Thursday, February 25, 2010


Ah, spring. The time of year when hope springs eternal for each of the 120 full members of Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and the last bastion of news of substance for those of us that follow college football 365 days a year until the dog days of summer when fall camps get underway. In honor of the opening of spring camps around the country, especially the one in Athens, we present the first installment of a series of pieces that will take a look at some of the things we here at the BEAST hope to see come out of the 2010 Georgia Bulldogs spring practices.


Since arriving in Athens, new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has found sure footing at every step, winning over the fan base and the players as he has prepared us for the installation of his favored 34 defensive scheme. One Grantham quote that got my attention was this one…

"…we're more of an aggressive style 3-4. We're going to play one-gap defense. We're going to attack block up front. We're going to rush the passer. Our outside backers are going to be what we call edge-setters. They're going to be aggressive. They're going to be coming. They're going to be solid setting the edge on the run but we're going to develop those guys as pass rushers. The inside ‘backers, we're going to call them Mike and Moe, they'll be downhill guys to the ball.”

Being a defensive minded guy, this was music to my ears. I hold firm to the belief that while defenders must play their responsibilities within any given scheme, there are certain positions that must have a disruptive impact on the opponent’s offense and the defensive end (in a 4-3 scheme) or the outside linebacker (in a 3-4) is one of those positions. Through the first part of last season, that disruption coming off the edge was one of the key factors missing in Georgia’s defensive attack. Much too often the DAWGS were forced to rely on the blitz to generate any pressure at all. Once Justin Houston returned from his two-game suspension the DAWGS started to get off their chains and get after the quarterback with more regularity. Houston led Georgia in sacks last season with 7.5 and the DAWGS managed just 28 sacks as a team during conference play which placed them fourth in the league. Down the stretch of the 2009 season, the defense began to see consistent pressure from Cornelius Washington, Demarcus Dobbs and Montez Robinson (MR90) off the edge and that carried the DAWGS to their final position in the conference statistical standings.

Everything is new on the defensive side of ball this spring for the DAWGS…scheme, philosophy, coaches and coaching techniques. Word came down just this afternoon that Houston, Washington and Robinson have been tapped to run in the OLB positions in Grantham’s new 3-4 defense and that Marcus Dowtin, Christian Robinson, Darryl Gamble and Akeem Dent will be holding down the two ILB spots with Richard Samuel seeing time at both inside and outside linebacker.

Now that we know the basic distribution plans, I want to see indications that these changes implemented in the spring will lead to an explosion of disruptive plays for the DAWGS defense in the fall.

The players that will be lining up at OLB seem to have all the ingredients needed to become a top-tier unit. Houston seems poised to have an all-conference caliber season in 2010. Washington has prototype size and speed. Dobbs is the productive grizzled veteran of the group and Robinson has already earned conference player of the week honors. I think this group has tremendous skill and a fantastic opportunity to really break out in 2010. There is plenty of speed and strength here and with the right guidance I believe this group can be very special for the DAWGS.

Courtesy Kelly Lambert

Looking at the inside linebacker positions, the options appear no less promising. Dowtin has shown great physicality and tenacity. Robinson impressed when given the opportunity to play last season. Dent brings a physical presence as well as experience to the group and Gamble has displayed a knack for making plays during his time in Athens. Gamble is one player that I think will benefit greatly from Grantham’s aggressive style of play. There have been times when I have questioned whether Gamble is hard-nosed enough to play in the middle, but when turned loose to rush the passer and attack the football, I believe Gamble can be very successful.


When you add the speed and strength that Samuel will bring to the linebacker corps to the fact that Dowtin has been quoted as saying the 3-4 scheme “is not that hard” to learn, the prospects for the athletes lining up to play at the linebacker positions to have impactful seasons for Georgia really seem bright.

