Welcome back to the UGA Mailbag, where each week we invite readers ask our expertise (low bar) about Georgia football, UGA athletics or whatever springs to mind. This week we have many thoughts on the Cocktail party – or what it should be named – what’s next for the UGA athletics department, some over-under, true-false and a lightning round.
First, however, let’s delve into the main question on everyone’s mind: Georgia comes into Jacksonville playing so well what could go wrong? No seriously, what could go wrong?
Am I a bad, average, or informed fan to be scared to death that the Dawgs will lay the “proverbial egg” that I’ve been so used to the last 15 or so seasons?
– JV, Newnan
You’re a good fan because preparing for the worst is a good philosophy and makes you feel all the better when it doesn’t happen. And I don’t think it will happen. I truly buy into the revenge tour aspect of this season, which is why the Auburn, South Carolina and Kentucky games might be more ripe for the egg-laying.
The only way I see it happening here is if the bye week stunted the team’s momentum. Or maybe Florida, with its proverbial backs up against the wall, feeling disrespected, yada yada, pulls out all the stops and it turns out this is the game Georgia comes in overconfident. Maybe Jim Chaney returns to 2016 form, and so does Georgia’s special teams and offensive line.
Maybe a monsoon comes out of nowhere.
I was in that stadium in 2002, when Georgia came in unbeaten and a big favorite, yet somehow still lost to Florida, the only loss of the season for the Bulldogs, who were under a second-year coach. So the parallels are there. It could happen. Prepare for the worst.
It just seems a lot would have to go wrong for Georgia to fail this time. These look like two teams and two programs headed in opposite directions.
Seth, I heard Chip’s take on the podcast this week. He thinks there is zero chance GA/FL ever goes back to home and home rather than “neutral” site Jacksonville. Please tell us why he’s crazy and there’s a chance it might go to home and home at some point. Is Kirby’s recruiting obsession enough of a pull for him to put weight behind returning to home and home in order to be able to host recruits at a home game rather than lose that opportunity each (or at least every other) year?
– Insertusername here, via DawgNation Forum
I agree wholeheartedly with my esteemed colleague. The game is never moving, barring another stadium renovation or a calamity to hit Jacksonville. There are too many business interests and tie-ins between the city of Jacksonville and both schools.
The only way I could see it changing is if one team so thoroughly dominates that the other one decides it’s time to move to home-and-home. I don’t see the recruiting aspect being a problem, as it hasn’t really hurt either program to lose this weekend every year. But if, say, Georgia’s losing streak continues and Kirby Smart gets more annoyed at the recruiting loss, and builds up enough power at the school to force a change, then that could happen. Or maybe Florida’s next coach comes in and hates Jacksonville. Even then, it’s hard to see this game ever moving. This isn’t some recent experiment. They’ve been doing it this way for the better part of a century.
We take a brief departure from the angst to answer a question about some recent athletic department news. If you don’t care, feel free to skip four paragraphs ahead.
How does Carla Williams leaving to become Virginia’s athletic director impact the future of UGA’s athletic department?
– Steve Davan
Williams was a key figure in the athletics department the past few years. A very key figure. The image that sticks in my mind is almost exactly three years ago, the week of the Florida game, when everyone was awaiting the Todd Gurley ruling from the NCAA. Late one night that week, as we were wrapping up football interviews, I saw Williams descend the elevator and head into the corridor to the coaches offices. The next morning the NCAA announced its ruling. So clearly it was Williams who was going to the coaches to inform them in person.
I know people who had very good dealings with Williams, and I know some people who had some issues with her. Here’s the way one person in the building put it to me: “Carla was the gatekeeper and gatekeepers play by the rules, protect the organization, and generally say no or let’s think about new ideas. This I think caused criticisms, but overall she was great for the Athletic Department.”
