Posted: 11:17 am Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Bulldog Nation confidence check: All over the place 

By Bill King

UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. (John Kelley / UGA)

UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. (John Kelley / UGA)

The level of confidence on the part of fans as Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs report for preseason camp today varies greatly.

There are those who think a healthy offense loaded at tailback and receiver will be unstoppable despite a change in quarterbacks, and that the defense can’t help but be better than last year, meaning another trip to the Dome in December.

At the other extreme are the worriers who lament the unsettled offensive line, all the personnel losses from an already suspect secondary, the departure of Aaron Murray and the Dogs’ spotty history in special teams. A lot of those folks I’ve heard from see another eight-win season at best.

At least Wednesday, Georgia’s offensive and defensive coordinators sounded cautiously optimistic when they took questions from the media. OK, Mike Bobo sounded optimistic (though somewhat shy of Richt’s brash tone at the recent SEC Media Days) while Jeremy Pruitt mainly sounded cautiously …  hopeful.

The main question marks concerning the offense are who ends up playing where on the offensive line, and whether they quickly gel.

“I feel good about where we are up front,” Bobo said Wednesday. “We have some maturity and leadership there in that group and have some guys who we feel are a little more athletic than we have been in the past. The bottom line is we still have to go out and play. Potential doesn’t really mean anything yet. But we have a chance to be pretty good up front.”

As for the rest of the offense, Bobo is getting some pretty terrific players back from injury and now has probably the best tailback corps in the country in terms of raw talent. And while Hutson Mason may not have the experience of Murray, he’s been in the program five years and got valuable game time late last season after Murray was injured. And he’ll be handing off to Todd Gurley and a host of talented backs and throwing to the likes of Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Conley. Plus, there’s a new wrinkle this year in the H-back position, where freshman Jeb Blazevich will be joining former fullback Quayvon Hicks.

Bobo allowed that “we’re going to have to see how we unfold as a team offensively and what our best personnel groups are and what our identity becomes for us to move the ball. That changes year to year.”

Still, it’s hard to see how the Dogs can be anything but prolific offensively.

Whether they end up having to carry the team, like last year, when the defense gave up 29 points a game under the now-departed Todd Grantham, is the biggest question about the 2014 Dawgs.

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. (John Kelley / UGA)

Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. (John Kelley / UGA)

Actually, the front seven of Georgia’s defense wasn’t bad last year and could be even better this year. Pruitt likes his D a bit leaner than Grantham did and he noted Wednesday that “they’re all moving around a lot better.”

“I’d say each one of them has lost at least 10 pounds, some of them a little bit more. Our linebackers, some of our defensive backs, some of those guys have really changed their bodies this summer. I think it’s been positive. I think they feel a little better and I think they’ve got a little more confidence in their ability to do some things. And I think they can sustain and practice a little harder for a longer time.”

But while he wasn’t as down on his troops as a few months back, when asked Wednesday how comfortable he is that by the Clemson game he will be able to sub a lot of players into a lot of packages, Pruitt was frank:

“Well right now I’m not very comfortable at all. We’ve got a lot of guys that don’t have a lot of experience at all. Some of them are about to have their first practices at Georgia this week. So we have to figure that out. We’ll do what we can do. We’d like to be able to matchup and do some things as far as personnel (is involved) but we’re only going to try and get the guys on the field that have proven that we can trust them to play. If that’s 11 it’s 11. If it’s 30 it’s 30. Over the next few weeks time will tell.”

The main source of doubt about Georgia’s offense, of course, is the secondary, which was just plain awful last year and has seen a stream of players departing for various reasons this offseason.

There are some experienced players back there, but in the spring Pruitt made it clear that the starting jobs were all open, even to walk-ons.

