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College
Imagine if redshirt rule had been in place for Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno in 2006
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Imagine if redshirt rule had been in place for Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno in 2006

Imagine if redshirt rule had been in place for Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno in 2006

Imagine if redshirt rule had been in place for Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno in 2006

UGA football-Towers Take-NCAA redshirt rule-Knowshon Moreno

ATHENS — Knowshon Moreno. That’s the name that pops in my mind when I contemplate this new NCAA redshirt rule.

I was offline and otherwise occupied last week when news initially broke that the NCAA had passed the rule. Since then, I’ve had a chance to read up on it and learn a little more. Essentially, it gives freshmen four games to play without losing the option of redshirting and thus still having another four years of eligibility for competition.

What are my thoughts on it? Mainly, wow.

I’m not at all surprised the NCAA adopted this rule or the one regarding transfers. The movement to provide student-athletes with more freedoms and liberties in general has intensified considerably in recent years and has been a long time in coming, frankly. But the extent to which coaches can utilize this new redshirt rule to the team’s advantage — to effectively try out first-year players, or deploy them at opportune times — surprised me.

Of course, the question I’ve heard more than any other since the new rule was adopted is what kind of effect will this have at Georgia? Where it could be particularly useful for the Bulldogs is getting an early look at some of these elite signees at positions where there otherwise doesn’t appear much room for impact.

And that’s where it takes me back to Moreno’s freshman year. Moreno was famously — or infamously, I should say — redshirted his freshman year at Georgia, even though it eventually became clear he was at least as good and probably better than most of the running backs that were being utilized that season. Making it worse was, after Moreno proved himself to be one of the most special talents in the country in  his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons with the Bulldogs, he decided to turn pro. That was quite understandable and justifiable considering he was the first running back taken and 12th pick overall in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Again, the spirit of this rule is not for the coaches to be able to test out the young talent that they have, necessarily. But this new legislation provides them with more flexibility to insert a player in a game later in the season. That would have been useful for Moreno, who initially was slow in mastering Georgia’s offense in preseason camp and was buried behind three very good tailbacks at the time: Thomas Brown, Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware.

That explains why there was no mention of Moreno in the “Fall Outlook” portion of Georgia’s 2006 Media Guide. Under the running backs section, it said the position “figures to be a strength for the Bulldogs” and mentioned that the top-3 rushers from the previous year returned in Brown, Ware and Lumpkin, respectively. There was a mention of a junior walk-on named Jason Johnson and fullbacks Brannan Southerland and Des Williams in the preview, but none of Moreno.

It’s also important to recall that while Moreno was a big-deal recruit from New Jersey, he wasn’t as big of a deal as a lot of the backs we’ve seen the Bulldogs ink lately. He was ranked the nation’s No. 10 back by Rivals (73rd player overall) and No. 9 by Scout. Georgia’s Zamir White is the consensus No. 1 back in the 2018 class and James Cook is considered the No 3 “all-purpose back” in America and No. 41 overall by 247Sports.

So it wasn’t until the Bulldogs got well into the season that they realized what they had in Moreno. In preseason camp, he was taking reps behind the three guys ahead of him. It was actually in scout-team work against the No. 1 defense that Moreno began to distinguish himself. It’s in that role where we got the first reports of Moreno hurdling a defender. That’s something we wouldn’t witness in a game until two years later.

And there was a perfect opportunity to execute a make-good of sorts on Moreno. Brown, who ended up being the starter on the 2006 team, suffered an ACL injury against Vanderbilt in the seventh game of the season.Georgia still had Lumpkin and Ware to turn to at that point. But imagine if the Bulldogs would’ve unleashed Moreno at that point. As it was, they lost that game and close games to No. 8 Florida (21-14) and Kentucky (24-20) in subsequent weeks.

We know now that there’s no doubt Moreno could’ve made a difference. Coach Mark Richt still refers to not playing Moreno that season as one of the greatest regrets of his career. In Richt’s defense, he didn’t want to give away a whole year of eligibility on Moreno to play what at the outset would’ve looked like a backup role.

Had this new rule been in place, that wouldn’t have been a concern. Richt could’ve deployed Moreno for as many as four games. If he wasn’t making an impact, he could’ve sent him to the sidelines. We know now that wouldn’t have happened.

Now, coaches have strategies they can employ when it comes to utilizing freshmen. They can plan to give them extensive work against non-FBS opponents, such as Georgia has in Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee State in two of the season’s first three weeks. Or, if there are late developing players or depth issues that materialize as the result of injuries or other attrition late in the year, there will be no reason for hesitancy in turning loose one of the Bulldogs’ previously non-utilized players.

