ATHENS - There's no use starting out with a lie, so let's not.
In this day and age, with USA Today chart-icles, shorter blog posts, and fitting wit and wisdom in 140 characters, everyone out there prefers quick-hitting journalism. Well ... sorry.
This mailbag is long. Questions were received, answers were written, and the result is, by my count, about 3,750 words. Yikes.
The worst thing I could do is exacerbate the situation with a long, drawn-out introduction. I mean, can you imagine what an extreme waste of time, bandwidth and precious space that would be?
It would just be silly. You don't want to hear my ramblings. Well, let me back up: You don't want to read my ramblings. Sorry, a figure of speech that tripped me up.
I remember the first time I was tripped up by a figure of speech. I was in the second grade, and my teacher, Mrs. Lund, she was Canadian, and anyway -
Editors note: Seth is getting increasingly loopy as the preseason wears on. We have stepped in, ordered him to take a nap, and allowed the mailbag to continue. Our apologies for his loopiness, and thanks for reading.
Why is there so much attention being given to Malcolm Mitchell moving from receiver to defensive back this year? I know the stats from last year – and he was good as a freshmen -- but when looking at the depth chart for next year he is going to be needed as a defensive back. The current starting defensive backfield is all seniors and will be lost to graduation. The group for next year will only have seven scholarship players (Devin Bowman, Sheldon Dawson, Marc Deas, Corey Moore, Connor Norman, Blake Sailors, Damian Swann) plus Malcolm and will lack experience. The receiving core for next year, (Bennett, Conley, Scott-Wesley, Tibbs, Wooten, Flournoy-Smith, Lynch, and Rome), will be the more experienced group. Bennett, Conley, Wooten, Lynch and Rome will be more experienced than the returning defensive backs. Should Mitchell not be left at defensive back to resolve this issue?
- CK Williams
You make an excellent point, and one that many (including me) gloss over, because we’re focused on this year. I have maintained that I think Georgia needs Mitchell’s star power on offense more this year than on defense, where arguably he is more valuable as depth.
But the counter-argument to your point is that Georgia is recruiting plenty of defensive backs for the 2013 class, including several they think could play right away at cornerback. Steven Nelson, the junior college player, along with Shaq Wiggins and Reggie Wilkerson. And no matter what, Mike Bobo and the offensive staff badly want Mitchell at receiver. They’ve made little effort to hide that. But Todd Grantham thinks Mitchell can be an all-SEC caliber cornerback.
Honestly, my sense is that there is no long-term plan with Mitchell. The team will see how he looks at cornerback in game action, see what they have at receiver, and go from there. And if there’s a way to use him effectively both ways, they’ll do it.
I don't ever remember Richt calling out a player like he just did Jay Rome. What's up with that?
- Larry W. Tucker
Indeed, which is why I played it up the way I did. It’s both a good and a bad sign for Rome: Bad because Richt felt the need to call out his work ethic, but good in the sense that Richt was giving him a push. That means Rome is still very much in their plans, as long as he holds up his end of it.
If you read Richt’s full comments, mentioning what the fans have seen from Rome in terms of pass-catching in the G-Day game, you can infer that he’s trying to tamper expectations. As I’ve been saying for about nine months now, Arthur Lynch is the starter. I think what’s going to happen is that Rome is going to make one or two spectacular catches a game, and fans are going to wonder why he’s not a bigger part of the offense. But on a play-by-play basis, Lynch will be more effective because of his run-blocking and knowledge of the offense.
Do you expect Tavarres King to go over/under last year's numbers (705 yards with 8 TDs), especially with Malcolm playing both ways? Or will the emergence of other players (Conley/Brown/Wooten) eat into his numbers?
- Josh U.
Lemme guess: What are the chances you play in a college football fantasy league? (I'm preparing for my NFL fantasy draft, so from one to another, good luck.)
On the side of King exceeding his numbers, there is the Mitchell factor, and King will be in the featured role. On the side of NOT exceeding his 2011 season, is the fact that King was the No. 1 receiver last year, so Mitchell’s catches (at least until he moves back to offense, if he does) are more likely to go to Wooten, Conley, Bennett, etc. Finally, remember that King got a lot of those numbers in the Outback Bowl (205 receiving yards). He had some games early in the season that he practically disappeared, but his numbers were more consistent in the latter half of the year, capped by the bowl explosion.
