Junkyard Mail: Unleashing the ‘Wild Dawg,’ scheduling ‘icons’ and more!

Sony Michel excited fans, especially when he was in the wildcat or "Wild Dawg" formation. (John Kelley / UGA)
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Sony Michel excited fans, especially when he was in the wildcat or "Wild Dawg" formation. (John Kelley / UGA)
Vince Dooley's first UGA team will be honored Saturday. (University of Georgia)

Vince Dooley’s first UGA team will be honored Saturday. (University of Georgia)

Let’s face it, noon kickoffs are way too early for anyone and tend to negate just a bit of the home field advantage, at least early in the game, but they’re a fact of life in this ESPN-run world of college football. So here’s hoping everyone planning on going to Georgia’s game against Tennessee Saturday at Sanford Stadium shows up early and ready to get loud from the start.

This week’s game will include a special halftime recognition marking the 50th anniversary of Vince Dooley’s first team. The 1964 Bulldogs will be acknowledged on the field, plus this week’s tickets are a special larger commemorative version, and there’ll be a 50th anniversary 32-ounce souvenir cup available at concessions stands.

As I’ve noted before, the Dooley era is being honored with a special exhibit running through Dec. 15 at the university’s Russell Special Collections library building on the UGA campus in Athens. If you’re in Athens Friday afternoon before any home game, a special tour is conducted at 2 p.m., and the library is open free to the public weekdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays (except on home football game days) 1-5 p.m. Parking is available in the adjacent Hull Street Deck. By the way, The Red & Black has a really nice profile of Dooley that’s worth checking out.

On your way to the stadium Saturday, if you cut through Myers Quad, you’ll see where “SEC Nation,” the SEC Network’s poor man’s answer to big brother ESPN’s “GameDay,” has set up to broadcast from 10 a.m. to noon. If you want to watch the broadcast and perhaps hold up a clever sign or two, fans are encouraged to be on hand by 9 a.m. Among the show’s cast of talking heads are Tim Tebow and Paul Finebaum, so it’s hardly “must” viewing, but it’s nice for UGA to be the focus of the network’s coverage this week.

Also in Myers Quad before the game will be the new national championship trophy to be presented by Dr Pepper to the winner of the College Football Playoff. It will be available for viewing from 9 to 11 a.m.

Now, let’s get to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

Sony Michel excited fans, especially when he was in the wildcat or "Wild Dawg" formation. (John Kelley / UGA)

Sony Michel excited fans, especially when he was in the wildcat or “Wild Dawg” formation. (John Kelley / UGA)

Billy Burnett writes: Bill, I loved Mike Bobo’s use of the wildcat or “Wild Dawg” formation last week with Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie and hope we see a lot more of it this season, but I couldn’t help wondering: Why did we choose to unveil that weapon in our offensive arsenal against Troy, when it wasn’t really needed? Wouldn’t it have been more effective to spring it on the Vols without warning? What do you think?
I thought the same thing you did, Billy. Loved having Michel take the snap and either run the ball or give it to McKenzie in the sweep (which produced a touchdown). Plus, of course, the back receiving the snap (which could be Todd Gurley if he’s in the game at the time it’s called) can always pass out of that formation, too. But I’m not sure that tipping Tennessee off to the Dogs’ possible use of that play was such a great idea. I’ve seen several observers (including the AJC’s Chip Towers) differ with me on that, saying it gave Tennessee something else to think about. To which I say: Exactly. Why would you want to give them the opportunity to think about how to defend that formation as opposed to just springing it on them? Regardless, I think it’s a formation that holds a lot of promise considering all the talent and speed Georgia has in its backfield, and Mark Richt indicated on Monday night’s “Bulldog Hotline” radio show that we’ll see “a little bit more of that before it’s over.” Also, as Richt noted after the Troy game, technically the zone-read plays that Faton Bauta runs when he’s in at quarterback (and which he scored twice on against Troy) are the Wild Dawg, too. Woof!

Andrew Smith writes: Hey Bill, It was great to see a well-rounded effort Saturday. I agree with your post, it was refreshing to see a Richt era team not show up flat for a cupcake sandwiched between two SEC opponents. In my opinion, [this] Saturday is looking more and more like a shootout. I don’t think the Vols can stop both aspects of UGA offense. I do fear their QB picking apart a weak zone if UGA cannot muster up more pressure than the South Carolina game. Hopefully, we can score early and get the stadium rocking and put pressure on on Tennessee! Remember, we will get to hear the beautiful sounds of the Redcoats and NOT “Rocky Top”!!
Unfortunately, Andrew, regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game, Georgia fans will get to hear more of “Rocky Top” than they want. I agree it would help for the Dogs to score early, but I’m hopeful it doesn’t turn into an offensive shootout. The main thing that ought to prevent that is Georgia’s pass rush, which will be up against a very green Vols offensive line consisting at times mostly of freshmen. Time for Leonard Floyd to have some fun!

Mark Richt's tenure at UGA continues to be the subject of fan debates. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt’s tenure at UGA continues to be the subject of fan debates. (Associated Press)

Travis Cole of Rockford, Ill., writes: I have been a Georgia fan all of my life, being born and raised in the Peach State before I set out to make my mark. I was just 11 years old when Coach Richt was hired, and I always believed he was the right man for the job. After the loss to South Carolina, I STILL BELIEVE IT. UGA has not sold its soul for a crystal football, we have consistently talented teams who fight in every game. I have never been embarrassed or ashamed to be a Dawg, and I never will be. If people only want to win a championship, then they will be disappointed nearly every year. If people want to support a program and a team that they can feel pride for, and be proud to wear the colors of, then Georgia is a great team to call “mine.” I am not embarrassed to lose, I would be embarrassed to be on probation, or have a revolving door of coaches, or not be playing in New Years Day bowl games. I will always support UGA, regardless of 12-0 or 0-12, Go Dawgs!
Well said, Travis. I wish some of the fans whose whining and moaning takes up a lot of the comments section on the Blawg would look at college football the way you do.