The 34 defense that Grantham will be installing this spring is predicated on an attacking style of play that pressures the quarterback and disrupts lanes and timing in the rush game. Every defensive position on the field plays a role in the ultimate productivity of the unit, but the athletes in Georgia’s linebacker corps are the key to successful implementation of the new plan. If there are signs out of Athens this spring that the ‘backers are finding there way in the new plan and will be able to play fast and free come the fall, I will certainly be pleased and I believe that everyone in the DAWG Nation will be very happy with the on-field results.

Glory, Glory.


The annual meat market that is the NFL Combine gets underway this week and that got me to thinking about everything that is involved with the evaluation process that the players have to go through. National Football League teams want to know about any and everything in a prospective player’s history. Back in 1998, it was discovered that a wide receiver from the University of Georgia did not have an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee due to a bicycle accident in his childhood. This probably (i.e. DEFINITELY) had something to do with his not being drafted until the third round. Turns out, the Pittsburgh Steelers got a steal as this player would go on to be a three time Team MVP, a four time Pro Bowl selection and be named the MVP of Super Bowl XL. As I’m sure you know by now, there is only one former DAWG that we can be talking about…..


Hines Ward came to the University of Georgia after a stellar prep career at Forest Park (GA) High School. Ward earned All-American honors from SuperPrep, Blue Chip Illustrated & USA Today, and added All-State & Super Southern Top 100 honors and was a two-time Clayton County Offensive Player of the Year. Hines rushed for 1,111 yards and 14 touchdowns and completed 122-of-204 passes for 1,575 yards and 14 scores as a quarterback during his senior season...threw for 3,581 yards and 38 scores and rushed for 2,500 yards and 29 touchdowns during his three-year career.

Hines Ward did everything during his time wearing the red and black and he did it well. During his time in Athens Ward not only played wide receiver, but he also lined up at tailback, punt returner, kick returner and even at quarterback. You need to look no further than Hines’ second season in Athens to see his versatility. In 1995, Ward started the first two games at flanker before moving to tailback for the third game, to quarterback for the fourth game, back to tailback for the seventh game, and then returned to quarterback for the final three games. In the 1995 Peach Bowl, Ward completed 31 of 59 passes for 413 yards. Ward set (and still holds) Georgia records for Pass Attempts, Pass Completions, and Passing Yards in a bowl game. Simply put, Ward was just a play-maker at Georgia. Ward totaled 3,870 all-purpose yards, second only to Herschel Walker (5,749) in Bulldogs history.

I have several great memories of Hines playing “between the hedges” from his head-over-heels vault into the end zone in the rain against Texas Tech in 1996 to his bewilderment of the HATED Gators during the DAWGS beat down of Florida in 1997 to the show he put on against the Techies in his final regular season game wearing the red and black.

As a wide receiver for the DAWGS, Ward's 144 career receptions for 1,965 yards placed him second in team history. In 1997, Hines hauled in 55 passes and scored six TDs, getting All-SEC honors in the process and received All-America honors from The Poor Man’s Guide to the NFL Draft. Ward got it done in the classroom too, making the grade as an Academic All-SEC pick in 1996. Ward also garnered honors in 1994 being named to the All-SEC Freshman team by the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

As I mentioned earlier, Ward was taken in the third round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Check out this brief rundown of his pro career from STEELERS.COM:

Ward is one of the top receivers in the NFL and is the longest-tenured wide receiver with the same team in the a four-time Pro Bowl selection (2002-05) the team’s all-time leader in receptions (800), receiving yards (9,780) and receiving touchdowns (72) the only Steeler to have at least 800 career catches and over 9,000 career receiving yards...became the only receiver in Steelers’ history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards for four straight seasons (2001-04)...has team records for receptions in a season (112), which he set in 2002...posted 12 TD receptions in 2003 to tie Louis Lipps (1985) and Buddy Dial’s (1961) team record...drafted by Pittsburgh in the third round (92nd overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft...named Associated Press All-Pro second team in both 2003 and 2004...was named the Steelers’ co-MVP in 2005 (along with Casey Hampton) and 2002 (with Joey Porter), and outright in 2003... earned Super Bowl XL MVP honors after finishing with a game-high 123 receiving yards on five receptions with one touchdown...has led the Steelers in receptions the past 10 years (tied with Troy Edwards in 1999)...has a pass in a team-record 162 games entering the 2009 season...was named to the Steelers’ 75th Season All-Time Team during the 2007 season...named the Steelers’ 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year...signed a five-year contract in 2001...signed a four-year extension during the 2005 training camp...restructured his contract during the 2009 offseason and signed an extension to keep him with the team through 2013.

