Rumors swirl about Crowell

If you can tear yourself away from all the Internet rumors popping up, you ought to check out a video compilation that Georgiadogs.com has put up of all 33 of Aaron Murray's touchdown throws from the past season. It's tough to pick a favorite, but I think I'd have to go with that Michael Bennett catch in the Florida game.

I’ll be on vacation the next week, but before I head out let’s get to some Junkyard Mail. …

Steve Williams writes: Bill, I’ve heard it said that although Georgia had a 10-game winning streak this season and took the SEC East, the Dawgs didn’t have a single signature win because they lost to the three best teams they played. This was cited by one observer in explaining why South Carolina got the Capitol One Bowl over Georgia. I can’t really argue about us losing to the three best teams we played, but I thought the comeback in Jacksonville was a pretty “signature” moment, even if it wasn’t one of Florida’s best teams. How about you? And what was your favorite moment of this season? Mine was halftime of the SEC Championship Game. It might not have lasted, but holding the nation’s top team to no first downs was a real highlight!

The first half defensive showing against LSU was impressive, but I can’t quite bring myself to single out any aspect of that game as a “favorite” moment. The comeback against the Gators was pretty fine, though. Likewise, the latest win over the Jackets. But the season’s high point for me was the way the Dogs handled Auburn, which might not have been as good a team as last year’s but still ended up bowl-worthy. Georgia’s complete domination of the Tigers was one of the best games I’ve seen Between the Hedges in a long time. As for the lack of a signature win this season, I can live without one of those as long as at least 10 victories and a division title are part of the deal. And the Capitol One taking the Gamecocks, that’s just business. They figured USC-East would fill more seats and hotel rooms.

Jason Tweedell writes: Bill, I’ve had two people tell me today they are hearing [Isaiah] Crowell has been kicked off the football team. Do you know anything about this? Meanwhile, John Rawl writes: Bill, I’m hearing a lot of rumblings that Crowell may end up academically Ineligible and, as a result, from that and other disciplinary actions, transfer. Is there any truth to this, or is it merely speculation? And Jason Betsill asks: Can you confirm or deny that Crowell informed UGA coaches he would be transferring out? I really hope not because the SEC is a multi-back league now and we need him.

Wow, the rumor mill just never lets up on this kid, does it? To answer you all, no, I’ve heard nothing from any credible source about Crowell being suspended, having academic problems or transferring. And, like Jason, I hope there’s nothing to any of that, because Georgia will be a better team next year with Crowell than they would be without him. The fan base, already fed up with Georgia tailbacks after the past couple of years, didn’t cut Crowell much slack this season, but those folks with a bit more distance still were impressed by him. Thus, his SEC freshman of the year award and CBSSports.com naming Crowell to its freshman All-American team (which means Crowell accomplished one of his preseason goals).

Patrick Yaggy writes: I was so frustrated this week (so was Richt apparently) by everything I heard and saw from [Crowell]. I heard all different rumors which centered around the same root issue: his teammates and coaches are tired of his attitude and lack of durability. At the Dome, he was the object of the loudest boos when he limped off the field again after only a few plays. The place just went nuts in frustration. Between his personal foul penalty that negated an LSU PF penalty and his constant injuries that kept him off the field resulting in a one-dimensional (i.e., predictable) offense, I would say he was a large reason that UGA couldn’t regain any momentum.

Crowell not being a factor offensively last Saturday certainly didn’t help matters, that’s for sure. But he wasn’t the only reason the Dogs lost that game and, as I noted earlier this week, without him Georgia wouldn’t have won 10 games and wouldn’t have been back in the Dome to meet LSU.

Still on the subject of Crowell, Jonathan J. London writes: The youngun has some growing up to do. When your coach chews you out and you turn your back, that’s a pretty big show of disrespect, not just for your coach, but other guys on the team. Somebody needs to get in Crowell’s ear and make him understand that, with enough hard work, he can be a star. But if he’s not willing to put that in, he’ll never be more than average. He’s “young and dumb,” like my Dad called me at that age, so here’s to hoping he gets some learning between now and next fall — for our sake and his.

Well said.

Jeff Myers writes: Bill, the hot topic is obviously our running back position. I wanted to get your thoughts on the overall picture of the position and what has transpired over the past couple years. Do we have the right recruiting characteristics for this position?  Is the staff doing due diligence on recruit background and character issues, or do we need to improve in that area? While each RB issue has had its own reasoning behind it, none have been because of talent or ability. Do we have an in-house issue with position coach or those in support staff roles, that counsel and tutor these players? Three suspended at the RB position for drugs! There is a red flag here, I just can’t figure it out what it points to. Your thoughts?

