Monday, June 30, 2008
A few years back, North Texas was considered the football powerhouse of the Sun Belt. Troy had a brief spell being widely considered as the "up and comer." Times have changed again, and there is a new sheriff in town, and his name is Howard Schnellenberger. Florida Atlantic is my choice to win the Sun Belt in 2008 for the 2nd straight season. Troy will be good again, although a notch below last season's team that beat Oklahoma State, and who gave national runner-up Georgia the tightest contest they played in their final 5 games of the season. Louisiana-Monroe, who beat Alabama in 2007, will push a .500 overall record. Everyone save Florida International will battle for the 4th spot in the Conference. But Florida Atlantic should be good enough this season to give the league some overdue notoriety.
1. Florida Atlantic (Predicted Conference Record: 7-0, Predicted Overall Record: 9-3)
The Owls return 18 starters from a team that finished 6-1 in the conference and scored over 30 points in 8 out of 13 games. Howard Schnellenberger's team gets Troy at home, and toughens up on the road early in the schedule against Texas and Michigan State. Look for the Owls to possibly pull a mild upset in the Metrodome against Minnesota on September 20. It would take a miracle for this high-powered offensive squad not to make it to the New Orleans Bowl. The defense will sport as solid a back 7 as you'll find in the Sun Belt. The Owls also sport the best QB in the league in Rusty Smith.
2. Troy Trojans (7-5, 5-2)
The Trojans finished 2007 on a disappointing note. After the big win over Oklahoma State in September sparked a 6 game winning streak before a close loss at Georgia, Troy barely squeaked by Western Kentucky, and lost the finale to Florida Atlantic at home. 14 starters return, but quarterback Omar Haugabrook graduated, and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin took his spread option to Auburn. The defense should be better, with former UGA commitment Brandon Lang back at DE. The Trojans go to LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, all in September, followed by a Thursday night tilt at Florida Atlantic that will probably decide the conference champion. Troy's strength in the trenches (both sides) might be enough to give the Owls all they want, but they will probably be beat all to hell going into that game. The schedule makers did the Trojans no favors.
3. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (5-7, 4-3)
This team won in Tuscaloosa last season. I can't say that enough, and I still have a hard time believing it. 15 starters return, but 2 new starting corners may spell doom against teams that love to throw the ball like FAU and Troy, although they do get those 2 at home. I would not be at all surprised to see them pull an upset against one of them (I'm picking them to beat Troy.) Monroe plays 3 more SEC teams this season (Auburn, Arkansas and Ole Miss), so they should be battle tested for the conference slate. The tough non-conference schedule will probably be the difference in weather or not the Warhawks find themselves in a bowl game postseason. Myself and every Crimson Tide fan in Alabama would gladly offer up a finger or toe to see them win in Jordan-Hare week 1. Gladly.
4. North Texas Mean Green (4-8, 3-4)
NT brings back 13 starters from a team that had a rough season in 2007, losing 10 games. The Mean Green should be much improved this season under 2nd year head coach Todd Dodge, who also brings in his son Riley to be the likely starting QB, although he'll compete with the reigning SBC Freshman of the Year in Giovanni Vizza. Riley was a highly recruited prospect, with offers from Texas and Missouri. He'll have a good set of receivers to sling it to. North Texas was known for years as having one of the best rushing offenses in NCAA Division 1, but this program under Dodge will throw the ball. Trips to Kansas State and LSU as well as a visit from Tulsa will get this team ready for SBC play.
5. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (3-9, 3-4)
14 starters returning would normally look like a good sign, but this is a team that lost by 3 TDs at home to McNeese State last September. They do sport a stud RB in Tyrell Fenroy, and the best set of LBs in the conference. Inexperience along the d-line, and a general inability to stop anybody's running game will be trouble. The offense will be tough to stop, especially with Fenroy toting the mail. He'll probably go for a minimum 1500 yards this season, although QB Mike Desormeaux can run it as well.
6. Arkansas State Red Wolves (4-8, 3-4)
The Wolves only return 11 starters and are breaking in 4 new starters on the OL. Tiny speedster Brandon Thompkins is probably their top returning skill guy, and he'll also return some punts. One thing that catches my eye about this team is how they played the powerhouses on the schedule last season. An 8 point loss at Texas week 1. Lost by 3 TDs at Tennessee but kept it close for a while. A 6 point loss at Southern Miss to close the season. This year the Wolves open up at Texas A&M, get Southern Miss at home (keep your eye on that one), and go to Alabama. You have to wonder how changing their mascot from the Indians to the politically correct Red Wolves will affect team psyche.
7. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (4-8, 3-4)
MTSU opened the season with a narrow loss to eventual conference champion FAU, then put 42 up on Louisville in a loss. After a 44-0 pounding in Baton Rouge, the Raiders lost at Western Kentucky. Inconsistency plagued them the rest of the season. 12 starters return in 2008, but top to bottom this team is very young, with almost 60 sophomores and freshman. The schedule is front-heavy, with Troy and Maryland opening up the season in Murfreesboro (not sure what Ralph Friedgen was thinking there), followed by a trip to Kentucky. A trip to Starkville, MS sits in the middle of the schedule for those Blue Raider students thinking about a swell road trip.
