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Natrez Patrick gets good news, but Georgia needs to tighten up on discipline front
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Natrez Patrick gets good news, but Georgia needs to tighten up on discipline front

Natrez Patrick gets good news, but Georgia needs to tighten up on discipline front

Natrez Patrick gets good news, but Georgia needs to tighten up on discipline front

Natrez Patrick-UGA football

NORMAN, Okla. – The marijuana charges against Natrez Patrick were dropped, we learned Thursday. That’s certainly good for him. It may be good for Georgia football, too, in terms of its pursuit of wins and championships.

Ultimately, we don’t know yet exactly what it means. On the surface, one’s left to believe that the Bulldogs’ starting inside linebacker will be reinstated and play against No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl in three weeks. But we don’t know that because coach Kirby Smart has yet to weigh in on it. And it’s a bit of a tricky situation when closely evaluated.

In the meantime, some charges were dropped out here in Boomer Sooner territory on Thursday, too, and they were much more serious than what Patrick faced. A rape allegation levied against OU running back and leading rusher Rodney Anderson did not result in charges by the local district attorney. The news was shared with local media in a rare news conference by a prosecutor to explain why he wasn’t going to prosecute a case.

In a nutshell Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn told reporters that, “after a thorough investigation” that include polygraph tests, interviews of friends of both the accused and the alleged victim and examinations of phone records and texts, “charges are not warranted.”

“There are certainly cases where we just simply can’t prove something, so we decline due to insufficient evidence,” Mashburn said. “In this case, I think it’s important for us to tell the whole story so people understand that facts were presented to us through the Norman P.D.’s investigation.”

Earlier in the day Thursday, before the D.A.’s announcement, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley had said that Anderson was “still fully on the team” while authorities continued to investigate the allegations. Riley didn’t issue any other statements after the charges were dropped, and Anderson was not made available after the Sooners’ practice he participated in Thursday. But those in the OU camp expect Anderson to be play against Georgia in the Rose Bowl.

“Good for him; he’s a great person,” said Sooners left tackle Orlando Brown, a junior from Duluth. “Hopefully he’ll be able to play in the game.”

Likewise, the assumption in Georgia’s camp is that Patrick will be able to play in the Rose Bowl. Smart probably won’t weigh in on this latest development until the Bulldogs’ Rose Bowl media day Monday. Georgia has yet to begin its Rose Bowl preparations, and there won’t be any interview access until then.

But it might not be as cut-and-dried as it seems. While we know that Patrick doesn’t face any legal ramifications, we don’t know for certain that there won’t be any team repercussions. Patrick already had violated UGA’s marijuana-use policy twice due to previous marijuana arrests, hence his four-game suspension in the middle third of the regular season. A third calls for dismissal from the team.

We do know from the body-cam footage provided by police that Patrick was in a car with a teammate who was was either actively smoking or had just smoked marijuana. Jayson Stanley, also a starter as a wide receiver, had DUI charges against him dropped  Thursday but is still charged with misdemeanor possession. So we assume he’ll be subjected to UGA’s first-strike pot policy, which is a one-game suspension in football. That the one game is the College Football Playoff and the Rose Bowl makes it particularly painful.

What we don’t know is whether Patrick had to undergo any kind of testing as a result of the encounter. Usually a student-athlete who has had more than one violation is subject to counseling and intensified drug-testing. Perhaps Patrick already has successfully cleared that, or he could be awaiting results. We can’t be sure. We’ll know for sure in 18 days when Georgia and Oklahoma kick off in the Rose Bowl.

Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, these off-field issues have been the one downside to an otherwise magical season. While they’ve been piling up wins and points this year, they also have been piling up arrests and disciplinary issues. Duly noting that this latest charge against Patrick was dismissed, there are still 14 known arrests of Georgia football players going back to last season.

The latest came earlier this week when freshman defensive back Latavious Brini was jailed on a first-degree forgery charge. It was for an incident that allegedly occurred back in July, or shortly after he arrived from Miami. He hasn’t played this season and is therefore set to be redshirted, but neither Georgia nor Smart has commented on his status just yet either. Generally, UGA student-athletes charged with a felony are immediately suspended on a temporary basis until their legal matter is worked out.

