WE’LL BE BACK ON 8/24/08!!!!

Dear fans:

We are sorry for the inconvenience but georgiabulldogs.wordpress.com will be offline until SUNDAY, AUGUST 24.  PLEASE continue to visit us for up-to-date information on your championship-bound GEORGIA BULLDOGS starting again on SUNDAY, AUGUST 24.  Until then, continue to spread the word.  Thanks for visiting us and GO DAWGS!

Georgia Fans, Give Thanks to Mark Richt for Resurrecting UGA Football

Richt Attends Press Conference

Richt Attends Press Conference

The following article is courtesy of Justin Carter at the Bleacher Report (www.bleacherreport.com):

The University of Georgia Bulldogs, along with the Bulldog Nation, should be excited to be ranked at the top of the preseason polls for the first time in school history—but we all know it is not the preseason poll that matters.

One request to those who bleed red and black: Please wait until after the BCS National Championship game before you start running down the street with your pants around your ankles singing “glory glory to ol’ Georgia.”

Trust me—the thought has crossed the minds of many within the Bulldog Nation.

Instead of celebrating something that guarantees little to nothing (the preseason poll), take this time to celebrate the resurrection of Georgia football and give thanks to the man behind the resurrection: Coach Mark Richt.

Times were different before Coach Richt.  UGA fans remember the feeling of being nationally irrelevant.  The feeling of irrelevance was an all too familiar feeling in Athens during the Goff and Donnan eras, but thankfully times have changed.

Yes, Donnan beat the University of Florida once, and Goff headed the attack of “Air Georgia” which was lead by the right arm of Eric Zeier, but neither coach was able to do what Coach Richt has done.

Coach Richt has made Georgia football relevant outside of the South once again.

Expecting to end the season ranked within the top 10, expecting to compete for an SEC Championship, and expecting to play in a BCS bowl game are all expectations that Georgia fans did not have before Coach Richt came to the University of Georgia.

Some may be reluctant to give all of the credit to Coach Richt.  To those people, I ask you to notice the decline of the Florida State football program since the departure of Coach Richt.

Coincidence?  I think not!

Coach Richt is not without flaw, but no coach is flawless.  Mark Richt’s track record as a person and as a coach speaks for itself.  He leads his program based on the same high moral values with which he leads his life.

Georgia fans, be thankful—and do not forget how it felt to be irrelevant.

“412 Boys” Adjusting To Freshman Life At UGA

Athens – Ben Jones is a slob. Tavarres King could befriend Scrooge. Dontavius Jackson never eats his leftovers. And Richard Samuel has no problem clearing his dinner plate and scarfing down seconds.

Meet the self-proclaimed ‘412 Boys.’

Georgia’s early-enrollee freshmen foursome lives together in room 412 of their East Campus Village apartment-styled dorm. When they’re not hanging out at the pool or playing pranks, they are making strides on the field.

Jones was named the most improved offensive lineman after the end of spring.

King has been labeled the ‘real deal’ by cornerback Asher Allen. Samuel and Jackson are battling for a backup spot behind running back Knowshon Moreno. “I think that those kids are definitely ahead of the game,” coach Mark Richt said. “Not that the other guys can’t make it up, but it’s an advantage to get here and go through spring.”

The foursome spent their first night together in Athens watching the Bulldogs destroy Hawaii 41-10 in the Sugar Bowl. Since then, they’ve loaded up on classes, gotten a head start in spring practice and have managed to sprinkle in some fun.

“It was a perfect match from the get-go,” King said. “We’re all the same kind of guys. We’re all outgoing, like to have fun. When it’s time to work, we work. It worked out pretty well.”

After spending the previous eight months getting to know each other, they plan to continue living together this fall – even Jones, the messiest of the bunch.

“He’ll go in the fridge and take out some jelly and leave it out. He’ll come in the room from class, take off his shoes and his bag in the living room and go in his room,” Samuel said. “We get on him all the time. He don’t listen.”

Jones was not able to defend himself because offensive line coach Stacy Searels does not allow true freshmen to speak to the media.

As for the rest of their personalities, King is the social butterfly of the bunch.

“He’s open. He’ll talk to anybody,” Samuel said.

His sweet-talking gets him out of trouble when he decides to steal Jackson’s leftovers.

“Donatvius never ever finishes a meal. He’ll buy loads of food and always have leftovers,” King said. “Richard is the total opposite of Dontavius. He eats like a horse.”

