It's Saturday in Athens

It's Saturday in Athens

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Carlton Thomas OUT at UGA

The bottle-necked competition in Athens at the running back position thinned out just a bit on Tuesday. 

At the start of UGA's first spring practice of 2012, Mark Richt announced to media that Carlton Thomas has opted to transfer. In a statement by Thomas, he made it known that his decision was because "I know this is going to be my final year. I want to be somewhere where I can make impact".

Carlton Thomas was suspended for "violation of team rules" prior to the season opener in the Georgia Dome against Boise State last season, and once again later in the year when a slew of UGA running backs failed a random drug test, resulting in the suspension of all of them for the New Mexico State game.

You are entitled to your opinion on the departure of Carlton, but I strongly feel he was given the "Washaun Ealey treatment" and escorted to, and pushed out of the door. However, Mark Richt being Mark Richt, I am sure he will have the help and support of UGA in finding a new place to call "dorm sweet dorm".

As far as the impact at the running back position in Athens, I feel this helps it. There were simply too many heads on the roster to get an adequate amount of reps for each. With the arrival of Keith Marshall already on campus, Todd Gurley coming in a few months, and Derick Henry (the potential #1 overall running back in the nation in the class of 2013) already committed to UGA, added to experienced Isaiah Crowell, Richard Samuel, Ken Malcolm, and Brandon Harton, there is NO hurt in the backfield due to this move.

Best of luck Carlton. I sincerely hope you find your place, and get that degree!!

Go Dawgs!!!

Jarvis Jones Pre-Spring Practice Interview ***Dawg Day Exclusive***

Returning All-American, Jarvis Jones
I had the pleasure of exchanging some tweets, and then some emails with returning All-American Outside-Linebacker Jarvis Jones the last few days. 

He was kind enough to take time out of his busy student-athlete schedule to answer a few questions for me going into Spring Practice, which begins today at 4:05pm. Check out the interview below, and find out Jarvis' thoughts on mat drills, Malcolm Mitchell joining his defensive squad, running the 3-4, and Ray Drew cooking squirrel on campus.... Enjoy!

Dawg Day Afternoon: How did mat drills go a few weeks ago?
Jarvis Jones:  Mat drills were great, we really improved mentally and pushed our body to the max. Team unity was definitely built.

DDA: What was your highlight of Spring Break?
UGA's favorite spring destination.

JJ:  Lol my spring break highlight.. umm on the beach in Panama City was the place but my highlight probably was just being there with all my teammates and classmates enjoying our break. 

DDA: Going into Spring Practice, your defense has 10 of 11 starters returning, and receiving big praises from many national media outlets. How do you expect the attention to affect the focus of the team during the crucial spring period?
JJ:  Being that we did a good job last year and that we still have those same players in those position more is expected of us. Though at the same time we only control what we can. Therefore the media and the national attention will just be something out there. We (team) will continue to prepare the best we can and have fun doing so and lean on each others while not worrying about what people expect of us because we wont and cannot make everybody happy.

DDA: You made it known very early in the process that you intended to return this season, despite many NFL experts predicting you a 1st or 2nd round draft pick had you left. What was the biggest factor in your decision to return?
JJ: Well, obviously it was a big decision that was made but I'm glad that I made it. The reason being is, we have some players on this team and I respect them all including our coaches. I just felt like we were right where we needed to be last year but we lacked experience in certain situation therefore we made mistakes. Now as I look forward to the up coming season, I feel that we've learned from those mistakes and everything that we've experience and that the guys want to win, and its something that we're passionate about, and something that's a goal and for me to say that I'll stay and grind it out was very humbling and respectful for me to do so. 

DDA: How much campaigning did you do with other returning upper-classmen to stay who were also eligible to go pro early? Did you all sit and talk as a unit? 
"Brothers" working together.
JJ:  Lol. I did no campaigning, the guys just believed in what we have here and wanted to be a part of it.

DDA: In only one word, describe the relationship amongst the defense this spring.
JJ: Brothers!! I say that because we all have each others back and we know without one another that we wont get where we need to be and that's the best in America.