8. Florida International Golden Panthers (1-11, 0-7)
FIU brings back 18 starters, including all their skill players on offense. The problem is that they struggled mightily on offense last year, gaining less than 300 yards of total offense in 7 of 12 games last year. The schedule grants no favors early in the year, going to Kansas and Iowa, and bringing South Florida to FIU Stadium in Miami. Even getting Western Kentucky in the season finale isn't a gimme for this team. They'll be improved, but probably don't have a realistic shot at winning more than 1 or 2 games.
6-3, 300, Centreville AL (Bibb County HS), True Freshman
As a Top 10 center prospect coming out of Bibb County, Jones considered UGA, Alabama, the Air Force Academy, and UAB before deciding on the Dawgs. He was one of the major surprises at the Under Armour All-Star Bowl in Orlando, where he was elected Red Team captain. Most of the scouts in attendance were shocked not only by his level of play on the field, but also his nastiness and readiness to lead. He enrolled at UGA early in time for spring practice, and quickly made his presence known. He was named Most Improved Offensive Lineman after spring practice.
Depth Chart Analysis: Center might be the most intriguing competition heading toward fall, and Jones is very much in the game to become the starter. After one spring practice, he is already listed as #2 (pushing Chris Davis very hard), and Richt has said on numerous occasions that he is looking for the best five across the line, no matter what their experience level is. One thing certain is that he will not be taking a redshirt this year. I'm expecting to see Jones make an impact similar to Clint Boling last season. He is simply going to be a rock over the next few years. Maybe as good a true center prospect as we've seen in Athens in a long time.
6-1, 245, Savannah GA (Calvary Baptist School), RS Soph.
It would be hard for me to imagine that there is a better athlete in the history of Calvary Baptist School in Savannah. Besides the fact that he started every football game he played from his freshman to senior season, gathering the school sack and tackle records, he was also a 3-year letterman on the basketball team, and a 4-year letterman on the baseball team which won a state title in 2005 and state runner up in 2006. (He batted .459 and .444 as a junior and senior, respectively.) After coming to UGA, he walked on and redshirted on the scout team in 2006, and in 2007 won the Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year.
Depth Chart Analysis: Assuming that Christian Robinson and Nick Williams are redshirted, or that they are moved to other positions (which is possible), Fields could actually see some time at WLB behind Rennie Curran, Darryl Gamble and Akeem Hebron. That is probably the one LB spot where the Dawgs are deepest, so don't be surprised to see someone get moved around to Sam or Mike. Fields could provide some depth. At the very least, don't be surprised to see him get some time on special teams.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
6-4, 292, Jefferson GA (Jefferson HS), RS Soph.
An early commitment in the 2005 class, Davis was widely considered a lock to UGA, which kept other potentially interest schools at bay. That, and the fact that as a high school senior, he only weighed 245 lbs. After a redshirt in his first season in Athens, Davis was ready to play, and that he did in starting all 13 games in 2007 at left guard. Scout.com named him a Freshman All-American Honorable Mention.
Depth Chart Analysis: Davis was moved to center in the spring, and enters fall practice as the firm starter there. Many think that he'll be pushed hard by incoming true freshman Ben Jones, which could make Davis primarily a guard again. Chances are though, he'll hang at center. He played a little bit there last season, so he has experience. This is a solid player that will only continue to get better over the next 3 years.
Relaxing during '05 GDay Game (RedandBlack)
Before UK Kickoff in 2007 with Mimbs and Coutu (RedandBlack)
Auburn Blackout Game (Jim Hipple)
GDay 2007 (Wizard of Odds)
High Flyin' (Picsaweb)
"UGA V's Watchagot Loran" was mascot since 1999.
Read More on the Beloved Mascot of a Nation:
UGA Statement on UGA VI ... AJC
Rowdy, burly son of UGA V ... Savannah Morning News
UGA VI goes to Washington ... Savannah Morning News
Seilers: UGA VI lined up... ... Savannah Morning News
UGA VI died last night ... Georgia Sports Blog
UGA VI passes away ... Dawg Post
*tech claims win in 1999 that is not recognized by C&C
Friday, June 27, 2008
6-1, 210, Kenner LA (Jesuit HS), Redshirt Freshman
To be honest, there isn't much info out there on Matthew. He walked on last season but redshirted, so his time at UGA thus far has been limited to scout team. A few articles I read actually list him on the depth chart analyses, but it is hard to imagine that he'll jump over the incoming freshmen at DE.
Depth Chart Analysis: Most likely a special teamer. In spring he was actually listed on the depth chart behind Roderick Battle, but probably 3rd or 4th string. The incoming freshman should leap him, but you never know.
Note: I apologize for the lateness of the countdown the last few days. Mid-year just happens to be the busiest time for my real job, but now is almost the time that I begin focusing on the fall. Over the next few days and weeks, I'll not only continue to get into the meat of the countdown, but we'll also start to see our preseason conference predictions. I look forward to it.
It hurts to come so close and not win the National Title. You just never know when you will ever get another chance. I had said I would trade any future Championship in my lifetime by the Falcons, Hawks or Braves for this one Title. Maybe there wasn't one to trade.
Hats off to Fresno, they ran the gauntlet and whipped all comers including national seeds #2, #3, #6 and #8. Were they really all that much of a cinderella though? Come on ESPN, they were ranked to start the season. They have 31 trips to the postseason. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think only 7 or 8 programs have more appearances all time. I get that half of their players have only one hand but please. And who is it that made the last out for UGA in the '06 CWS? Dammit ESPN do some research and report something fresh...you told that Beckham story 40 times. I half expected someone to ask what the black bones were for. And the whore in the dugout has got to go. Don't tell me how hot she is either...dime a dozen on Milledge Ave. I could go on and on but I need to stop for my own sake.
