UGA Football Recruiting 2014 – New Running Backs

uga_ix

Rest easy UGA IX. Fall will be here before you know it.

Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall Will not be Around Forever
Much to the dismay of Bulldog Nation, year two of Gurshall was cut short due to injury.  Still, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are two of the most talented tailbacks in college football. One can reasonably surmise that both members of the duo aspire to play professional football, which they both have the option to pursue following the 2014 season.

The purpose of this post is not to opine about whether Todd Gurley or Keith Marshall will leave the University of Georgia early.  Rather, we aim to spotlight the bright future being cultivated by the Georgia Bulldogs at the running back position.

Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are Ranked in the Top Ten
The 2014 G-Day Game has come and gone.  College football now shifts into summer, and the calm before the storm.  Bulldog Nation continues the process of welcoming this year’s recruiting class.

Rather than endeavoring to analyze the group as a whole we aim to serve Bulldog Nation by spotlighting two talented tailbacks.

According to ESPN, Sony Michel is currently the number-two running back prospect in the country, while Nick Chubb is rated as the eighth highest incoming tailback.  Both young men look forward to playing football at the University of Georgia.



Both Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are listed at 5’11” tall.  Chubb currently has a size advantage over Michel, outweighing him 216 to 205.

Nick Chubb Sets Lofty Goals
Chubb and Michel were teammates at the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January, and the two are excited about playing college football between the hedges in Athens.  Nick Chubb told ESPN he is focused on making his name mean something to Bulldog Nation. “I’m going in behind guys like Herschel  Walker and Todd Gurley, two of the best running backs ever. I’m going to make a name for myself and do my best.”



Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall have proven to be uniquely talented tailbacks. Bulldog Nation should continue to marvel at their ability, but it is nice to know the future is in capable hands.

Georgia’s New Defensive Coordinator Jeremy Pruitt – Thoughts

jeremy_pruitt_ugaJeremy Pruitt Brings Instant Credibility
Dating back to 2012, Jeremy Pruitt has been a member of the national championship winning coaching staff for three-straight seasons.  Among the challenges facing Georgia’s new defensive coordinator is fixing a UGA secondary that gave up a lot of yards in 2013. Pruitt’s experience as the defensive backs coach at Alabama and Florida State should serve Bulldog Nation well.

The Hire of Jeremy Pruitt Helps Boost Morale
While there were probably not many tears shed when Todd Grantham decided to head to Louisville, his departure left Georgia with a hole to fill.  Jeremy Pruitt’s past success indicates he can improve the young Georgia defense in a hurry.  In 2013, Pruitt’s FSU defense held the Clemson Tigers to 14 points in “Death Valley”.

Georgia has Some Pieces in Place
One of the most appealing aspects of the Pruitt hire is his experience in a 3-4 defensive scheme very similar to UGA’s previous defensive coordinator.  Georgia’s defense is far from broken.  Rather, the Dawgs have areas which require a tune-up.   Linebacker Amarlo Herrera is probably the most consistent player in the unit, and he will continue to get better.

Leonard Floyd was a difference maker rushing the passer from the linebacker position last season, and Jordan Jenkins continues to show flashes of brilliance playing outside linebacker. The Dawgs are ready to go up front, but the defensive backfield has lingering questions.

Dawgs Reloading, not Rebuilding
The excitement surrounding the hire of Jeremy Pruitt is refreshing, though it will be up to the players to execute on the field.   UGA last won the Southeastern Conference in 2005, but the Dawgs are consistent contenders for the SEC title.  The University of Georgia is among the winningest football programs in the country, so it is nice to see Mark Richt and Greg McGarity reloading as opposed to picking up pieces.

Farewell to Todd Grantham
It is impossible for me to root for a football team coached by Bobby Petrino.  Even so, best wishes to Todd Grantham in his efforts at the University of Louisville.  He spent every offseason in Athens job hunting, so I hope he is happy in his new home.  Bulldog Nation is certainly pleased with his replacement.   Does anybody know if Todd Grantham likes motorcycles?

Eulogizing The BCS

bcs_national_championship_trophyOffering Perspective From the Southeastern Conference
The Bowl Championship Series began in 1998.  The Southeastern Conference won seven straight BCS titles from 2007-2013.  In addition, the SEC claimed ten of the 16 crystal balls handed out in the BCS era.  I must admit to rooting for Florida State in the final BCS Championship game, but the positioning of the SEC as the dominant conference in college football cannot be denied.