DDA: What are your biggest goals of the spring?
JJ:  Most of all stay healthy, improve in the areas we wasn't as strong in including the ones we were strong in. Learn more techniques and to keep people from cutting me.

DDA: April 14th will be your second G-Day as a competitor. Talk about the feelings you get when you get to compete in front of your fans for the first time in months.
JJ: It's always special, anytime you get to be a part of the Bulldogs Nation and get to play between those hedges it's unbelievable. I love every minute of it. Last year we had 43,000 to come out this year I hope that number improves.

Who wouldn't want to play for this guy?
DDA: Running the 3-4 Defense seems to be the popular recent trend in college football. How much of a believer has Todd Grantham made you in the scheme? What would you advise a new recruit who has not yet run it, entering his first spring (or fall) with it? 
JJ: The 3-4 scheme is the best system I've played in. However, Coach Grantham is a special coach and person. He knows how to put his players in position to make plays and I credit him and my teammates for all that I did this past season. As for recruits you have to be a part of it to see it, I can't tell our secrets, lol. Though, the players that just got here at Georgia they're learning and its nothing like HS.

DDA: You were only 1 sack from breaking the UGA single season record of 14 by David Pollack last season. Do you plan on making his record one of your personal goals this fall?
UGA single season sack leader, David Pollack (14)
JJ: I get that question a lot but I've always been a team player and will never be about me. However, I would love to blast his record, but if I don't, so what. All I care about is winning the big ones and that the guys I play with enjoy this game.

DDA: What past college football standout do you consider yourself “trying to be like” or “from the mold of”? 
JJ: I don't think I consider myself after anyone or try to be like no one. I watch a lot of film and if I see something I like that someone does, I add it to my game which makes me more versatile. Though I do watch film on Demarcus Ware a whole lot and learned from him.  

DDA: Todd Grantham has made it known that Malcolm Mitchell will be working exclusively with the defense this spring. From what you know of Malcolm, how ready do you think he is to be a crossover threat?
JJ:  He's an competitor and he's always willing to learn. Malcolm can do a lot and he's very passionate about this game, so I really thinks he's ready and he will have the support and all the help he needs to be ready from the guys and the coaches.

DDA:  I imagine the coaches will not let you unleash the fury on our quarterbacks this spring. How sorry do you feel for University of Buffalo Quarterbacks knowing what is facing them in the first game this fall?
JJ: Never on our quarterbacks, but we have yet to watch film on them so I don't know what they have. Though I do know that we will prepared the best we can and we will be ready to give a statement.

DDA: Do you have any practice or gameday superstitions? 
JJ: I try to keep my same rituals each game and that's just being who I am, not doing the extra things to pump myself up. Though some games the energy levels are off the charts. I try to stay loose and have fun but mentally focused at the same time.

DDA: What is your favorite place to eat in Athens?
JJ: I really haven't found that place yet, I like the Peaches restaurant but I love fish and I haven't found a place that cooks it regularly. Any suggestions lol?? 

DDA: I saw on Twitter the other night that Ray Drew was cooking up some squirrel on campus. Did you receive an invite for some sampling?
Ray Drew's favorite meal?
JJ: Lol no, I did not see that message but I don't think I would have eaten any of it but would have loved to see Ray cooking it.

DDA: Speaking of Ray Drew, Do you think the defense is ready for him to take on a more prominent role?
JJ:  I think he will, after a year under his belt he has learned a whole lot. I definitely think he will contribute a lot.

DDA: There is a new rule in college football that if a player’s helmet gets knocked off during a play, they must remove themselves from the field of play for the next play. Your helmet came off a lot last season. Are there any plans in place to lower that number? A Haircut in your future? New/tighter helmets? 

JJ:  I will not cut my hair, but hopefully adjustments can be made so that my helmet wont come off.

Big thanks to Jarvis for taking the time to work with me. Best of luck to him and all our Dawgs as Spring Practice begins this afternoon! Cannot wait to see them all at G-Day!

***And as requested.... the picture of the squirrel on the grill   <-------


Monday, March 19, 2012

Why Southerners Chant SEC!! SEC!! SEC!!

