Category Archives: Georgia Bulldogs

Sincerest Apologies for More Basketball, Dear Reader: A Sweet 16 Primer


As it always does, the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament gave us some great moments. Great moments, such as R.J. Hunter’s buzzer-beater (and his torn-Achilles’d dad/coach falling out of his stool) will echo in eternity, as the NCAA’s corporate partners use buzzer beaters and catatonic losing players to somehow convince you that Pontiac still exists as a producer of automobiles. These moments also overshadow what can be some pretty shoddy basketball.

N.C. State/Villanova, won in the waning seconds on a tip-in? Preceded by seven minutes of atrocious basketball, with both teams apparently trying to throw the game South Park style. Georgia/Michigan St.? Teased us for a few minutes because Michigan State fouled on multiple layups, missed some key free throws, and won on the strength of Georgia choking just a little worse.

The Sweet 16, at the very least, is where the cream starts to rise to the top. Your top NBA prospects (referenced in last week’s tourney primer) are almost all still in play. Kentucky is still undefeated, Duke is still alive with its 3 lottery picks, and that big white dude from Wisconsin is still set to have that awkward Naismith Award interview during halftime of one of the Final Four games.

BASKETBALL ON!

Thursday/Saturday Brackets

Midwest: #1 Kentucky vs. #5 West Virginia, #3 Notre Dame vs. #7 Wichita State

By FAR the most intriguing bracket, because 1) Kentucky, duh; 2) their opponents/potential opponents. Bob Huggins’ 2010 West Virginia squad stopped the John Wall/DeMarcus Cousins Wildcats cold with a ruthless, attacking 1-3-1 defense back then, and history has a way of repeati….HAHAHA JK. But, go Mountaineers anyway.

Last year, an eighth-seeded Kentucky squad knocked…guess who?…Wichita State from the ranks of the unbeaten on the way to the finals. STORYLINES! And Notre Dame is the hottest team in the country. Undersized, yes, but their four-out-one-in offense is probably the best recipe to crack Kentucky’s ridiculous defense.

The pick: Calling Kentucky over Notre Dame here.

West: #1 Wisconsin vs. #4 North Carolina, #6 Xavier vs. #2 Arizona

Until today, I didn’t know there was a (decidedly one-sided and petty) beef between Wisconsin and UNC, but hey. My favorite excerpt:

Williams told a throng of national reporters: “Are you going to tell me you don’t like this more than 19-17 at halftime? I’m not a nuclear physicist, but you make the choice. We’re trying to make it a game of basketball skills, not a weight-room contest.”

This was in reference to a 2000 Final Four game in which Wisconsin played, where the halftime score above was correct. The Badgers are still that hateable, playing at the nation’s 346th quickest tempo. They are, as you might expect, a bunch of white guys with bad haircuts, so join me in cheering for UNC. There’s my pitch.

Arizona is still the most dangerous yet unpredictable team in the tourney. All three of their losses came to teams who failed to make it to the final 64 68, and their offense occasionally disappears. If they’re on, though, they’re a match for Kentucky.

The pick: Unfortunately, I have a gut feeling about Xavier (whom I haven’t seen play in YEARS) knocking off ‘Zona. Wisconsin tempos North Carolina to death by not allowing them to get into transition. Wisconsin is the beneficiary and advances, at which point I may actually lean towards supporting Kentucky in the Final Four*.

*- There is a very real, very horrifying chance that both Duke and N.C. State make the Final Four. This is my hell. Go Big Blue, assuming Carolina has been shown the door.

Friday/Sunday Brackets

East Bracket: #8 N.C. State vs. #4 Louisville, #3 Oklahoma vs. #7 Michigan State

The Wolfpack and Spartans, respectively, knocked off #1 Villanova and #2 Virginia in the opening weekend, throwing the East into wide-open chaos. State actually won AT Louisville earlier in the season, but Rick Pitino is the March Mobster (has anyone taken this joke before? Not in those exact words. Fun links anyway. ‘No cuddling on the bathroom floor’ is my new rally cry for UL games).

I know little about Oklahoma, but their Big XII brethren took the GAS in week 1. #3’s Iowa State and Baylor didn’t survive the first four hours of play, #2 Kansas lost to little brother Wichita State, and #5 West Virginia draws Kentucky. Counter that with what I said about Pitino above, take out the mobster part, and demonstrate more success and overachieving in the tourney, and you get Michigan State’s Tom Izzo. Don’t bet against Tom Izzo.

The pick: I choose to believe N.C. State has had its moment and Louisville wins by 8-10 points. And DON’T BET AGAINST TOM IZZO! Sparty beats Louisville, although I honestly didn’t know they were going to qualify for the tournament until I saw them paired with Georgia.

South Bracket: #1 Duke vs. #5 Utah, #2 Gonzaga vs. #11 UCLA

Utah is big, physical, and has athletes at the guard position. Which could beat Duke. Self-delusion over.

