Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dawgs Win!

FOOTBALL

Aron White tied a bowl record with two touchdown receptions to lead the Dawgs past Texas A&M, 44-20, in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl on Monday at Independence Stadium in front of a crowd of 49,653.

After the Aggies tied the game at 14-14 early in the third quarter, the Dawgs scored 30 unanswered points en route to posting its national-leading 13th-straight eight-win season at 8-5. The 44 points were a bowl record for the Dawgs eclipsing the previous high of 41 in the win over Hawaii in the 2008 Sugar Bowl, and the Dawg's six touchdowns matched the 1942 Orange Bowl champions who defeated Texas Christian, 40-26. The Dawgs improve to 2-0 in the Independence Bowl and move their all-time bowl record to 26-16-3 with their fourth-straight post-season victory. Texas A&M finishes its 2009 season at 6-7.

"I'm very, very proud of our team," said head coach Mark Richt, who improved to 7-2 in bowl games. "I'm very proud of our seniors. I'm very thankful for the job that they did. I'm so glad that we were able to send our seniors off with some true style. Also, I think we probably need to start out by saying what a fantastic job our defensive coaches did. Coach (Rodney) Garner leading the way with our young graduate assistant coaches Mitch Doolittle and Todd Hartley. Really, everybody on that side of the ball kind of moved up to the next level of coaching responsibility."

White was tabbed the Offensive Player of the Game as his two touchdown receptions, from 24 and two yards, matched a Dawg bowl record which had happened on three previous occasions, most recently by Fred Gibson in the 2004 Capital One Bowl. It also tied the Independence Bowl record for receiving touchdowns in game, which had also occurred three prior times.

Senior defensive tackle Geno Atkins was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Game. Atkins blocked a field goal with game scoreless in the second quarter, had three tackles including a six-yard sack and added a quarterback pressure.

Also a factor in the victory for the Dawgs was sophomore Brandon Boykin. While finishing the game third among the Dawgs with six tackles, Boykin's major impact came in the kick return game. In the second quarter after Texas A&M went up 7-0, Boykin provided an answer with an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It marked Boykin's third kickoff return for a score this season (two previous from 100 yards) which set a school-record and tied a Southeastern Conference record (Willie Gault, Tennessee, 1980).

For the second-straight game the Dawgs won the turnover battle with two interceptions versus Texas A&M's one interception. Senior quarterback Joe Cox, who completed 15-of-28 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, had one pass picked off in the second quarter that did not lead to any points by the Aggies. The two picks of Aggie quarterback Jerrod Johnson came on back-to-back Texas A&M drives in the third quarter. The first was by redshirt freshman Sanders Commings on a fourth-and-one play from the UGA 23-yard line and it led to a Dawg punt. The second pick was by junior Reshad Jones with under a minute left in the quarter. Jones returned the interception 59 yards to set up a six-play, 28 yard drive that was capped by White's second touchdown and put UGA up 31-14.

Earlier in the third quarter, sophomore placekicker Blair Walsh snapped the 14-14 tie with a 49-yard field goal, the third-longest in Independence Bowl history. Then on Texas A&M's ensuing drive, a bad snap on a punt attempt gave the Dawgs the ball at the Texas A&M 24-yard line, and three plays and 27 seconds later, Cox connected with White for the first time.

The Dawgs carried a 14-7 lead into the half behind strong special teams play with the kickoff return for a touchdown, Atkins' blocked field goal and a blocked punt from redshirt freshman Bacarri Rambo. Atkins block of Randy Bullock's 50-yard field goal attempt was the second blocked field goal of the season for the Bulldogs with sophomore A.J. Green blocking one against Arizona State.

Texas A&M did score the first points of the game on a 15-yard pass from Johnson to Jamie McCoy later in the quarter before Boykin answered on the kickoff return. Rambo then provided the blocked punt of the Aggies' Ryan Epperson, which was the second blocked punt of the year for UGA (Zach Renner at Tennessee), and it was recovered by junior Vance Cuff at the two-yard line. The Dawgs would just need one play, a run from redshirt sophomore Caleb King to put up another seven points for the halftime edge.

"Our special teams really came up big," Richt said. "On kickoff return, Boykin broke a school record with his third kickoff return for a touchdown, and the blocked kicks were huge. Those plays in the first half really got us going and got us charged up. In the second half the offense kicked into gear and kind of finished it off for us. I'm very thankful to get this eighth victory and finish this season in good fashion."

King finished the game with 16 carries for 60 yards and two scores including a fourth-quarter touchdown that pushed the lead to 38-14. King's rushing effort was supported by freshman Washaun Ealey, who gained 78 yards on 13 carries, and junior fullback Shaun Chapas, who added 43 yards and five-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown on five carries.

Supporting White on the receiving front, sophomore flanker A.J. Green led the team with six receptions for 57 yards while senior split end Michael Moore and freshman tight end Orson Charles recorded two receptions each.

Aiding the Dawg's defensive effort, sophomore Marcus Dowtin recorded a team-best nine tackles and junior Rennie Curran posted eight stops. Jones and senior Prince Miller finished with five tackles each.