Hines was an outstanding player during his time at UGA and has done nothing but continue to bring honor to himself and the DAWGS since he has left Athens. From

As a figure for social change

Ward's mother, Kim Young-hee is Korean and his father, Hines Ward, Sr., is African-American. In 2006, Ward became the first Korean-American to win the Super Bowl MVP award. This achievement threw him into the media spotlight in South Korea.
From April 3 through May 30, 2006, Ward returned to his birthplace of Seoul for the first time since his parents moved to the United States when he was one year old. Ward used his celebrity status to arrange "hope-sharing" meetings with multiracial Korean children and to encourage social and political reform. At one hope-sharing meeting, he told a group of children, "If the country can accept me for who I am and accept me for being a Korean, I'm pretty sure that this country can change and accept you for who you are." On his final day in Korea, he donated $1 million USD to create the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation, which the AP called "a foundation to help mixed-race children like himself in South Korea, where they have suffered discrimination."

Any way you choose to look at it, Hines Ward commands recognition as A DAMN BEAST!!! and a Damn Good Dawg. Glory, Glory.

For your viewing pleasure, I present the following:

“Our heart, that was torn out and bleeding, we picked it up and stuck it back inside!” - Larry Munson

That is absolutely one of my top three Munson radio calls and it just happened to come from the final game of my time at Georgia as an undergrad.



Just because I don’t think it’s possible to see this video enough, HERE’S THE FULL MEAL DEAL VERSION OF THE GAME

During his time in Pittsburgh, Ward has developed a reputation as a hard-nosed player and a devastating blocker. I consider this yet another reason to be proud of this DAWG. Here is some video proof:



Glory, Glory.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Celebrate good times, come on! There are some wild times going down in Vancouver, British Columbia, site of the 2010 Winter Olympic games, and I’m not talking about the events themselves. The real hot-spot for action in Vancouver is the Olympic Village.

The organizers for the Vancouver games have continued what has become a common practice at the Olympics since the 1992 games in Barcelona…the distribution of free condoms to the residents of the OV. In Vancouver, the organizers have provided approximately 100,000 condoms for the participants at the Games’ two Villages. That number breaks out to 14 condoms available for each of the 7,000 athletes, coaches, trainers and officials.

What’s sex without the money? Some of the United States teams have developed creative ways to generate sponsorship dollars to fund their pursuit of Olympic glory. After the United States speed skating team lost a sponsor, fans of Stephen Colbert’s show on Comedy Central, The Colbert Report, stepped in and picked up the slack. The Colbert Nation made their contribution by donating nearly $300,000 to the program. The U.S. Curling Association upped the ante by partnering with Kodiak Technology Group and introducing the Hurry Hard condom. The product is named for a phrase used in competition to get their teammates to sweep the ice faster. Proceeds from the sale of the condoms are split between USA Curling and Monterey County AIDS prevention.

Maybe there is a benefit to the American athletes being so “relaxed” and well heeled as they are having unprecedented success in 2010. As of Sunday night, the U.S. team led the 2010 medal count with 24, seven of which are gold. It is possible that the U.S. could end up with 30 or more medals by the time the Vancouver Olympics come to a close next Sunday. At the Calgary Olympics in 1988 the U.S. team won just six medals…total.

