Posted: 12:09 pm Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Junkyard Mail: Bulldogs fans’ 2014 football expectations mostly optimistic 

By Bill King

John Theus, Todd Gurley and Hutson Mason are all key components in the Georgia offense's 2014 prospects. (John Kelley / UGA)

John Theus, Todd Gurley and Hutson Mason are all key components in the Georgia offense’s 2014 prospects. (John Kelley / UGA)

This week saw 11 members of Mark Richt’s 2014 Georgia football team named to the Athlon Sports Preseason All-SEC Team: Tailback Todd Gurley, inside linebacker Ramik Wilson and placekicker Marshall Morgan were named to the first team, while flanker Malcolm Mitchell, center David Andrews and outside linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins were second-team picks. Tackle John Theus and cornerback Damian Swann were picked for the third team, and defensive end Ray Drew and inside linebacker Amarlo Herrera were named to the fourth team. Gurley, Wilson and Floyd also were named to Phil Steele’s Preseason All-America Team this week.

Meanwhile, the Dogs were on something of a recruiting tear this week, beating out Bama for a verbal commitment from four-star tight end Jackson Harris of Columbia, Tenn. That followed Georgia landing commitments from defensive back Deandre Baker, outside linebacker Gary McCrae and linebacker Juwan Taylor earlier in the month. And with the Mark Richt Camp taking place Saturday, more commitments could follow.

Also, wide receiver Charlie Hegedus, who played at Lassiter High and spent two seasons at North Carolina State, announced he was joining the Dogs as a walk-on. He’ll be eligible to play immediately.

All in all, good week for the program. So I thought it was a good time to take the temperature of the Bulldog Nation on the coming season. On Facebook and Twitter, I asked followers of the Blawg this question: What are your expectations for UGA football in 2014?

Responses I got are included in this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

We start out on a very positive note. Jessy Fowler writes: Expect: 3,000 yards for [Hutson] Mason, 1,200 yards for [Todd] Gurley, improvement on defense, beat Florida and Tech, win the East, lose the SEC Championship Game, win the Capital One Bowl. Desire: win the SECCG, secure playoff berth, win the first ever College Football Playoff. Not too much to ask either way, right? GO DAWGS!

Dillon Brinson writes: Love your Blawgs, Bill. I think most fans would agree that barring another season of injuries to key players the Dawgs should at least make it to the SEC Championship game. It seems reasonable given the talent we have on offense and assuming Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt can turn the defense around. Beyond that point is anyone’s guess.

Hal Marshall writes: I expect the Dogs to bounce back to about where they stood in 2011 and 2012, meaning I see an 11-1 or 10-2 record and making it to the Georgia Dome as the Eastern champion. Not ready to go all the way and predict a conference championship. But, Bill, if Georgia did go 11-1 and was the loser of the SEC Championship Game, do you think that would be good enough to make the playoff?

Sally Jackson writes: My expectations for my Dawgs this season are the same as every season: 12-0, baby! Remember, you asked for expectations, not predictions. And I always expect Georgia to be able to beat anyone and everyone on the schedule. Now, if I had to predict a season record at this point, I think I’d go 11-1. I really think the only games in question are South Carolina and Auburn, and I believe we’ll split those. Go Dawgs!

And Asheville Dawg kept it succinct, simply writing: Bill, I see and expect another 10-win season. Good enough to win the East!

Sally, sounds like you’re almost as optimistic as my brother Jon, who not only always expects the Dogs to go undefeated, but makes that his official prediction as well. Jessy, I don’t know if 3,000 yards throwing is an overly optimistic expectation for Mason or not, but I will say that if he does match Aaron Murray in that regard I think Georgia will be in very good shape. Like Dillon says, barring injury, I think a big season for Gurley is a pretty safe expectation. And, Hal, I’d say the answer to your playoff question would depend on how many other one-loss major-conference teams there are (and who they are). But, especially if the loss in the championship game was a close one (as in 2012), I’d say a Georgia team with one regular season loss and a championship game loss would at least be in the conversation.

