Some Georgia sports notes as the week wraps up:
Now that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is gone, head coach Mark Fox can form his schedule accordingly. The indications are that head coach Mark Fox, more prepared than he was two years ago for players leaving early, might schedule down a bit.
The Bulldogs are committed to playing in an eight-team event in Charleston. The brackets haven't been revealed, but the field for the Charleston Classic will also include Clemson, New Mexico, Nebraska, Temple, UAB, Davidson and Massachusetts.
There is also the annual Georgia Tech game, which will be in Athens this time around. And the Bulldogs have a return game at George Washington, as well as contracts for home games against Lipscomb and Gardner-Webb.
As for the 18-game SEC schedule, Fox said the teams he knows he will face twice include South Carolina (the designated home-and-home rival), Missouri, Arkansas and LSU. There is one other team but Fox wasn't sure of it yet. It's definitely not Tennessee, Florida or Alabama, and Fox didn't think it was Kentucky either.
"We've still got some work to do on the schedule. really, with Kentavious' decision, we're trying to put games in the right places, make sure we get the right strength of schedule. it'll take us awhile to finish it," Fox said Thursday night prior to appearing at Macon's UGA Day.
He was asked if this was the most important schedule since Fox got here.
"You get to the point, it's like two years ago. early entries are hard to overcome. they affect your team. it's just going to affect our team, and we have no choice but to overcome it. i think the important thing will be scheduling the games at the time when we can get some confidence and have some of these young guys get some key experience at the right time so we can have the progression to keep building."
Mike Lough has the main details of Mark Richt's visit to Macon last night. But a few other notes that my colleague helpfully passed along from the meeting:
- Concerning freshman Tray Matthews, Richt stated the fairly obvious, that he's the starter "right now," and will start camp that way. But Richt also had an interesting comment on Matthews' hard-hitting ways.
"He loves the contact. With the new rules, he's got to be careful how he strikes people," Richt said. "He will really knock you back. But he's got good ball skills, he's very fast and agile and can cover. ... He was a guy who came in and wasn't worried about making a bunch of friends. He was worried about winning a job."
- Richt also brought up the improvement of a couple other players: defensive end Sterling Bailey and right tackle Xzavier Ward. In fact Richt said Ward ended spring as the starter at right tackle.
"He may win that job," Richt said. "We'll see."
- Richt was then asked about Ray Drew, the former five-star recruit now working behind Bailey. Richt said Drew has the ability but "is still getting there."
"We expect him to play at least 20-30 plays a game. And if he starts producing in the games, he'll win the starting job," Richt said. "We're not mad or disappointed. He's been improving as he goes. Sometimes five stars can be a curse. Everyone is like, 'Oh man, this guy is going to do this, that and the other.' ... Some of them hit the ground running, some take a little more time."
- Finally, Richt said offensive lineman Kolton Houston's eligibility "is not a dead issue yet." But time is running out, as Houston at this point would have just two years of eligibility left, unless the NCAA gives him relief. (And it's still uncertain if the NCAA will ever make Houston eligible.)
"He was a very good football player for us," Richt said. "And if he got that there would even be an outside shot of him maybe getting a sixth year of eligibility because of all the time he lost. We don't know that. It's all up in the air."
- Richt on the somewhat-infamous music video "Dawg Bite," by his son David and a white rapper:
"The things we do for our kids, right?"
The next two weekends could be the last grasp for David Perno's team, which is 3-12 in SEC play. Yes, it's only the mid-point, but the Bulldogs have the worst record in the SEC, and time is running out to make the SEC tournament.
The top 12 teams in the 14-team conference make it to Hoover. Missouri is 4-11, Auburn and Tennessee are 5-10, and Texas A&M is 6-9.
This weekend Georgia hosts Vanderbilt (33-5 overall, 14-1 in the SEC), the second-ranked team in the nation. Next weekend Arkansas (25-14, 9-6) visits. The final three series are at Tennessee, at South Carolina and home against Florida.
Perno's contract as head coach goes through the 2014 season.