Thursday, July 29, 2010
When you take a quick, superficial look at the upcoming football season for the DAWGS, you will either see a team riddled with holes and questions or you will see a team that should once again be considered a contender in the SEC Eastern division and therefore a contender for the SEC and national championships. We here at the BEAST can see both, depending on the day…the humidity in Dublin…the lake levels at Hartwell…and which way the wind is blowing in Toccoa. Point is no one knows how the season is going to play out…and that’s part of the fun of it…but today we encourage you to get in touch with your inner head coach, stare down the pre-season media horde and, in your best coach-speak, acknowledge all of the keys to greatness that will be unveiled to the masses as our DAWGS get unleashed in 2010.
I know Murray is only a redshirt freshman that has never taking a live snap on game day for Georgia, but we don’t know the whole deal. Late last season, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said that although you can never say for certain, there was certainly a chance that the arm injury that limited Murray’s development last season played more than a small role in the team’s decision to not pull his redshirt. This season, head coach Mark Richt has said that if given the opportunity he (and any other coach in his mind) would take an “Aaron Murray” every year in recruiting. During SEC Media Days, CMR expressed his confidence that Murray has shown all the signs of knowing what he will be asked to do on the field and that he understands the level of commitment necessary to be successful and lead this team and reported that Murray’s teammates see this as well and have rallied around him during the off-season. These men know better than any of us ever will how prepared Murray is to take the reigns of this team. If they feel confident in his abilities and readiness…both physical and mental…then I say tee it up and get it on. Steve Spurrier, who knows a few things about quarterbacks, said this during SEC Media Days: “You put a quarterback with a real good team, he should play pretty well. (pause) If he’s a good quarterback.” I think that sums it up pretty well.
There is no denying that there needed to be some new blood injected into the Georgia program after the DAWGS stumbled to an 8-5 record in 2009 and Grantham and his new defensive coaches certainly seem to have filled that need. Undeniably, there is a new energy around the program these days. Although we have not seen the DAWGS new defensive product on the field yet, but we all will soon enough and the frenzied, attacking style of play we will see from Georgia will turn the DAWGS opponents and the league on its collective ear. CMR recently said that the goal heading into fall practice on the defensive side of the ball is to get the guys ready to “Play fast, play physical and play with confidence.” Grantham and his staff will get it done and the DAWGS D will be feared once again.
With no Alabama or LSU on the conference schedule, three of the four out-of-conference games against Louisiana-Lafayette, Colorado and Idaho State and the toughest true road games looking like South Carolina and Auburn, the DAWGS look like they are in position to really make some headway. I’m of the opinion that there are no free skates in the SEC, but when the cards fall your way you had better take advantage.
When it comes to kicking the football, you would be hard pressed to find any team in the country that is as set as Georgia. DAWG Legacy Drew Butler led the nation with a 48.1 yards per attempt average last season and won the Ray Guy Award, which recognizes the nation’s top punter. Blair Walsh did his best to continue Georgia’s recent history of big-legged and accurate kickers going 20-22 on field-goal attempts. Walsh was one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award which goes to the nation’s top kicker.
We Run This State
The offense should be in good hands with Caleb King and Washaun Ealey returning in the Bulldogs backfield. Both are coming off productive seasons in 2009 and with the fires of competition being stoked throughout the year, there is no reason to be surprised if the two talented backs combine to rush for more than 2000 yards in 2010.
The DAWG Mollies
Georgia’s offensive line has the potential to be the top unit in the Southeastern Conference and one of the best in the nation. All five starters return and there are a total of eight letterman across the offensive front. That has to make Murray and the running backs sleep better at night. The O-Line is anchored by first-team All-SEC honoree Clint Boling and should only continue to grow together. This is a unit that the DAWGS should be able to hang their hat on, especially early in the season, and they should make the offensive unit look better than it may actually be early in the campaign.