They have added some personal touches to the living room. The prize accent is a special-made banner of their names that King’s father purchased. They also hung a NASCAR poster, even though none of them are really into the sport.

“It just looked cool,” Samuel said.

They don’t seem to mind messing up their new home, either. One day before camp started, they got into a water/syrup fight in their dorm.

“We were just bored,” Jackson said. “There was nothing to do that night.”

Jackson poured cold water on Jones. Jones retaliated and raised the stakes by pouring water on King’s bed. Then, he hit Jackson with syrup, and Jackson had to take a shower to wash off the stickiness.

Samuel wanted no part of the mayhem.

“If anybody wanted to retaliate, I wasn’t going to do nothing,” he said. “I just sat back and enjoyed it.”

Georgia’s numerous run-ins with the law this offseason could have been like quicksand for four teenage boys living on their own for the first time.

But King says he and his roommates keep a low profile. They can usually be found in their dorm watching movies or playing video games.

“It’s not about the downtown scene,” King said. “It’s about getting an education, becoming a better man, just growing. I feel like we’ve done a good job of that.”

– Courtesy of AJC.com

Rambo’s mission: More fire boosts defensive production

Baccari Rambo moved into a backup role at safety alongside John Knox for Georgia when Quintin Banks suffered a torn MCL.

Rambo’s first scrimmage showed he might be ready for the gig.

He was credited with six tackles, but Rambo said he left more on the turf at Sanford Stadium.

“I’ve got to push myself harder because I’m out of shape,” said the 6-foot, 206-pound freshman.

“We were watching film (Tuesday) and I wasn’t hustling to the ball. I could have had more tackles if I had hustled to the ball. … I’ve got to get used to the tempo, full-speed all the time.”

Rambo was a dual-threat quarterback at Seminole County High in Donalsonville, where he also played in the secondary.

“Sometimes I just handed off the ball and sat back there and watched,” Rambo said. “Playing quarterback in the triple-option offense I was in shape, but then I played basketball and was in shape a little bit more, but after basketball season I didn’t work out that much and got out of shape.”

Banks’ injury was expected to keep him out six weeks. Fellow freshman Sanders Commings is also receiving second-team work in Banks’ absence.

“I know I’ve got to step up because I’m playing a big part now,” Rambo said.

– Courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald

Breakfasts Help Washington

Freshman DE Cornelius Washington

Freshman DE Cornelius Washington

Freshman defensive end Cornelius Washington is listed at 217 pounds, but the 6-foot-4 native of Burke County actually reported to campus in June at 224 pounds and weighed 235 prior to preseason practices.

Georgia strength staff member Joe Tereshinski advised Washington “to every morning go to the dining hall and get a big plate full of eggs, so I’ve been trying to do that pretty regularly,” Washington said. “That contributed a lot to it and the weight room is a very big part of it.”

Washington, who finished fifth in the Class AAA 100 meters last year with a time of 11.1 seconds, is getting work on four special teams units.

It remains to be seen if he’ll crack the rotation at defensive end. On Tuesday, he was dealing with a stiff neck.

“Do you ever want to play any freshmen?” defensive ends coach Jon Fabris said. “No, but keep in mind. (Robert) Junior Geathers played. David Pollack played. Charles Johnson played as a freshman. I coach them to get them ready to play now. They understand that the very worst that is going to happen is I’ve got that much more ready for spring practice.”

– Courtesy of Athens Banner-Herald

Atkins and Owens Quite a Pair

ATHENS – When Geno Atkins first arrived at Georgia, he didn’t talk much.

The 6-foot-1, 290-pound defensive tackle was the epitome of the strong-but-silent type, retreating to his room and rarely talking with teammates.A few doors down, however, lived Jeff Owens, Atkins’ future partner on the interior of the Bulldogs’ defensive line. Owens talked. He talked a lot.

In fact, Owens talked so much, it eventually forced Atkins out of his shell. He simply couldn’t keep quiet when Owens was making up stories.

“I got to call him out,” Atkins said. “Jeff likes to talk a lot – yap, yap, yap – tell fabricated stories that didn’t really happen.”

These days, the validity of any statement Owens makes is up for debate between the two defensive tackles who combined for 18.5 tackles-for-a-loss and 7.5 sacks – all from Atkins – last season.

In fact, Owens has come up with a nickname for Atkins now. He calls Atkins “180,” because of the complete reversal in his personality.

