The Dawg Post Mailbag

ATHENS - Another edition of Fletcher Page's news, notes and somewhat relavant rambling.

It's not always easy coming up an intro for each Mailbag. I want this space to be informative and entertaining while still relevant to a current conversation.

I might get a hit. Sometimes I get out. Sometimes I don't even walk to the plate for an at-bat.

Inevitably I wind up thinking. Which for me, is a term that really means procrastinating. Lately I've been spending most the time usually designated for production on watching the Sopranos. If you're busy or not, I recommend it.

So late Thursday night/early Friday morning, I start digging into Season Four, having just read Dean's latest article on fan support and the sometimes-audible noise level in Sanford Stadium. The takeaway from the piece: Georgia fans are reactive and require something to cheer about before really getting into games.

This theory could be true. It's hard to prove. But a scene in the episode I just happened to be watching made me think about fans of Georgia and sports in general. Tony Soprano, boss of the New Jersey family, is sitting on a couch with a one-legged Russian blonde woman named Svetlana who is looking after his uncle.

"I was just thinking about the way you are," he says. "You always have a smile, like you've got your own private joke. …I wish I knew your secret."

"That's the trouble with you Americans," she replies calmly. "You expect nothing bad to happen when the rest of the world expects only bad to happen. And they're not disappointed."

"That's a (word I can't type) grim outlook," Tony says.

And then Svetlana describes Americans from her perspective. "You have everything and still you complain. You blame cultures. (Whine) to your psychiatrists. You've got too much time to think about yourselves."

Which side of this does the Georgia fan base fall on? Both. Neither. The two sides don't necessarily have to be juxtaposed. One can be both or a little bit of neither. But I'm willing to bet a good many of you reading this think the Bulldog Nation as a whole is comprised of both. Many fan bases are. Not all, but many.

Too many people can be like the rest of the world in terms of Svetlana's view. They can't enjoy much of anything because they're waiting on something to go wrong. And they're not disappointed. Let's face it – your team is going to fall short of the ultimate goal way more often then it's going to achieve it. The older I get, the better I understand a piece of advice my Dad gave me as a kid while taking the outcome of one sporting event particularly hard. It's easier to pull against three teams then it is to pull for just one. Easier said than done.

Others take Svetlana's American approach. They may have a good or bad outlook. But either way, there's way too much time to think about it one way or the other, too many fingers to point, too many scapegoats to disparage, too many reasons why the ball bounces this way instead of that way. It's an understandable sense of entitlement that is just waiting to be taken down a notch and discussed ad nauseum when the gun sounds on the first loss of the season.

The reasons for the inconsistent noise level in Sanford have been listed too many times before… the open end zone, the layout of the lower level, early start times, squeezing every ounce of the last lime at the tailgate, poor play as of late…

Not all fans fit in either of Svetlana's categories. Some fit in more than one, depending on what mood they're in or how the team is doing. You know this. Some are happy to be there. Some are opinionated one way or the other, but choose not to be outspoken. Some stay till the end and sing the fight songs and alma maters win, lose or draw. They always have a smile.

I wish I knew their secret.

A lot of fans expect only bad to happen. And another percentage could have a lot to be happy for and still complain. That's just the way it is.

I'm not saying it's wrong to complain or discuss. That's part of what being a fan is about. It's just that at times, like Tony says… "It's a (word I can't type) grim outlook."

With all that said… Ladies and gentlemen, you already know what it is… Let's get it poppin'.

BigBandMan says: Fletch --- Giving you credit on Rambo at this point --- He has performed well against 3 teams who have struggled this year --- Hope to give you even more credit in the future if/when he does the same against stronger performing teams like Miss State, Tenn., Fla., Aub., and Tech --- I do wish I could have seen him against Boise --- But, so far Rambo is beginning to erase the memories I have of last season --- Sooooooo ; Congratz to Rambo for stepping up his game thus far ; and to you for seeing something more than I did last year ---

Thanks. I'm thinking a trip to Vegas is in order. I'm feeling lucky… Or maybe I'll dump all my money into an account with Fidelity. Dabble in some speculative markets… Then again, I did pick Georgia to beat Boise State. I shouldn't press my luck.

Now for a Miss. State prediction --- We win by 3 points and it will be the lowest scoring game of our season (point total of 2 teams combined ) --- Thanks for the Mail Sack.

I hope you're right. I didn't pick Georgia to cover the spread (-7) in the hypothetical betting league my friends and I pretend to play in.

TNLogDog asks: It sure seems like we miss coach Belin a lot on SP teams, your thoughts.