Not everyone was as optimistic as the above folks, however. Ed Carlton writes: Bill, my expectations are tempered by all the personnel problems on defense and the fact that I heard somewhere even Jeremy Pruitt is predicting that because he doesn’t have all the talent on board yet that he needs, he won’t be able to match last year’s showing with FSU. Yeah, the Seminoles had a green secondary, but the talent level was considerably above Georgia’s. I’m afraid I see a 7-5 year in 2014. However, my expectations for 2015 are considerably higher!

Ed, you’re right about it being unlikely Pruitt will be able to do quite the job in his first year in Athens that he did at Florida State. The question is how much the secondary will be improved over what Todd Grantham had last season. If there is even a modicum of improvement and Mike Bobo’s offense stays healthy and performs up to expectations, I believe the Dogs should still be able to have a much better season than you’re expecting.

Mark Richt and Mike Bobo are likely to continue to balance the Dogs' running and passing attacks. (Dan Evans / UGA)

Mark Richt and Mike Bobo are likely to continue to balance the Dogs’ running and passing attacks. (Dan Evans / UGA)

Checking out some of the other mail, Larry W. Tucker writes: It’s early, but on paper we should be loaded at tailback. Do you think that Bobo might try more running plays using up tempo and keeping a fresh back in there at all times? I know he is big on balance, but you sure can’t argue with the results Auburn put up last year.

Larry, I don’t see Bobo trying to emulate Gus Malzahn’s mostly-run offensive approach when he’s got one of the nation’s most productive passing attacks, but with Gurley and Keith Marshall in the backfield backed by Brendan Douglas, A.J. Turman and the two freshmen, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, he is likely to keep a fresh back in — unless Gurley is, as Richt said recently, really pounding it. Then they’ll let him pound away.

Lamar Westbrook writes: Hey Bill, when will it end? Every time I check lately, a Georgia player is in trouble or leaving for another school!! Also the school happens to be Louisville every time. If I am Richt, I would let them leave but there is no way I would let them go to Louisville! Correct me if I am wrong, but can Richt put stipulations to where they can’t go to?

Lamar, Richt could indeed put restrictions on where departing players can transfer, but he chooses not to do so. I don’t see him changing his stance on that, either.

And, switching sports, SSI Sammy writes: Bill, what do you think of the proposal that the Georgia and Georgia Tech basketball coaches have come up with to play every third year at Philips Arena in Atlanta? Sounds to me like a good way to goose interest in both of the state’s top college basketball programs!

Sammy, that’s certainly the idea. As Tech coach Brian Gregory told the AJC, “We want to get it where it’s a big game in the state. I think that’d be good for us, and it’d be good for college basketball in the state.” Of course, it’s not a new idea. The game was played at the old Omni from 1981 to 1994, but then moved back to on-campus because UGA officials thought the Atlanta location favored the Jackets, which it probably did. Still, as an every-third-year arrangement, I think it might be worth trying. Since the game is usually mid-week, it would certainly make it easier for UGA supporters in Atlanta to attend. Anyone think it’s a bad idea?

Filling up unused lower-level seats could help improve the atmosphere at Stegeman Coliseum. (UGA)

Filling up unused lower-level seats could help improve the atmosphere at Stegeman Coliseum. (UGA)

Meanwhile, another possible tweaking to UGA basketball games is under consideration and it’s an idea I heartily back. Apparently, UGA athletic director Greg McGarity was impressed with the level of crowd intensity at Georgia’s two NIT games this past season. Even though they were small crowds, because those games were general-admission, everyone sat close to the court and it made for a much more boisterous atmosphere. That’s in contrast with regular Georgia home games at the Steg, where many of the lower-level seats that are assigned to season-ticket holders remain empty — something that’s bothered me for years. I’ve always wondered why, at some point, they don’t let fans from the upper levels move down into those empty seats. And that’s exactly what McGarity and his staff are trying to work out, the Athens Banner-Herald reported, with their thinking being that, possibly at the 16-minute or 12-minute mark of the game, fans will be allowed to come down and fill empty lower-level seats. Sounds like a great idea!