“Now I can’t keep him quiet,” Owens said. “He’s overcooking my grits, as I always say.”

Colloquialisms like that are what make it so hard to tune Owens out, and the 300-pound senior from Sunrise, Fla. usually has a big-fish type of story to tell. In fact, they’re usually about fishing.

Owens has a million tales about fishing, but there’s one Atkins will never forget – even if the two can’t exactly agree on all the details.

As it happened, Owens, Atkins and former teammate Dale Dixon went out fishing one night during Atkins’ freshman year.

“It was late night, about 10, 11 o’clock at night, trying to catch some catfish,” Owens said.

Atkins doesn’t quite have the same sea legs Owens prides himself on, and being out on the boat at night wasn’t exactly his cup of tea.

“We were on the boat fishing, it’s dark, you can’t see anything,” Atkins said. “There’s spiders, beetles crawling all over the boat. I’m freaking out because the boat’s like the size of a tub.”

And here’s where the two don’t see eye-to-eye.

“It was a pontoon,” Owens argues.

“It was the size of a Jacuzzi,” Atkins fights back.

In either case, the venture wasn’t proving successful. They hadn’t caught anything, and Atkins was ready to go home.

“Jeff kept saying, ‘Give it some time, give it some time,’ but we didn’t catch nothing,” Atkins said.

So they started the boat and prepared to head for shore, only Atkins had forgotten to pull a rope back into the boat, and it tangled around the engine.

“So we were stuck out there for about 20 minutes trying to get it untangled,” Atkins said.

Atkins still considers the incident a traumatic experience – “I only do daytime fishing now,” he said – but it was a perfect example of the relationship the two have shared.

Atkins was unsure, and Owens pushed him. Atkins made a mistake, and Owens helped him fix it. And when they both arrived safely at their destination, there was a good story to tell.

Things aren’t much different on the field, where Owens and Atkins take pride in tormenting opposing offenses instead of each other. Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez routinely says successful defenses must be strong up the middle, and the Bulldogs’ tackles take that to heart.

“I think it’s crucial because up front we’ve got to get pressure on the quarterback and make the quarterback make mistakes,” Atkins said. “We set the tempo up front.”

Of course, Atkins is still just a junior with only seven starts under his belt. He’s loaded with talent – “strong, physical, runs a 4.6,” as Owens points out – but he’s still learning the nuances of the defense.

Owens helps with that, too.

“If he forgets a call or they come out with some funky formation, he knows he can always look for me and I’ll help him out,” Owens said.

If not for Owens’ loyalty to his teammates, however, it might not have been that way this season.

The burly senior earned plenty of praise from NFL scouts after his junior season, and he considered moving on to the next level, forgoing his final year at Georgia and leaving Atkins to torment quarterbacks on his own.

The NFL was a possibility, Owens said, but deep down, it was never really a consideration.

“My whole goal coming to Georgia was to win a national championship,” Owens said. “I want to get a black plaque (signifying a national title) to put on this wall, and that’s what I’m here to do. I don’t want to let my teammates down, because Georgia’s bigger than me.”

That doesn’t mean Owens doesn’t have a few personal agendas. In fact, when it comes to individual accolades, his rivalry with Atkins goes way back.

Atkins, too, grew up in Florida and attended a neighboring high school to Owens. As Owens tells it, they met when Atkins was a sophomore in high school, although Atkins argues it was a year later.

In a track-and-field competition, Atkins beat Owens in both discus and shot put – a feat Owens begrudgingly acknowledges.

On the football field, however, Owens claims revenge.

As a sophomore, Atkins was playing offensive line and linebacker, and his team lost to Owens’ team 21-3.

“I thought it was 14-3,” Atkins argues, but Owens disregards the rebuttal.

“I had like two sacks and like 12 tackles,” Owens said.

“And then he woke up from his dream,” Atkins fires back.

Owens tried to buttress the validity of his account by detailing the images of the game. It rained like cats and dogs, he said, and his team laid a beating on Atkins’ squad.

“Yes, I know that, Jeff,” Atkins admits, “but I don’t remember hearing your name at all.”

For Atkins, it’s not just about calling Owens on his tall tales. It’s about a friendly competition that might not seem all that friendly if both players didn’t have smiles plastered across their faces.

At Georgia, the two still place small wagers on who will play better in each game. They root for each other, but a little competition certainly keeps things interesting.

“Just about every play, I always tell him, ‘Meet you at the quarterback, Geno,’ ” Owens said.