The arrest ledger also counts the case of D’Antne Demery, a signee who had his scholarship revoked after he was charged with battery/domestic violence against his girlfriend in April. I don’t know why Demery wouldn’t be included in such an accounting since he already had signed his national letter-of-intent two months before he was jailed in Athens.

Most of the other arrests seem relatively trivial, depending on your personal sensibilities. Most of them involve pot. Tailback Elijah Holyfield and wide receiver Riley Ridley also were arrested earlier this year and subsequently suspended for single games for misdemeanor marijuana possession.

But 14 is a high number of legal run-ins no matter how one slices it. That begs the question: Does Georgia have a discipline problem on this team?

I know that last sentence makes you cringe. It does me, too. There is so much good going on for UGA, nobody wants to throw water on it. But that question bears asking. It’s only fair.

Former Georgia coach Mark Richt came under sharp criticism for a perceived lack of discipline during his UGA tenure. It reached a peak when the Bulldogs incurred 11 arrests from March to October of 2010. Then he cracked down.

Georgia had only one arrest in 2011 when Cornelius Washington was charged with DUI. There were some isolated incidences and some serious offenses that followed, but they were dealt with harshly. Bulldogs fans don’t need to be reminded that several dismissals occurred from 2012 to 2015.

Smart is a coach who preaches discipline on the first line of his mission statement. He expends a lot of time and energy talking about poise and composure. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs were flagged for nine personal fouls in their two games against Auburn (they seem to have a thing for face masks in particular, don’t they?). Georgia enters the postseason as the fourth-most penalized team in the SEC.

Is there a connection there? Who knows. Certainly most good football players are aggressive by nature. Arrests numbers and penalty numbers are facts, but the assertion that Georgia is an undisciplined team is not. That’s subjective and speculative at this point.

And what has been going on here at Oklahoma proves that UGA is not alone in fighting that perception. It’s not just what proved to be false accusations against the Sooners’ current running back. Lest we forget, quarterback Baker Mayfield, who accepted the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, was arrested in February in Fayetteville, Ark., for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing police.

But the Bulldogs need to do better. Obviously, Georgia is a very, very good football team under Smart. Based on recruiting, it appears that will continue if not get even better. But the disciplinary issues need to trend in the other direction, even if you care about nothing other than what happens on the football field.

The post Natrez Patrick gets good news, but Georgia needs to tighten up on discipline front appeared first on DawgNation.

