Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Game 12 gives us a glimpse of what was expected since Game 1

Monday November 30, 2009

If you go back and look at a generic preview of the 2009 Georgia season, you’d get a sense of a team that was planning to lean heavily on its offensive and defensive lines. There would be the inescapable fact that Georgia was replacing first round draft picks at quarterback and tailback. The roster was thin at receiver as well as defensive end. The quarterback, though capable and a fifth-year senior, was most often lauded for his leadership and other traits that were valuable to the team but which also implied that Georgia shouldn’t be a team slinging it all over the field. Georgia’s best hope, at least on offense, was to be a team that went as far as its offensive line could take it, get efficient play from its quarterback, and let a fleet of tailbacks do the rest.

It didn’t take long for reality to deviate from expectations. One of Georgia’s biggest talents on the offensive line, tackle Trinton Sturdivant, was lost for the year in the season opener. Whether due to the unsettled line or the tailbacks themselves, the running game never materialized except for isolated moments like Samuel’s run at Arkansas or Branden Smith’s play against South Carolina. Anyone remember Carlton Thomas? Instead of “managing the game” or whatever you ask of a quarterback who’s not a superstar, Joe Cox found himself with a lot more on his shoulders than anyone expected. In Georgia’s five losses, Cox attempted at least 30 passes four times. In Georgia’s seven wins, Cox attempted an average of just over 22 passes.

It took 12 games, but we finally saw the team that most had in mind when Georgia was ranked in the high teens to begin the season. A stout offensive line and fullback led a committee of two tailbacks up and down the field. The defense was shaky at times but solid up front and delivered when they had to. The quarterback didn’t have a dominating game, but he didn’t have to. He didn’t make many mistakes though, avoided the crushing turnovers of a week ago, and he came up with three big completions on third down – one of which was a second quarter touchdown to Michael Moore and another of which kept the Dawgs from going three-and-out after Tech had closed to within six.

Of course the downside is that it took 12 games to get to this point. The team played with a chip on its shoulder, the tailbacks were determined to “run this state”, and defensive players like Rashad Jones had redemption on their minds (and, boy, did he deliver). Such intensity, focus, and will hasn’t been there much this season. How can Georgia be so effective on the ground in this game a week after twice being unable to score from the goal line against the SEC’s second-worst rushing defense? The win over Tech was euphoric, but it underscores the consistency that’s been an issue for this team all year.

You’ve got to like how the Georgia offense is shaping up for next season. King and Ealey have emerged as a nice backfield combination. The entire line, except for Vance, returns. White, Charles, and the return of Figgins makes the TE position as deep as it’s been in years. Receiver is still a little thin, but you can put King opposite Green and still feel confident that something can come from the group that will include Wooten, Troupe, Marlon Brown, and the return of Kris Durham. The big unknown of course is the quarterback. It’s not automatic that things will get turned over to Logan Gray, and you’ll be sick of the coverage given to the offseason competition by the time the season rolls around.

It’s my one hope for 2010 that many of the questions get sorted out before the season rather than during it. In 2006 it took until the midpoint of the season to settle the quarterback position. Stafford took his lumps but hit his stride in time to beat three ranked teams down the stretch. In 2007 Knowshon didn’t become Knowshon until the Vanderbilt game. Even this year the reshuffling of the offensive line that moved Boling to left tackle as well as settling on King and Ealey in the backfield didn’t come until late in the season. That’s how it goes sometimes – many moves have come as reactions to injuries and other twists introduced by the season, and you have to credit the coaches with getting the answers right in the end. Players improve during the season. I also know that other teams deal with the same thing: how many Tennessee fans are asking the same what-if questions about the Crompton that finished the season?

Given the likelihood of staff changes making the offseason even more unsettled than usual, it’s going to be a tough job. Unrealistic or not, it would still be nice to see these answers and the team hitting its stride come before the last half (or month) of the season.

Post Tastes like victory

Sunday November 29, 2009

Ben Jones after GT win

Post Stafford’s headed to the Hall of Fame

Wednesday November 25, 2009

Well…at least his jersey is.