Last season, however, Atkins spent a lot more time in the opponent’s backfield than his older teammate. Owens failed to record a sack, while Atkins finished with the second most on the team.

This year, Atkins said the two might start a small pot to put on the line, but last year’s wager was for something different – something more important than money.

“Just respect,” Owens said.

After all, Atkins was no longer the quiet kid who refused to talk to his teammates. He was now a man worthy of Owens’ respect. Atkins had grown into exactly the player Owens knew he could be when he took him out on that fishing boat in the middle of the night.

“He’s 180,” Owens said. “It’s a totally different Geno, and I love this Geno a whole lot better than the old one.”

– Courtesy of Scout.com

The Richt Era

Richt Attends Press Conference

Richt Attends Press Conference

Here is an article from Dawgsports.com (author: T. Kyle King) about the Mark Richt era.  It says its part 1 of 2, so I will post part 2 when it becomes available:

The 2007 college football campaign is not yet finished, but the Bulldogs’ season is done and Mark Richt now has seven years of service under his belt as Georgia’s head coach. This, then, is an appropriate time for us to take a step back and look at Coach Richt’s record of achievement in order to gauge how his performance compares to the historical norm in the Classic City.

First, we must look at those of Coach Richt’s predecessors who provide a basis for comparison. Mark Richt is just the sixth Bulldog head coach to have held that position for at least seven seasons. Here are the seasons at which we will be looking when analyzing the job Coach Richt is doing:

First seven years as Georgia head coach:
W.A. Cunningham: 1910-1916
Harry Mehre: 1928-1934
Wally Butts: 1939-1945
Vince Dooley: 1964-1970
Ray Goff: 1989-1995
Mark Richt: 2001-2007

Coach Goff, obviously, did not have an eighth season. (He shouldn’t have had a seventh season, or even a sixth one, in my opinion, but that’s a separate conversation. Seriously, I look back on Ray Goff’s tenure as Georgia’s coach the way I look back on Jimmy Carter’s term as president of the United States: “Nice guy. Good man. Fine South Georgian. How the heck did we ever think this fellow could do that job?” The wide-eyed naivete of a small child may be an admirable and even inspiring character trait, but it is not a qualification, either for a Division I-A football coach or for a leader of the free world. Sorry, Doug.)

In any case, we are looking at Ray Goff’s entire career as Georgia’s head coach, but only gazing upon a partial sliver of the careers of W.A. Cunningham, Harry Mehre, Wally Butts, and Vince Dooley when examining the first seven seasons of the Mark Richt era.

We start with the most basic statistic, wins and losses:

Won-lost record and winning percentage:
Cunningham: 39-16-6 (.689)
Mehre: 42-23-3 (.640)
Butts: 52-21-2 (.707)
Dooley: 48-23-4 (.667)
Goff: 46-34-1 (.574)
Richt: 72-19 (.791)

Obviously, it is exceedingly difficult to draw meaningful year-to-year comparisons in terms of wins and losses, as evidenced by the fact that Vince Dooley had only two more victories in his first seven years than Ray Goff had in his. It is rather telling, though, that, in the era of twelve-game regular seasons, conference championship games, and all but assured bowl berths for seven-win S.E.C. squads, Mark Richt still has fewer losses in his first seven years than any of his predecessors except W.A. Cunningham, who never coached more than nine games in a season.

The better basis for comparison, clearly, is the parenthetical percentage next to each coach’s seven-year ledger, which demonstrates decisively that Mark Richt has had the most successful opening run of any Georgia coach, by a large margin. The gap between the second-winningest coach, Wally Butts, and the third-winningest, W.A. Cunningham, is .018, but the gap between the winningest coach, Mark Richt, and the second-winningest, Wally Butts, is .084.

Those, though, are just wins and losses. What did those victories accomplish?

Championships won:
Cunningham: none
Mehre: none
Butts: one S.E.C. championship (1942), one national championship (1942)
Dooley: two S.E.C. championships (1966 and 1968)
Goff: none
Richt: two S.E.C. championships (2002 and 2005)

A trio of caveats ought to be added. First of all, the Bulldogs were declared the 1942 national champions in six of the national polls recognized by the National College Football Hall of Fame and listed in the N.C.A.A.’s official Football Record Book. (So much for the myth of the “mythical” national championship.) Those six polls were the Berryman, DeVold, Houlgate, Litkenhous, Poling, and Williamson polls; both the Associated Press and the coaches voted Ohio State No. 1 that year.