Next season marks the debut of the long-awaited College Football layoff.  Affectionately known as “Mr. College Football”, Tony Barnhart offers a very comprehensive and honest view of how the CFP (College Football Playoff) will change the landscape of college football.

For what it is worth, Tony Barnhart is a passionate Georgia Bulldog football fan.  According to his website, he has authored four books on the subject, including From Herschel to Hobnail Boot, The Life and Times of Larry Munson.

2013 – 2014 Bowl Game Thoughts

georgia_nebraska

Photo is from 2013.  Result resembles 2014.

24-19: The Dawgs Choke on an ear of Corn
Since the heart of this blog is Georgia football, I feel obligated to discuss the 2014 Gator Bowl. The Bulldogs turned in a slippery and sloppy performance, losing 24-19 in their season finale.  The Nebraska Cornhuskers deserved to win.  For Bulldog Nation, the Gator Bowl left one more stain on a season which started with so much promise.

Excuses and injuries notwithstanding, the Georgia Bulldogs have a long offseason ahead.  Mark Richt and company must work towards getting better on the field without getting in trouble off of it. On a positive note, The University of Georgia won eight games this season.

The Dawgs remained competitive despite an overwhelming number of injuries and bad breaks.  History may not smile on this particular team the way they had hoped, but the 2013 Bulldogs continued the winning tradition associated with Georgia football.

espn_bowl_week
Too Many Mediocre Bowls

There are too many bowl games.  The 2013 bowl slate featured 35 bowl games.   Despite ESPN’s promotional insistence, Capital One Bowl Week is far from the most wonderful week of the year.  Even die-hard college football fans must have trouble getting excited for the mediocrity that ensues early in bowl season.

Johnny Football is Money
The debate about Johnny Manziel’s off the field conduct may never end.  Still, there is no questioning his will to win. Manziel’s highlight reel performance against Duke resulted in a 52-48 win for Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.  By erasing a 38-17 deficit,  the Aggie comeback capped off an unforgettable two year run for “Johnny Football” at A&M.

The former Heisman Trophy winner will be a top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  No matter which team selects him, Manziel is expected to be a franchise quarterback.  Love him or hate him, the legend of Johnny Football continues to grow.

The Bowl Championship Series Goes out With a Bang
With the 2014 BCS National Championship Game in the books, the Bowl Championship Series is no more.  Thanks in part to intriguing match-ups, the BCS went out in style. BCS festivities began with the 100th playing of the Rose Bowl game, which gave college football fans a 28-24 slug fest between Michigan State and Stanford on New Year’s Day.  That same night, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl culminated in a 52-42 shootout between UCF and Baylor.

The Orange Bowl produced another high scoring battle between Ohio State and Clemson.  Clemson picked up the victory while Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes finished the year with back-to-back losses.

Major college football has needed a playoff for some time.  With that said, certain aspects of the Bowl Championship Series will be missed.  The Rose Bowl will maintain some of its luster as a marquee athletic event, but I hate to think the Tournament of Roses will not be quite the spectacle when it is part of the playoff puzzle.

The Streak Ends
Congratulations to the Florida State Seminoles for winning the 2014 National Championship Game.  My disdain for the Auburn Tigers would not allow me to pull for the SEC’s streak of championships to continue.  As a college football fan, I am pleased the better team won. Luck finally ran out in War Eagle country.

The Dark Side of Fantasy Football

ashamed_fansFantasy Football Turns Athletes Into Playing Cards
According to The New York Times, Fantasy Football dehumanizes the athletes on the field to a certain degree.  Adrian Peterson is a prime example.  His son died in a horrific tragedy.  Yet, some “fantasy owners” were more concerned about whether they would be able to put the star running back in their lineup the following Sunday.

One Professional Athlete’s Perspective
Torrey Smith, a wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens, has been outspoken about how childish certain Fantasy Football players can be.  With the rise of social media, immature fantasy players can Tweet their players on Twitter.  Even so, those of us who possess a conscience and empathy for our fellow man should not be punished because certain fans are morons.  As noted in the first part of this discussion, the popularity of Fantasy Football continues to rise.

Fantasy Football: An Exercise in Letting Go
In a blog for The New York Times, C.D. Carter authored a fantastic perspective on how consuming Fantasy Football can be.  Carter quotes a licensed psychologist named Kimberly Young as saying “Fantasy Football is an illusion of control, but that’s the driving force”.

