Posted: 11:59 am Saturday, July 26th, 2014

Junkyard Mail: Getting Dogs’ secondary on track, Clemson game, honoring Dooley and more! 

By Bill King

Can Jeremy Pruitt turn the Dogs' dysfunctional secondary around in one season? (University of Georgia)

Can Jeremy Pruitt turn the Dogs’ dysfunctional secondary around in one season? (University of Georgia)

Bulldogs reserve linebacker Davin Bellamy, a redshirt freshman, was arrested early Saturday morning on charges of DUI and speeding, which means Jordan Jenkins may not get quite as much relief as expected at outside linebacker during the Clemson and South Carolina games.

So, yet another off-season arrest for Mark Richt’s team, and I’m not sure what’s left to say about that other than I’ve given up trying to figure out why so many college players these days keep doing dumb things that they know are going to cost them playing time.

Anyway, let’s dive into some Junkyard Mail. …

Andrew in Charleston, S.C., writes: Hey Bill, I’m sure you have seen ESPNU playing the best games from last season over the past few days. Recently, I watched the UGA vs. LSU game and grew very excited seeing a potent offense that will mostly return to wreak havoc again this year. However, I also watched gross missed coverages and confusion on defense that turned average signal-callers into All SEC caliber players. As was well-documented, the offense, much to the credit of a determined [Aaron] Murray, had to bail out the defense. I am eager to see the difference Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt can bring; I have loved the attitude he has brought to the table. I thought [Todd] Grantham excused much underperformance. On the contrary, Pruitt seems to make no excuses, whether it’s player weight, playbook knowledge, etc. Go Dawgs!

Many folks think the Bulldogs’ 2014 season hinges on that point, Andrew. Barring another run of injuries like the one that derailed the 2013 season, Georgia’s offense should again be extremely potent, even with a new quarterback in Hutson Mason. And the defensive front should be pretty stout. Ah, but the secondary …

A dysfunctional group that was obviously poorly coached last season has lost an awful lot of talent and experience thanks to the departures of starters Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tray Matthews and Shaq Wiggins and Brendan Langley moving over to offense. That leaves the very experienced but frustratingly inconsistent Damian Swann and a middling starting safety, Corey Moore. JJ Green has turned heads with his progress at the star position since moving over from tailback, and Sheldon Dawson and Quincy Mauger showed flashes of potential last season. Much also is expected of junior college transfer Shattle Fenteng, and there’s some young talent coming into the program.

Of course, the big problem last year was that, at times, much of the defense (particularly the secondary) looked like it didn’t know what page of the playbook it was supposed to be on, and the blame for that rightly has fallen on Todd Grantham and his indecisive calling of overly complex schemes. Richt has made indirect reference to that several times, most recently at SEC Media Days when he said of Jeremy Pruitt: “I don’t think he’s going to call anything those guys can’t execute.” And Pruitt swept into town like a new sheriff this spring, demoting players right and left and even putting walk-ons in starting positions to try and get the message across that everyone had to show up every day and earn their playing time. It helps, of course, that Pruitt is a secondary coach by trade, but will that be enough to turn things around? The folks picking South Carolina over Georgia in the SEC East obviously don’t think so.

Will Crafton writes: Hey Bill, After being at one of Sanford’s greatest games in recent history vs. LSU [last season], I remembered how great the atmosphere was and how we were all given free red shakers before the game. Any chance we can see if that can happen again when we take on Clemson? I think it’d be a great bonus to what is sure to be a hyped crowd and a hyped game. Go Dawgs!