Gonzaga/UCLA is a fun matchup, because it means we get to see Adam Morrison crying about 12 times in the minutes leading up to, during, and after the game. The Bobcats drafted him third overall over about 40 guys who had better NBA careers, and I’m still bitter about it.

Let me taste your tears, Scott!”

The pick: Step 5: acceptance. Duke rolls over Utah, rolls over a Gonzaga team that actually reaches the regional final for the first time since 1999, although they’ve been to every tournament since.

 

Kentucky/Wisco, Michigan State/Duke. And I’m free to do something else next weekend.

 

Rambling Spring Thoughts: Cocks Coming Home to Roost?


I’ve got no real new information to present to you in the Spring. The SEC Network and ESPNU are showing too much basketball, preview magazines aren’t out yet, and recruiting rankings will have zero effect on the 2015 season. This is my attempt to keep you in the loop with some of Georgia’s potential obstacles for next season.

Steve Spurrier is on Twitter

But it took him two characters in his first (of two) tweets to make a grammatical error.

Nothing Else Has Gone Right

Where do we begin? It is not all sunshine and roses in Columbia (frankly, it’s concrete and abandoned warehouses). Since a 24-21 Independence Bowl win over Miami, 10 (TEN!) Gamecocks have left the program. Eight are listed on the pre-Miami two-deep, including RB Mike Davis and OL A.J. Cann (early NFL departures), WR’s K.J. Brent and Shaq Roland, and four (two rising senior) rotation players on the front seven.

Meanwhile, speculation about Spurrier’s impending retirement forced USC administration to give the Ole Ball Coach a raise in order to extend his contract to 2018. Largely due to this speculation, a recruiting class that peaked at #2 in the country as recently as last September finished 19th in the country, according to 247sports.com.

Oh, and remember the Will-Muschamp-to-South-Carolina rumors that made Georgia fan ears bleed throughout January? WELP. Muschamp is at Auburn. John Chavis and Gene Chizik both took DC roles opposite hurry-up no-huddle offenses (more often than not, career suicide), and the Cocks ended up with former Bears DB coach Jon Hoke, much to the chagrin of South Carolina message boards (or so I’m told by friend of the blog Brandi Mills of TheBigSpur.com)

Speaking of Brandi, her thoughts on the quarterback battle: “Oh great, our number one QB on the spring depth chart couldn’t even beat out daggum Dylan Thompson last year and the spring back up is a walk-on. #pray4gamecocks”

I won’t, Brandi, I’d rather enjoy a dumpster fire.

Okay, a Little Has Gone Right

Pharoah Cooper, the receiver/wildcat/running back/return man extraordinaire, is still (as of this writing) wearing Garnet and Black. Who will deliver him the ball when he’s not under center is still a major concern, however.

Looking at that recruiting class, there are three JuCo/prep defensive linemen who should be ready to somewhat right the ship for the USC D, as well as top-50 DE Shamiek Blackshear.

And of Course, the Schedule

It’s not toothless by any means. They draw Florida, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky at home, meaning that four of their five toughest SEC games are outside of Sandstorm territory. With a home crossover date against LSU being the exception, they pay visits to Georgia, Missouri, A&M, and Tennessee.

They have my current ACC favorite Clemson at home, as well as my favorite ACC team North Carolina in Charlotte to open the season.

If the defense doesn’t recover or the offense sputters after the losses of Dylan Thompson, Davis, Cann, Brent, Roland, et al, 7 wins could be the high-water mark for the Cocks. Just as long as Georgia gets its revenge.

Short. Still and forever.

Short. Still and forever.

 

Rambling Spring Thoughts: So, What Are We to Make of Tennessee?


I’ve got no real new information to present to you in the Spring. The SEC Network and ESPNU are showing too much basketball, preview magazines aren’t out yet, and recruiting rankings will have zero effect on the 2015 season. This is my attempt to keep you in the loop with some of Georgia’s potential obstacles for next season.

Dobbs

If you’ve been following the postseason podcasts, blogs, and Signing Day chatter, there are a LOT of people picking Tennessee as the darkhorse in the SEC East for 2015. Why the unbridled optimism for a team that yet again failed to finish .500 in league play? For a team who will have about 2/3 of its players in their first or second years in the program?

There’s a lot that could go right for the Vawls in 2015, but a lot that could go wrong too.

Josh Dobbs, and the emergence of an actual QB:

Dobbs was not a world-beater once he replaced the injured Justin Worley, but 63.3% of his passes found Vols receivers. He also brought an element to the UT run game not seen since Brent Schaffer: a real threat to run the ball. Dobbs finished with 469 yards on 104 (SPOILER ALERT: that is not good) carries. Not many college running backs get 200 carries, as Dobbs would have in a full season of action. An injury, and they’re right back to square one (remember Nathan Peterman in the third quarter or the Georgia/Tennessee game?)