I would bet on King exceeding his numbers, but not by a wide amount.
Can you get some feedback from one (or more) of the team leaders regarding away-game protocol (and this question may be more appropriate for the mailbag prior to the trip to Missouri). Used to love how the team would emerge form the visitors' tunnel arm-in-am headed to do battle, now it seems we run out in any haphazard manner. I feel that these DAWGS have a chance to do something special and would love to see the focus in the hostile environments.
- Chad Bennett
Yeah, I gotta admit this is an observation that has escaped my notice the past couple years. I can ask before the Missouri game whether anything different is planned, or whether anybody is even aware of a difference.
It seems all the hype for QB Murray is positive. He scares me though with his tendency to give up the ball. Do you see any progress with him in that department? Relaxing when a play is “almost” over, even in practice, builds negative habits.
- Tom, Lebanon, TN
You think all the hype for Murray is positive? Hey, read these mailbags, or some of the other outlets. For a guy who’s been as successful as he’s been, people still find plenty to criticize in Murray’s play.
I delved into his 2-7 record against ranked opponents over the weekend, and in analyzing the stats what stood out the most was the sack totals in each game. That’s not his fault, unless it’s a sack that could have been avoided by getting rid of the ball earlier. And that’s where the fumbles – your point – come into play. Bobo and Murray said they’ve talked about that and made it an emphasis. I should point out that in my years of covering college football, that point of emphasis is very, very common with young quarterbacks. And sometimes, a senior.
But Murray said his biggest emphasis this offseason was on his footwork. That mostly affects his accuracy.
“I want to get near 70 (percent accuracy), that’s the goal I’ve given myself for this year. And I want to be more accurate, that’s my goal this whole offseason,” Murray said last week.
Seth, I've been wondering: Back in the Stafford days Bobo coached him up to call audibles at the line of scrimmage. Now it seems like anytime Murray doesn't like the defense the whole team shrugs and leers toward the sideline for signals.
Is there some advantage to this (doesn't seem like there would be to me), and if so, are we sticking with this again this year? I always assumed it was because Murray was a young QB but he seems like a big boy to me who can call his own audibles on the fly.
- Kyle Dix
Well, Murray is entering his third year as a starter now, so we shall see. Richt has said that Murray will have the freedom to change plays on his own this year.
"Murray's to the point in his career where he can change just about any play or protection if he wants to," Richt said in June.
There was some audibling last year. But I did remember a bunch more looking to the sideline while Bobo called a new play, which kind of defeats the purpose of the no-huddle, except that it prevents the defense from substituting.
When do you think that the SEC will come out with a new football schedule, with the rotation set-up between the Eastern Division schools and the West? Do you think that they will go to nine conference games? Thank you,
- Keith Summers
I plan to check on that soon. Greg McGarity told me recently he still didn’t have any word on that. It’s pretty much done, from what I understand, and Georgia knows who their eighth opponent for 2013 will be, but they’re respecting the SEC’s wishes to have everything come out at once.
The nine-game schedule is still on the table for the future, but not in the next few years. The SEC agreed in Destin to go to a 6-1-1 format for the next 12 years. So they’re committed to that – in the same way a football recruit is committed. They could always change their mind if they don’t like the way it’s working. But for now, the SEC is concerned about its current non-conference game contracts, and is also waiting to see what the formula for the new playoff looks like. If strength of schedule is a huge component, that could hasten the nine-game schedule.
How does scholarships for the walk-ons affect the number that can be offered for this coming year?
- Bruce in Portland
It doesn’t. The numbers issue is related only to the SEC’s signing limit. Of course, perhaps that’s the next elaborate loop-hole: Recruiting your extra guys as walk-ons, such as somebody whose family can afford it, then give them a scholarship later if there’s room.
Blair Walsh can't hit water falling out of a boat his senior year. He gets DRAFTED and given an NFL job before he was in camp. The Viking coach looked and video fixed him. He is 7/8 (missed a 49 yarder). When is UGA gonna realize that Special Teams is enormously important and hire a coach?
