Friday, October 1, 2010

3rd Annual BNE Pick 'Em: Week 4

We're heading into the meat of the season as conference play commences fully this week. Week 4 showed who is emerging as a contender, and who isn't quite there yet. Bama and Auburn both needed comeback talent to overcome some top opposition, while Tennessee needed two overtimes to beat a sloppy UAB. Meanwhile, no one saw UCLA coming, and neither did Texas as the Bruins ran all over Muschamp's defense. Look for Brown and the Horns to be fired up and ready for the Sooners in a potential upset at the Red River Shootout in Dallas.
I don't Texas and OU fans are normally this close
Minnesota and the Gophers have yet to emerge from their gopher holes, falling to NIU and a 1-3 start. Kudos to Dawgfan17 for being the only one not to take the bait and going with the Huskies. Finally, sitting with a 1-3 is UGA who fell to Mississip(p?)i State. The Dawgs make the trip out to Boulder to face 2-1 Colorado. AJ Green has been practicing during his suspension and shouldn't look green in his first start this season. Its a big morale boost to have AJ back in the game, but the coaching and Rocky Mountain air may have a bigger impact against the Dawgs. I expect UGA to pull off a close one and start winning...I hope.
More intimidating: Uga charging the field, or a 1200 lb buffalo? Mind your step
And now for our top 5 leaders for the week followed by our overall leaders:
  1. Earl's Girl with 187 points & 15-6
  2. AUMav's Picks with 186 points & 17-4
  3. G.D. & woof with 179 points and both going 16-5
  4. calgee & Fresh Catch Shuffle with 178 points and also both going 16-5 . calgee making a dramatic climb out of the bottom. Congratulations!!!
  5. allyugadawg with 176 points & 15-6
Our overall leaders:
  1. woof woof with 1023 points & 73-21
  2. G.D. with 1007 points & 71-23
  3. AUMav's Picks with 993 points & 75-19
  4. allyugadawg with 993 points & 73-21
  5. Hayduke with 985 points & 71-23
With last week's Bottom Feeder of the Week, calgee, skyrocketing out of the bottom of the barrel, we have a new BFotW! This week's BFotW is brought to you by the macabre crew over at, and they are a fitting sponsor given the grave performance of ugadawg13 this week. With a low score total of 134 points and an 11-10 record, ugadawg has managed the second lowest points total and win/loss record thus far. Making picks like these will only dig your grave faster. Just a friendly point of advice: don't pick more than 2 upsets each week unless you somehow have some inside information. If you do, let me know and I'll call my bookie. Otherwise, keep it simple. Hopefully we won't see you down here again. If we do, I'll be picking out your sports-headstone from similar to this one...
Bingo might be more to your talents if things don't pick up
Don't forget to get your picks in by the end of the day! If you get the chance, check out Air Force v. Navy, UGA v. Colorado (of course) and Oregon v. Stanford. I think Oregon might be the best team in the Pac-10 if they can keep their speed attack going. Keep an eye out for the winner of this top 10 match up as they might end up in the BCS title.
I'm drinking the Kool-aid I know, but even an airline is getting on board with the Ducks!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coaching 'em Up

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article highlighting a vestige of Division I athletics from another era: head coaches teaching class.

Jim Tressel teaches a "Coaching Football" class on football to 49 current students in the fall. Tressel intentionally shifted the class from spring to fall, as part of his class requirements include observing high school practices and one OSU practice. Beyond Ohio State, there are no other D-IA football head coaches currently teaching a class. From what I've been able to find, this class existed before Tressel left Youngstown State, as John Cooper formerly taught the class.

"You see, this is how we plan on losing to an SEC team every year..."

I was able to find some more background information beyond what was mentioned in the story from a Buckeye blog thread from last year. The class is scheduled to meet MWF at 7:30AM, but due to the practice/scouting requirement, the class is only held Mondays and Wednesdays. Tressel frequently features guest speakers in class, including former head coaches Earle Bruce and John Cooper. The class is apparently held in their equivalent of the Butts-Mehre building, limiting average students from crashing the class.

The class goes from reviewing year-old scouting reports created for an opponent, to diagramming defenses (special love is given to the 46 defense), to breaking down scouting tapes. Definitely not a Jim Harrick Jr. class.

And apparently students can be valuable to the coach too. According to a coach who runs a similar program in Div-IAA:
"Southern Utah's head football coach, Ed Lamb, who teaches a coaching class like Mr. Tressel's in the spring, says regular students can even provide valuable feedback. . . some helpfully pointed out in practice evaluations that they thought 'coaches could be more organized' and 'players should move faster from drill to drill'."
I wonder, though, whether Ohio State realizes any true advantages by having a coach teach a class? While it is somewhat of a rarity for OSU players to actually take the class, I'm sure that Tressel is more in touch with the workload of students and probably has more of an ear to the ground for things that might hurt his players off-the-field and impact their on-the-field eligibility.