The run to the CWS Championship Series was a blast. I really believe it started back in the first series of the year when Peisel tried to fight half the then #1 Arizona team. The huge comeback against Arkansas to take the first SEC series on the road. Then the sweep of everyone's darlings USC when Georgia's pitching led by Trevor Holder shut down the Gamecocks loaded batting order.
The 3 run HR by Beckham that tied the game against Louisville in the Regional was well documented, but the play that stood out to me in that game that saved the season was the diving play Gordon made at ss with runners on 2nd and 3rd that kept Louisville from blowing the game open early.
The dismantling of tech will always be a fond memory. If there was any doubt who the baseball power in the Peach State is, that discussion is now over.
The moment Miles Starr laid down that 2 strike bunt single to set up Ryan Peisel's game tying HR vs Miami in Omaha, you could tell Georgia was going to do whatever it took to advance in Omaha. I just wish Georgia could have had the opportunity to eliminate the 'canes.
The future looks bright. Perno has put Georgia on the map nationally. Georgia has played in 3 of the last 5 CWS and 4 of the last 8 with a 3rd place finish in '04 and this years 2nd place finish. Outside of playing in the SEC, Perno has anually played southern powers FSU, Clemson and georgia tech. And on a national scale Perno has been scheduling the likes of Michigan, Southern Cal, Oregon State, San Diego and Arizona. Next season Georgia opens up on the road at Arizona.
What southern baseball program has done more nationally this decade than the Georgia Bulldogs? The cuban's from Miami possibly if you consider them southern, but thats it. Perno is building a monster. South Carolina? Clemson? Florida State? Sorry, but you have been passed.
Its hard to say whether next year will be a standard odd year when Georgia struggles in baseball. Georgia's recruiting has been extremely strong of late and the confidence gained from deep run in Omaha can't be overlooked. I actually expect Georgia to have a solid season next year. Depending on how many of Georgia's recruits come to campus and how many of our weekend starters go pro, Georgia could actually make another deep run next year. You just can't count out a Perno led team.
6-3, 258, Gainesville GA (West Hall HS), Sr.
Henson's is an interesting story. After 4 years of football at West Hall, he worked for a year in Real Estate, then spent a year at Gainesville State University, where there is no football team. In 2006, he joined the Dawgs and walked-on the team in August, and quickly became the team's primary long snapper for every game that season. In 2007, after receiving the Mike Castronis Football Scholarship, he appeared in the first 12 games of the season. The first 4 of those were as long snapper for all Special Teams disciplines, the rest as long snapper for punts only. He did serve a 1-game suspension for a mild legal fracas that caused him to miss the Sugar Bowl.
Depth Chart Analysis: We don't read much about the depth at long snapper going into the season, so it is hard to tell if he will just handle punts, or if he'll go back to extra points and field goals as well. He is suspension free now, so we know that he'll be involved and back on the field somehow.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
6-3, 331, Loganville GA (Loganville HS), Soph.
As "walk-ons" go, this is one of the more inspiring stories about a player that you'll hear during this countdown. White grew up a lifelong UGA fan, attending UGA camps growing up, and one day dreaming of attending school in Athens. After scholarship offers from smaller schools, and even a visit to Georgia Tech, he decided he'd try to fulfill his dream to wear the UGA uniform. When he arrived in Athens in 2006, he was over 350 lbs with no guarantee that he'd make the team. He did make it that fall, and according to Ray Gant, might have actually saved his own life. He's dropped at least 20 lbs, and wants to drop a few more. He even saw action last year in the Troy game last season. White played right guard in G-Day this spring, perhaps foreshadowing some limited playing time for 2008.
Depth Chart Analysis: White probably doesn't even register in the 3-deep, but we'll probably see him on the field at some point this season. It probably won't be in a tight SEC game, but I doubt it matters to him. He's living a dream that most of us couldn't even imagine.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
6-5, 295, Horton AL (Susan Moore HS), True Freshman
Owens was a surprise to those who follow recruiting closely. Georgia was the first school to offer him a scholarship, with Georgia Tech, Troy, and UAB being the others that showed major interest. In the end, it was the early offer from UGA that led to a quick decision. Owens is massive for a true freshman. He played at 310 lbs as a high school senior, but said he wants to play at around 285 at UGA, meaning he still may have a few lbs to shed. That shouldn't be a problem, as what Dave Van Halanger wants out of somebody, he usually finds a way to get. From everything I've read on him, Owens seems to be one willing to work to get where he needs to be.
Depth Chart Analysis: 2008 looks to be a certain redshirt year for Owens. The Dawgs have no shortage of guards, and most likely Owens will need a year to get used to playing at a lower weight anyway. Still, the frame is there, and he's at UGA because Stacy Searles, Rodney Garner, and Mark Richt believe he is going to be a good one. Look for Owens to provide depth in 2009, and work his way into the regular rotation beyond that. All of the above said, I was saying the same thing about Clint Boling prior to 2007, and I could not have been more wrong.
Monday, June 23, 2008
6-3, 285, Baton Rouge, LA (Episcopal Knights), RS Fr.