Lethal Weapon 8
A.J. Green. Without question, the DAWGS superlative talent at wide receiver ranks among the best in the nation at his position. Green’s stellar body control, great hands and deceptive speed make him the premier weapon in Georgia’s offensive attack. Green is almost a “no joy” assignment for any defensive back on the DAWGS schedule and one fantastic security blanket for a redshirt freshman quarterback. Although the casual Georgia fan may think Green will be the only weapon in the aerial arsenal, they would be mistaken. The DAWGS return an extremely talented group of tight ends in Aron White, Orson Charles, Bruce Figgins and Arthur Lynch as well as the return of veteran Kris Durham and several yet-to-break-out wide receivers in Israel Troupe, Rontavious Wooten and Marlon Brown. With so many options on an offensive unit that returns 10 of 11 starters, there should be many happy Saturdays for the DAWG Nation in 2010.
So, why shouldn’t we members of the DAWG Nation be excited about the 2010 edition of the Georgia Bulldogs? With key new faces in key places that are dripping with expectation and potential, a schedule that is just about as sweet as they come in the Southeastern Conference, one of the premier kicking units in the nation, talent and production returning in the running game, a deep and veteran offensive line and a Heisman Trophy candidate at wide receiver…the DAWGS future looks bright for the 2010 season.
If the O-Line brings a lunch pale at South Carolina and the DAWGS continue the road dominance we have come to expect during Coach Richt’s time at Georgia, there is no reason to believe that this bunch of DAWGS cannot get to Jacksonville in late October (there will be more to come on the HATED Gators at a later date) with a record of 7-1 or 8-0 and the table will be set for Georgia to once again reach double digits in wins and reclaim it’s rightful place at the top of the SEC Eastern Division and get back to Atlanta. CMR is 2-1 in SEC Championship game appearances and if the DAWGS could get that one, well let’s just say bigger things usually follow.
These are not predictions, but rather a glimpse of what to look forward to and what could be in 2010. Regardless, there is no reason to doubt that this will be an exciting season “between the hedges” and the DAWGS will have a chance to win every time they step on the field. Not every program in the country can say that, and you can rest assured that every last coach in the country would take those odds, so break out your red and black and get ready for the ride. GO DAWGS!
Friday, July 23, 2010
News broke during the annual gathering of the SEC teams and the media that follow them that the NCAA will launch an inquiry into the goings-on at the athletic department at the University of Georgia. Exactly what all will be investigated is unknown, but it is almost a certainty that potential dealings between UGA football players and the sports agents that are vying for their business will get a good, hard look.
Georgia is but one of several schools that have been linked to NCAA inquiries involving sports agents in recent days. As these various inquiries have come to light, seemingly everyone has had something to say about what it all means and several have offered solutions on how to end this problem in college football (primarily) and college athletics in general, up to and including paying collegiate athletes.
This got me to thinking about what it would mean to me if it came to light that a Georgia player, or former player, had taken money or other benefits from some random sports agent.
I think this is where I should point out that any amateur athlete that takes anything (money, special benefits, property, etc.) from a sports agent is doing something wrong. It is against the rules and everyone knows it. Ignorance is absolutely no excuse when it comes to this violation. The player will have knowingly violated the rules, regardless of the motivation.
To me this means that any player that is found to have accepted special benefits from a sports agent made a conscious choice to give in to greed and was thinking only about self, without any consideration for what penalties, impacts or embarrassment those greedy actions could/would have on the school they represent and that had given them so much. I see this as a totally selfish move and I feel certain that these actions would forever change my opinion of that player.
Now that’s me. Regardless of how great that player may have been during their playing days at UGA, their reputation will have forever been tarnished in my eyes.