Go Dogs!

Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics? Or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Email junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

96 comments
DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

That would be great for us to play Tech at Phillips sometimes.  More importantly, I want us to expect to win, like we have at home.

DIT
DIT

As much as I don't want to say this, I think UGA will lose 3 this year. Pruitt is not a miracle worker. Tough to rebuild a defense when your biggest play makers, and trouble makers, leave the team. However, I believe the defense will have the look of a team that has a clue what it's doing out there. Give Pruitt a couple of seasons and the Junkyard defense will be back. (if he decides to stick around. He will be a high commodity for a HC job)

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

I love how Chip puts up the long winded opinion of Matthew's auntie on how wonderful her nephew is, with no comments allowed.

Classof98
Classof98

"...but then moved back to on-campus because UGA officials thought the Atlanta location favored the Jackets, which it probably did."


These are the same UGA officials who deny that playing Florida in Jacksonville favors the Gators.  I think Bill King denies it too.

1942MNC
1942MNC

Much too early to tell, I will go 9-3 with my guess. Just have to wait and see how all of the parts mesh.

ShowMeYurTDs
ShowMeYurTDs

Heart says 12-0, head says 6-6 at best . Offense strong, only one weak spot, QB. Defense and special teams will be disaster. Kicker only other bright spot that shines with the RB's. GO DAWGS!

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

I'm feeling optimistic this afternoon, so 8-4!

DawginCO
DawginCO

This upcoming season is all about the defense.  And it all comes down to the secondary.  If Pruitt can get those guys on the same page and have them being able to get some 3rd down stops, then it could be a special season.  But that is alot of ifs.  The front 7 will be good.  They were last year and that is the only reason that the defense was not even worse than it was.  I don't see the secondary being any worse and I do see them improving unlike last year.


The offense could be our most potent ever.  Alot has been made of Mason's arm strength and the potential lack of a down field game.  Mason can chuck the ball 30 yards folks and that is all you need to be able to make teams respect the deep ball.  If a guy is behind a safety and you get it over the top then you can have explosive plays.  With the RB corps that we will be trotting out on Saturdays this fall, safties will be cheating up to stop the run.  David Greene did not have a big arm and he managed to get the ball deep a few times.  mason can as well.  The key is getting rid of the ball sooner.  When you get air under the ball it gives the DB a chance to recover.  But if you get the ball out when the WR is just getting separation, you can still float it a bit and have the receiver run under it.  I think we will be surprised by how Mason uses his reads to manufacture a deep game.  If those safeties start cheating up, make'em pay.  And I think he will.


Again, none of this is a given.  The key is how the secondary comes together early.  If they can be just good enough to keep us in the game early (Clemson and SC) then it will be just a matter of how many guys we can keep healthy to face down UF and Auburn.  The defense will be better and it may be significantly better later in the year.  That could be a heck of a finish.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Congrats to Erik Compton for tying for 2nd place at the U.S. Open!

Not bad for a guy who's had 3 hearts.

Was a definite crowd favorite.

Heard the Dawgs barking as he walked in the clubhouse.

Now he has the Masters invite. Best wishes at Augusta next year Erik.

amoresi
amoresi

Dawgs lose to Mizzou in Columbia.

maconexpress
maconexpress

No prediction here I just want to see the dawgs run the football more. A lot more toss sweeps and a lot less abandoning the run after gaining significant yards. Just keep pounding away! They  have the horses to lead the league in rushing and the horsepower to rush their way through the playoffs for the title.

SEP-AU
SEP-AU

As usual, what they should be is 'mostly concerned'.  Everybody knows UGA only goes so far.  Hello Music City. 

