Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post South Carolina never had a chance

Friday September 29, 2006

Sure, they gave Auburn a scare.

But note which way they were headed on the final drive of the game. Yep…right into the Endzone of Death. There was simply no way they were getting into that endzone, and history tells us that they would come agonizingly close to scoring.

Sure enough, a certain touchdown pass fell through the hands of tight end Jared Cook.

Post Five most retarded SEC traditions

Thursday September 28, 2006

Via the Vol blog Loser with Socks

Can’t disagree with many of them. The miserable failure that is the South Carolina “blackout” should be somewhere on there, but you’ve gotta choose five.

We’ll see his #1 choice up close and personal this weekend. Been a while since I’ve been to Oxford, so I’ll have to see how the Grove and everything else has changed. I do have to wonder though…any place where portable generators aren’t welcome is a bit suspect. I couldn’t imagine a tailgate now without a few TVs going.

Post Ole Miss and the running game

Thursday September 28, 2006

It’s not quite the seven seasons that elapsed between games against Mississippi State, but it has been a while since Georgia has played Ole Miss. For several years, Ole Miss was Georgia’s other "permanent" opponent from the SEC West (along with Auburn of course). When the SEC switched to two rotating opponents from the opposite division in 2003, the Ole Miss game was the casualty. The Dawgs played the Rebels every year from 1966 through 2002, but they haven’t faced off since.

The Dawgs took the last three games in the series by a comfortable 98-46 margin, but the last meeting in 2002 was a back-and-forth game until the end. A young Eli Manning was held to 12-of-25 passing and was intercepted twice, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Tim Jennings. The teams traded scores until a Terrence Edwards touchdown gave the Dawgs some breathing room at 31-17 in the third quarter. Musa Smith carried the ball 37 times for 148 yards (yes! in the Mark Richt era!) and the game ended with a 19-play Georgia drive that took over eleven minutes before the clock ran out with the ball inside the Ole Miss ten yard line.

Though the Dawgs won fairly easily from 2000-2002, the 1990s were a different story. From 1993 to 1999, the Dawgs were just 4-3 against Ole Miss, and the Rebels owned the mid-90s. It began with a 31-14 drubbing in 1993 where the Rebel defense teed off on Eric Zeier all night. Ole Miss won consecutive games in 1995 and 1996. In the 1995 game, Georgia (already minus tailback Robert Edwards) lost quarterback Mike Bobo for the season. In 1996, the Rebels caught the Dawgs coming off that dramatic four-overtime win at Auburn. The Dawgs even led 27-17 before collapsing and losing the game 31-27. Georgia rebounded to win from 1997-1999, but no win was by more than seven points.

No game during that stretch was more gut-wrenching than the 1999 trip to Oxford. Ole Miss had the one-two punch of Joe Gunn and future NFL star Deuce McAllister in the backfield. Georgia was in the middle of a wild season that would see escapes against Central Florida, LSU, and Vanderbilt, a circus finish at Tech, a thorough beating by Auburn, and an historic bowl comeback. So in the scheme of the 1999 season, the turn of events in the 1999 Georgia – Ole Miss game in Oxford was just another chapter in an inexplicable season.

The story of the game was Georgia’s inability to convert yardage into points. Though the Dawgs generated over 450 yards of offense on the night, early in the fourth quarter they only had nine points on three Hap Hines field goals. Ole Miss was on the short end of yardage and possession all night, but they took control of the game late when McAllister went 84 yards to put the Rebels up 17-9. Georgia responded with a 12-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 4th-and-goal touchdown pass from the 3 and a subsequent two-point conversion to tie the game. Hines kicked a 48-yard field goal, his fourth of the night, with about five minutes left to give Georgia the 20-17 lead. Two big plays put the Rebels inside the Georgia 20 with a chance to tie or take the lead, but Terreal Bierria made an incredible catch for an intereception to seal the win. Par for the course in 1999.

The running game has been a big part of the story in recent seasons. In that 1999 game, McAllister and Gunn each rushed for over 100 yards. In 2001, the Ole Miss game was the start of the brief but incredibly productive experiment of Verron Haynes at tailback. Haynes’ 192 yards in Oxford was the start of a four-game stretch to end the season with at least 100 yards in each game. Musa Smith also used the Ole Miss game in 2002 (37 carries for 148 yards) as the starting point for a strong finish to his Georgia career.