It opens new possibilities when it comes to roster management. It’s like having a practice squad from which to execute a call-up whenever the need arises. Only, in Georgia’s case, there’s a good chance there’s a blue-chip prospect waiting in the wings.

The flip side of that, for coaches and teams at least, is a player can more readily transfer to another program if he doesn’t like the way he has been utilized. And schools can no longer restrict a player’s options in that regard. That’s certainly a fair exchange, I’d say. If that designation happens to be a major rival that competes in the same division of the same conference, so be it.

I understand coaches’ concerns that rampant transferring at the first sign of adversity or discontent could turn college football into the wild, wild west every offseason. But it has been that way in basketball for a while and the system hasn’t collapsed.

No, the redshirt rule in particular seems like a win-win on both the side of the student-athlete and of the institution. It hasn’t been often that we’ve been able to say that about any new NCAA legislation.

Georgia had 16 true freshmen take the field last season, but only one who could’ve benefited from this rule. William Poole, a defensive back, played sparingly in the Bulldogs’ first three games of the year, then not again until the Kentucky game in Week 13. Georgia also played him against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, but probably wouldn’t have had a full year of eligibility been the cost. As it was, the Bulldogs had already burned it.

That’s the difference now. At four games coaches will have to decide whether it’s worthwhile to keep utilizing a player. Conversely, there’s nothing holding back Georgia or any team from giving a freshman a look.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder if there might be a Moreno or somebody like him at another position on Georgia’s roster this season. This almost always is the case.

The post Imagine if redshirt rule had been in place for Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno in 2006 appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  • Stormy weather is on its way to the entire eastern United States, but Friday will be the last day of refuge before these thunderstorms hit, Channel 2 Action News Chief meteorologist Glenn Burns said. Friday has a mere 20 percent chance of rain, and Burns said metro Atlanta will mostly see partly cloudy skies throughout Friday, which is good news for the morning and evening commutes. The temperature will remain quite steamy because of the rain the past few days. The predicted high is 90 degrees, and the heat index should reach the low to mid 90s. After midnight on Friday, storms could take a turn for the worst, Burns said. Far northeast Georgia has the risk of scattered severe storms overnight, and the eastern and northern metro Atlanta areas have the threat of isolated severe storms. '(This storm system) is going to provide much of the eastern half of the country with some very stormy times,” Burns said. It only gets worse Saturday, as most of the state is under the risk of severe thunderstorms — Dade and Walker counties have a few lucky spots.  Because of pockets of cool air within the storm, Georgia is under a moderate risk for hail that could damage car roofs, Burns said. The chance of rain is 60 percent, and heavy downpours, frequent lightning and strong winds are expected as well. Temperatures will drop slightly to the upper 80s during the storm system, which is expected to last through the middle of next week. Sunday is a brief reprieve from storms with a 30 percent chance of rain, but Monday and Tuesday both have 70 percent chances of storms.
  • A man got away with a stolen car in Covington Tuesday night, and the thief used an unusual method to escape: a forklift. Covington police are searching for the man who hopped on a forklift and used it to break through a metal fence at Ginn Chevrolet, Channel 2 Action News reported. “First time that I can recall where somebody used a forklift to basically knock a hole and an escape route,” Covington police Capt. Ken Malcolm told Channel 2. Police said he spent nearly an hour walking through the parking lot to pick out the right vehicle to steal, Channel 2 reported. “He just was basically shopping for a vehicle,” Malcolm told the news station. He settled on a 2017 Ford Mustang that had been brought in for repairs, Channel 2 reported. Then he broke into the shop and found the keys for the forklift. “This is obviously someone who had some knowledge on how to operate a forklift and was able to utilize it to gain his escape,” Malcolm told the news station. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact Covington police at 770-786-7605.
  • From the University of Georgia comes a campus construction advisory: UGA says a stretch of Cedar Street will be closing Saturday.  The work that began this week continues through this week and until August 2, with single-lane closures on Highway 316 in Barrow County: Georgia DOT crews are working on a new interchange for 316 at Carl-Bethlehem Road. It’s a $26 million project due for completion by November of 2020.
  • A judge rules in a Jackson County election case, dismissing a claim from Jackson County School Board member Steve Bryant. Bryant lost his reelection bid in May, defeated by challenger Don Clerici. Bryant wanted the election results overturned, saying his name should have been first on the ballot based on being first in alphabetical order. Judge David Sweat didn’t buy it. 
  • It has happened yet again: another big drug bust on I-85 in Franklin County. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office says three suspects were arrested; methamphetamine and firearms were confiscated after the driver of an F-150 was pulled over for a traffic violation. The three people in the truck were all from South Carolina; all were booked into the Franklin County jail.  Authorities in Hall County have identified the latest Lake Lanier drowning victim: they say Teresa Graham was 51 years old, from Hall County. She apparently fell off a dock and into the Lake. Investigators in the Hall County Sheriff’s Office say there is no sign of foul play. 