As for who’ll end up playing, Pruitt, who recently has been bonding with his boys over burgers and brats at his house, said, “It’s going to be guys who play the ball good in the deep part of the field. To me, that’s the most important thing when it comes to defensive back, who can play the ball in the deep part of the field. Obviously that’s where the big plays are created. We’ll see who plays with toughness, who plays good man-to-man, who tackles well, who can sustain and do it over a period of time. to me, all the guys can do it. But who’s going to do it over and over and over.”

That’s a lot of uncertainty still, but Pruitt did throw us a bone Wednesday when he said, “I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Considering how negative Pruitt sounded after spring, that’s pretty rah-rah for him.

I take that as a good sign.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

60 comments
ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

This thought occurred to me today.  All the discipline problems seem to be on the D side of the ball.  That would seem to point to coaching issues on that side of the ball.  I know Richt has the ultimate responsibility and knock on wood that the O-players don't decide to tie one on, but the sheer number of issues on one side of the equation must be indicative of something.  I am happy we got Pruitt and happy about the other new D coaches, as well.

TheMonger
TheMonger

With the talent on the offense.... Hutson Mason, Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell, Justin Scott-Wesley, Chris Conley, Michael Bennett, Jay Rome, Johnathon Rumph, Reggie Davis, Quayvon Hicks, etc.  The defense doesn't have to be world beaters for us to reach the SEC Championship.  The front 7 on defense, in my opinion, may be the best in the SEC.  Ray Drew, Sterling Bailey, Leonard Floyd, Jordan Jenkins, Amarlo Herrara, Ramik Wilson, Chris Mayes, John Atkins, Mike Thornton, Toby Johnson, James DeLoach and don't forget top recruit Lorenzo Carter is now with the team ready to rush the passer.  The season hinges on the secondary and special teams not making half the mistakes they did last year.  I think getting rid of cancers like Tray Matthews and JHC are good for the team, no matter how talented they were.

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

I am going out on that limb and say that if, and only if, Hutson Mason can closely match Aaron Murrays ability to make something happen under pressure when nothing seemed to be working will UGA have even a moderate  chance to win it all. If Mason can't closely do the Murray thing then it may be a long season. If he can then the sky is the limit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dawggie
Dawggie

At least the two doofuses who apparently needed to be reminded to knock the ball down in a "Hail-Mary" situation, are long gone - along with the doofus who apparently didn't think to remind his doofuses to knock the ball down . . .

HotDawg
HotDawg

I'm fine with Pruitt's demeanor.

Listen, we don't know for a fact if it's honesty or psychological maneuvering. May be both.

He is to the point, though.

And he's not completely stand-offish or unapproachable. The grillout at his house is a good way to help glue his defense together, let his players know what he expects, and let's him know what his players are thinking in a casual environment off the field.

This D might get to the point where they lay it all on the line for this guy.

That's a good thing.

Just may have to be a little patient in the beginning.

greenedefense
greenedefense

Bill,


I'm with you on your assessment of Pruitt's thinking. It is a good sign at this point in time. I think the D will be as different as night and day from TG's regime. All I can say is I'm glad Pruitt is here!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Minus 30 days....

Enjoy practice tomorrow boys. It will be the easiest one of the year.

DawginCO
DawginCO

Coach Pruitt seems to be a guy that is hard to please.  I think he will grump even if his defense is shutting people out.  I don't mind that as a public stance but I sure hope he encourages the guys behind the scenes.  These guys may seem to be haughty but they are just kids and their confidence is pretty shaky.  We saw that last year.  The defense just crumbled after giving up a big play.


Nothing is certain in college football.  Even if we were returning the best O-line in history I would not ever go so far as saying that anything was a guarantee.  I think the O-line will be just fine.  The real key is going to be how Bobo uses his backs.  Riding the stud sounds great until he gets used up.  If Marshall or Chubb or Michel can provide production when Gurley isn't on the field, the look out. 


Gurley will be in the best shape of his life.  If they are able to strategically spell him then he will be kiling people in the 4th quarter of games.  And do not forget he is a killer weapon in the passing game as well.  He could be in the 200 yards/game area in total offense.  That will win alot of games.


