Posted: 11:17 am Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

Mark Richt’s incredible shrinking football team 

By Bill King

Shaq Wiggins makes a play during the G-Day game.  (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

Shaq Wiggins makes a play during the G-Day game. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)

We were in Chapel Hill late last week for my son’s graduation from UNC (he already has two degrees from UGA) when one of his old Athens roommates tweeted the news that Shaq Wiggins was transferring.

It came as a bit of a surprise considering Wiggins provided some of the few brights spots in Georgia’s secondary last season despite some inconsistent play, but then again the news wasn’t really a bolt out of the blue considering new defensive coordinator/secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt started a walk-on over Wiggins in the G-Day game.

That was probably a major factor in his decision to leave, combined with Wiggins not being crazy about a change in technique that arrived with Pruitt. No wonder Wiggins’ dad told the AJC’s Chip Towers that his son is likely to wind up at Louisville, where his former coach, Todd Grantham, is now accepting UGA defectors and castaways.

As it turned out, though, it’s a good thing Mark Richt told fans in Albany Monday night that he’s not afraid of attrition, because the  offseason got even more interesting this week with the news that wide receiver Uriah LeMay is the latest to transfer. That also was not particularly surprising, considering his brother Christian already had left Athens, he was buried on a talented depth chart, and he was probably facing some sort of suspension as a result of the check double-cashing affair.

Uriah LeMay never got to play for the Dogs. (UGA)

Uriah LeMay never got to play for the Dogs. (UGA)

Also, it explains somewhat the news Richt confirmed Monday that onetime starting cornerback Brendan Langley is moving from the already spare secondary to the receiving corps.

One thing’s for sure: Redshirt freshman Reggie Wilkerson’s return from ACL surgery is coming at an opportune time, and those true-freshman defensive backs arriving this summer — Shattle Fenteng, Malkolm Parrish, Shaq Jones and possibly “athlete” Dominick Sanders — certainly will get a shot at competing for a starting position right from the start!

While the loss of LeMay probably won’t be felt this coming season, with all the folks ahead of him in the rotation, the loss of the four-star recruit, who had a pretty good G-Day game, could loom a bit larger in future seasons. Losing Wiggins, however, on top of the dismissal of Josh Harvey-Clemons, means that once again Georgia will begin a season with a lack of experience among its defensive backs.

Looks like Pruitt is going to have an early opportunity to live up to that glowing reputation he brought from Alabama and FSU.

As for the question of whether a half dozen departures from the UGA football team since the end of least season raises any red flags about Richt’s program, I tend to think not. Disciplinary problems like Harvey-Clemons can prove to be a negative influence, and the team is probably better off without having to deal with his recurring suspensions. Most of the other departures weren’t expected to be major contributors any time soon. And, let’s face it, in this Twitterized age, kids tend to be a bit more impatient about playing time and aren’t as willing to warm a bench as in the old days. If they don’t think they’ll see the field much, they look elsewhere.

That’s just a fact of life in college football these days.

BULLDOG BITES

I’m sure the recent NFL draft was a major disappointment for those Aaron Murray bashers who’d been telling us for years that Richt kept the wrong QB when Zach Mettenberger was kicked off the team and that Mettenberger would be drafted well ahead of Murray. But for those of us who appreciated Murray’s hard work and gutsy play during his time at UGA, seeing him drafted ahead of Alabama’s AJ McCarron and LSU’s Mettenberger brought a smile. … Those UGA fans who aren’t completely football-centric have a lot of Bulldogs to pull for in NCAA tournament action this week, as the top-seeded Georgia men’s and women’s tennis teams begin Sweet 16 action at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens and the softball team, which won the SEC Tournament title, enters NCAA play as the No. 4 seed.

Go Dogs!

JUNKYARD MAIL CALL

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

81 comments
Dog4Life
Dog4Life

It is my obsessive paranoia, but if the O-Line gels quickly (1st two games are tough), then I suspect we will be fine.  My expectations are not high, but as with every season once the band tunes up I believe in my heart we can win them all.  Unrealistic i know, but i am an incurable optimistic and positive Dawg Fan.  They infuriate me, but since 1968 i have never left them--gave up my tickets not out of anger but too much screwy logistics.  Besides it is never hard to get tickets.  But, I am ready for the O-lIne to be big, the Oc to step it up and do not let up, and for the D to impress me.  Go Dawgss!!!!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Coach Donnan found not guilty.

I hope him and the investors can find peace with each other. And trust the verdict to be the truth.

Is a sad situation for all involved.

Just remember the old adage when investing....if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Or a fool soon parts with his money.

Get The Picture
Get The Picture

I agree with Dawg350 if the Defense can improve to top 35 overall we will be ok, can't be much worse than last year.

Dawg350
Dawg350

I hope natrez Patrick commits to the G today baby!