Obviously, these world-class athletes are focused on the task at hand until their events are complete, but this is one fun with numbers course I can get interested in. Enjoy all of the excitement and thrills the Olympics provide while you can Reader, because it sure seems as though the athletes are…and more power to them! USA! USA! USA!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Courtesy THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan


On Wednesday of this week I watched as an Olympic athlete put forth an epic effort that resulted in a spot on the podium in the Women’s Individual Sprint. The skier was the world’s best female cross-country sprinter Petra Majdic (MAD-itch) of Slovenia. The medal was a bronze, awarded to the athlete finishing third in a given event. But you would have a hard time convincing Majdic that the medal around her neck was anything other than "gold with little diamonds" in it. Majdic, driven by her love of country, strengthened by her determination of mind and powered by every last ounce of energy remaining in a broken body, managed to accomplish this feat after suffering severe injuries….four broken ribs and a collapsed lung….PRIOR to the qualifying races of the event. After the event, it was determined that the injuries sustained by Majdic were so severe that she would not be able to compete in any other events at the 2010 winter games. Though her competition had come to an end, the Slovenian athlete was not allowed to fly home due to her lung injuries.


Slovenia’s sportswoman of the year in three of the last four years slid off the course in an icy corner and tumbled down a 3-meter embankment landing on rocks and breaking both poles and a ski. "I was in pain and some volunteers helped me out.” Majdic said. “They wanted to take me to the medical center, but I yelled, 'take me to the start.'” Majdic then somehow managed to battle through four rounds of racing around the 1.5km loop to claim her bronze medal. Majdic got the first medal of these games for her country, the first Olympic cross-country medal for Slovenia, the nation's fifth overall (all bronze) and the first individual medal since 1994.

Courtesy AP photo

"This is not a bronze medal, this is a gold medal with little diamonds on it. I already won a medal for going to the start. The wish was so big because I have been fighting for this for 22 years," Majdic said.

There is no greater honor to be earned than one garnered in the pursuit of a goal greater than one’s self. Slovenia’s Petra Majdic is the Olympic example of this belief.

If ever an athlete deserved to be recognized in this forum for their efforts in the arena of their chosen sport, is has to be Petra Majdic. This Slovenian cross-country skier is without a doubt, A DAMN BEAST!!!

Check out a slideshow and video of Majdic’s fall HERE.

Another slideshow of Majdic competing in the Women’s Individual Sprint can be seen HERE.

Check out other articles on this magnificent competitor’s painful day at Whistler Olympic Park HERE and HERE and view the final medal results HERE.


Sure looks like all that talk back in the fall about DAWG fans jumping ship on Coach Richt and his program was worth about as much as a Tiger Woods promise. All signs point to demand for season tickets remaining just as high as it has been in recent years in Athens. I knew the DAWG Nation would turn out in force just like we have throughout Richt's time in Athens. It would take more than one mediocre season at Georgia for DAWG fans to turn tail on the program. Glory, Glory.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Happy Super Bowl Sunday Reader! We have finally reached what is officially the nation's most recognized unofficial holiday. We here at the BEAST hope that you enjoy your game day experience and that we are all treated to a classic game.

A fun Super Bowl note DAWG fans: Jon Stinchcomb is one of three former Georgia players that will be participating in the big game, along with teammate Charles Grant and Tim Jennings (Indianapolis Colts).

Jon Stinchcomb

This means that Georgia now has brothers that have appeared in the Super Bowl. Matt Stinchcomb was with the Raiders when they played in the big game in 2003.

The Stinchcomb brothers are Damn Good Dawgs. Both earned All-America honors during their time in Athens...Matt in 1997 and 1998, while Jon was recognized in 2002. Jon was also a two-time Academic All-America (2001 and 2002) and was a member of Georgia's 2002 SEC championship team.

Matt Stinchcomb

Matt was selected as the 18th pick of the first round in the 1999 NFL Draft to the Oakland Raiders and also played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during his seven year NFL career. Jon was taken in the second round (37th overall) by the New Orleans Saints in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Here's another fun footnote from

Georgia now has had at least one representative in the Super Bowl for nine straight seasons.

That is the longest streak for at least one ex-Bulldog in the Super Bowl, breaking the tie of eight straight from 1985-92 and 1971-78.

Georgia also had at least one Super Bowl player in six straight years (1995-2000).

Be proud of our DAWGS and be safe out there Reader. Enjoy the game!!!

