I've been interested to read the diverse comments on the running back situation from my post earlier today. Other than Dontavius Jackson, I've heard endorsements for every other running back -- including Kalvin Daniels.
That alone should come as a relief to Georgia fans, even the ones who are worried about one player or another. The fact is, there's enough talent in the backfield right now that it's a reasonably safe bet that one or two of them really develop.
And that's the key word, in my mind -- Develop.
One of my biggest pet peeves that you'll hear all the time from sports writers and commentators is the notion of "Who will be the next..." and they finish with things like George Mason or Michael Jordan or Knowshon Moreno.
The fact is, the reason George Mason's run to the Final Four was so amazing is because it so rarely happens. Michael Jordan is still selling $200 sneakers because there had never been anyone else quite like him. Knowshon Moreno earned the title "the best Georgia back since Herschel Walker" not because the Bulldogs employed a stable of second-tier players for the past three decades, but because he was one of a kind.
And yet, it seems like most fans are holding Moreno's replacement to that standard. They want to see a guy step out on the field and not only be able to run like Knowshon did, but also handle all the finer details of the job.
Hey, it could happen, but think back to the years before Moreno came to Athens. How many backs looked that good that early?
No, neither Caleb King nor Richard Samuel blew away the competition last season. But check out their stats again: King averaged 4 yards per carry. Samuel averaged 5.1. Each showed big-play potential at times. Those numbers might have seemed at least a bit impressive if they weren't stacked up against Moreno's 5.6 YPC.
The truth is, none of Georgia's backs have gotten an opportunity to get in a rhythm in a game situation. They haven't had a chance to immediately take what they learned in the film room and execute it on the field on Saturday. They haven't been able to make a mistake, shake it off, and get right back out to work.
In short, they haven't had the chance to develop.
I think there's a good chance that at least two or three of them really do develop into something special. The problem is, thanks to Knowshon, it's easy to forget how long that usually takes.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I've been interested to read the diverse comments on the running back situation from my post earlier today. Other than Dontavius Jackson, I've heard endorsements for every other running back -- including Kalvin Daniels.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I have a buddy named Ken, whom I've known for a long time now. I think most groups of friends have a guy like Ken. He's the guy who makes things happen.
I met Ken in high school when he was on a movie date with a girl I was friends with. Across the street from the movie theater was a McDonalds. It was December, and the McDonalds was advertising a visit from Santa on one of those signs with the plastic letter cards you can change out whenever you want to advertise something new. Ken ran over to the sign in broad daylight and changed the notice from "Santa is Coming!" to "Satan is Coming!" It was the type of high-school delinquency that I found hilarious at the time.
Anyway, from that point on, Ken's primary goal when hanging out with us has been to make sure we're all having fun. He's the guy who makes things happen. If you don't want to wait in line at a crowded bar, he greases the bouncer with a bill larger than any of us have in our wallets. If you need a wing man to go talk to a girl, he'll be buying drinks for her less attractive friend before you've even thought of a good opening line. If you complain there's nothing to do, there's a good chance someone will need bail money by the end of the night. He's a good guy to have around.
I tell you all of this because Ken came to mind as I was reading through the responses to my post on Monday about Georgia's reliance on its stars last season. There have been a good number of people here and over at the Senator's blog both in favor and pretty stridently against the impact of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno last year. Some think the pair was the best thing the team had going. Some people think they didn't get the job done. Ken reminds me that, perhaps, both theories are correct.
A bunch of us took a limo to go out in Philly for my birthday a few years back. Birthdays out on the town were a problem for me because people tended to buy me a lot of drinks and I have trouble turning down anything that's free. Needless to say, I was not at 100 percent.
When the limo dropped us off at my apartment late that night, we ran into a problem. In my diminished capacity, I had misplaced my keys. My roommate, who could have let us in, was nowhere to be found. He had either been distracted by a girl or stopped at Pat's for a cheesesteak. In any case, we were locked out.
So there we were, in the middle of January in chilly Delaware, a half-dozen guys, standing outside my apartment with no way in. As was usually the case, we put Ken in charge, and he remedied the problem. He broke down the door.
Twenty minutes later, we were sitting in my living room watching TV and enjoying some Hot Pockets when my roommate finally returned. He turned the handle on the front door and pushed in, and the door promptly fell onto the hardwood floor. He was less than thrilled.