RedoubtSouth
RedoubtSouth

As with any collegiate football season, there are always more questions than answers. The graduation turn-over rate for players is constantly high so... you really never know what you're going to get until you got it, lol.


Our (UGA's) first two games (Clemson and Yardbirds) will pretty much decide the season. Also, with the SEC having their own channel now... the cost of watching these games on TV is likely to jackrabbit over the garden fence. 

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

I'm cautiously optimistic about the upcoming season.  I'm confident in our offense and expecting Mason to do well, although his passing stats will not be like Murray's.  Like Bill, if the defense improves at all, as they should, we should have a realistic shot to make the SECCG and see what happens from there.


Have they fixed (gotten rid of, by any chance) the targeting rule?  That was the single worst conceived, implemented and enforced rule I have ever seen.  It had a huge negative impact on the game of college football and did nothing it was ostensibly designed to do. 

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

The Cabanas will be Great in September, possibly OK in October and TERRIBLE in November and December, for Jaguar fans.   So, our game falls into the late part of the "iffy" period.   They just better make up for the missing seats.  While I do think it would be fun (say, when the Falcons play the Jaguars) if the weather was right and someone else was paying for it ("rent one of the four poolside cabanas on the first level for $12,500 a game"), I don't see it being a winner overall.  After the initial interest is satisfied, it will be a loser due to the limited use.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

HotDawg....It is too soon to have programming available to purchase by most cable providers.  But I am like you, I am anxious for football to start and I want everything planned and accomplished in advance.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Did ya'll hear that Jax took out 7,000 seats from their stadium to put in a pool and cabana (or something like that)?

Problem is UGA and FL sold those seats already for game. And we don't need to lose 7000 seats for future games. Both athletic depts. are ticked off.

I haven't heard any other details. Don't know how many people the cabanas(?!) or pool area will accommodate.

I never liked it when they changed it to a pro stadium. I actually felt more cramped with the seats.

The old gator bowl had character when it literally swayed, fans stomping on the benches in the stands, rocking the tunnels that the players came onto the field.

pro stadium is just too sterile.

But it is still a great atmosophere for the GA-Fl game.

Dog4Life
Dog4Life

@DIT You may be right, however, let me point out that a lot of players played last year.  JHC and Matthews missed a lot of games.  So, we do have some playing time experience coming back.  Moreover, we have a simpler scheme where players can follow assignments easier--where Granthhams Chines Fire Drill kept everyone confused even the experienced players.  The D will be better than most think, there is even more athleticism than Pruitt will allow.  I somehow get the impression he is Dooleying us about how bad we are and how good the opponent is--But i cannot absolutely refute your prediction.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@Classof98  So, you're saying it DOES favor the Gators?  You're dead wrong, statistically and otherwise.   We've owned them in Jacksonville.  Now, has the city itself leaned toward the Gators?  Sure, but so what.

HotDawg
HotDawg

it does not favor Florida. because the uga football fans show up at the game in Jacksonville. they don't so much show up for the basketball game in Atlanta. as much as Tech fans. no comparison between the two games or sports.

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

Two things stand out to me that will help on D, the willingness to blitz, a lot, and the fact that there will be man coverage on opponent's previously free running receivers. I can not for the life of me understand what that idiot Grantham thought the benefit would be for the defensive backs to be ten to fifteen yards off of the receiver.

As far as Mason goes, he looks to be progressing with his throwing delivery, getting the ball downfield with a flatter trajectory. For example, the pass over the middle to M. Bennett in the spring game that he dove out and caught one handed would have been right in Malcolm Mitchell'sbread basket, he would have took it to the house.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@DawginCO  Mason was sacked 8 times against poor teams last year.   if the O-line doesnt improve which I really doubt given we are replacing 3 from last year;  the secondary wont be the only problem.  has the special teams been fixed? Thats another issue

HotDawg
HotDawg

8 Bulldogs qualified for this years U.S. Open. Amazing number!

2014 - Masters winner, Bulldog Bubba Watson

2014 - U.S.Open runner up, Bulldog Erik Compton

2014 British Open and PGA Championship still to come.

GO DAWGS!!