Texas A&M added the final points of the game in the final two minutes on a five-yard pass from Johnson to Howard Morrow

Friday, December 25, 2009

Dawgs Arrive In Shreveport

FOOTBALL

All the Dawgs arrived safely in Shreveport Thursday as the team reconvened for their upcoming Advocare V100 Independence Bowl game against Texas A&M.

Coach Mark Richt said he was pleased that everyone made it, and he was looking forward to spending the holidays with his family and the team here.

“We’re all here, actually everybody checked in about 30 minutes ahead of schedule so that’s good,” said Richt. “We’ll be focused when it’s time to practice and we’re looking forward to visiting Barksdale Air Force Base and thanking the men and women for their service to our country.”

The Dawgs and Aggies were treated to a welcome party at the military base. Brigadier General Rich Clark, who played in the Independence Bowl 25 years ago for the Air Force Academy and now is stationed at Barksdale, spoke briefly to the Dawgs. Several pilots showed the teams the various airplanes at the base. Then, the teams visited the players’ gift suite where they could choose their bowl gifts. Finally, the afternoon concluded with dinner and ice cream before returning to the hotel for meetings.

Quarterback Joe Cox selected a digital photo frame and an iPOD clock radio for his bowl gifts.

Senior cornerback Prince Miller chose a Sony surround system, and said he is looking forward to playing in the bowl game.

“We’re excited to be here and ready to represent for the SEC,” said Miller.

The Dawgs will return to practice on Friday. Christmas will begin with a morning visit to patients at the LSU Health Science Center followed by an afternoon practice at Independence Stadium.

There will be a team dinner at the team hotel.

The Dawgs will practice Saturday and hold a walk-through session Sunday before Monday's game with Texas A&M.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dawgs Ready To Hit The Road

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs wrapped up preparations in Athens for their upcoming bowl game in Louisiana by conducting a 75-minute workout today.

Coach Richt said that the Dawgs have had productive workouts here and now will have a travel day Wednesday before the team reconvenes Thursday by 3:30 p.m. ET in Shreveport, site of the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl.

“It was a pretty good last day, everybody did a nice job and we finished up with some conditioning that was cut in half thanks to Brandon Boykin,” said Richt.

It has become customary during the final bowl practice for Richt to ask if any member of the team is willing to sing a holiday tune to cut down on the number of sprints the team has to run at the end of practice. Former offensive lineman Chester Adams was known for his ability to carry a tune and was always the first to step up for the squad.

“Brandon Boykin jumped up and sang something about a mistletoe, and I know everybody appreciated that,” said Richt. “He saved his teammates over 500 yards of running.”

Richt also announced that everybody on the team is eligible for the bowl game and that 43 players posted a grade point average of at least a 3.0.

“We don’t have any issues, it was a very successful semester academically, and that’s a great job by our players and academic support staff,” said Richt.

The Dawgs (7-5) are slated to arrive on their own Thursday and then depart for a team activity at Barksdale Air Force Base. They will return to practice on Friday.

Christmas will begin with a morning visit to patients at a local hospital followed by an afternoon practice at Independence Stadium and then dinner at the team hotel.

The Dawgs will practice Saturday and hold a walk-through session Sunday before Monday’s game with Texas A&M.

BASKETBALL

Jasmine James has been tabbed SEC Freshman of the Week for women's basketball, the third time in six weeks that the Memphis native has been honored as such this season.

On Sunday, James recorded team highs of 17 points, 10 rebounds and three steals to lead THE No. 11 Dawgs to a decisive 69-53 victory over No. 19 Virginia in the Lady Dawgs only game last week. She notched career-high tallies in rebounds, steals and minutes played (37) and posted her first career double-double.

James scored 11 points in the first half and her three-pointer with 8:29 left in the opening period gave the Dawgs the lead for good and sparked a 13-1 surge that turned a two-point deficit into a 10-point lead.

James, a 5-9, guard, also was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Nov. 16 and Nov. 30. She was honored initially after scoring a team-high 15 points in an upset of No. 13 Oklahoma in the season opener and was selected again after averaging 19.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in a trio of victories over Alabama State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Southern Miss.

The Lady Dawgs improved to 10-0 with the victory over Virginia, the third ranked opponent the Dawgs have defeated this season. The Lady Dawgs complete their pre-Christmas slate tonight when they host Detroit at Stegeman Coliseum at 7:00 p.m.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Dawgs Complete Final Two-A-Day Bowl Practice

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs completed an hour and 15-minute practice this afternoon to wrap up the team’s final two-a-day of the season.

The Dawgs started the day with a 45-minute special teams practice this morning in frigid conditions as the team continues to prepare for its matchup versus Texas A&M in the Advocare 100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 28. The team will practice once more on Tuesday before leaving for the bowl site.

Coach Mark Richt was pleased with his team’s effort following the afternoon practice considering this was the sixth straight day of practices. “It wasn’t quite as intense as (Sunday’s) practice, but still a good one,” Richt said. “There wasn’t quite the juice out there as there has been but we’ve been going every day for a while now so that’s expected. We’ll have one final practice tomorrow morning and after 10:30 or so in the morning, the guys will start getting out of town and heading towards Shreveport. We are looking forward to getting out there and getting to work.”

