“Sunny days- everybody loves them
Tell me, baby, can you stand the rain?
Storms will come, this we know for sure
Can you stand the rain?”
– New Edition
This of course is only tangentionally related to Georgia athletics and today’s mailbag. It’s in honor of the long-needed New Edition three-part mini series that began airing this week. (I haven’t been able to start watching yet, so no spoilers, but don’t worry, I already know it ends up with New Edition ending up being the most awesome group that was ever, ever put together!)
These are, however, times of rain and pain for many Georgia fans, especially basketball. Oh, football recruiting is going great. It’s just on the heels of a less-than-stellar 8-5 season. If you’re a Georgia fan whose world revolves around the decisions kids make before they come to campus – from Boys to Men, as it were – then life is good. If your world revolves around what happens when they’re actually playing, then … N.E. Heartbreak.
The great philosopher Bobby Brown once said … Bad example. The great philosophers Bell Biv Devoe asked: “When Will I See You Smile Again?”
Well, hopefully when you read this mailbag!
So I get why dual threat QB’s are all the rage. They are really hard to defend and extremely exciting to watch. They tend to take college football by storm for a few years at a time. But I’m hesitant to join Chip Towers’ bandwagon on the issue. I’m open to recruiting dual threats if they are better than the pro style quarterbacks that we have a shot at. But if you look around, a lot of dual threats aren’t the best passing threat. I’m a bigger fan of a mobile quarterback who is a great passer. That’s why I’m hoping Jake Fromm is in the Aaron Murray vein. Guys like that are going to hurt you passing but you have to keep an eye on their legs too. I just don’t want a running back at QB instead of someone with a great arm.
– Will Morris
It’s becoming an interesting debate, especially around a Georgia program that continues to sign pocket passers – but also keeps dipping its toe in the dual-threat pool. Kirby Smart sure sounded enamored last year after seeing Deshaun Watson run over his Alabama defense.
Chip’s column was very good – not just saying that because I owe him money – and actually convinced me. Which is what a good column is supposed to do. Given a couple more days to think, though, I did temper my thoughts a bit. It still depends on how well a quarterback can throw it. Watson can, and so can Jalen Hurts, which is why they’re so effective. This isn’t an old NCAA 2K video game where you can convert a fast safety to quarterback and run options every play.
I also wouldn’t completely close the door on recruiting pocket guys. In case anyone noticed, the NFL is still dominated by that offense, and the final four quarterbacks playing – Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger – are pocket threats. (Though Rodgers is a very good runner too.) As long as there’s a place for pocket passers in the pros, they’ll need somewhere to play at the college level, so even if Georgia remains an outpost, it may make it easier to attract those guys.
Side note: I know some of you people think I’m kidding about the whole New Edition thing. I’m dead serious. My early high school friends can attest that I had an unhealthy fascination. Actually, so can all my friends since then. And my wife. Perhaps soon-to-be-ex-wife. New Edition is the most underrated boy band of all time, all of whom went on to successful careers outside the group and is the best thing to come out of Boston, ever. Tom Brady? The Founding Fathers? Adequate, but none could match Ralph Tresvant’s soulful lead notes or Ricky Bell’s high tones. Did you know Bobby Brown wasn’t even the main lead singer? That’s how good they were? Now –
Get on with it, Emerson.
Greetings from North Carolina! Never a bad time to talk some football! One subject that’s been talked about a lot is our receiver corps. Even though we re losing our #1 in Isaiah McKenzie and a solid contributor in Reggie Davis, I feel pretty comfortable with our top three returnees in Riley Ridley, Javon Wims, and Terry Godwin. There’s also a lot of depth at tight end returning, and an influx of big recruits at the position. Having said all that, we still have a few guys like Michael Chigbu and Jayson Stanley who went from expected starters to seemingly lost. Do you think there’s a chance they ever see the field, or could they end up transferring like Shaquery Wilson?