The founder of the Center for Internet Addiction, Young states that an addiction to Fantasy Football stems from a person’s need to feel in control.  As someone who has experienced growing pains lately, this really hit home for me.  Fantasy Football is a fantastic exercise in letting go, because it forces one to make decisions which are largely educated guesses.  In addition, participants can do nothing except sit back and watch as their choices play out.

Fantasy Football Makes Money
Yahoo
, ESPN, Fox Sports and Sports Line are some of the major beneficiaries of the Fantasy craze.  All of the aforementioned entities make millions of dollars during football season, notes Ask Men.  The popularity of Fantasy Football is such that ESPN has a Sunday morning television show devoted to it.  I much prefer playing with people I know in a private league simply for the fellowship.   Some degenerate fans take it way too seriously.

This post has made me realize there is truly a downside to my new favorite game.  That being said, I will continue to enjoy playing Fantasy Football.

Fantasy Football Saved my 2013 Viewing Experience

adrian_peterson_minnesota_vikings

If Adrian Peterson had stayed healthy, I may have won my league.  I finished third.

Fantasy Football is Awesome
As a lifelong supporter of the Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Bulldogs, my lofty expectations were dashed early this football season.  Thankfully, I discovered a new football flavored outlet when I was invited to play Fantasy Football.  After the initial skepticism subsided it did not take me long to realize Fantasy Football is awesome.

Fantasy Football Makes Every NFL Sunday More Exciting
If the team you support is having a rough year, or they flat out suck, Fantasy Football will cure those bad team blues.  Fantasy Football offers participants incentive to care about a meaningless regular season National Football League game. Simply add one of the players involved in said contest to your Fantasy Football team, and your interest should soar.

A lot of People Play Fantasy Football
The popularity of Fantasy Football has risen dramatically in recent years.  According to the New Jersey Star Ledger, more than 35 million people in the United States and Canada participate in Fantasy Football.

Fantasy Football is Not Time Consuming.
In 2009, I tried my hand at Fantasy Baseball, because an acquaintance had a spot available.  I regret that decision to this day.  Fantasy Baseball was not my cup of tea, as it involved daily checking of lineups and a ton of roster maneuvering. By comparison, Fantasy Football requires much less effort since players are active one time in a given week.

The Dark Side of Fantasy Football
In part two of this series, the darker side of Fantasy Football will be explored.  Topics include: the Fantasy Football addiction, jerks who heckle their “players” on Twitter and Lady Luck being a fickle bitch when determining winners and losers.

Georgia Versus Nebraska – 2014 Gator Bowl

georgia_nebraska_2014
Not Exactly the Rematch Bulldog Nation Hoped for
The Georgia Bulldogs started off 2013 with a bang, beating the Nebraska Cornhuskers by a final score of 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl.  Unfortunately for both sides, these two teams will meet again on New Year’s Day in 2014.

As for a more interesting subplot, the 2014 Gator Bowl marks only the third football game between the two schools.  Nebraska defeated Georgia 45-6 in the 1969 Sun Bowl.

No disrespect to Nebraska, but this is a bowl rematch nobody in their right mind wanted to see when the season began.  Time did not do much to build anticipation.  According to the Kansas City Star, Husker fans are not wild about playing the Dawgs, either.

No Aaron Murray Or Taylor Martinez in 2014
The Hutson Mason era is in full effect in Athens.  Georgia’s new starting quarterback led a triumphant comeback against Georgia Tech at the conclusion of the regular season.  It would have been nice for Aaron Murray to start four postseason games in four years, but his torn ACL turned the page on Georgia’s quarterback situation two games ahead of schedule.

On the plus side, Hutson Mason gets another start under his belt before the long offseason begins.

Taylor Martinez’s father does not expect his son to play college football again.  Martinez has dealt with a number of injuries during his senior campaign, the worst of which involved significant damage to his foot.  The Nebraska QB started a school-record 39 games, and ends his Nebraska Cornhusker career as their all-time leader in total offense.

Georgia Defense Trying to Finish in the top Eighty
The Dawgs are currently ranked 82nd in the country in terms of points given up per game.  As long as Taylor Martinez is not calling signals for Nebraska on January 1, Georgia will have a chance to finish in the top eighty for that category.

The young Georgia defense must use the time before the Gator Bowl wisely.  UGA needs to force the opposition to punt more often if Bulldog Nation is to be a factor in the national picture moving forward.