It’s a fair point. But as I’ve said before, Georgia cannot just go add a special teams coach to its staff. There is an NCAA limit of nine assistants. That’s why pure special teams coaches are rare in college football. Missouri and Georgia are the only two SEC programs that disperse the special teams duties among more than one assistant coach; almost every other team has its tight ends coach or another assistant also serve as the special teams coordinator. And for what it’s worth, Georgia tight ends coach John Lilly is the man who oversees the place-kickers.
Question about the Wright Thompson profile on Urban Meyer: there is a long standing tradition of SEC beat writers making veiled/snide comments about the homerism of the FL writers (wearing gator shirts, capitulating to sitting in section 37F, etc.). In his profile Thompson mentions Urban's daughter at her signing ceremony telling him publicly something to the point of "you weren't there. You missed it all." In this vein, now that he is gone, there have been several negative articles about Urban that before had seemed to be off limits. I was surprised to hear such a public anecdote for the first time from a national writer. Having covered multiple SEC beats, what are your thoughts on this? Does this get covered at the time elsewhere? If Richt's daughter did this, do you think it gets any play? Or is this just a typical bury them when they are gone type deal? I respect your profession, and am curious how the cultures/practices at different schools impact our impressions of the programs.
Thanks for your efforts. I enjoy reading.
That’s an interesting question, and one that gets touched on a lot in our own world. I’ll try to be as honest as I can.
First off, I don’t really agree that among the SEC beat writers – and I know many of them – the Florida ones have a homer reputation. In fact a few years ago one of them drew Meyer’s ire in a very public way. My sense is the Florida beat is similar to most, in that you have a few “homers” sprinkled in with some very good objective reporters.
But each SEC and college beat has its own feel, and that often depends on the fan base and the manner in which the school approaches the media. If a school has a confrontational and less than open relationship with the media, then some beat writers will react the right way – by pushing for info and finding ways to serve the reader – while others will react the wrong way – by caving and mostly catering to the wishes of the fan base and school.
In other words, by writing what the fan base and school want to hear, rather than what they need to hear.
Fortunately, Georgia isn’t really like that. I detect VERY little homerism. Among the daily beat corps, I wouldn’t point at anybody and call them a homer. (When I covered South Carolina, I couldn’t do that.) Georgia fans, for whatever reason, have more of a demand for bad news, and are willing to forgive their beat writers for the so-called negative stories. And Georgia as an administration has a well-earned reputation for being tolerant, as long as the stories are accurate.
On a side note, I’ve personally been put off by some of the anti-Meyer stories to come out of Florida the past year. That kind of thing, in my opinion, should be written while he’s still there. If there’s something untoward going on with the Richt administration right now, I need to be writing about it now, and not waiting until he leaves. (His handling of the constant off-field arrests would fall into that equation. I’m not a columnist, but I do think the columnists around here have done a good job of handling that issue. I haven’t agreed with everything they’ve written .. but they’ve written about it.)
That said, I don’t know the Florida beat very well, and it’s always possible that the anti-Meyer stuff didn’t really get uncovered until he left. In that case, it’s acceptable to delve into it. Right now, however, the anti-Meyer stuff strikes me as revisionist history.
Great job on the blog. We all appreciate your hard work. I know it may be hard to believe this close to football season that I could come up with a non-football related question, but here you go. I wanted to get your thoughts on the recent development with the Red and Black newspaper. With you being a journalist, I'm sure you have an opinion and insights that those of use not in your field haven't thought about. Spill your guts...
- C. Ashley Royal
A very interesting situation it was. And one other person sent in a question about it.
First I have to stipulate I don’t know all the details. I’m not a Georgia graduate or a Red and Black alum. But I did write for a daily student newspaper in college, and based on my conversations with UGA journalism graduates, it was a very similar set-up. And I have a soft spot in my heart for student newspapers in general, and believe they should be independent and student-run. Yes, the result is some mistakes. But it’s how you learn.
Luckily, it appears the recent standoff led to a happy ending. The students, based on what I saw, were right to walk if they felt that was their only recourse. The board of the Red and Black was right to work with them for a proper solution. The dean of the Grady school was right to come down on the student’s side.
When the situation was still in limbo, I had decided that if given the choice I was going to cite/credit/re-tweet the Red and Dead paper, rather than the Red and Black. I didn’t have any interest in citing a student paper that wasn’t actually run by, you know, students. And it appears we’re back to that being the case with the Red and Black.
