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.
Georgia Football: Brice Ramsey Stepping Up, Reggie Carter Doin’ Thangs and Other Spring Expectations
I’m looking early at Spring Practice.
Today I highlighted five players with the most to gain this spring, they are (by my estimation):
- Brice Ramsey: Owning QB1 is a thing. Right now we don’t know if Ramsey is going to be Matt Saracen closing his eyes and heaving a pass or Matt Saracen insisting “my eyes weren’t closed, coach.” Let’s see who this dude is.
- Keith Marshall: The former star has three options: a. Ball out as a part of the offense over the next two years. b. Ball so hard pro scouts wanna find him after this season. 3. Fade away. There’s not a lot of middle ground. Let’s see if this guy can get it back from a health and confidence standpoint. The athletic gifts are still there.
- Reggie Carter: Don’t forget, this guy almost beat out Ramik Wilson heading into the 2013 season and injuries may have been a factor in that falling through. Just imagine, if Carter wins that starting spot Wilson never becomes the too-early darling of mock drafts (he was mocked as a first-rounder this time last year) and wouldn’t have fallen from grace with a somewhat average 2014 campaign.
- Aaron Davis: Walk-on to Shutdown. 30 for 30. What if I told you…
- Anybody at Center: Seriously. I don’t care if it’s Justin Scott-Wesley. Let’s just nail down this position heading into the summer and move ahead.
Read more here.
That’s all I got/
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All Star Weekend is firmly in the rear view mirror, and its full steam ahead to the playoff hunt. Not only does the NBA do it’s showcase event better than any other American sports league, but they time it perfectly too. No one is looking more forward to the next game (NFL), or is exhausted at the thought of approximately 1 billion games left to play (MLB), but with 2/3 of the season down, it’s crunch time for everyone. What better time than to give our readers a taste of not only what’s happened so far, but arm them for conversations they will be having now that we’re forced to not watch football. Here are 7 stories so far, predictions for the rest of the way, and some 2/3 awards to be delivered.
1. The Hawks are Scary Good…
For once, this isn’t JUST my well-known Atlanta bias creeping through – this Hawks team is amazing. Eye popping ball movement, stifling defense, and great depth off the bench, even the notoriously fickle home crowds of Atlanta have gotten behind the Hawks. They own the season’s longest winning streak in the Association to date, beating top contenders from both coasts along the way, and are becoming a ‘cool’ team to get behind. And I didn’t dream any of it!
2. …The Warriors are Just Scary
Golden State started the season in a bit of tumult, as they fired their most successful coach in my lifetime after he improved their record for two straight years. They flirted with trading away Klay Thompson, Steph Curry was mad they got rid of his coach, and they landed former Phoenix GM and TNT analyst Steve Kerr only after he got lowballed by the Knicks (more on that dumpster fire later). But all the upheaval has worked out for them, as they own the best record in the NBA and are appointment television at this point. If you have League Pass, please DM me your login info and schedule your life around Golden State games.
3. The Lakers are Hilariously Bad
They’ve been good for the past 70 ish years. Get your jokes in now. I am.
4. Hot and Cold Cavs
LeBron made history this summer by being the first person to willingly move from Miami to Cleveland, and he’s made history this season as the first player/coach/GM. Really, an impressive move by him. Things started unevenly and the Kevin Love experiment hasn’t gone well thus far, but ever since LeBron took 2 weeks off
to rest finish building his team, this squad has more closely resembled a team to take seriously. It’ll be interesting to see how the experiment plays out, what with Love unsigned for next year.
5. Western Conference
Once again, the West is the place where you do NOT want to be to make the playoffs. Even as Phoenix seems positioned to slip out with the current Dragic noise, either the Thunder or the Pelicans look to be left out of this year’s field which is INSANE since those two teams employ three of the best ten players in the NBA (if you haven’t been watching this year, Anthony Davis has fully arrived as a force of nature). Hell, Memphis is the 2 seed in the West right now which would mean a 7 game series with the Spurs. Seems like a crappy prize for taking 2nd in the West.
6. Playoffs. PLAYOFFS?!?
A loaded West means we get to rehash a familiar argument that occurs every three or four years: that the NBA should move to open seeding between the two conferences. In the 90s, this was an argument because the East was so strong. Look, there are a lot of things wrong with the NBA schedule (three games in four nights in three cities, too many games), but nothing gets solved by eliminating conferences and divisions from the equation, which is what would have to happen with open seeding. It’s too big of a fix for a cyclical problem that seems to resolve itself every few years.
They are sitting at 10-43. After successfully outbidding no one for Amare Stoudemire (Center, crappy poet) in 2010 with a 5 year $100 MILLION deal, they bought him out this week, and he’s a Dallas Maverick now. The buyout occurred because his knees are uninsurable and have been for years, which is why no one else was bidding for him in 2010. Carmelo Anthony is their best player, and he is shutting it down for the season with an injury AFTER clocking 30 minutes (second on the team!)
wasting space playing in the All Star Game. And people are writing things like this about Phil Jackson. (Also, if you have Lakers fan friends who are also Phil Jackson disciples, this is a good time to revisit number 3 on this list. You’re welcome.)