Following the morning session, Richt highlighted the play of redshirt sophomore defensive end Justin Houston. Houston returned from a two-game suspension at the beginning of the season to lead the Bulldogs with 7.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. He is No. 2 in the Southeastern Conference averaging 0.83 sacks a game.

“His production per game has been outstanding,” said Richt. “If he had been with us the whole season, who knows what he could have done. I think he would have been up for postseason honors if he had played the whole year. I really believe the (defensive end) position is getting ready to take off with Justin, Demarcus (Dobbs) and Cornelius Washington.”

Junior Von Miller has led the Texas A&M defense through its 12 games. Lining up at the “Jack” position for the Aggies, Miller leads the nation with 17 sacks (1.42 per game) and has 21 tackles for loss.

“Von Miller really hasn’t been bull-rushing to get his sacks,” Richt said. “His performance is predicated on speed and a relentless attitude. A majority of his sacks come from third-and-long situations. When it’s a high-percentage shot at passing, he can get off on you quickly.”

Richt also mentioned that junior safety Quintin Banks sprained his neck during Sunday’s practice and was admitted and then discharged from a local hospital later that night. Banks is questionable for the bowl game.

BASKETBALL

Trey Thompkins, whose outstanding play led the Dawgs to a rousing victory over Big Ten foe Illinois, has been named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week.

Thompkins, a 6-10 sophomore from Lithonia, scored a team-high 21 points and added seven rebounds as the Dawgs edged the Fighting Illini 70-67 at the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth. Most important, he sank four decisive free throws in the game's final 22 seconds to secure the victory. Thompkins did not start the Illinois game and played just 29 minutes. He had missed two practices during the week of final exams after having wisdom teeth extracted.

For the season, Thompkins leads the Dawgs in scoring at 15.0 points per game, rebounding (7.2/game), blocks (16), field goal attempts (113) and field goals made (49). Continuing the theme from the Illinois game, he has made 11 of 12 foul shots in the final five minutes of games this season.

Thompkins is also the leading career scorer among all current Dawgs with 489 points.

Thompkins becomes the first Dawg to win the SEC Player-of-the-Week award since Sundiata Gaines took home the honor during the week of Feb. 18, 2008.

The 5-4 Dawgs complete play in the 2009 calendar year with a pair of home games over the next nine days: Dec. 23 against Florida Atlantic and Dec. 30 against Pepperdine.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Practice Notes

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs continued preparations for their upcoming bowl game with Texas A&M by conducting a 90-minute evening workout today.

Coach Mark Richt said that the Dawgs practiced with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.

“We had a fantastic practice, the scout team did a great job,” said Richt. “They played with a good tempo, forced us to get lined up, to move quickly and make calls. It was a great effort and attitude. There was a lot of hustle out there, it was the kind of practice you hope for.”

The Dawgs will contend with an Aggie offensive attack that averaged 33.9 points a game and 465.3 yards per game this season.

“They want as many plays as possible, they are fast, and they figure the more plays, the more yards and the more points, that’s what they want to do,” Richt added.

The Dawgs aim to establish a running game to help control the pace of the game, something they were able to do in their last contest, a 30-24 road win over seventh-ranked Georgia Tech. The Dawgs rushed for a season-high 339 yards against the Yellow Jackets.

Meanwhile, the Aggies played a fine game in their regular season finale, pushing third-ranked Texas to the limit, before falling short 49-39.

“It’s late in the year and you could see them at their best, and they looked pretty darn good against Texas who is playing for the national championship,” said Richt of the Aggies against the Longhorns. “We know it was a rivalry game and that brings the best out of you, and we have plenty of respect for Texas A&M.”

While bowl practices do provide time for younger players to make an impression with the coaches for next season, Richt said the team has spent 90 percent of this year’s workouts geared towards preparation for the Aggies. He mentioned a trio of freshmen who have looked good during the bowl practices, highlighting the play of defensive tackle Kwame Geathers and quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger.

BASKETBALL

The No. 11-ranked Lady Dawgs defeated the 19th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers 72-54 in Stegeman Coliseum this afternoon and remain undefeated with a record of 10-0.

The Lady Dogs united as a team, allowing nine players to score and out rebounded the Cavaliers 48-36 with 17 offensive rebounds. Porsha Phillips put on an all-star performance early in the second half, scoring 10 points in the first five minutes.

“Today was a great team effort," said head coach Andy Landers. "We had a lot of people play well."

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dawgs Hold Long Practice

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs continued to fine tune their game plan for facing Texas A&M in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl by conducting a two hour practice this morning at the Woodruff Practice Fields.

The workout marked the fifth of eight bowl practice days in Athens. The Dawgs will practice each of the next three days in the Classic City before holding a travel day on Dec. 23 and reconvening in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 24.

"Much better weather today," head coach Mark Richt said of the Dawg's' practice with temperatures in the mid to upper 40's compared to colder and rainy weather on Friday. "I know the guys enjoyed some sunshine. It was still a little breezy out there."

The original practiced schedule featured two practices for today, but a decision was made earlier in the week to combined the two into one.