I did think it was unfortunate that the adult advisor, Ron Morales, declined to comment when contacted by other media when the walk-out first happened. We in the media ask others to comment, and we should expect the same of ourselves. And the situation with the publisher and the video guy, well, that was pretty unfortunate too.
How do you think the tailback by committee approach will turn out as the season unfolds? Will Richard Samuel really stay at RB even though he seems to want to play more FB? Will Todd Gurley's solid scrimmage stats be rewarded with more playing time early on?
- Lucas Puente
Much like the Malcolm Mitchell situation, I’m not sure there’s a long-term plan here. And there doesn’t necessarily need to be: The top four guys are going to get their shot, and they will probably sort it out from there.
Samuel, I suspect, will be a goal-line tailback, and be used at fullback in situations where he can really help. Merritt Hall has really impressed everybody with his physical blocking skills. But when it comes to using the fullback as a runner and receiver, Samuel and Quayvon Hicks – or perhaps even the forgotten Zander Ogletree – are likely to get the look.
As for tailback, I’m clearly not alone in believing that Gurley and Keith Marshall have the most upside and breakaway ability. But Malcome has spent the better part of a year proving he can be dependable. Malcome, and to a certain extent Samuel, will have to prove they can also break a few long runs, or else Gurley and Marshall will have the majority of carries by the mid-point of the year.
ESPN is running with the UGA easy schedule meme, why aren't we hearing more on how easy USCw, FSU and Oregon have it?
- UGAprrthd2010 (via Twitter)
Those three teams all have one thing in common: They don’t play in the SEC. Georgia does, so by comparison to its conference mates, it has an easier schedule. But the Bulldogs do play two other preseason top 25 teams – South Carolina and Florida (which I can’t figure out why is ranked) – while Auburn and Georgia Tech just missed being in the AP poll. That Missouri game won’t be a cakewalk either.
Yeah, Georgia has a much easier schedule than South Carolina and any team in the SEC West. At least it does as we look at how good we think teams will be now. But it’s still an SEC schedule, so if Georgia wins the league, I’d be shocked if there isn’t a place in the BCS championship game for the Bulldogs.
Great interview this morning on The Morning Show. As you mentioned in that interview, little has been said about the Missouri game. My concern is, who will be making the trip and who will not. What do you know? Can you speculate on others such as Rambo? CMR is keeping quiet but what are your thought?
- Tony Taylor
Sorry, I wish I had a better answer, but I’d rather not speculate. All I can report is that Rambo and Alec Ogletree are not being granted for interviews, and people can be free to read into that what you will. I do know the reason UGA hasn’t announced anything is for competitive reasons; but they won’t say if that’s for Buffalo, Missouri or whoever.
I think you always spoke highly of Aron White in the past about him being a good interview. Any of the new freshman seem to be the same way? Jordan Jenkins strikes me as a candidate.
Easy, can't miss crock pot recipe: Few chicken pieces, mix in a can of cream of mushroom soup or 2, 1/2 cup of dry white wine, and some chopped up mushrooms and/or onions. Cook on low about 6-7 hours or on high about 4. Great over rice!
First off, thanks for the crock pot recipe. I can’t believe more of you didn’t contribute! Shame, shame. As McGarity told me after my nuptuals: “Happy wife, happy life.” And happy wife = equals happy beat writer = productive beat writer. So you’ve got a steak in this people!
OK, you had a question … White was a GREAT interview and is missed. Luckily Christian Robinson, who won last year’s poll of beat writers for being the best interview, is still around. You will notice him quoted a copious amount of times.
But you’re very accurate about Jenkins being a good interview. He’s the one who told me last spring that Josh Harvey-Clemons may play safety. I wrote it, many denied it, and lo and behold … it was true. So there. This freshman class actually has some very good interviews, and I won’t list everyone at the risk of alienating those I don’t. But I’ll say that Faton Bauta is the one who most gives Jenkins a run for his money.
Can't remember if you've mentioned this before, but there's an effort this year by the Redcoats to get the crowd to sing the lyrics to "Hail" during pregame. Here's a link.
I'm certainly looking forward to singing the words this year. :)
Thanks for passing that along. Consider the word passed further along!