One other thing I sense, and this wasn’t Williams’ fault or job necessarily, is that the coaches feel they needed someone in the Butts-Mehre who was an advocate for them. That goes for coaches in all sports. The feeling is they need someone they can go to and who will push the higher-ups for what they feel they need, whether it’s through finances or something else. The purse strings have definitely loosened for football, and that was with Williams there.
Now we return to the angst.
Two Twenties: If Georgia can’t score 20 will they win? Given the use/misuse of the RBs last year v Florida, and Chubb’s seeming disappearance from parts of the Missouri game – where even the announcers were wondering why he wasn’t on the field – can we trust Chaney to stick with the run and get Chubb lathered up with at least 20 carries?
– Bob Ho
Yes, Georgia can win scoring less than 20. Let me introduce you to Florida’s offense. I could see a 17-10 type game.
Chubb did have a team-high 16 carries against Missouri, which was all that was really necessary. (Sony Michel only had nine and D’Andre Swift had six.) Given all the talent in that backfield I don’t think there’s much you can criticize about how they’ve dispersed carries this season, and it could help the team down the stretch.
What are the chances we have the same coaching staff next year?
– Billy Joyner
Zero, technically, as they’re adding a 10th assistant coach in January, though it could end up being someone already currently on staff. (Jay Johnson and Scott Fountain come to mind.)
Otherwise if things keep going the way they have then some assistants are going to get a chance for a promotion in the industry. Mel Tucker could get a look for a head coaching job, Glenn Schumann and Kevin Sherrer could become a defensive coordinator elsewhere, Dell McGee could get an interview with Georgia Southern, etc.
I suspect money won’t be much of an issue – Smart will have leverage and will use it this offseason – but if guys get a chance to improve their careers, they have to do so.
Rennie Curran and Knowshon Moreno played sparingly in the first half of the 2007 season. Their playing time increased significantly starting with the Florida game. The contributions from Curran and Moreno catapulted the team from an underperforming group into an elite team which garnered serious consideration for the National Championship game. Which freshmen, if any, have been lightly used thus far but have the potential to contribute to the championship drive?
– Allan Harvey, Phoenix, Ariz.
There isn’t anyone that I foresee making that kind of an impact. D’Andre Swift’s role might increase but he’s already third on the team in touches (42 rushes and 45 receiving yards). He’s not a freshman, but Ahkil Crumpton is a JUCO transfer whose usage the past two games has increased. J.J. Holloman, slowed by a hamstring injury in the preseason, has only one catch, so he could be involved more, but the top three receivers – Javon Wims, Terry Godwin and Mecole Hardman – seem set.
Defensively, Richard LeCounte and Deangelo Gibbs seemed close to a bigger role, and could step in if there’s an injury ahead of them. Monty Rice was starting to make an impact but Reggie Carter is back this week and Natrez Patrick is due back for the Auburn game.
Hi Seth, this question is not pertinent to the game on Saturday or even this season but the recent arrest and suspension of Natrez Patrick and this being GA/FL week has me thinking. Florida has already taken steps in the direction of legalizing marijuana and I feel this will put Georgia at a disadvantage in the near future. Do you feel the same way? UGA does not recruit against the current states that marijuana is legal for the most part, but if a state in the SEC footprint legalizing would be a different ballgame. I know the generic answer to this is that all schools still drug test, but my rebuttal to that is players that play in legalized states are not getting arrested for marijuana residue in the cup holder of their car(Patrick). Most of the trouble players run into is with law enforcement not school drug screenings. I’m also not naive enough to believe a player is making his college decision solely on this but in a close race it could put a school over the top.
– Evan Snow
You said a lot and I printed all of it because I think your points are shared by many out there. UGA has said for years it won’t change its policy because it wanted the rest of the SEC to move towards it and not the other way around. But that’s simply not the way the wind is blowing nationally.
Florida, I should point out, hasn’t quite legalized pot the way Colorado and other states have. It’s only voted to make medical marijuana legal. Still, even the state of Georgia has made moves towards medical marijuana. If things keep going this way nationally it’s going to be harder and harder for UGA to maintain its stringent policy.