Battle flag.
I recently got into an argument/debate with a good friend, who simply does not understand  the unity among SEC football fans. This person happens to be from Washington state, and only got his first taste of SEC football within the last few years. This person also prefers his football on Sundays, which is his first big mistake in even attempting to decipher the code of the southern pigskin sirens which seduce our every emotion when the leaves change colors.

Since the argument with him went absolutely nowhere, as in a "I have my opinion and you have yours. I am not trying to change your opinion so please don't try and change mine.", I decided to lay it out to my audience, who are fortunate enough to "get it".

You know you wish this was how you were raised.
If somebody grew up far away from the sounds of cicadas, the sights of hanging spanish moss, the feel of humidity, the smell of honeysuckle, or the taste of butter on every table, they are going to be in for a big culture shock when they decide to invade our turf, bringing with them their foreign ideals and mindsets. In the south, football is not a game played on Sundays by a bunch of rich crybabies who are accompanied by fireworks during player introductions, and lavish halftime shows performed by a bizarro Top-40 musical act. Down here, football is a way of life, played on Friday nights and Saturdays by kids who suit up in order to defend the honor of their community, and are supported by people who have helped "raise them right" in order to respect the helmet decal which graces their suit of armor.

Our football starts here, not at the NFL draft.
The kids that play in the SEC, are kids we have had on our football radars since about the 9th or 10th grade. They are kids we all feel we helped raise, by scouting them out on Fridays, and following their every recruiting trip and rumor. For those outside of the south who claim "recruiting isn't important", try to explain to us how "whoever lands Peyton Manning will not be affected" or "whichever NFL team has the most first round draft picks will not see positive results". Essentially, a college football team has the ability to go out and recruit 3 or 4 of the top recruits in the country, all from the south, get a commit from each of them, and you basically just had 4 of the first 5 picks in the "draft" of college football. And since the majority of these players come from the south, and we have followed them, making them household names while they are looking for prom dates, we declare them family, and can find ways to support them throughout their college careers, even if they are playing for the bitter rival.

There comes the part that is the most difficult to get a foreign NFLer to understand. In the SEC, a game played against a non-SEC opponent has ZERO impact on the conference standings. Whereas in the NFL, if a team's schedule puts them against a non-divisional opponent, everybody else in that division roots hard for the opponent, as a loss from their "brethren" benefits them in the divisional standings. Not saying they fail to understand this, but it's nearly impossible to get them to understand the mindset.

At war with one another. We don't support the rest of the world.
In college football, with its lack of concrete playoffs, a beauty contest ensues throughout the season. When your team, or the bitter rival, goes west to play an Arizona State, or goes north to play a Penn State, or goes up into the valley to play a Nebraska or an Oklahoma State, the beauty of the entire conference is being placed on the line. The last thing we want is an Auburn team going to Nebraska and losing, then later in the year when your team beats Auburn, all the voters and ESPN personalities who have a say so in the rankings say "well, it was a great win for UGA today, but remember, Auburn got embarrassed by a 4 loss Nebraska team earlier in the season", diluting what should have been a rankings-climbing victory. When an SEC school loses to another conference, it dilutes the entire product in the long run. Those raised on southern pigskin understand this. It is not a foreign idea, like "how do those Europeans get excited about a soccer match". We were raised to root for the rival as long as they weren't playing another SEC team. And when they end up losing to a Kentucky or Vanderbilt, well, we consider that the beauty and competition within the SEC. If you think that dilutes our brand, then I have nothing for you.

If you still don't get it, I don't give a damn.
My best advice to those who decide to leave their foreign hometowns, and dive into the rich, deep south, setting up shop while trying to find a nice southern belle, a house with a wraparound porch equipped with rocking chairs, learning to drink sweet tea, and figuring out what a grit is; embrace your surroundings. This includes the religion and culture of our brand of football. We may consider ourselves fourteen individual countries going to war with one another, so long as that war is against.... one another. But when one of the members of our pretentious, pompous fraternity of the south ventures out on their own to face a foreign opponent, by golly they have the unity of ALL there to support them. And that is our opinion. Please don't bother trying to plant yours on our rich soil.