Author Archives: tardawg1014
By now, you’ve probably heard about Georgia’s 2016 opener, the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game here in the beautiful A-T-L. Longtime readers/podcast subscribers will recall that I have split loyalties, as I hold a degree from North Carolina as well as Georgia. I knew the day would again come where the two schools would play (as they haven’t in 45 years), but September 3, 2016 is just too soon for me.
As this is a predominately Georgia site (duh) I will try my best to preview the Heels from a Bulldog perspective.
1) A little historical tie between the two programs: Sanford Stadium and Kenan Stadium share the same architect, T.C. Atwood. Kenan was opened in 1927, two years before Sanford. The base structures and footprints of the stadia are the same, both even located centrally on campus. Obviously, Sanford is the larger and more notable stadium now, but the ‘Between the Hedges’ touch of Sanford was modeled after UNC’s Kenan.
2) You have to go back to 1971 to find the last time the Heels and the Dawgs squared off, as they did so in the Gator Bowl. The head coaches for that game? Brothers Bill and Vince Dooley. Georgia holds a 16-12-2 all-time advantage in the series.
3) 18 months is WAY too much time to know what this matchup will look like personnel-wise, but a little primer on what UNC brings to the table:
– A hurry-up-no-huddle offense that will score points in the blink of an eye, but will as rapidly produce a lot of three-and-outs. Carolina was in the top 10 in plays per game in 2014, which underscores…
– …Just how bad the defense was this past year. You would think a bad defense would limit the number of plays an offense could run, but the Heels gave up points so fast that they still ran 77 plays a game. Remarkable, really.
– In an effort to fix the D, Carolina hired former Auburn coach Gene Chizik as the new defensive coordinator. Chizik plans to shift the Heels back to a 4-3 base.
4) Nick Chubb should still be in a Georgia uniform. As should Lorenzo Carter. Never a bad thing.
5) It goes without saying, but I’ll say it: the tailgate I put together is going to be the stuff of legend. Come one, come all, get me heavily sedated for this thing.
6) The Labor Day slate for 2016 is RIDICULOUS. In addition to this game, which seems to be set on the 4pm timeslot based on the past few years, you have: Clemson at Auburn, Alabama/USC (the real one) in JerryWorld, LSU/Wisconsin from Lambeau Field, UCLA at Texas A&M, and Notre Dame at Texas. Hopefully UNC boosts its profile in 2016 and makes this one matter, nationally, as much as those. I don’t like the odds of that.
If this were the 2015 opener, one would have to think its a 15-20 point Georgia win, even with the Dawgs breaking in a new quarterback. North Carolina has not yet shown under Larry Fedora that it is the type of program that should remotely compete with the SEC’s upper echelon. A good season under a revamped Chizik defense could make this matchup a LOT more intriguing as we count down to 2016.
*I wrote this the other day. Macon County (which I’m assuming means Macon, GA as well) linebacker Roquan Smith committed to Georgia via Instagram this morning, giving the Dawgs their third top-50 player in this year’s incoming recruiting class.
As previously reported, Smith will not sign a letter of intent, so the Dawgs would be wise to keep their staff (and his primary recruiter) in tact if they want to keep the future Jordan Jenkins/Leonard Floyd replacement. His flip from UCLA was brought about by the departure of his primary recruiter, Jeff Ulbrich, leaving the school for the Atlanta Falcons (thanks for the assist, Birds!)
All in all, I’m reporting this because the agency Smith exhibited in shifting the power back towards the players, albeit ever so slightly, makes him a winner in my book. Now we can continue to follow his career.
Thank god we’re clear of Signing Day, the day where players that the football fanatic fawns and stresses over can now disappear into obscurity to re-emerge in 2-3 years. Seriously. 95% of the guys you hemmed and hawed over will not have an impact this upcoming season. Let’s get back to what matters more than February- the games on the field set to happen between August and January.
I’m going to take more than a few passes at this as the year rolls along, as we account for draft departures, suspensions/transfers, and schedules (which I am too lazy to do on this posting). And now…your top 10!
1) Ohio State: Just, duh. They beat Alabama, mollywhopped Oregon, and (I wrote about this already so I’m cheating my own rules) have one regular season game that they could possibly lose. They stand to return a national championship winner AND a Heisman finalist at QB, a Heisman candidate at RB, and an ungodly amount of their two-deep. Ugh.
2) TCU: I think bowl game results are factored way too heavily in preseason rankings (see Oklahoma, 2014, post-Sugar Bowl win over Alabama), but the way TCU did Mr. Hyde Dr. Bo in Atlanta raises some eyebrows. In a Big XII where half the league (Baylor, K-State, Oklahoma, …Texas?) could win any year, the Horned Frogs bringing back Trevone Boykin and Gary Patterson’s 4-2-5 are by far the safest bet.
3) Oregon: Admittedly, the bloom is off the rose a little bit after an inept loss to Ohio State and the departure of Marcus Mariota. But last I checked, you win in the Pac 12 by scoring points, and the Ducks shouldn’t miss too many beats with the return of LT Tyler Johnstone and the sneaky-good commitment of Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams. Adams was the runner-up for the Walter Payton award each of the past two seasons, and torched Washington for 450 yards and 7 TD this year…while playing for Eastern Washington.
