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Fine, let’s discuss Georgia and the college football playoff

Welcome back to the UGA Mailbag, where each week we invite readers ask our expertise (low bar) about Georgia football, UGA athletics or whatever springs to mind. This week we discuss marijuana policies, Mark Richt’s recruiting influence on this year’s team, Mecole Hardman, and do some over-under, true-false and lightning round.

But first, yeah, let’s dig into the ol’ bag of irrational exuberance optimism chamber of hypotheticals.

Feeling confident that UGA will win out and then lose a close game to Alabama in championship game. After that though, I am not sure what happens….
Your thoughts?
– Charles

That is confident, but not an outlandish scenario the way Georgia is playing. The only game it figures to be an underdog is at Auburn, and even then the Bulldogs have had Gus Malzahn’s number, whether it be Mark Richt or Kirby Smart coaching.

Georgia Tech and Florida are also potential stumbles, especially the former with its triple-option offense, which gave Smart’s defense fits last year. That’s also not overlooking Kentucky and South Carolina, but … let’s overlook them now for the purposes of this scenario.

The answer to every question about the playoff is this sentence: Georgia will make the playoff if it 12-1 or 13-0 and wins the SEC championship, and as for every other scenario, it depends.

If Georgia’s only loss is to Alabama in the SEC championship, it depends how competitive that game is. Most of all, it depends on how the rest of the national picture shakes out. It’s much like in college basketball when people game out what Georgia has to do to make the NCAA tournament, and forget that they take 68 teams regardless, so there’s no automatic number to hit. It depends on what happens elsewhere.

So let’s say Georgia does go 12-0 and then loses to Alabama. My guess is if there are three other unbeaten power-conference teams for the playoff committee to pick, Georgia will miss out. There are still unbeaten in every conference, so that could happen. But if it becomes a question of which one-loss teams to include – and my guess is it will – then Georgia fans should root hard for Notre Dame. That win keeps looking better and better.

We’re still a long way from all this becoming reality. Still, it’s nice that it’s an issue: Georgia’s 2002, 2007 and perhaps even 2012 teams could have benefitted from a four-team playoff, when who knows what would happened.

Hey Seth. After hearing about the news about Natrez Patrick it made me wonder what the drug policies were in states where marijuana is legalized? What is Colorado and Colorado State’s drug policy in their athletic programs? I understand that you have to follow the rules in front of you but I am wondering if the rules are different where pot is legal? Could it affect recruiting? Thanks.
– Scott Harris

It’s still against the rules at Colorado, Colorado State and as far as I can tell at any college football program, even in states that have legalized it. For one thing, it remains an NCAA rule subject to testing. For another thing, every school and athletic department discourages it. Colorado State, for example, suspends a football player two games for his second positive marijuana test, and dismisses them for their third. (The first one leads to required counseling.)

Here’s an interesting story from The Coloradan about a former CSU player who said he quit football because of fears his marijuana use would lead to his being dismissed.

One point people forget about all this: It’s not always necessarily about whether something is legal or not. You’re dealing with athletes, and you want them healthy, so athletic departments don’t want them smoking marijuana, tobacco, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, etc. It’s just that with marijuana technically illegal you can test for it.

And yes, many people feel that pot aids football players in recovery from strenuous practices and games, which is why many partake. That’s what makes this a complicated issue. One which perhaps there should be a deeper conversation about by the powers-that-be.

Hello Seth. Last year, many UGA fans blamed Mark Richt for the 2013 recruits as the reason for the mediocre season. I guess they ought to praise Richt this year for the 2014 recruits that are providing leadership thus far this season.
– Dan

Well, yeah. Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter, Isaiah Wynn, Lamont Gaillard, Kendall Baker, Dominick Sanders, Jeb Blazevich, and the departed Isaiah McKenzie. That’s pretty good for a 2014 class that was jeopardized by the late departure of Todd Grantham. You’ll notice that few of those names were on the defensive side – Jeremy Pruitt came in and grabbed Sanders, and then the 2015 class was also pretty strong. (Trent Thompson, Roquan Smith, Terry Godwin, Jonathan Ledbetter, Natrez Patrick, and so on …)

This was why it was silly last year for people to blame things on a lack of talent. The talent was there, I always said, it was just inexperienced, because the 2013 class was such a bust. This year’s team is using most of the same players, but is having a lot more success. The majority of the starting lineup is juniors and seniors, and that’s huge.

Liked your Mecole Hardman article. Wouldn’t it be a consideration to let him go back to DB and develop J.J. Holloman or Trey Blout of Jayson Stanley?
– Rosenberg

There were several questions about this, and Hardman’s drop issues make that understandable. I wouldn’t rule out it happening if Hardman keeps having trouble catching the ball, but my sense is he’ll stay at receiver.

For one thing, they tried to develop him at cornerback last year and ended up moving him to offense. For another Kirby Smart pointed out again this week that Hardman didn’t play offense in high school and is still adjusting to the position.

Do you think Jacob Eason’s body language at the end of the Vanderbilt game — the whole leaving with helmet on thing — is any reason for concern? In a way I hate it for the kid, losing the starting gig and all, and I don’t want to see him fall into any sort of downward spiral. Do you think there is any danger of this happening?
– BC

This has to be a rough time for Eason. By all accounts he was excited about this season and had made a lot of offseason improvements. Then he gets hurt in the first quarter, and now it appears he’s lost his job, through really no fault of his own. This isn’t at all what he expected, and it’s new territory for him.