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Georgia Sports News

  • ATHENS — New Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean has finally pulled the trigger on naming a second assistant basketball coach. Joe Scott, most recently an assistant coach at Holy Cross, sports 16 seasons of head coaching experience at three Division I schools. He joins Chad Dollar on the Bulldogs’ staff. “I’m excited to welcome Joe, Leah, Ben and Jack to our Georgia Basketball family and the entire UGA community,” Crean said in a statement released by the school. “Joe is known nationally as someone who excels at coaching, teaching and competing. He has tremendous respect of his peers who have gone against him and those who have worked along side him. He will bring many different elements to our program, but overall and he will help our young men get better every day.” Said Scott, also in a statement: “My family and I are extremely excited to be joining the Georgia family. The University of Georgia is a special place. This is a tremendous opportunity to help Coach Crean implement his vision and make Georgia Basketball special. I cannot wait to get started coaching our players to develop and get better every day.” Scott was tabbed one of the nation’s top-20 “Xs & Os” coaches in a survey of his peers by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman in 2013. He was head coach at Air Force for four seasons, Princeton for three campaigns and Denver for nine seasons. He also has served as an assistant coach at Monmouth, Princeton and Holy Cross. All told, Scott sports 27 years of collegiate coaching experience. Before breaking into the head coaching ranks, Scott was an assistant coach at Monmouth during the 1991-92 season and at Princeton from 1992-2000. While at Princeton, Scott helped the Tigers to five consecutive postseason appearances, with trips to the 1996, 1997 and 1998 NCAA Tournaments and the 1999 and 2000 NITs. The Tigers won three Ivy League titles from 1996-98, including perfect 14-0 records in the final two seasons. Princeton upset defending national champion UCLA in the 1996 NCAA Tournament and ranked as high as No. 7 nationally in 1998 en route to earning a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the highest ever for an Ivy League team. The post Georgia’s Tom Crean finally settles on a second assistant coach appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Georgia basketball and Tom Crean have hired a second assisstant coach, this time in former Princeton head coach Joe Scott. The school released a statement on the hiring, with a statement from Crean. “I’m excited to welcome Joe, Leah, Ben and Jack to our Georgia Basketball family and the entire UGA community,” Crean said. “Joe is known nationally as someone who excels at coaching, teaching and competing. He has tremendous respect of his peers who have gone against him and those who have worked along side him. He will bring many different elements to our program, but overall and he will help our young men get better every day.” In addition to serving as the head coach at Air Force, Scott also has head coaching experience at Princeton and Denver. As an assistant Scott has worked at Monmouth, Princeton and Holy Cross, where he spent the past two seasons. Scott is a Princeton alum. “My family and I are extremely excited to be joining the Georgia family,” Scott said. “The University of Georgia is a special place. This is a tremendous opportunity to help Coach Crean implement his vision and make Georgia Basketball special. I cannot wait to get started coaching our players to develop and get better every day.” Scott will join assistant Chad Dollar in helping Crean. Dollar’s hire was announced earlier in April. Crean replaced Mark Fox, who had been the coach at Georgia since the 2008-09 season. The post Georgia basketball announces hiring of assistant coach Joe Scott appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Georgia held their final actual practice of the spring at the Woodruff Practice Complex on Thursday. Under clear skies and relatively cool temperatures, the Bulldogs were working out in shorts and helmets and were scheduled to for about two hours. The next time they get together and play as a team will be during G-Day Saturday at Sanford Stadium (4 p.m., ESPN, News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB). Actually, it will as two teams. UGA on Thursday released its split rosters for the Red and Black squads for Saturday’s intrasquad game. This year, Georgia’s No. 1 offense, led by quarterback Jake Fromm, will be the Red team. The Black Squad will be led by the Bulldogs’ No. 1 defensive unit — and freshman quarterback Justin Fields, of course. Fromm’s Red squad will be protected by the first-string offensive line — which included both Solomon Kindley and Kendall Baker to play left guard. It will also feature juniors Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien at tailback and Terry Godwin, Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman at wideout and Isaac Nauta and Charlie Woerner at tight end. Fields’ No. 2 offensive unit will have walkons Prather Hudson and Ian Donald-McIntyre in the backfield and will feature a receiving corps of Ahkil Crumpton, J.J. Holloman, Kearis Jackson, Matt Landers and Tyler Simmons. Of course, the Black team will be hanging its hat on a defensive team led by Tyler Clark, DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle, Jonathan Ledbetter, Julian Rochester and Malik Herring and inside linebackers Juwan Taylor, Tae Crowder and Nate McBride. D’Andre Walker, Robert Beal and Walter Grant will man the outside linebacker positions. The secondary for the Black squad has Deandre Baker and Tyrique McGhee at the corners, William Poole at star and J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte III at the safeties. