Junkyard Mail: Russ, impact freshmen, those elusive shiny britches and more!

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Russ, aka Uga IX, reportedly will retire sometime this season. (Dan Evans / UGA)
Russ, aka Uga IX, reportedly will retire sometime this season. (Dan Evans / UGA)

Russ, aka Uga IX, reportedly will retire sometime this season. (Dan Evans / UGA)

The news out of Saturday’s Countdown to Kickoff at Sanford Stadium is that Uga IX, better known and loved as Russ, will be retired as mascot sometime this season. Candidates for Uga X include Que (“Q”), Russ’ grandson, who was standing in for him at Saturday’s fan gathering. Formerly a longtime stand-in before finally winning the mascot job on his own, Russ, who broke the mold by being brown and white instead of all-white, has been a particular fan favorite. Damn good dog, as the old student chant goes.

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

David writes: Hi Bill, What’s your take on incoming freshmen who will contribute this fall?

Defensive lineman Trent Thompson, the nation’s top recruit this year, is naturally considered a likely impact player for the Dawgs. Mark Richt has singled him out as possibly being a big help up front. It’s hard to imagine Thompson not getting considerable playing time, if not starting, by the time Georgia gets heavy into its SEC schedule. Likewise, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is very high on wide receiver Terry Godwin, who’s expected to be used in a variety of packages early on.

Linebacker Natrez Patrick did well in the G-Day game. (Richard Morand / UGA)

Linebacker Natrez Patrick did well in the G-Day game. (Richard Morand / UGA)

Other incoming frosh expected to see early game action include linebackers Natrez Patrick (who had a good day in the G-Day game) and Roquan Smith (initially as a situational and special teams contributor), and defensive linemen Jonathan Ledbetter (another early enrollee who played on G-Day) and Michael Barnett.

As the season progresses, I’d expect to see edge-rusher D’Andre Walker, defensive backs Rico McGraw and Jarvis Wilson (another early enrollee), safety Rashad Roundtree and receiver Jayson Stanley getting some playing time. The offensive line will be tougher to crack, but Pat Allen is likely to get plenty of reps as a second-teamer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the other freshmen break out of the pack, too.

Ryan Scates writes: Bill, I have been seeing where Nike has started to roll out uniform combinations for the upcoming football season. In the past we have heard that our football team may include a black jersey not as a promotional gimmick, but as a standard uniform option similar to LSU’s purple jersey, or Ole Miss’ red jersey. I wanted to see if you had heard if that was a real possibility or just another suggestion that only gets lip service midway through each football season. Also, we have been hearing from Nike now that UGA will be getting actual silver britches for about 4 years. Each year Nike says that the next year they will issue the silver britches instead of the gray ones they have been providing lately. I wanted to see if you had heard if that was actually going to happen. Thanks!

When, oh when, will the shiny silver britches, like those sported by Tony Gilbert, return? (University of Georgia)

When, oh when, will the shiny silver britches, like those sported by Tony Gilbert, return? (University of Georgia)

Ryan, I put your questions to Senior Associate Athletic Director Claude Felton, who replies: “Nike is continuing to work on the ‘silver.’ We don’t have them in yet so we’ll see. Not aware of any black jerseys being options for this season. But will let you know if I hear anything different.”

So, basically, the same old same old, Ryan.

Sam Bishop writes: Bill, I enjoy your column. I cannot wrap my head around and understand why 2 “rules” or lack of, are not uniform NCAA rules. In both cases, each seems to hurt UGA. Most recently, the new stipend amounts given athletes. Auburn players will get $6,000-ish and Georgia players get $3,000-4,000ish? Is it a significant difference in recruiting? Depends on who you talk to. It could be to the 4 or 5-star who grew up in poverty.  It doesn’t help and can only hurt the Dawgs. Secondly, drug and alcohol policies. Most student-athletes are underage to drink anyway. Why let Richt deal with those kind of crimes and make key players miss games when the same misdemeanor is often swept under the rug at FL, AL and such? Again, seems like the NCAA ought to be showing leadership and uniformity in both of these areas, and it continues not to.

Sam, I don’t expect to see any change on UGA’s proposal that all SEC teams have the same policy on player suspensions for drug use, unfortunately. As for the widely varying cost-of-attendance stipends going into effect this season, that’s a hot-button subject among SEC coaches, especially, and with Nick Saban among those who aren’t happy with the disparity currently seen between schools in the conference, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see that addressed in some manner next offseason. Already, the conference has decided to have each school detail how it came to its COA figure to provide greater “transparency.”

nick saban APAs for whether schools like Tennessee and Auburn figuring their cost of attendance higher than, say, Alabama and Georgia gives them any real recruiting advantage, the jury is still out on that. But Sports Illustrated recently reported that the preliminary effect appears to be minimal.