Bulldog News

  • ATLANTA — Georgia football sits No. 8 in the current 2019 team recruiting rankings, though this hardly appears to be an off year. The Bulldogs lead the nation with three 5-star commits. Their ranking is more a byproduct of having just 12 players in the class (as of July 21) while temporary No. 1 Alabama has used up 20 commits. Georgia, clearly, is a safe bet for another top 5 signing.  Coach Kirby Smart’s first three classes ranked at No. 6, No. 3 and No. 1 per the 247Sports composite. Bulldogs defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter, a 4-star, top 100 prospect out of Tucker, Ga.,  shared how quickly Smart won him over. RELATED: Georgia football dissed with no first-team All-SEC picks “ He’s a great guy, really good people person, he’ll talk to   you, and he’s really personable,” Ledbetter said. “He wants to know the real you, he can see through a lot of stuff. He just wants to know deep down what you’re made of, and what kind of character you have.” It takes an entire staff to recruit to a program effectively, and Georgia has three of the top assistant coaches in that respect. Georgia football assistant head coach/running backs coach Dell McGee, co-offensive coordinator/ quarterbacks coach James Coley and offensive line coach Sam Pittman are regarded among the most effective recruiters in collegiate football. Jeff Sentell, the top authority on Georgia football recruiting, said two things have separated Smart from the previous staff. RELATED: Jeff Sentell reports elite Juco prospect nearing decision “Whenever there is anyone Georgia wants, anywhere, you always hear the recruits say ‘Georgia is recruiting me as hard as anyone,’ “ Sentell said. “So, number one, Georgia doesn’t get out-recruited any more.” The second thing, which should become even more evident on the field this season, is the priority the Bulldogs have placed on the offensive line. “They get the type of elite talent for the line of scrimmage that they used to get at running back spot and quarterback spot,” Sentell said.”Guys like Knowshon Moreno used to be running behind a bunch of 3-star guys and maybe one 4-star.” RELATED: Georgia football favorite to win East Division at SEC Media Days Georgia has 18 players on its roster that were rated a 5-star prospect by one recruiting service or another, and that sort of depth has propelled the program into championship contention. “Everywhere you look, when Georgia gets an injury or has someone out, it’s an opportunity to see the next big thing,” Sentell said. “It’s not necessarily going to be a drop off.” Mike Griffith covers Georgia football for DawgNation. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32 Georgia football Jonathan Ledbetter   The post WATCH: Jonathan Ledbetter explains how Kirby Smart makes Georgia football recruiting special appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA — Georgia football is back to being the hunter, after all. The Bulldogs were a distant second to Alabama in the preseason SEC Championship voting from the media contingent attending the league’s media days at the College Football Hall of Fame this week. RELATED: Georgia fails to land first-team All-SEC preseason pick The Crimson Tide garnered two-thirds of the first-place votes available — 193 of the 284 (.679), while Georgia received less than one-fourth (69. .242) despite its status as defending league champion. Bulldogs defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter said the Bulldogs don’t concern themselves with perception. “You always have your doubters and naysayers, but you have to keep the main thing the main thing,” Ledbetter said at SEC Media Days. “There’s a lot of outside noise in college football, but you just worry about your team and how you can get better rather than what everyone is saying, because they’re not in there doing it with you.” The Bulldogs were a heavy favorite to win the SEC Eastern Division, however, receiving 271 of 285 first-place votes. Preseason SEC Predicted Order Of Finish The post Georgia football picked in East, but Alabama heavy favorite for SEC title appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA — Georgia football coach Kirby Smart said his Bulldogs have “dormant ability” that has yet to be proven, and the media voting on preseason All-SEC honors appear to agree. Defending SEC Champion Georgia returns seven starters on offense, but none of them were deemed worthy of first-team recognition by the select panel. Quarterback Jake Fromm, who finished second in the SEC and ninth in the nation in passing efficiency last season, settled for splitting third-team honors with Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald. Bulldogs kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and defensive backs Deandre Baker and J.R. Reed were the only Georgia players to earn first-team honors released Friday. Alabama, which did not play in the SEC Championship Game but won the national title as the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoffs, had six first-team selections. The Bulldogs did have several players selected to second-team preseason All-SEC honors. On offense, tailback D’Andre Swift, receiver Terry Godwin, tight