DawginCO
DawginCO

@maconexpress The key to why our team scores alot of points and (when healthy) has been almost unstoppable, is balance.  The threat of getting rip to shreds with the passing game stops teams from concentrating on the run.  And vice versa.  We have one of the most balanced offenses in college football.  When the balance remains in it's proper place, this offense cannot be stopped.  LSU and UF both fell back because they tried the power football model with no credible air threat.  LSU brought in a NFL guys and he immediately restored their balance offensively.  UF has failed to do this and still wallows around because of it.


Bobo's worst games as an OC have been when he failed to maintain balance.  Either he went pass happy and abandoned the run or he spent too much time trying to bash his head against stacked fronts.  The answer is balance.  I want to see the first down passes andhave teams unable to figure out what we might do on 3rd and 4.  Or in the red zone.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Targeting rule is in place. But now if it is overruled, the player stays in game and no penalty is assessed.

The lunacy last year had to do with penalties still remaining after an overrule of call.

I still think the targeting rule is bad and unnecessary. It doesn't account for a players flow to the tackle or offensive players body turns. Or inadvertent hits.

It also has proven to show defensive players hesitating or adjusting on tackles. Which has cost tackles, first downs, pass breakups, and td's.

They can eliminate the targeting rule and still be able to call personal fouls on blatant hits.

Too many "safety" rules are affecting the game itself. Football is a rough and enjoyable sport. Change the rules too much and it isn't football anymore.

TravisBickle2014
TravisBickle2014

@Quackmeyer The SEC network doesn't begin broadcasting programs until AUGUST and I think they are still working out deals with other providers to offer their programming.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@HotDawg I just heard about this last week but this was announced by the Jaguars back in March.  Wonder why we're just now hearing about it?  Had Bill King reported this earlier and I just missed it in all the negativity we were being bombarded with back then?

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@HotDawg That's only half the story.

The schools have told Jax they won't be using/sellng the cabanas, and so temporary seating will be put in for the Georgia-Florida game. They already bring in temporary seating elsewhere in the stadium to acccomodate that game.

HotDawg
HotDawg

I have been to more games in Jacksonville where there has been more Georgia fans than Florida fans.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@ColumbusDawg  in case you missed it Mason would have been sacked several times during that spring game had that been a real game.  The first play in the spring game would have been a sack

DawginCO
DawginCO

@FlatTire  The line will be fine.  I should have known the greatest pessimist known to man would have to find some way to make a negative out of the positive.

I won't respond to you and your pessimism any longer.  It is an act of futility.  You are locked in and frozen solid in your negative world and no matter what I or anyone else brings to the table will shake you out of your death grip on your precious negativity.  I don't do futile.


Have fun poisoning blogs and undermining the fanbase of the Georgia Bulldogs.  It hasn't done a bit of good so far and it will do nothing but make things worse in the future. 


Again, I will not respond to you any longer.  I am here to have fun and be entertained.  You spit on that and since I can't kick you out of these blogs then my only choice is to ignore you. 

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

Flat, the three that are being replaced, well how can I put it, SUCKED. Can't be any worse.

maconexpress
maconexpress

@DawginCO  -  CMR is the hc so it doesn't matter what I think, I just want to see more toss sweeps, less passing and less abandoning the run.

The Gators fell back because they have an inexperience hc who got hit with a load of injuries. Actually, LSU rush the ball fairly well it was their defense that didn't live up to LSU's standard.

HotDawg
HotDawg

I know the SEC Network programming doesn't begin till August.

I was talking about my cable (currently Comcast), has yet to have a deal to carry the channel.

And we're basically two months away from the start.

I'd say that is cutting it close.