Will the crowd for the Clemson game make as much noise as at last year's LSU game? (Perry McIntyre Jr. / UGA)

Will the crowd for the Clemson game make as much noise as at last year’s LSU game? (Perry McIntyre Jr. / UGA)

You’re right, Will. The atmosphere at that LSU game last year was absolutely electric. Probably the most hyped up I’ve ever seen a Sanford Stadium crowd. And I think it helped the Dogs quite a bit. As for plans concerning this year’s opener with Clemson, I put that question to Emily Deitz, assistant athletic director for promotions, and she said: “We will distribute red shakers at all home games, with the quantities still being determined. … We continue to strive to enhance game day atmosphere for our fans, and shakers have been a strong part of that tradition. We are continually planning ways to give our fans tools to make Sanford Stadium the toughest place to play.” I’d also love to see a pep rally to kick off the season and get the fans revved up early for the Clemson game, but Emily said she had not heard any plans for one and “that is not something that has traditionally been done.” I think maybe they ought to reconsider that.

Nick Gannam writes: Hello Bill, Last year during the media coverage of the uniform redesign I believe I remember reading a quote from someone close to the program that the true silver britches are returning in 2014. We are a few weeks away from Kickoff 2014. Are there any updates regarding shiny pants?

Back in March in a live chat on Georgiadogs.com, Greg McGarity said, “We are working with our partners at Nike to create a more ‘silver’ silver for the Dawgs’ silver britches,” and in May I checked with Senior Associate Athletic Director Claude Felton, who said: “Uniform design and production is quite a lengthy process these days but the new ‘silver’ should be good to go for the 2015 season.” So, not this season, but next.

Jim P. writes: Bill, Before we enter the hectic pace of the season in a month, I would like to propose a proper honor for Coach Vince Dooley. The statue that was put in “left field” away from the stadium is not enough. It is time to rename Sanford stadium to Sanford-Dooley Stadium (respectfully keeping Sanford first). Yes, this has been bandied about previously. And some Sanford family members are against it. That is one reason to keep the Sanford name at the forefront. But two reasons make me want to push this immediately. One, new President Jere Morehead may be more open than our previous president. Two, Coach Dooley is not getting any younger. We should do this while he and his family can enjoy the honor together. One idea has been to name the field. I never liked that. We play “Between the Hedges.” Not at “Sanford Stadium on Dooley Field.” What are your thoughts on a possible petition? Isn’t there a large website dedicated to petitions?  “Change” something or other?

Vince Dooley's name should be represented where UGA plays its football games. (University of Georgia)

Vince Dooley’s name should be represented where UGA plays its football games. (University of Georgia)

Yeah, change.org is a site where you can get petitions going. As I’ve written before, I very strongly believe that naming the southwest portion of the athletic complex after Vince Dooley and putting up a statue in an inconspicuous location that’s a 20-minute walk from the stadium is not enough. That’s not the way the university ought to pay tribute to a man who’s devoted most of his life to UGA and served it proudly. Dooley should be honored where his teams played and won championships. UGA legend Dan Magill wrote way back in 2001 that UGA should honor Dooley by going with Sanford-Dooley Stadium. And that’s my preferred option. However, I disagree with you about the other option: calling it Vince Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium. I’d be fine with either Sanford-Dooley Stadium (has a nicer ring than Dooley-Sanford) or Vince Dooley Field. But whichever it is, now that Michael Adams is gone and the petty feud he had with Dooley is no longer a factor, UGA should do right by its legendary former coach.

Terry Snowden is one of a couple of readers who inquired recently whether Georgia football practices are ever open to public. He writes: Bill, I’d love to spend a Saturday in August taking my kids to the Woodruff Practice Fields to see the Dawgs getting ready for the season. I know that during the season practices are usually closed, sometimes even to the media, but does Mark Richt ever let folks watch one of the preseason workouts?

I didn’t recall that happening since early in the Jim Donnan era, and Claude Felton backed up my memory, saying, “I don’t think I recall one in recent years that was.” It’s a shame, since I remember what fun my son had seeing the Dogs up close back in the Ray Goff days when the Athens Touchdown Club used to hold a cookout before one of the August practices, and then kids got to go on the field and get photos and autographs from players before sitting in the stands at Sanford Stadium and watching a scrimmage. In the Internet age, however, the paranoia level seems to run at a much higher level and I doubt that’s going to change under Richt.