Matthew Stafford, the NFL’s first overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, had a record-setting and gutsy effort in the Detroit Lions’ thrilling 38-37 victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 11. The torn jersey he wore on Sunday and a football he threw for one of his five touchdowns in the win were delivered to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Tuesday.

The mementos were promptly placed on exhibit in the Hall of Fame’s Pro Football Today Gallery next to a number of other recent acquisitions from moments that made history this season.

Stafford was also wired for his record-setting performance by NFL Films, and NFL Films president Steve Sabol called it the “most dramatic player wiring ever.” Looking forward to hearing that – over 350 players have been wired since 1965, so a recording called the “most dramatic” out of all of those has to be pretty compelling.

SEE ALSO: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford part of ‘cinematic folklore’ after win (h/t Hale). NFL Films president Steve Sabol said Stafford “earned a lasting place in the cinematic folklore of the NFL.”

Post Apparently airplane bottles aren’t enough anymore…

Tuesday November 24, 2009

This was one way to get through the second half:

A University student was arrested with felony possession of cocaine after a bag of white powder was discovered on him in Sanford Stadium during Saturday’s football game between Georgia and Kentucky.

My favorite part: explaining to the arresting officer how he came to have the bag.

The officer asked what the bag was, and Jahn said he did not know because he found it on the bathroom floor earlier in the evening.

Because picking up unknown bags of white powder from a stadium bathroom floor would have been entirely understandable and normal.

Post Lady Dogs, Robinson get a scare

Monday November 23, 2009

For the second time in this early season the Lady Dogs hosted one of the big names of the sport and came away with a win. Georgia escaped with a 49-48 win over Rutgers on Sunday afternoon.

The script was much different than last weekend’s impressive win over Oklahoma which was dominated by the Georgia frontcourt. This time the Lady Dogs needed a career game from sophomore guard Meredith Mitchell and timely jumpers from freshmen Jasmine James and Anne Marie Armstrong to come back from a late 10-point deficit. Armstrong’s first three-pointer as a Lady Dog proved to be the game-winner. Rutgers had a chance to win by intercepting a Georgia inbounds pass with three seconds left, but their final shot hit off the rim.

A low-scoring game with Rutgers is nothing unusual; that’s the way they play, and their matchup zone can be frustrating. Last year Georgia lost an ugly 45-34 game at Rutgers. Rutgers had denied Georgia time and again by blocking over ten shots, and it wasn’t until the jumpers started falling down the stretch that the Lady Dogs were able to make any headway. Georgia’s defense meanwhile clamped down and forced 29 turnovers to keep the team in the game.

The game had scary moments for both teams. Georgia’s Angel Robinson banged her head on the floor during a collision while going for a loose ball, and she had to be taken off the court on a stretcher and transported to an area hospital for evaluation after complaining of neck pain. Georgia fans who had just seen football player Bacarri Rambo taken off the field with a similar injury just a week earlier fell silent. The Athens Banner-Herald reports that “Robinson received a CT scan and X-rays, which were both negative, and she was discharged from the hospital.” Her status going forward is uncertain though.

A few minutes later Rutgers point guard Khadijah Rushdan went down with an apparently serious knee injury that left her unable to stand or extend her left leg. After nearly being dropped by medical personnel, Rushdan was carried into the locker room, and the extent of her injury is unknown.

The Lady Dogs have a midweek game with Alabama State before heading to Southern Miss for a Thanksgiving weekend tournament.

Post A question to sleep on

Sunday November 22, 2009

Can Mark Richt-as-head-coach recover from a game like that?

Post BREAKING – Uga VII has died

Thursday November 19, 2009

UGASports.com is reporting that Bulldog mascot Uga VII has died. Few details are available yet, but apparently an effort will be made to complete the burial in time for Saturday’s game.

Uga VII, “Loran’s Best”, was introduced to the Bulldog Nation less than fifteen months ago in August of 2008. His two years of service was by far the shortest among the Uga line; Uga II served from 1966-1972.