The running game is once again front and center as the two teams resume the series. As QB Brent Schaeffer struggles, the burden of Ole Miss’s offense falls on tailback BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis had a nice debut with 127 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against Memphis. He’s kept it up even as the passing game struggles, rushing for 4.6 yards per carry on the season.

On the other side, Georgia’s running game gets a chance to show something – anything – against a poor defense. The Rebels are giving up nearly 175 yards per game on the ground. So long as the Dawgs steer clear of talented linebacker Patrick Willis, Georgia won’t get a much better chance this season for a productive day on the ground. The Dawgs have shaken things up by moving Kregg Lumpkin into the starting tailback role, but we’ll have to see what that will mean in terms of carries and the rotation of the other backs. Richt had no problem letting a productive back run early and often on Ole Miss in 2001 and 2002. In 2006, will Lumpkin be the next Georgia back to emerge against the Rebels, and will Richt (and the offensive line) present him with that opportunity?

Post Getting ready for Ole Miss

Thursday September 28, 2006

Also be sure not to miss Jody Yarbrough’s weekly Information Overload segment over at UGASports.com – it’s everything you need to become familiar with Georgia’s next opponent.

Post Colorado winning drive video

Thursday September 28, 2006

Rivals.com has put together a nice recap of Saturday’s game-winning drive engineered by Joe Cox. Good commentary and emphasis given to MoMass’s ability to get a first down and out of bounds on the same key play.

Post You’d think there had never been a night game before

Tuesday September 26, 2006
Katrina Damage
North Campus or Gulf Coast?

The Red & Black has a lighthearted editorial today about yesterday’s news of a 7:45 p.m. kickoff for the Tennessee game. They introduce a theme we’ll start hearing a lot as soon as the Ole Miss game is digested:

The combination of an SEC rivalry and a late start time will serve as a true test for the new gameday regulations and intramural field parking situation.

While we hope things will run as smoothly for University police as they have for the past three games, history has shown that evening games are more debauched. While the administration should prepare for the worst, fans should accept personal responsibility for their actions and those of their fellow tailgaters.

That’s pretty mild for what I think we can expect next week. This "prepare for the worst" stuff will stop just short of some columnist calling for FEMA to stand ready for – get this – a "night football game". Yes, night football games have been a part of the Sanford Stadium experience since 1940, but now the whole process will be put under intense scrutiny.

This reminds me of the current hysteria over drinking on campus. It wasn’t too long ago that they drove beer trucks right up on the lawn, but now all of a sudden it’s a major crisis. It also wasn’t too long ago when fans would begin arriving on Thursday or even earlier for big football games (ask around about the 1976 Alabama game), but now we’ve got a powder keg brewing over a few extra hours of tailgating.

If anything, this is much more about the University than it is the fans. Football fans haven’t changed much. There might be more of them, but that’s about it. They’re fairly predictable. We know what a night game is like and what the tailgating scene is likely to be. It’s not as if we haven’t had a few of these before. The University has time to plan for trash and can even encourage local law enforcement enforce littering laws as diligently as they do open container laws.

Let the needless hype begin. Fear the night game!!!

Post Athletic Association with net income around $20 million this year

Tuesday September 26, 2006

This was also in the Banner-Herald on Saturday, but it deserves its own mention.

The athletic association’s revenues were nearly $20 million more than operating expenses in the fiscal year that ended June 30, according to figures released at Friday’s meeting. Income was about $74 million, while operating expenses amounted to about $53.1 million.

Georgia made headlines this summer for having the nation’s “most profitable” athletic department in the 2005 fiscal year. These new data show that the financial health of the program remains strong. Revenue was up yet again, and expenses topped the $50 million mark. Keep in mind that this is just operating income and expenses and doesn’t represent cash flow or assets and liabilities.