Dawg350
Dawg350

What a lot of people fail to realize is that we don't have to have the best defense in the world to win a championship. As good as our offense is....our D only has to be a little better than average!

DawginCO
DawginCO

We are inside 3 months until the opening of fall camp.  I think the special teams will be better and the D-line will be a strength again.  The O-line is not as ify as some might think but the key to this season is attitude.  The whole team needs to handle adversity better than they did last year.  The defense crumbled after big plays.  

Go look at game after game and you will see pretty stout play on 1st and 2nd down and then a break down on 3rd down.  Then depending on how big a play that 3rd down breakdown was, the wheels either came off or the cycle was repeated again until they did.  The defense sagged after the horrible call on Wilson.  If they had just held on then the game would have been different.  Even a FG would have been a big morale boost.


I would expect that such collapses will be rare under Pruitt.  It happens to even great defenses every once in a while but not every game and usually multiple times per game.


That was a big part of why the defense was so porous last year.  When you are down and confused, good God, how can you even play?

HowlinDawg
HowlinDawg

Defections with new coaches are common. Pruitt runs a tight/disciplined ship and some players obviously can't handle his approach and techniques required to play in his system. 


I remember the first year Richt was at UGA. Players were complaining about the off-season conditioning, with some of the players moving on to other schools. 


Based on Pruitt's experience and success at Alabama and FSU, you'd think players would want to have similar success. Obviously, and sadly, that isn't the case with the players who have departed from the team or moved to offense. 


In the long run, the program will only improve with his defense!

FGT
FGT

delusionaldog: you must be the runt

FGT
FGT

Always have the best interest of the kids, unlike tech.

FGT
FGT

did that FLAT TIRE guy get a job yet?

FGT
FGT

84 on scholarship. Not much room for anymore.

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

Bobo says he heard Pruitt tell someone that he will get his six players for the secondary that will do things as he says, and UGA "Will have a hell of a defense". I dont know why folks think the DL won't be strong. Much talent there, Rocker will have them ready to go. The OL can't be any worse than with the three clowns that are gone. I would say there is a great chance to be much improved here. Mason can handle the QB job with second to none receiving corps. When pruitt was asked which position he thought was stout, he said "tailback". He was not kidding. There will be a five star back lining up behind Mason on every meaningful snap in 2014. IMO, there isplenty of reason to be optimistic about 2014. 

ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

The thing about transferring to Louisville is that Grantham will be interim HC halfway through next season.  Then, when Poppa John buys a new HC, Grantham will be sending out resumes again.

FlatTire
FlatTire

Dawg350

when are the 2014 pre-season  national champions t-shirts going on sale?

Dawg350
Dawg350

We are gonna have a great recruiting class in 2015! Attrition is just part of the game!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bill, just out of curiousity, what's the 3rd degree in? What's your son's vocational plans?

Best wishes.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bill, congrats to your son.

And I'll be cheering on the tennis and softball Dawgs. As I do all of our teams, players, and students.

Speaking of kids looking elsewhere for playing time....this is a good reason not to lax the policy of sittting out transfers to other division 1 schools.

There would be serious poaching attempts and kids would be switching left and right all around the nation.

ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

Starting someone ahead of you is a challenge.  What type of player are you, the kind who steps it up to meet the challenge or the type who hits the road?

Ugaclassof2004
Ugaclassof2004

I' m starting to sound like a broken record going on 7 years now, but there is a reason most coaches don't stay at one school for more than 10 years, things become stale. Hunger is an important part of the equation, and as long as Richt is sitting in his big comfy chair and collecting paychecks, things won't change. I personally am tired of the 8-4 seasons and 3 point wins over teams we should beat by 3 TD's. Good is a failing formula.

DawginCO
DawginCO

Not going to say that it's a good thing that Wiggins and LeMay are going but it isn't the end of the universe either.  It's a shame Shaq is unwilling to make adjustments.  He isn't a bad kid but such an attitude can lead to some major issues in life.

BrownianMotion
BrownianMotion

the dogs have plenty of stars coming in to take care of this slack--no big deal--pruitt's D will rule the SEc east!!

Dawg350
Dawg350

Once Fenteng....Parrish....sanders....jones...get on campus! We will see the real team out there in fall practice! I can't wait. Our secondary will be better than you think!

HotDawg
HotDawg

I never go into a game thinking they will lose. Nothing wrong with that attitude.

If a team does, they've already lost.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Don't believe in get rich quick schemes.

Learn that as a child.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@HowlinDawg Grantham proved it isn't always about having talent on the field.  Part of his problem was making things more complicated than they had to be.  That means somebody probably wasn't doing it the way he wanted to on many plays.  The key to what Bobo said in regards to what Pruitt said is this: “I’m gonna tell you this about Jeremy Pruitt: He’s a great football coach in the fundamentals that are gonna make the difference in making a play and not making a play,”  Getting guys out of bad habits takes longer than teaching guys the proper way to do things.  