Maybe this is something that Richt, or more likely one of our assistant coaches, should consider for future years. Anything that could lessen the likelihood of banishment from Valdosta and suspended licenses...

Coming to a classroom near you?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We've Arrived: Colorado

The first part of the B'NE crew has arrived in Denver, and we're killing some time until we head to Coors Field and see the Rockies.

We did get the chance to eat breakfast at an awesome place called Snooze, where I had this giant breakfast burrito and almost died:

We'll be at the Breckinridge Brewery & Pub before the game, and then we'll hit Great Divide Brewery after.

Go Dawgs!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Getting the heck outta Dodge

To say things are bad in the Bulldog Nation right now is an understatement. Some are mad, others are sad, and no one really seems to know what comes next. What better of a time to get about as far away from the South as we can get!

The Bubba 'N Earl crew is heading west tomorrow morning. We'll be taking in the Rockies-Dodgers game at Coors field tomorrow afternoon, planning to go to the Alumni meet up at Mellow Mushroom on Thursday, and will be at the big tailgate on Saturday. While the team may be struggling, I fully expect the same level of excitement that the Bulldog nation showed in Tempe a few years ago.

The Dawgs will get back on track in Boulder on Saturday...I hope.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Letting go and getting back to enjoying football

Think back, just five weeks ago. After a long, hot summer, the countdown to the college football season was finally coming to an end. Georgia was facing an easier schedule than the 2009 slate with an experienced offensive line and one of the best offensive players in the country. There was optimism about turning things around with our new defense and a fun trip to Colorado in October.

Wow. Things sure have changed.

As we prepare to enter October, the view has totally changed. The offensive line has struggled, AJ Green has yet to play a down, and Georgia sits at 1-3, currently the worst team in the SEC. But with 8 games remaining in the season, it is time to let go of the bright dreams this team had heading into the season. Beginning this week in Colorado, we need to get back to enjoying Georgia football. Or else, things will only get worse.

Maybe we need to take a page out of the Chicago Cubs fans book. This team may be down, but that doesn't mean we give up on them. The team needs the support of the fans, not just to get through the remainder of this schedule, but to put on a good face for the recruits who join the team in the future. Things are bad, but they certainly have not hit what I would consider rock bottom. Look at Michigan, where after two straight losing seasons under Rich Rodriguez, they finally have the players to run his system. They sit at 4-0 and have a Heisman candidate at quarterback. Georgia definitely still has a talented roster. We have a great young quarterback who will be around for the next three years. We need to build up this team, not continue to tear it down.

After nearing the edge on Saturday night, I think I have taken a step back towards sanity. For now, I'm going to enjoy the rest of the season and see how things shake out.

Hope to see ya'll dressed in red in Boulder on Saturday.


Victories of the Moral Variety

Most of us Dawg fans are beginning to grasp at something, anything to restore meaning to the rest of the 2010 football season. I'm a little down after these first couple of games, but remember, all of us have been looking forward to football for 9 months. Let's try to embrace it and our Bulldogs as much as we can.

Or is it?

It's hard to say that we're playing for pride when we came out flat and lost to an inferior (talent-wise) Mississippi State football club, especially when our Dawgs appear to have all but forgotten how to "Finish The Drill".

In an attempt to somehow overlook our 0-3 SEC start and our 1-3 record, here are 4 moral victories so far to takeaway for the season; while they obviously don't show up in the polls, maybe you can take a little bit of solace in them for our near future.

1) Aaron Murray - The preseason buzz was whether this newcomer to the returning 10 offensive starters would somehow slow down our attack; so far, Aaron is more than carrying his fair share of the offense. Aaron currently ranks 4th in the SEC in passing yards/game as well as in total offense; his passing efficiency is a solid 6th in the SEC, especially accounting for him being the only underclassmen on the list.

The excess play-action calls notwithstanding, Aaron could develop into an even deadlier quarterback over the rest of the season if the playbook is thrown open and more shotgun snaps are taken, giving Aaron a longer time to assess the coverage and routes. Then there's also that All-American wide receiver coming back from suspension...

2) Kris Durham/Blair Walsh - I think we could all agree that there have been several small positive surprises from our roster this year, among them Durham and Walsh.