"Today was a day that we were going to go two-a-days," Richt stated. "We were going to spend the first practice on special teams and the second practice on offensive-defensive but decided to combine the two into one longer practice to get on the road the last day that coaches get on the road before a quite period tomorrow. The dead period starts Monday. They had to grind it out a little bit, but they did a good job."

Richt also noted that the scout team has showed improved play and tempo and is being lined up by student assistants Jonathan DeLay and Stephen Crowson.

Richt went on to discuss Texas A&M's offense compared to that of Auburn's.

"We hear that the tempo is even faster than what Auburn is doing," Richt explained. "When you watch film and you'll see a play where the defense is scrambling to get line up and the ball is snapped, you know they're going fast. Most defenses can get lined up on a pretty good pace, but they're doing some things where they are going so fast that defenses are having a very difficult time to get lined up quickly."

Head coach Mark Richt met with the media Wednesday during the Bulldogs Bowl Media Day. He offered the following comments:

On Georgias offensive philosophy:

As always you are going to take the talent base you have and try to get the best players on the field and guys who are most productive and try to get the ball to them. You are going to try to do it without self-inflicted wounds that we've had. That's going to be the biggest issue is to continue to improve in all areas but also not setting ourselves back through the penalty and turnover issues. If you can turn around the penalty and turnover issue it will be a tremendous improvement.

On whether A.J. Green will play in the bowl game:

Unless he has a setback between now and then. He practiced the last time we practiced. I'm losing track of what day that was that we practiced, but he's going to practice today. He'll be in some non-contact probably most of the bowl practice, but as we get closer to the game, we are going to let him get a little block and full-speed and some things that might let him know he's confident that it feels fine.

On whether Montez Robinson will make the trip:

No, he will not.

On his involvement with the defense:

I've enjoyed it. I'm not trying to re-invent anything defensively. My greatest role is to set some parameters and make sure that everything is being covered and that everybody not only has a plan schematically, but a plan to implement strategy. There are some special teams things that we had to visit as far as how we are going to handle those. Then I'll also be keeping a very close eye on how things are progressing as far as how players are responding to the coaching and all those kind of things. That's the biggest part of my role, which is not altogether different than what I normally do, but a little bit more intensive in that area.

On special teams coaching responsibilities:

We are going to have Mitch Doolittle and Todd Hartley work on the kickoff coverage team. Coach (John) Lilly will handle punt return and block.

On whether he has talked to Logan Gray about switching positions:

Have we talked to Logan? Yes. Logan wants to play. Logan is the one who is going to decide what he wants to do this spring. If he wants to stay strictly at quarterback and compete in that area, I'm all for it. If he wants to try another position to see if he could get more playing time in that role, I'm fine with that. I know that Logan is not going to forget what to do at quarterback, so even if he does something in the spring at another position, it doesn't mean he won't be back at quarterback in the fall. It's really going to be putting the ball in his hands. We love Logan. We think he's a heck of a player. We think he's a heck of a Dawg, and we want him to feel like he's getting his best opportunity to make a contribution to the team, so it's really going to be up to him. At this point nothing is changing. He's not going to slip out there and try to play another position during the bowl practice time. It will be a decision that he'll reach after this bowl game is over.

On whether he would feel comfortable with Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger starting at quarterback in 2010:

I don't want to get into hypothetical things, but I will say that we think they are outstanding quarterback prospects.

On whether he has talked to Richard Samuel about switching positions:

I have not.

On Joe Cox:

He's a first-class guy. He's very tough physically and mentally. He has persevered. He has persisted. I have a lot of admiration for that. He's been a leader of this team in a tough season, but he has not ever shied away from that responsibility or done anything that would even come close to resembling throwing in the towel or anything like that. He's had some really outstanding moments. He's had some very good days and some things that maybe aren't exactly what he wanted, but I have a lot of respect for what he's done. I think he's handled it well.

On having A.J. Green back:

It will be exciting no doubt. That guy is special. We all know it. It's going to give A&M something else to think about besides trying to stop the run, so that's what you want. You want a threat to score anytime somebody tries to single cover him and I think A.J has that ability, so they have to decide what they want to do as far as how they are going to stop the run and still manage A.J., so it'll create a problem for them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dawgs Prep For Independence Bowl

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs practiced for 45 minutes in preparation for the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl during cold and rainy conditions this morning.

Today's practice marked the third day of practice in a string of seven straight days. The Dawgs have a travel day on Dec. 23 before reconvening in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 24.

“It was pretty cold, rainy and windy,” said head coach Mark Richt. “Justin Anderson said it was the coldest he’s ever been at a practice in his entire life. All those seniors who graduated today were doubly blessed because usually they don’t practice and today’s practice was a good one to not be at.”

Twelve football players missed practice due to today’s commencement.

The list includes defensive end Rod Battle of Atlanta; free safety Stephen Braue of Alpharetta; quarterback Joe Cox of Charlotte, N.C.; defensive tackle Ricardo Crawford of Fair Bluff, N.C.; free safety Bryan Evans of Jacksonville, Fla.; placekicker Andrew Jensen of Lawrenceville; cornerback Prince Miller of Duncan, S.C.; split end Mike Moore of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; defensive tackle Jeff Owens of Sunrise, Fla.; offensive tackle Vincent Vance of Hinesville, Ga.; linebacker Marcus Washington of Keysville; and defensive tackle Kade Weston of Red Bank, N.J.