It’ll be interesting to learn more details; Uga VII had developed a reputation for being somewhat lethargic and sleepy in sharp contrast to the relatively energetic Uga VI. His health probably wasn’t all that great to begin with.

Post Online ordering for bowl tickets underway

Thursday November 19, 2009

William C. Hartman Jr. Fund contributors can begin ordering University of Georgia football bowl tickets online today.

William C. Hartman Jr. Fund contributors will be mailed a football post season ticket application on Tuesday, November 24. This application provides William C. Hartman Jr. Fund contributors the opportunity to request Bowl Game tickets until the priority deadline of 5:00 pm Friday, December 4. The letter will include ticket prices as well as a patron number and PIN/email information. Orders will be accepted by mail, phone and online.

All games in which Georgia may be selected to play will be listed. William C. Hartman Jr. Fund contributors should request only the venues in which they are willing to travel. The Athletic Association will not charge your card until the bowl bid has been officially determined. Orders will be filled only for the game in which Georgia is selected to play and tickets will be assigned based on William C. Hartman Jr. Fund cumulative score. Any orders received after the priority deadline will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis regardless of priority.

In the event that the demand for tickets for a particular game exceeds Georgia’s supply, it would be necessary to reduce and/or cancel orders. For more information, log onto georgiadogs.com and click the link for tickets or call the Ticket Office at 1-877-542-1231. Only Visa and MasterCard credit cards will be accepted.

Post Making SEC refs look like Solomon

Thursday November 19, 2009

Mark Curles and colleagues have had a rough go of it this year, but none of them would trade places with Martin Hansson this morning.

A.J. Green got jobbed, but at least it didn’t cause an international incident like this call.

Post More details on Reed Alley plans

Tuesday November 17, 2009

We’ve mentioned that the Athletic Board recently approved going ahead with the Reed Alley project, and the ABH has more details in today’s paper.

By next football season, dingy Reed Alley beside Sanford Stadium could look more like the plaza at Atlanta’s Turner Field, with dozens of new restrooms and concession areas and giant TV screens so fans can buy a snack and still see what’s happening on the football field.

The project could start after graduation in May and be done in time for the 2010 season.

Reed Alley concept

Post UGA @ GT set for 8:00 kickoff

Monday November 16, 2009

This should be released any minute now:

The Georgia Tech-Georgia game, scheduled for Nov. 28th at Bobby Dodd Stadium, will kick-off at 8 p.m. and will be televised by ABC (reverse mirror on ESPN2).

Post Does Belichick make the same call as a college coach?

Monday November 16, 2009

The debate rages this morning over Bill Belichick’s unorthodox decision to go for it on 4th-and-2 from his own 28. Here’s the thing though – as gutsy as the call was, New England might get another shot at Indy in the playoffs. At worst, Belichick’s decision cost his team homefield advantage (not insignificant, I grant). The decision, which was probably the right one, ended up costing the game and homefield advantage, but it didn’t end his team’s chances at a championship.

Imagine if Belichick were coaching Texas and faced the same decision. A loss doesn’t just cost a game and a future advantage – it removes your team from the inside track to the BCS championship game. Does that change the parameters of the decision? Do you make the same call?

Post Lady Dogs impressive in season opener

Monday November 16, 2009

It’s too soon by any stretch of the imagination to call the Lady Dogs “back”, but Sunday’s season-opening 62-51 upset of Oklahoma showed that things could be a good bit different this year.

Georgia asserted its advantage inside with Angel Robinson and Porsha Phillips, and Oklahoma’s Abi Olajuwon proved to be no Paris twin. The Sooners were uncharacteristically cold from outside until a flurry of jumpers helped them draw even at 43, but Georgia had more punch down the stretch.