Dobbs has weapons:

I spent all preseason last year shouting from rooftops that Marquez North was the second best wideout in the SEC. He rewarded me with…30 catches for just over 300 yards in an injury-plagued sophomore campaign. Joining him in and out of the lineup were Josh Malone, Von Pearson, and Pig Howard, all highly-rated guys in their own right. As their WR’s grow up, this passing offense becomes prolific.

The 2014 Vols replaced all 5 starters on their offensive line from the previous year. This year? Just one. That paves the way for massive human being Jalen Hurd (899 yards, 5 TD as a freshman) to continue to do his thing.

So yes, Tennessee’s offense is highly, highly skilled.

A strong finish and a beastly Signing Day

I said it in the intro, I’ll say it again. Signing Day 2015 will have almost no effect on this year’s results. Having said that, Tennessee pulling in it’s third straight top-10 class is admirable confusing things that make you go ‘hmm’. This year, the focus was more on reloading the defense, as they brought in two consensus five star tackles in Kahlil McKenzie and Shy Tuttle.

On the field, the Vols won 4 of their last 5. A convincing win against Iowa to close out the season is another cause of this ‘contender’ optimism, but say it with me one more time: BOWL GAMES ARE OVERRATED!

Did I dig into the defense?

Nah, not yet. They lose A.J. Nicholson though, and he was a monster.

But the schedule, though…

With a permanent crossover rival in Alabama, the Vols’ schedule always appears among the most daunting in the league. With a series against Oklahoma finally ending this year, it daunts all the more. The Vols play six straight games (all but a trip to Florida are at home) to open the season, concluding with a home date against Georgia on October 10. Coming off the bye, they go to Alabama and then play November against the fairly pedestrian SEC East.

There is the OUTSIDE chance that Butch Jones’ third Tennessee team plays to a similar trajectory of Hugh Freeze’s at Ole Miss. Early opportunities to pick up high-profile wins against Oklahoma and Florida, and a home tilt with Arkansas, could theoretically boost the Vols into the top 10 before Georgia comes knocking.

Or, s**t hits the fan as it has done for the past decade, and we have another 5-7 win Tennessee team, with a fanbase angling for someone to come in and coach up all the talent Jones has inexplicably assembled in Knoxville.

 

NEXT: IDK, whoever I feel like. Probably South Carolina though.

Georgia Football: Why are we pretending to be surprised by Chris Conley’s performance at the NFL Combine?


Georgia’s offense reached new highs over the past four seasons. Over that same time period, no player accounted for more receiving yards than Chris Conley. So why the hell are we pretending to be stunned by his athleticism?

He ran a 4.35 at the combine—that’s damn fast. He jumped a million inches on the broad jump. He set a combine record on the vertical. Perhaps from a testing standpoint, he surpassed what was expected. But are we really floored that the most productive receiver in one of the most prolific offenses in the country is athletic?

The guy stood out in run-heavy offense. That’s hard to do. He did it against the nation’s best competition. That’s even harder to do. He did it in surprisingly sexy ways. Again, harder still to do.

Consider the following about Chris Conley:

  • He averaged 16.6 yards per catch over the course of his four year career. For reference (not for comparison), A.J. Green averaged 15.8 yards per catch as a Bulldog.
  • He caught a touchdown pass once every 5.85 receptions. Green scored once every 7.22 receptions.
  • As a senior, Conley averaged 18.3 yards per reception while catching 36 passes. Only one other Bulldog in the last 20 years (Tavarres King in 2011) posted a YPC figure in excess of 18 while also hauling in 35 or more passes. Of note: Over that time frame 31 Bulldogs hauled in 35 or more receptions in a single season and failed to surpass 18 yards per catch.
  •  More than 76% of Conley’s 117 career receptions resulted in a first down or a touchdown. That’s just stupid. He was above the team average by such a measure each and every season.
  • Last year, 77.8% of Conley’s receptions moved the chains or put points on the board. For the rest of the team, that number was 67.4%.
  • Each of Chris Conley’s final 15 collegiate receptions resulted in a first down or a touchdown.
  • Conley was an animal on late downs. He hauled in 29 career passes on third or fourth down. All but two resulted in a first down or score. Those 27 chain-moving or point-scoring receptions resulted in an average gain of 18.11 yards. The average amount of yardage needed: 6.04.

 

What part of these facts implies that Conley is anything other than a gamer?

Further, think about what you know about Chris Conley. He commits to mastering everything he does. He graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA. He recorded a 3.0 or higher in each academic term at Georgia and collected a cumulative GPA of 3.32. He won Georgia’s Sportsmanship and Ethics Award. He sat on the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. His Star Wars fan film has nearly 500,000 views on YouTube and is almost Hollywood-ready.

Why would a guy who clearly has athleticism (see numbers above), an impeccable work ethic and a history of performing his best in the biggest moments not do well at the Combine?

Read more of my thoughts on Conley here.

 

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

 

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Georgia Football: A Few Thoughts on the 2016 Opener


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.

old kenan old sanford

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.

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