“I was asked if (graduation) is as exciting as winning an SEC championship, and in a lot of ways it is,” Richt said. “An SEC championship, people will remember that, but events like that tend to fade a little bit over time. When you have your degree it really blesses those guys for their entire lives.”

Also graduating will be former All-SEC linebacker and 12-year NFL veteran Randall Godfrey of Valdosta and football (1994-95), baseball (1994-96) letterman and former Bulldog football player Erik Robinson of Orlando, Fla., and former wide receiver Tony Wilson of Daytona Beach, Fla.

Coach Mark Richt met with the media Wednesday during the Dawg's Bowl Media Day. He offered the following comments:

On juggling bowl preparation, recruiting and hiring coaches:

It's busy. It's busy for sure. First of all in recruiting we have a good number of commitments. At this point all the young men are holding firm. Who knows what any recruiting class will bring as you go down the stretch whether you have a situation with staff or not, you just never know what will happen down the stretch. I think everybody has done a pretty good job of covering those areas and getting on the phone and getting in person. I think we've done a good job there.

The preparation for the bowl has been interesting on the defensive side of course with a couple of graduate assistants working with coach (Rodney) Garner and myself. I've really been encouraged by what they've put together, and I think the players are, I think their spirit is going to be right to be cooperative and take it as a challenge that they have to step up to, so I don't see any issues in that regard. As far as the search, we all know its a very important hire and one that I'm doing the due diligence I think that it takes, but I'm working towards that end.

On when he will hire the three coaches:

I would say the safest bet, and I don't want to put a time table on it, but I would hate to think it goes much past the first week of January. You have to get back on the road recruiting. I'm not sure exactly when you are allowed to get back on the ground after this second dead period. There is a dead period for the coaches convention. You'd like to hit the ground running at that point with your new staff. Even then I'm not going to say 100 percent because I'm not 100 percent sure when it will happen. I wouldn't imagine it going past that if that.

On whether he will hire coaches before the bowl game:

I just don't know. I think I'll know when the time is right. It's just so hard to predict.

On the Dawg's travel itinerary and whether the team spent Christmas in a hotel for the 2001 Music City Bowl:

I don't think we did. It seems like it was a three-day trip. We might have had to report Christmas day, but it seemed like we reported the day after, but I'm not sure.

On the teams plans for Christmas:

We are going to have a nice meal, and we are trying to put together a Christmas program. We might even get our own players involved in seeing what kind of talents they have. We're working on that, but I think that would be something that everybody would enjoy. I would imagine most things are going to be closed that day, so we'll have to provide our own entertainment. Hopefully the guys will get into the spirit of that.

On who will call the defense in the bowl game:

My answer to that from this point forward is it will be a group effort, and it will be.

On the process of hiring coaches:

I'm just going to say that its a private search. The bottom line is I'm going to be the one making the final decision on it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bowl Media Day Press Conference

FOOTBALL

Head coach Mark Richt and several football players met with the media Wednesday during the Bulldogs Bowl Media Day. They offered the following comments:

Coach Mark Richt

Opening statement:

Texas A&M is an outstanding football team with a great football tradition. Coach [Mike] Sherman has their team on the rise and playing extremely well late in the year. It will be a tremendous challenge for us.

To start out with their offense, they are No. 1 in [the Big 12] offensively in total yards and in the top three in just about every offensive category. That all starts with No. 1, [quarterback] Jerrod Johnson. Hes 6-5, a 240-pounder, and throws the ball extremely well. Hes hit over 61 percent of his passes, has 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions that ratio is tremendous. He has close to 700 yards rushing and over 3,200 yards passing, so hes really been the guy, absolutely the catalyst of that offensive football team.

They love to spread it out, go fast-paced, go with three-receiver sets, four-receiver sets, a no-back, five-receiver look. They get into certain personnel groups and give you every formation known to mankind and do it in a very quick manner, so itll be a challenge just to recognize whats happening and get lined up properly. Well try to get after it.

Up front theyve got three senior linemen really in the best spots you can hope for as a coach. Both tackles and the center are seniors and have done an outstanding job of paving the way for [Cyrus] Gray and [Christine] Michael, their top two runners. They both have run for over 750 yards apiece and are very much alike, really their statures are pretty close, 5-10, 5-11, and around 200 pounds, give or take a few.

Their running styles are very similar. Receiving-wise, [Ryan] Tannehill is their leading receiver. I dont see him on this depth chart, so I dont know if he got hurt or not. I dont have that figured out yet. Then [Howard] Morrow, and [Uzoma Nwachukwu] is a freshman receiver, very fast and talented. [Jeff] Fuller is their fourth-leading receiver. They throw the ball around a lot. They like to spread it out to throw and so they can get you thinned out and run their running game. Its mostly a tailback running game, with some quarterback running, as you can see in the amount of yards that Johnson has as a quarterback rusher.

