Feb 28, 2010

Hoop Dawgs Continue to Dominate at Home

Georgia may be 13-14 overall this season (5-9 in the SEC), but you'd never guess that they're at the bottom of the SEC East by looking at their home record.

The Dawgs are 13-3 (5-2 SEC) at Stegeman Coliseum this year. I'm starting to think that this calls for a new nickname for the Stegosaurus.

There's only one home game left this season: the #2 Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday night. A win on Wednesday would be a great way to finish the Dawgs' dominant home season.

(Side note: Georgia hasn't won 14 regular season home games since 2006-2007).

Feb 25, 2010

Atoning for Past Predictions from 2009

Only minutes away from the 2009 college football kickoff, I decided to hastily post a list of my predictions for the season. Unfortunately, they didn't end up being very good, but there were a few good calls.

Let's start with the really bad ones.

1. Georgia will not lose more than 2 regular season games in 2009.
-Well, they did. They lost five. My original feeling as the season approached was that UGA would likely lose their opener at Oklahoma State, and then lose an SEC game later. I was right on that account, but I didn't expect Georgia would lose three other SEC games (and I doubt many did). To be fair, Kentucky, Tennessee and LSU were all strange losses, weren't they?

2. Florida, on the other hand, will lose at least 2 regular season games.
-They didn't. In fact, they didn't lose a single game until the SEC Championship. I thought for sure they would slip up after a disgustingly magical 2008 season, and they almost did to teams like Arkansas and Mississippi State. They even struggled with LSU, Tennessee and South Carolina. But those Tebow-led Gators would just not lose. Until they met the Crimson Tide.

3. Georgia Tech will lose 4 regular season games.
-I really thought that the ACC would be much improved from 2008, and Tech's miracle-run to nine wins would fall to at most eight, but the ACC was a mess again. Virginia Tech, Miami, FSU and Clemson were all good teams for parts of 2009, and three of those were close to knocking off the Jackets, while Miami pounded them into their poorly maintained turf. Even Wake Forest sent GT into overtime in Atlanta. Once again, they somehow survived. But they did lose two regular season games, and a third in the Orange Bowl, so I wouldn't say this prediction was all that bad...

4. Only 2 teams from the AP preseason top-10 would appear in BCS games.
-Well, I was wrong on this one, but not terribly wrong. Four teams from the preseason AP top-10 ended up in the BCS (Florida, Alabama, Texas, Ohio State).

5. Colt McCoy will win the Heisman, thanks to ESPN's help, but most fans will be upset that a non-Quarterback candidate that emerges during the season doesn't win.
-I honestly thought that this would happen, but Mark Ingram and Toby Gerhart flew up the Heisman watch lists and finished ahead of McCoy in the voting.

6. No non-BCS "big-six" conference teams will bust the BCS, or play in BCS games.
-I was very, very wrong. Boise State and TCU finished the regular season undefeated and played in a BCS bowl game... against each other.

And now for my relatively accurate predictions:

1. Kentucky will surprise in the SEC East, finishing either 3rd or 4th in the East standings.
-They did. They finished 4th behind Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. They also surprised in another way: by beating Georgia at home.

2. Likewise, Auburn will surprise in the West and perhaps even be a contender for the SEC West title.
-The West was a mess, with no teams being flat-out terrible (such as Vandy in the East). Auburn didn't have a great season by any means, but they probably did surprise many by turning around their 5-7 record from 2008, ending 8-5 with a win in the Outback Bowl against Northwestern. It would certainly be a stretch to call them a "contender" for the SEC West title in 2008 because Alabama was far-and-away the best of the West, but Auburn was as much of a contender as the other five teams in the division.

3. Tennessee will upset one BIG team. (hopefully not Georgia)
-This one is difficult. I really felt like the Vols had a chance to upset Florida in what would be a catastrophic event in college football, and while they did keep the game close, they lost. The biggest "upset" that Tennessee technically won was against then #22 South Carolina. But since we all considered Tennessee beating Georgia as a big upset in 2009, I'll consider my prediction accurate.