I don't mind paying a reasonable premium for the channel. Just offer it, so I don't have to jump through hoops to get it.

HotDawg
HotDawg

DVOR, No. I just heard about it on WSB's Bulldog Gameweek on Saturday.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bill,

Wow! I can't believe Jax didn't consult with schools or plan better with their "remodeling".

They do have very specific contracts with each school.

I'll bet this is not the last of this story.

When did the "remodeling" job happen and why is this news just leaking out now?

Did everybody just find out about this?

Amazing Jax would keep schools in the dark about this change that affects each ticket base.

Gotta admit though, it would be fun to hang at a stadium pool and cabana for a game one time!

Please keep us informed of any new news.

HotDawg
HotDawg

and the plane trip Georgia takes to Jacksonville is not a big deal

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

I can't argue with you there, and if there is not improvement made, then IMO, it should not just be Friend, but RICHT's butt on the line. I am ready for a no nonsense head coach for the Georgia Bulldog Football Team. All of the father figure crap is fine, but a hard nosed S.O.B like Pruitt is needed at the head coach position in my book.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@DawginCO  yes it is also entertainment for me reading all these amazing predictions posted on here especially predictions involving areas where UGA has struggled such as the O-line

FlatTire
FlatTire

@ColumbusDawg  and why werent they replaced during the season? the same coaching philosophy is still in place unless I missed where someone else is coaching the O-line

DawginCO
DawginCO

@maconexpress  Actually I was talking about 2012 for LSU when they had no passing game at all and everybody was able to stuff the run.  And UF has sucked offensively since Muschamp arrived because he wanted to use a traditional power running game and that doesn't cut it any more.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Anybody notice Comcast has already shutdown it's CSS programming.. About a month or two ago.

It was planned to end after SEC Network was announced.

Dog4Life
Dog4Life

@HotDawg not in late Oct early Nov.  It is usually brisk, cold or raining in Jax during the Ga/Fla game.  I have been when it was warm, but not very often.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@HotDawg The Cabanas will be Great in September, possibly OK in October and TERRIBLE in November and December, for Jaguar fans.   So, our game falls into the late part of the "iffy" period. They just better make up for the missing seats.  While I do think it would be fun (say, when the Falcons play the Jaguars) if the weather was right and someone else was paying for it ("rent one of the four poolside cabanas on the first level for $12,500 a game"), I don't see it being a winner overall.  After the initial interest is satisfied, it will be a loser due to the limited use.  

I agree with you that it would be fun to experience maybe one time.  I'm also wondering why we are just now hearing about the cabanas, since it was announced back in March by the Jaguars.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Jacksonville pays for the plane trip

maconexpress
maconexpress

DawginCO, that's why I prefer a strong running game because even with a weak passing game you still can win the sec with a relentless running game. 

They stuffed HW in the 80s but coach Dooley never abandoned the run.  I believe the team that wins the sec will lead the league in rushing and will play for the national championship. I hope that team is UGA!

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@HotDawg I wonder why Comcast is slow to pull the trigger on this.  It seems like a must have for SEC fans and will attract interest in some of the other markets.  I have ATT U-verse and think I'm set.  I'm looking forward to both football and other sports.  I understand one of the first SEC football exclusives will be USCe vs Texas A&M, which should be both a good game and very interesting in the post Manziel and Clowney era.

HotDawg
HotDawg

$12,500 ?!!

Really?

Do you own part of the stadium for that?

They better offer a heck of a lot of "extra benefits" than sitting by a pool. Including Kate Upton!

DawginCO
DawginCO

@maconexpress And we lost the chance at 2 additional National Championships to Pittsburgh and Penn St because they could throw the ball and we could not.  Balance wins games at any level.

maconexpress
maconexpress

DawginCO I agree having balance is a good recipe for success. If CMB can maintain balance throughout the coarse of the season without those costly ints and those short time of possessions dawg nation have hope.

Pitt and Penn St were just bigger and better. Give credit where credit is due.