Georgia and Nebraska: Similar Paths to Redemption
At the start of the 2013 campaign, both the Dawgs as well as Big Red had aspirations of winning a conference title. The dreaded combination of injuries and bad luck derailed those hopes, leaving the two universities hobbled and battling to go bowling.  At present, each team is focused on the future while trying to finish the year with nine wins.

College Football Thoughts – Conference Championship Week

ohio_state_urban_meyerUndefeated Ohio State Should be Ranked Ahead of one Loss Auburn
If the Buckeyes can best the Spartans on Saturday night, Urban Meyer and company deserve to play for a national championship.  The Ohio State University has won 24 football games in a row dating back to 2012.  On the contrary, Auburn needed back-to-back Christmas miracles to make it into the SEC Championship Game.

Should Sparty stun the Buckeyes this weekend, the winner of the Southeastern Conference title showdown between Auburn and Missouri will likely play Florida State for college football’s ultimate prize.  Even though anything can happen in college football, I feel confident FSU will defeat Duke.

The Targeting Rule Needs to be Amended, but it is not Going Anywhere
Safety is the number one priority at every level of football.  The changes to the targeting rule are representative of the emphasis on protecting players from concussions.  As far as properly enforcing the rule, referees have been pretty hit or miss.

There have been some excruciatingly bad targeting calls this season, along with cases where obvious fouls went undetected, such as in Navy versus San Jose State.

Wave Ryder is the Midshipmen defender at the center of the play in question, apologies in advance for the low-quality of the video below.  Searching for Wave Ryder highlights brings up a variety of topics in Google.



One aspect of the targeting rule in need of further examination is the 15 yard penalty assessed regardless of whether the ruling is upheld.  Logic dictates this penalty serves as incentive for defenders to go low when attempting to make a stop.  Still, it is unfair to impose an automatic first down on an overturned targeting infraction, because doing so can change the complexion of a contest.

Todd Grantham Will Coordinate Georgia’s Defense Until his Contract is up
The unrest in Athens continues to grow due to UGA’s inability to get the opposition off the field consistently.  Do not hold your breathe for a change on defense.

As current associate head coach and defensive coordinator of the Bulldogs, Todd Grantham is not going anywhere until the end of his current contract. Unless, of course,  he receives a better job offer.  The former NFL assistant stands to make $850,000 a year for the next two years.  His contract expires at the end of 2015.

This season has been about dealing with injuries and breaking in new players.  While Grantham’s aggressive 3-4 defense can be frustrating to watch, having a negative turnover ratio certainly does not help.  According to Sports Illustrated, coach Richt is adamant his coaching staff will remain intact.  As a loyal Dawg, I hope Todd Grantham does not spend his offseason waiting by the phone for job offers.  Still, if he wants to leave, adios.

Picking Winners
The 2013 college football campaign has been filled with twists and turns. Conference championship weekend should be no exception.
Predictions (Automatic Qualifier Conference Championship Games Only).

ACC: Florida State 34, Duke 13.
Big Ten: Ohio State 34, Michigan State 21.
Pac-12: Stanford 31, Arizona State 17.
SEC: Missouri 35, Auburn 28.

UGA 41 GT 34 – Dawgs Survive Jackets in Overtime

uga_gtGutsy Performance From Hutson Mason
A determined Hutson Mason led the Bulldogs to victory in Atlanta.  The redshirt junior engineered a 20 point comeback against the Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech, culminating in an overtime win.  Making his first career start for the University of Georgia, Mason completed 22 out of 36 passes for 299 yards. The unfamiliar quarterback seemed far more comfortable in a hurry-up offense where the Bulldogs dictated the pace.

When Bulldog Nation found themselves in a 17-0 hole at the end of the first quarter, UGA seemed resigned to end the regular season on a low note.  Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson threw the Dawgs a curve ball with an aerial assault.

Dawgs Hunker Down Again
The Georgia defense hunkered down in the second half, leaving the door open for Bulldog Nation to make a comeback.  After allowing four scoring drives in the first half, UGA surrendered just one touchdown during the remainder of regulation.  Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense went to the passing well a little too often, as GT quarterback Vad Lee threw a costly interception that swung the momentum in Georgia’s favor.

The Final Frame/Overtime
Georgia seized victory on the power and determination of Todd Gurley.  The Bulldogs’ leading tailback scored on consecutive possessions in OT, allowing Bulldog Nation to crush the hopes of Georgia Tech once again. TGII wrapped up the afternoon with 122 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.