Wayne Hunter writes: Bill, So again we find ourselves out of the race for a national title very early in the season. My ability to call Georgia’s record before the season starts and the teams they will lose to, is scaring a few people. However, I hope you would agree that it isn’t that difficult. Georgia under Richt is as predictable as the sun coming up every day. When he was hired I predicted that we would never play for a national title, much less win one. Richt has shown that he’s not interested in winning, at least only enough to keep his position secure. And it seems that it doesn’t take much in order for the higher ups to leave him be.
Not so fast, my friend, as someone likes to say. As long as Georgia is still in contention for the SEC East (and thus in contention for the SEC championship), they are still in contention for the national championship. You can take it to the bank that whichever team wins the SEC, whether their record is unblemished or not, will make the College Football Playoff.

Bill Beck writes: What you see is what you get with Coach Richt … a perennial underachieving, yet pretty good football team. If we change coaches it might get worse, instead of better.
Good point. The Tennessee fans could tell you a lot about that.

Sam Callan writes: Some of my fellow UGA fans make me shake my head. I wonder how often they screw up doing their jobs. Lucky for all of us that our work is not televised and some guy who has little clue is second-guessing us. Do I want UGA to win? Yes. I also realize that the coaches and players on the other team want to win just as much. I get tired of the constant calls to fire this coach or that coach after one bad game. I bet the same people questioning [Jeremy] Pruitt or [Mike] Bobo were the ones extolling how great they were in the 2nd half of the Clemson game. As for [Hutson] Mason, he is missing 2 huge weapons to throw to. He cannot go deep as he has few threats from the WR position. He has little actual game experience, too. We were spoiled with [Aaron] Murray. He was able to overcome a lot of losses on offense last year because of his game experience. (Also I can remember fans not believing in Murray and thinking Mason was a better QB — where are those folks now that Murray’s name is near the top of every SEC passing record?)
Yeah, I was wondering the same thing, Sam. Where are all those folks who carped throughout Murray’s tenure that the best Georgia QB was actually sitting on the bench? Now that the Dogs no longer have the big-play capability of Murray, it seems that absence has indeed made the heart grow fonder.

Greg McGarity has hinted that some big scheduling surprises are in the works. (John Kelley / UGA)

Greg McGarity has hinted that some big scheduling surprises are in the works. (John Kelley / UGA)

TerryDawg writes: Bill, during the weather delay in Columbia, I heard Greg McGarity talking with the radio crew about future football scheduling, and he said he’d like to see the Dogs playing in some of the game’s “iconic” stadiums and against “iconic” programs. Aside from the home-and-home with Notre Dame in 2017 and 2019, have you heard anything about what sort of iconic future opponents Greg has in mind?
McGarity, who has noted all the fan excitement generated by the Notre Dame announcement, didn’t provided any specifics when he broached the topic at last week’s athletic board meeting, but he did say some “exciting” scheduling plans were in the works and we might see another such opponent before the end of the decade. He indicated such schedule additions could be home-and-home deals or one-time neutral site games. In regard to the latter, unconfirmed rumors are circulating that Georgia and North Carolina are talking about meeting in one of those Kickoff games at the Georgia Dome.

I’ve heard from a couple of people who asked what’s the delay with Georgia-Florida tickets being sent out this year. Don Brown writes: Dear Bill, a friend of mine has told me there has been a holdup on sending Florida tickets out for this year’s game. What could the delay be from?
Don, my daughter also tells me the UGA students haven’t heard about Florida tickets, either, which is playing havoc with their plans. I put the question to Senior Associate Athletic Director Claude Felton, who replies: “Hey Bill: We just got the Florida tickets in the last couple days so should be coming soon.” So, there you have it. Watch that mailbox/inbox!

Jim P. writes: Bill, Thought this was kind of funny. About a year or so ago in one of your fan question columns, I had some tongue-in-cheek suggestions for SEC Network programming. Such as SEC Quarterbacks Girlfriends, Cooking With Coaches’ Wives. Silly stuff. Certainly not being serious. Lo and behold, I was just looking ahead to DVR Saturday’s SEC Nation show from Athens at 10 a.m. when I noticed a listing for the show prior to that at 9:30 a.m … “The Better Half: SEC Wives.” Well, we did figure there is a lot of programming space to fill. Maybe we will see those quarterbacks’ girlfriends after all!
Hey, Jim, I’d take that over the hagiographic Steve Spurrier documentary that seems to be playing whenever I check in on the SEC Network at odd times.

Finally, kudos to three former UGA student-athletes named this week to the 2015 class of the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame: former All-America basketball player Alec Kessler, former SEC football player of the year Willie McClendon and former SEC gymnast of the year Hope Spivey. They will be inducted Feb. 21 in Macon. ​Also, former football All-Americans Pat Dye and Ben Zambiasi have been chosen for induction into the Georgia-Florida game Hall of Fame, according to an announcement by the Jacksonville mayor’s office. The induction ceremonies will be held at EverBank Field on Oct. 31, the day before this year’s game against the Gators.

Go Dogs!

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

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg


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