Rather than yell at Ken though, my roommate was furious with me. At the time, I didn't get it. Ken broke down the door, after all. I had nothing to do with it. But it has since become clear to me what my roommate understood at the time: If we were always going to rely on Ken to make things happen, sometimes we had to shoulder the responsibility for the consequences of his actions.
Seems to me that's pretty much the same situation Georgia had last year. It wasn't about Stafford or Moreno failing to come through. It was about expecting a bit too much of both of them. It was about the other players on the team -- many of whom had the best of intentions -- simply assuming that, when the chips were down, they knew who they could count on. Most of the time, they were right. Sometimes though, their doors got kicked in.
I'm not sure this year will be different in terms of wins and losses, and I'm not inclined to think losing two players as talented as Stafford and Moreno helps a team, but I do think there's an advantage to having 11 guys on offense and 11 guys on defense who each realize that success depends as much on them as anyone else on the team.
Anyway, a few other thoughts on some of the comments I've read following that post...
-- Yes, the defense was suspect last season, but the offense simply did not show up throughout most of the Alabama game and all of the Florida game. Scoring was a problem against South Carolina, too, and the defense bailed Georgia out. So yes, the D needs some big improvements this season, but they weren't the ONLY problem.
-- Turd Ferguson and Richt Flair are both great commenter names.
-- I can't help but wonder what the opinion of Willie Martinez would be if he had followed someone who had a personality closer to his own rather than the fiery, ill-tempered Brian Van Gorder.
-- The "we're coming together as a team" talk is starting to get a little old, but it's the offseason, and that's about all we've got. Just be happy that you've gotten a lot of "teamwork" stories rather than stories about arrests and suspensions.
-- I'm glad a few people pointed out Mark Richt's minor jabs at the media's coverage. His quote in my post is no less than the third time I've heard or read something similar. Honestly, yes, if he's talking about ESPN, they did focus on Moreno and Stafford. But around here? I really don't think that was the case. In fact, I'd say I talked to Moreno and Stafford less than almost any other starters on the team because, quite frankly, they were two of the worst quotes. Then again, I doubt too many of the coaches or players are reading the Macon Telegraph.
-- I'd be willing to wager there isn't a player in recent history Georgia fans are more split on that Stafford. It's amazing... I never hear anyone say, "Yeah, he was a pretty solid QB, but just didn't put it all together for that Heisman-type season while he was here." People either love him or hate him. In truth, I think that comes from the fact that Stafford was pretty inconsistent throughout much of his career and fans tend to cherry pick the moments from his career that best prove their point.--The coda to the story of Ken breaking down my door came the next day. After a greasy Sunday morning breakfast, we went to Home Depot buy a new door. I figured this was going to be a hassle because... well, who breaks down a door? As it turned out, apparently quite a few people. The door aisle was mobbed, and not with a bunch of 40-somethings finishing a honey-do list. There was at least a half-dozen college-aged guys there buying new doors. None of us said a word to each other, but there was a subtle, unspoken understanding of what had transpired.
Oh, and one final note: Ken is a South Carolina graduate, so really, we should have known better all along.
Monday, June 22, 2009
The focus of Georgia's offseason has largely been the loss of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno. Mark Richt, however, thinks the bigger obstacle was all the focus on Georgia's two superstars last season.
So as the Bulldogs move into the third week of voluntary summer workouts, Richt said there's a distinctly different mentality among the players without Stafford and Moreno aboard.
"They've really decided that they have to come together as a team and work their tail off and get after it," Richt said. "You can't sit there and rely on a Stafford or a Moreno to carry the team."
The departure of Stafford and Moreno -- both of whom were selected in the first round of the NFL draft -- along with receiver Mohamed Massaquoi means there aren't a lot of known quantities on offense for Georgia in 2009, but a healthy offensive line could make that a moot point.
While Richt says there was clearly too much focus on the team's offensive stars last season, in some cases there weren't many other options. With an offensive line littered with fill-ins learning on the fly, the offense was often forced to go with what worked. There weren't many chances to improvise.
When the protection broke down, Stafford relied on the receivers he trusted most. With the second-string tailbacks struggling in pass protection, Richt was forced to keep Moreno in the game nearly all the time down the stretch.
With a healthy and deep corps of linemen, this year, things should be different.
"I really believe that if the offensive line matures the way we expect it to, we won't need as many heroics," Richt said.