Missing Belin isn't the problem. He coached kickoff last season and did a fine job getting that unit back where it needed to be. Without Belin, Georgia is still fourth in the SEC. That'll do pig… That'll do.

While we're on the subject… I still don't understand why Georgia ever attempted the "Try to kick the ball high and to the 1-yard line between the hash and the sideline so we can tackle the returner between the 10 and 15" style of kicking off. Clearly Blair Walsh has – and has had – the leg to kick it through the end zone (he has 10 touchbacks already this year).

It's like sitting at a blackjack table and hitting on 18. Your odds were drastically in your favor to begin with. The chances of bettering your position (drawing a 2 or 3) compared to what there is to lose (a touchdown or return past the 20) isn't worth messing around with. Risk-reward here, people.

That kicking concept is fundamentally stupid. You're trying to gain five or 10 yards at the most while leaving the door open for something bad to happen. I'll sit on 18 – give the other team the ball at the 20.

Anyway, the kickoff coverage is fine. Punt return and punt coverage are the two areas that have been exposed thus far. I believe Lilly and Olivadotti oversee those units.

IMO, Rambo is a different player this year and is playing lights out. I'm very impressed with the entire def!

(nodding furiously). We're 2 for 2 on Rambo references this week. Keep them coming.

gunter2011 asks: It's obvious Malcolm Mitchell is a stud...Where do you see him skill wise within the next two years?

Skill-wise, Mitchell is already on an All-SEC level. What he needs is more strength, more size and better blocking. Those things should (and will) come with more time.

His speed, quickness and combination of vertical splendidness and underneath intrepidness already have him in a good place.

Thoughts on Miss State OT win for LaTech, does it help us going into the game?

Meh – I don't put too much stock into it. It was a bad showing for State, no doubt. But once the ball is kicked on Saturday, nothing else matters.

All James and Lars aside, State has not looked very good thus far. But last season the Maroon Dogs had two losses at this point, too.

Why is our special teams giving up huge momentum shifting plays every game?

Well… Let's think of this whole thing as a Special Teams apple pie. There are five ingredients to the pie – sure, they are kind of connected and represent one entity in the end. But they're totally different. Flour, milk, sugar, apples and cinnamon. I think Brandon Boykin is the apple slices. Yeah, that's it.

Anyway, for the most part the special teams are fine. But a few of the ingredients are lagging behind. While that ruins the opinion of the pie, it doesn't mean the apples are bad. Just that you need to fix your prep for the next Saturday.

Thanks! Keep it up!

You're craving apple pie now aren't you? (Quick fact about me: I don't like apple pie… Except for the apple pies at McDonald's. Another quick fact: If you say ‘Make it bacon' after ordering an apple pie at McDonald's, they will put bacon in the box (at participating restaurants). OK, let's keep it moving).

UGAGirl98 asks: Is there something going on between Ben Jones and Aaron Murray? They exchanged some heated words on the fumbled snap during the Ole Miss game, and on another play it appeared as though Ben let Murray get sacked. Any insight?

I see no issue here. These things happen in sports, especially after bad plays (like fumbles). I can assure you that Ben didn't let Murray get sacked, even if Murray stole Ben's Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck 1989 rookie card (estimated worth between $15 and $300 depending on condition).

LakeOconeeDawg asks: Why was IC in the game at the end taking shots as we run out the clock? Couldn't we let someone else do that?

Yeah, I nominate Ken Malcome. No wait, I changed my mind…

bpadgett09 asks: 1. What are the chances we go into Jax 5-2? And if so, what will the outcome be, assuming Florida will probably be 5-2 also with losses to LSU and Alabama?

Exactly… I think Florida will be 5-2 at that point. Georgia probably will be, too. As for the outcome… C'mon now, let's not walk down that path, navigating around 18 missing bricks out of the last 20-something. Not this early.

2. Do you see South Carolina losing two conference games this year?

It's possible… Look at this four game stretch (with a bye after the first week): @Miss State, @Tennessee, @Arkansas, Florida. Ouch. Yikes! Holy crap! The Gamecocks lucked out by missing Alabama and LSU this year, that's for sure.

Still, that stretch will be where South Carolina wins or loses the East.

lumpkin28 asks: This may be a question for Chad, but here goes:?Given the possible disciplinary sanctions being levied against teams like USCe and Miami, what kind of implications does this have on our recruiting class? I know we have recently had some verbal commits from UM on visits, but is there a realistic shot at turning any of these kids?

Two things in play here… One, the kid has to cut ties with Miami or South Carolina. That's the easy part. Two, the kid has to pick Georgia. That's the not-so-easy part.