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs appeared to be going through normal drill work and play-polish in the early portions of practice on Thursday. Following are a few observations: Senior Terry Godwin was going through regular drill work with the receivers but appeared to be a bit gimpy in doing so. He had a reinforced brace on one knee and a regular sleeve on the other. Cornerback Mark Webb was not practicing after suffering a knee injury of undisclosed severity on Tuesday. Indications are it’s not a “major” injury. D’Andre Swift was going through bag drills with the running backs and did not exhibit noticeable limitations. He is dealing with a groin injury, according to coach Kirby Smart. Defensive tackle Michael Barnett (knee) was not at practice again, assuring that he’ll miss G-Day. Justin Young, who missed practices last week due to a minor knee sprain, has been able to practice and might be able to play. One area lacking depth that has not been much discussed is deep snapper for special teams. The Bulldogs technically have just one on the roster in redshirt freshman Oren Morgan of Toombs County. But senior fullback Nick Moore also snaps to the kickers. Former tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel were watching Thursday’s practice from the sideline and having a good time commenting on what they say. Asked which tailback they expected to be the leading rusher for the G-Day Game on Saturday, they simultaneously said “Prather Hudson.” Hudson is a redshirt sophomore walkon from Columbus. Recently-matriculated receiver Javon Wims was also at practice watching his position group. All of them plan to attend on Saturday, with Chubb conducting an autograph-signing at the bookstore.   The post Practice report: Jake Fromm to lead Red against Justin Field’s Black squad on G-Day appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Don’t be surprised if you see players being shuffled around a lot and playing in somewhat unfamiliar positions Saturday, especially on defense. Spring practice is a highly experimental time as it is, but injuries have forced Georgia’s hand in some key areas on the football field. As a result, you’re likely to see some defensive ends playing tackle, some tackles playing nose guard and some safeties playing cornerback when the Bulldogs conduct their annual G-Day spring intrasquad game at Sanford Stadium (4 p.m. Saturday, ESPN, News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB). Georgia has been hit with injuries along the defensive line and in the secondary this spring. Defensive end Justin Young and tackle Michael Barnett have been out for most of the spring with what coach Kirby Smart calls “minor” knee injuries. This Tuesday, cornerback Mark Webb suffered what’s characterized as a non-serious knee injury, but he won’t be available for game simulation on Saturday. He’ll be joined on the sideline by senior safety Jarvis Wilson, who has a sprained foot. As a result, Georgia will have to do some mixing and matching in order to keep a competitive 22 players on the field at all times. The Bulldogs have 111 players on their spring roster, but that includes six kicking specialists or holders and 36 walk-ons, including three quarterbacks not named Stetson Bennett. The point is, not all of those players are going to play and many won’t get significant amounts of time. Junior David Marshall, who played in 14 games at defensive end last season and started three, has been playing inside at tackle. Likewise, defensive tackle Julian Rochester has been cross-training at nose guard. Just a week ago, the Bulldogs moved redshirt sophomore Chris Barnes from offensive guard to the defensive line to shore up depth. “We’re just a little short,” said Marshall, who logged 52 tackles and 3 1/2 quarterback sacks last season. “But it’s next man up around here, so we’ve got to tough it out.” Smart hasn’t been thrilled with the end result. At different times this spring he has complained about the defense not being “stout enough” against the run. “We’ve certainly got to get better at defending [the run], especially against big, physical people like our offense,” Smart said. “But the way to do that is you’ve got to have big people to combat big people with, and we don’t have a lot of big guys. So, we’re looking to recruit. We’re trying to find 290-[pound]-plus guys that can help us become more stout. For us to play the way we want to play we’ve got to have physical guys in there.” In terms of interior defensive linemen that are on scholarship, Georgia has just eight. Freshman signees Jordan Davis and Tramel Walthour won’t join the team until this summer. Smart said he’d like to sign four in the Class of 2019. Georgia also is missing Deangelo Gibbs and is down to 10 scholarship players in the secondary for the scrimmage. By specialty, it breaks down to five corners and five safeties. As always, some from both groups work at the “star” or nickel back positions. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker also could pluck a linebacker to play in the back third. That has required proven veterans such as junior safety J.R. Reed and senior cornerback Deandre Baker to do a lot of on-field coaching when they’re facing off against Georgia’s high-octane offense. “It’s always good to see these young guys grow,” said Reed, who started all 15 games at strong safety last season. “My goal is to really mold these young guys and really get them up to almost be where I’m at and to get these guys that don’t know a lot to learn more.” While Georgia is expected to receive an infusion of talent when elite signees Tyson Campbell, Nadab Joseph and Otis Reese enroll in June, G-Day will be especially important for their predecessors. Sophomores Ameer Speed, Eric Stokes and William Poole and redshirt freshmen Tray Bishop and Latavious Brini have much to prove. “It’s their time,” Smart said, “and they have to step up or they’ll be replaced by the people coming in.” Low numbers overall are not unusual for spring games. After all, the majority of the incoming recruiting class hasn’t joined the team yet. In Georgia’s case, it has 17 more players on the way. In the meantime, the players that are present and accounted for aim to give the expected crowd of 78,000 a show of some sort. “We like to see all the fans come out and support us,” Marshall said. “We’re going to come out and show great effort hopefully we’ll see how the season will go this year.” The post Injuries have left Bulldogs a little light on defense heading into G-Day appeared first on DawgNation.