But the pressure won't just be on the offensive line this season, and the new focus must extend beyond the offense. This year, Richt said, things will be different everywhere from the players on the field to the fans in the stands to the stories in the newspaper.
"Last year was one of the toughest years because the Bulldogs fans and the media were focused on those two guys," Richt said. "But this year everybody understands that that's what it's going to take to be successful. The star of the team is the team."
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Knowshon Moreno quotes, courtesy of UGA Athletics...
On reaction of call from Head Coach Josh McDaniels
"Just very excited. Very excited to be a part of everything. And I was just really happy about it."
On being surprised to go to Denver
"You know, a lot of teams needed (running) backs, but I didn't know what was going to happen. But once I got that call, got that idea and (Head Coach Josh McDaniels) told me about it, about that they (the Broncos) were going to take me, I was so excited about the situation and to be a part of the team now."
On meetings and workouts with Broncos prior to the 2009 NFL Draft
"It went really well. Went to Denver and met the coach and the coaching staff and met a lot of the players, I was excited about that. And I can't wait to get there for good and workout."
On where he fits in the tailback mix with the Broncos
"Well, I'm going to try to fit in wherever I do; no matter where it is on the field. I'm going to work hard, prepare myself for the league, for passing and some things like that. I'll fit in where I can and learn from the guys that are there and compete and work hard. And get my team and myself better off."
On scene today at draft, family reaction
"We were just here at the hotel, relaxing, and have close friends and family here. We were just relaxing, watching (the draft) and they were really excited."
On what he will bring to Denver
"Really, I'm a high-motor guy. Tough, hard-nosed, a hard runner, can make you miss at times. And just competitive. I love to play the game and I bring that energy to my team. So, we'll see how that goes."
On knowledge of Head Coach Josh McDaniels' offense
"We went over a few formations. But besides that, I don't really know too much about it. So I'm really anxious to get into the system and learn the playbook, that's a tough thing with rookies coming in. So I want to get in, learn the playbook, learn the system and just go from there."
On running into Bailey brothers (CB Champ and LB Boss) at University of Georgia
"No. Actually I never got the chance to. But I know they're great players, great people. You see their pictures all over the place. But besides that I never got the chance to really meet them, but I'm excited to do that."
On chance of ending up in Denver
"A slight chance. You know, knowing that the draft is like a lottery and you never know what's going to happen; you saw a little bit of that today. But I didn't really know what was going to happen, but I'm really excited about it and I'm happy it did."
On excited to be joining team during the rebuilding process
"Yeah. It's a great coaching staff. Great to be working with Bobby Turner, the running backs coach. He has coached a few Georgia running backs over the years, and I want to be a part of that list and see what happens. And work hard and be the best I can be."
On being aware of Broncos running backs selected in previous drafts
"Definitely, definitely. You know, Terrell Davis was a (University of) Georgia guy, late rounder, but he really blossomed. And I think a lot of that comes from how he was coached. Especially with Bobby Turner and the staff that was there. So I'm really excited to work with him and I can't wait."
On whether arriving to training camp is a priority
"Definitely, definitely; that's one of my main goals. I want to get there on time, I want to be with my team and I want to work. That's one of my main things is to get (to training camp) on time and get things settled."
On personal characteristics
"I guess I'm a funny guy, I'm laid back, and I'm really excited about everything. I like bowling. I like to bowl a lot. Video games, I guess a lot of the guys play video games these days. I guess that's pretty much it. But I'm really going to be excited to meet my teammates, and I think they're going to like me also."
On reaction to QB Matthew Stafford being picked No. 1 overall
"I was really excited for him. He looks happy, his family looks happy, and that's the main thing, that his family's happy and everything's going well. I didn't hit him up yet, I didn't call him or text him because I know he's getting plenty. But I'll do that later."
The Philadelphia newspapers spent the past few days speculating about his imminent arrival. The bevy of New York Jets fans in attendance at Radio City Music Hall had their fingers crossed Knowshon Moreno might end up with their team. For their part, Moreno's family hoped he would land close to his New Jersey home, too.
As it turned out, they were all wrong, but it was a pleasant surprise.
Moreno was expected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick in Saturday's NFL draft. Instead, he was taken 12th overall by the Denver Broncos.