Wiggins left because he wasn't going to play because he didn't do things the Pruitt way.  If you have 4 guys doing what they are supposed to in the secondary (or 5) then it requires great individual plays to beat them.  If you have the same 4 or 5 and even 1 is not on the same page, that opens up alot more possibilities for big plays.  Jeremy Pruitt will have those guys playing together.  That means the opponent isn't going to have an easy time of it.  Last year they had some pretty good sized holes to pick at.  Pruitt may not have shutdown corners this year but he will have 4 or 5 guys playing the way he wants them to.  That is reassuring.

Top 10 defense? Probably not.  Top 30 more than likely.  Any way you slice it that is a big improvement. 

Dawg350
Dawg350

Hallelujah! Pruitt gonna have those boys ready! Go dawgs son!

Dawg350
Dawg350

Flat,

Why are you ruling out a national title already? Pruitt is a dang good coach....remember he had the best D in the nation last year and FSU lost 9 guys off of the 2012 defense. So that's. Pretty impressive don't you think? We have all the ingredients to win the sec and I think we will! Go dawgs!

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@HotDawg  City and regional planning. He's going to be director of planning and development for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance in Raleigh, NC.

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

@Dawg350 Don't forget Wilkerson...........but yea your on the right track............RED

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@Dawg350


Go  350!!!!!!!!!!        Go   350!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Where have you been son??????????????

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

Flat, Buck Belue is not an authority on S#!%. He was the one that Dooley chose as the best hander offer. He made one little dump pass to Scott, and was then a legend in his own mind. He could nt make a patch on Mason' butt as far as being a QB goes. Next.

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

@Dawg350  I picked up on that also. Florida State loses 9 guys off the Defense and doesn't need a year to rebuild. Pruitt has a lot to work with and I think Georgia's Defense will surprise everybody. Georgia will beat Clemson by 2 touchdown and South Carolina by 10 points.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@Dawg350   The O-line once again is a big question mark.  The d-line and secondary is as well and will the special teams perform?  And a new QB


Way too many issues to fix to be coming on here touting championships

HotDawg
HotDawg

Sweet. That is wonderful. I'm sure you are very proud.

Too bad he's not around here to help out with the Braves project in Cobb.

That looks like a nightmare challenge to deal with in a very short time.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Snaggle puss

Been a little busy...I hope you are doing well Snaggle?

HotDawg
HotDawg

Buck was an all-sec qb....why the disrespect? He knew how to execute the offense while playing. Wasn't perfect, but I'm very grateful. Team sport and he was a big part of the team. He was then and is now very knowledgable of the position and sport.

Also, much different era to compare with todays qb's. Schools didn't fling the ball around like today. So you're not really comparing apples to apples.

if you have some kind of personal dislike for him, that's your problem. But don't deny his accomplishments.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@FlatTire @ColumbusDawgas do most of us here.  But I am not going to say that I know more about football than a guy that has coached on 4 National Championship teams in the past 5 years.  If Pruitt says it then I think he means it.  Now "hell of a defense" isn't necessarily saying they'll be better than what he has coached elsewhere.  I think he'd say so if that were the case.

HowlinDawg
HowlinDawg

@ColumbusDawg  Belue played in the system he was given. He wasn't the best QB in the history of UGA football, but he has a leader. He proved that leadership during UGA's national championship season in 1980, and he proved it in amazing fashion his senior year against Florida, leading the Dawgs to a dramatic comeback victory. 


In fact, he game management and well-timed passes to Herschel Walker and the receiving corps proved to be a major part of the game. That, and the grind-it-out running of Walker. 


Since his college days, he has proven to be an apt commentator in both the print and electronic media. 

DawginCO
DawginCO

@C-Kirk @Dawg350I won't go as far as you have on the predictions C-_kirk, ( I don't do predictions ) but I do agree that the defense will probably surprise a few people.  Now is that enough?  I don't know. 

Dawg350
Dawg350

C- kirk

I agree, UGA will beat both SC and Clemson! Ya got to believe in the G!

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

Thanks Bill.  You know what for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

HotDawg
HotDawg

D-line should be a strong point.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Pruitt already has a couple of his players coming in....Shaq Jones and Dominick Sanders coming in this summer. I think the defense will improve each game and by the end of the season will be one of the best in the conference. I agree once Pruitt gets more of his guys in here we only gonna get better and better.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@Dawg350   Seeing what Pruitt has done so far I believe he is going to make the defense better.   I dont see things being fixed this season with all the issues we have seen until he gets his players and his coaching style in

Dawg350
Dawg350

Flat

The d- line? Yeah right! We will have one of the best d- lines in the sec. I will give you that on the secondary....we probably have some struggles there. Qb....well I think mason will be just as good as Murray. The biggest problem on special teams last year was dropped snaps on punts.....I think Pruitt and staff will fix that.