4. USC will not win the Pac-10. It will be either Cal or Oregon.
-This wasn't the boldest prediction maybe, but it was accurate. Believe it or not, but USC was ranked #4 preseason in 2009 after losing their starting quarterback and plenty of other talent. They were also largely picked as the favorite to win the Pac-10, largely because they almost always are. I had a feeling that the Trojans were overrated by the rankings and expectations, and that did prove to be the case, as they lost four games and finished fifth in the Pac-10. Oregon did, in fact, win the conference. (I didn't, however, really expect Arizona or Stanford to do so well in conference.)

This season, I'm going to do things differently. I'm trying to base my predictions almost completely on stats and objective information about each team and conference. We'll see how that goes.

Feb 24, 2010

Aaron Murray Throwing to Matt Stafford (Rivals Video)

Just found this and thought it was funny.

Rivals.com has a video (click HERE) showing what they consider to be the top 10 quarterback performances at the Elite 11 camp, and the top two players on the list are Georgia's Aaron Murray and Matthew Stafford. They were selected over other notable QBs, such as Tim Tebow and Ryan Mallett, along with John Brantley, Jake Locker, Josh Freeman, E.J Manuel, Matt Barkley and Blaine Gabbert.

Aaron Murray at #2 starts at about 5:15 in the video, and the first pass they show is him throwing to Matt Stafford.

SportsCenter Gets Pranked (Youtube video)

I've heard past rumors that ESPN's Scott Van Pelt used to read/post on some Georgia football forums (particularly the UGA Rivals forum Dawgchat, which apparently requires a membership now). If this is true, and SVP has a place in his heart for the Dawgs, then I feel a little bad for him being the victim of a good call-in prank on SportsCenter yesterday.

Feb 22, 2010

More Percentage Stats: The SEC East in 2010

Production percentage losses in the SEC East for 2010 (listed from least losses to most):

1. South Carolina
Passing: Return QB
Rushing: 6.7% yards, 0% scoring
Receiving: 17% yards, 16.7% scoring
Tackles: 25.4%
Sacks: 46%
INT: 33.3%

2. Vanderbilt
Passing: Return QB
Rushing: 10.3% yards, 0% scoring
Receiving: 7.4% yards, 0% scoring
Tackles: 37.3%
Sacks: 52.5%
INT: 41.7%

3. Kentucky
Passing: Return QB
Rushing: 16.4% yards, 15.4% scoring
Receiving: 8.8% yards, 23% scoring
Tackles: 42.3%
Sacks: 36.6%
INT: 68.7%

4. Georgia
Passing: Lose 1-year starting QB
Rushing: 0%
Receiving: 9% of yards, 20% of scoring
Tackles: 47%
Sacks: 46%
INT: 40%

5. Tennessee
Passing: 95.2% yards, 96.4% scoring (losing 2-year starting QB)
Rushing: 65.8% yards, 68.4% scoring
Receiving: 21.8% yards, 14.3% scoring
Tackles: 43.3%
Sacks: 47.5%
INT: 50%

6. Florida
Passing: Lose 3-year starting QB (and Greatest of All Time)
Rushing: 33% of total yards, 46% of scoring
Receiving: 73% of yards, 64% of scoring
Tackles: 48%
Sacks: 68%
INT: 60%

My first thoughts after putting this data together:
1. It really is true that 2010 will be South Carolina's best chance to win the East.
2. Kentucky might actually be in position to finish second or third in the East.
3. Vandy returns a lot, but for them, that's a bad thing.
4. Georgia was hit pretty hard on defense, but overall, things don't look too bad.
5. Florida and Tennessee lost a TON. If Georgia is going to beat both of these teams in the same year, this might be the year to do it. Sure, new freshmen and recruits could be very good, but it's not easy to throw a bunch of new talent on the field and expect to win the division.
6. How crazy would it be if the SEC East standings end up looking like this list? On one hand, it would be very, very funny. On the other, it would be very, very sad.