Friday, February 5, 2010


One of the unforeseen highlights of Signing Day 2010 was the announcement that Richard Samuel will be moving from running back to linebacker this spring. This news has been received well by most DAWG fans. Whether that is because they are frustrated with the results Samuel produced as a running back or because they believe his skill set and robo-athlete measureables make him a lock for future All-SEC consideration…well, that you can decide for yourself.

Courtesy Kelly Lambert

I am riding the train of thought that says there is not a defensive coach alive that would not drool over the opportunity to have a 6’2”, 222 lb rocket ranging from sideline to sideline on the glide at sub 4.4. If you disagree, then you’ve never known a defensive coach. Richard is smart and he really wants to please his coaches. I really hope this move is a fantastic success. I want this not only because it will make the athleticism of the DAWGS defensive squad start to look downright scary, but also because I am rooting for a young man that wants to do the right thing to have success.

This will hardly be the first instance of a player switching positions…or not…during the last nine seasons.

Courtesy Kelly Lambert

One of the many whipping posts the former defensive regime in Athens was regularly tied to was the charge that defensive players were not being coached up or utilized correctly. I can be counted among those that felt players were not always put in the best position to make plays. The example that I point to most often is former DAWG Brandon Miller. Miller came to Georgia as a five-star talent with a skill level that allowed him to play both defensive end and linebacker in high school, while also lining up to play wide receiver when the offense was on the field. As a DAWG, Miller played Sam linebacker and was never able to lock down a full time starting job. When he did play, Miller often came off the field in the passing situations in favor of the nickel set which features an extra defensive back. I saw this as a waist of a tremendous talent. To me, an obvious option here would have been to have Miller put his hand in the dirt as a defensive end (he clearly had the size and strength to do so) and turn him loose to rush the passer off the edge. This would allow you to bump another DE inside to tackle to keep your best pass rushers on the field and you could still match-up on the outside with the extra defensive back. LSU has done something similar in recent years with a personnel group they call their “express package” by playing four defensive ends along the defensive front in pass rush situations to get their best players on the field at the same time. Makes sense to me. What is the purpose of recruiting superior athletes if you do not allow them to use their ability?

On the other side of the ledger, there is Kiante Tripp. Tripp came to Georgia as a big time recruit and a four-star talent that played offensive tackle in high school. Since arriving in Athens, Tripp has played defensive end, offensive tackle and even tight end for the DAWGS. To his credit, Tripp has approached the game with a team-first attitude and has done everything the coaches have asked of him. Tripp will be a senior in 2010. Early word has it that he will be back on the defensive side of the ball this spring learning the new 3-4 scheme that Coach Grantham will be installing. If there is any sort of justice in the world, Tripp will find a home and find some success on Saturday’s inside Sanford Stadium this fall.

As David Hale wrote about on Friday, virtually every returning player in Georgia's defensive front seven as well as the DAWGS newly signed recruits could be in store for a position change from what they have played most recently. There is talk of Justin Anderson switching from the offensive to the defensive line, Alec Ogletree could end up at one of the outside linebacker positions and the ultimate position destinations for Kwame Geathers and AJ Harmon will be interesting to watch as well.

There is no doubt that one of the main reasons Coach Grantham is at Georgia today is because of his reputation as an evaluator of talent, and one of the absolutes of Coach Grantham’s short time with Georgia has been the importance that has been placed on talent evaluation of the current roster. The defensive plan that the DAWGS new coaching staff will implement in the coming months is an empty puzzle and the players are the pieces. I hope that the changes that are coming for the DAWGS will fit all the pieces of that defensive puzzle together as the designer intends, for the good of the players and the good of the team.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


I guess it’s just the journalist in me, but I just love a good quote. During Mark Richt’s tenure in Athens there hasn’t been a steady stream of bulletin board material coming out of Athens…and I’m sure that’s at least partly by design…but it certainly seems like it says a lot about the personalities that have been around Butts-Mehre during that time. Well, if the statements like those of new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, new DAWGS like Jakar Hamilton and new team leaders like Bacarri Rambo are any indication, it certainly sounds like media days in Athens are going to be very interesting over the next few years.