I will wait to see what happens vs Clemson and SC before I say too much about the defense.  Being in the right places and knowing what you are supposed to do goes a long way towards playing good defense.  If you can couple the above with solid tackling then you have a good defense, not great, just solid.  That coupled with our offense should be enough to win almost any game.


A break on the injury front would be most welcome as well.  Most confidence is almost exactly where it usually is, I see the potential to win them all but I also know spiff happens.  So I just wait for the season to start and relish watching my Bulldawgs play football.

NoAxeToGrind
NoAxeToGrind

King. I would be more inclined to refer to the non Fan Clubbers and Disney types as  "realists" rather than "worriers". But I guess old habits are hard to break.

dawgman912
dawgman912

Those guys better show up and have a big chip on their shoulder...Time for talking is over, time to get ready to represent the State......Get your minds right....Time to hunker down you dirty Dawgs!

Teaching350
Teaching350

 Giving 9 points to Clem&son in the first game seems a little rich to me.

Favored in all the games before playing a single game should make fans nervous. 

OkieDawg
OkieDawg

CMB says the O-line is more athletic than in the past and has more potential. That tells me if they are properly coached, they will be very good. But the potential has to be developed through CWF. It is time for Coach Friend to finally prove himself. Based on CMB statement, if the O-line underperforms, then that falls on Coach Friend. I see a message here "CWF's seat may be starting to warm up ". And that's a good thing.

WDE
WDE

Just hoping we can get to the season without major injuries and the newbies make enough progress to provide back up when needed...I can't wait for the kickoff even if I will be in Alaska for it.... 

wiseoldawg
wiseoldawg

As far as the O-line is concerned, I don't think its a question of lack of talent as much as a lack of cohesion.  For the last few seasons, the approach has seemed to be to keep shuffling people around from place to place in hopes that something will "click" and magically take off from there instead of taking the best player at each individual position and coaching them on their assignments for that positions.  While it's true that it's a good idea for the lineman to be versatile from a depth standpoint. it's kind of like they're all jacks-of-all trades and masters of none.  Focus on getting each member of the unit on the same page then focus on versatility

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

Even though we had the worst secondary  last year in 30 years I think we were  much better than a 5 lost team. If the officials had known the rules about Targeting we would have won the Vanderbilt game and we would have won the Auburn game if not for one of the luckiest plays in the history of College Football and that was after playing at Auburn two years in a row.  Nobody wanted to play Nebraska again except Nebraska so they could avenge the previous years loss. We were much better than Nebraska but Georgia had just played in the Gator Bowl and by getting that Bowl and against Nebraska was more like punishment than reward. 

We should have lost the Clemson game even though it could have gone either way and the Missouri game. We have most of that team back except the screw up's from the Defense so I am extremely optimistic about us this year.I still say we beat Clemson by 10 points or more . I hope Pruitt will make the difference at South Carolina.  If we don't take Tennessee or Florida for granted  I could see us going into the Auburn game undefeated.

FlatTire
FlatTire

After reading that; 9 wins sounds more like it

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

Better watch the honesty Pruitt, Brother and Ga don't care for that character flaw.

You're supposed to say "were number 1". 

Jeremy, you don't know what you have stepped into.

I will cover your back with the AJC bud.

Won't be long before they turn on you and Brother looks the other way.  

DawginCO
DawginCO

@ALB-Dawg  JSW is going to be suspended for pot.  But it has trended heavily towards the defensive side of the ball in recent years.  Not sure why.  It could be the lack of engagement by the Grantham staff but I'm not sure.  I guess we'll see if that changes in the coming years.

ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

PS.  Every one of the new D coaches has worked on a National Championship team.  That can't be a bad sign.

ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

@TheMonger We definitely have top notch linebackers.  The linemen look good, too.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@HotDawg The thing is, no one knows for sure what we are going to put on the field on defense.  They could be as poor as last year or they could be pretty darn good and no one can say for certain which it will be.  Sure there are those that will dredge up every single negative and try to parley that into a legitimate reason to figure the defense will suck but we all know they never have anything positive to say anyway.


