Check out my responses to their questions here!
FTRS: Back around 2010 there was talk of Mark Richt being on the hot seat, but that seems to have faded entirely in years since considering the two SEC Championship game appearances. That said, Georgia fans still seem tired of "not winning the big one". What is your outlook on him moving forward, and what would it take for him to be shown the door any time soon?
DS: I don't foresee Mark Richt going anywhere except of his own accord absent a series of seasons with 7 wins or less. A lot of Georgia fans' frustration is the fact that Mark Richt has had several seasons (2002, 2005, 2007, 2012) in which either the 'Dawgs were so close to playing for a national title they could taste it or had a season which in other years would have likely gotten them to the BCS title game. Mark Richt has just never had the right season at the right time, and that's frustrating as heck. But the sense among most Georgia fans is that eventually the pieces will come together, and averaging 10 wins per season while you bide your time is not the worst thing in the world. As we've seen with Florida in the mid-2000s, Alabama recently, Florida State in the 1990s and even Georgia in the early 80s, these things tend to run in streaks as well. So maybe we'll have our run, maybe we won't. Either way Mark Richt will likely leave Athens on his own terms, and likely as the winningest coach in Bulldog history.
FTRS: Aaron Murray is clearly a special player who made his mark on the program. He's succeeded by Hutson Mason, who is very talented, but largely inexperienced and has a limited number of games ahead (2 this year, 12 to 14 next year). What are Georgia fans expecting from Mason, and what should we expect from him on Saturday?
DS: Mason isn't as mobile as Murray, but he reminds a lot of folks of former Georgia QB David Greene. He came from a pass-heavy high school offense where he learned to make good decisions with the ball. He's well-known among the team for his preparation. He has good size (6'3, 200 lb.) and a better than average arm (though again, not on par with murray and certainly not matthew Stafford). Mason had the chance to transfer for more playing time and has admitted he considered it. But he stuck around to get his shot, and I think you have to respect that. Bulldog fans are pulling for him, and they've seen enough to expect that he'll perform well. In the limited action he's gotten he's taken care of the ball and shown excellent accuracy. Bulldog fans expected that he'd be ready when his time came. While we obviously wish Aaron Murray could have finished out his senior season on the field, fans also recognize that Hutson Mason getting a chance to start against Tech's quality defense, take the first team reps during bowl practice, then play a quality bowl opponent should give him a nice head start on 2014.
FTRS: Paul Johnson remarked this week that Todd Gurley is one of the best running backs in the country, and "if he's not the best, he's in a very short line to be the best". (I, personally, would agree.) However, it seems like his action has been limited this year -- only 15.5 carries and 3.3 catches per game. Why has it been that he's not getting any more touches than he is, especially in the absence of Keith Marshall?
DS: Gurley's limited touches are solely attributable to injury. He's missed time against Clemson, LSU, Tennessee, Missouri, Vanderbilt, Appalachian State, and Florida. Most of that was due to a high ankle sprain which may still be giving him some issues. He's averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 11.8 yards per catch and has gone over 150 all-purpose yards in each of his last two games. Perhaps more importantly, his conditioning (which had suffered when he went out for 4 weeks after getting injured against LSU) So I'd expect the Jackets will see something closer to the healthy Todd Gurley who knifed through LSU's run defense for 9.1 per carry before his ankle injury than the one who could barely run against Florida yet still tallied 187 APY. But with two very good freshman tailbacks (Camden County native J.J. Green and Aquinas alum/former Jacket commit Brendan Douglas) the coaches haven't felt the need to rush him back too soon.
FTRS: Georgia's defense last year saw 7 players drafted and another signed in free agency. This year has required a lot of reloading, which in turn reflects quite a bit on DC Todd Grantham. How would you compare this year's defense to last year's, and are Georgia fans satisfied with the job Todd Grantham has done in reloading?
DS: Todd Grantham's really done about as well as he could with what he has, and it's sort of unfortunate that more Georgia fans don't get that. He's started 4 different true freshmen in the secondary alone, and 7 true freshmen total through the season. You just don't do that without giving up points. On the bright side, the defense has gotten better as the season has progressed, and will return 10 of 11 starters in 2014, which in and of itself should yield major improvement. But the transition from high school to major college football is tough, and this unit has had to make it without any veterans lining up among them to smooth the way.
FTRS: As more and more injuries pile up for UGA, and with a new QB being broken in, I'm starting to like Tech's chances in this game. However, we all now how this series has gone in recent years. What is your prediction for this game?
DS: This Georgia team, as young teams usually are, has been wildly unpredictable. That being said, the things they've done best this season have been controlling the line of scrimmage, playing run defense, and taking advantage of opposing secondaries to create big plays on offense. I sense that this Georgia Tech team is vulnerable in precisely those areas at which the Bulldogs have excelled. My prediction is UGA 38, GT 31.
Thanks so much to macondawg and his crew over at DawgSports, and here's to a Jacket win this weekend! Go Jackets!