Dawgs Finish 8-4. Gators Sink in Swamp.
Their win in week 14 means UGA finishes the regular season at 8-4.  Due to the adversity and injuries the team had to overcome, eight wins is a number to be proud of.  Dawg alum Will Muschamp can attest to that.  The 4-8 Gators will not go bowling.  Although this matter is off topic, I cannot taking a shot at Florida.

Where Will Georgia Go Bowling?
According to CBS Sports, Georgia is likely headed to the Music City Bowl in Nashville on December 30. If this prediction comes to fruition, the Dawgs will play Boston College before closing the book on 2013. On paper, one may think this paring favors Georgia. To quote the immortal Lee Corso, not so fast, my friend!

The Eagles are led by the nation’s top rusher, Andre Williams.  Utilizing his dangerous combination of speed and power, Williams has become a legitimate Heisman candidate.  UGA gave up nearly 600 yards rushing in their final two games of the regular season.  Sounds like a recipe for a highlight reel.

Below is a preview of what may await Bulldog Nation.  I hope the Dawgs do face Boston College. It would be interesting to see how the defense matches up with Andre Williams.



Upon Further Review…
UGA’s post season destination is uncertain. The Red and Black reports Georgia is likely going to the Gator Bowl against Michigan. If this occurs, Bulldog Nation should expect a recurring theme of a ton of points without much defense.

Georgia Versus Georgia Tech – November 30, 2013

mark_richt_paul_johnsonNeither Team has Bigger Fish to Fry
The 109th renewal of the Georgia-Georgia Tech rivalry has lost some of its luster for the 2013 edition.  These two major college football programs from the Peach State have combined for eight losses this season.  How is this possible, you ask?  Any number of reasons come to mind, including an inability to stop the opposition, injuries, and untimely buffoonery.

Is Paul Johnston Still a Genius?
Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson has earned the right to be called a genius dating back to his time coaching the Naval Academy.  He achieved even greater success during his first two seasons in Atlanta.  However, since 2010, the Yellow Jackets have struggled to rise above mediocrity.  Georgia Tech’s inability to win big games in the past few years has left some fans in Atlanta wondering if their head coach is too smart for his own good.

Oh Yeah, Both These Teams Are Bowl Eligible
The contest known as “Clean Old-Fashioned Hate” signifies the conclusion of regular season UGA football.  Unfortunately, neither the Dawgs nor the Jackets are participating in a conference championship game, meaning a lackluster bowl game is all that separates these two teams from a long offseason.

Aaron Murray’s Injury
When Dawg Post tweeted a picture of Aaron Murray leaving Sanford Stadium to go to the hospital for a Saturday night MRI, the prognosis did not look good.  Sadly, the worst fears of Bulldog Nation have been realized Aaron Murray’s Georgia career is over.  He will have surgery to repair his ACL on Tuesday.  So ends his 52-game start streak, along with his decorated college career.

Don’t Cry for Aaron Murray
Aaron Murray’s injury does not signify an end.  Rather, it marks the beginning of his next chapter. #11 had arguably the greatest career of anyone to ever quarterback the University of Georgia.  He will get the opportunity to play in the National Football League.

Based on the grit and determination he has shown throughout his time between the hedges, Aaron Murray will make an NFL team start him on Sundays sooner rather than later.  Don’t cry for Aaron Murray, bark louder than ever.

The Hutson Mason Show
Hutson Mason’s time has come.  Any Georgia Tech fan who believes the sudden change at QB means the Jackets will win has not been paying attention.  Hutson Mason has been in the Georgia program for nearly four years.  He has yearned to start a game for the University of Georgia since he was 18 years old.  November 30th represents a chance for Hutson Mason to send a message to the rest of college football.

On behalf of all of Bulldog Nation, Hutson Mason’s arm is going to pronounce 2014 as the year of the Dawg.  The defense is going to reinforce the statement by keeping the Yellow Jackets from buzzing.  Todd Gurley has been unstoppable when healthy.  He is sure to make his presence felt as well.

Georgia-Georgia Tech, Picking a Winner
This Saturday is the final stop on the Bulldogs’ regular season calendar.  The 2013 UGA football season will not go down in the history books in the way that Bulldog Nation had hoped, but Georgia fans and players alike should be proud that passion did not waiver no matter how many obstacles got in the way.  Coach Richt has owned Georgia Tech during his time in Athens, expect that trend to continue.

UGA 31, GT 20.  GO DAWGS!