Defensively, they have a young man by the name of Von Miller, No. 40, who has 17 sacks and leads their league in forced fumbles and tackles for loss and is one of the better rush hands in the country, Id have to say. As far as leading tackles are concerned, their safeties are their top two tacklers, [Trent Hunter and Jordan Pugh] with 87 and 75 tackles, respectively.

Then their linebackers, [Garrick] Williams, [Kyle] Mangan, and [Michael] Hodges are their next three tacklers all pretty close, and about where it ought to be.

The special teams I havent really spent a lot of time studying yet, so I dont want to start spouting off things that I havent looked closely at. Its been a little different from a normal week. I havent had a chance to sit down with the staff and talk about anything. We gathered today to get ready for todays practice.

Well practice today all the way through to the 22nd, then on the 23rd it will be a travel day. The 24th we are to report around 2 p.m., and will not practice the day we get there. Well practice the 25th and 26th, then the 27th the day before the game do our normal walk-through and meeting routine. We could practice, but more than likely itll just be a normal day-before-game. Christmas day we will treat like a normal Tuesday and the 26th we will treat like a normal Wednesday.

We kind of miss that Thursday practice, but well get plenty of things done and because of the multiple practices I dont see a problem. If I feel like we need a practice day before the game, we may do that. Thats the plan right now, where were sitting. We did have practice yesterday between our class and exam schedule. It was a very spirited practice. We designed it in hopes that it would be short, sweet, and high-tempo, high-competition. Everybody responded really well.

Our players are excited about the challenge and looking forward to working really hard and getting after A&M. From what I hear, the travel time from Texas A&M to Shreveport is about three or four hours, so they should have a strong contingent of fans. We anticipate crowd noise as an issue so well be practicing with that.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dawgs Resume Bowl Practice

FOOTBALL

After three days of final exams, the Dawgs resumed preparations for their Independence Bowl matchup against Texas A&M with a two-hour workout today.

It was the second bowl practice for the Dawgs, who are slated to hold five more practices in Athens before the team reconvenes in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 24.

"I was very encouraged with today's practice," Richt said. "I thought the guys showed great focus and energy. It was one of the best practices we've had."

Earlier Richt met with the media during UGA's Bowl Media Day and discussed the challenges Texas A&M will pose to the Dawgs, particularly on offense.

"Texas A&M is an outstanding football team with a great football tradition," Richt said. "Coach [Mike] Sherman has their team on the rise and playing extremely well late in the year. They love to spread it out, go fast-paced, go with three-receiver sets, four-receiver sets, a no-back, five-receiver look. They get into certain personnel groups and give you every formation known to mankind and do it in a very quick manner, so it'll be a challenge just to recognize what's happening and get lined up properly. We'll try to get after it."

Richt also said injured sophomore receiver A.J. Green is expected to play in the bowl game after missing the final two games of the regular season.

"He'll be in some non-contact probably most of the bowl practice, but as we get closer to the game, we are going to let him get in a little blocking and full-speed and some things that might let him know he's confident that it feels fine," Richt said.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dawgs Hold First Bowl Practice

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs began preparations for the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl by working out for approximately an hour and 45 minutes on Saturday at the Woodruff Practice Fields.

In the first practice since concluding the regular season with a win over Georgia Tech, the Dawgs worked out in full pads to start preparing for the Texas A&M Aggies (6-6). It was also the Dawg's first practice with head coach Mark Richt, assistant head coach Rodney Garner and graduate assistants Mitch Doolittle and Todd Hartley spearheading the defense.

"Obviously, it's different," Garner said. "I know it's different for the players also, but like I told them, the only thing they can control is what happens between the lines no matter what you feel about. I know it's been a lot of emotions that everybody has been going through the last week. I coached with coach (Willie) Martinez and coach (Jon) Fabris for nine years and coach (John) Jancek for five, so there are a lot of different emotions out there. But what we've got to do is to be challenged to get these guys prepared to go to Shreveport and play probably one of the most prolific offenses we've faced all year."

Junior linebacker Rennie Curran added that Richt took a more "hands-on" approach with the defense in Saturday's practice, and that before the workout started Garner addressed the team urging them to "have fun" and be "business-like and professional." Curran also discussed the two week break from being on the football field.

"I definitely think it was good to where we had the long break to get our minds right mentally refocusing and to kind of let that time pass where we were still down about coaches being gone," Curran said. "We were able to just get away from football a little bit, just relax, get our bodies back right and get back into the weight room. I think all of that helps to where when we get back on the field we're more relaxed and we're not too worried about the coaching changes because that time of mourning has already passed. It wasn't easy to get back on the field, but it was little bit better because we hadn't been out there for a while, so that excitement of just playing the game again took over. We had a lot of fun out there today."

Saturday's practice comes in the middle of a busy week for the Dawgs. Final exams got underway on Thursday, and the team held it's 12th-Annual Senior Awards Banquet/Silent Auction/Gala at the Athens Classic Center Saturday night.

Exams resume on Monday and continue through Wednesday, when the Dawgs will hold bowl media day and resume practicing each day until Dec. 22nd.

Butler Named Top Punter In Nation

FOOTBALL

All-American Drew Butler has been named the winner of the 2009 Ray Guy Award, which is presented annually to college football’s top punter by the Greater Augusta Sports Council.