"You know, a lot of teams needed (running) backs, but I didn't know what was going to happen," Moreno said. "But once I got that call, got that idea and (head coach Josh McDaniels) told me about it, about that they were going to take me, I was so excited about the situation and to be a part of the team now."
Moreno follows in the footsteps of former Georgia running backs Olandis Gary, who had a 1,000-yard rushing season with the Broncos, and Terrell Davis, who won a Super Bowl MVP for Denver.
Denver's current running back situation is in flux after numerous injuries decimated the position a year ago.
Moreno said he think he can help in a multitude of areas, including in the passing game. More than anything, however, he said he'll bring energy to the Broncos' backfield.
"Really, I'm a high-motor guy," Moreno said. "Tough, hard-nosed, a hard runner, can make you miss at times. And just competitive. I love to play the game and I bring that energy to my team. So, we'll see how that goes."
STAFFORD THE STARTER?
Matthew Stafford hopes he can swing his status as the first player taken in the NFL draft into a starting job with the Detroit Lions next year, but his new general manager is taking more of a wait-and-see attitude.
"It's hard to say until he gets here and starts playing," Detroit general manager Martin Mayhew said. "It takes a while to learn how to play this game, so we'll see."
While no job will be guaranteed to Stafford, his new coach has been impressed by Stafford's leadership ability and thinks it will be a quick transition to life in the NFL.
"His style of leadership has come from a lot of different people," Jim Schwartz said. "He has a calming influence in the huddle. A guy that brings that kind of confidence, the players believe in him."
UGA IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Georgia head coach Mark Richt said Saturday's first round of the NFL draft was clearly a big day for his program, showing off the Bulldogs' talent on one of the sport's biggest stages. But more than a ringing endorsement for Georgia, Richt said the selections of Stafford and Moreno in the first round was a credit to how good both players were with the Bulldogs.
Still, Richt said the program did help in one way: It gave both players a chance to shine.
Georgia's offense resembles a typical NFL style closer than most college teams, allowing the Lions to get a good view of how Stafford would handle a similar game plan at the next level. Similarly, Moreno was able to improve his blocking and become a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield, illustrating his versatility to NFL teams.
"We hope that we've been very beneficial for them in their quest for their dream," Richt said. "For us, it's very exciting, and we're just really proud of them."
MORE TO COME
A number of former Georgia players are expected to hear their names called in the second day of the draft today.
Wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi led the Bulldogs in receptions last season, his fourth as a starter, and was the third Georgia player selected Saturday, going 50th overall to the Cleveland Browns.
Cornerback Asher Allen, who impressed scouts with his Pro Day workout in Athens, figures to land somewhere in the third or fourth round after leaving school a year early.
Fullback Brannan Southerland and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe both expect to chosen in the middle rounds of Sunday's draft as well.
Defensive tackle Corvey Irvin, safety CJ Byrd and defensive end Jarius Wynn could all be late-round selections.
TWO OF A KIND
Moreno was the first running back taken in the first round of Saturday's draft, but his good friend Donald Brown heard his name called as well.
Brown, who played Pee-Wee ball with Moreno in New Jersey, was taken with the 27th overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts.
The two kept in touch throughout the draft process, helping each other to keep level heads.
"We were on a visit together (with the Jets)," Moreno said. "We went to the hotel room and just kind of chilled out. We didn't talk about the whole process but, we kind of looked at each other like, this is kind of crazy, you know? But it's a great experience. Not many people get to do it, and it only comes once, so you've got to enjoy it while it's here."
Friday, April 24, 2009
After meeting with fans at the Modell's Sporting Goods where he used to work Thursday, Knowshon Moreno spent some time chatting with media. Here's what he had to say...
(And no, I wasn't the one asking all the Eagles questions.)
(Also, if you're interested, the Philadelphia Daily News has some Knowshon info coming from NFL scouts.)
Q: What are you going to be doing for the draft on Saturday?
KM: I'm watching with my grandmom and my family back at the house and after that we're going to Steve Antinucci's place to just see everyone there.
Q: Are you nervous?
KM: I'm excited and kind of nervous in a way, because you never know what's going to happen. But whatever happens, it'll definitely be great, and I'll be very appreciative.
Q: Are you glad the process has finally come to an end?
KM: Definitely. There's been a lot going into this entire process, from the combine, Pro Days, visits, things like that. So to be here already is really good, and we'll see what happens.