SI said that many of the prospects it spoke to “said they either were not aware of or had not heard coaches discuss cost of attendance figures at great length. Most said the disparities would not impact their decisions, though many expressed interest in learning more about the cost-of-attendance legislation.”

After I mentioned the black stripes on the helmets Georgia wore in the 1996 game with Auburn (replayed recently on the SEC Network), I heard from a number of fans, most of whom prefer the helmets as they are now, sans black stripes. But Jessy Fowler writes: I’d love to see some optional helmets with the stripe. A nice nod to the past. Call me a maverick, but I’d also like to see some night game black uniforms.

Jessy, I would love to see the black jersey back in the Dawgs’ wardrobe for occasional use (I’d vote for the last SEC home game of the season, regardless of the opponent) and I wouldn’t mind the black britches or red britches from time to time, but only with the white road jerseys. I wouldn’t want to see Georgia in all-black or the red tops and black pants they wore once in Jacksonville. Looks too much like a high school uniform. As for the black stripe, I like the helmets better without them, but they might make a nice “throwback” for a special game (and the UGA Bookstore probably could sell quite a few replicas with the stripe).

Brice Ramsey is battling for the starting quarterback's job. (Sean Taylor / UGA)

Brice Ramsey is battling for the starting quarterback’s job. (Sean Taylor / UGA)

Duane writes: Bill, Georgia landed two Elite 11 quarterbacks in Brice Ramsey and Jacob Park. Mark Richt and Mike Bobo are rightfully known for developing QB’s. What has happened with these top rated QB’s?

Welcome back from wherever you’ve been hiding out the past few months, Duane! You’re right about Richt and Bobo knowing how to develop quarterbacks, but Bobo is now the head coach at Colorado State and has been replaced as UGA offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach by Brian Schottenheimer. And Park has left the team and is transferring elsewhere. Ramsey remains in contention for this fall’s starting QB spot, along with Faton Bauta and former Virginia starting QB Greyson Lambert, who transferred to UGA with two years of eligibility remaining.

Terry Dawg writes: Bill, I read where longtime Texas A&M fans were upset about being forced to pay exorbitant sums to buy “personal seat licenses” and hold onto their seats at the renovated Kyle Field. I know Georgia isn’t currently planning any such major renovation of Sanford Stadium, but, as a longtime Bulldog Club member and season ticket holder, I wonder, do you think they might hit us with some sort of PSL requirement?

I wouldn’t rule anything out, Terry, but you’re right that no major expansion of Sanford Stadium is planned. And, considering the difficulty college football programs are having keeping fans buying tickets rather than staying at home to watch the games on a big-screen TV, I think it’s unlikely you’re going to see a school trying the pricey PSL gambit (which is common in the NFL) unless, like A&M, they’ve taken on a major load of debt like the $485 million renovation of Kyle Field. I recall that quite a few years ago there was a rumor circulating in Athens that UGA was going to expand the “club” level to include the upper rows of the lower level of the stadium, where my tickets are, and require a bigger donation to keep those seats. Fortunately, that never came to pass, but if it ever did, I know many fans wouldn’t take kindly to it and might well opt to give up their season tickets and instead spend their current donation to the Hartman Fund on buying better seats to the games they really want to attend via the secondary market.

Jim Ingram writes: Bill: I noticed a comment about the HD screen at the stadium and enhancements in the future.  Pass along to Mr. Felton that they could make it a 2-sided board for the many Georgia fans that are unable to get tickets or afford tickets on the secondary market.  It would be an opportunity to have the feel of the “tracks” many years ago that gave game day a special feel. Also, I would think the athletic department could find a way to use the extra funds derived from more attendance outside the stadium with some innovative marketing ideas.  What are your thoughts?

Jim, I think the many problems that would be raised by trying to close the Sanford Drive bridge to pedestrian traffic on game days in order to charge folks to stand there and watch the game on a video screen would make such a plan pretty much unfeasible.

Finally, in response to my updated 101 reasons to be a Georgia Bulldog, J. Michael Florence offered Reason No. 102: “My 1st ever college game in person:  MOORE TO HODGSON TO TAYLOR TO GLORY.  Nice way to break in. Been hooked ever since.”

That famed “flea flicker” play in the 1965 upset win over national champion Alabama is indeed one for the ages, J.M.

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

Junkyard Blawg mugBill King is an Athens native and a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. A lifelong Bulldogs fan, he sold programs at Sanford Stadium as a teen and has been a football season ticket holder since leaving school. He has worked at the AJC since college and spent 10 years as the Constitution’s rock music critic before moving into copy editing on the old afternoon Journal. In addition to blogging, he’s now a story editor.

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