OVER-UNDER, COCKTAIL PARTY EDITION
Forestry Dawg once again provides the lines, and I provide the guess. At the end of the season I should count up how I did, though I may be scared to do so. Anyway:
Florida Trips to the Red Zone, 2.5 … Over. But three might be the exact number.
Florida first downs, 19.5 … Under. Way under.
Florida +20 Yard pass-plays, 1.5 … Over. That’s how I see the Gators getting into the red zone, with a few well-timed big plays. This might be the kitchen-sink game when McElwain breaks out trick plays.
Florida passing touchdowns, 0.5 … Over. But again, one might be the number.
Georgia tailbacks with rushing attempts, 4.5 … Over. I’ll say all five get the ball at some point, even if the game never reaches blowout territory.
Fromm Completions of +20 yards, 2.5 … Over. Hopefully by now Chauncey Gardner has seen tape of the non-slant patterns.
Georgia sacks, 1.5 … Over. I’ll say three.
Missed tackles by Chauncy Gardner, 1.5 … Over. It always kinda goes that way.
Rodrigo Blankenship Touchbacks, 3.5 …. Under. Low-scoring game, less chances.
TRUE-FALSE BASKETBALL EDITION
The Georgia basketball fan, Steve Shockley, serves them up again.
Win more than 20 games …. False. That’s mainly because the SEC is tougher this year. I could see Georgia going 9-3 in non-conference play and 9-9 in the SEC, at least in the regular season. Actually, include the postseason and they very well could surpass 20 games. And I could see it happening in the regular season too if things break right.
Make the NCAA tourney …. True. But I don’t feel very confident about that, to be honest. I’ll say about 51 percent. Ask me again after I see how the backcourt looks. That’st he key question.
Tyree Crump avgs better than 40% from 3 … False. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The more Crump shoots the better, I say, even if it doesn’t go in, because of the shots will and it will stretch the defense.
Rayshuan Hammonds averages more than 10ppg … True. I wasn’t sure about this when I was asked last week, but after actually meeting Hammonds in person, and seeing how physically ready he is to step right in, I think he’ll average in the neighborhood of 10-15 ppg and 5-7 rpg.
Unsolicited basketball note; I’m hearing very good things about freshman Nicolas Claxton, who’s a good outside shooter and moves well at 6-foot-10. I’m not sure yet whether he might actually make more of an impact than Hammonds. But it’s at least becoming a question.
Seth, would you glance into your crystal ball and let us know what juniors or red shirt sophomores that you think may choose to leave us early for the NFL? How does that effect the scholarship limit outlook?
Rather than speculate on my own, I’ll pass on the latest CBS Sports mock draft, posted this week: Roquan Smith is projected as the fourth overall pick. So if he’s still projected that high it’s hard to see him staying. He’s the only Georgia player in that mock draft first round, but I’ve also seen Trenton Thompson projected in the upper rounds. There’s a long way to go between now and the January deadline though.
Aside from our running attack vs UF front 7, what are the most intriguing WLOCP matchups in your mind?
– Morgan Dean Jeffrey
If Florida has any shot in this game I think Felipe Franks is going to have to have some success against Georgia’s secondary. Neither team passes more than it has to: Fromm and Franks are last among SEC starters in pass attempts per game. But Fromm has been much better at deep balls and stretching the field. Georgia’s secondary looked vulnerable against Missouri, as many suspected it was. Can Franks exploit that at all? If not, then the Gators have little chance, as it’ll be tough to run all day on this Georgia defense, unlike in 2014.
Talking about streaks (UF’s 3 game winning streak and UGA every 5 year streak), when was the last time UF beat UGA in a year ending with 7?
– Justin Holcombe
It’s been almost my entire lifetime: 1977. Ever since then Georgia has won every 10 years. Another reason for the Bulldogs to feel confident. Ah, but wait, I looked further back and Florida won 1957-67-77, followed by Georgia winning 1987-97-2007, so …. Well, whatever.