4) Alabama: QB questions? Check. NFL departures? Check. We’ve been doing this song and dance for years, people. They’ll be fine. Carry on.
5) Georgia: HOMER ALERT! I think Brice Ramsey returns the balance and downfield passing ability to the Dawgs offense, the defense shows even more progress in year two of the Pruitt Project, and the UGA Special Teams coach stays the hell out of the way.
6) Baylor: They’ll still score points. And they’ll still have Shawn Oakman to terrify people.
7) Arizona State: They lose QB Taylor Kelly and All-America WR Jaelen Strong, so why ASU? Well, their D took a big step forward after getting destroyed by Brett Hundley and UCLA. They still return a very capable QB, the rest of their skill guys, and I don’t have faith in UCLA/USC/Arizona. Although any of those three could conceivably show up here with no complaints.
8) LSU: They’ve gotten by with bad QB play before, and the combo of Brandon Harris/Anthony Jennings can’t be any worse than it was last year. They also finally have a year where they DON’T have significant early-entry NFL losses– including this guy.
9) Wisconsin: Lost their coach, lost Melvin Gordon…but they play in the B1G’s lesser division, Corey Clement should run for 1,700 yards due strictly to playing behind that Wisky OL. Paul Chryst put together a mean, physical team in two years at Pitt, and that’s perfectly suited to the Badgers’ style.
10) Clemson: A hedge against Florida State taking a rebuilding year (and yes, I’m breaking my bowl game corollary here already). They have to replace 8 starters on D, but DeShaun Watson will be healthy and terrorizing the ACC’s secondarys.
Missing the cut, round 1*: Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida State, Michigan State, USC, UCLA, a sneaky-good Texas A&M team. No, not Georgia Tech.
On Signing Day, Georgia fans expecting the Dawgs to add a commitment from consensus top-100 linebacker Roquan Smith were disappointed as the Macon County prospect announced his intentions to go to UCLA. The 6’2, 205 pound Smith’s commitment to the Bruins apparently came as a shock to those who follow recruiting (Daniel and I are not those people), as he left not only SEC country, but the entire Eastern Seaboard. Given the successes of Anthony Barr and Myles Jack at UCLA, one can’t really blame Smith for his decision.
As he was making his commitment to Jim Mora (Falcons connection #1), rumors began to swirl that Mora’s lead recruiter with the Bruins, Jeff Ulbrich, was leaving UCLA to coach linebackers for…the Falcons (Falcons connection #2). This bait-and-switch technique seen every year in college football was not perfectly executed, and Smith failed to send his letter-of-intent to Westwood.
What he announced today was fascinating.
Smith has reopened his recruitment to include four schools: UCLA, Georgia, Texas A&M, and Michigan. Regardless of where he commits between now and the fall, Smith will NOT sign a LOI to any of these schools. Essentially, he is a verbal commitment until he shows up on campus and starts taking classes.
This sets a bold and game-changing precedent, one that shifts the balance of power ever-so-slightly back into the hands of recruits.
As it stands now, the LOI ‘protects’ athletes’ claims to one of a schools’ 25 alloted scholarships for the upcoming fall. A verbal commitment, as it has been said, ‘isn’t worth the paper it’s written on’. Smith is essentially vowing that he will be a verbal commit until he enrolls, meaning schools can continue to recruit him until he ostensibly enrolls for summer or fall classes.
For elite recruits, this represents an opportunity to see a lot of things: how the coaching staff shakes out, the potential depth chart at their position at schools of choice, and (cynically) the opportunity to cash in on the desperation of schools needing to fill a spot past the normal recruiting cycle. This doesn’t work so well for ‘sleepers’, as spots will fill up, walk-ons will be awarded scholarships, and their school may just lose interest. But for big names such as Smith, this outside-the-box thinking is a MAJOR win for the leverage recruits can wield over their schools of interest.
I have long been diametrically opposed to posting on recruiting on this site, because following the whims of 16-18 year old boys still in high school is creepy. However, with Georgia’s recent loss of its class’ only running back, and the overlap between Georgia fans and Falcons fans (not to mention the fun that we have with Bobby Petrino on the DudeYouPodcast, this has some relevance.
South Carolina’s Mr. Football, running back Matthew Colburn, committed to Louisville back in June. With Signing Day just 36 hours away, Petrino and the Cardinals pulled Colburn’s scholarship- even though Colburn refused to take calls or visits to any other schools. The scatback (apparently 5’7 172 with a 4.3 40) is now scrambling to find a place to play his college ball.
This is a disgusting and cowardly act that has become more and more prevalent in the game of recruiting, albeit one that comes as no surprise from Petrino. This is the guy who told UL he wasn’t interviewing with Auburn as he was interviewing with Auburn, the guy who left the Falcons in the middle of the night, and the guy who took the world’s greatest motorcycle ride at Arkansas.
He also has a way of getting high-profile transfers from other schools, as Georgia fans know all too well. Just yesterday, it was announced that former Big XII defensive player of the year Devonte Fields would be suiting up for the Cardinals.
As Signing Day approaches, you won’t hear anything more from me until the smoke clears. In the meantime, let’s check one more in the box of #DeathtotheNCAA and a vote for an early signing period in football– something that every other collegiate sport already possesses.