones said. “He’s always in the weight room, working out, watching film. He’s definitely the best prepared out of any quarterback in the SEC.”

ONE GRIZZLED VETERAN

Tauren Poole is among the SEC’s growing stable of top-flight running backs this season, but forgive the senior from Tennessee if he checks for gray hair.
He was recruited and signed by Phillip Fulmer, playing in 12 games as a freshman in Fulmer’s final season.
On came Lane Kiffin, and Poole got only slightly more time as a sophomore as heralded freshman Bryce Brown was being groomed as the back of the future.
Out went Kiffin, and out went Brown. In came Dooley, and suddenly, there was room in the backfield.
Poole, a senior from Stephens County, took advantage the departures to start 13 games and earn all-SEC honorable mention after two seasons of hardly playing.
“I wish we had 100 Tauren Pooles, his commitment to the program, how he represents Tennessee,” Dooley said. “He was inconsistent last year. He was productive as a whole. Number one, it was his first year of playing. He wants to do well so bad, he wants to perform so well, it took him a while to get settled into the position.”
Settled is not something Poole is used to in Knoxville, playing for three head coaches, and four offensive coordinators and strength and conditioning coordinators.
“That just doesn’t happen,” he said good-naturedly. “It was rough, the first couple years were rough. It’s a roller coaster ride. You’ve just got to do your best to enjoy it.”
He smiled at being labeled the last man standing.
“(None) of the guys here now even know Coach Fulmer personally, like I do and like a couple guys,” Poole said. “May be only two guys on team got recruited by Coach.”

IT'S PRETTY SIMPLE


Richt owns the current conference standard, starting his 11th season at the same school.
He is 13th all-time in the SEC in winning percentage (73.8) and 19th in wins (96).
Florida and Vanderbilt are on their fourth head coaches since Richt took over in 2001, with six other schools on their third.
South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier and LSU’s Les Miles are second in continued longevity at the same school, entering their seventh seasons.
Since 1980, only Auburn’s Pat Dye and Tommy Tuberville, Mississippi’s Billy Brewer, Mississippi State’s Jackie Sherrill, Arkansas’s Houston Nutt and Tennessee’s Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer have managed a decade or more in the SEC.
“It's not difficult if you win,” Richt said with a laugh. “It's not difficult if you win 9, 10, 11 a year, win the Eastern Division every other year, win the SEC every three or four years. It's not a problem at all.
“It's when you get 6-7, that's when it's a problem.”
(And yes, he's long been aware there's a problem).

NOTES 'N QUOTES

The preseason all-conference picks of the coaches and media all agreed on Georgia selections.
Both put tight end Orson Charles, offensive tackle Cordy Glenn and quarterback Aaron Murray on the first team along with kicker Blair Walsh, punter Drew Butler and return specialist Brandon Boykin.
They agreed on center Ben Jones, defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson and cornerback Boykin on the second team.
The first-team offenses matched, except for the coaches voting a tie on the offensive line with Kentucky’s Larry Warford and Auburn’s Brandon Mosley. Mosley made the media’s second team.
The second-team offensive lines had only one common pick, Alabama’s D.J. Fluker, and Arkansas’ Joe Adams was the lone wideout to make it on each second team.
Tyson and Boykin were the only players at their positions to make both second teams, although Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox made the media team alone but tied with South Carolina’s Travian Robertson on the coaches’ team. . . .
Tennessee’s Derek Dooley’s list of things to deal with has grown since he showed up as the Vols’ athletics programs stays in the news for things other than games.
The latest was the promotion of Joan Cronan to oversee the athletics department, which had separate administrations for the men and the women, on an interim basis.
So Tennessee is one of the few major programs with a female at the helm, which could be for awhile even if only temporary.
“Joan has been phenomenal,” Dooley said. “When Joan took over at interim athletics director, I thought it was very important to try to define for her three or four things where she could help us before we hired a new athletics director. She has responded beautifully. She has done a phenomenal job of kind of running the ship in the interim phase.”

1 comment:

Buster said...

For some reason this article makes me think of the Allman Brothers and 'Ramblin Man'! :-)