At this time, the only kid I could see as legitimate grab in all this is Raphael Kirby. I used the phrase, ‘At this time,' though because everything in recruiting can change… And change quickly. Kirby is an instate kid. Miami seems to be headed for the most trouble. Georgia has continued to recruit him. So, the variables for a switch are there. Like getting overzealous with the Christmas list – We'll see what happens.

UGAMAIN53 asks: Let me say I am impressed with our defense. With having Robinson and Tree out, how big of a drop off is that? How much better will we be when we get them back?

I think Gilliard, Herrera and Williams have done well enough at the position in the absence of Ogletree and Robinson. But it did come against Coastal Carolina and Ole Miss for the most part.

Ogletree is a game changer – an NFL-type of player. Robinson is the most knowledgeable defensive player. That's a pretty lethal combo. While it's not an insurmountable loss when those two aren't out there, there has to be some drop-off.

Amarlo Herrera Looks freaking huge. Any idea what his height and weight is?

It just so happens I asked Amarlo this on Wednesday. He came to Georgia early in the summer at 225—

Well, it's Amarlo Herrera joining us in the Mailbag. How goes it, young man? What's your weight up to now?

"Almost 240"

Wow… How did you gain that weight?

"I don't even know."

We'll just call it the freshman 15 – a different, more healthy, more useful extra 15 than most freshmen put on. You've got two starts under yoru belt. What's the next step for you?

"I've got to make (the coaches) more comfortable with me through how I practice. That's all. It's all how I practice. If I know what to do, know where to be, they'll feel more comfortable."

Well, there you have it folks. Keep on keeping Amarlo. And don't be a stranger.

Who gets more push Kwame or Jenkins?

As of right now, I'd say Kwame is more consistent. But John has shown improvement in each game.

By the way, I'd as soon push as pull. Ya dig?

Looking down the road a little here but what is the best way for UGA to slow down Demps and Rainey?

A few fundamental things… Penetration by the defensive linemen is always a good start. Staying disciplined (D-ends and OLBs) is usually a must. Also, running more zone coverage could help limit big runs because the corners and safeties will be looking toward the line of scrimmage more often instead of running with a man.

UGA4President asks: What exactly is our strategy on punt returns right now? I don't really see any rush, we've shown we can't cover the fake, and it seems there are always 3 jerseys standing in front of our returner waiting on him to catch it.

That pretty much covers it… Not a lot of things going right out there at the moment. Usually you sacrifice one thing for the other. So far, there hasn't been a reward.

scottugafan asks: Did you think it ever crossed Dean's mind to let you go and try to get Dijana on his full time staff, before she found her way to UNC?

I'd say letting me go crosses Dean's mind more times than I'd like to think about. I know for sure it does at least once each week (when the Mailbag bumps one of his "I'm poking sticks at the fans about how they cheer or don't like the uniforms" articles).

As for Dijana – I'm glad and a little jealous she got the gig. Chapel Hill is a wonderful place. Vayo con confianza.

For the record, I'm glad you haven't gone anywhere else.

I bet you are…

cdawgie asks: TE is one position we are really loaded at right now but we dont seem to use them to our advantage. Do you think we will use them to our advantage for the upcoming games or we just going to sit on the side just in case OC gets injured?

Some games the tight ends are going to shine… Some games they're not. This offense is balanced, if nothing else. At this point, I'm going to hand the mic to Richt.

"Like I've said over and over again, there are very few passing plays that we have that will be directed to any one guy. If you throw a screen it's going to that guy, quick screens and things of that nature. There are some plays where the tight end is the primary receiver but the coverage a lot of times will dictate who is going to get the ball. Sometimes an accurate pass or an inaccurate pass makes the difference. Sometimes the protection might break down when you have a tight end wide open on that particular play and that might be the reason why the tight ends don't get it. We have a system that our tight ends play a lot and our tight ends catch a lot of balls. I think Orson (Charles) is either second or third in the nation of all tight ends in the country as far as the amount of catches and yards. We are using our tight ends pretty well compared to everybody else in the country. They are a big part of what we do. I don't know if we've ever had a set this year where we didn't have at least one tight end in the game. A lot of people go three receivers and two backs and not even have a tight end in the game. We hardly ever snap the ball without a tight end or two in the game."

There you have it… Next up, Todd Grantham will explain how he teaches his defense through concepts! Remember, if you wish to ask Mike Bobo about injuries on the offensive side of the ball, you'll have to ask Ron.

38243824 asks: saw the post game video with you and dean and enjoyed it very much. good to be timely. now... your hands were less agitated but almost hit me once or twice... in 2d! my big question is, why was dean raising and lowering his laptop during the entire video? is this some kind of tic? does he do it in staff meetings, well...meeting with you?