Butler, a 6-2, 203-pound sophomore native of Duluth, Ga., received the award Thursday during The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show televised live on ESPN.

“I didn’t play a whole lot last year and knew that I had to come in and compete since I was following a great punter in Brian Mimbs,” said Butler. “We had a good punt team last year and I wanted to make sure we took a leap forward this year rather than a step backwards. The credit for this award goes to the team, all of the guys on the punt team. We call ourselves the ‘Pride’ team.”

Butler said much of his success comes from coaching and his hard work. “I want to thank Coach (John) Lilly and all of the coaches, I tried to be consistent this whole season and it has paid off.”

Butler is leading the nation in punting with a 48.8 average on 50 punts and leads the NCAA in Net Punting at 42.8.

Along with Butler, the other finalists were Michigan senior Zoltan Mesko and Florida junior Chas Henry. A national committee of sportswriters, sportscasters, football coaches, professional football punters and previous winners annually select the winner. The award is named after the legendary NFL punter Ray Guy.

This is the 10th year for the award, and Butler is the first winner from the Southeastern Conference.

Butler has also been named to the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-America Team. The FWAA All-America team is the second-longest continuously-published team in major college football.

Butler is the 23rd Bulldog to be named to the team and first since David Pollack in 2004. He is among seven SEC players named to the All-America team.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Butler Named A Walter Camp All-American

FOOTBALL

Punter Drew Butler has been named to the 2009 Walter Camp All-America First Team, according to an announcement on Thursday.

Butler, who was also recently named to the 2009 American Football Coaches’ (AFCA) All-America Team, is the first Dawg to be named to the Walter Camp All-American team since Max Jean-Gilles in 2005.

Butler’s honor marks the 31st Walter Camp All-America certificate given to a Dawg.

Butler, a 6-2, 203-pound sophomore native of Duluth, Ga., is leading the nation in punting with a 48.8 average on 50 punts. He is one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which is presented annually to college football’s top punter later tonight at the Home Depot/ESPNU College Football Awards show. Butler and the Dawgs also lead the NCAA in Net Punting at 42.8.

Butler is on pace to become only the third Dawg in school history to lead the NCAA in punting (Zeke Bratkowski, 42.6 in 1953; Bobby Walden, 45.3 in 1958). He is also on target to break the school’s single season punting average record. The current mark is 45.4 by Chip Andrews in 1984 while the SEC mark is within reach at 48.2 (Ricky Anderson, Vanderbilt in 1984).

This season, Butler has boomed 24 punts of 50+ yards and placed 17 inside the 20-yard line.

Butler is the first Dawg punter to be named an All-American in the modern era.

The Dawgs have had a handful of players who earned All-America recognition at their primary position and were skillful punters too. These Dawg All-Americans include end Chick Shiver (1927) offensive backs Bill Hartman (1937), Frank Sinkwich (1941-42), Charley Trippi (1946) and quarterback Zeke Bratkowski (1952).

Butler’s father, Kevin, was also a Walter Camp All-American place-kicker in 1984 for the Dawgs and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

The 2009 Walter Camp All-America First Team is made up of 16 seniors, six juniors and only three sophomores. The Walter Camp Foundation has selected an All-America team since 1889. For more information on the Walter Camp Foundation including the 2009 All-America team, log on to the Walter Camp website at www.waltercamp.org.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Phil Steele Postseason Honors

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs placed 11 players among Phil Steele’s four All-Southeastern Conference teams including three first-team selections in junior linebacker Rennie Curran of Snellville, sophomore flanker A.J. Green of Summerville, S.C., and sophomore punter Drew Butler of Duluth.

Earning All-SEC Second-Team honors were junior offensive tackle Clint Boling of Alpharetta, junior safety Reshad Jones of Atlanta, redshirt sophomore defensive end Justin Houston of Statesboro and sophomore placekicker Blair Walsh of Boca Raton, Fla.

Senior defensive tackle Geno Atkins of Pembroke Pines, Fla., was the only selection on the third team while fellow senior defensive tackle Kade Weston of Red Bank, N.J., was named to the fourth team along with kickoff return specialist Brandon Boykin of Fayetteville and freshman tailback Washaun Ealey of Stillmore.

Also receiving recognition from Phil Steele, tight end Orson Charles of Tampa, Fla., was named to the All-Freshman First Team. Charles also garnered CollegeFootballNews.com Freshman All-America First Team accolades on Tuesday.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

All SEC Team Announced

FOOTBALL

SEC Champion Alabama and SEC Eastern Champion Florida each had a league-high nine representatives on the 2009 All-Southeastern Conference Coaches’ Football Team, the league office announced today. Alabama had eight members on the first team, while Florida had seven.

Eleven of the 12 SEC schools had a member on the first-team All-SEC squad. The Dawgs had three players on the first team, with Ole Miss claiming two.

The Dawgs had seven total representatives on the annual list. The Dawgs, Tennessee and Vanderbilt had a league-high four players on the second unit followed by Arkansas, Kentucky and LSU with three each.

Every SEC squad had at least two players represented on the first and second teams.