Even though he's a walk-on, I always like going into LSU's backyard and stealing a big body, no matter who it is. All reports on Potts are that CSS is liking what he is seeing. Additionally, Potts was actually participating with the second team during spring workouts. I hate to sound like a broken record on a lot of these reports, but guys like Potts are essential to the success of the UGA program. While they may never see the field except in mop-up duty, these guys, a lot of times, are the heart and soul of a program. They bust their butts every day in practice, off season workouts, etc. and don't get the glory of the superstars. They play a very important role to push the starters to get better and provide somebody on the other side of the line for the superstars to go up against. Please feel free to add any information you have on Potts in the comments section.
Depth Chart Analysis: Listed at #2 on the depth chart behind stud Kiante Tripp, it appears we are a little thin at right tackle. I know understatement of the year, right? Potts redshirted his freshman year and has seen no game action, although he had a pretty decent G-Day. If worse comes to worse, I expect we'll see a re-schuffled O-line with maybe Clint Boling, Josh Davis or Vince Vance moving to the RT spot instead of seeing Potts on the field. Not saying Potts won't ever see the field on a Saturday in Sanford Stadium, but, fortunately, we have a lot of talented linemen that have been cross-trained by CSS just in case.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
6-4, 250, Vienna VA (James Madison HS), Sr.
As a walk-on at UGA in 2005, Gully redshirted and joined the scout team, won the Iron Dawg Award (for any player that attends every workout from the end of one season to the beginning of the next) and got himself a SEC Championship ring. His time on the field at Sanford has been limited since, playing in 1 game (WKU) in 2006, and 2 games in 2007. 2008 is off to a good start for Gully after winning Outstanding Defensive Walk-on coming out of spring practice.
Depth Chart Analysis: Perhaps the UGA website has him listed incorrectly, he's officially been a backup DE in the past, but they show him as a DT heading into this season. One would think (assuming the official roster is correct) makes him a little light for a DT. I'm sure nobody on Earth knows this better than Andrew himself, but chances are he doesn't see the field this year in anything but mop-up duty. Hopefully as a senior he'll get to trot out in a few blowouts.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Bo Fowler, LS
6-2, 215, Union Point GA (Greene Co HS), Sr.
Fowler wears #59, sharing that number with Michael Lemon. We've bumped him up a few spots to preview him today. Fowler came from Greene County HS, not far from Athens, where he was named Rayle EMC Lineman of the Week on 2 different occasions, as well as captaining the Special Teams for what has historically been a pretty strong GHSA football program. In his first 3 seasons at UGA, he primarily served as the backup long snapper, no doubt a thankless job. Then, shortly before the Sugar Bowl trouncing commenced in January 2008, Fowler got his chance when Jeff Henson (the starting long snapper) was suspended for legal issues. As I recall, he was flawless in that game. It should also be pointed out that Fowler is a fine student.
Depth Chart Analysis: Henson is also a senior this year, and he's back and suspension free. That likely means that Fowler is relegated to backup duty once again. I've always thought long snapping was one of the more difficult things to do consistently. I've probably "hiked" a tight spiral that hit a guy in the chest only once in my entire life. Seriously, it doesn't hurt to have 2 good ones ready to go. It is very possible that at some point this season, UGA will be punting with a 1 to 6 point lead late in a ball game. Or, down two and kicking a late field goal to win the game. The Dawgs could be one botched snap away from a loss. Solid long snappers are a luxury to have. Having two of them is like gold.
5. October 5, 1991. The Braves defeat the Houston Astros 5-2 to clinch their first division title since 1982 and go from worst to first.
4. April 8, 1974. Hank Aaron hits his 715th career home run to pass Babe Ruth as the all-time home run king. This has been the mother of all sports records until recently. The pitcher was Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
3. October 28, 1995. The Braves win their first World Championship. They defeated the Cleveland Indians 1-0 to win the World Series in six games. David Justice hit a homerun.
2. July 25, 1992. Otis Nixon robs Andy Van Slyke with "The Catch". The greatest catch in Braves history.
1. October 14, 1992 (my B-Day). The Braves rally to score 3 runs in the ninth to win the National League Pennant. Francisco Cabrera hits a pinch hit single to drive in the winning runs. Sid Bream, as Steve Avery said "was carrying a piano on his back", scored the winning run.
Friday, June 20, 2008
6-6, 315, Riverdale GA (Riverdale HS), True Freshman
Glenn committed to UGA in November over offers from Louisville, South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, Auburn and Florida. After waiting on the news on whether or not he'd be academically eligible to come to Athens in 2008, Glenn got the good news in May, and he'll be ready to report with the rest of the incoming class. As a prospect, Rivals rated Glenn the #13 player in the state of Georgia, and the #16 offensive tackle prospect in America. No doubts about his size and potential, but most of the recruiting services described him as "raw." His upside is very, very high.
Depth Chart Analysis: Conventional wisdom says he'll redshirt this year, although given depth issues at tackle (we'll be through the linemen in about 3 weeks, I promise I'll quit talking about this then), it is not out of the realm of possibility that we could see him rushed into spot duty if an unforeseen injury occurs. Alot of that will depend on how quickly he develops. He may be a rock at tackle before he leaves Athens, but it probably won't be this year.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
6-8, 330, Hinesville GA (Bradwell Institute / Georgia Military College), Jr.