On a subject other than football, Jim Cooney writes: It’s almost that time of the year as fall ball is fast approaching for Coach [Scott] Stricklin’s [baseball] squad. I understand that football is at the forefront of almost everyone’s concerns at this time. However, I have a question about the 2015 season for UGA baseball. I have watched the June 30th video on the Foley Field renovation posted on the Georgiadogs.com site. With another year of UGA’s top signees signing professional baseball contracts this past late spring and early summer, how is the progress coming along for the new Foley Field? A follow-up question would be the expectations of how our new Foley Field will compare to other parks in the SEC? Obviously the [Texas A&M] Blue Bell double-decker park in College Station is larger, as are most other parks in [SEC] West. Personally, I think 4,000-ish seating capacity will be perfect for Athens, however, it must be a total state of the art park to compete with the Alex Box, Dudy Noble and Baum stadiums of the conference. Thank you, Bill, for your time and efforts.

Artist's rendering of the revamped Foley Field. (University of Georgia)

Artist’s rendering of the revamped Foley Field. (University of Georgia)

Jim, the June 30 video with Assistant Athletic Director for Facilities Charles Whittemore touring the construction site is the most recent update, but from all reports the plans for the revamped Foley Field to be ready for the next season are on track. However, increasing the capacity of UGA’s baseball stadium is not part of the plan. The official seating capacity will remain unchanged, at a little over 3,200 but there will be 75 screened-in club seats added behind home plate, and 125 club seats added at the press box level. (Foley can actually hold more; the record currently is 4,461 against Mississippi State in 2009,) So Foley will remain the second-smallest baseball venue in the SEC, with only Kentucky’s having fewer seats. The chief aim of this $12 million renovation is upgrading the facilities for players (including new locker rooms, lounges, video room and training areas) and enhancing the fan experience with new concession and restroom facilities on the expanded concourse. Plus, the press box is being renovated. There’ll also be a snazzy new plaza and entrance to the stadium. So, while Foley won’t get any larger, it should be a much upgraded facility this coming season.

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

84 comments
HotDawg
HotDawg

Welcome to reporting day Dawgs.

First practice is tomorrow.

Dawg350
Dawg350

UGA 31 Clemson 13 UGA 28 SC 21...... Book it!!!!!!

HotDawg
HotDawg

I'm going to do this a tiny bit early. Excitement is building.

One month away!

Minus 31 days....

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

Bill,

I appreciate the update on Foley Field.  I had seen some commentators on another Dawg blog who doubted it would happen.  I tried to explain it to them but they just wouldn't believe me.  You, on the other hand, have the credibility.  

I also agreed with your sentiment about these players making these mistakes.  It's hard to comprehend with so much in front of them.  

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

I think Lorenzo Carter can be huge for Georgia this year if Pruitt will let him. 

McDawg
McDawg

J.J. Green may have been our most invaluable player last year 

Dawg350
Dawg350

Where has Colorado dawg been at??? I miss his post!

Classof98
Classof98

I've got much respect for Dooley and what he means to UGA football, but renaming the stadium shouldn't be done.

Eventually some coach will come along and win two or three national championship at UGA. Should it then be renamed Sanford-Dooley-Whoever Stadium?

Should Alabama rename their stadium to be Bryant-Denny-Saban stadium?

UGA should expect to win. We should expect that national championships will happen too often to rename the stadium for every coach who wins one.

I feel UGA has already honored Dooley in a commiserate fashion to his service. Let's not rename the stadium.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Rip.....Lawrence. DGD!! Prayers with the family!

Dawg350
Dawg350

I can't wait to see michel and Chubb run SC right out of their very own stadium!!!!! Go dawgs!

Dawg350
Dawg350

33 more days till we stomp a mud hole in Clemson!!!!

