“Now who can argue with that? I think we’re all indebted to Gabby Johnson for clearly stating what needed to be said. I’m particulary glad that these lovely children were here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed a courage little seen in this day and age.”
– Olson Johnson, leading the town meeting at Rock Ridge, early in the movie “Blazing Saddles.”
Sometimes, you just need to quote Blazing Saddles. At least, when you’re running a family blog, a part that you can quote. (And it’s hard.)
Full disclosure: There weren’t as many questions as usual this week. It was almost as if people were staying off social media. Why ever would that be the case?
But the questions we did get were good. So let’s do it:
Seth – I know you don’t do a ton with recruiting, but considering the offensive line has been a big question mark (at least by the fans and some observers) all year, take a best-guess stab at next year’s starting 5 on the offensive line as you see them lining up on the first snap versus App State. Feel free to include any verbally committed (or even potential commits) as you see fit, if you think they start right away.
And do you think in year 2 of Sam Pittman’s tutelage, we see marked improvement on the o-line?
– Glenn Orman, Fort Worth Texas
I’ll answer the second question first – because that’s what everybody does with two-part questions. You answer the second question because you remember it, then you come back and ask what the first question was. Every single time, that’s what happens.
Actually, I forgot both questions. Oh, right.
Will the line definitely improve in Pittman’s second year? It’s so hard to tell, because it will be different personnel, and the answer probably depends on how many veterans end up starting. A freshman is going to have an adjustment period, no matter how good he is. Netori Johnson, a guard and four-star prospect, is the Georgia commitment most likely to walk in and start, from what I’m told by recruiting experts. Andrew Thomas, a tackle, is the other commitment with a shot to come in and play. Georgia is also chasing after Walker Little, a massive (6-8, 305 pounds) prospect who could play right away too. But the Bulldogs aren’t among his leaders right now.
So with all that, here’s my best guess at next year’s starting lineup:
- LT: Isaiah Wynn. Degree of certainty: Medium. He’ll start somewhere, the question is whether it’s guard or tackle. Thomas could start here and Wynn could stay at left guard.
- LG: Dyshon Sims. Degree of certainty: Medium. He’s also likely to start somewhere, the question is whether it’s left or right guard, or possibly even tackle.
- C: Lamont Gaillard. Degree of certainty: High. He’s being groomed to move over next year.
- RG: Solomon Kinley. Degree of certainty: Low. He’s been the backup guard this year, but there will be competition from Johnson, Ben Cleveland and others.
- RT: Kendall Baker. Degree of certainty: Very low. Aulden Bynum will also be a factor, and it could be Sims with Baker moving to left guard. Thomas could also be a factor, or even Pat Allen or Cleveland.
Oh, speaking of which ….
Is Ben Cleveland not ready ? Or was the plan to redshirt him from day one ?
– @gadawg1009 (via Twitter, obviously)
Seems like this question comes every week. The decision was made pretty early to redshirt Cleveland, who’s big and talented but is also only 18 years old. There haven’t been any thoughts from the coaches to burn the redshirt.
The reluctance to do so, and only using Kinley literally one play, is one reason I’m hesitant to make a freshman a favorite to get a starting nod next year. Pittman is known as a good coach, so I get the feeling they’ll hope for that Year 2 improvement from veterans, even guys that didn’t play this year. But I’ve also been told that the incoming freshman class will be very good, and there’s a lot of uncertainty among the returning players.
Outside of injury do you see any scenario in which Isaiah Wynn plays LT this week or moving forward? Will Reggie Davis return kicks?
– Parrish Walton
The offensive line did seem to move well when Wynn shifted over to left tackle at Kentucky, after Tyler Catalina’s injury. But whether that was the personnel or just Kentucky’s defense being worn down, I don’t know.
In any case, it looks like Catalina’s been working with the first team this week again at practice. I guess I can’t rule out a switch because Smart wasn’t asked about it. But thus far there’s been no buzz about Wynn at left tackle.
Davis on kickoffs could be something to watch, because he’s been in a black non-contact jersey all week. So don’t be shocked if Mecole Hardman is back there instead.
Side note: So many offensive line questions. Hwy, how about one of those media-centric questions everybody loves? Sure!
Does media typically reach out to player’s parents or high school coaches for stories or is that a product of less access at UGA now?