– Drew Cheshire
Chignu and Stanley were only really lost because of injuries. The both started, while Wilson hardly saw the field. Chigbu was a solid contributor – other than some drops – before knee problems ended his season in late November. Stanley had a rougher go of it, with some high-profile drops, and didn’t have any catches this year, then missed the final four games of the regular season with a foot injury.
I think you’re right about the first three guys: Ridley, Wims and Godwin. But Chigbu and Stanley should be right behind them. The question is how much they’ll be pushed by the incoming recruits, all of whom are the bigger sized guys that this staff prefers. Either way, I think it’ll be a deeper unit, but still need to be convinced that it’ll be better without McKenzie.
Has there been ANY chatter at all about Elijah Holyfield? He was drawing some praise before last season for his talent and work ethic and seemed primed for more than a couple carries in the Ole Miss blowout. Now the talk is focused on the new recruit DeAndre Swift coming in, but I thought Holyfield was destined to be a cult star for the fan base and a tough dude that would be pounding the rock in the SEC in due time.
– Austen Bannan
Oh sure, Holyfield is still in the team’s plans. Of course things haven’t gone entirely as he or really anyone expected since he arrived: Hardly anyone saw Brian Herrien supplanting him (after Holyfield’s ankle sprain in the 2016 preseason) and then doing so well. And hardly anyone saw Nick Chubb and Sony Michel returning to school. So Holyfield may still struggle to see the field much in 2017.
But for what it’s worth, if the coaches had any doubts about Holyfield, I don’t think the Toneil Carter situation would have occurred. Swift is also a different kind of runner, smaller and faster, while Holyfild is more a Chubb-like runner. It still seems there will be a place for him, it’s just not certain when.
RUB YOU THE WRONG WAY: BASKETBALL ANGST TIME
Side note No. 2: And yes, the angst is very deserved. There were many questions along this line, so I’ll tackle it with one long answer that sums up where I am right now.
Georgia was projected to have its deepest b-ball team in years. As of now, Georgia isn’t even projected to being on the NCAA bubble. Mark Richt was fired for basically hitting a plateau. Many shallow victories and no recent championships. Twenty-win seasons are nice. But Mark Fox has seemed to also hit a plateau of shallow victories, without any reward. Georgia made a change to attempt to get over the football “hump”. Do you believe Georgia will make a change to attempt to get over the basketball “hump”.
– James Parry
I certainly get those who say the program has hit a ceiling under Fox. And look, there’s no sugarcoating it: This season has turned into a raging disappointment. It’s not over, and there are 11 games plus the SEC tournament to salvage something. But it would take one of the best runs this team has had to make the NCAAs.
I haven’t done any reporting yet on whether a change will be contemplated. I do know that Fox has always enjoyed the support of the administration and some very important boosters. They were also not close to considering a change last year. But where are we now? Well, we’re near the end of Year 8, which was supposed to be one of the best teams of Fox’s tenure, but has now reached a point of a 20-point home loss to an average team, and still no signature wins.
The idea that this year is NCAA or bust for Fox is inaccurate. Then you’re potentially leaving the decision at the whim of the selection committee. If they’re far out of consideration, that’s one thing. But even then I’m not sure a decision would be made to move on. If Yante Maten returns for his senior year – and right now I’m not seeing him on any draft lists – then your starting lineup next year is potentially Derek Ogbeide, Maten, Rayshaun Hammonds, Jordan Harris and Turtle Jackson, along with Tyree Crump and Mike Edwards. That’s not bad.
But this was also projected to be a good team. It’s weird, it’s almost reached the point where Fox’s recruiting – now hitting some stride, relatively – isn’t the biggest concern. It’s the coaching, especially in the non-conference portion of the season. Why a team this experienced still struggled in November and December is beyond me.
So should a change be made? I don’t usually tread in that territory. I would point to the statement by analysts in my Wednesday story, that Fox is well-respected, and that the Georgia job isn’t necessarily as attractive as its fan base may think. I’d also point at what Jeff Goodman and Jerry Meyer said about Fox not cheating.