Everyone remembers the “man enough” quote from former Auburn head coach Pat Dye before Georgia’s road tilt with Alabama in 2002, but that one didn’t come out of Athens. In 2008, in the week leading up to the Alabama blackout game, when asked about Georgia’s special teams’ coverage, Javier Arenas asked a reporter “Have you seen my highlights?” Later that week in Athens, when asked about the Alabama defensive back’s skills as a punt and kick returner Coach Richt quickly responded with “Have you seen his highlights?” Without a doubt, my favorite Richt sound bite to date. Outside of that, I really can’t remember many shots that have been fired across the bow of DAWGS opponents. (If you can think of any please share.)

It seems the tide of mundane generalities flowing out of the football offices may be turning. Since arriving in Athens, Coach Grantham has consistently delivered what the DAWG Nation has long been clamoring for with promises of a best-player-will-play, attacking, tempo-setting style of defense that will take no prisoners and leave opponents thankful that the clock has finally reached all zeros and that they will not have to play Georgia again for a calendar year. What’s more, when new DAWG safety Jakar Hamilton signed on to play for Georgia, he made it clear that he intends to lay it on the line every time he takes the field for Georgia:

“I’m one of those players who just don’t care. I’ll throw my whole body even if I have to break something to do it. . . . If I have to catch a concussion, I’ll do it.”

You can read some of his other thoughts HERE.

As well received as those messages to the DAWG Nation were, it may be safe to say that they pale in comparison to the statements that have come out of Athens on Signing Day 2010. After of couple of high-profile defections at the very end of the 2010 recruiting process, we got a glimpse into what impact those decisions may have on the field in the years to come from a player that appears to be finding his voice as one of the new leaders on this Georgia team, safety Bacarri Rambo. DAWGS news warrior David Hale brought us the news on his live Signing Day blog on Wednesday:

10:09 AM -- Well, I guess we know how Bacarri Rambo feels about Da'Rick Rogers' departure, courtesy of Facebook: "Bacarri Rambo thinks is messed up how all of UGA high school commitments back out on us but I'm telling you now when I catch you on the field I'm going to knock fire from you."

Later in the day, Hale added these pearls from Hamilton’s press conference:

First, on his thoughts on Da'Rick Rogers and others de-committing late: "It's disappointing to have a high school player be committed for so long and come up at the last minute because it hurts. It hurts the football team tremendously and the recruiting class. In that case, another player could have had that spot or had a chance to come here and play. I'm not going to call it selfish because they're high school players. Most of them do it for the hype or to have their name out there. But it just shows you what kind of player that person is. Me, Coach Martinez left before I even got here. I could have easily said I don't want to go here anymore, I'll go to Alabama. But I gave Coach Mark Richt my word, and I told him I was committed here. That's what kind of person I am, and that's what I want people to see. I kept my word."

Second, on Bacarri Rambo's promise of a big hit in Rogers' future: "It's going to happen. Especially if he's going to play right off the bat. I just hope he's ready for it, because there's going to be a lot of people on the hit for him on this team."

And when reminded that Georgia swiped a late commit from Kentucky: "It happens a lot. But your in the SEC. You're going to get hit regardless."

Of course, right now this is merely talk. Anybody can talk before winter has turned to spring and what we’ve heard so far could be so much jibber-jabber. Coach Grantham has yet to put his schemes into place on the field, Hamilton has yet to put on those silver britches and Rambo…well, from what we’ve seen so far Rambo seems to have all the makings of a legitimate bad-ass and should be trusted until he gives us reason not to, but it would still be nice to see him back up all the promise flashed in his RFr season with a solid 2010 campaign.

The 2010 season promises to be an exciting one in Athens for a host of reasons and, for the first time since Coach Richt has been directing the charges, the preview sound rolling out of Athens may prove to be as entertaining as the other elements that make up your Saturday’s in the fall.