Vance didn't play offensive line primarily until he spent 2006 at GMC. He quickly caught the eyes of some big time schools both with his size and his development at the new position, and ultimately chose UGA over offers from Kentucky, South Carolina, Texas Tech, East Carolina, Troy and Baylor. He spent his first season at UGA primarily as a backup tackle, spelling both Sturdivant and Big Cheese at times, but he also spent some spot time at guard (most notably the Alabama game, when Scott Haverkamp was out and Boling was hobbled.) He had his growing pains during his first year of SEC action, and most fans will remember a few key penalties (mostly false starts) called on #72. Those can likely be written off to inexperience. This year Vince will be moving inside to guard, at least as far as the depth chart will show. Vance may be UGA's most versatile offensive lineman, and could jump in at a moment's notice at any spot along the line except perhaps center. He is certainly a starter-quality player, but his biggest asset to this team is versatility. He's a very important piece.
Depth Chart Analysis: As of now, Vance is most likely the #1 backup at both guard spots. However, given the possible depth issues at tackle (I hate to beat a dead horse, but you can probably tell that this is a concern for me), I wouldn't be surprised to see Vance show up at both guard and tackle during a game or two this season (especially when Boling is possibly sitting out the first couple of games.)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
6-6, 330, Jeffersonville GA (Twiggs County HS), RS Freshman
Little pulled the ole' switcheroo on Signing Day in 2007, spurning Notre Dame and Florida State to sign with UGA. At Twiggs County he was actually heavier (342 lbs) than he is now. He stated to Rivals in an interview last year that he was once 370. Little's career at UGA has thus far been plagued by nagging wrist and foot injuries that have severely stunted his development as a player. Still, he remains one of the more impressive looking linemen on the team, and the fact that he reportedly ran a 5.0 flat 40 yard dash while at 340 lbs last year could convince you that he also has a great deal of potential. If he can stay healthy, this should be a player we hear alot from in future seasons.
Depth Chart Analysis: As a guard, Little finds himself way down the depth chart. If he played tackle, he'd probably have a slightly better chance at seeing the field this year (assuming he stayed healthy.) Injuries are going to ultimately seal Little's fate before he leaves Athens. He's a talented lineman who just about anyone in the country would have wanted out of high school. This year, his foot problems are likely to keep him on the sidelines.
That trip we spilled more beer than most people will ever drink. The former Georgia LB that was with us (he started the fight in the last UGA/tech JV game) was legendary, and 'Bronco fan' kept feeding him pitchers of Coors just to hear T.D. practice stories. You know, this trip will have to be broken down at a later time by myself and redbeard.
Anyhow, the following link reminded me of the Sweet 16 trip (without the John Wallace heartbreak shot).
Check out the read on the trip to Omaha by RVADAWG over on Dawgs On Top. Good stuff.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
6-3,270, Miami, FL (Miami Killian Cougars), Soph.
As a recruit, Perez had long flowing locks with just a little bit of baby fat, but that soon changed upon his arrival in Athens. Perez was one of six early enrollees and he quickly forged a friendship with fellow newcomer, Kris Durham. Perez was not heavily recruited by the Florida in-state programs, but the Georgia staff, see Willie Martinez, saw the potential in the tall, lean, and big-bodied Perez. I can remember back, that at the time, Perez was a huge pull for the Dawgs out of south Florida and there was some pretty big excitement to get him on campus. Perez redshirted his first year and appeared in 5 games in 2007. Perez hasn't reached his potential yet, but I hope he continues to improve and see more playing time in the future.
Depth Chart Analysis: Chronic, nagging injuries have kept big Kevin toiling at #4 on the depth chart. He was injured again during Spring Practice, but did make it back to 100%. A team needs bodies like Perez not only in case of injuries, but also to push the starters. Honestly, I feel sorry for Perez in some ways because he works so hard, but always seems to stay injured. Perez really hasn't been able to put on much weight at all in the program and as a result, two big freshman, Ben Jones and Ben Harden are listed in front of him with Chris Davis as the starter. Perez will see action this year in one of two scenarios: 1. Blowouts and/or 2. Injuries. I don't see him getting much action this year in Sanford Stadium. But if the whole football thing doesn't work out for Perez he can probably get a job here.
Just Enough .... GSB
Georgia Rallies .... georgiadogs.com
CWS .... Omaha WH
Late Rally ... gostanford.cstv.com
Sitting Pretty ... AJC
Rally again ... sebaseball.com
Superior Spot ... ABH
Dawgs top ... R&B
Stay unbeaten ... si.com
Monday, June 16, 2008
#75 Kiante Tripp, RT
6-6,295, Atlanta GA (Westlake HS), Soph.
After choosing UGA over Ga Tech, Auburn, Alabama, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame, Tripp came to UGA with the idea that he might end up playing any of a few different positions. Given that he came to UGA at barely 240 lbs, there were thoughts that he might be a defensive end, which is what the Dawgs originally recruited him for. There were also thoughts of possibly playing tight end or even defensive tackle. Before fall practice in 2007, he settled in at offensive tackle. My guess is that he can't still run a sub-5.0 forty yard dash as he could when he arrived in Athens, but he is still a freakish athlete. David Ching had a nice conversation with Tripp before last season when it was decided he'd make the move. I imagine Coach Searles is still convinced he's going to make Kiante some money.
Depth Chart Analysis: The next Chris Terry/Bernard Williams? Quite possibly. (Although I'm hoping/guessing that Tripp will end up with a better fate that either one of the aforementioned.) Both moved from DE to OT while in Athens, and both played in the NFL. Tripp is 50 lbs heavier than when he first reported to Athens. Given his athleticism, he should have no problem making the switch. He's been good enough in practice to solidify himself as the starting right tackle heading into the fall. He played a little last season, but this season will represent his first extended action while at UGA. This concerns some folks out there. But something tells me this kid is going to be just fine.