Dawggie
Dawggie

"..... I’ve given up trying to figure out why so many college players these days keep doing dumb things that they know are going to cost them playing time."

**********************************************

Bill, just watching the events unfold by the ex-Bulldogs since the first of the year, I'm convinced that the ones, especially the former 5-Star players, know without a doubt that other high-profile programs will take them right in, if they get caught breaking UGA rules, and get kicked off the UGA team.  It has happened at least 4 times this off-season alone.  And I bet one of those schools takes Jonathan Taylor in the next month or two.

Louisville, AU and now, even Bama seem happy to take our rule-breaking, law-breaking athletes.

In another era, athletes who committed crimes like sexual assault, domestic violence, and theft would probably had to find a little college to finish their careers.

Now they just move on to another big-time program.


ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

In reading a recent article about the tailbacks, I have to disagree about Keith Marshall being #2 behind Gurley II. Georgia MUST find a capable backup to Gurley in order to be a championship caliber team in 2014. I was disgusted in watching the replay of the 2013 LSU game in which Murray had to win entirely on his own because the best Marshall could do was MAYBE get back to the LOS if he was lucky. A good wind gust in his direction and he is flat of his butt. Here's hoping that Chubb or Michel gets the nod after camp.

Dawg350
Dawg350

I love our uniforms! I love our team! I love Athens UGA! Richt can't baby sit these players 24/7! The real players committed to the G will not get suspended....like mason...gurłey and Conley! Bellamy knows he made a mistake...the dawg nation should forgive him. 19 year olds make mistakes...and I'm forgiving him. Go dawgs! We gonna bring home the sec crown this year!

HotDawg
HotDawg

How ya doing DVoR?

Haven't seen you around in awhile.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Think he might still get a redshirt?

Let's get some upcoming practice news.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Let's hope he can play DB as well as reported.

DawgsofAnarchy
DawgsofAnarchy

@Classof98 Um, actually Bama may rename the stadium for Saban when it is all said and done. I personally HATE it, but that guy wins. 

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@Classof98  I think you need to look up the word "commiserate".  Even using the right word I don't think you get what you're actually saying.  Dooley was the arguably the greatest coach in the history of UGA.  He IS worthy of the stadium being named for him and Sanford-Dooley has a nice ring to it (IMHO).

HotDawg
HotDawg

It' not just about him having a national championship people.....Don't be so narrow minded.

PigIron
PigIron

@Classof98


"Should Alabama rename their stadium to be Bryant-Denny-Saban stadium?"


The correct analogy would be for Bama to name it Bryant-Denny-Wade-Thomas-Stallings-Saban Stadium. So yes, it would become ridiculous if every coach who won a National Championship had the stadium named after them.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@Classof98 "Eventually some coach will come along and win two or three national championship at UGA." 

I agree that a new head coach will have to appear in Athens before your prediction comes true. 

Dawg350
Dawg350

Naw I think Keith Marshall will be better this year. He has had almost an entire year of rehab. He should be bigger faster and leaner. Ron Courson is one of the best....I think this will be his best year as a dawg....barring no set backs with knees.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@HotDawg Good, thanks.  I've been checking in but haven't had much to say lately.  Hope you are doing well also.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@PigIron @Classof98 But only at Alabama, Notre Dame and maybe one or two other places.  Everywhere else, there should be no problem naming the stadium with a hyphenated name for the national championship coaches.  Heck, at Alabama, all they have to do is limit it to the ones who have one three or more.  Problem solved.


If we EVER have to deal with that problem, I would take it in every way possible. 