Feb 16, 2010

What's Georgia Losing in 2010?

I'm working on all of the data/calculations for a new "unbiased preseason poll" formula using CFBstats.com, and I've found some interesting numbers along the way.

In the transition from the 2009 Georgia squad to 2010, with graduating seniors and early exits to the NFL, Georgia loses:

Passing: Starting QB (roughly 100% of passing totals)
Rushing: Lose 0%
Receiving: 9.5% of total receiving yards, 20.8% of receiving touchdowns (all from Michael Moore)
Tackles: 47%
Sacks: 46%
Interceptions: 40%

The good news is they retain 100% of rushing yards and scoring, since there were no seniors last year that ran the ball (unless you count Joe Cox's -28 yards on the season).

At first glance, those numbers seem pretty bad, especially on defense, but then you take a look at some of the competition.

For example, the Florida Gators:

Passing: Lose 3-year starting QB
Rushing: Lose 33% total yards, 46% of scoring (mostly Tebow)
Receiving: Lose 73% of yards, 64% of scoring
Tackles: 48%
Sacks: 68%
Interceptions: 60%

Or Alabama:

Passing: Lose 0%
Rushing: Lose 9.9% of yards, 6.4% of scoring (Roy Upchurch)
Receiving: 11% of yards, 17% scoring
Tackles: 62%
Sacks: 64%
Interceptions: 62%

I haven't finished running the numbers on every top 25 team yet, but I think Florida might be the hardest hit by total percentages of offensive/defensive production lost, while Alabama is seeing huge losses on defense.

Feb 10, 2010

Updates on Spring Football, and preseason polls

First, I'm currently working on this year's version of the "unbiased preseason poll" for college football. The formula was simple, but it turned out to be relatively helpful in 2009 for determining which teams where over or under rated. Comparing it to the actual preseason AP and USA Today polls, it accurately predicted that:

-Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, LSU, California, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Kansas were overrated teams.

-Oregon, TCU, Iowa, Texas Tech, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati were underrated.
This was actually a huge success, because Iowa and TCU, teams that were ranked 17 and 22 in the AP preseason poll, actually ended up in the top 10 (both in BCS games). Texas Tech, Pitt, and Cincinnati were all unranked in the preseason AP and Coaches' polls, but all ended up in the top 25, with Cincinnati finishing as the #8 team. How did the voters miss by so much on these teams? The "unbiased poll" actually recognized them when the voters didn't.

But like I said before, the formula I used was very simple, based only on last season's final rankings and the returning starters for each team. So far with the same formula, this year's unbiased poll places Boise State at #1, Florida still at #3, and Alabama at #6. It isn't looking nearly as credible as last season's, but who knows, we could be surprised and see the BSU Broncos holding a crystal football at the end of next season (I wouldn't count on it). Still, I'm working on revamping the poll formula, adding different weighted values to the importance of players lost from each team, and maybe even finding a way to consider strength of schedule. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know. But I do still plan on finishing the poll with last year's formula, no matter how wacky it ends up.

In other news, spring football begins soon, and it clearly can't come soon enough.

Georgia's spring practice is set to begin on March 4, and the G-Day game is scheduled for April 10 (yes, the same weekend as the Masters).

I've seen people questioning whether the game would be on ESPN again this year, and although I doubt it seriously, I'm not sure. It seems possible that with ESPN's deal with the SEC, more and more SEC spring games could be featured on ESPN networks (if not on ESPN or ESPN2, maybe the SEC Network).

It seems that ESPN has already scheduled to televise LSU's spring game, and North Carolina's, but I'm having trouble finding any official sources that can confirm that. But the link above is a very trustworthy (and a must-have) source for any college football fan, especially during the season.

Feb 5, 2010

Speaking of star ratings... remember former greats?