– Will Robinson
The answer is yes to both. When working on a feature story, it’s always good to contact family members or high school coaches. They have insight and anecdotes that will be valuable to the story. We don’t do it for every feature – sometimes we can’t reach them, sometimes we don’t have the time – but when we do it provides great material, so we should probably do it more.
I’m sure your question is related to the comments of Rodrigo Blankenship’s father. This wasn’t a case of a reporter seeking out a certain angle. The father actually reached out unsolicited to Chip Towers, and while Chip was eager to write the fun feature, when his father said what he did, that clearly became the thrust of the story.
The press access to players has, for whatever reason, been pretty good this week. We were able to talk to five players that we hadn’t been during the week this season: Blankenship, Tyler Catalina, Javon Wims, D’Andre Walker and Rashad Roundtree. It still stinks not to be able to talk to freshmen or assistant coaches, but prior to this week there had been a severe limit on even which veterans we could talk to, and that hurt the ability to write good features. And, as hopefully the Blankenship stories show, we just want to write good stories.
With Auburn not having any elite passing QB’s the last several years, why do we keep losing out on elite receivers from Georgia?
– Brett Bailey
The recruiting disparity at that position between the two schools is illustrated by this point: Darius Slayton was a Georgia commitment before flipping just before signing day in 2015. Georgia chased hard after Kyle Davis that year too, but he chose Auburn. Now those two guys are Auburn’s fifth-and sixth-leading pass receivers this season. They might both be starting if they had gone to Georgia.
(Davis and Slayton do rank second and third in receiving yards for Auburn, so they are making an impact. Just imagine the impact a pair of tall and fast receivers would have for Georgia this year.)
We’ve picked apart the recruiting abilities of Tony Ball, who was Georgia’s receivers coach until January 2015. Then Bryan McClendon only had one year at the position. But a bigger reason for the disparity, I’ve always felt, was the offenses: Auburn runs up-tempo and throws the ball around, and Georgia is pro style and always has outstanding tailbacks. In the recruiting process, I’m sure other schools, including Auburn, have told receivers that Georgia isn’t the place to go if you want to become a star. Fair or not, I’m sure Georgia’s running-game prowess has been used against them in recruiting receivers.
UGA Basketball non-conference record? Can we pull any upsets? Just a prediction
Just a prediction? No analysis? Pffftttt.
When I look at the non-conference schedule, I see 10-2: Wins over everybody except Clemson (because it’s on the road) and a projected match-up with Kansas in the Kansas City tournament. (Georgia should beat George Washington in the first round game. The Colonials fired their coach over the summer and should be in turmoil.)
But having covered this team for years I’ve grown weary of expecting non-conference success. That should be different this year: Mark Fox acknowledged when I asked him earlier this week that he probably knows more about this team than he has any other before the season began, thanks to the host of returning players, and the summer trip to Spain. They should hit the ground running, even if they start by losing at Clemson, which is another NCAA contender.
But there are other potential pitfalls, including Marquette at home, and trips to Georgia Tech and Oakland. And the way Fox schedules, none of those mid-major games will be against cupcakes. So ultimately I’ll predict a 9-3 non-conference record, with losses to Clemson, Kansas, and someone else. And if that is how it goes, by the way, that should still sets them up okay.
Oh, and I forgot one other non-conference game: Texas on Jan. 28 in the SEC-Big 12 challenge. The Longhorns are going to be very young, but talented, so they might have improved enough that they’ll be a tough out for the Bulldogs by the time they face them. But I’ll still give Georgia that one for ultimately a 10-3 non-conference record.
What are the chances of hearing some “Wild Thing” over the P.A. Saturday? I think it would rally our team and fans sort of like 2007 in black vs. Auburn. Yeah, we won big that day, like 45-20 in black jerseys and Knowshon going off. Thoughts?
– Taylor Cox
Hmmm. I’m pretty sure there won’t be a Wild Thing. There will have to be more of a movement for the Sanford Stadium crew to hop on that train.
The black jerseys, on the other hand, we know are coming at some point, and it was assumed it would be for the Louisiana-Lafayette game. Georgia said before the season that fans were encouraged to wear black for that game. But considering that will only be a noon game, and Auburn is a nationally-televised 3:30 game, maybe it would make sense to switch things up.
I’ve heard nothing from the team or in the building about breaking out the black jerseys Saturday. I’m just saying that if they’re going to do it this season, I think this is the time to do it.