Secondly, Vince Dooley’s 1968 squad was declared the national champion by the Litkenhous poll, but, since Southeastern Conference champion Georgia lost to Southwest Conference champion Arkansas by two touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl, that No. 1 ranking is dubious, at best. Finally, Mark Richt’s 2002 Red and Black unit has as good an argument for the national title as the 2003 Louisiana State Bayou Bengals and the 2006 Florida Gators.

That said, the primary goal of a Georgia coach is to capture Southeastern Conference crowns and, at that objective, Mark Richt has been as successful in his first seven years as any coach in Bulldog history. It took Vince Dooley 17 years to win the Classic City Canines’ only unanimous national championship in 1980; unless Mark Richt is a decade away from guiding a Georgia team to a No. 1 final ranking—and I believe Mark Richt is, oh, about fourteen games away from accomplishing that objective—he will be ahead of Coach Dooley’s schedule and, otherwise, he is keeping pace with the athletic director who hired him.

For the moment, though, let us move past such regular-season achievements as conference titles and focus instead on postseason play:

Bowl games attended:
Cunningham: none
Mehre: none
Butts: three (one Oil, one Orange, one Rose)
Dooley: five (one Cotton, one Liberty, one Sugar, two Sun)
Goff: four (one Citrus, one Independence, two Peach)
Richt: seven (one Capital One, one Chick-fil-A, one Music City, one Outback, three Sugar)

A gargantuan asterisk must be affixed to those numbers, of course. Coach Cunningham had only one losing season and his 1911 and 1912 teams each finished with a lone loss, but, throughout his career in the Classic City, Pasadena was college football’s only postseason destination. Coach Mehre likewise fielded several solid squads in the early 1930s, when bowl berths were significantly less plentiful.

It is, therefore, less impressive than it seems that Coach Richt took each of his first seven teams to bowl games while, say, Coach Butts made it into postseason play just three times. Had there been a Music City Bowl during World War II, the 1944 Bulldogs’ 7-3 record certainly would have gotten them into action after Christmas Day and the 1943 Bulldogs’ 6-4 record likely would have, as well.

What is meaningful is the fact that Coach Richt’s teams have played on New Year’s Day or later five times. (The Red and Black took the field after New Year’s Eve only four times in the 18 seasons between 1984 and 2001.) In terms of the historic major bowl games, Coach Butts attended two in his first seven years (one Orange Bowl and one Rose Bowl), Coach Dooley attended two (one Cotton Bowl and one Sugar Bowl), and Coach Richt attended three (all of them Sugar Bowls).

Getting there is only half the battle, though. How have these coaches fared upon arriving at their postseason destinations?

Record in bowl games:
Cunningham: 0-0
Mehre: 0-0
Butts: 3-0
Dooley: 2-3
Goff: 2-2
Richt: 5-2

Thanks to clock mismanagement against Boston College in 2001 and the ‘Dawgs taking the first quarter off against West Virginia in Atlanta two years ago, Coach Richt has not earned the “bowl master” sobriquet with which Coach Butts was tagged. (In retrospect, though, the Sugar Bowl loss to the Mountaineers was not as disastrous as it appeared at the time. The 2005 Big East champions took the field against the Bulldogs as the winners of 25 of their previous 31 contests and, after securing their program-defining win in the City Too Busy to Hate, the Mountain Men proceeded to emerge victorious from 22 of their next 26 outings, registering another B.C.S. bowl win over Oklahoma in the process. What we didn’t know two years ago, but know now, is that Pat White and Steve Slaton are great players and Rich Rodriguez is a first-rate coach.)

Aside from suffering slightly in comparison to Coach Butts, though, Coach Richt clearly sets the standard for Georgia coaches in the postseason. Mark Richt is responsible for half of the Sugar Bowl victories in school history, winning by margins of 13 and 31 points in a berth in which the Bulldogs’ previous victories were by margins of ten and seven points, and he has never lost a bowl game—or, for that matter, an out-of-conference contest—against a team from a league other than the Big East.

Winning bowl games, though, is just the icing on the cake. Where a coach makes his bones is in rivalry games against teams he faces on a yearly basis. In the next installment of our analysis of the Mark Richt record, therefore, we will be looking at how Georgia coaches have fared against longstanding foes during their first seven seasons on the job.

Go ‘Dawgs!