Perhaps the biggest change so far is the impact of freshman guard Jasmine James. Her athleticism on the perimeter pairs nicely with Houts and gives the Lady Dogs an element they really haven’t had since Alexis Kendrick. James isn’t just an outside shooter – she can penetrate and looks to score inside the arc. Tasha Humphrey began a memorable Georgia career by leading her team to an early-season upset of a Big 12 opponent in 2004, and hopefully James’s 15 points in a similar win herald the arrival of another Lady Dog great.

James and the other newcomers, including Candace Williams, Jasmine Hassell, and Anne Marie Armstrong all had their freshmen moments, but all seemed to grasp the tempo and effort necessary to compete at the SEC level. The team overall looked a great deal more active and aggressive than last year when many offensive trips seemed to bog down until Houts threw something up as the shot clock expired. That didn’t happen much yesterday. Nine players saw action, and that helped the team stay fresh against an opponent who, as Robinson noted, “started to slow down” in the second half.

A strong early schedule continues for the Lady Dogs next Sunday when nationally-ranked Rutgers comes to town. Georgia lost an ugly game up there last year, and shaking off that loss with another win would show that this program isn’t ready to lose its spot among the national powers.

Post The turning point

Monday November 16, 2009

The start couldn’t have been worse. The formula was playing out as many of us had feared, and an Auburn touchdown followed by a Georgia three-and-out had the crowd responding as you’d expect.

A 19-yard punt return set Auburn up at the Georgia 44, and I don’t think mine was the only section where fans were debating leaving the game if Auburn posted another touchdown. Instead, we got this:

1st and 10 at UGA 44	Chris Todd pass incomplete to Mario Fannin.
2nd and 10 at UGA 44	Ben Tate rush for a loss of 2 yards to the Geo 46.	 	 
3rd and 12 at UGA 46	Chris Todd sacked by Geno Atkins for a loss of 9 yards to the Aub 45.	 	 
4th and 21 at AUB 45	AUBURN penalty Holding declined.	 	 
4th and 21 at AUB 45	Timeout AUBURN, clock 0:13.	 	 
4th and 21 at AUB 45	Clinton Durst punt for 42 yards, fair catch by Prince Miller at the Geo 13.	 	 
DRIVE TOTALS: AUBURN drive: 3 plays -11 yards, 01:15 AUBURN PUNT

Georgia didn’t exactly catch fire from that point, but they did start moving the ball, earned their initial first down of the game, and got on the scoreboard thanks to Cox’s throw, King’s block, and Troupe’s catch. It took another quarter or so for the offense to really get rolling, but the defense was solid from that point in the first quarter.

It’s not the the Georgia defense became dominant. Auburn drove inside Georgia territory five more times in the game. But they only got three more points out of those chances. Georgia’s defense began to respond with the plays to create turnovers and hold Auburn just shy of getting at least into field goal range. That in itself is a development – turnovers, for once, didn’t put the Georgia defense in a spot to

Most impressive? Georgia held the conference’s #2 rushing offense to 115 yards – a full 100 yards below their average. No Auburn back rushed for more than 67 yards. You can point to the success they had throwing the ball (why run when you’re completing passes at a 70% clip?), but this is still the SEC, and Tommy Tuberville’s patronizing advice to Mark Richt still holds true. Auburn’s inability to run effectively contributed to some of those drives petering out, and it made it easier for the Georgia defense to focus on the passing game as the momentum turned in the second half. After starting out 13-of-15 for 162 yards and 2 TD midway through the second quarter, Todd managed just 7-of-13 for 76 yards and 2 INT the rest of the way.

Post Wish I’d have said it…

Thursday November 12, 2009

Best comment so far on the day’s events from MCG DAWG on the DawgVent

After reviewing the videotape of the UT players’ armed robbery, SEC Replay Officials have overturned the ruling on the scene and have now charged two Mississippi State and one LSU player with the offense.

Cue up the Lewis Grizzard joke about not paying players…”We give ’em their own 7-11. They can rob it any time they want to.”

Only a story like that would overshadow another classic from Knoxville about a state legislator getting bounced from the UT-SC game a few weeks back for wearing a Mexican wrestling mask. Seriously.