Notebook: Dawgs' early gauntlet


Georgia coach Mark Richt takes questions during Day 3 of SEC Media Days at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., on Thursday.

Doug Finger/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 4:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 4:45 p.m.

HOOVER, Ala. — Georgia is the consensus favorite to win the SEC Eastern Division and is considered a possible contender for the national title. It won't take long for the Bulldogs to find out if they're championship material.

UGA opens the season at Clemson, plays South Carolina the following week, then takes on LSU in Athens on Sept. 28.

“I told our team we're in a race, and that is to try and be at midseason form by game one,” UGA coach Mark Richt said Thursday at SEC Media Days. “The race started back in January.

“I think we're on track. I've heard nothing but great things about how it's gone in the summer. I was pleased with the progress in the spring. Now we're going to have 29 practice opportunities to be prepared for those teams.

“We know it's coming. We'll be ready.”




McCarron honors his cousin

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron showed up at Media Days on Thursday wearing a bowtie with pink ribbons emblazoned on it to honor a cousin who was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks ago.

“I got my Mom to call (my cousin) last night,” McCarron said. “I told her I'd be wearing this in honor of her, hopefully to spread some kind of awareness throughout the state of Alabama about breast cancer. Hopefully it helps somehow.”

Clowney scaring quarterbacks?

Richt downplayed the remarks made earlier this week by South Carolina All-America defensive end Jadeveon Clowney about quarterbacks, including Aaron Murray, being scared to play against him.

“I would think some guys are scared of him,” Richt said. “I'd be scared of him if I was in the game, the guy was coming after me.

“I think he's having fun. I'm sure he said it, you know, while smiling and grinning. I think we need to let guys have fun once in a while and not make a big deal about it.

“Jadeveon is a great player and a great kid.”

LSU tailback still in limbo

Starting LSU tailback Jeremy Hill remains suspended after recently admitting guilt in his role in a bar fight. He is on probation and must perform community service.

“We've visited with Jeremy Hill on a routine basis,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “He's not been in any team meetings, not been in any workouts. We've not allowed him in our facility.

“It's been very hard on him. We recognize there is an ongoing process that's going to be fulfilled. We're going to sit on the perimeter and watch. We'll let you know when we know.”

While Hill is in limbo, Alfred Blue is back at tailback for the Tigers. Blue was the No. 1 tailback at the start of last season and was on a roll before a knee injury in the third game knocked him out for the year.

“He's healthy now,” Miles said. “He could have played all spring. He did play all spring. We just didn't allow anybody to tackle him. We'd expect he would start this season fast.”

Speaking Australian

LSU's new punter (Jamie Keehn) is just like their former one (Brad Wing) in that he is from Australia.

“Our second Australian punter,” Miles said. “Again, you have to learn the language. You can't just speak to those guys. You have to know how to speak Australian.”

Miles was asked to give some examples of speaking the language. His response drew considerable laughter.

“Well, Australians have a higher voice (using an Australian accent),” he said. “When you just speak regular English, it doesn't quite get across.

“Of course, we've had experience with our Australians, so we're pretty comfortable with adjusting our dialect so that it fits the ability to communicate.”

Unfair scheduling advantage?

Someone pointed out to Miles that the two teams LSU plays from the East this season (Florida and Georgia) were 14-2 in league play last season, while the two Eastern Division teams Alabama faces this year (Kentucky and Tennessee) were 1-15.

“Scheduling should not in any way decide championships,” he said. “I think scheduling is a tremendously important piece. Currently, it's on the ADs, the chancellors, the presidents and the conference commissioner.

“In the meantime, here is where I'm at: I can't hardly wait to play them. We think at LSU that maybe we're the only team that can have that schedule year after year and play as well as we do, so. …”

Welcome back, Zach

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is not expecting a warm welcome from Georgia fans when the Tigers travel to Athens on Sept. 28. Mettenberger left UGA shortly after Aaron Murray won the starting quarterback job four years ago.

“They're going to boo the crap out of me,” Mettenberger said. “I may get a brick thrown at me, who knows?”

Florida fans might want to do the same after what Mettenberger said about a popular former quarterback Thursday.

“It's not like I'm Tim Tebow and have terrible mechanics,” said Mettenberger when asked how new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron can improve his passing motion.

'Dog title just yards away

The way Georgia defensive end Garrison Smith sees it, the Bulldogs came up just five yards shy of winning the national championship last season. UGA was that short distance away from beating Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The Tide went on to thrash Notre Dame 42-14 in the national title game.

“I have the confidence to say that I believe we would have done the same thing Alabama did (to Notre Dame) in the championship game,” Smith said.

Fast and furious debate

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema got pretty feisty at the podium Wednesday when he was told that Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said earlier that he thought it was “a joke” that anyone would think playing a fastbreak offense could put players at risk of injury.

Bielema is one of the SEC coaches, along with Nick Saban, who thinks injuries are a concern/possibility with the up-tempo offense.

“He thought it was a joke?” Bielema said. “I'm not a comedian.

“All I know is this. There are times when an offensive player and a defensive player are on the field for an extended period of time without a break. You cannot tell me that a player after play five is the same player that he is after play 15.

“If that exposes him to a risk of injury, that's my fault.”

Bielema bristled again when he was told that Malzahn said if rules are changed to slow down the game, officials should look into defensive players faking injuries to slow the pace.

“You know what, in addition to not being a comedian, I'm not an actor,” Bielema said. “I can't tell you how to tell a kid to fake an injury.”

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