DYC Officially Official NBA Finals Pick: Hawks vs. Grizzlies. Admittedly, this is a dream for me because I like conflicting styles and barbecue, but wouldn’t this be the most southern thing ever? AND IMAGINE THE MUSIC. Sir Foster is giddy just thinking about it.
DYC 2/3 MVP: Stephen Curry (Runners-up: James Harden, LeBron James, Anthony Davis)
Until we retroactively take away Steve Nash’s MVP for just his offense, this case stands. Hell, it’s even stronger. Curry has evolved into a MUCH better defender under Kerr, and he’s a top 10 performer in scoring, 3-pointers, assists and steals.
DYC 2/3 Most Improved: Jimmy Butler (Runners-up: Klay Thompson, John Wall)
THAT is how you play in a contract year. He added an ability to create his own shot, and it didn’t take away from the defending and rebounding that was already well-known. With Derrick Rose still finding his way, Butler has kept the ship afloat in Chicago, even as he priced himself out of town this coming offseason.
DYC 2/3 Rookie of the Year: Andrew Wiggins (Runners-up: LOL, JK)
And it’s not even close. This is the award that’s going to keep LeBron from capturing the coveted DYC Executive of the Year award. Damn shame.
DYC 2/3 Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green (Runners-up: Anthony Davis, Tim Duncan)
If the Spurs didn’t have more injuries, Old Man River probably wins this, but the biggest difference maker for the Warriors this year over last has been Green. People know about Steph, Klay, and the Warriors offense. People forget that they also trot out the best defense in the Association as well. And Draymond is a big reason why.
DYC 2/3 Sixth Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford (Runners-up: Isaiah Thomas, Manu Ginobili)
Can we rename this award the Jamal Crawford?
DYC 2/3 Coach of the Year: Mike Budenholzer (Runners-up: Steve Kerr, Jason Kidd)
Longest winning streak in the league. Zero max contract guys. Eighth in the East last year. Cue the music.
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For nearly two weeks, Roquan Smith of Montezuma, GA has been in the spotlight of the recruiting world. Not for being a 4-star linebacker, but for being the first big time recruit to refuse to sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI).
On February 4th (National Signing Day), Smith appeared on ESPNU holding a pair of UCLA gloves to announce to the country he would take his talents to the Bruins. It was no secret that one of the main reasons the Bruins were able to get the Peach State native to the West Coast was because of his relationship with defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. However, a day after NSD, Ulbrich announced he would be joining the Atlanta Falcons to be their linebackers’ coach. While some may call it luck, perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but Smith had yet to sign his NLI with UCLA, thus allowing him to keep his recruitment open.
10 or so days later, Smith announced he would remain in his home state to play with the Georgia Bulldogs, leaving the Bruins program behind. Smith has been called “revolutionary”, a “hero”, even as far as the “Rosa Parks of college football recruits.” While he is bold, I’m not sure I would put Smith in the same category as the legendary Ms. Parks. If anything, I believe Smith showed the many flaws in college football recruiting.
If you’re a Bulldog fan, of course you’re happy to see another four-star added to your recruiting class. If you’re a coach at UGA, it’s easy to say you agree with Smith’s decision. But what if it were the other way around? What if you were the program banking on this 6’2, 207 lb. stud athlete to join your program, only to find out AFTER Signing Day you were missing a big hole in your defense?
Shouldn’t it scare UGA a little bit, no matter how unlikely, that Smith could pack his bags and head to Texas A&M, Michigan, or even UCLA before summer classes start? Perhaps, college football fans and coaches should think the big picture before encouraging all Top-100 football recruits to not sign the NLI.
As with most things within the NCAA, the NLI can improve in some areas. For example, one of the rules being that once a kid signs his NLI with a program, if he doesn’t enroll with that school; he loses a year of eligibility. Knocking off one of his four years of playing time. It’s even possible a school could release a player on their own between the time of Signing Day and preseason camp, robbing the kid of his scholarship. This is one of the gray areas that could use some changing. The NLI should make reasoning that if under certain circumstances, a player can keep all four years of his eligibility if he feels it’s necessary to transfer.
Smith’s reasoning for not signing with the Bruins was because of the departure of Ulbrich. But what if every recruit in the 2015 class left their school of choice due to a coaching change? Where does that leave these football programs? How can a program prepare for the following season if recruits are not bound to anything and allowed to leave with whichever way the wind blows? It’s the cold hard truth but that is life. Things don’t always go the way we want. Sometimes coaching staffs are fired, sometimes a coach retires, and sometimes coaches take better jobs.
Who is to tell Smith that Mark Richt won’t retire next year if Richt does or doesn’t win a championship? Relationships are an important key in the college football-recruiting world, which has been proven time and time again. As a 17-year-old recruit, perhaps building a relationship with that school, the town, their fan base, should be just as important as the one built with the coaching staff.
Another flaw showcased in the Smith ordeal, is the deception some coaches give players. It appears Smith was completely blind-sided by the job change. Had Ulbrich been upfront about the possibility of leaving, Smith could’ve weighed his options more without all the national publicity. Institutions should make it an option to conceal coaching staff’s contracts before NSD.
Perhaps the real flaw with college football recruiting is that there is too much of a selfish mentality and not enough honesty, from both sides.