Kris Durham is one of several remaining 2006 signees left on our roster; after battling through a shoulder injury and a resulting redshirt season last year, Kris currently ranks 3rd in the SEC in reception yards/game and 8th in receptions/game. All this while Durham is known as the go-to receiver for Georgia during AJ's suspension, with opponents focusing on him more; Durham has 17 out of the team's to-date 66 receptions for the season, having almost twice as the 2nd leading receiver on the team (Tavarres, with 9). With AJ returning, Durham and our passing attack could flourish further, with Kris fighting less double teams from our opponents' secondary.

Blair, a 2009 Lou Groza award finalist, has proven to be the only true consistency so far this year. Blair currently ranks 8th in overall scoring in the SEC with 31 points, and is a perfect 7-7 on FGs this year, with a long of 52 yards. While we have given up some bad kickoff returns so far this season, the statistics prove otherwise, with UGA ranking 12th in the nation in fewest yards per return given up (@17.47 yards/return), helped in part by 25% of our kickoffs (5/20) being downed for touchbacks. I hope that we can convert more of these FGs into touchdowns in the near-future, but it's always good to have almost guaranteed points at the end of a scoring drive.

3) Potential NFL lockout?- Beyond the above two, it becomes tough without listing obvious future moral victories (AJ returning!) or minuscule ones from this season. This is part 1 of my forward look to possible impacts on next year.

Out of the 29 listed juniors and 17 redshirt sophomores on our roster, the big names to circle for the spring's draft would be AJ, Justin Houston, and Ben Jones, with possibly Cornelius Washington and Brandon Boykin also in the mix. There always might be another surprise name popping up at some point due to the swirling uncertainty with the NFL's Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

As long as there's no CBA, any players who are taken in the 2011 Draft cannot sign with their drafting teams (especially since one of the major points in any CBA agreement will be instituting a rookie wage scale).

So, if you are a stud draft pick with remaining eligibility, do you:

1) Leave college for the draft in the hopes that the CBA might get signed, leaving your career at risk should some sort of fluke accident happen? Also, if there's no NFL season in 2011 (which is a real possibility, since the owners are reportedly collecting partial TV revenue for the season, whether it gets played or not; this of course is a lawsuit in the making), you would have to shake off some rust to fight 2011 and 2012 picks for a roster spot.

2) Stay in school, play football, get the regular NCAA injury insurance and maintain their draft stock for 2012. Or,

3) Avoid the 2011 draft, keep an eye on the CBA negotiations, and if an agreement is reached, screw up your eligibility to make yourself available for the summer NFL supplemental draft.

This option, which Paul Oliver took in 2007 after he was declared academically ineligible, is only realistic for the more elite, AJ/Justin Houston type prospects, especially since teams would be surrendering future draft picks. And this of course assumes that the players wanting to go in the supplemental draft could figure out a way to kill their fall eligibility (really tough not throwing in a joke here...).

While it would be a small miracle if AJ did return for a senior year, the possibility is definitely out there with the NFL CBA uncertainty.

4) New scheduling approach - While Damon Evans did wonders for the men's basketball program with the hiring of Mark Fox, his football scheduling approach was somewhat questioned, especially last year when we opened on the road against Oklahoma State during the inauguration/setup game of the newly refurbished Boone Pickens Stadium.

While I agree with BulldawgJosh that McGarity's proposed approach is a bit of a buzzkill and will hurt UGA's coast-to-coast public exposure, there is something to be said for Florida's results (3 MNCs) in the 18 years that they have not held an OOC game outside the state of Florida.

The alumni buzz for next weekend's Colorado has been more than palpable (I can only imagine a sold-out, 3,000 ticket UGA tailgate in Boulder with a waiting list), and I'm sure the buzz will be even more overwhelming for the 2013 Clemson game and especially the 2015 Oregon game in Eugene.

Although there is definitely merit in Nick Saban's approach to scheduling marquee games in recruiting hotbeds, I think that approach is more appropriate for outsiders-looking-in (ala Boise State, and the early years of Bowden/Florida State) and for state schools with recruiting areas less rich than Georgia.

For the OOC games UGA does pursue in the future, hopefully it will target recruiting-rich areas for games, approaching schools in California and Texas, as well as large media markets that will further expose UGA nationally (ie Rutgers).

It's tough trying to put lipstick on a pig. But I do think there are some things to continue to look forward to this year, especially the treat of seeing Murray blossom as a QB and the continued evolution of Todd Grantham's defense, which actually ranks 5th in the SEC in total defense.

For the rest of the season, I want to see the Dawgs playing with more fire and passion, living up to those words on the back of their off-season workout shirts. I want to see Grantham's energy on the sideline, which I suspect has been bottled up by some of the higher-ups. And as a suggestion to Mike Bobo, I think he needs to move back up to the box for play-calling, since he's definitely not seeing what everyone else is.