end Isaac Nauta, offensive tackle Andrew Thomas and center Lamont Gaillard were chosen. Defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter and linebacker D’Andre Walker were second-team picks on defense, while return specialist Mecole Hardman was also recognized. Georgia’s only third-team pick was Fromm. Smart might have sensed that his Bulldogs had something left to prove despite their magic run to the SEC title and national championship game. “It’s what is our potential, which is dormant ability, or our effectiveness, which is what we get out of our players?” Smart said during his presentation to the Georgia media contingent at the Omni Hotel prior to his SEC Media Days appearance. “We’re constantly trying to get the most out of them, and this year will be measured by how effective we are tactically, mentally (and) physically. We have to do the best job we’ve ever done preparing this group for that.” Indeed, because if Georgia lacks any first-team All-SEC selections at the end of the season, there’s a good chance it would mean the Bulldogs failed to defend their SEC crown. Preseason All-SEC First Team Selections The post Georgia football preseason snub: Bulldogs void of first-team All-SEC offense selections appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA — The narrative heading into the 2018 season is it’s the year of the quarterback in the SEC. After a couple of years of unspectacular overall play at the position, the league is stocked with exceptional signal-callers this season. And Georgia’s Jake Fromm is expected to be at the top of the class. That’s according to the SEC Network’s Greg McElroy. A former quarterback himself — he led Alabama to a 14-0 season and national championship in 2009 — McElroy makes it his personal business to evaluate the position in the league to an extensive degree. He dives deep into statistical analytics provided by ESPN and studies game and practice video until he’s left cross-eyed. McElroy loves what he sees and has seen in the Bulldogs’ sophomore quarterback. “From an efficiency standpoint, you’d be hard-pressed to find a guy better than Jake Fromm,” said McElroy, asked to handicap the best quarterbacks said during SEC Football Media Days on Thursday. “I think Fromm’s a surgeon. He just kills you with execution. I don’t think there’s anything more demoralizing than a quarterback that can defeat a defense with his brain.” Aside from the pass efficiency numbers that McElroy alluded to — Fromm was ninth in the nation (160.1) in that category — there’s not a lot about Fromm’s game beyond that attracts national attention. Fromm’s 174.3 yards passing a game didn’t crack the Top 10 even in the SEC and he attempted 15 or fewer passes in seven. Therefore, Fromm’s is 24 TD passes (versus 7 interceptions) pale in comparison to the 44 of league-leader Drew Lock of Missouri, who got them in two fewer games. But while Fromm’s primary task was to get the play call in from the sideline and to distribute the ball to the Bulldogs’ bevy of backs, he was given an increasing level of autonomy to audible at the line of scrimmage. He had pass-run options, could switch a play from left to right based on defensive alignment, could switch protections and check to a hot read. McElroy says Fromm scores particularly high in this department. He compared the Georgia quarterback to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “Marcus Spears said playing against Aaron Rodgers was the worst experience he’s ever had in his life,” McElroy said. “It’s because he just kills you with completions and positive plays. There’s never any negative plays, so you can never steal momentum. Even if it’s a 3-yard completion, you’re moving in the right direction. Right? “That’s what I see in Fromm. He has very few negative plays. He’s great on third down, so he keeps drives alive. He’s efficient in the passing game. And he doesn’t have a big ego. He’s not trying to do too much. He stays within the system. He’s an extension of what Jim Chaney wants him to be and that’s a great place for Georgia to be in. If you’re trying to win a championship, knowing the great personnel that Georgia has, he’s the perfect fit.” McElroy had similar traits when he led Alabama to the SEC championship in 2009. He credits Fromm for helping Georgia land the title last year. He argues that Georgia doesn’t make it to the playoffs and the national championship game if Jacob Eason had remained. Fromm replaced the sophomore quarterback when he suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of the first game last season. “The biggest difference from 2016 to ’17 was quarterback,” McElroy said. “I said it going into last year — and Georgia fans killed me for it — there were things about Eason that bothered me. I didn’t feel like he approached the game with a level of professionalism that you have to win a championship or contend for a championship. He was a little statuesque in the pocket. Fromm is the antithesis of all that. Ultimate leader, consummate pro, great weekly preparation, and he could move around when things broke down around him a little bit. So I love Fromm.” That said, McElroy wasn’t ready to tab Fromm as the best quarterback in a league