The music portion of the festival is divided between the outdoor stages and the club crawl. The main outdoor stage is located right in front of the 40 Watt on Washington St. and is free for all, no wristband required. For anybody who went to the Widespread Panic concert in Athens ten years ago, the stage is in the same spot. For the club crawl, you will need a wristband which is available online, at local retailers, at the main stage, at venues, and pretty much every where else during the festival. They cost $15, and one wristband allows you full access to all of the participating club crawl venues as long as you are old enough to get in and the place isn't at capacity. NOTE: There is only ONE wristband, not different colored ones for every night or something like that. So once you put that sucker on Thursday afternoon, you can't take it off until the end of the festival. I also have to mention the Athfest compilation cd containing music from area bands, most of whom are playing the festival.
Okay, now for the bands. I should probably mention that, as someone who sees music on a weekly basis in Athens I have put together a line up of bands that I am going to see. There are a few really great bands playing at the same time as other great bands so I have included as many options as I could. Most of the bands that I provide links to are bands that I always like to see around town. Of course, feel free to see whoever you like, and trust me there is music for every taste at the festival and you will no doubt see some stuff that you like/hate.
Thursday, June 19
8:00 p.m. : The Athens Flagpole Music Awards --Morton Theatre (doors @ 7:30 p.m.). $5 with AthFest wristband/$10 day of show/$8 advance. Tickets will be available at the Flagpole office, SchoolKids Records and the Morton Theatre Box office. Bands to perform include: Twin Tigers, Spring Tigers, Kenosha Kid, Kyshona Armstrong, The Buddy System, David Blackmon, !Moyuba!, C-Fre$h, and the UGA Redcoat Drumline. Even though the official dates are June 18-22, this has always been the official opening event of the festival in my opinion, don't worry you're not missing anything before this.
Friday, June 20
7:00 p.m. : Five Eight--Outdoor Stage
7:40 p.m. : David Barbe--Outdoor Stage
9:00 p.m. : Producto--Caledonia
9:10 p.m. : Dark Meat--Outdoor Stage (Headliner, 17 piece psychadelic rock band)
10:00 p.m. : Pegasuses-XL--40 Watt
11:00 p.m. : The Ginger Envelope--Little Kings
11:30 p.m. : Contraband--Georgia Theatre (Do not miss; two guys beat Contra on a big screen without cheat codes-or dying once-while the band, which features members of Cinemechanica, plays the theme music to the video game just as flawlessly).
12:00 midnight: Lake City--Little Kings
Red Legs--Farm 255
12:20 a.m. : Velveteen Pink--Georgia Theatre
1:00 a.m. : Twin Tigers--40 Watt
Kuroma--Farm 255 (Hank Sullivant's (The Whigs, MGMT) new band)
Elf Power--Georgia Theatre
Saturday, June 21
3:00 p.m. : Blue Flashing Light--Outdoor Stage (featuring my good friend J.J. Bower on drums)
4:00 p.m. : Weirdbeard--D.A.R.C Studio
4:40 p.m. : Bill Mallonee--Outdoor Stage
6:00 p.m. : Ponderosa--Outdoor Stage
7:00 p.m. : Spring Tigers--Outdoor Stage
9:00 p.m. : Modern Skirts--Outdoor Stage (Headliner)
10:00 p.m. : Sleepy Horses--Georgia Theatre
11:00 p.m. : A.Armada--40 Watt
Elliot Mcpherson (of The Dexateens)--Cine
11:30 p.m. : Bloodkin--Georgia Theatre
12:00 midnight: Gift Horse--Little Kings (Okay, this is my band and I'm always down for shameless self-promotion, but if you don't want to see us, here's some other bands too).
We Versus the Shark--40 Watt
The Empties--Tasty World
1:00 a.m. : Cinemechanica--40 Watt
Enoch Bledsoe (of Twin Tigers)--Cine
Don Chambers + GOAT--Georgia Theatre
Sunday, June 22
1:00 p.m. : Lefty Williams Band--Outdoor Stage (Bluesy guitarist with only one arm; pretty amazing).
6:00 p.m. : Nic Goodson (of Sleepy Horses)--Cine
Hope I'm not leaving anything out, I'm sure I am. But, Athfest has grown into a renowned music festival and I think it's a good sign when there is too much good music to hear and see. Hope to see you there, and nevermind those 300,000 morons at that other music festival.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
6-3, 310, Perry GA (Perry HS via Hargrave Military Academy), RS Freshman
Harden committed to UGA in April 2005 after receiving his first scholarship offer. Reportedly Miami and Florida were also showing interest, but the UGA offer was all Harden was really waiting for. The next year and a half was spent trying to get his qualifying test scores, but Harden did spend a year at Hargrave Military before getting what he needed over 2 years after he had originally committed. After getting a redshirt to bulk up and get himself ready to compete for the starting center job this year, he now looks ready to contribute. He had a nice spring and stayed injury free.
Depth Chart Analysis: A position that was fairly thin last year now has no shortage of players ready to compete. Coming out of spring, Harden finds himself #3 on the depth chart behind Chris Davis and true freshman Ben Jones, but just ahead of Kevin Perez. Given how thin the Dawgs are at some other spots across the line, and considering Davis' versatility, Harden will more than likely find himself closer to the #1 spot at some point during the upcoming season. He's bulked up quite a bit since he arrived on campus, and more than likely Van Halanger has worked some of his magic. Depth on the interior line is like gold, and center is one spot where the Dawgs have it. I can't remember the last time UGA had 4 scholarship centers ready and waiting to contribute.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
#77 Trinton Sturdivant, LT
6-5, 294, Wadesboro NC (Anson HS), Soph.