Star ratings are a funny thing. I decided to look back at some former players from Georgia and elsewhere to see what their star ratings were when they were just high school seniors being recruited. Some of them may be surprising.

First, the not surprising ones:
-Matthew Stafford was a 5 star, and the #2 QB in his class.
-AJ Green was a 5 star, and the #2 WR in his class.
-Tim Tebow was a 5 star, and the #3 QB in his class.
-Percy Harvin was a 5 star, and the #2 WR in his class.
-Eric Berry was a 5 star, and the #1 CB in his class.

So clearly, sometimes the star ratings and Scout/Rivals/ESPN player rankings get it right. But they also often miss the mark on some players, and sometimes players grow into stars with coaching and maturity.

-Knowshon Moreno was a 4 star, and the #9 RB in his class.
-Rennie Curran was a 4 star.
-Mohamed Massaquoi was a 4 star.
-Jeff Owens and Geno Atkins were both 4 stars.

From other schools:

-Mark Ingram from Alabama (Heisman winner) was only a 3 star, and the #58 RB in his class.
-Dexter McCluster from Ole Miss was only a 3 star, and get this: the #100 RB in his class.
-Ndamukong Suh from Nebraska was a 4 star.
-Sam Bradford from Oklahoma was a 4 star, and the #17 QB in his class.
-Colt McCoy from Texas was also a 4 star, and the #14 QB in his class.
-Jordan Shipley from Texas was a 4 star and the #18 WR in his class. Nice picture by the way.

Just think, some of these guys when being recruited weren't exciting to their team's fans.

(Of course, it can go the other way too, and there are plenty of former 5 star recruits that never show up strong on the field. I'm not going to list them. But still, it's much more likely that a 3 or 4 star out there is going to make a huge impact than a 5 star that makes none.)

Feb 4, 2010

Grading Georgia's 2010 Recruiting Class

Many will point to Georgia's last-minute losses in their 2010 recruiting class and see this signing day as a failure. Others will look at the overall star ranking average of this class and compare it to others (which is actually good). But maybe it would be best to look at Georgia's personnel needs of the present and near-future to determine whether our coaches filled the spots that were really important. So here is a look at each position and the grade assigned to it, depending on depth and talent (based on recruiting star ratings from Scout.com). (note: If a position has top-rated players on the roster, plus multiple backups that are also of high-rating, then it will likely be rated as an A, whether recruited this class or not).

(Another note: I know that star ratings don't always mean much. But the point of listing them here is to show that there are plenty of players already on Georgia's roster who were highly rated when they were recruited. So for the sake of analysis and comparison, star-ratings will be measured as "talent.")

Grading scale:
A: Plenty of talent and/or depth
B: Good talent and/or depth, but could use improvement
C: Lacking talent and/or depth adequate for Georgia
F: Terrible and catastrophic failure of a position for a Div. 1 football team


Quarterback (A+)

UGA was looking pretty good with 2 redshirt freshmen (Murray and Mettenberger), a 5 star and 4 star according to Scout.com. Then of course there's Logan Gray (Jr.), another 4 star recruit. Three high-rated QBs on scholarship is pretty good, but it certainly didn't hurt to get Hutson Mason, a 3 star out of Lassiter High School.

Running Back (A+)

Once again, the running back position is loaded at Georgia. Caleb King (5 star) and Washaun Ealey (4 star) are now the relied-upon duo for UGA, and they're backed up by Carlton Thomas (4 star) and Dontavious Jackson (4 star), as well as Kalvin Daniels (1 star). But UGA went ahead and grabbed another, Ken Malcome, a 4 star and the #9 RB on ESPN. At fullback, Georgia has 3 experienced returners, Shaun Chapas (3 star), Fred Munzenmaier (3 star), and Justin Fields (1 star).