I do not expect that the defense will shutdown Clemson in the first half of that game.  They may get some big plays but what I want to see is improvement in the second half.  I want to see guys getting after it in the 2nd half and acting like they expect to be better.  Last year the defense threw in the towel after giving up big plays.  It will be a huge improvement if the defense just continues to fight.  I suspect that Pruitt will demand no less.


Now, is giving up a couple of TDs in the first half of that game fatal?  I don't think so.  I think Clemson will be feeling around for play makers on offense as much as we are on defense.  But we will see come 8-30.


I can't wait.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@DawginCO

for some strange reason I think the Bama coach uses the same tactics; you know that coach  that wins big games and championships


Pruitt probably isnt used to coaching at a program where losing 3 to 4 ball games almost every year  is considered a successful season


Im sure the "Red Pants Society" will tell him he needs to be more positive and maybe consider taking a class on "building self-esteem"  its worked really well for 34 years

ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

@DawginCO I am not sure he is a grump as much as he is honest.  He strikes me as a guy that is plain spoken and straight forward.  I commended Grantham for bringing some fire back to the D, but motivating players by screaming at them only gets you so far.  At some point, you have to teach them and coach them.  The best way to get that done is leveling honest criticism.  It seems likely that that is exactly what some players were not mature enough to handle.  I am convinced that all they have to be is solid and consistent.  The O, as you mention, is full of weapons.  The O-line will be fine.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@NoAxeToGrind  Axegrinder - no they are worry-warts.  They always believe the worst and beat it to a bloody pulp.  They aren't realists in any way.  A realist balances optimism against known negative factors and comes out with a more cautious viewpoint.  The folks you side with almost never mention anything positive.  They lean heavily towards all negative viewpoints which is decidedly unrealistic.

ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

@Teaching350 That is odd.  Rank us #12 and give Clemson 9 points?  Those odds will probably get closer before kick off.

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@OkieDawg 


I don't think you know a lot about UGA football. We are setting tons of offensive records so most of the offence must be doing something right but I guess while you doing all your research you failed to notice that Gurley gained almost 1,000 yds. although he played in only 4 games while uninjured and missed 3 games completely. A true freshman, not highly ranked as a recruit, averaged over 5 yards/carry but I reckon the OL had zero to do with that according to you!!!!!!!!!!!

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@wiseoldawg 


You sound just like OkieDawg only dumber, if that's possible!!!


CMR is running a multi-million dollar football operation and you and Okie think you know more than the experts that coach for a living. Niether of you could carry ANY  UGA COACH's  jock strap and that certainly includes  Will Friend. You two come across as IDIOTS so it would serve the world well if  y'all would just STFU!!!!!!!!!!!!

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@C-Kirk I agree completely about the Vandy game and the Auburn game last year.  The targeting rule was a disaster on so many levels, directly impacting us and probably dozens of other teams.  In almost every case I saw last year, it was misinterpreted or misapplied by officials and announcers.  It was crazy!


In regards to the miracle play at the end of the Auburn game, I don't believe we will ever see such a confluence (don't get to use that word very often) of events on one play come together to alter the outcome of a game.  It was the definition of a miracle.  Let me break it down. 


It was 4th and 18 with 36 seconds to go in the game.  First of all, it is very rare for a team to make a first down in such a situation much less a touchdown.  Georgia had the play defensed perfectly in the secondary (for maybe the only time all season).  They ended up with two players on defense in position to make the play.  The QB throws it up for grabs and the throw is short.  Then, both UGA players try for the interception instead of batting the ball down.  The receiver is not even looking at the ball; he is looking downfield.  If the defenders don't touch the ball, it falls to the ground; game over.  Instead, the ball bounces off Mathews chest and up and over the receiver (and not to the side or any other direction that would have made a completion impossible) and the receiver happens to look up at the right moment, sees the ball and watches it fall into his hands, only to bobble it not once but a couple of times before finally grabbing it and stepping into the endzone.  Had the defenders not collided there is even still a chance that one of them might have still made a play on the ball or the receiver after the bounce, but that did not happen. You could run that play over a 1000 times and that is the only one Auburn scores on.  It was a miracle of miracle plays.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Was Bobby Bowden "brother senior"?