There were only three unanimous selections to this year’s All-SEC squad - Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Alabama running back Mark Ingram and Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own players, thus a unanimous selection earns 11 of 12 first-team votes.

The All-SEC squad had 15 first-team seniors, eight juniors and four sophomores. There were no freshmen on the first team. Return specialist Warren Norman of Vanderbilt was recognized on the second team and was the only freshmen listed. Alabama senior Javier Arenas made the first team twice - once as a return specialist and once as a defensive back.

The SEC individual award winners will be released on Wednesday and the SEC All-Freshman Team will be announced on Thursday.

All SEC Dawgs:

First Team - Offense

A.J. Green, So., Wide Receiver

First Team - Defense

Rennie Curran, Jr., Linebacker

Second Team - Offense

Ben Jones - So., Center

Second Team - Defense

Geno Atkins, Sr., Defensive Tackle

Justin Houston, So., Defensive End

First Team - Special Teams

Drew Butler, So., Punter

Second Team - Special Teams

Blair Walsh, So., Kicker

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dawgs Accept Bowl Bid

FOOTBALL

The Dawgs (7-5) were extended, and accepted, an AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl invitation today to face Texas A&M from the Big Twelve in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 28, 2009.

Kickoff is set for 5:00 p.m. ET and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

The Dawgs have made one previous trip to the Shreveport bowl in 1991. Led by quarterback Eric Zeier, Ray Goff’s Dawgs defeated Arkansas, 24-15, in the Razorbacks’ final game as a member of the Southwest Conference. Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference in 1992.

This will also mark the fifth meeting between Georgia and Texas A&M, the last coming in the Dawg's undefeated 1980 season. The Dawgs defeated the Aggies, 42-0, in Athens behind freshman sensation Herschel Walker. The 1980 game was Georgia’s only victory over A&M. The Aggies won all three previous meetings: 6-0 in 1954 in Athens; 14-12 in 1953 in Dallas; and 40-20 in the 1950 Presidential Cup bowl game in College Park, Md.

“We are delighted with the selection of our team to represent the Southeastern Conference in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl,” said Director of Athletics Damon Evans who played wide receiver in the Dawgs only other trip to Shreveport. “It’s an opportunity to return to Shreveport after 18 years and play a team with great football history and tradition in Texas A&M. We are greatly appreciative of the Independence Bowl for the invitation and look forward to bringing our team and fans to Shreveport over the holidays.”

“I'm really happy for our team and especially our seniors to have this opportunity to not only play another game but also visit a destination that will be new to most of our people,” said head coach Mark Richt. “I know our team and coaches will prepare well to represent the Southeastern Conference against Texas A&M, a team with great football tradition who I’m sure will be at its best.”

This will be the Dawg's 45rd bowl game―sixth most of any team in the country. The Dawg's bowl record is 25-16-3.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Butler Named All American By AFCA

FOOTBALL

Punter Drew Butler has been named to the 2009 American Football Coaches’ All-America Team.

Butler, a 6-2, 203-pound sophomore native of Duluth, Ga., is leading the nation in punting with a 48.8 average on 50 punts. He is one of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, which is presented annually to college football’s top punter. Butler and the Dawgs also lead the NCAA in Net Punting at 42.8.

Butler is on pace to become only the third Dawg in school history to lead the NCAA in punting (Zeke Bratkowski, 42.6 in 1953; Bobby Walden, 45.3 in 1958). He is also on target to break the school’s single season punting average record. The current mark is 45.4 by Chip Andrews in 1984 while the SEC mark is within reach at 48.2 (Ricky Anderson, Vanderbilt in 1984). This season, Butler has boomed 24 punts of 50+ yards and placed 17 inside the 20-yard line.

Butler is the first Dawg punter to be named an All-American in the modern era. The Dawgs have had a handful of players who earned All-America recognition at their primary position and were skillful punters too. These Dawg All-Americans include end Chick Shiver (1927) offensive backs Bill Hartman (1937), Frank Sinkwich (1941-42), Charley Trippi (1946) and quarterback Zeke Bratkowski (1952). Butler’s father, Kevin, was an All-American place-kicker in 1983 and 1984 for the Dawgs and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.

The 2009 AFCA Coaches’ All-America Team is made up of 14 seniors, eight juniors and three sophomores. The AFCA has selected an All-America team since 1945. For more information on the AFCA including the 2009 All-America team, log on to the AFCA’s website at www.afca.com.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Defensive Staff Changes

FOOTBALL

Contracts of three Georgia assistant football coaches will not be renewed following the 2009 season according to an announcement Wednesday by UGA head football coach Mark Richt.

Defensive coordinator and secondary coach Willie Martinez, defensive co-coordinator and linebacker coach John Jancek, and defensive ends coach Jon Fabris will not return in 2010 according to Richt; however, he indicated that all three have been asked to coach through the bowl game.

“I cannot express enough my thanks to all three for their contributions to our program,” said Richt. “However, in the final analysis I’m charged with providing the leadership and direction for the Georgia program and sometimes that means making difficult decisions. This was one of them.”

Martinez and Fabris are members of Richt’s original staff that came in 2001. Jancek joined the Georgia staff in 2005.