Wide Receiver (A)

AJ Green (5 star), Tavarres King (4 star), Rantavious Wooten (4 star), Israel Troupe (4 star), Marlon Brown (4 star), and Kris Durham (3 star). Despite losing 5 star Da'Rick Rogers at WR this time around, Georgia did get Michael Bennet (3 star) and Derek Owens (3 star), who could play at CB or WR. The receiver position was already pretty stacked at UGA, and a couple more were added for good measure. With the likely departure of AJ Green after 2010, Georgia should work hard to get a couple more top WR recruits in the 2011 class, but for now, this group looks perfectly fine. Signing another 5 star would have been tremendous, but losing one in recruiting isn't going to bring down this already outstanding group of receivers.

Tight End (A)

Orson Charles (5 star), Aron White (4 star), Bruce Figgins (3 star), Arthur Lynch (4 star). Yet another loaded position. Georgia didn't sign anyone for this position, and they didn't have to.

Offensive Line (A-)

Returning starters are Clint Boling (3 star), Cordy Glenn (4 star), Ben Jones (3 star), Chris Davis (3 star), and Josh Davis (3 star). They're backed up by Justin Anderson (4 star), AJ Harmon (4 star), Dallas Lee (3 star), plus the return of Trinton Sturdivant (4 star). The line looked pretty good before, but can definitely use more depth. Georgia helped to fix that problem by recruiting OG Kolton Houston (4 star and #5 OG on ESPN), OT Brent Benedict (4 star and #11 OT on ESPN), and OT Kenarious Gates (2 star). The line looks solid now. I considered giving this position a B, considering we lack any 5 stars along the O-line, but after looking at Scout's top recruits this year, I noticed that there were only 5 offensive linemen proclaimed "5 stars" in the country. I think UGA loading up on 4 stars and 3 stars should be sufficient.


Defensive Line (A)

At defensive tackle, we have returning Deangelo Tyson (5 star), Abry Jones (4 star), Derrick Lott (3 star), Ricardo Crawford (3 star), Kwame Geathers (4 star), and Brandon Wood (5 star). Considering the move to a 3-4 defense and now having one DT (NT), we have a few guys for this role, but the trick will be finding the optimum guy for the position. Georgia went ahead and signed 2 DT's from high schools, Garrison Smith (4 star) and Michael Thornton (4 star). That's a good group to choose from for the nosetackle spot.
At defensive end, UGA returns Demarcus Dobbs (4 star), Kiante Tripp (4 star), Justin Houston (3 star), Montez Robinson (4 star), Jeremy Longo (3 star), as well as a few others. But UGA went ahead and got 3 more DE's, because you can never have too many big guys to move around on the D-line. Brandon Burrows (4 star), Jalen Fields (3 star) and Dexter Morant (3 star) were all signed with Georgia. The defensive line is stacked with plenty of depth and a lot of highly rated players.

Linebacker (B)

Georgia returns 10 linebackers, including Akeem Dent (4 star), Darryl Gamble (4 star), Marcus Dowtin (4 star), and Chase Vasser (4 star). UGA got 3 LB's to sign with this class, T.J Stripling (4 star who can play DE or LB), Demetre Baker (4 star), and Alexander Ogletree (2 star). They lost 3 star OLB Deon Rogers to Louisville, but the position is ripe with 4 and 3 stars and a total of 13 LB's. Still, it would have been good to sign a couple more highly rated LB's to fill in the depth at this position to help replace the huge loss of Rennie Curran.

Cornerback (A-)

At CB, UGA has Brandon Boykin (4 star), Vance Cuff (4 star), Branden Smith (5 star), Jordan Love (4 star), Sanders Commings (3 star). This position has pretty good depth and good talent, but could use a little more work. Georgia signed Derek Owens (3 star), and athlete that can play CB or WR, but losing the 4 star CB recruit Nickell Robey to USC weakened this spot in recruiting.