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

@Dawg350 It ain't about being leaner, or bigger with Marshall, he has to learn to get his knees high, and really fight to get through that line, but I have yet to see him do it. He has an ex wide receiver for a position coach that I doubt very much knows about running back moxy. His good runs have come against weak D lines, and in every game against a top DL he has the same problem. That is why he did not get playing time versus Bama in SEC game. Mr. Nick Chubb on the other hand looks like he has what it takes. All we need now is a coaching staff that has enough sense to see it. Good luck with that. Favorites get in the way in Athens, while the best players get on the field at championship schools.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@SkokieDog  Well one thing is more certain than anything, SkokieDog.  You will continue to assume  things because you live in a world of blind negativism.  Just because you don't like Mark Richt does not mean that the Dawgs have absolutely no chance to win a National title in the near future.  But go ahead and continue on in your drab little world of pessimism and gloom and doom.  All you do is make yourself miserable.  You can't and won't ruin the upcoming football season for me with your negativity.  I won't let you.

.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@ColumbusDawg I think you're focusing on the wrong problem here, Columbus. What you're seeing is an offensive line that is not up to playing so well against the stouter defensive lines. Marshall isn't the only running back who has trouble blowing through holes in the line where none exist. 

DawgfromBranch
DawgfromBranch

@ColumbusDawg I disagree with the last part of your post here. Marshall came to UGA as the favorite, but Gurley won the job and played the most as a freshman. The Dawgs are stacked with great options at RB and I believe our coaching staff will have the best on the field regardless of their class. A lesson the coaching staff learned with Knowshon.  

HotDawg
HotDawg

He's more of an outside threat than a between the tackles guy. But don't underestimate his talent.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@DawginCO Please explain what is pessimistic about expecting a record of 8-4. That is a perfectly respectable record for a mid-level team in the SEC. Am I mistaken about Georgia's status? I do base my opinion on what I see, and I don't see evidence of a championship-caliber team in Athens this season.

And it's not my dislike for Coach Richt that makes it any less likely that the 'Dogs will win a national championship while he is their head coach. My opinion has nothing to do with determining results on the field. His coaching, on the other hand, does have an influence on how well prepared the team is when the games begin.


I'm not miserable about any of this. I've just come to expect to lose a few games, including at least one or two to teams with less talent on the field than U.Ga., each and every season.

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

@HotDawg I agree he is a talent, and should be used as his talents dictate. My point is that UGA needs someone to go in behind Gurley who has "Between the tackles" talent. I believe Chubb fits that bill.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Columbus dawg..."yeah I kind of agree...he does need to work on his balance. Hopefully he did during this rehab...basically a redshirt season for him. If his knees are good he should produce and lock down the number 2 spot behind gurley. I think Marshall had some knee problems since high school...that's the biggest thing in my opinion that hinders his progress from being a great sec back. Like you said though if he doesn't produce then Chubb and Michel will gladly take some carries from him. I think BMAC has done a nice job as RB coach. Lets don't rule out Turman and Douglas yet. Go dawgs!

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

@Dawg350, I am fully behind BMAC as coach, I just think Marshall's shortcomings have been overlooked, or maybe lost in awe of Gurley's talents. I think his problems are fixable as long as they are tended to.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Columbus I agree.....Marshall does need to improve. He needs to become a reliable 2nd back in order to win the sec. You need two good backs to get it done these days. I'm also hoping mason will have a DJ Shockley type season. I'm a little worried about his accuracy on the deep passes.

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

@Dawg350 I thought Mason had already improved quite a bit in the spring game. He looks to have improved on his foot work, and seems to be using his whole body when throwing down field. I think folks will be happy with Mason's ability.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Yeah he did look some better...I hope you are right. I'm ready for UGA to win the sec again. I feel it's gonna be a special season. Ecspecially like you said if mason has a great year....then we will be in the sec championship game.

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

@Dawg350 IMO, Mason just needs to average about 250 a game, and as a whole, UGA should be able to rush for darn near 400 a game with the wealth at tailback. That should about do it.

Dawg350
Dawg350

That's true our running game should be great. I hope the OL will run block better than last year. They have a chance to do so...with big Greg Pyke and John theus. Those two may be our best lineman this year. Our senior center will be solid once again....he may make sec all first team at the of the year.