FYE June 30, 2006:

  • Revenues: ~$74 million
  • Expenses: $53.1 million
  • Surplus: > $20 million

FYE June 30, 2005:

  • Revenues: $68.8 million
  • Expenses: $44.9 million
  • Surplus: $23.9 million

Post Dawgs choose Butts-Mehre expansion over indoor facility

Tuesday September 26, 2006

The Banner-Herald reported over the weekend that the athletic association has decided on some priorities. Instead of a seldom-used hood ornament of an indoor football facility, the program will instead opt for an expansion (possibly a vertical expansion) of the Butts-Mehre administration building. The expansion will serve the football program in more practical everyday ways:

The expansion will give the football team a bigger weight room, more space for the team to watch videos, a bigger training room and office space, Evans said. It also will mean a larger meeting room for special events. The large meeting room in Butts-Mehre is too small for some events, Evans said.

Coach Richt has made no secret of his desire for an indoor facility to salvage practice time during inclement weather, but even he is on board with the relative priority of the projects. “After seeing other schools’ facilities, UGA football coach Mark Richt said he’d rather have the Butts-Mehre expansion than the indoor football field.”

It’s also worth noting that the expansion project will be paid for in cash and not financed. “We’re not looking to issue any more debt,” said Damon Evans.

Post Shakeup in the backfield

Monday September 25, 2006

Though the focus is on the quarterback depth chart this week, UGASports.com is reporting that Kregg Lumpkin has stepped up into the #1 tailback spot. Lumpkin certainly has looked like the most consistent back this year, so I’m glad to see him get the opportunity. I really hope that Brown can find a role because he’s obviously got the talent.

The real question is, “does the starting tailback really matter?” Given the way the Dawgs rotate in tailbacks, does the position mean anything other than who gets his name announced pregame? Will Lumpkin get a majority of the carries and a chance to let his consistency build to a big day on the ground? If there’s a defense vulnerable against the run, it’s Ole Miss. What can the Dawgs and Lumpkin in the starting role do with this opportunity?

The Dawgs haven’t had a back individually rush for 100 yards since the Louisiana-Monroe game in 2005 when Danny Ware got 109 yards on just 13 carries. That’s 14 consecutive games held under the century mark. It was a big deal when the Dawgs went the entire 2003 season without a 100+ yard game from a back. Are we headed for the same this year?


Monday September 25, 2006

“If we can’t score two times, we don’t deserve to wear G’s on our helmet.”
– Joe Cox to teammates before taking over during the Colorado game

Post Georgia – Tennessee set for 7:45 p.m.

Monday September 25, 2006

Hallelujah. We’ll have some time to tailgate before a home game this year. ESPN will broadcast. 7:45 kickoff. Auburn-Arkansas will occupy the CBS noon slot, and Florida-LSU will be the 3:30 game.

Post Never in doubt…

Monday September 25, 2006

I’m sure my reaction to the unfolding Colorado game went as most people’s: concern, bewilderment, annoyance, stomping mad, nausea, hope, dread, triumph, worry, and finally….relief. That’s it – not happiness or satisfaction – just relief.

This game is already getting overanalyzed trying to figure out what went wrong, so we’ll skip that and hope we can write it off. Great job by Cox and everyone else turning this nightmare into a win. Some other observations:

  • Senior leadership pays. Milner, Taylor, Battle, and Dixson all came up big.
  • Milner especially came up huge. The jokes about the drops and everything won’t be easy to shake, but he came up with a bigger game than any other UGA receiver this year.
  • Though several fans left early and there was plenty of booing, I’m really happy with the crowd at the end of the game. They made a difference and helped to turn the tide. Had Charles Johnson gotten the QB when he went airborne on third down, the place would have fallen down.
  • There isn’t much excuse for the lack of a running game. Lumpkin needs to play more.
  • It’s amazing how much better playcalling looks when you have a QB delivering the ball on target. Drops seem to miraculously disappear too. I wonder what happened to all of the awful playcalling and poor WR coaching fans like to talk about.
  • Tell me no one else had any of these nightmares after the final touchdown: 1) celebration penalty resulting in missed/blocked XP, 2) good kickoff return, 3) flashbacks to the 2005 Auburn game, 4) Colorado getting a chance to kick about a 70-yard FG for the last play of the game.
  • Colorado had to burn its timeouts to keep its defense fresh. That turned out to make a huge difference on the final series. Almost as big was the sack on first down. The clock continued to run, and Colorado’s plans were forced to desperation. Had they been able to hit a 15+ yard pass on first down and stop the clock, the last few seconds really change.
  • Speaking of the clock, as vocal as we and Coach Richt have been in criticism of the rule changes, they sure worked to Georgia’s advantage. It still doesn’t change my mind that the rules must go. It helped us this time; next time it might cost us. The impact of the changes were obvious as we saw nearly 20 seconds elapse between the kickoff and the first Colorado play.
  • Some wonder why Richt didn’t make the QB change sooner, but it’s a really tough call. On one hand you have a true freshman who is struggling, and you can’t pull him too early and completely destroy his confidence. But something had to be done. Stafford’s indecision and the third down play where he went over the line of scrimmage made it the right time for that change.
  • Another decision where Richt got criticism – going for it on 4th down in the red zone. I really think those calls were right. Given the performance of the offense to that point, there was no guarantee they would even get within FG range again, much less get back in the red zone.
  • People are talking about Stafford’s velocity being a problem, but accuracy is a much bigger issue than touch to me. Several passes either behind or high or low. Some of his passes might have needed a little more touch on them, but I can recall only one drop (by MoMass) where the ball was on the money.
  • Massaquoi overcame those drops. It wasn’t so dramatic as Milner’s redemption, but he had two big fourth quarter catches. The play he made on an inside screen on the gamewinning drive to reverse direction and get out of bounds was huge. He also made a big play to break up an interception in the end zone on a poor Cox throw. He still needs to become a bigger playmaker, but at least he didn’t fold after the early drops.

More tonight. I’d like to take a little closer look at the offense’s drives.

Post Odell’s spiral continues

Monday September 25, 2006

Unfortunately, it’s in the wrong direction.

Odell Thurman was arrested on a DUI charge early this morning and tested twice the legal limit. He’s already serving a suspension for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

He really needs to turn it around. I can’t imagine what would happen after a third strike.

Here’s the really interesting part:

Thurman was with two other Bengals players, but police declined to release their identities…Thurman was released to a companion who was sober to drive him home, police said.

He’s with two teammates who know he’s currently suspended and already has a strike against him. They let him drive? Was he in the best shape of the three of them? Someone was sober enough to drive them home from the checkpoint but not from the bar?

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Post A tip of the wings to the Tomcat

Friday September 22, 2006
F-14 Tomcat

"Negative, Ghostrider. The pattern is full."

This is an off-topic post, but it’s a noteworthy day in that the United States Navy is retiring the F-14 Tomcat. If you’ve seen Top Gun, you know what an F-14 is. The aircraft has been at the front of the nation’s naval air superiority for over 30 years. Its distinguished swept wing and twin tail gave it a unique and graceful look. It was an extremely versatile fighter nimble enough for dogfights and large enough to act as a bomber when needed. I’m proud to say that my late grandfather was one of the men behind the Tomcat. I’m sure this is a bittersweet day for everyone who spent time at Grumman. The F-14 has served the nation well, but there are some incredible aircraft taking its place in our nation’s arsenal.

The F-14 and the men and women behind it are remembered at the Grumman Memorial Park out on the east end of Long Island very close to the place I consider home.

Post Why shakers? Why else?

Friday September 22, 2006

Clay Travis asks why shakers are so popular at Southern football games even among the manly men who otherwise wouldn’t be caught dead with something so sissified as a thunderstick or some other cheering implement.

The reason is so simple that I’m amazed it escapes Clay. What else are you going to use to mix your drink?

The recipe for the "gameday special" has been passed down from generation to generation. Step one: get a souvenier-sized soda. Drink a little bit to make room. Step two: empty flask or airplane bottles into the cup. Step three – and this is critical – stir. You don’t want all that high-octane stuff floating on top. Enjoy. The typical shaker with its foot-long plastic handle makes the perfect straw to stir this most perfect of drinks.

The next time you see an entire SEC student section using its shakers, just remember that 1) the shakers are probably still damp and 2) those using them are probably in a much more comfortable state than you are.