Safety (A)

Georgia has Bacarri Rambo (3 star), Makiri Pugh (3 star), and Quintin Banks (3 star). This position was very thin with the departure of Reshad Jones and Bryan Evans, but UGA fixed that by recruiting 3 safeties, Alec Ogletree (5 star and #4 S on ESPN), Marc Deas (3 star), and Jakar Hamilton (4 star). Although still not quite as loaded as it could be, UGA managed to get two big-time safeties in this class (Ogletree and Hamilton) to solidify the position.

So clearly, these ratings and grades are very subjective. I really couldn't make a great case for any position lacking sufficient talent or depth, despite our big recruiting losses recently. Georgia's big losses from last season were Jeff Owens and Geno Atkins at defensive tackle, Reshad Jones and Bryan Evans at safety, Rennie Curran at linebacker, and Prince Miller at cornerback. This recruiting class signed two more 4 stars to help at DT (along with a couple of 4 stars and 3 stars to thicken up the DE spot), a 5 star and a 4 star for safety, and a 3 star to help out at CB (a position with plenty of talent already). We got extra help at QB, RB, LB, WR, and along the offensive line.

If this was being graded by comparison to other top recruiting classes, the grades might look a little different. But instead, this looks at the overall talent and depth on the roster, and Georgia has plenty of it from past recruiting successes, along with new commits. Overall, I think the coaches addressed the weaknesses we had with this signing class and added extra depth and talent to every position (other than TE, which doesn't really need it yet).

Feb 3, 2010

Despite recruiting losses, Georgia loaded at WR in 2010

So we lost a highly touted WR recruit. Now who will catch the balls between the hedges?

1. AJ Green (Jr). Career stats: 109 receptions, 1,771 yards, 14 TD. Out of high school, he was a 5 star Rivals recruit and the #2 WR by ESPN.

2. Tavarres King (R. Soph). Career stats: 20 receptions, 443 yards, 1 TD. Out of high school, he was a 4 star Rivals recruit and the #22 WR by ESPN.

3. Rantavious Wooten (Soph). Career stats: 10 receptions, 197 yards, 2 TD. Out of high school, he was a 4 star Rivals recruit.

4. Israel Troupe (Jr.). Career stats: 8 receptions, 129 yards, 1 TD. Out of high school, he was a 4 star Rivals recruit and the #6 WR by ESPN.

5. Kris Durham (Sr.). Career stats: 32 receptions, 450 yards, 1 TD. Out of high school, he was a 3 star Rivals recruit.

6. Marlon Brown (Soph). Career stats: 2 receptions, 15 yards. Out of high school, he was a 4 star Rivals recruit and #3 WR by ESPN.

Then we have 2 potential WR's signed today.

Michael Bennet, a 3 star WR (and also 6'3").

Derek Owens, a 3 star athlete who can play cornerback or wide receiver.

And then we have our tight ends (all potentially threats as pass-catching TE's).

1. Orson Charles (Soph.). Career stats: 23 receptions, 374 yards, 3 TD. Out of high school, he was a 4 star Rivals recruit, and the #15 TE by ESPN.

2. Aron White (Jr.). Career stats: 16 receptions, 286 yards, 6 TD. Out of high school, he was a 4 star Rivals recruit and the #6 TE by ESPN.

3. Bruce Figgins (Jr). Career stats: 5 receptions, 56 yards, 1 TD. Out of high school, he was a 3 star Rivals recruit and the #27 TE by ESPN.

We've got all of that, not to mention any walk-ons at WR who are available (and maybe even former-QB and punt fair catcher Logan Gray). Sure, it would be great to add another 4 or 5 star WR to our roster, but I still think this is one of the best receiving groups we've had at Georgia in a long time.

Feb 2, 2010

LOST Season Premier tonight: Remember when Hurley wrote on this blog?

You don't remember? CLICK HERE to see it. (He wrote in the comments under the post.)

It was an honor for Jorge Garcia (actor who plays Hurley on LOST) to grace this blog with his textual presence. I still can't believe that happened.

By the way, here's a link to Jorge's blog.