Julian Rochester, who came to UGA at the same time as Eason last year, said this week that Eason is still smiling. Smart said Eason is still competing and doing well. We can only take them at their word. Maybe Jake Fromm is Tom Brady, running with a job after an injury. But Brady did get hurt that first Super Bowl run, and Drew Bledsoe came in for that AFC championship game.

I wouldn’t write off Eason just yet. They’re going to keep him involved, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t keep getting at least a series or two, even more.

I know we’ve not thrown to the tight ends much this season, but it seems to me that when we do it’s to Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner. I remember when Jeb Blazevich was a pretty important target. What changed?
– Mike Ruffin, Yatesville, Ga.

There were also several questions along these lines this week. For my answer I’ll point to Isaac Nauta’s comments in my story Wednesday night.

That said, I’ll add that I do think if this team has any hopes of a run at an SEC tite and the playoff that they need to have a bigger passing game. They will face better defensive fronts who won’t easily give up runs, and thus force Georgia to air it out. When that happens, Terry Godwin and Javon Wims can’t catch every ball, so some well-timed passes to Nauta, Woerner and Blazevich – but especially Nauta – will go a long way.


Courtesy of Forestry Dawg, my faithful over-under provider:

  1. Drew Lock Completion Percentage, 52.5% … Over. Lots of high-percentage passes coming in the second half, I bet.
  2. Drew Lock Interceptions, 0.5 … Over. He has three picks in three SEC games so far, and while I believe Lock will rack up some yards, Georgia’s secondary will be watching for the pass and ready to pounce. Dom Sanders is due.
  3. Fromm Pass Attempts, 13.5 …. Over. Maybe as many as 20!
  4. Damarea Crockett rushing yards, 60 Yards …. Under. Yeah he’s averaging 76 per game, and Georgia will be without Trenton Thompson and Natrez Patrick, but I’ll bank on Georgia’s run defense this game. And Missouri not running it that much.
  5. Fumbles caused by clubs, 0.5 …. Under. Although I could see myself fumbling a club sandwich onto Chip’s laptop.
  6. UGA Time of Possession, 38:30 … Under. And wow you’re getting in the weeds here.
  7. Mentions during the broadcast of former Missouri Defensive Coordinator, DeMontie Cross, 1.5 … Over. And also at least one video clip of Fromm playing in the 2011 LLWS.


Once again, thanks to Forestry Dawg:

  1. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will both rush for 100+ yards. …. True, with the only way it doesn’t happen being if they’re pulled early.
  2. Jacob Eason will come in before the half. …. False.
  3. Prather Hudson will be one of Georgia’s Special Teams Players of the Week for the third week running. …. Eh.  


Yes, how in the hell can we take college football awards seriously when Roquan Smith isn’t even on the Butkus watchlist?!
– Geoff S.

There’s a reason I ridicule the watch lists when they come out over the summer: They’re done just for publicity and have no real value other than that. Yeah, Roquan Smith wasn’t on the preseason watch list. That doesn’t mean he can’t still win the award. He’ll surely be on the first “semifinalist” list that is released soon.

Do you foresee Eason transferring at end of season? If not, how do they spread the reps over the next few seasons?
– Richard Wingate

Let’s just say there’s a long way to go between now and the end of the season. For all we know, everything could change as soon as Saturday. The only thing I’m sure of is Kirby Smart will do his best to keep Eason around, and the last year has shown the skill of his persuasive powers (Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, etc. and to a lesser extent Brice Ramsey).

Does Coach Smart substitute more than Coach Richt did? Or is it that Coach Smart has had more out-of-reach games as of late?
– Bruce in PA

It’s more the latter. Smart has been able to substitute more this year than he did last year, simply because five games have been blowouts. Only one was last year. But in the first three quarters the substitute philosophy hasn’t changed very much from Richt to Smart. It just depends on the depth at each position and the ability to do so.

Any update on Netori Johnson’s health? Who is still eligible for a redshirt?
– Oldon 42

Johnson has returned to practice, but appears headed for a redshirt, as does OT Isaiah Wilson and OT D’Marcus Hayes (a JUCO transfer), OLB Robert Beal, DB Latavious Brini, DB Eric Stokes and DB Tray Bishop. Two other freshman, receiver Matt Landers and linebacker Jaden Hunter, only played in the opener and haven’t since then, but there’s been no word on injuries for them, so with their redshirts presumably burned they may still see action.

Over/Under 4 – # of SEC players that take a knee during the anthem this week.
– Patrick Yaggy

Zero, because teams aren’t on the field for the national anthem. And I’m sure the SEC and college football in general is very happy about that right now. But it’s also praying this blows over soon so it doesn’t become a controversy in college basketball, where the players are out there.

Can you confirm or deny rumors that Nick Saban is on a plane to @ussoccer headquarters at this very moment?
– Vineyard Dawg

This is the best idea I’ve heard in the history of good ideas. It allows me to go on a mini-tirade: For all the people who love to bash soccer and brag about how little they pay attention to soccer: Please. And I say this as someone who’s not a big soccer fan and can’t name more than one MLS player. Or one MLS team. But the national soccer team and the World Cup is like the Olympics: Not many people pay attention to swimming all the time but every four years it’s pretty important. And so fulfills my soapbox quota for the week.



The post Fine, let’s discuss Georgia and the college football playoff appeared first on DawgNation.

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