with a lot of good ones. Lock was named preseason All-SEC Thursday and is generally seen as the best pro prospect in the SEC this season. The Eastern Division also features South Carolina’s Jake Bentley and Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur. Whomever Alabama chooses between Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts should be good. Felipe Franks could make a major jump at Florida under the direction of Dan Mullen, who of six offensive-minded head coaches hired in the league this year. “If I had to start a team based on what we know, I like (Auburn’s) Jarrett Stidham,” McElroy said. “I love Tua, too. But Fromm definitely has a chance to be one of the best ones out there.” The Bulldogs plan to throw the ball more in 2018, so Fromm’s passing numbers should improve just due to more opportunities. As for the competition with highly-touted freshman Justin Fields, McElroy said he expects it will be a factor this season. But he also believes it will ultimately make Fromm that much better. “With Fields behind him, I’m really fascinated to see how much he’s elevates his play,” McElroy said. “He’s obviously had to do that. I’m just fascinated to see how big that bump is.”   The post SEC QB expert: Georgia’s Jake Fromm ‘a surgeon that kills you with execution’ appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA — Georgia didn’t get Auburn’s best shot in the SEC Championship Game last season, and the Tigers know it. Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis said he gives the Bulldogs’ credit for making plays, but the Tigers’ team they beat by a 28-7 count in Mercedes Benz Stadium “simply wasn’t us.” “I don’t think we played our best the second game, and I don’t know if it was because they made us not play our best, or if we weren’t locked in or focused,” Davis said at SEC Media Days on Thursday at the College Football Hall of Fame. “If you watch the tape from the first game to the second game, it was two different teams, and not just because we won’t the first time,” Davis said, referencing the Tigers’ convincing 40-17 win at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Nov. 11. “You pop in any other time we actually played Auburn football, and you match it with the SEC Championship Game, it simply wasn’t us … “ Tigers coach Gus Malzahn pointed to Auburn’s difficult November schedule when asked about the difference between the teams’ two meetings. “T he regular season, we played extremely well at home,” Malzahn said Thursday. “You know, then the next, I guess, two weeks later we had to play Alabama, another No. 1 team at home, and then a week later we had to turn around and play Georgia again. “So I believe we played champions and defending champions three out of four weeks. That’s a tough challenge, there’s no doubt.” Auburn defensive lineman Dontavius Russell was more vague, though he did reference the rib injury that some felt slowed Tigers’ running back Kerryon Johnson in the second meeting. “I feel like the way we can improve as a defense and as a team is handling adverse situations,” said Russell, a one-time 2013 Georgia commit from Carrollton who flipped to Auburn in the 2014 signing class. “Toward the end of the Georgia game, we faced adverse situations, being that Kerryon was out, it was something we didn’t respond as well to.” Johnson rushed for 167 yards and caught a 55-yard touchdown pass in Auburn’s win over the Bulldogs in the regular-season, a victory that knocked Georgia out of the No. 1 spot. But in the second meeting, Johnson couldn’t get on track (13 carries, 44 yards), and the Georgia defense forced two turnovers and blocked a field goal attempt. Malzahn said Georgia’s defense adjusted by bringing an extra player into the box and playing more with one deep safety, as well as getting more aggressive with run fits. “ We felt like that would happen — we started out, tried to get the ball on the perimeter, throw some short passes to get us on pace to throw the football,” Malzahn said after the defeat. “We also tried big set runs because of the odd front.” Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham, recently named to the Davey O’Brien Award Watch List, said the Bulldogs also mixed up their coverage and blitz packages effectively. Smart, while proud of how Georgia controlled the line of scrimmage, said after the SEC title game that he recognized it wasn’t the same Auburn as the first meeting. “Just be honest, Kerryon was not 100 percent; he wasn’t the same guy he was last game, so that probably helped some as well,” Smart said. “We felt getting after the quarterback was the way to beat them, and we did that much better this game than we did the last game. “The big difference was, number one, the back wasn’t running as hard and as much, but I thought we kept our edges, and there weren’t those 15, 20 yard runs. There were the three, four kind. And we kept them behind the sticks.” Auburn and Georgia meet this season on Nov. 10 at Sanford Stadium in a game most expect will carry SEC Championship Game implications. Auburn DT Dontavius Russell Auburn LB Deshaun Davis The post Auburn: Georgia football didn’t get Tigers’ best shot in SEC title game appeared first on DawgNation.