Let me be blunt: The perception is that unless Georgia starts cheating, it’s always going to be going uphill in recruiting. Goodman mentioned Fox not being on “an even playing field.” Do Georgia fans want their coach to cheat, if that’s what it takes?
My perspective may be a bit different than others, however. I covered South Carolina basketball when it ushered Dave Odom into retirement after some so-so years (not nearly as good as Fox’s run at Georgia) and hired a young and energetic coach, Darrin Horn. But things fell off a cliff, Horn only lasted four years, and only now does it appear that program will get back to the NCAA tournament.
Maybe Georgia would do better if it moved on from Fox. But people have to understand that there’s real risk it would get a lot worse. We’ll see if Georgia’s administration is willing to take that risk.
Could a rational observer compare UGA’s basketball team to Jeb Bush? The Dawgs seem to have the talent and experience required to be successful, but they ultimately lack the energy and aggressive instincts displayed by true champions.
Poor Jeb, still being kicked while he’s long gone from the national stage. Well not so poor Jeb, I’m sure he’s golfing every day and doing quite well. But anyway …
There’s validity in your observation. I thought going back to November that the team didn’t quite have the fire it needed. The term urgency is over-used, but this time it applied. Given its experience, and having gone through so many seasons where it got hot later in the season, the Bulldogs may have taken too long a view. It’s a long season, but every game also counts. The team may also have taken on the personality of its best players, Maten and J.J. Frazier, who play hard but aren’t fiery guys.
This is a team of good guys and good citizens. That’s good, but there’s a belief that a basketball team needs at least one knucklehead, because you may not like what they say and do, but they keep you on your toes.
Side note No. 3: New Edition’s hit “Crucial” is unexpectedly in the 1980s Corey Haim-Corey Feldman classic “License to Drive.” Meanwhile, Georgia fans aren’t done with the debacle at Texas A&M.
I’m a Mark Fox fan, but the epic meltdown against Texas A&M was extremely disheartening. Who do you blame more for that collapse, the players or the coach? JJ let the ball hit him in the chest and roll out of bounds and Jordan Harris is practically running out of his shoes before he even catches the ball. Those are errors made by players, but I can’t understand why we run our inbounds play to the corner and right into the Texas A&M trap three times in a row!
– David Knowlton
That was a sequence that may end up being what costs Georgia the season. If Georgia holds on to win, it’s RPI is higher (road wins are weighted higher) and it takes some confidence into that Alabama game. Instead, as Fox admitted on Wednesday, the Bulldogs were “wounded” emotionally and he didn’t do a good enough job of getting them to rebound.
As for the inbounds mess, Fox admitted there were some things he’d like to do differently, but he didn’t specify them. He did indicate that using a timeout wasn’t one of them. Frazier said there was confusion because of three players having fouled out and guys playing different positions than usual. Whatever the case, what happened was unacceptable. For Georgia to be up 9 with two minutes left, then lose without getting any more shots off or getting to the foul line … unacceptable. And potentially devastating to this season’s hopes.
I have a question regarding the debacle at the most recent basketball game. Who physically operates the clock at SEC basketball games, and where is that person located during the game? Is it an SEC official? Or is it someone else? I read the SEC press release blaming a “belt pack malfunction”. Who was wearing the belt?
– Scott Horne, Dublin
It’s a misnomer that it’s done by someone at press row. A few years ago they changed the system so that home-cooking ideally doesn’t happen. There’s a precision timing system that’s connected to a timer pack on one of the on-court officials’ belt. It’s supposed to start and stop the clock upon that officials’ whistle. Seeing as how the clock stopped midway through the play, either the official inadvertently whistled or the system just malfunctioned. The SEC statement pointed to a malfunction, and I don’t recall hearing a whistle.
Considering this past Saturday, are there any protocols in place to file an official complaint or protest to an official’s call? If so, does it ever work or is it just a waste of time? Regardless of it being the correct call per the NCAA, the Dawgs were hosed and everyone knows it.