Sturdivant committed to UGA in July of 2006, over powerhouses such as Miami, Notre Dame, Clemson, USC, Penn State, and Florida. Upon graduating early, enrolling at UGA in January 2007, and enduring a full spring practice, he quickly flew up the depth chart and was firmly entrenched as the starter at left tackle for the 2007 season opener against Oklahoma State (which incidentally, made him the first true freshman to start at the all important left tackle slot for UGA, since Mike Fellows 18 years prior.) All he did after that was start the next 11 games. He ended the year on everybody's All-SEC Freshman team, as well as a 1st team Sporting News Freshman All-American. Simply put, Sturdivant is already one of the best linemen in the SEC, certainly one of UGA's most important players for this season and beyond, and is very much on the path toward becoming a millionaire in the very near future. Sturdivant has endeared himself toward UGA fans not only with his stellar play, but also with one memorable little dance jig. If this doesn't get you itching for late August to get here, you probably need to visit another area of these Internets:
Depth Chart Analysis: As solid a starter as there is. He seemed to make so few mistakes last season, it was easy to forget he was there, and even easier to forget that he was only 18 years old. We might not realize just how good he is/was at UGA until we see Roger Goodell shaking hands with him on a stage in New York City. For now, I'm just looking forward to enjoying his solid play for another 2 years minimum.
UPDATE 8/12: Sturdivant suffered a season-ending tear of all 3 major knee ligaments at Monday's practice/scrimmage. He will have surgery the week of 8/18 and will require 9-12 months of rehabilitation. Redshirt freshman Josh Davis and senior Vince Vance are expected to assume Sturdivant's starting role. Keep Sturdivant in your prayers. We all certainly hope to see him between the hedges again soon, so he can continue his trek toward a long and productive college and pro career.
Friday, June 13, 2008
6-6, 293, Jayess MS (Tylertown HS), RS Soph.
A late commitment in the 2006 class, Davis spurned in-state Ole Miss (where he had previously committed) to spend his collegiate career in Athens. Rivals had him ranked as the #39 offensive tackle prospect in America, and the #25 overall player in Mississippi. While he had committed to Ole Miss early in the process, and then switched to UGA, schools like Alabama, Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Mississippi State showed interest. After there were thoughts of burning his redshirt due to depth and injury issues across the line in 2006, Davis ultimately sat the year out. He did see a fair amount of action in a backup role at both tackle spots in 2007.
Depth Chart Analysis: Coming out of spring practice, Davis is listed as the firm backup to Trinton Sturdivant at left tackle to protect Stafford's backside. With Vince Vance moving primarily to guard, depth at tackle is going to be critical this season, and Davis may be the #2 guy at both tackle spots. Sturdivant had some very minor injury issues toward the end of last season, and while it certainly isn't a concern for him, Davis' role will be no doubt increased this season with Vance moving inside. The coaches saw enough of Davis to believe he might have been capable in his true freshman season (although he ultimately redshirted), so you have to believe he is ready to step in.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
5. Bob Horner- Had a 4 homer game and the best goldie locks in baseball history.
4. Andruw Jones- Without a doubt, the best defensive outfielder in the history of baseball. No debate. Click here to see his most recent play.
3. Dale Murphy- 2 time NL MVP ('82 & '83). Face of the franchise for at least a decade.
2. Larry "Chipper" Jones- Still adding up the stats. In 5 years he may be #1. The most underrated hitter in baseball, year in and year out. 1999 NL MVP, 400+ HR and .310 lifetime avg so far.
1. John Smoltz- Pitch him anywhere, he doesn't care. 200+ wins, 150+ saves, 3000+ K. Sure fire H.O.F. And without a doubt, the most dominating post season pitcher in baseball history period.
And don't tell me Pinella is the reason you are winning. I'm the reason. I put money on the Braves to have a better record than the Cubs this season. I will single handedly put the Cubbies in the World Series. Just watch. I broke the goat curse. I hate those f'ers and all their fans. You are welcome cub fan. You are welcome.
6-5, 328, Ocilla GA (Irwin County HS, Hargrave Military Academy), RS Freshman
It blows my mind to think that "Bean" actually has 4 years of eligibility remaining at UGA. It seems like we've been hearing about him forever. Coming out of Irwin County, he was widely considered to be one of the top offensive line prospects in America. Bean committed to the Dawgs early in the process in 2005, over Georgia Tech, Michigan and Nebraska. He had to spend the fall of 2006 in Chatham VA at prep school, but reported to the Dawgs for spring practice the following season. Bean is a punishing run blocker that could be a staple at guard for the next 4 years in Athens. "He is gradually getting better and better and better," coach Mark Richt told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He is strong. He has got size. He is the quickest guy we have.... off the football."
Depth Chart Analysis: Anderson is firmly planted at starting right guard as of now, but could be moved over to left guard depending on the decision that is made regarding Clint Boling for the first couple of games. Richt has not been shy in discussing Bean's inability to be consistent from play to play (which can probably be written off to inexperience at this point.) Vince Vance is lurking behind if Bean falters. Still, Anderson's overall talent (and size) cannot be denied, as neither can his importance to the success this season of what many consider to be UGA's most questionable unit (outside of the kicking game.)