You raise some interesting points. Running backs coach Bryan McClendon has developed a reputation as an ace recruiter, but it's only natural that folks are beginning to question whether he's perhaps lacking as a molder of talent or disciplinarian once that talent has signed on the dotted line. I do think perhaps the players would benefit from some tougher love. As for my overall view of the position, as I said earlier this week, I think the addition of Keith Marshall to the competition for playing time could be the best thing to happen to Crowell. On paper, I think the mix of Crowell, Marshall and the straight-ahead downhill running of Richard Samuel and Boo Malcome, when needed, looks like a upgrading of the position next year. I'd still like to see another back or two signed, though.

Scott Mabee writes: Bill, I understand that Boo was hurt at the beginning of the season and then later on quit the team. With all of that aside what are the coaches saying about him and his ability. I remember last year when they were talking about pulling his redshirt and what kind of talent he was and when he has had some playing time he seemed to run hard.

After the game against LSU, Mark Richt noted, "It wasn't until Ken Malcome started running the ball that we had a little bit more success. He ran extremely hard. I was proud of him. I'm not saying the other guys didn't run hard, but Kenny did run hard and showed some fight." And Mike Bobo added: "It was good to see Ken come out and run the football like we know he can and push the pile. We're going to see what he can do in this bowl game for sure." Richt has said that the tailback position will be "a competitive situation throughout bowl practice time and we'll just see who is best equipped to do it." So I'd say things are looking up for Boo.

Pat writes: Bill, please, please, please start a campaign for Georgia to make a change in our offensive coordinator. That is the one thing that is missing from our program and from any hope of putting UGA back on the national contender list. We have seen the defense finally grow and come into its own with an ability to adjust and play a respectable game. However, the offensive strategy consistently loses focus in every game where the opponent is a major challenge. It happened again with LSU. After a brilliant strategy in the beginning of the game and having LSU totally off balance, UGA then resorts to the mundane play-calling, totally predictable and unsuccessful. I sincerely believe that UGA is on the right track with the exception of offensive leadership — where I think we are truly outclassed.

I've been as frustrated as anyone by Bobo's tendency to start out hot and then go ultra-conservative, but while he calls the plays, I figure he's following the general plan his boss wants. And as long as that's the case we're not going to see a change there. Frankly, I'm a lot more concerned with Georgia's special teams play than with our offense. Special teams cost Georgia the South Carolina game, nearly cost the Dogs a couple of other games, turned the punting game from a strength to a liability (just like kickoff returns) and put LSU in a position to come back against the Dogs. "We spend a lot of time on special teams," Les Miles said after the game at the Georgia Dome. I don't know whether LSU spends more time on that aspect of the game than Georgia does, but they certainly are getting more out of the time they're spending. Richt definitely needs to rethink his approach to special teams. So if I campaign for anything, it's going to be that. Then we can worry about Bobo.

Steve Segrest writes: Hi Bill, could you talk a little about our offensive line for next year — especially some of our redshirt freshmen. Being objective, do you think there is any possibility of the OL competing well against the likes of Bama and LSU?

Under Will Friend, Georgia's offensive line steadily improved this season despite severe depth problems. Losing Ben Jones, Cordy Glenn and Justin Anderson will hurt (well, mainly Jones and Glenn), but returnees Kenarious Gates, Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee will have plenty of experience. David Andrews, who'll be a sophomore, likely will take over as center, and five-star recruit John Theus probably will be starting before the 2012 season is over, if not right from the beginning. Watts Dantzler will be in the mix, too. There might be a bit of a drop-off early in the season, but I think the Dogs have the makings of a decent offensive line.

Jamie Mullinax writes: I heard through one of the various recruiting sites that [Todd] Gurley and [Keith] Marshall had said they would like to play college ball together! Does landing Marshall help us or hurt with Gurley? Thanks and, as alway GO DAWGS!

If, as they’ve indicated, the two players have talked about possibly wanting to play college ball together, Marshall committing to UGA certainly ought not to hurt the Dogs’ chances with Gurley, who reportedly has narrowed his choices to Georgia and North Carolina (though Clemson is putting on a push). Let’s hope their friendship gives Georgia the edge.

Denny Jackson writes: I’ve heard a lot of speculation that a trip to Missouri might take the place of Georgia’s planned visit to Tuscaloosa on the 2012 schedule. If that’s the case, don’t you think next year’s schedule looks just about as favorable as this year’s was for the Dogs?

If Missouri really does take Bama’s place, then the 2012 schedule actually looks even more favorable to the Dogs than 2011’s was. Let’s face it, opening with Buffalo is like night and day compared with facing Boise State and more than makes up for the fact that the Dogs will have to travel to Columbia to play the Gamecocks.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg