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This is considerably more love than the Bulldogs earned in either of the mainstream polls, or in...

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This is considerably more love than the Bulldogs earned in either of the mainstream polls, or in the preseason magazines, which have tended to account for a pair of red-siren "X-factors" – a redshirt freshman quarterback and a totally revamped defensive scheme under a new coordinator – by dropping the 'Dogs into the 20-25 range, or omitting them altogether. This is a rational response. I find it hard to believe, though, that either fledgling QB Aaron Murray or Todd Grantham's trendy 3-4 scheme on defense will turn out to be a significant downgrade from departed QB Joe Cox and whatever it was former defensive coordinator Willie Martinez was doing to lead the D on a steady decline over the course of his five-year tenure. This is still one of the most talented lineups in the SEC on both sides of the ball, and Murray will be surrounded by nearly the entire 2009 offense, including first-rate target A.J. Green and all five starters on the offensive line (who, along with oft-injured Trindon Sturdivant, have combined for more career starts coming into the season, 155, than any other offensive line in the country). If any team is going to bust up the Gator-Tide duopoly at the top of the SEC, Georgia is the bet.

Dr. Saturday explains why he ranked Georgia No. 13. Go 'Dawgs!

Kind of a buzzkill -- but maybe when they finally do make the switch, they'll keep secondary coach...

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Kind of a buzzkill -- but maybe when they finally do make the switch, they'll keep secondary coach Scott Lakatos's innovative new "stay within five yards of your guy and actually know where the ball is whilst doing so" coverage scheme, which, after five years of Willie Martinez "Widespread Panic Dancer" defenses in Athens probably looked like the black monolith at the beginning of "2001" to Georgia's beleaguered fan base. Also, the "black" team wore white jerseys, which is sad and adorable at the same time, because when is Georgia ever, ever going to break out those black jerseys again?

Holly Anderson on G-Day. For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure the Black team wears white jerseys on G-Day because (a) they're nominally the "visiting" team, and (b) wearing black jerseys for a 2:00 kickoff in Georgia in April is an invitation to heat stroke. (By the way, I'm pretty sure that, by failing to reply in a timely manner to Doug Gillett's text message on Saturday, I missed the chance to meet up with Holly, as well, which was too bad. Tailgating with Holly is every bit as much of a hoot as you think it is.) Go 'Dawgs!

Georgia opens spring practice today, and all signs are the Bulldogs will be the next defense to...

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Georgia opens spring practice today, and all signs are the Bulldogs will be the next defense to jump on the 3-4 bandwagon, scrapping the standard 4-3 set for the leaner look preferred by new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. That shift means a slew of position changes -- tackles moving outside to end, ends moving to outside linebacker, etc. -- but the biggest change for UGA fans is still the absence of former coordinator Willie Martinez, whose unit declined statistically from the previous season in each of his five seasons.

Dr. Saturday looks at the Bulldogs' spring practice.

Richt said he has done his best to soak in some new ideas that Grantham and fellow first-year...

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Richt said he has done his best to soak in some new ideas that Grantham and fellow first-year assistants Scott Lakatos and Warren Belin have brought to the table, too. "It’s a healthy exchange of ideas," Richt said. "A lot of times you spend a lot of money to fly around to different schools to get details of what’s going on, but how much can you get in a one- or two-day period compared to a guy just being there, living there." Richt has already decided to implement two suggestions of his new staff. First, he’ll be going back to a Monday through Thursday practice schedule, with walk-throughs on Fridays. Last season he had the team practice on Sunday and gave the players Monday off, but he’s since reconsidered the plan in light of some input from his new assistants. Grantham also suggested revamping the daily meeting schedules, so rather than open with special teams work, Richt will address the entire team first, then break off into special teams and segment meetings. Richt said it’s a schedule used in the NFL and makes organizing meetings much simpler.

David Hale on the changes in the Georgia football program. One of the most frustrating aspects of practicing law for most attorneys is the frequency with which clients choose not to heed the good advice given them by their lawyers. Not only do such situations often end badly, they leave attorneys wondering why their clients bothered to hire them if the clients weren't going to listen to them. Well, Mark Richt hired new assistant coaches because changes were needed . . . and he is listening to his new assistant coaches. It's one thing for, say, Tommy Tuberville to hire a spread guru as his offensive coordinator yet saddle him with existing assistants and refuse to allow him to implement his system; it's quite another for Mark Richt to put his pride aside and say, "Todd, I'm hiring you because you know what you're doing. Now tell me who you want me to hire to help you, and I'll hire them, too. Then the three of you can put your heads together, study some film, and tell me what we need to do to improve, and that's what we'll do." I don't know that it was hubris that caused Coach Richt to retain Willie Martinez at least one season (and arguably more) too long, but it was humility that caused him to hire Coach Grantham and let the Bulldogs' new defensive coordinator do his job. Leadership involves accepting the responsibility for decisionmaking that necessarily accompanies having the power to decide, but leadership also involves identifying and hiring competent subordinates, delegating to them, letting them do their jobs, and heeding the input they were hired to provide. All the usual crap about how the team is working harder than ever and is more unified than before and is hungrier than it was a year ago is just so much meaningless noise; every player on every team says that every spring. The immediate impact of the new defensive coaching staff, though, is a big deal and it says a lot about the capability of the man leading the Georgia football program. Go 'Dawgs!

Here's something you'll no doubt hear at some point from someone: Two of Cox's interceptions and...

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Here's something you'll no doubt hear at some point from someone: Two of Cox's interceptions and Gray's pick led to Florida points -- 17 of them in fact. So maybe Willie Martinez can't be blamed as much, given that the D only "really" allowed 24 points. But you know what? I can't believe Cox throws that second pick if Georgia isn't so far behind. It was third down. It was midfield. They were trailing by 14. Cox had to make a play. A punt would have effectively signaled the end of a comeback, too. And his third INT? It was a bad throw, but it was made amid a furious and utterly fruitless attempt to keep the Dawgs in the game. And Gray's pick? Well, if the D had played better, maybe Gray isn't even in the game. So this week, the defense gets cut no slack. I'm going to say the D was responsible for the offense turning the ball over so much. If the D had done its job in the first half, the situation in the second half is completely different. No excuses for Willie this week.

Preach it, David!
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