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
6-4, 205, Gainesville GA (East Hall HS), RS Fr.
Hill came to UGA after first committing to Coach Dennis Felton and the UGA basketball program, choosing UGA over South Carolina and late interest from Florida and Auburn. With terrific size (the official UGA website actually shows him at 215 lbs), Hill could be a nightmare match-up for other SEC cornerbacks, and also has some tremendous athletic versatility. As a junior at East Hall, Hill caught 33 passes for 889 yards and 11 TDs. As a senior, he moved to QB, and threw for almost 2,000 yards and 7 TDs, while rushing for almost 800 yards and 5 TDs. Still, he will be a WR at UGA, and should be a good one.
Depth Chart Analysis: Hill spent the off-season getting rave reviews from Mark Richt, Matt Stafford, and Asher Allen. Think of Fred Gibson with better hands, but maybe not as much speed. He probably won't be a deep threat, but I could envision him getting his share of opportunities with that corner-of-the-endzone fade route, where he can post up a smaller corner and go get it. Currently listed at #3 on the depth chart at spilt end behind Kenneth Harris and Kris Durham, Hill will have plenty of chances to move his way up. Regardless, we'll see him in there for multiple plays each game.
As we finish up our run on wide receivers (at least for the next 8 weeks or so), I thought I'd point out (again) how loaded for bear the Dawgs are at that position. I realize there aren't any "superstars" in there necessarily, but including the incoming freshman, there are 10 solid pass catchers in this bunch, all of whom are expected to make big time contributions. I'm excited to see how Bobo, Eason and Stafford are going to manage this group.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Also of note is the fact that no 1 seed has won the National Title this decade. The last time a 1 seed won it all was in 1999 when the 1 seeded Miami team took home the title.
1 seed Miami has 23 CWS appearances and 4 Titles.
2 seed North Carolina has 7 CWS appearances.
4 seed Florida State has 19 CWS appearances.
6 seed Rice has 7 CWS appearances and 1 Title.
7 seed LSU has 14 CWS appearances and 5 Titles.
8 seed Georgia has 6 CWS appearances and 1 Title.
Stanford has 16 CWS appearances and 2 Titles.
Fresno State has 4 CWS appearances.
Miami (1 Seed)
Georgia (8 Seed)
FSU (4 Seed)
4 of the top 10, 5 of the top 12, 6 of the top 20 and 7 of the top 27 draft picks in this years MLB Draft are playing in this bracket! See this link.
Best player: FSU catcher/closer Buster Posey
Best hitter: Georgia short stop Gordon Beckham Best defensive player: Stanford catcher Jason Castro
Miami and FSU are gonna be the favorites everywhere you look. This bracket is not going to make FSU's quest for their first ever title any easier. Everyone expects Miami to roll to the title...but I'm not so sure. I'm going with the two teams that are in my opinion the toughest mentally. The two teams that are going to be the hardest to knock out of Omaha are Stanford and Georgia.
2 and Q: FSU
Final 2: Georgia and Stanford
Bracket One Winner: Georgia
UNC (2 Seed)
LSU (7 Seed)
Rice (6 Seed)
Best Player: Rice closer Cole St. Clair
Best Hitter: UNC first baseman Dustin Ackley
Best Starter: UNC's Alex White
Best Closer: Rice's Cole St. Clair
Best Defensive Player: LSU outfielder Jared Mitchell
LSU comes in as the hottest team in the country winning 25 of 26 and with an amazing comeback facing elimination in game 2 of their Super Regional. Fresno State did the improbable winning their Regional as a 4 seed, then taking down powerhouse ASU in 3 games to advance to Omaha. Look for Rice and UNC and their two exceptional pitching staffs to battle for the right to go to the Championship Series.
2 and Q: Fresno State
Final 2: Rice and UNC
Bracket 2 Winner: UNC
UNC has been to 3 straight CWS. Georgia has been to 3 of the last 5. That experience and both roster's expectations are going to get the teams to the National Championship Series. This will be UNC's 3rd straight trip to the Championship Series. They won't have to meet Oregon State again, but instead get this years team of destiny. Every time people doubted Georgia or their backs were against the wall Coach David Perno's team responded with wins. Since I said it here on May 1st, I'm not going to back away now. I expect Perno to will the Georgia team to it's second national title.
Marquise Brown, SE (actually wears #9)
5-11, 175, Lanham MD (Episcopal HS, with a brief stop at the University of South Carolina), Soph.
Brown, who is the son of former Washington Redskin wide receiver and 2-time NFL pro bowler Charlie Brown, spent his true freshman season as a walk-on in Columbia. Last season, he was forced to sit out a year under NCAA rules and made some waves on the scout team. Marquise had a nice senior season at Episcopal HS in Maryland, catching 26 passes for 419 yards and 5 touchdowns. (He also played a little QB while he at Episcopal.)
Depth Chart Analysis: As has been documented many times here and elsewhere, WR is one of UGA's deepest positions, and a tough one for any walk-on to crack the rotation. Of course, there is always special teams, and the bloodlines certainly lend themselves to the possibility of Brown being good enough to find his way out there. Honestly, without seeing him play, I couldn't tell you. But we know he was good enough to walk-on in Columbia, and then in Athens, so who knows. Maybe not this season, but if Brown sticks around at UGA, he could see some playing time in Sanford.