You're picking up on something I've known for quite some time – Dean's a weird cat.

He's comfortable during Legge's Thoughts because he's all by himself. See, when Dean was a young child, he preferred to play in the sandbox by himself. If you're the only one building sand castles, they're guaranteed to be the most elaborate. You throw a new kid into the mix and stuff starts fluctuating.

Again, the Eagles have already outlined all this…"They will never forget you ‘till somebody new comes along."

sandersvilledawg: Is it really fair that we get to have 11 players on the field when we are on defense if Rambo is playing?

I know, right? John Rambo killed 79 people in the 2008 film Rambo. Aptly titled, for sure. 79 PEOPLE. Count ‘em.

What happened to Dijana? I thought I saw all 3 of you together at the Coastal Carolina game a week and a half ago.

You did see the three of us at that game. It was our last ride at the county fair, so to speak. She cashed in her tickets and moved to Chapel Hill.

trooperdawg980 asks: Heard on CMR's radio show that the defense was ranked #13 in the nation. I for one think the best is yet to come on D. The one benefit that is lost in Robinson and Ogletree's injuries is the playing time our back-ups have gotten and the fact they have proved themselves more than capable. Gilliard and Herrara have both proved themselves in battle. When the studs come back our overall L/B corps is going to be as good as any. I would of course prefer a little longer depth, but plenty of teams would be envious of the depth we do have.


Do you think Carlton Thomas has finally won the confidence of the staff? Is it just me or would it not seem he would be extremely dangerous catching the screen or quick slant. Samuel is doing some damage out of the backfield and Thomas's shiftiness and speed would seem to make him even more of a threat catching the ball out of the backfield.

To be frank (wren), I'd rather see that play used on Crowell, Boykin or Mitchell. Thomas is OK for a couple of plays a game… But he's decent at best.

What do you think about Ben Jones calling on the fans and saying they are having something coming special Saturday? I'll tell you who is special and that is Jones. I would take five of him, two tackles, two guards, and of course a center. Guy is going to play a long time in the League.

Yeah, I'm not sure what Ben was talking about. That was a curious moment for sure. And you're right in saying that Ben is special. Four-year starter, knowledgeable, eater of Dodd grass, outgoing, dependable, etc. Good player.

How many snaps will Robinson see Saturday?

He said earlier this week that 15 to 20 plays might be his max. No need to rush this thing, although if the game is close in the fourth quarter I could see the pitch count getting tossed out the window.

Patches33 asks: What is our situation at O Line I know we are beat up but will we get anyone back from injury?

As of right now, it looks like Chris Burnette is doubtful. If he is available, I don't see him being full throttle. That means David Andrews becomes the sixth man, with Jones sliding over to a guard or tackle spot if the need arises.

How do you see our O Line matching up with Miss St. D Line? I haven't seen them play much so I'm wondering how good they are?

This will be a good measuring stick. Hey, last season State exposed Georgia's lack of strength at the line of scrimmage. That was the game where people – everybody – realized there was, in fact, a problem. Defensive linemen Sean Ferguson, Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd have combined for 57 career starts. That's quality and quantity.

I don't know how it will play out. But if Georgia wins that battle, I'll say the line is headed in the right direction.

Speaking of O Line is there any updates recruiting wise there? Has UGA turned up the heat on anyone beside Young?

Not that I know of. I think Young and Brandon Hill are the legitimate targets at tackle. Pyke and Theus are an awesome start there. One more would be icing. Things aren't as clear-cut at guard. Maybe Pyke is a guard at the next level. But I'm not sure which players Georgia is going after in the South. There are a couple prospects out West, Jordan Simmons being one. But other than that, I'm not sure.

Who do you see UGA signing as the second back in this class?

I thought Gurley was going to be a good bet to come in with Marshall. I've been told or read how that's not likely to happen.

I don't think Georgia necessarily has to stretch for a second back here. All five backs currently on roster will be back next season (with the exception of possibly Malcome). Marshall likely will come to Georgia if Richt is still the coach.

Maybe a guy like Faton Bauta comes in and becomes a back. Rushel Shell is a northern option (don't like those odds).

Getting a quality second back would be nice, but taking only Marshall wouldn't be a bad deal.

Thank you.

Any time. Thanks for playing along.

gadawgs98021 asks: Sorry Fletch was running late on my question. Could I still possibly get in in the mail bag. Here it is. Thanks for all you do.

If you can't get here on time, get here when you can. That's always the philosophy here in the Sack!