Not a bad mentor.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Whiskey.....we all know you're really Harvey Updyke.

But seeing your fans in the news everyday for all the wrong reasons, makes us think he's the "normal" one of you psycho idiots.

Wrk
Wrk

A Bama fan ridiculing another school for turning on its coach? That's pretty funny.

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

@WhiskeyBreath You've got one thing wrong there SOT. Most of the Big Dawgs I have heard talk would keep Pruitt and run Richt off if he steps on his... again this year, but he won't. Too many good players on his side of the ball. Dawgs will be stout on O, even Bama could not stop Georgia in 2012, they stopped themselves. Offense will be much better. UGA will be able to run the ball on ANYONE this season. Mason will makes strides and improve similar to what David Greene showed from 2001 to 2002. Before you start, I ain't saying UGA wins a Natty, I'm not going to stand up and say they even win the East. That's why they still play the regular season. I DO think much improvement will be seen. I would worry about that two QB system that P.O.S ya'll hired is going to try to run.

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@FlatTire(aka  Mr. Negative) @DawginCO 


Dear FAT  TIRE:You have  stumbled back on here with  the same old negatives and repetitive BS after giving us hope that you were maybe moving to another country/planet but I missed you. I had a sad case of hemorrhoids a few yearsback and I miss them too!!!

ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

@FlatTire @DawginCO I am not sure it is an issue of optimism, pessimism, or altruism. He just seems like a down to earth sort of guy.  Pruitt was happy about coming to Georgia and expressed his admiration for the kind of program Richt built.  His comments early on made me suspect that this is a guy that Richt wanted at UGA for a while (and vice versa), having had to hire Grantham because of salary limitations.  

HotDawg
HotDawg

Richard breath is a typical harvey updyke bamard.

And he doesn't realize that's what the ENTIRE nation thinks of all bamards. If he did, he's so stupid that he would think it's a compliment.

WhiskeyBreath
WhiskeyBreath

@ColumbusDawg @WhiskeyBreath Columbus Dawg, you know damn well who ever they put a QB at Bama will be good. They could even put a warm body like 2nd string QB Brother Richt, and Bama would still score points. 

By the way, the QB competition includes 4 and 5 star players. 

You might be the 1st Ga guy that didn't claim the upcoming N.C..  ConGRads, that is not the Ga way.

I wouldn't crown Mason King yet, and I am pulling for him.

Your aren't the typical Ga guy, but luckily for me there are very few Ga guys that have a clue about winning. As far as Kiffin , I like the guy for two reasons. One, Bama is sticking it to Tn, which we hate dearly. 

Secondly, the guy almost beat us when he was at Tn. We are not asking him to be our head coach in the waiting, merely to handle play calling and QB's . 

Is he a s... ? Oh yea, but I have my reasons for getting behind the guy and none of them include being a homer.   

DawginCO
DawginCO

@ALB-Dawg It's a code name for the big donors that the negative one lays all the blame on for not winning a National Championship every year by demanding that Mark Richt be fired no matter what the season's outcome is.  These people supposedly don't care enough about Georgia football to demand that the the whole coaching staff be fired when the Dawgs do not meet his expectations.

Sounds over the top but the analysis is dead on.  

ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

@FlatTire @DawginCO Note also, being from Tallahassee, several of my Nole buddies commented on how he never seemed all that thrilled to be at FSU.