(Note: During the fan Q&A portion -- the video of this was posted earlier today -- Knowshon talked about a pregame ritual in high school in which he wore his grandmother's slippers before every game.)
Q: So will you where your grandmother's slippers in the NFL?
KM: I think the guys at that level would probably make fun of me.
Q: Do you pay attention to what has been said or written about you over the past few months?
KM: No, because no one knows besides the teams making the decisions. The guys at ESPN have their own opinion, but who knows? Anything can happen in the draft. It's like the lottery.
Q: You mentioned the Jets and Giants as possible destinations earlier, but you neglected to include Philly. Is that a place you'd like to play?
KM: I did forget Philly. Well, they asked about the Giants and Jets, and those spots would be great. But Philly, that'd be nice, too.
Q: Have you had a lot of interaction with the Eagles?
KM: Not more than the visit I went on, and that was a great visit.
Q: What are those visits like?
KM: It's basically a meet-and-greet kind of thing. You go to wherever they fly you out to, meet the coaches, meet some of the players who are there working out. Basically they just want to get a feel for you again.
Q: Did you get to meet any players when you visited with the Eagles?
KM: Reggie Brown was there. I got to see him for a while. There's a couple Georgia players on the Eagles, and it'd be nice to play with them.
Q: You played Pee-Wee football with UConn running back Donald Brown, who could also go in the first round of the draft. Have you talked to him much during this whole process?
KM: A little bit. We were on a visit together (with the Jets). We went to the hotel room and just kind of chilled out. We didn't talk about the whole process but, we kind of looked at each other like, this is kind of crazy, you know? But it's a great experience. Not many people get to do it, and it only comes once, so you've got to enjoy it while it's here.
Q: You played quarterback on the Pee-Wee team with Brown, right?
KM: The first year I was, and then, I'm not sure if I was for two years or then went to running back. But he told me a story about how, I think it was my first touchdown, I was playing quarterback and broke out. I started running down the sideline, and my pants started falling down because I had no belt. So I was running, holding my pants up, and I scored. He told me about that, but I don't remember it.
Q: What's it like looking around and seeing your jersey hanging up everywhere?
KM: It really is kind of weird. I didn't think it would ever happen. When I first got to Georgia, I saw Thomas Brown and Kregg Lumpkin's numbers hanging up, and I thought, man, that'd be sweet if I had mine. And now it's happened, and it's awesome.
Q: Particularly that it's hanging up in the place where you used to work, that has to be strange, right?
KM: Yeah, that definitely is. I remember working here, we did some funny things. Me and Mark Longo, who was a wide receiver, we both worked here together for about a year. I worked right here in sporting goods just stocking the shelves and helping people.
Q: Is it true that you didn't know who Herschel Walker was?
KM: No, that's not true. Oh, wait, well, yeah that is true. I had seen him in a video game once. I was like, 'Who is this guy?' They said, 'Herschel Walker.' I said, 'OK, cool.' But once I got to meet him, it was real sweet. We didn't talk about football or anything. We just talked about life and hung out. That was a great experience.
* If you missed it yesterday, you can check out my Twitter updates from Knowshon's appearance HERE. Be sure to sign up to get updates live from the NFL draft in New York, too.
Knowshon Moreno takes questions from his high school coach, Steve Antonucci, at a Modell's Sporting Goods in New Jersey -- where he used to work as a teenager. He later took questions from fans, signed a Modell's uniform shirt and slummed by chatting with us media folks.
If you missed it yesterday, you can check out my Twitter updates from Knowshon's appearance HERE. Be sure to sign up to get updates live from the NFL draft in New York, too.
Friday, March 20, 2009
|Player||Ht||Wt||Vert||Broad||225||10||20||40||20 shut|| 60 shut|| L drill|
* These measurements are all courtesy of Keith Gray of the UGA S&C staff. Each scout will use their own stuff so not sure what's "official" but these are definitely as close as you'll get.
* Don't ask me what the heck "20," "60," and "L Drill" are. Perhaps if someone knows they can leave it in the comments.
* IND denotes player used combine score rather than Pro Day
* Only better results included for weights and run times
* Brown injured hamstring DNP in second 40 time and shuttle runs
* Chandler DNP in bench press due to a shoulder injury
* Ellerbe DNP in bench due to a right pectoral injury
* Moreno's first 40 was a 4.60