Watched the dolphins game the other night and it got me to thinking. On every kick they had two returners, if the ball didn't come to one the other blocked even on punts. Now with all this rugby punting because, I believe we have the best in the county and everyone knows it. Do you think it would be a better idea for us to put both in on punts for the first to get the initial block and maybe we can get something going here.

Funny you mention this… Georgia has done this a couple times this season. Boykin and Smith were both on the field for a punt or two against either Ole Miss or Coastal. I can't remember which game. I'd have to go back and look at the film, but it has happened.

Speaking of Boykin – That dude is like Race Bannon on Jonny Quest. What can't he do? As far as this analogy goes, Christian Robinson is Dr. Quest. Amarlo Herrera is Johnny. And Derek Owens is Bandit.

Thanks for all you do and rambo is playing lights out. I think personally with the mentality of our new defense he knew he better start playing football instead of tag or he would be out. That or either that hit he took he finally got over. Anyway, glad to have him back. Now GATA. GO DAWGS

I think entering his second season as a starter has helped... And being a redshirt sophomore last season may have had something to do with it… But either way…

SuwaneeDawg03 asks: In your humble yet accurate opinion, what do you think the Dawgs need to do to strengthen their special teams and weakness to big plays?

On returns, I advise a heavy dose of fake left, go right. Or vice versa. Hmmm… I always get those two confused.

As far as breakdowns, playing heads up is about the only thing you can do. I'm not exactly sure what's gone wrong on the big plays given up… But awareness is critical on special teams. And crossing busy intersections.

You almost have to be like a wildebeest on special teams. You want that drink of water so bad… You're thirsty as all get out. It's hot. You've been doing other things all day, and getting this water is essential. But you better be looking both ways the whole time. You have to keep your guard up, especially in that moment when you dip your head down for a drink. Especially in that moment…

How many carries do you see IC getting this weekend? He was obviously winded late in the third and in the fourth.

As many carries as it takes. From here on out, that's the call. He'll go until the job is done, or until the positive end is no longer obtainable. And even in that case, he'll still probably be on the field.

Did Dean allow you to go to the Grove last weekend?

He did. Dean, Wes and I (the Dawg Post Wolf Pack) took a stroll through the famed Grove. It looked like a good time. Deep down I was hoping to bump into somebody that would recognize me and see my need for a nice, cold beverage. No such luck. I left that place feeling like the Braves – maybe next year.

dadawgluver asks: Rambo Rocks! National defensive player of the week. Leading the nation in intercepts per game....just playing lights out.

Yup. Yup. Yups all around.

Who else on defense is playing very well or stands out to you?

In the Captain Obvious Category, the nominees are: Rambo (take, take, take all that you have), Jarvis Jones (23 tackles), Brandon Boykin (ex-secret agent) and Sanders Commings (NFL body and using it).

In the Best Supporting Actor Category, the nominees are: Cornelius Washington (coming on strong), Kwame Geathers (others stats don't mean a thing, if you don't have this sting) and Abry Jones (games aren't played on box scores).

In Breakthrough Performance… Shawn Williams wins hands down. Sorry Mike Gilliard – you've done well, but Williams has been on point.

IC got SEC Freshman Back of the Week. Congrats to him and just how special is he? Is he the best since HW?

He's good. Great, even. He may be the most gifted since Herschel… I said MAY. Need to see a larger body of work though. I do know this: He is the first Isaiah here at Georgia. I say he leaves on a one-name basis, joining Herschel, Champ and Knowshon.

Will the special teams get fixed quickly?

Apple pie, Jonny Quest, Wildebeests… I'm all out of special teams comparisons and analogies at this point.

tdperk asks: Fletcher, I want to get into the nuts and bolts of the mail sack. Do you wear a swamie hat and open envelopes to get the answers to some of these questions like Johnny Carson or is it a crystal ball that you peer into for extended periods of time? Perhaps its a deck of cards or a lady reading tea leaves. What is your secret? I hope its something intriguing and mythical, not just a lot of hard work and digging for answers through a little black book of contacts and sources.

I can't and won't reveal the exact recipe. Let's just say it involves a dartboard, a strip club, a bottle of Johnnie Walker (blue), a hand grenade and smelling salts. And that's just for the intro.

I just renewed my subscription to the pay site and the mail sack was something I missed. I really enjoy your weekly edition of "THE MAIL SACK".

I appreciate it. I'm sure some people aren't always feeling it, but I try to provide something a little different every now and then. I'm the other side of the pillow. You don't have to flip it over.

Rambo is the man.

You're damn right.

That's a good note to leave on… I'm hitting the back door and getting out of here.

Turn out the lights boys, the party's over… We outta here baby… Thank y'all for coming.

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