HendoDawg
HendoDawg

@walkermydog @Snagglepuss  Agreed...no one "comes across as an idiot" more than you snaggle. You belittle other posters and tell them what they can and can't think...how hypocritical? According to you, your opinion regarding UGA football is all that matters and others are irrelevant. Please sir, get off your high horse and let folks speak their mind as well.

HendoDawg
HendoDawg

@WhiskeyBreath @ColumbusDawg  LMBO when I read the homer comment and the defending ("like the guy") of CLK. There is NO bigger band wagon homer fan(?) THAN YOU WB!


As far as MY opinion, you lads at Bama blew karma off it's rocker when you inked CLK to be on staff with Satan himself. All kinds of shady walking up and down the Tide sidelines these days...just watch.



ARdawg
ARdawg

@WhiskeyBreath

"Is he a s... ? Oh yea, but I have my reasons for getting behind the guy and none of them include being a homer."

All those reasons have to do with you being a Homer (note the capitol H). Kiffin is a jerk and a moron. I'm glad you have him. His offensive prowess is hugely overestimated which even with the best players pound for pound in the country, you will soon discover. No self respecting SEC fan would applaud that yahoo being in the conference at any position, with any team no matter how much you hate the Vols.

ALB-Dawg
ALB-Dawg

@DawginCO @ALB-Dawg Yeah.  I've been reading the neg-head stuff on here for a few years now.  Just hadn't heard that particular expression.  For me, the point is moot.  I'm not a donor, nor do I have any money or power.  I'm going to pull for my team regardless, so there really is no point in talking about firing coaches.  I do think Pruitt was an excellent hire who will be a great compliment to Richt and Bobo.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@DawginCO  no;  wrong as usual  


As posted several times before Im fine with Mark RIcht  being the coach for 30 more years 


The "Red Pants Society" are kool-aid drinkers who are proud that UGA program is...... 


4-17 vs SEC teams that have finished above 500 for the season the last 6 years.  


They are more than happy with 6-17 record vs the top 25 the last 5 years


They are glad that we havent won the SEC in almost a decade


They are happy that we accomplished 3 seasons of 5 or more losses in a 5 year span; the other coach to do that was Goff


They are proud that UGA has only 1 one loss season in 30 years with 0 undefeated seasons or National Title appearances 




BillKing
BillKing moderator

@FlatTire @DawginCO Come off it, Flat Tire. You weaken your case by drastically misrepresenting those who disagree with you. The so-called "Red Pants Society" folks who support the program through thick and thin are not "glad" the Dogs haven't won the SEC since 2005. They are not "happy" about seasons with five losses. They simply choose to concentrate on supporting the program they love rather than belittling it and they enter each new season excited and hoping for and even expecting a positive result. That may not always come to pass, but it's a much more enjoyable way to follow college football.

Snagglepuss
Snagglepuss

@FlatTire @DawginCO 


Yes! Right as usual!!!!!!!


There is a large number of pure LIES in that post as well!


After you were proven to be a LIAR several days ago I thought the embarrassment and humiliation would slow you down but not our Mr. Negative!!!

FlatTire
FlatTire

@BillKing



If I'm misrepresenting then please call out others who weaken their case and want to misrepresent me.


For example....


I dont come on here demanding we should win a National Championship each year.  


I dont come on here claiming Richt should be fired;  I like Mark Richt and would be more than happy for him to be our head coach for as long as he wants.


I dont come on here claiming we should win the SEC every year.


Also


I support the program through thick and thin.  Since when is it a bad thing to want better results for the team you pull for?

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@FlatTire @BillKing I think every fan wants that. If you don't demand a national title or SEC championship every season and don't want Richt fired, but only want improved results, I have to conclude you were pretty happy with the 2011 and 2012 seasons, when Georgia won the SEC East, and your complaints are based largely on last season and a belief the Dawgs won't improve on it. You could be right, but last year, had it not been for a couple of key injuries and fluke plays, Georgia likely would have won 10 or 11 games in the regular season. Would that have satisfied you? Would it this year?