– JV, Newnan
There’s really no recourse to protest or challenge the result. But I do know that Georgia officials were upset, and that either Greg McGarity or his deputies were in contact with the SEC office soon after the game and during the afternoon. While many may have seen the SEC statement as rather tame, the fact it admitted to the officials failing to notice the clock had stopped was considered a positive step, because there was at least some accountability.
SMACK IT UP, FLIP IT, RUB IT DOWN, LIGHTNING ROUND!!!
I understand there is a lot of interest and excitement about the new offensive linemen from the class of 2017. Considering the difficulty some freshmen have adapting to college live and football, are there any linemen on the team that didn’t play in 2017 that might make an impact next season?
– Mark Kelly, Jasper, Tenn.
Dyshon Sims, the sixth man last season, is likely to start somewhere. Solomon Kindley, who played one snap as a true freshman – we’ll see if he gets his redshirt – could also be primed for a bigger role. The other two freshmen, Chris Barnes and Ben Cleveland, came on well in practice as last year ended. I also wouldn’t rule out Pat Allen, Aulden Bynum and Kendall Baker, who were in second-team roles. So there’s plenty of options, but Sims is the only one I’m pretty I’ll see out there with the first team on the first day of spring practice.
Based on the current roster and commits, how many pre-2016 (pre-Kirby Smart) defensive players will be on the team in 2017? How many are defensive backs? Linebackers? Defensive line?
– Scott Barman, DCDawg
Most of the starters and many key reserves will be Jeremy Pruitt-Mark Richt recruits. There’s even a couple Todd Grantham recruits (Davin Bellamy and John Atkins). The Pruitt guys include the other three linebackers (Lorenzo Carter, Roquan Smith and Natrez Patrick), most of the defensive backs (Dominick Sanders, Malkom Parrish, Deandre Baker) and the best defensive lineman (Trent Thompson). But the Smart players are starting to filter in, especially on the defensive line, and you should see more in the secondary this year.
Question: Is it possible that some Georgia’s repeated attempts throughout the season to establish a power running game (even though personnel didn’t seem suited for that approach) was so that game plans could also be used to show recruits that they were needed and how they would be used if they committed to Georgia?
– J. Deal
Eh, as much as Smart wanted to recruit and knew he didn’t need to win big in his first year, he’s still a competitor, so I doubt he’d be that Machiavellian. Obviously the straight-ahead play-calling was befuddling much of the season, so I can understand grasping for theories. But Smart and his guys are, well, smart enough to know that the best recruiting tool is a winning team.
What happened to Roundtree?
– Chris Maxwell
I’m assuming this is regarding Rashad Roundtree, and not Richard Roundtree. He was Shaft. And he’s still acting in television roles. As for Rashad Roundtree, the former safety who converted to inside linebacker and then went back to safety, at least part of the time, he’s still on the roster. While it’s never quite a good indication when a guy is going back and forth between positions – ahem, Shaquery Wilson, ahem – Roundtree did see sporadic action and was seeing second team work. So this spring will be vital for him to try to make a push. But he’s got good players ahead of him at both safety and inside linebacker.
Saw an article about eight years ago that spoke of facility upgrades, a new indoor practice facility, and additional seating expansion at Sanford Stadium for UGA athletics. Given the first two have happened, what is the likelihood the third will happen in the next few years? If not do you ever see it happening?
– Frank from Columbia
It doesn’t appear to be a high priority. The most immediate facilities change, now that the indoor facility is here, is moving the locker room to the opposite side of Sanford and building a recruiting room on top of it. That was something Mark Richt wanted, and Smart picked up the ball on that. It may get approval at the February athletic board meeting. The increased seating project hasn’t been mentioned very prominently lately. I’d be curious whether people feel there’s a huge demand for it.
Under the Trump administration is the stress from being a Bulldog fan considered a pre-existing medical condition?
– Russell Sauve
Pay the man, Shirley. (Apologies to Norman Chad.)