I would like to know what you, my fellow members of the DAWG Nation, think about this situation. To be clear, NO CURRENT UGA ATHLETE is guilty of anything at this point and I am not implying as much. I am just posing a question. If one of our Saturday heroes, or any other UGA athlete for that matter, were found to have taken special benefits from a sports agent and broken the rules bringing embarrassment to the University of Georgia and our beloved DAWGS, would it change the way you view that player going forward? Please let us know how you feel.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
When you take a quick, superficial look at the upcoming football season for the DAWGS, you will either see a team riddled with holes and questions or you will see a team that should once again be considered a contender in the SEC Eastern division and therefore a contender for the SEC and national championships. We here at the BEAST can see both, depending on the day…the humidity in Dublin…the lake levels at Hartwell…and which way the wind is blowing in Toccoa. Point is no one knows how the season is going to play out…and that’s part of the fun of it…but today we encourage you to channel your inner Larry Munson as we point out just a few of the ill fates that could befall our beloved DAWGS in 2010.
How does a program like Georgia end up with no better option for a starter at quarterback than a freshman (RS)? We all know the twisting road that led the DAWGS to this point and I am not going to rehash it here, but this is the situation the Georgia program finds itself in and the tide of the upcoming season will probably rise and fall with how well Murray handles the rigors of his first Southeastern Conference campaign. Regardless of how talented Murray may be, we’ve seen what can happen when your team lacks experience at the most important position on the field. In 2006, true freshman Matthew Stafford…the same Matthew Stafford that would eventually lead the DAWGS to a #2 national ranking in 2007 and become the overall #1 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft…struggled mightily between the flashes of the brilliance that was to come and the DAWGS finished the regular season at 8-4. In 2009, Joe Cox…a fifth year senior that was a DAWG through and through and that had performed pretty well in spot duty while backing up Stafford…provided Georgia with serviceable play at the position, but failed to play up to the standards the coaches, the fans and even Cox himself expected and the DAWGS finished the regular season 7-5. Murray may be turn out to be great, he may even be great this season, but history says it will be a tall order.
Ding-Dong the witch is dead. Georgia finally has a new defensive coordinator and he has been wholly embraced by the DAWG Nation. Grantham comes with an NFL pedigree, the Nick Saban seal of approval and he’s promising a style of defense that will have both his players and the Georgia fans frothing at the mouth before the pre-game warm ups are done. Sounds great and I can’t wait to see it. But I haven’t seen it yet. None of us have. G-day served up the vanilla well enough to rival your closest Bruster’s and that just ain’t enough to make the DAWGS opponents cower in fear. Not to mention that along with this new defense come new positions, techniques and responsibilities for most every player on the unit. Heads will be spinning inside those red helmets early in the year to be sure. We’ve often wondered over the last few years how a team with as much talent as Georgia has on the defensive side of the ball can be gashed the way they have been recently…is it the fault of the coaches or have we seriously overestimated that “talent”? I guess we’ll all find out together. We’re all looking for big things from this new defensive brain trust, Mark Richt included, but until we see it on the field this will remain a much talked about question mark for the 2010 Georgia squad.
What? How can an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the league last season and returns all five starters…not to mention the possible return from injury of an All-American at tackle…be a downfall for the DAWGS? In this case, too many cooks could really spoil the DAWGS stew. Depth is a blessing in football, especially along the lines of scrimmage, but how long it takes the coaching staff to sort out exactly which combination of pieces allows them to put the best five players on the field could be the key to whether the 2010 season will be a success or something much less satisfying for everyone involved. You can’t win a championship in the first month of the season, but you can certainly lose one and two road trips in the first four games along with a home game against a team with a high-powered offense in Arkansas in week three will be quite the challenge. If there is still shuffling along the offensive line a month into the season, then it’s a safe bet that the very things that the DAWGS are counting on to buoy them in the early going…a productive running game and Murray not being put on the turf every time he drops back to pass…will not be there and Georgia will be lucky to get out of the first month at 2-2 with virtually all hopes of an appearance in the championship game having gone by the boards.
Wow. I know, right. What a bummer.
Good news is…that is only one side of the coin. We will be coming to you live and in color very soon with some of the reasons that this very same Georgia team could be lifting the SEC Championship trophy in early December in Atlanta so keep your eyes peeled. Or, you could always stay up to date with the BEAST by becoming a fan of the blog on Facebook or you can follow us on Twitter….with options even…HERE or HERE.